It’s been a while since I’ve done reviews, but now that I’m out of school, the reviews will be rolling full-swing again.
Last night, I went to an absolutely mind blowing piano concert with, coincidentally, my knowledgeable film score advisor.
There were two pieces performed, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Both featured the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and the pianist for Rach 3 was Yakov Kasman.
Kasman did an absolutely breathtaking performance. I always love watching pianists play because they really become a part of the music. Any good musician, like Kasman, will put their whole body into the performance. Kasman’s head would flinch with the quick chords and his body would lift off the seat as the music intensified. I don’t have much commentary on either piece, really. Shostakovich’s was a lot harder to follow for me personally because I don’t hold as great of an interest in symphonies as I do piano concerts, and I didn’t know much about the composer or piece itself. Overall, however, it was really beautiful and I really enjoyed it. I posted links to both pieces at the bottom in case you would like to listen for yourselves.
Because I loved last night’s concert so much, I’ve decided to do a series of reviews on piano films. Rach 3 is actually featured in a pivotal scene in the movie Shine which I will be reviewing soon. As soon as I am done this post, I will begin researching and watching Chopin: Desire for Love, and next week, Netflix should be sending me my all time favorite movie, The Pianist which I am most thrilled to be reviewing. If you know of any other good piano movies, send them my way and I will add them to my list.
"This that will forever bother me (apparently people don’t have eyes):
1) That Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win an Academy Award in 1994 for his role as Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
2) That Harry Potter didn’t win for any visual effects. Come on!”
I couldn’t agree more with flowersatmidnight's final comments on the Oscars. I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan. In fact, I haven't seen all of the movies, nor read all of the books. Don't get me wrong, I have a major respect for the films and the books. They were all done very well, just not my taste. The visual effects especially were outstanding! Every time I do watch a Harry Potter movie, I think about how well done they are. J.K. Rowling captured the magic of Hogwarts in her writing, and the filmmakers, makeup artist, and visual effects artist captured the magic in their work. I sincerely believe Harry Potter should have won something for visual effects. And it was their last movie!
Also, I plan on writing a full review on What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I saw it when I was in middle school, and it became an instant favorite. I love it so much and I think Leonardo DiCaprio definitely deserved an award for his beautiful portrayal of Arnie.
Hopefully there will be full reviews on these films later on, but for now I thought I would post this because I couldn’t agree more with flowersatmidnight/
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
When the short first started I thought, “oh great. A Katrina spin on the Wizard of Oz. No wonder they won an award.” I continued the watch the film and as the books brought color to this new found world, I was relieved it had swayed from The Wizard of Oz, but I was still finding the plot a bit to cliché for my taste. By the end of the film, by thoughts has completely changed.
As the plot progressed and the audience sees the books come to life, Mr. Morris Lessmore connects more and more with the audience. It starts with him caring for the books, feeding them their alphabet cereal (how clever) and dressing them in their book sleeves. The directors did a terrific job portraying the connection between the books and Mr. Lessmore as he grew old.
I rather enjoyed the directors’ choice in personifying the books. I liked that there was no talking in the film and the books spoke through the illustrations on their pages. They also characterized each book very well. I didn’t feel as if they were all just books. They were all specific characters with different movements and inflections and purposes.
I also enjoyed the director’s choice to speak through music. A friend, who is more experienced in music than I am, noticed that the composer, John Hunter,” incorporates the ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ song into the main melodies. It’s almost a lietmotif, or a theme for a character.” He also noticed the effect of not playing music, seen when the book has no words when Morris first comes into the new world, and also when he is sleeping. These are the only moments that have no music whatsoever, and also the moments where he is not effected by the books. He also offered the idea of the similarity in music between Mr. Morris at the end when he is taken up by the books, and the music heard when he first meets the woman being pulled by the books in the beginning. This is a valid argument that provides a stronger connection seen between the two characters, making the end (when his picture is framed next to hers on the wall) more explainable.
And for the francophiles who noticed the French, there is symbolism, bien sûr! Both the French seen on Morris’s makeshift bed and the French seen in the book that is operated on are both excerpts from the same chapter of the same book. Unfortunately, it is a book I have never read, so I had to refer to the wikipedia entry for Autour de la Lune (Around the Moon).This is a book written in 1870 by Jules Verne that continues a trip to the moon seen in his prequel From the Earth to the Moon. The directors (or writers, depending on the detail of the script) could have chosen this French novel to remind the audience that this a New Orleanian’s trip to a magical place, but must still return. In Verne’s novel, the two main characters come across extra-terrestrials, and the excerpt seen in the short is them describing the moon in extraordinary detail. This is parrallel to the flying books being extra-terrestrials of course. But the details also point out the care the directors took in creating this magical place through all of the aspects I have written about here, and I’m sure many others I have yet to notice.
I am certainly glad the film was only a short because before it even came to a close, I was eager to pick up a book. See so for yourself at the link posted below (full, original version). I commend William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg on their win last night for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, and now see why the “Louisiana swamp rats” took home the gold. I give the film four stars for the sake of the beauty of the film and the many connections made to portray their simple message and emotions without words.
And the Oscar goes to…
Congratulations on your fine film. There were so many beautiful aspects of the film that are so highly respected by the most prestigious members of the film industry. To the cast and crew of The Artist congratulations. To the writers, directors, and producers, congratulations.
Congratulations to all the winners of the 84th Academy Awards.
Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep has a great versatility that has always kept her as a favorite of mine. An absolute congratulations. You are indeed commonly seen on the awards stages, but you deserve it. Congratulations.
The Artist: Jean Dujardin
I just danced a little. Congratulations! I love that he did research on The Oscars for the time period of his film. I don’t even know what to say other than congratulations. Congratulations again and again.
James Earle Jones: honorary Oscar (starred in The Lion King and Star Wars among others)
Dick Smith: make up artist
Oprah Winfrey: humanitarian award
Congratulations to you all for this high honor.
The Artist: Michel Hazanivicius
"I forget my speech. I am the happiest director in the world" and more. You should be the happiest director! You deserve it! Congrats, Mr. Hazanivicius.
Sprint didn’t even try to be relevant to films! They played the same commercial one would see 5 times per show on an ordinary day. I don’t like it, but I guess it’s just because Sprint is a smaller sponsor. That makes me appreciate Coke and Honda even more. Thank you for your attempt at relevancy.