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Francis Bacon’s Triptych

I’m standing, finally, before the Triptych. It is perhaps odd that such a hideous and anxious set of imagery should be an identifying feature and hallmark, for potentially my greatest joy.

When I first saw the image, several weeks ago, on my computer screen, it was new, and it startled me. It made me feel empty in the pit of my stomach. Standing before it now, in its full size, is worse. I wish there were no other people. Empty with just me.

I do wonder about what makes me want to keep staring at it however. There is a pleasure I get from the horror of it. A pleasure from the claustrophobic blood, and feeling of being in a veritable nightmare.

There is not a single part of the image which does not contribute to the general sense of nightmare, horror and anxiety. It is not a horror or anxiety borne out of a fear of survival, or imminent danger. But rather something growing out of hopelessness, decay, deformation, being in the presence of a monster that will not kill you, but rather disgust you.

The downward bend of the neck, bending perhaps under the weight of … i dont know what. The teeth, oh! the teeth. Is it laughing? Is it mocking me? Is it baring its teeth as its sole defence?

The red stripe, is like a red carpet, there with the sole intention of featuring the hideous monster, mocking him before the audience … us who stare with unsatiable appetites.

“Come one, come all. Ladies and Gentlemen, stare at the star of the show: the hideous, formless monster”

Is it in pain? Or is it not even capable of pain? Or perhaps that is the only thing that it can feel?

Waht if .. what if it is look in a mirro? what if, he too is fascinated by his hideous form? Unable to take its absent eyes ooff its own shapeless mass … those blood-red lips … in that abnormally small hand pale ‘face.

On each side two other deformed entities, one screaming silently …. perhaps jeering … the other much more resigned to its hideous existence, only stare on, perhaps even feelign pity for the Monster-on-display.

Is this how Bacon saw himself? or is it how he saw everyone? We all do have our hideous side, and are we not, in some perverted way, fascinated with it? With its dark formless creations and desires? Maybe I can’t stop staring at this nightmarish scene, for the same reason taht i couldn’t stop reading Notes from Underground">Notes from Underground, because Dostoyevski too perhaps was presenting me with the monster in my basement, and i found it fascinating in teh same perverse way. Are all like that … or is it just me?

I cannot help but find it odd that I should have the association with this image that I do. And yet at the same time ….

==/

This was an excerpt from my Ireland-England 2007 Travel Diary. The paintings are by the Irish painter, Francis Bacon. While i can claim a certain connexion with music, and a limited one with Sculpture, I am very uncultured when it comes to painting, and most of all contemporary and modern art. This mostly is due to my own dogmatic and close-minded approach and rejection of modernism and post-modernism. However, that is changing. I was introduced to Bacon, and specifically by a very dear friend several months ago, and it touched me on a very deep level. It fascinated me. Just as my rejection of modern non-rhyming poetry was shattered some years ago, when i opened my mind, i feel the same is happenign towards modern, and post-modern art. Anyways, when she showed me the central piece of the Triptych, i was so completely overwhelmed by it and emotionally struck, that i was determined to understand this. So when i was in Cambridge, I forced Jai to come with me to London one of the nights, and we headed for the Tate Modern, where this painting finds its home. I arrived there 30 minutes before closing time. So i sat myself on the ground in front of this painting for those 30 minutes until the ushers, ushered me out. It was an incredible experience.

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Well, this book review has been far too long in the writing, and while my trip to Italy took place between the reading of the book and the current review of it, believe me when i say i’ve reviewed it in my head, in the critical way that i always treat Harry Potter books, so it is not just the emotional reaction that i had upon finishing my first reading of the book.

The period leading up to the book

I have to admit that during the two year gap between HP and the half-blood prince – a book which i enjoyed enormously – and the latest and final installment, i partook quite gratuitously in the whole world of predicting the outcome of the Harry potter series, going to the extent of analyzing past data scientifically, reading a good number of essays and predictions by fellow enthusiasts, and coming up with some theories of my own.  My good friend Jai, a fellow potter-adict (the man responsible for my own addiction) can attest to this.

