PurpleLabyrinth

(no subject)

Saw Juno the other night and it's just as charming, engaging and amusing as the critics have said. The virtue of the movie is that it depicts believably real people doing believable things in believable ways and does not judge them. If there is any evil in this story it's the meanness and prejudice of everyday life. Juno is more self-possessed than any 16 year old I've ever met and is wittier than most standup comics but this is art and who wants to listen to people being boring. Definitely worth a trip to the theater to see a story about kindness and good sense if not triumphing, at least getting by.
PurpleLabyrinth

(no subject)

Sweeney Todd is a great movie. Certainly the best adaptation of a Broadway musical that's been done in decades (maybe ever?). Stage productions always have the layer of artifice between the audience and the play. The ST stage production took that and built upon it, making the stage into a grand cage within which the characters were trapped. Like any good play the production broke through the wall of artifice by being moving and powerful in it's use of artifice. Movies by contrast are by default, realistic. Burton could have opted to break the realism and create a stagy vision as was done in the movie version of Guys and Dolls. He chose the harder and much more satisfying and, for this story, the necessary route of allowing the realism to seep into the bones of the story. London becomes the cage in which everyone is trapped-- the "pit" of the very first sung words of the movie. How does he accommodate the singing, then? That most artificial convention of the stage. One way is by making the songs intimate — either private musings, like Shakespearean asides, or conversations. There are no choruses in this movie and no dances. There is no breaking into song. The singing both in style and presentation seems to well up out of the characters. Burton, though, has another problem. How to keep this from becoming another slasher movie--which, after all, is exactly what it is. There is, of course, the singing itself which is distancing in a way that cannot be entirely ignored. Then there's the makeup. Sweeney and Mrs. Lovette are both just beyond the point of believably real. Not to the point of outlandishness but always exaggerated, almost doll-like versions of people. But his major artifice is the blood which spurts, pours and drips through the film right from the very first credits. It's too red, it's too paint-like. As with the characters, there's always the consciousness of artifice that keeps the gore from becoming more repulsive than the story will stand. Sondheim and Burton were both well aware that this story is melodrama, not tragedy. The triumph of the the film is that despite that, it's tragic.
PurpleLabyrinth

(no subject)

Last night we went to hear all six of the Brandenburg concerti and the experience led me to realize a few things. Everyone knows the Brandenburg concerti but you haven't enjoyed them fully until you seen them performed. I've never heard anyone say this but I'm sure that Bach was doing something visual as well as something audible with these works. Until the 20th century of course you couldn't have heard them without also seeing them and I believe that, being the great artist that he was, Bach made the viewing of these works a part of the creation. If you listen to a recording you'll hear that, for instance, in #3 a phrase is repeated three times by the violins, three times by the violas and three times by the cellos. You may realize that each repeat is done by a different player but it's not until you see the music march actoss the stage to each of the nine musicians that you get a full appreciation of the way the music is traded, intertwined and balanced between the players. It's a kinetic as well as audio experience that verges on the esthetic of the dance. All the more so since musicians cannot play like statues. Their bodies are a part of their performance and that is particularly true of this music with it's emphatic rhythms in the fast parts and langurous or mournful movement through the slow parts. You haven't heard the Brandenburgs until you've seen them.

There's another thing I realized last night: Really good music is like really good sex. I don't mean that music is sexy (it certainly can be), I mean that it can be structured like good sex. Constantly varied but always coming back to the same strong theme, building but pausing before finishing so that it can do another variation--satisfying while being tantalizing and finally coming to a fulfilling but regretful end. The perfect illustration of what I'm trying to say is the last movement of Brandenburg #6. It's exactly what I'm trying to expresss.
PurpleLabyrinth

Pub(lic[k])

Picture, if you will, a place, a public place, where there are arm chairs to rest in, tables at which to sit and a bar at which to perch. The music is good but not too loud. There are NO televisions. The waiters and bartenders are personable and knowledgeable. They need to be the latter because there are there are a good 80 or 90 beers, ales, porters, stouts, lagers, bocks, lambics, farmhouse ales and ciders in bottles and 40 or 50 others of that ilk on tap. The exact lineup changes daily so everything is fresh.  The food does NOT include shrimp with pesto (which is restaurant food) or fish and chips (which is street food) but you can get a ploughman's lunch or a plate of good cheeses or a hot dog or a honkin' big pretzel.

Unfortunately, in the evening, this place is as popular as it deserves to be and with the sort of crowd where you have to leave an extra few minutes to fight your way to the door. Fortunately at lunch time it is usually fairly quiet and occupied by people who have serious talking and/or serious beer tasting to do.

I recently met someone from work there and we decided not to tell anybody about this place for reasons that should be obvious. However upon application and the completion of the questions below I might (might, I say) be willing to divulge the name and location of this paragon of pubs.

Beer Qualification Test

Where were bock beers first brewed?

How does cask differ from keg brews?

What doe "dry hopped" mean?

Do you like "lite" beer?

Do you drink responsibly and if you do, for heaven's sake, Why???