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Friday, November 30, 2012

Matisse @ Met, c'est Magnifique

The Matisse in Search of True Painting is the new exhibit @ the MET by one of the world's most acclaimed artists for the 1st 1/2 of the 20thC.  With any exhibit of Matisse's oil paintings, you expect aesthetically pleasing paintings by the master.  But, at the age of 30 in 1829, Matisse was unsure of his ability to support his family through his art.  Matisse's early paintings were mainly still lifes because the expense of hiring models exceeded his means.  His first 2 paintings were small still lifes of the same composition but done in 2 very different styles.  These 2 works were later incorporated into his larger composition of Side Board and Table.  What makes this exhibit so fascinating are the pairings of his replicated subject matter in diverse styles.  His early works were greatly influenced by Cezanne & Signac.  Matisse objective for repetitive compositions was to "push further and deeper into true painting."  He believed the process was paramount to the result.  While admiring both Sailor I and Sailor II, one patron asked his friend which painting she preferred.  His companion voiced a preference.  Perhaps, it is too easy to compare works that are similar but it certainly misses the point.  From Matisse's apartment in Paris, he had a vantage of Notre Dame of which he never tired. "For me it is always new."  The multiple paintings of Notre Dame are all exquisite and unique.  No one will leave without an appreciation for Matisse's magnificient oil paintings which span his earliest works in 1829 until he stopped painting in 1948.  Perhaps, many of you with leave with an appreciation for looking at things that are the same but seeing them in new & different ways.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LINCOLN - got me thinkin

There are not enough superlatives to praise this film.  We may not have a "long" history but a most incredible history for which we should be incredibly proud and ashamed. It's imperative to honor all those who have suffered from slavery, bigotry, and sacrifice, by remembering and acknowledging our true heritage.  The belief that all men are created equal, was stated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."  Perhaps, it wasn't made clear in 1776 (even to Jefferson.)  Abraham Lincoln, our nations 13th President, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Jan. 1, 1883.  Pres. Lincoln's main objective was to prevent the cessation of States from the Union.  "My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery."  In Nov. of that year, Lincoln, with a fervid change of heart, gave his famous Gettysburg address.  The opening scenes of LINCOLN depict the brutal carnage of war.  We next see Pres. Lincoln on the battle front, listening to white and black soldiers quoting from his Gettysburg Address.  (Along with a formidable, Negro soldier, informing Pres. Lincoln of the inequalities between the white & Negro soldiers.)  President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address proclaimed, "That these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth."  The movie is the most entertaining & informative history lesson, EVER.  There's insight into the politics of government (which perhaps, our 44th Pres. should take note).  It is a movie about morality, a movie of grief, a movie of one the truly great human beings that have shaped our nationin.  I've heard grousing that the movie is too long & dull.  Well I believe all men are created with some stupidity, some with more stupidity than others.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Julliard String Quartet (JSQ) performs Beethoven

Did anyone know that November is Nat'l Beethoven month?  Well, it is even though Beethoven's birthday is in December.  As far as I'm concerned, the man & his music cannot be feted enough.  Perhaps it is no coincidence that the world reknown JSQ performed Beethoven's String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131 which the current movie, A Late Quartet, is inspired by and structured around.  At the time Beethoven composed his final 5 string quartets, he was already deaf & in failing health.  His musical genuis is hard to fathom without even considering he could only hear his compositions in his head.  Could Picasso have continued to paint after losing his sight?  I think yes, but then, genuis on their magnitudes is a miracle in and of itself.  Thankfully, you don't have to be an Einstein appreciate their work.  Just make sure to take the time to listen to Beethoven,'s music, see the Picasso exhibit @ the Guggenheim & see the movie, A Late Quartet.  The esteemed awards for JSQ are immense.  They have been inducted into the Nat'l Academy for Recording Arts & Sciences '86 and became the 1st classical music ensemble to have been bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.  The concert was held at Alice Tully Hall to a completely full house with a crowd on standby for seats.  You are able to hear JSQ in concert in numerous, prestigious venues.  Last night, the tickets were FREE to those savvy enough to obtain them from the Julliard School ticket booth.  I did not stay after intermission for Beethoven's String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132 as I wanted to see the end of the Knicks/Nets game.  "My heart's beatin rhythm, And my soul keeps a-singing the blues."(C. Berry) Roll over NY Knicks the Brooklyn Nets are the News.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The French Film, Rust & Bone with Marion Cotillard