I won’t actually go into any details, but suffice to say, that i ended up with much more meta-reasoning than reasoning within the framework of the stories themselves.  Mainly because as interesting a world as JK Rowling has created, it is alas! not the most self-coherent one.  I mean, i’m a tolkien fanatic, and i set his style of creation as the only way to go, somethign matched only by the likes of Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov.  But i try to not let incoherences in the Potter World take away from the immense pleasure they create. 

I had predicted that Potter himself would not die, and that Snape would.  Simple metareasoning.  Rowling wouldn’t disappoint and send into depression millions of young people by killing his hero off at the end.  And Snape had to end up as a good person because, otherwise how could you get the message across that everyone has some good in them, especially when love is involved.  For the same reasons i argued that the Ron and Hermione characters would survive, and believed that Neville Longbottom (one of my favourite characters) must die in a heroic manner. While Jai claimed thathe was sure Harry was a horcrux, i didn’t think believe it woudl be so, however, i was sure that the scar would have be a near horcrux, or a critical part of the final defeat of voldemort. Other predictions included a very high likelihood of Severus Snape having been previously in love with Harry’s mum Lily Potter.  Finally, i was sure that Dumbledore’s past would certainly have to be involved, especially somethign concerning the enigmatic character of Grindelwald.  I figured Grindelwald would have to be somethign based on a Hitlerian archetype, considering his defeat at the hands of Dumbledore was coincidental with the end of the WWII in the muggleworld.

While i admit, i did not venture too far from the standard sort of prediction i did happen to come across some very well-written articles and essays concerning the future of the varios characters, the most interesting of which i found over at Mugglenet.com, wherein the writer drew a parallel between Severus Snape, the so-called Half-blood Prince, and Macchiavelli’s The Prince.  The idea i thought was beautiful. And considereing Ms. Rowling’s track record for subtlety, especially in use of character names (didn’t even realize the connection between the Phoenix Fawkes and the infamous Guy Fawkes until a couple of years ago!), to use the name Half-blood Prince as a sort of, not just hommage, but a hint at the character of Snape.  In fact i personally thought and hoped that by the end the book would become much more about Snape than harry potter.  Potter, like most heroes even in the best works of fiction or mythology, is boring, and one dimensional (eg. Frodo Baggins, or Luke Skywalker).  Whereas a character like snape who is flawed has so much more potential and is so much more interesting (look at how Lord of the rings was so mcuh more about sam gamgee than frodo, or how star wars was so much more about anakin/darth vader than the straight up hero luke). 

Anyways, with these thoughts in my head, the days counted down, until finally, as detailed previously, i got my hands on a copy of the book at 2am on the 20th/21st of July.

The First Review of the Book (spoilers coming up)

I knew that if i wanted to fully immerse myself in the book, i had to read it in one sitting. So i started at 2.30 AM on the 29th and finished at 1.15 AM on the 30th.  I did take pee breaks, as well as food breaks. I’m sure at one point i passed out, but all in all, it was a near straight cover to cover read.  In hindsight i wonder if that influenced my very first impressiosn of the book. 

I will warn readers that from this point forward i will discuss SPOILERS AND PLOTSSLINES IN THE BOOK.

(more…)

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Well, it has come … and gone.

Standing in line a mere 3 hours last friday nite, i was able to get my hands on the final installment of the Harry potter saga: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at 2.40 AM, at Paris’ famous W.H.Smith.

So i decided to make it a Potter-ful night and so i went before hand to watch the newly released Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film.

MOVIE REVIEW: Harry potter and the Order of the Phoneix

What an absolute and utter disappointment. Easily, the worst of the five movies, and on almost every level.

