REVIEW: A Come Back Story: Where The Wild Things Are

 

Where The Wild Things Are
Where The Wild Things Are

I remember having Where the Wild Things Are read to me as a child. I remember a picture of “Wild Things” on an island. And when I saw the new motion picture Where the Wild Things Are, the imagery took on a whole new meaning, a much darker one.

The film starts with the main character, an eight-year-old boy, Max chasing and tackling his pet dog. He seems like a maniac howling and shrieking as he rages through his house with all the energy of the firecrackers I use to play with as a child. And from that moment, I was not a watcher but a participant in the film.

This inclusive feeling takes sail later in film when Max bites his mother, while she is on a date with a new companion. The mother shrieks, and questions her menace son’s behavior, who, then decides to run out of the house and into the woods.  The viewer then sets sail with Max to a boisterous island.

There, Max encounters a monster, Carol, similar to himself. He is aggressive and destructive and all in the name of family. No matter what age you are, it is difficult to encounter change. And while this film represented the difficulties a young boy may face, these were issues anyone can relate to: Life and relationships, with family or otherwise, are dynamic, even when we don’t want it to be.

But before I get too sentimental, I will instead revert to a more direct review of the film. It was flawless:

1. It was dynamic in that it had all the adventure a child would desire, while containing all the depth an older audience would value.

2. It was an action packed film, minus all the anxiety and violence of a Terminator film.

3. There were large hairy monsters.

4. The angle use, film quality, colors, costumes and music were all perfect.

 

Conclusion: A must see. For any age.

REVIEW: Grizzly Bear without the Scare

 

Grizzly Bear(s)
Grizzly Bear(s)

Grizzly Bear, a Brooklyn-based indie rock band, was more solitary than one might expect. Just their band name should have you thinking their sound is powerful. But what was powerful, was not their show, but their lighting and following.

 “It seems as though everyone secretly bought tickets to this show,” whispered my roommate. And as I walked toward the Michigan Theater, I saw pairs of emaciated students clasping onto cigarettes, squabbling with other pairs of emaciated cigarette holders. I was pulled in, “did you see Beach House?” (Beach House was the opening band for Grizzly Bear, and is classified as dream-pop, indie rock. Together the duo, uses the guitar, keyboard, organ and vocals to create music.) Having missed the performance, I was told by clamorers and cigarette smoke that they were great.

Anxious not to miss any of Grizzly Bear, I walked into the theater, and climbed into my back balcony seats. Half a song went by before I heard a rumble from my roommate, “the sound is weak; they sound better on my headphones.” I couldn’t argue, she was absolutely right, the sound was better on my headphones (I have good headphones). Unwilling to accept this to be the reality, we got up from our seats to sneak into the front.

One wrong door later and we were outside, schmoozing with a different scene, the set-up crew. Believe it or not, the sound was better from outside. Turned out that the poor sound was not the fault of the Michigan Theater, but instead was the fault of Grizzly Bear, who brought their own sound-guy. A song later, and we heard one of their better known pieces, The Knife, come on. My roommate insisted we go inside, and we re-entered through the main floor. We walked near the front, and leaned against the wall with several like-minded people.

While the music was louder, the performance did not improve. Grizzly Bear did not put on much of a show. Their electronic music made me feel ambivalent, and their individual singing sounded more like their electronic instruments than passionate voices. My favorite parts were when the musicians harmonized, and their voices came together to make more of a godly organ sound. The four performers didn’t transcend from the stage, they stood there almost bashfully strumming/hitting/poking their instrument in a soft, sheltered fashion.

The most successful aspect of the show was the lighting. Behind the Grizzly Bears were lights in glass jars. There were about twelve of these glass jars dangling horizontally behind the Bears. Different lights would go off at different times, and twinkle with the charm of a fire-fly. Then, on the floor of the stage, next to each performer were other lights, neon’s- green, blue and occasionally red. But in addition to all this were bright white lights that came down as rays from the ceiling. The combination of the neon lights on the ground and the beams from above created a very dramatic feeling. Then the jars would go off sporadically, and make the show seem almost surreal.

Conclusion: Interested in lighting go see Grizzly Bear, interested in Grizzly Bear get good headphones.

Preview: Brewing Hope’s Barnstorm, Oct 3

Preview: Techno at Brewing Hope’s Barnstorm

Brewing Hope


When: Saturday, October 3rd, 10pm-2am

What: Brewing Hope‘s Barnstorm

Where: The Yellow Barn, 416 W Huron Street.

(2 blocks west of Main St., Ann Arbor.)


Michigan Electronic Dance Music Association (MEDMA) will be providing techno music to dance to.

Brewing Hope

$5 donations will benefit Music for Chiapas, a project that sends musical instruments to a co-operative in Southern Chiapas, Mexico (from where Brewing Hope gets its coffee).

Iced coffee (Brewing Hope blend) will be provided (as well as water).

Come out and support both your local coffee and local techno music.

By the way, did you know that the birthplace of techno is  nearabouts here — right here in Southeastern Michigan? In Detroit, more specifically.

Here is a poem which explains why techno was born in Detroit.


Why techno was born in Detroit

Sayan Bhattacharyya


Techno

could have been invented

only in

Detroit.

Techno saw the long-playing record not as something to be thrown away

but as a treasure to be sampled.

Techno saw discarded shells of former factories

not as structures to be torn down

but as spaces in which to make music.

Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson

and all the rest of the great disc jockeys

who came out of Detroit

wanted to achieve a transference of the spirit.