(The French film, Rust & Bones (with English sub-titles) is a down & dirty slice of life movie where you actually forget you're watching (& reading) a movie.  The film begins with a father, Ali, & son, Sam, on a train where the father scrounges through other passengers' garbage to feed his son.  They devour their food like hungry animals.  They reach Sam's sister & brother-in-law's cramped apartment.  Their reunion (after a 5 year hiatus) is not met with warmth, rather like animals circling each other.  We learn that Ali fled with Sam.  He ask his family to allow them to live there until Ali finds employment.  Ali's 1st job is as a bouncer @ a nightclub where he breaks up a brutal beating of a woman, Stephanie,  (Oscar winner, Marion Cotillard) and insists on driving her home.  Bleeding profusely from the nose & Ali implies she was enticing trouble dressing look like a whore.  He does leave his tel. # with her.  Nothing is subtle or glossed over in this movie.  Stephanie works as a whale trainer @ a water park where shortly after meeting Ali she is in a terrible accident involving a whale.  (Whales should not be taken from their natural habitat and put in small confinement for our entertainment.  This gives me a melt down.)  Stephanie is critically injured.  She wakes in a hospital and to her horror finds both her legs amputated at the knee.  Her anguish is palpable.  At first, Anna is in a malaise of depression & resistant to rehabilitation. Then Anna reaches out to Ali for companionship. Their relationship renews Anna's desires for life.  Ali's new income comes from brutal, extreme boxing matches.  When tragedy strikes Ali's life, it is Stephanie who reaches out to comfort him.  The cinematography makes you feel every blow and every drop of blood.  This film depicts mankind's basic animalistic tendencies & mankind's resilience & the redemptive power of love.  Rust & Bone has much to wince at and much for me to recommend.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

BATTLE of the BROS-in-law @ BARCLAY Ctr.

Last night was my 1st time at the beautiful Barclay Center in beautiful Brooklyn.  The B or the D brings me door to door; easy breezy.  And, add 1 more to the score - a gentleman gave his seat to a lady.  Score is 5 down with 5 more seats to be surrendered.  The artwork that flashes by on the subway is an added free perk as you're coming/going.  Did I mention the beautiful Beyonce was in dah house alongside her hubby, Jay Z, Billy Crystal, Ray Ramona & Kelly Rowlands. R & B star, Mario sang our anthem, A capello; Amazing.  (Although I would have preferred his R&B 1/2 time performance to have been A capello.)  Here's my rant - stop playing music during play - this is a sporting event, not a rock concert.  I like the Nets uniforms, I like the Brooklynettes "costumes," NOT!  I haven't comented on the game yet.  This chick picks what's important.  The Brooklyn Nets have Chris Humphries, Kim K's Ex.  The LA Clippers have Lamar Odom, Chloe's sexy husband.  Chris & Lamar were brother-in-laws for a nan-o-second.  The game  was a close the 1st 3 periods.  Both teams played sloppy turning the ball over, equally.  The 4th period the Nets had game, especially Williams & Lopez. The Nets won by 10.  Will I come again?  Our seats which were comp; 10th row center.  Sweet…until I looked @ the price $600/seat.  That's just crazy!  Jay-Z that's just wrong!        

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Central Park 5 documentary by Ken Burns

The Doc. on the 5 teens wrongly prosecuted and sentenced to hard time for a crime they didn't commit is the MOST PAINFUL & IMPORTANT film reflecting flaws in our judicial system and systemic racial prejudice. Obama, as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, what are you going to do for these men?  In April '89 a white, female was found brutally beatend, sexually assaulted and left for dead in NYC's Central Park.  Under Mayor Koch, the city was in dire financial straits, crime at an all time high and the racial tension readty to combust.  Five innocent young men:  Anton McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise & Yusef Salaam (14-16 years of age) were arrested and coerced into false confessions.  Mayor Koch used to ask "How I'm doing."  A grave injustice has been done to these boys and their families.  Koch declared this case was going to show how the justice system works.  Tragically, it made a mockery of our judicial that reverberates today.  The guilty parties include the detectives who tortured these boys & the 2 lead prosectors, who sought quick convictions not justice despite the dire collateral fall-out.  You watch these frightened young boys who submit to their "captors" demands and you wince in agony.  This case calls to mind the Scottsboro boys.  Nine innocent black teenagers were falsely accused & convicted of raping a white woman in AL in 1931.  The Central Park 5 were all wrongly imprisioned for 7-13 years.  Anton McCray said when the guilty verdict came in, "They immediately handcuffed me. I was completely alone.  The gates closed on my cell and I knew my life was over."  Matias Reyes, the quilty perpetrator, while in prison  encountered Wise and admitted his sole responsibility out of feelings of remorse.  The case was reopened and DNA (available at the time) linked Reyes.  No other evidence was used to convict the 5 (there was none) other than their coerced confessions they all recanted, declaring their innocence and refusing to take any plea deals.  I remember the case & their convictions but did not recall their exonerations.  Hopefully, there's much to be learned from this travesty.  Richardson, Santana & McCray have filed a civil suit for "malicious prosecution, racial discrimination & emotional distress."  The city is refusing to settle.  Gov. Cuomo (your father was Gov. at the time), Mayor Blumberg, Pres. Obama do the right thing by these men.  We owe them so much that can never be compensated. We owe them to never forget and demand our govt. officials expediate a just settlement to their suits.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Poetry Slam, Open Mike