Before starting my critique, i will acknowledge that it was a very difficult task to try and condense a 700-page book into a less than 3 hours long movie. However, having said that, let us not forget that the 4th move, Goblet of Fire, was also a massive book, which was satisfactorily translated onto the silver screen. So let me go through the problems:

  • The story is incredibly incoherent. And this is coming from a hardcore Potterphile, who knows the stories inside out. While it is acceptable to leave out many smaller details which add to the ambiance of the book but do not figure in the main storyline, one cannot do the same with important points. I can only imagine how confusing the movie must have been to one who has NOT read the books. There are jumps in plot, there is no character developement. There is no logic in the reason people do things.
  • Utterly anticlimactic. As i sat there, grinding my teeth through teh first half, i kept justifying the missing chunks of story, by saying that all is for a good reason: take away from the first half of the story, in order to allow a long and superclimactic final confrontation scene. In the book, the final confrontation is easily, the most climactic of the first six books (yes, even more so that i would say in the Half-blood Prince). The entire part with teh kids running around in the department of mysteries should be the perfect medium for any diretor looking for some inventive eye-candy. And yet … david yates, chose to skip over almost all of it, and go straight to the hall of prophcies. Such a shame. Can you imagine this part of the story, in the hands of, for example Alfonso Cuaron (the guy who did the 3rd movie), or better yet, someone like a Terry Gilliam, or Jean-Pierre Jeunet? Then as if that wasn’t bad enough, the utter climax, the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort, is done away far too quickly, without any interesting visuals, and dishonesty towards the characters to some degree.
  • And while i’m on the department of mysteries sequence, WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH THE DEATH EATERS WOOSHING AROUND LIKE THAT? For goodness sake…..
  • Furthermore, Why did they have to change Sirius’s death? I can think of100 ways of doign it which would have been better than that. AND WHY THE HELL DID THE ARCHWAY NOT HAVE A VEIL!!!!!! OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE……
  • I really dislike some character depictions. First of all, i have Never liked Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore. The essence of Dumbledore is a childish spirit with the body and wisdom of an old man. He’s the greatest wizard of the age, one who knows it, who is confident of his abilities, and is afraid of no one, and is utterly compassionate. Most of this does not come through Gambon’s interpretation. Which is a shame, because they are the most attractive parts of the character’s personality. I miss Richard Harris’s Dumbledore.
  • We didn’t get to see nearly enough of Snape! Come on, here we have one of the best and most intriguing characters in the series (not the mention the most perfectly played, thanks to alan rickman), and i think he has only a few minutes of screentime.
  • I’m sorry, but i dont care what reviewers say, but i think If Daniel Radcliffe (the guy who plays harry potter) had an act-off with the inimitably bad Hayden Christensen (guy who played Anakin skywalker), i’m sure they would both lose.
  • I believe, the girl who played Luna Lovegood, is the first non-brit employed in the series. And it shows! And her lack of acting experiences shows too! She may have the proper appearance, but the acting was just not there. And what the heck was up with the not-so-subtle “romantic tension’ between her and harry. Come on david yates, you can be more subtle than that.

If only to be fair, i will point out some of the positive points as well.

  • The two main young ladies, who play Hermione and Ginny, are certainly growing up most beautifully. It’ll be a shame when by the final movie they’ll have to be 22 years olds playing 16 year old high schoolers, not that i will mind.
  • There were a lot of good visual, not necessarily in the context of the story, but in themselves. Some good visual jokes, such as the kitten plates in Umbridge’s office.
  • Dolores Umbridge. Imelda Staunton was … PERFECT. She was the lone shining light in the entire movie. She had the character down to a’t’. From those annoying littel coughs, to look and behaviour. She was perfect in everyway.
  • … hmm…i guess that’s it.

Did anyone who has not read the books actually understand what is going on now? i doubt it. Do they know the importance of the prophecy? no. Or of nevill longbottom? no.

Well, that’s it. I have not yet begun reading the book. i hope to begin soon, once i’ve finished the re-reading of the last two, just to get into the flow of things.

 

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I love Peter Oundjian

This week, i have an article in Shahrvand, about the Violin Concerto of Behzad Ranjbaran, with Joshua Bell and TSO. But i wanted to post a portion of it, that was about Peter Oundjian.

Peter Oundjian is the new music director of the TSO. He was appointed this year as the fulltime conductor. And he has brought so much passion, and love for music with him,that it has revitalized the entire orchestra in my opinion. I don’t care what others might say about him, or about the TSO. I love him for what he has done with the orchestra and for what he has brought to toronto. I’m by no stretch of the imagination, a classical music prophet, or even a critic for that matter, but i think i know enough classical music and have it as a large enough part of my life, to safely say that if he manages to stay in toronto fora few years, he will make the TSO a true world-class orchestra.

