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Where is My Zen?

SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER…AND SPRING, Kim Ki-duk 2005 http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1104118/ Open with a picture perfect postcard, a body of water and a stand of trees, portrait of tranquility. The unruffled surface of the lake mirrors a small house centered on it, as if floating. It is a natural sanctuary, a view to which we return repeatedly throughout the film, with growing poignancy, and from discreet and meaningful distances. The image of this sacred place as it appears in the opening scene of 'Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...Spring' is like a logomark in its graphic simplicity. It fairly shouts Zen Buddhism, the sort of iconic image we as Westerners wish to carry in our hearts as an adornment to our wretchedly privileged lives … [Read more...]

Tattling on Outrage

I am married to filmmaker Kirby Dick. The Washington Post identified me as a Mexican actress because that is the information available on IMdB, and it has never been corrected. I am not her, I'm a writer and a Sr. Art Director/Creative Director at an advertising firm in L.A. As a person who never felt "American" even though I was born here, I see, and admire a certain ethical and moral advancement, uniquely American, based on a deeply held belief in rationalism. Because I share neither this belief in rationalism nor the ethical advancement it engenders, I have always been amused by my husband's selection of subject matter for his documentaries, and have always noticed that he was drawn to ethical/moral/sexual scenarios which raised many … [Read more...]

Happy Go Lucky

In which a cheerful, sometimes obtuse, young female primary school teacher takes driving lessons with a rage-ridden instructor, helps a child in need, and ultimately finds her Prince Charming. All I knew was that in Happy Go Lucky,  Mike Leigh had come up with this truly repellant character that made people want to gouge her eyes out or spit on the ground with disgust, because she was too damn happy. I put off seeing it, although I was intrigued. Then Nancy asked me to write about it. So I watched the IMDb trailer first and saw as cloying a scene as I could recall, though every millimeter a Mike Leigh joint, with Poppy (Sally Hawkins) in a fabulously fake-y fifties-style flirtation with the handsome and equally fake Tim (Samuel … [Read more...]

Take That!

Achim Freyer's Redemption through Geometry, Metaphysics and Light Sabers Although I am focusing on design and direction in these notes on LA OPERA's Ring Cycle, it would be a travesty here not to applaud the spectacular vocal performances last night. I would single out Anja Kampe, whose performance was jaw-droppingly powerful, tender and transfixing...but then that would leave out Placido Domingo's powerful, expertly polished performance with its subtly Italianate flourishes so right for the part of Seigmund; or Linda Watson's spectacular Brunnhilde. Eric Halvarson (Hunding) has a basso so profound I would be terrified to be in the same room with him singing, and Vitalj Kowaljow performed a nuanced and complex Wotan. Michelle DeYoung … [Read more...]

Here’s Looking at You Wotan

The Dilemma of Watching Wagner – Theatrical eminence Achim Freyer has an astonishing portfolio: please check out the photos of the productions he's done at his own company Freyer Ensemble. http://www.freyer-ensemble.de The task of staging the mythic, grand and otherworldly works of the Ring cycle involves scholarly mastery and a theoretical rigor. Any major opera company needs to engage a theater artist who is credentialed and bears the imprimatur of a cultural establishment. Wagner after all is the epitome of a grand master, a model for the hyperinflation of artistic importance...big themes set to brilliant grandiose music, and backed up by the most refined musical skills that Western culture can provide. The musical … [Read more...]

Luther, A Tribute

  LUTHER   Other names: Luther, THE dog "BGM" (Big Giant Monster) Lothar the Magnificent Fartmeister Pooch de la booch, de la hootch, de la cootch Cur Big Bezungenungen You loved being petted on the stomach and butt, going for walks in Griffith Park, and riding in the car. You loved men, especially Kirby and Joey, and almost all workingmen. Your walks around the block resembled stations of the cross, with you pausing to savor and seeming to pray at a discreet and unvarying selection of gates, posts, trees and stairwells. Occasionally you would find a fig leaf--a favorite forage--or fresh tender spring grass. Your ferocious yet sad appearance brought smiles to many strangers, and you loved … [Read more...]

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In [Låt den rätte komma in] It is the cold deep winter of northern Sweden. Snow falls upon the well-kept, charmless suburb of Blackeberg.  An old man is covering the windows of his apartment with a patchwork of corrugated cardboard, some of it with chunks of advertising left on. Inside, he readies a set of very used equipment for a grisly mission, to provide fresh human blood for the young vampire who is his "daughter".  In the same building lives a young boy and his mother. The child is 12-year-old Oskar, (Kåre Hedebrant) a gentle, introverted, and highly intelligent boy, with flaxen hair and an angelic face. At school, he is the perfect mark for a group of bullies who taunt and humiliate him. Later, in the courtyard … [Read more...]