Last night @ the Poet-Linc, Rubinstein Atrium, after the students finished performing their own works, the stage became an open mike.  The emcee had announced during the poetry slam that there was a sign up sheet for anyone wishing to get up & "slam" following the student's competition.  I stayed for 2 men, both said they were so enthralled with the talent and courage of the students, they were inspired to get up on stage.  The 1st to slam was an Israeli that said he had never been to  a poetry slam before & wanted to participate.  And, participate he did; kudos.  The 2nd man said  he came to hear the students and came with something he had to share.  I had to hand it to this guy, he was good, too.  Alas, this classy lass lacks the bravado to perform in front of an audience (an enviable talent, I know.)  I am trying my hand at writing a fast paced poetry slam for the 1st time.


Why are you always rushing me?
Why do you listen when I'm not talking to you?
Why are you so judgemental when I criticize.

Whose side are you on?
Of course there are,
Of course you're not!
Why are you so cold while I am hot?

Stop not being there, in my corner
Stop rushing me to nowhere fast
I stop
I'm in this no longer.

Poet-Linc Poetry Slam NY H.S. Students

I was so deliriously happy at my 1st poetry slam @ the David Rubenstein Atrium/62nd & 63rd, that I came back for an encore of the best, FREE live arts performance by our local high school students.  There were 8 high school students (all male) representing Queens.  The students recite their original works.  Some perform reading from their Iphones, off handwritten or typed paper, & some recite extemporaneously.  The theme for the entire competition is I HAVE A VOICE.  There are 3 rounds, with 3 different styles:  declarative (speech tone) narrative poem (a story having a beg'g, middle & end,) & free verse (open to all creations.)  The judging is done by a panel of 3 prof. poets/writers & 2 random audience members.  Judging is on content & performance. I was approached to be a judged but said I would only want to give them all 10's: they said thanks but, no thanks.  The evening is filled with humor, creativity, emotion and a bonding between the contestants & the audience.  Again, I was pleased at how the competitors all cheered for one another & laughed together.  The overall tone was clever & funny.  I was moved by the heartfelt love poems; lucky young muses.  Of course, there were poetry slams that dealt with more serious matters:  9/11, rage, mankind's dark side, disconnection.  On the lighter side, one competitor gave such a beautiful love poem the emcee told him, "hang onto that one, you can use it at your wedding."  The poem, "Breakup" was a crack up.  "I'm sorry I ever kissed her.  We used to be like lemon & lime.  Now it was a waste of time. I think you're just you, you used to be my boo." Another said "Dear time, you've gone crazy, a ploy between some girl & boy."  The emcee always says to applaud the poet not the scores.  I cheer for all you brave young artists, bravo!  One last quote, "I'll be back!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Julliard 415 @ Alice Tully Hall