He has vision, and he passion. And he has new ideas. Take his New Creations Festival that just concluded last thursday, with the Ranjbaran Concerto. It was fantastic. And he plans on making it an annual thing. I htink that is a wonderful idea, and great for encourage not only composition by new and old canadian and world composers, but also to encourage the young to come out to the orchestras and to be familiarized with modern classical music (and keep in mind that this is coming from someone who cannot, or rather could not, stand the thought of modern classical, which includes shosktakovich in my books).

The other thing that really impressed me about him (other than his ever present and infectious smile) was a little gesture that he did last thursday when he asked Ranjbaran onto the stage before the performance of the violin concerto. Anyways, here is the excerpt from the article (I encourage you to read the whole hting when it comes out on tuesday):



None of all this would have ever been possible, if not for the foresight and pioneering spirit of the TSO�s new music director, the ebullient and effervescent Peter Oundjian.

For those who have followed the TSO, the last few years have been difficult. After the departure of Jukka-Pekka Saraste, the orchestra was without a fulltime director for some years. Finally last year the appointment of Peter Oundjian was announced. From those I spoke with, the reaction was mixed. He was not as well-known a name as the former director and somewhat of an unknown commodity.

It was with this spirit that we went to the first concert of the year at Roy Thompson Hall. The year looked very promising. The schedule included works such as the timeless St. Matthew�s Passion of Bach, Beethoven�s emperor concerto and 3rd symphony, as well as Rachmaninoff�s Symphonic Dances, and Mahler�s 10th symphony, to name just a few. The program also included such world-renowned names and Richard Goode, Yo-Yo Ma, Leila Josefowicz, as well the brilliant young Lang Lang.

From that first time that he took the stage, with his ever-present smile, his infectious passion for music and his friendly approach towards his audience, it was clear that this year, would be much better than we could have imagined. As the year progressed, one could not help feeling as a friend with him, through his numerous radio appearances, and his pre-show explanations of the music, and his idea for the annual New Creations Festival. And he has shown that the future look very bright for the TSO (for example next year, Toronto will be one of only two cities in north America, along with Chicago, to host performances of all of the Beethoven piano concertos, performed by the irrepressible Evgeny Kissin).

However, on Thursday night he showed another aspect, which displayed his character as person. Following his explanation of the motivations behind the violin concerto, Ranjbaran, started towards offstage, so that the performance could start. Oundjian grabbed his arm, and brought him back to the microphone. And then he asked Ranjbaran, to please explain how it was to grow up in Iran, while attending the Tehran Conservatory, since �most of us would probably not be aware of, or have some wrong ideas about it�, or something to that effect.

That one little gesture, to me, meant the world. Because it showed a person who truly lives in accord with what he preaches � that is, his music. Here is a true bridge-builder, a person whose aim is to clear the record of misconceptions, of differences; to bring people together through music, and show that we are all the same.

When the piece came to an end, for a moment the hall was silent, and then erupted to a standing ovation, as the ever-smiling Peter Oundjian embraced Joshua Bell, and then beckoned Ranjbaran to come on stage. And as the three took their bows, the crowd roared on.

ps. I have to say, i don’t think any violinist other than Joshua Bell could have pulled it off in such spectacular a fashion. I’d heard him on Disc before, but never live, and my goodness, he is UN-BELIEVABLE!

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“Primer” for a brain-teaser


Last nite we decided to go and see the much hyped and much publicized indy movie “Primer”.

The movie gained fame when it garnered top honours at this year’s Sundance festival. Then the legend grew about a most confusing and discombobulating film, made on a 7000 dollar budget. Then the reviews lauded as a fantastic accomplishment and a heck of a brain-teaser.

Well, let me say this. IT DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. I can’t recall ever watching a movie, and thinking “what the heck is happening” for it’s entire duration. It’s just too much, almost. Almost.

Thank goodness we watched the movie with Jai, Marko and Patrick (our group being a cadre of 4 physicists and 1 mathematician). So let me give a warning that i ‘might’ be giving away some of the movie in the following lines … well not really give it away, i don’t think it’s possible, but rather giving some spoilers.

