Recent items of interest in the media

December 31, 2010 at 3:21 am (Anglophilia, Blogroll, Film and television, Music)

Last June, when I went to New York to see the ballet, I wrote about the striking changes at Lincoln Center. In today’s Washington Post, in a piece entitled Stepping Up, Philip Kennicott addresses the subject in more detail. He also makes a point of how much Washington’s Kennedy Center could use a similar makeover. More than anything, the Kennedy Center needs to be connected to the rest of the city. As things stand now, driving there is a harrowing experience. There’s no subway stop close by, either. It’s a frustrating state of affairs, because the offerings at the Center are top notch, especially with regard to ballet and the symphony. We’ve decided to go in April, so that we can hear Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony perform Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I’m eager to hear this glorious music live, but I’m trying not to think about negotiating that tangle of roads!

This year, Christoph Eschenbach became the music director of the National Symphony:

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One of my favorite blogs in D.G. Myers’s Commonplace Blog. I especially like a post entitled “Hanukkah,” in which Dr. Myers explains what the expression “Happy Holidays” means to him as an Orthodox Jew. Considering its somewhat dyspeptic opening remarks, the piece concludes with an affirmation that really moved me, and that I agree with wholheartedly.

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Rich Cohen’s provocative and fascinating piece of film criticism, “It’s a Wonderful Life”: The most terrifying movie ever,” appeared, somewhat Grinch-like, in the Christmas Eve edition of Salon Magazine. I think he is really on to something here. This movie is frightening in much the same “A Christmas Carol” is frightening. Yes, you get the happy ending, but the dark subtext is still lurking beneath the surface gaiety. Mostly, it is such a relief that things turned out well in the end, as they so easily might not have.

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I’ve been enjoying Margaret’s blog Booksplease  for quite some time now. She’s a terrific reader whose reviews and comments are invariably worth reading. And she takes such lovely pictures of the English countryside, once again covered in snow!

Finally, I’d like to recommend two recent documentary films:

. Ron and We knew we would love the Glen Gould film; what we didn’t expect was how moved we were by the Humphrey biography. Some of the images from the sixties were hard to watch. And we learned a great deal about Hubert Humphrey that we did not know, that was worth knowing. He was not a perfect man, but it seems to me that in many ways, he was a great man. It is worth recalling the words of Walter Mondale’s eulogy:

Above all, Hubert was a man with a good heart. And on this sad day it would be good for us to recall Shakespeare’s words:
A good leg will fall. A straight back will stoop. A black beard will turn white. A curled pate will grow bald. A fair face will wither. A full eye will wax hollow. But a good heart is the sun and the moon. Or rather the sun and not the moon, for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps its course truly.
He taught us all how to hope and how to live, how to win and how to lose, he taught us how to live, and finally, he taught us how to die.

As for Glenn Gould, the film gives us a strange, eccentric individual who was also a supremely gifted musician. There’s some priceless footage of the pianist here, and interviews with those that knew him do much to shed light on this complex and secretive man.

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