Julliard 415 offers the Julliard students the opportunity to play with professional musicians, domestically & internationally.  I like to refer to Julliard 415 as a box of chocolates, "you never know what you're gonna get."  Although, you can bet it will be exciting, classic, modern & always a learning experience.  Last night was a revised program featuring fortepianist Christoph Hammer who graciously filled in for Kristian Bezuidenhout who bowed out on short notice.  Hammer is a highly acclaimed pianist, organist and Prof. of historic keyboards in Munich.  Prof. Hammer announced he was the 1st person to perform on the new fortepiano commissioned by Julliard.  Sitting in the packed auditorium was Mr.  R. J. Regier, the fortepiano instrument-maker.  Prof. Hammer played solo piano compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & by his youngest child, Franz Xaver Mozart, born posthumously.   Franz Xzver a.k.a. W.A. Mozart, Jr., was an accomplished pianist, violinst & composer and was esteemed during his lifetime.  "Junior's" piano compositions followed in the romantic style of his father until later when he moved towards a more contemporary style of the early 19th C.  One of Junior's famous piano pieces had been credited to Liszt until very recently.  However, it is rare to find recordings of Mozart, Jr.'s work today (even I, a jaded New Yorker, was unaware of his work.)  Prof. Hammer informed the audience of the innovations to the keyboard, in particular, the hammer (really)  allowing the strings to be struck with nuance.  Until that time the harpsicord or keyboards were mono-tonal.  The meaning of the word paino, means soft and forte means loud.  This new method was very exciting to W. A. Mozart whose compositions became prolific during his short life.  This advancement did lead to the demise in popularity of the harpsicord.  The program included works by Schubert & Boccherini.  I reveled in the performances and felt I had been given a master class.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Film "In Another Country" should stay there

The S. Korean film, "In Another Country," with English subtitles, has an all Korean cast except for the highly acclaimed French actress, Isabelle Huppert.  Huppert is France's most nominated (13 times) actress for the Cesar Award; France's equivalent to the Oscars.  The story is a rip-off of Virginia Woolf's 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse and the 1998 British-American film, "Sliding Doors."  The film uses the similar premise in "Sliding Doors" of parallel scenarios, and plagiarizes Woolf's brilliant novel where the characters are forever seeking to reach the lighthouse.  The real crime, is that having stolen from these 2 brilliant works, the movie is dreadfully dull.  Anne (Huppert) plays the same woman in all 3 varying (yet, similar) universes where she is pursued or pursues, Korean men.  The adjective beautiful is repeatedly used in all 3 story-lines to describe Anne. I repeat, this movie is boring.  In one scene, Anne, after passionately kissing one of her lovers, slaps him in the face.  When he asks her why she just did that she responds, "I don't know. I love you."  This movie made no sense and I hated it.  In the 3rd scenario, Anne turns in the opposite direction at the same fork in the road.  In this journey Anne meets a monk & asks him "Why am I so miserable."  The monk replies, "Because you lie."  It would be a lie not to tell you to shy away from this debacle.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

SILVER LINING is solid gold

Silver Lining should become an instant, contemporary holiday classic.  It's a hybrid of: It's a Wonderful Life, Dancing with the Stars, Homeland, One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest & When Harry Met Sally.  This movie makes you wince, laugh, cry & cheer. The stellular cast includes Bradley Cooper;  the sexiest man alive, Jennifer Lawrence, an amalgamation of Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda & Kristen Stewart and the best actor EVER, Robert DeNiro. The movie follows Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he is released from his 8 month, court ordered asylum sentence after brutally beating his wife's lover.  Pat is brought home by his docile & loving mother to his middle-class PA home.  Nick & his mother surprise his father, Patrick (Robert De Niro) upon his return.  It soon becomes apparent that the apple did not roll far from his parental tree.  Patrick, a well intentioned family man, has a volatile temper of his own and a gambling addiction.  Pat still pining for his estranged wife, meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has mental & behaviorial issues of her own to contend with since the death of her husband.  It is no surprise as Pat & Tiffany form a symbiotic relationship, the audience roots it will turn to romance.  Chris Tucker plays a supporting role that is both hilarious & tender.  Pat believes "if you work hard & stay postive you have a chance for a silver lining."  I believe this quirky love story will melt your heart, if not, your heart must be made of stone.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New York Philharmonic Open Rehearsal - Brahms

This morning Kurt Masur once again returned to conduct the New York Philharmonic performing Brahms Symphony #3 & Symphony #4.  Avery Fisher was very well attended.  The orchestra was in full for the performance and the orchestra all stood to welcome Maestro Masur.  Brahm's Symphony #3 originally premiered to the displeasure for audiences at the time who preferred the music of Wagner, Liszt & Bruckner.  However, audiences soon embraced Brahms 3rd Symphony which garnered acclaim acquivalent to Beethoven's 3rd, whom Brahms held in the utmost esteem.  Brahms' sypmhonies are beautiful, soaring and will forever remain among the greatest works of classical music. Brahms' symphonies may not be as complex as Beethoven's works but I find them enticing like his lullabies and was lulled by the sumptuous music into a state of bliss.  I wasn't able to stay for Symphony #4, but @ $18 for NY Philh. orchestra seats, it's a bargain @ twice the price.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poetry Slam @ Rubenstein Atrium/Linc. Ctr.