The movie is about time-travel, and all the paradoxes that ensue. But it’s done in a fantastic way. For one thing, it certainly does NOT treat its audience like a bunch of kindergarten kids, meaning that they do NOT explain any of their jargon or dialogue. It’s there for you to figure out. There are NO special effects, whatsover. It’s all done with fast-paced editing, uber-confusing dialogue, and impossible and paradoxical situations. One of the best lines in the movie is “Oh, i’m so hungry, I haven’t eaten anything since later on this afternoon!”.

We sat down and discussed the movie for about an hour afterwards, and that was when glimmers of understanding started to filter through, and our conversation became filled with “oh’s” and other expressions of comprehension. We think that we get it.

The Good

  • For once we see a sci-fi movie which is driven purely by storyline and dialogue, and no special effects. It’s so engaging that you don’t even realize that there are no special effects. It’s not even needed. Very cleverly written. Almost too cleverly. My first impression was that the story line as shown was TOO ambiguous, too many variables and not enough equations.
  • I really liked the quality of the shooting. It wasn’t particular spectacular cinematography ($7000 budget only goes so far), but it was nicely done. A lot of fast cuts. YOU completely lose sense of time, chronology and order, which is what you need to have when dealing with the pardoxes of time travel. A lot of nice grainy shots.
  • The problem is a genuine brain-twister. These guys obviously either have a science background, or philosophy background, or even an engineering one. They deal with the issue in a mature way. Most importantly, THEY DO NOT DUMB DOWN THE MOVIE FOR THE SAKE OF THE AUDIENCE. That is one thing that i can’t stand in hollywood flicks. Even the good sci-fi ones, dumb it down and explain things. These guys don’t. They give you credit and challenge you to try and deal with the cards you’ve been dealt.
  • The twist, and believe me there is a twist or two, is very subtle but quite visible, if your eyes are open.

So to cut this short, i recommend this movie entirely. But be forewarned, you will NOT get it in the first viewing. It’s so good to see a ‘science fiction’ movie that is driven by storyline and dialogue rather than by visuals. The last time i had to discuss a movie at the end, to this extent, was when we saw “Memento”.

So go and watch this, and then come and tell me what you thought of it. Perhaps if you explain what you thought actually happens in the movie, it would make it clearer for us too!

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  • Filed under: Cinema, Review, Weird
  • What do plants, snakes and shahriar have in common? Apparently, none of them can read very well.

    So marko, returned from UAE (of all places last sunday) and so we found time in our busy schedules to meet up together today. So we hooked up at Futures as usual to eat, talk and spend some merry hours together.

    So we got there and following our greetings and consumption of large quantities of pierogies (wednesdays are all you can eat pierogies, mmmmm) i told them with great enthusiasm, that looking on the bloor cinema website they were showing ‘LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN’. When asked by Anne-Laure what is it about, i said that it stars Sean Connery, what more do you need to know. So all excited about the movie and the fact that we can see it for free with STudent ID’s, i dragged them off to the theatre. We got there just in time and as we were walking in, there was a big crowd and a bunch of tables set up at the entrance with promotional material. Hmmm… that’s odd i thought, why would they have promotional stuff for this movie, especially when they usually reserve that for special shows such the sept. 11 shows or halloween or whatnot. Anyways, so we made a brief meander to the table to see what these promotions even were.

    ‘Win 100 hours of bowling for free’. Bowling? hmm … odder yet. Anyways, we got the raffle form and went into the theatre. The place was PACKED! no place to sit. so we rushed upstairs and found some seats on the balcony. Meanwhile downstairs there is a guy doing some kind of introductions on stage, about somethings and bowling. Hmmm. So we finally get into our seats and get all psyched up for seeing the movie. Then it starts and the first shot is some quote about bowling. I figured this is just some promotional thing before the movie starts. So it goes on and the title comes on:

    LEAGUE OF ORDINARY GENTLEMEN

    What? What is going on? Why is the guy talking about bowling. Well let me tell you.

