Posts Tagged ‘film history’

Apollo’s Girl

May 26, 2018

Film/Music
Filmworker
Cinema Village, NYC; Laemmle, LA
(national venues: )
https://www.kinolorber.com/film/filmworker

You don’t have to be a filmmaker to gorge on the feast that is Filmworker and still hope for seconds
after every course. Nominated for a Golden Eye at Cannes, Tony Zierra has co-produced, directed,
shot and edited a film that makes every second spent in Leon Vitali’s company leave you wanting more.

Who is Leon Vitali? For one, an enormously talented actor who willingly gave up a flourishing
career to become Stanley Kubrick’s dazzled assistant and then, in succession, a reader, an assistant editor, an acting coach, a sound effects maven, a cameraman, post-production supervisor expert at color timing and every other aspect of technique and, finally, the true and final arbiter of Kubrick’s negatives, prints and PR materials. He spent his life in willing service to Kubrick, a master smart enough to see how Vitali could both absorb filmmaking in all its intricacies and share his legendary perfectionism, enabling him to make 20th-century film history.

What it cost Vitaly is written in his face, lined with a lifetime of unendurable stress and sleep deprivation. As actor Matthew Modine says, “What Leon did was a selfless act – a crucifixion.” Perhaps. But Vitaly makes clear that the rewards were the films at the highest level – and decades of struggle in an absolutely fascinating and addictive environment. For him, it was always the journey. As he admits, “I gave everything because he gave everything.” But what makes Filmworker equally fascinating and addictive is the story-telling ability of this onetime actor; Vitali draws you in from frame one and takes you on the journey with him, aided and abetted by an abundance of clips from Kubrick’s portfolio, personal footage, and illuminating commentary from his fellow-travelers.

Despite the ravages that came with the job, Vitali is still able to say, “How honored was I to be able to work with him.” Pity that Kubrick is not here to add “How lucky was I to have found him.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEZ2r1YGKSA

Music

Farewell to the Chief

As the New York Philharmonic’s only hometown boy who made good at home, Alan Gilbert became the orchestra’s music director in 2007 and, two years later in a real-estate-is-destiny move across Lincoln Center’s plaza, the head of Juilliard’s conducting department as well. It was win-win for everyone.

The Juilliard orchestra would benefit from access to Philharmonic repertoire, and be able to support Gilbert’s visionary programming concert review But all good things must come to an end; Gilbert finished the season at the Phil last year and led his farewell concert with Juilliard’s ensemble two weeks ago. It was Barber and Rouse and finally Brahms’First Symphony, mellow and poignant. No need to mourn, though. Gilbert is going to Hamburg to lead the Elbphilharmonie in its new home. It may look, at first glance, like a glass ship in dry-dock, but boasts acoustics that are definitely the wave of the future, subsidies, and openness to adventure. It’s the right place for Gilbert. And we are told he will be coming back to conduct Juilliard’s finest once a year.

Adventures in Opera

Given the luxuries of extensive rehearsal time and enthusiasm for trying out the new and rethinkingthe old, both Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music offer repertoire seldom available elsewhere. Juilliard’s Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau’s first opera) was simply exquisite, perfect in every detail, and stunning in its voices, its acting, its choreography, its costumes and its décor. (Hope it was recorded…)

And Manhattan School’s Snow Maiden was a revelation (like the Bartered Bride, its overture is a playlist favorite, but its entirety is mostly left by the wayside—why?) was a revelation. Ravishing melodies abound and harmonies reminiscent of Boris Godunov anoint you with Russianness; its story is a compendium of Slavic folk tales and traditions. The singers (especially Juliana Levinson in the title role, Zuhao Zhang as a cad who reforms, and Monica Conesa as his implacable ex-) were outstanding. With the intimacy of smaller auditoriums in both locations, you are not only close to the singers and musicians, but buoyed by the spirit of their colleagues in the audience. It adds to the energy of young (but already seasoned) performers, and sweeps you up in their excitement. By autumn, MSMNYC’s renovated Neidorff-Karpati Hall will be up and running for next season’s productions. Stay tuned for both locations.

Looking toward the future, a preview of David Henry Hwang and Huang Ruo’s new opera, An American Soldier, was produced for the Guggenheim’s Works and Process series. It will premiereat the Opera Theatre of St. Louis on June 3, expanded to the full length its true-life story (about the racial taunts and beating that drove Private Danny Chen to suicide) deserves.

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