A transference of the spirit

from the machine of the turntable

to the flesh of

the dancing human body.

A transference of the spirit.

This dream of transference

could have been dreamed nowhere but

in Detroit.

Because Detroit was home

both to the machine and to the spirit.

It was in Detroit

that the fire-belching machines of the great industrial plants

like River Rouge

or the old Packard  factory

existed

alongside the equally fiery passions

of Rhythm and Blues.

Here,

visions of automobile bodies of steel

in the clanging workshops of auto factories by day

used to give way

to the sound

of soul music

by night.

Body and soul.

Machine and spirit.

Detroit was the place where opposites clashed

and were overcome.

This is why techno was born in Detroit.

Techno,

which was born in Detroit,

teaches us:

The long-playing vinyl record

is not something to be thrown away.

It is a treasure the DJ can play to make sound.

Shells of former factories

are not structures to be torn down.

They are spaces in which you can make music.

They are spaces in which you can make music.


REVIEW: The Time Traveler’s Wife

I went into the theatre not really knowing what to expect. A lot of my friends saw the movie before me and I got a lot of mixed reviews.  I really like romance stories, and I really like Rachel McAdams, so I just had to go see for myself.

I have never read the book, but I thought the concept was pretty self explanatory: man and woman fall in love. Man travels randomly through time which puts strain on the relationship. Though the idea seems simple, it was a little confusing at first, watching the present Henry DeTamble (Bana) interact with the future or past Henry DeTamble or seeing the future or past Henry interact with other characters who were set in the present. For example, the day of Henry and Clare (McAdams) are to wed, Richard travels through time, leaving Clare on their wedding day. Fortunately, the future Henry was traveling backward in time while the present Henry was traveling (somewhere) in time.  So the real Henry actually misses his wedding, but Clare is able to still have the wedding.

Not only was the beginning confusing at times, but it was also a little slow. The second half really picks up when the climax of the story keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Well, maybe not the entire audience, but it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. The future Henry appears while the DeTambles are having dinner with friends. Future Henry is curled up under a blanket, shivering and bleeding on the ground. He then disappears.

This movie definitely touched the audience. When the movie ended, many of the movie-goers were in tears, including my cousin, who came with me.

I definitely want to check out the book and see how it compares.

PREVIEW: The Time Traveler’s Wife

“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” based on the popular novel by Audrey Niffenegger, is a romantic drama directed by Robert Schwentke. The book was published in 2003, the movie came out on August 14, but is still playing at Ypsilanti’s Showcase Cinemas.

The film stars Rachel Mc Adams (The Notebook ) and Eric Bana (The Hulk). It tells the story of Henry DeTamble (Bana) and Clare DeTamble, a married couple struggling to endure the hardships that their relationship faces due to Henry’s genetic disorder that causes him to randomly travel through time.

On the internet movie database (IMDb), the movie received 7.3/10 stars.

REVIEW: Itzhak Perlman, violin & Rohan De Silva, piano 9/13

Itzhak Perlman, violin & Rohan De Silva, piano

Program:

Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major, Op. 9, No. 3                  Jean-Marie Leclair

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.7 in c minor, Op. 30, No. 2   Ludwig van Beethoven

Suite Italienne                                                                              Igor Stravinsky

& various short pieces Perlman announced individually from the stage

The Itzhak Perlman concert last Sunday (September 13, 2009) completely sold out. I know this because I bought the last ticket. In fact, even as I was pulling out my wallet to pay, two more people stopped by and asked to buy tickets. What’s so special about Itzhak Perlman? I’d say his technical prowess. He makes everything look easy. It’s as if the technical aspect of playing the violin, the physical neccesity of placing the fingers on the fingerboard in the right place at the right time (and coordinating the fingers with the bow, and drawing the bow against the string with the right pressure and speed, and…) don’t exist at all. It’s as if Perlman can shortcut past all the technical concerns, and the audience can enjoy the music undiluted. This is not the case, of course–Perlman’s ability comes from extensive training and practicing–but it is what makes a live performance by Itzhak Perlman so amazing. At times I couldn’t believe I was watching a human being, and not listening to a digitally altered recording.

I’m not going to lie: I came to the concert to hear Itzhak Perlman, not Rohan De Silva. But I don’t want to downplay the pianist’s part in this performance. Rohan De Silva’s playing was also excellent: expressive, sensitive, dynamic. At first I focused my attention solely on Perlman, fascinated by his technical facility (and the automated wheelchair he had zoomed about the stage upon). But I soon realized that much of the music’s complexity came from the interplay between piano and violin—the contrast of musical textures, the back and forth exchange of the melody. I like the phrase in the program’s notes on Rohan De Silva: “collaborative piano.” The performance this past Sunday was a collaboration between two highly skilled musicians.

On a lighter note, I’ve always wondered what people think about during concerts. I know that I personally cannot stay focused purely on the music. At times, my attention wandered to the enormous floral arrangement on the stage. I wondered who had put it there, and why. To entertain bored audience members? To fill up space on the empty stage? It was a rather wild looking arrangement, with very long, crooked, white branches extending outwards like skinny skeletal fingers.

I wondered whether I was not properly appreciating the music because I was noticing the decorations.  Then I wondered how many people were properly appreciating the music, and how many were simply sitting there to be able to say they had heard Perlman. Soon I found myself musing on what it means to “appreciate” music. For your mind to be analyzing the harmonies and rhythms? For your emotions to follow the contours of the melodic line?

What do you think it means to “appreciate” music? What do you think about during a concert?