    Because i had misread the ‘league of ORDINARY gentlemen’, as the ‘league of EXTRAORDINARY gentlemen’. This movie, was in fact a documentary about bowling!! Now it all makes sense. I was stunned. It was an entire documentary about the Professional Bowling Association. Along with the hero (who was a physicists!), a bad guy and a tragic guy.

    So this is what we learned from the movie. Bowling was the most popular ‘sport’ on television in the 60′s in the US. But now it isnt’. Then some former VP’s from microsoft bought the bowling league and got some guys from NIKE to run it (explains why MICROSOFT is so crappy). So now it’s back on top again. And with heroes like Steve Ray Williams Jr. (a degree in physics) who is the winningest of all time and has a house bigger than the white house, and Pete Weber (a definitive hick) who is the charles barkley of the bowling world who does the ‘crotch chop’ everytime he gets a strike, and Wayne Webb who was one of the winningest of all time, but somehow after winning 20 tournaments and making over $1.5m lost it all to gambling and get this … KARAOKE!

    So now we know all there is to know about the world of professional bowling. Coincidentally this is also the last time anyone is goign to trust me when i tell them that i read that the bloor cinema is showing such-and-such movie!

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    The Commander-in-Schiff

    A couple of Tuesdays ago, we had the ‘pleasure’ of listening to the enigmatic and much celebrated Hungarian pianist, Andras Schiff. The event was a bit crazy because we originally had tickets to go see Mozart’s Requiem at the same time, and at the last second we decided it would be better to see Schiff, seeing as I had heard rave reviews of his playing from my piano teacher and also Wolfgang. So we chose to see him.

    After giving away our Requiem tickets, we got to the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, only to find out the show is sold out. But we stuck it out until 3 minutes before showtime, and got a couple of tickets for 5 bucks.

    As we were awaiting the maestro’s arrival on stage, a lady came out to the microphone, and started to tell us a story:

    “So i’d like to welcome you all here. It is such a fantastic honour to be hosting Mr. Schiff here tonite. But i should tell you. Maestro Schiff arrived here yesterday and practice on the piano and then at the end of the day came to me and said (WITH THICK ACCENT) ‘Jeneefer, dees piano vont doo’. I was shocked. ‘It is too heavy for Chopin, it vont doo’. So finally we were able to, at the last minute, thanks to Mr. Michael Remenyi, get this at the last minute, so if you ever decide to rent a piano from them, get the Steinway number 442. you can say you played on the same piano as Maestro Schiff. Enjoy the show”.

    Then Schiff walks onto the stage. I have to be perfectly honest he looks a bit silly. But as soon as he sat down and started to play the Janacek, you knew this guy is the real deal.

    Now, there is one thing to be said about going to the shows at St. Lawrence Centre. The tickets normally are over $40. But you can student tickets for 5 bucks. so the crowd is on average, over 60. Now this being the transition season between fall and winter you can expect lots of coughing. And (un)fortunately the hall is rather small and cozy, so the accoustics are great.

    So Schiff finishes off the Janacek quite nicely and gets the due applause. The next piece is the Chopin Sonata No.3. For those who don’t know, the piece is quite difficult and wonderful.

    Now, the best version i’ve heard of the sonata is by the incomparable Marta Argerich, which i think would be hard to ever equal or better.

    He started with the first movement. It was very different from what i’d heard or expected, much more controlled and slow, but it was good enough that it meritted thought and respect. As he played, a poor fellow in the second row, started to have a coughing fit. A cough every couple of seconds. He was trying to muffle it but not very successfully.

    Suddenly about two-thirds of the way through the first movement, Schiff stops playing, spins around on his chair to face the crowd, shaking his head, gets up and while mutter something like “even chopin didn’t cough this much” walks off stage!

    The poor guy, still coughing, quickly gets up and starts to shuffle out of the concert hall. Then Schiff comes back with water bottle in his hands, and asking for the guy. The poor fellow didn’t even turn back to look. Schiff stands there for a few seconds, looking surprised as to why the guy would want to leave, and then makes his way back to the piano, and sits down, and says to the crowd. “Let’s try to start again”.

    The effect of the little cough exursion was that from that point on, as soon as some unfortunate soul would cough, the entire crowd would suddenly tense and hold its breath, wondering what the Maestro was going to do now.

