Art Entertainment Movies Music

The Week In Reviews

I spent most of my time over the break with LF out there in real life, and I offer a thousand apologies for not posting anything. Well, trying to get back on track, here are a few capsule reviews of some of the various entertainments we availed ourselves of.

Up In The Air

Really good movie. George Clooney, as always, does a fine job. The story especially resonates in these days of unemployment, and the sudden plot twists at the end are well done. Three stars.

Avatar

Sure, it’s been hyped out the wazoo. Sure, it’s already made a billion dollars worldwide in ticket sales. Go see it anyway, and be sure to watch in 3D. We might go out later this weekend to see it at an Imax, just to be sure. The 3D is immersive and, at the risk of sounding overly philosophical, thematic. The humans that inhabit the alien bodies are in an immersive simulation of reality; and so are you as you watch them.

I don’t know, it makes sense to me. Anyway, it’s fun to watch a western where you can really root for the Indians.

Museum of Art and Design

Once known as the “Lollipop Building” at the foot of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, it had been closed for decades. In it’s redesigned (and re-façaded) form, it’s fun to walk through and the collections and special exhibits were terrific. The collection is reminiscent of the design sections at MOMA, including semi-functional pieces such as pottery and furniture. (semi-functional as in, you might not want to sit in one of these chairs for long, but they look fabulous). The main special show was tremendous cut-paper wall hangings. Very detailed, very wonderful.

The New York Philharmonic

We saw them at their last subscription concert of the year, where they played music of Mozart, Schumann and Webern. Webern led off both halves of the program, first with his early “Im Sommerwind” for large orchestra. A beautiful and ethereal work reminiscent of late Mahler or early Schönberg, it made an interesting counterpoint to the Symphony Op. 21 that started the second half.

Alan Gilbert (who, by the way, we both really like) gave a brief talk before the performance explaining the history of the work and it’s relationship to the romantic tradition. I found it a little overly apologetic, though I’ve been an admirer of it for years. It’s actually very listenable once you get a feel for the structure of it and know what to listen for.

Matching it up with the Schumann Second Symphony was interesting because, believe it or not, they share some thematic elements. But besides that, the performance was fabulous. Gilbert really gets the orchestra to drive in the work, and it was tremendously dynamic and exciting.

Also on the program was a Mozart Piano Concerto. Well done, and well played, though the piano sounded kind of clangy. Maybe it was those notorious Avery Fisher Hall acoustics.

Tom

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he’s also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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