Monday, November 18, 2013

Recommendations and Reviews

November 18, 2013: Recommendations and Reviews (Glacier Symphony, Rabbids, Ruby Sparks, Castle, and Free Birds) Sunday, 10 a. m. It is 42 degrees outside and the snow is already starting to melt. I am not sorry, because this afternoon we go into town to the Glacier Symphony performance with our good friend Joop, then return to his place for dinner and conversation. It will be a good day. Xander is running around the house this morning waiting for me to play cop and criminal with him. He likes to use one of Meg’s dog toys, a yellow donut shaped squeaky toy, as handcuffs – or, rather, fingercuffs. We take turns capturing the other and throwing him in jail, only to watch him escape again while Meg looks on, a bit forlorn, thinking, “What are you doing with my toy?” But life is hard, after all, and everyone has to make sacrifices. Monday, 1:30 p.m. The temperature outside is back to 42. we had a trace of snow overnight that started disappearing before we got up this morning. The concert was fantastic and fun – the Glacier Symphony, under the direction of Maestro John Zoltek, is a strong group of very talented musicians. I am always surprised at both their ability and their willingness to take on challenging works. Alan Hovhannes’ And God Created Great Whales is not ever going to be my favorite piece, but it is an interesting one that truly tests the orchestra. Glacier Symphony passed with flying colors. The guest soloist for Max Bruch’s famous First Violin Concerto, Kinga Augustyn, was brilliant and flawless. She is an up-and-comer who so far appears on only two recordings, but is one to watch for if you like violin. Finally, our dinner with Joop was a wonderful feast of friendship, good food, wine and Scotch, that did not get us home until 10:30 last evening. Speaking of great performances, I wanted to mention a couple of items that might slip under most people’s radar. The first is the Nickelodeon program, Rabbids. The premise is simple: alien beings, who look a good deal like rabbits, come to earth to explore and perhaps conquer the planet. They are curious about everything but not altogether bright, with the attention span of a puppy running to the bathroom. These intrepid adventurers find amusement and excitement in the most unlikely things. Their adventures remind me of Roadrunner cartoons on steroids. Very funny stuff, meant for kids but gut-bustingly funny for anyone. Highly recommended. Second is the 2012 movie, Ruby Sparks. If you haven’t seen it yet, give this one a try. It is about a writer who somehow – he never learns how – creates a real woman out of his imagination. He then has to deal with the aftermath. It is a funny story that at times gets necessarily a bit too real and uncomfortable. As in many good comedies, using an absurd premise to bring up very real issues and observations makes for compelling watching. Third is a single moment in the long-running mystery series, Castle. The improbable series just gets better and better. Episode 18 in Season Five, “The Wild Rover,” features an actress named Carla Buono as the owner of a pub in the Irish neighborhood where the main character Kevin Ryan once went undercover. Early in the episode, the detectives inform her that a particular character has died. Her face changes, on camera, showing remorse and fear in a subtle array of expressions. It is a magnificent piece of acting, akin to Kevin Spacey’s death scene in LA Confidential. If I taught acting I would show that scene and tell my students, “This is how it’s done.” Finally, for now at least, I bring up the new theater release Free Birds, an animated story about two modern day turkeys, who go back in time to try to change the tradition of cooking turkey at Thanksgiving. It is a bit long among animated films, and pretty intense, but it had our grandson and his cousins rapt. These kids range from three to ten years old, and all of them had a great time. The only question I have is how they will react on Thanksgiving Day when we do indeed serve turkey and they, collectively, will be asking, “Where’s the pizza?”

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