    From that point on, the event was rather more normal: he didn’t stop playing or attack any of the patrons or anythign like that, simply great piano playing.

    The Music

    So let me say this about the Music. There is no doubt about his ability and his approach to the music. IT is superb. One might not agree with interpretation, but it’s good enough and it is interesting enough that you have to at least pay attention to it, and give it thought and merit.

    I can sum up his style of playing in one word (or rather two words): Control Freak. Well, maybe, freak is too strong a word; but control is certainly the way you characterise it.

    The Chopin sonata was good, but i didn’t like it. It was too controlled. Chopin has to be free and flying and on fire, especially the third sonata. At least that’s how i feel. The problem was that he was a bit too perfect with it. The third movement that he played was different from all others i’ve heard. In fact although i disliked it at first, i did in the end like what he did with the whole movement. He started the firey third movement very slowly and with a feel of a slow rumble, and as the movement built it up, so did he tension and the rumble, and by the end he almost neared that break-free explosion of emotion. But in the end he fell a bit short. He just missed it. But kudos none-the-less, it was one of hte more interesting interpretation of the sonata.

    On the other hand, his mozart (the entire second half of the show), was absolutely exquisite. He played mozart, the way it should be. It was so precise, so exact, so full of tonality and touch. I loved it.

    His controlling character even showed itself in the encores. Usually pianists, use the encores to sort of do a bit of showmanship, and to sort of have fun. But schiff instead chose to play a polka by Smetena, which was nice, and for the second encore he played a wonderful Chopin Nocturne. Once again, it was played beautifully.

    All in all, it was quite the … educative … experience, from the Commander-in-Schiff!

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    Movie Review: TROY

    So after much deliberation, and long waiting, we went and saw the movie TROY at the Bloor Cinema. I want to do a review of it because it has a lot of good points as well a lot of bad points, and also because it brough me back to the world of greek mythology after a two year absence. So here goes.

    I will give this movie three stars (***)out of four only under the condition that it is reviewed as a movie under its own right and not in comparison with actual history/written work (i.e. homer’s iliad and virgil’s Aeneid).

    THE GOOD:
    The movie in itself works, albeit somewhat formulaically. By Hollywood standards it is a very good movie. It has the right elements in the formula. It is eye-candy par excellence. The Grandeur of it is amazing. The costume design, is great, the set design is magnificent. In fact in hindsight the storyline works great, as a self-contained movie script. There are many points were it departs completely from the actual history. But i will forgive those because it holds the story together well as a singular piece of work. Also the fact that they included in one of the end scenes the escape of Aenis, was pleasantly surprising. The action was superb. The fight scenes were absolutely awesome (Ajax’s big hammer-thingy was great).

    THE BAD:
    Way too much of Brad Pitt’s naked torso and body and ass. Waaaaaaay too much. The acting in general left something to be desired, only because of Brad Pitt and that horrible eye-sore Orlando Bloom. That boy is a more horrible actor than a potato(e). The few scenes were there is a closeup of his face and he is supposed to express some kind of emotion, he lets our visual farts. Very bad stuff. The music was not bad in itself, but it was quite cheesy at points when it comes together with certain scenes. The completely cut out the Gods angle from the movie. As a purist i did not like that, but then after some discussion i realized that there would be no satisfactory way of working it into a movie without making it utterly silly. I would have liked for a more active role for Odysseus who is by far the most interesting character. And to sum it up, the most unfortunate thing for me at least was the divergences from the actual story. Oh yea and let me not forget this. Since when is Helen a BLONDE??? Greeks do NOT have blondes. Yet somehow both Helen and Achilles are blondes. Damn americans and their beauty standards.

