Skip to main content

First February Post: Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview


First February Post on Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview
3 February 2020

Chaakapesh (Canada 2019 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcvE_16Of10)
Directors Roger Frappier and Justin Kingsley record the remarkable collaboration that took place during 2018 between the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Indigenous artists resulting in a new work that traveled to Indigenous communities across Quebec’s northern “Nunavik” region.  The title comes from the original composition, an opera “Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest”, with a libretto by Cree playwright Tomson Highway and music by Matthew Ricketts.  An underlying theme is that of mutual cultural encounters and musical expression as a means towards reconciliation.  Symphony conductor Kent Nagano stresses this point.  Of Japanese-American ancestry, he could pass for an Inuit elder.  Highway refers to the role of laughter in the Cree mythology of the divine, absent from the gendered Christian concepts with which he was raised.  One performer Florent Vollant speaks about overcoming his experience of residential schools.  In bringing together different artistic traditions the orchestra’s tour across Nunavik becomes a spirited learning experience for everyone—with a program that ranges from the opera and Inuit throat signing to pieces from the classical repertoire.  We see the benefits of this in the rapt attention of the Indigenous audiences, in the delight on the faces of children exposed to the orchestra’s instruments for the first time, in the testimonies of performers discovering novel modes of expression.  It makes for a viewing experience as enlightening as entertaining, and which one hopes will inspire more.  A
Cunningham  (Germany/France/U.S. 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4t_l5mu9lE)
Writer-director Alla Koygan’s homage to the celebrated New York choreographer and teacher Merce Cunningham will be of particular interest to aficianados of modern dance of which he was a controversial innovator pushing the boundaries of the form in which the human body is the prime instrument for artistic expression requiring a disciplined combination of athleticism and grace, movement and control.  Koygan’s profile intersperses mostly black-and-white archival footage from the career of Cunningham and his company (the master died in 2009 at age 90) with fresh performances of major works, in chronological order, that he created over the period 1942-1972.  Much of the musical accompaniment was composed by John Cage (also Cunningham’s life partner). Although Cunningham resisted any label such as ‘avant-garde’, his collaborations famously included with pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.  More than a conventional biopic, the contemporary performances in varied settings summon an aesthetic effect showing why Cunningham is regarded as a major figure in the development of American dance. (The Toronto film festival version was in 3D while the Ottawa screening I saw was 2D.  But unlike Wim Wenders acclaimed 2011 documentary Pina, a tribute to the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, I’m not sure that 3D technology would add much to the viewing experience.)  B+    



Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

New Year Post: Best Movies of 2019 and Best Movies of the Decade

The Ten Best Movies of 2019
Below are very brief descriptions of my favorite films of this past year. Most have been the subject of longer reviews.For reference to these I have indicated both the blog post dates and the page number(s) in the 2019 collected reviews document.I have also added a list of a dozen documentaries that most impressed, with information links and review dates and page numbers if applicable. Parasite South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s savage satire of his society’s class divides earned the Cannes film festival’s top prize Palme d’Or and should be the favorite for the best international feature film (previously best foreign-language film) Oscar to be announced February 9.Don’t be surprised if it also makes it into the main best picture category, nominations for which will be announced on January 13.(Reviewed 30 October, p. 67) The Two Popes Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ insightful imagining of this unusual relationship features stellar performances from Jona…

Late January Movie Post

Oscar thoughts About those Oscar nominations announced January 13 ... not a lot of surprises.(See the full list at: https://oscar.go.com/news/nominations/oscar-nominations-2020-list-nominees-by-category.) Although Joker is a controversial choice to lead the pack with 11 nominations.It won’t win, except perhaps for Joaquin Phoenix in the best actor category.He’s as amazing as the movie is deeply disturbing. Good to see the South Korean Parasite included for “best picture” as well as “best international feature”, which it will surely win.The Two Popes should have been included to compete for the top prize instead of Ford v Ferrari (but at least Two Popes has acting nominations for Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins and one for its screenwriter Anthony McCarten).Also good to see Parasite director Bong Joon Ho recognized in the directing category, though it’s another all-male list excluding Greta Gerwig for her wondrous remake of Little Women.What should win is Scorsese’s The Irishman but …

BOOK LAUNCH!

BOOK LAUNCH! 


April 24, 2019 was the official launch of The Best of Screenings and Meanings: A Journey Through Film at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon, SK