Tonight I went to the free, Poetry Slam Competition, which features high school students from all 5 burroughs.  Tonight the students were from the Bronx. The Poetry Slam's theme is "I Have a Voice." The student's perform their original poetry in their unique style. This was my 1st time experience with this remarkable art form.  The 1st of many will follow.  Hats off to these talented, courageous, entertaining young poets.  The huge rock I've been under is off and I'm sorely aware of what I've been missing.  Slam poetry originated in '89 out of Chicago and is the greatest art form to originate here since jazz.  This competion, like the Oscars, unfairly compares different artist's performances.  The judges are comprised of 3 world class poets and 2 random audience members.  The judges rate the poems from 1- 10; the highest & lowest scores are tossed and scores are posted immediately following the student's recitation.  Fortunately,  I wasn't a judge because I would have rated everyone a 10 everytime.  I was laughing, I was crying, I was utterly amazed by the quality of the poems & the incredulously poignant performances.  There were 3 rounds for the contestants to recite 3 poems in 3 different styles.  The final round was "free voice." Slam poetry is an amalgamation of philosophy, rap & emotional candor.  These talented students all deserve recognition.  They spoke from their hearts & tugged @ my heart strings.  Some of the poems that resonated for me: "Where Does the Love Go" which addressed caring for the homeless, "Hello," a touching, unrequited love poem to a girl, and "My Heart," a daughter recalling her love for her father who abandoned her.  I could go on & on & I will go back, again & again, now that I am out from under that huge boulder.

Tokyo 1955-70: A New Avant-Garde @ MOMA

The new exhibition of Japan's artwork from 1955-70 is a sweeping, stimulating, disturbing, prolific show.  The exhibit is presented in 3 rooms. The earliest works in the front room, & progresses   chronologically.  There is an explosion of art, materials, mediums; where to begin? I'll begin with the most destructive, deliberate explosion of all time, the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan at the end of WWII.  The Allies, (i.e. the U.S. {us}) entered the Imperalist nation of Japan, in '45, as a strong presence to '52.  In 1956, the Japanese Govt. proclaimed the Post War over (good to know).  Starting in '55, a decade after Japan's decimation, a rebirth or rebuilding was taking hold.  The earlier works depict  apocalyptic works in a multitude of materials.  Natsuyi's, "Map of a Man," shows a white shadow of a male figure.  This recalls the photo of a human shadow embedded in concrete, caused by the atomic bomb.  I would would categorize the artwork in the 1st two rooms as macabre, oppressive, stirring & creepy.  The large oil painting that encompasses the entire wall dividing the 1st two rooms is divided in the middle.  This painting has male/female figures in an idential martial arts stance, with a foot poised for attack. It repeats continuously into the horizon. Moving deeper into the exhibit, I found works representing metamorphosis and rebirth; a transition from a rural, farming culture to an industrial, urban, capitalistic society.  The most riveting piece was Tasumi's "Homage to the Young Generation," a cocoon split in the middle attached to a cerebral mass.  By the time I progressed into the furthest gallery, I was ready to scream from over stimulation.  The gallery had remarkable black/white photos, videos & posters.  Tandoori's poster contained a male corpse hanging from a noose under his name.  The caption read, "Having reached a climax at age 29, I was dead."  I was electrified by the the Avant-Garde exhibit, a powerful documentation of history.
Edvard Munch's The Scream is currently at the MOMA and I went to see this iconic piece.  Of course, no matter how many times security chastens people, they persist in taking flash photos.  The guards should scream at them, "what's wrong with you people?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Knicks kick Mavericks to NYC's curb

Last night the Garden had a party with the Knicks beating the Mavericks 104-94.  The 1st 1/2 was a tight, fast paced game with few turnovers.  However, the Knicks were down by 3 @ the 1/2.  Starting in the 3rd Carmelo was no longer mellow & the Knicks turned up the heat.  Carmelo scored 31 for the night with Tyson Chandler, a former Maverick, adding insult to injury sending Dallas packing.  Way to go Knicks who are now 4-0; great start.  Yes, I'm sorry to miss Jeremy Lin on the roster but I do have my hometown favorite, Steve Novak, on the team, YEAH!  (Just hoping Swisher - say it ain't so...)  Big thanks to the Knicks who have put their time and support to our fellow New Yorkers.  And, Kudos to those individuals MSG called out on the floor to honor for their selfless, heroic acts during and after Hurricane Sandy.  While Sandy ravaged our tri-state area, I'm reminded of Sandy in Annie, "the sun'll come out tomorrow," and the New York Knicks City Kids always give you something to smile about.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NY Philharmonic Open Rehearsal Thursday