    INACCURACIES FROM THE MOVIE STORYLINE

    • Timeline: Despite what the movie might tell you, the war did not take over 12 days, but rather closer to 12 years. in fact most of the events of the trojan war which are described in the Iliad are from the last few days of the war until the death of Hector. The actual fall of Troy and the story of the Trojan horse and the flight of Aenis is in Virgil’s Aeneid.
    • Cause of War: the war started because Aphrodite has promised Paris that he would have Helen. Helen had been married to Menelaus thanks to the wisdom of Odysseus who was one of the original suitors of Helen, along with every other prince of Greece. Odysseus convinced the suitors to let Helen choose whom she will under the condition that the suitors from that point on would form and allegiance with the lucky husband whenver he asked for their help. In exchange he got to marry Penelope who was a cousin of Helen’s. Anyways, aphrodite managed to trick helen into thinking she was in love with Paris, which was why she left with him despite the fact that she loved Menelaus. And in fact after the war she returned to Menelaus and they lived happily together.
    • Death of Menelaus: Menelaus does NOT die in the torjan war. In fact he does not die in any of these wars, he goes back after the war and is reunited with Helen. He is only wounded during the last days of the war by an arrow. When Paris challenges him to a duel, he gets scared and runs to hector who forces him to fight. but then he gets injured and before being killed by Menlaus is whisked to a bedchamber with Helen. Then there is a quiet standoff between trojans and greeks. but Athena managed to manipulate one of the trojan archers to the point that he accidentally let fly an arrow which strikes Menelaus, which angers the greeks and starts the fighting.
    • Death of Patroclus: In fact Patroclus was NOT the cousin of Achilles, but in fact his best friend, and by some accounts his LOVER. The movie was partially true in the case of his death. During one of the nights Hector and troops sneak up on the greeks and set some of the ships on fire. At this point Achilles is still pissed at Agamemnon and is not fighting. He tells patroclus to take his armour and rally the myrmedones to try and fight the trojans away from teh ships, but to not fight after they’ve gotten ridden of them. Patroclus however continues to fight after they’ve driven them off. He is then mortally wounded by Hector, who then cuts his throat and takes away the armour of Achilles which he was wearing. Achilles when he finds out is pissed and depressed. His mother (a nymph) comes of the water and tells him to have some perspective and that he cannot go to fight because he has no armour. She then goes to the gods and asks Hephaestes to build a new armour for him and she gives it to him when its done.
    • The Death of Hector: Again the movie comes close. He stands to face Achilles, but when he sees the rage and despondency in him, he is frightened and runs away. thrice they circle the city of Troy while being chased. He is not however fatigued because Apollo is supporting him. then Athena decides to stick her nose in. She pretends to be one of Hector’s brothers. When hector sees this he gains confidence that he can face Achilles so he stops running. Face to face with achilles he turns to strategize with his brother, when he sees there is no one there and undrstands that it was only Athena who was illuding him. He knows his fate is sealed. Achilles delivers the fatal blow to his neck, and then drags his corpse around.
    • The Death of Achilles: Achilles does NOT die in the trojan war. He returns from the war fine. But he then gets killed by paris indeed who shoots him in the heel wiht a POISONED arrow. Not an ordinary arrow. Why would an ordinary arrow to the heel kill? I’m not quite sure where this happens, but i believe Achillles was rescuing some girl or courting one in a temple or something when paris does this.
    • The fate of Odysseus and Ajax: Ajax does not die in the Trojan war. After achilles is killed there is a bit of debate over who should get his armour (since it was a really fancy one built by a god). The decision comes down to a choice between Ajax and Odysseus which are two greatest contributors to the Greek victory. The decision goes to Odysseus. Ajax becomes enraged at this supposed injustice and vows to kill Odysseus and a whole bunch of people. But Athena being the biggest fan of Odysseus saves him by making Ajax stupid (He was already considered by the ultimate fighting machine after Achilles but rather dull in teh mental faculties). so when he’s been dumbed down he mistakes his cattle and sheep for Odysseus and gang and slaughters them. Then he becomes really depressed and dies (or maybe he kills himself, i dont quite remember).
    • The Death of Agamemnon: Agamemnon that bastard, does not die in the war either. He in fact returns to his kingdom but then is killed by his own servants while taking a bath. i remember something about plot to kill him by his daughter also.

    So there you, and there you have it. Some of the truth about what actually happened before, during and after the trojan war. For those who are interested only of course. If you are more interested there are lots of resources on the web.

    All in all, i have to say i really enjoyed the Movie, it was very entertaining and visually quite lovely. It has naturally been americanised but then again, what hasn’t. I do recommend people to see it.

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