SILENT MASTERPIECE IS DEBUTED AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS
The air was full of great expectation at the 56th Annual New York Film Festival, and every time Orson Welles’ name was mentioned or his credit rolled across the screen he received a thunderous applause as if Jesus himself had come down off the cross. Unfortunately “The Other Side of the Wind,” was none of that. Ten minutes into the film that was cut so fast, with the camera darting in and out of scenes so that one could not keep up, one knew it was substantially less than the hype. And, for about two more hours it kept on disappointing.
56TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL IN HISTORIC MAIN SLATE EVENT: JAMES' BALDWIN'S IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS HISTORY NYFF HOLDS A FILM DEBUT IN HARLEM, JAMES BALDWIN'S HOME
Barry Jenkins, who created the expressively beautiful “Moonlight,” that was awarded the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, has done it again! “If Beale Street Could Talk,” set in early 1970s Harlem, is telling a bigger story conceived by an iconic writer, James Baldwin, whose novel of the same name this film is adapted. Jenkins cinematically captures Baldwin’s lilting prose and biting commentary about race and the American criminal justice system. The racial despair of this story still resonates today and were the actors not coiffed in Afros and the men wearing side burns and vintage Italian knit shirts, it would have been easy to believe the film depicts the “Black Lives Matter” reality of today.
The confluence of wine and art was affirmed in the presentation of wines from the Rhone Valley in France at Art Space 8 on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Master Sommelier Laura Maniec, wine educator and owner of the CorkBuzz wine studios in Union Square and Chelsea Market in New York was the presenter. Subtly rich, diverse with pronounced fruit flavors kissed by the sun, the wines are a perfect expression of Mediterranean warmth and beauty. Rhone Valley wine is shaped by its terroir. In summer, the Rhone Valley is hot and dry.
Viewed at both the 56th New York Film Festival and the 54th Chicago International Film Festival
Long before the OJ trial dominated public attention and the airwaves with an unfolding real-life drama, there was Watergate. With all acumen of a skill criminal investigator, Director and Screenwriter Charles Ferguson exhumes the Watergate case and examines it with meticulous forensic detail that plays out like a tightly wound Hitchcock suspense drama. What began as a bottomo-basement burglary blossoms into a Constitutional crisis right before our eyes. Ferguson takes viewers from the Watergate break-in of Democratic headquarters in 1972, through the explosive Senate committee hearings that played out on national TV to Nixon's final resignation. The director uses on camera interviews from key players like former Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, Pat Buchanan., the late Sen. John McCain and John Dean to less familiar voices that have been buried in the time capsule of history such as Daniel Ellsberg, Morton Halperin,William Ruckelshaus, and Elizabeth Holtzman, Archival footage along with news clips and reenactments using spot-on actor characterizations combined to create a spin-chilling saga.
Viola Davis and Liam Neeson lead Steve McQueen's new big screen effort, Widows, from Twentieth Century Fox, in which Chicago is as much an on-screen player as the superb cast. Winner of the 2013 Oscar for Best Picture with 12 Years A Slave and the Festival's 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, McQueen brings forth a slick, fast-paced thriller in which a big money heist is set against the backdrop of Chicago political corruption. In a nod to #MeToo, the deed is carried out by a crew of vengeful women led by the Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Festival Lifetime Achievement Award- winning actress, who also stars in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder.
The Hate U Give is a superb social drama ripped right from today's headlines. Chicago-bred and Columbia minted Black Film Award- winning director George Tillman Jr., who created the Soul Food franchise, and directed Men of Honor and the Barber Shop trilogy vividly brings the story of Starr Carter to the screen who is torn by her efforts to reconcile "straight-out-of-Compton" existence with the all-white prep school her reformed thug father (an arresting performance by Russell Hornsby, trying desperately to create a better life for his children.
