The World of Composer Richard Wagner and his operas. www.wagneroperas.com with frequent forays into the world of art, culture, and film.
- Name: Vincent Vargas
- Location: New York, New York, United States
Vincent Vargas is a foreign language teacher at a private school in New York City. He runs websites dedicated to Casablanca (www.vincasa.com) and Richard Wagner (www.wagneroperas.com).
Friday, June 26, 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road
Once again we are in a post-Apocalyptic world (devoid of any visible zombies, although I'm sure they are out there in the vast empty wasteland that Earth has become) where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, and where the dignity of what's left of mankind has been trampled by ruthless chieftains like Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who keeps a harem of women, and whose army of War Boys capture Max (Tom Hardy). Our eponymous hero is a loner who can easily be an American hero right out of the pages of James Fenimore Cooper. He is taken prisoner by Immortan Joe's men and turned into a "blood bag" for a sick War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) drives off-course in her mission to find gasoline, Immortan Joe realizes that she has betrayed him by stealing some of his women, one of whom is pregnant. And the chase is on! This is when the movie gets loud, down and dirty: but you wouldn't have it otherwise. It is, after all, a Mad Max movie!
But this film goes beyond the twisted metal and explosions that are the bread and butter of the summer cinematic season. At the heart of Fury Road is a tale of vengeance and redemption, all major themes of the American western, a genre that this film often pays tribute to, especially in its photographic wide open vistas and in the depiction of its laconic hero. Or heroine, for that matter. This film is very much about Ms. Theron's character: a damaged, but strong-willed, valiant woman with a prosthetic arm. She belongs to the same breed as Julie Christie in Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller or Claudia Cardinale in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. By far, it is the feminist film of the year.
The film is also impressive when it comes to the amount of images that linger in one's mind. George Miller knows how to set up a scene and how much to hold a shot so that it becomes indelible. The opening sequence of Max chomping down on a live two-headed gecko, and a truly surreal nighttime shot of people on stilts walking through a poisonous bog are two memorable moments from this film.
Finally a winner in a summer season of many forgettable films.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Julie Kent Bids Farewell to ABT
It was a sold-out audience that was there to celebrate Ms. Kent's career, and her entrance in the second scene of Act I caused such a deafening roar that it must have been difficult for the performers to hear the music. As the evening went on, her flawless performance turned into a love fest for the audience. It was truly a perfect evening for her, and for the rest of the company, and one of the highlights of this year's ABT season.
The ovation at the end of the evening went on for close to twenty minutes. The great curtain of the Metropolitan Opera parted and the assembled cast, each with a flower in hand, tossed them in her direction, while petals rained down from the rafters. Meanwhile in the audience not a single soul left the place, and everyone remained on their feet. Then, there was the parade of colleagues onstage, all bearing flowers, positioning them in the middle of the stage, creating a mountain of flora. These included Xiomara Reyes and Paloma Herrera, who earlier in the season had their very own memorable ABT farewells. One of the last to pay her tribute was ABT's Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee, a former dancer with ABT, and Ms. Kent's husband. There were some tender ovation moments as her children William and Josephine shared the stage with their mom.
It was an evening that few will forget, but as ABT finishes the last two weeks of the season, I'm sure that on everybody's mind is the question of who will fill the spots of these three artists who were so much an integral part of the company. It promises to be a very interesting 2016 season.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
The Walk will open the 53rd NY Film Festival
New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said: “The Walk is surprising in so many ways. First of all, it plays like a classic heist movie in the tradition of The Asphalt Jungle or Bob le flambeur—the planning, the rehearsing, the execution, the last-minute problems—but here it’s not money that’s stolen but access to the world’s tallest buildings. It’s also an astonishing re-creation of Lower Manhattan in the ’70s. And then, it becomes something quite rare, rich, mysterious… and throughout it all, you’re on the edge of your seat.”
Robert Zemeckis added: “I am extremely honored and grateful that our film has been selected to open the 53rd New York Film Festival. The Walk is a New York story, so I am delighted to be presenting the film to New York audiences first. My hope is that Festival audiences will be immersed in the spectacle, but also to be enraptured by the celebration of a passionate artist who helped give the wonderful towers a soul.”