I was fortunate to be among the sparse turn out for Thursday's NYPhil Open Rehearsal (I'm sure due to Stormy Weather.)  "Keeps rainin' all the time.  Life is bare, gloom and mis'ry everywhere, Stormy Weather." (S. Cahn)   The rehearsal was a respite from all the destruction & despair.  Maestro Kurt Masur conducted for the first time since retiring and was greeted with a warm, illustrious welcome.  The program was the musical, romantic Brahms:  Concerto for Violin & Cello and Symphony #2.  The guest Cellist, Carter Brey was unable to battle the inclement weather, but for those of us who braved the elements, we were rewarded by the rich & melodious music of Johannes Brahms.  Although Brahms himself always felt inferior to the behemoth musical genius of Beethoven, Brahms greatly undermined his magnificient symphonies.  There was much joyous laughter amongst the musicians who welcomed Masure back.  Masur in turn, made several breaks in the rehearsal and beautifully hummed the inflections he wanted from his orchestra.  Listening to Brahms music performed by the NY Philharmonic "…put the sun up in the sky," at least temporarily.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eric Kandel & Elie Wiesel @ 92nd Y

Last night @ the 92ndY there was an unforgettable panel consisting of Dr. Eric Kandel, Elie Wiesel and facilitator, Dr. Gail Saltz.  Dr. Kandel is a pioneer in the study of neuropsychiatry and awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the brain & memory.  Author, Elie Wiesel has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Peace Prize.  (It was an honor to be in the presence of two such distinguished humanitarians.) Dr. Gail Saltz mediated the powerful discussion.  She is a psychiatrist and contributing TV reporter for NBC, CBS & CNN on various psychological issues.  The focus of the panel was to explore the mysteries of memory.  How we remember, why memories are so vital & ways to alter or enhance our memories.  Both Kandel & Wiesel experienced heinous crimes inflicted on Jews during the Holocaust as young boys. Their mutual respect and camaraderie was apparent. They both said their experiences and memories have motivated them to do what they do.  Wiesel calls himself a teacher above all else and is compelled to remember everything. He has made it his mission to insure his memories will continue to live on.  Kandel escaped the horrors of the concentration camps but his mission has become the study of the brain and to understand how memory works.  Both agreed that without memory, there would be no civilization, no culture; memory is what distinguishes us as human beings.  Wiesel said, "Life is the sum of moments and moments belong to memory.  I want to remember everything. Not to live in the past but have the past live in me."  Kandel said that the most important word in the Bible is "remember."  Dr. Kandel discussed the physiology of how memories are formed in the brain, how memories are stored & morph, and how to enhance memories.  Wiesel ended the evening saying, "The art of survival is memory."  The discussion made an indelible impression in the synapsis in my brain.  I was privileged to have attended.  In the row in front of me was a group of young people (13-15.)  I thought, they are the last generation to hear first hand from those who survived the Holocaust and the onus to Remember is upon them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Late Quartet, BRAVO!

The glorious film, A Late Quartet is immensely engrossing. The movie has 4 main characters who have comprised a quartet for nearly a 1/4C; cellist (Christopher Walken) 1st violinist (Yaron Zilberman) 2nd violinist (Seymour Hoffman) and his wife, violist (Katherine Keener.)  Walken is the emotional core of the quartet though not its driving force.  Zilberman steers the group.  The movie begins with Walken quoting T.S. Elliot, "the end proceeds the beginning, always."  The movie is flawless, except for two movements discordant to the film:  Keener's slapping their daughter and Hoffman punching Zilberman for sleeping with their daughter.  Beethoven's Opus 131 is central to the  art and theme of the movie.  Walken informs his master class this fugue was Beethoven's favorite piece, perhaps because of his impending deafness and Schubert chose it on his deathbed.  Beethoven's Opus 131 was written for a quartet without any pause between movements.  Sadly, Walken is diagnosed with Parkinsons and realizes his ability to perform is ending.  Still, he mentors his students with wisdom & compassion. He tells them that playing is a continuous adjustment or you stop. He also shares what his idol, Pablo Casals, imparted to him:  "try not to get caught up in mistakes."  Zilberman has wrought disharmony wihtin the quartet.  Walken admonishes him "you don't understand the dynamics of being part of a group and therefore have learned nothing."  There is much to garner from this virtuosic film. ENCORE