Steve Carell stars in this emotionally fatiguing family drama about the devastating effects of teenaged meth-amphetamine and prescription drug addiction on a family. The condition has been declared a national epidemic. Based on the dual biographies of a father and son, David Sheff, played exquisitely by Carell and Nic Sheff, played with searing authenticity by Timothy Chalamet, the film is expertly brought to the screen by Oscar nominated Belgian director Felix van Groeningen, who also co-wrote the screenplay. Cinematographer Ruben Impens and Production Designer Ethan Tobman deftly create the cozy fog and Redwood enshrouded world of the Sheff's in the Bolinas/Marin County world of the Sheffs in the San Francisco Bay area that is shattered to pieces by the boy's raging addictions. Carell plays a freelance writer whose managed to eke out a rather comfy existence for his family, which is held together with a lot of love and heartbreak in spite of a contentious divorce.
Poggi del Sasso, Grosetto, Italy--Move over Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, there's a new star in Tuscany, Italy's most celebrated wine region. It’s Montecucco, a new wine region in Southern Tuscany that just made DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), Italy's highest wine classification. Bordering on the famous DOCG of Brunello di Montalcino, on the far side of the Maremma, it is one of the region's most dramatically beautiful areas with its vineyards nestled in the shadow of the ancient and extinct volcano Mt. Amiata, which protects the vines.
With a glitzy new production by a Broadway, Tony Award-winning team, and the star power of opera's most celebrated onstage couple, the Metropolitan Opera opened its 2018-19 Season with Camille Saint-Saens's Samson Et Dalila. Tenor Roberto Alagna fighting a developing cold and his made-in-heaven stage partner , the beauteous Elina Garanca, brought new life to the Metropolitan Opera's 228th performance of the biblical epic. With a glitzy new production by Tony Award winning director Darko Tresnjak (2014 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and 2015 Obie Award for The Killer) in his Met debut, and sets by Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle multiple nominee, Set Designer Alexander Dodge, also in his Met debut (Broadway-A Gentlemen's Guide, Anastasia, Present Laughter, Hedda Gabler. Opera-Dinner at Eight, Cosi fan tutti at Minnesota Opera), costumes by Tony winner Linda Cho (A Gentlemen's Guide), lighting design by Tony-nominated Lighting Designer Donald Holder (South Pacific, the Lion King) and choreography by Company XIV founder and Met Veteran (Rusalka, 2017 Met debut), Austin McCormick, this is one of the Met's most memorable season opening productions. Tenor Roberto Alagna seemed to be fighting an impending cold, which prevented him from putting the full luster and power of his voice into his most heartfelt arias, but the emotional fireworks between he and his Dalila, Elina Garanca, were palpable. There is no more sensuous duet than the rapturous love song between Samson and Dalila in Act II. The orgy scene, with barely clad dancers choreographed by McCormick was more like something off the Wintergreen stage than the Met, but it really spiced things up in the third act. Love those heady Philistines!
Met Opera's newest box office darling Anna Netrebko is stunning in her Met Opera debut as the long suffering Ethiopian princess Aida in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's epic masterpiece now on the Metropolitan Opera stage through March 7 and in a MetLiveHD Encore presentation Weds Oct. 10 at 1pm and 6:30pm in selected movie theaters nationwide. Check your local listings or visit metopera.prg or fathom events.com for theatre locations and tickets. Mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili is ravishingly cruel as her nemesis Amneris, who is both Aida's slave mistress and rival for the affections of Radames, sung with faltering discomfort by Met go-to veteran Aleksandrs Antonenko (Calaf in Turandot, Otello, Don Jose in Carmen, Pollione in Norma, Grigoy in Boris Godunov, you get the idea). Antonenko wasn't having his best night at the Met performance of Saturday, September 29, which is reviewed here. He was obviously suffering from a bad head cold which caused him to miss all of the high notes. Especially in the grueling Celeste Aida aria right at the beginning of Act I which portended the perils ahead. Antonenko hit the final crescendo with a croak that rattled right through your teeth, even in the upper reaches of Dress Circle. It didn't get any better as the night progressed. His cold must have affected his hearing as well, because Antonenko lagged far behind his fellow singers in the ensembles, like a runner with a torn hamstring in the New York Marathon.