Monday, June 20, 2005

What have you been reading, listening to, watching?

Sorry for the delay - An Internet outage has kept me offline all day--the horror!

Six Feet Under
The new season is a bit shaky (haven't seen tonight's new episode yet). Bringing a new female character to ruffle things seems gimmicky, and Clair's newfound (last season) selfish art-school brattiness is getting old, especially since it appears to have come at the expense of her soulful, curious, insightful-but-uncertain qualities that made her such a great character the first few years. Still, there is plenty to like, especially with my favorite character, Ruth, a grandmother who is newly remarried to a man whose mental illness now requires her care. Not what she had in mind.

Hopefully the more annoying story lines can come around.

Must have heard that it's Media Monday. He changes pace with a post about music. He's going through a bluegrass phase.

Who Cares?
Arts critics have it rough these days and aren't as beloved as they'd like, according to a meeting of the National Critics Conference. Also, now an art critic is expected to write something interesting to read, instead of just exuding authority that demands to be read all by itself.

Here's a hint: traditional arts venues (symphony halls, museums, theater halls), the kind that have the community clout (and free wine/cheese receptions) to demand the reviews of major media outlets, are not scheduling lively, relevant, challenging programs. How many more ways are there to review performances of Sibelius's Symphonies of slog, or Bruckner's borefests? When was the last time a performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto bothered to distinguish itself enough to be worth writing about? These players came out of conservatory factories ready to play these pieces the way they are always played. So, first of all, critics would do themselves a favor from staying away from these dead zones until given a darned good reason to show up, and I'm not talking about a vintage Cabernet in the lobby.

Here's another hint: there are some fabulous arts critics out there. They go where the big papers won't. They take a chance on audacious works by young, aspiring creators. They can be fun to read, even if they don't have the whole of the Western canon in their rhetorical arsenal, and may not even own a turtleneck. Alternative publications - in print and online - are buzzing with a love, albeit irreverent, of the arts. I don't know about your city, but the Nashville Scene has mostly great writing about film, theater, music and art here. I don't always agree, but it's almost always compelling with a thoughtful perspective and something to say. I can't say any of those things about the reviews in the big subscription paper in town.

Buckley film in the works
Why hasn't this story already made it to the screen I wonder? As an epic 2-generation tale, it seems like a natural.
A script currently making the rounds in Hollywood could further ignite interest in a pair of musicians, father and son, whose posthumous reputations have remained durable.

Writer-producer Train Houston has secured the rights to "Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley," Entertainment Weekly music critic David Browne's 2001 book about the titular singer-songwriters, and has penned a screenplay on their eerily entwined lives.
Lazy Question
I have a vague memory of someone recommending Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill during a bygone Media Monday. Rather than scroll through all the past posts, I thought I'd just ask. It's playing in Nashville this week and I'm looking for a recommendation.

Media Action Alert
Congress plans to introduce the broadcast flag (which the courts struck down as an FCC mandate) as an appropriations bill amendment. The flag would place a digital marker on television broadcasts which, read by new digital TVs, not allow digital recording devices to work. If you live in state with a Senate Appropriations Committee member for a Senator, EFF has a handy action form to fill out.

Weekend Box Office
1. Batman Begins
2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
3. Madagascar
4. Star Wars 3
5. The Longest Yard

Any seen the new Batman movie? And what happened to Cinderella Man? I was sold by the previews that it would be a huge summer Seabiscuit-type movie.

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