Philip Glass

Stoker

At the beginning of Stoker, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) tells us she can hear things more clearly than most people, a talent that is quickly apparent seeing as every noise and sound in India’s life is amplified. From the crunching sound of an egg shell to the sharpening of a pencil, Stoker‘s sound design seems to take its cues from the opening credit sequence of Dexter, by turning seemingly innocent sounds into violent ones. Stoker’s director, Park Chan-Wook, makes his American debut here, but is well-versed in creating creepy worlds where violence and passion live hand-in-hand. This world is brought to eerie life by composer Clint Mansell, who creates a score that works seamlessly with Stoker’s unique sound design, plus a catchy hip-hop influence from Emily Wells and a new piano duet by Philip Glass. India’s voiceover, which begins the film and explains her unusual talents, is captured in the soundtrack’s first track, “I’m Not Formed by Things That Are of Myself Alone” and bleeds into Wells’ “Becomes The Color,” an upbeat song with a haunting chorus and a deconstructed ending that makes it the perfect introduction to Mansell’s score. His first track, “Happy Birthday (A Death in the Family),” has a light piano refrain that directly mirrors the chorus in “Becomes The Color,” introducing the importance of piano and creating a sense that everything heard (and possibly seen) in this world is simply an extension of something else.

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Qatsi Trilogy Criterion

The Qatsi series is made up of several compelling contradictions. On the one hand, the first film, Koyaanisqatsi (1983), was a unique-for-its-time, one-of-a-kind event; but on the other hand, that film used many of the same cinematic tactics and strategies common to “pure cinema” (or “absolute film”) projects that characterized experimental filmmaking in the 1920s, like Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera, Fernand Leger’s Ballet Mechanique, and the geometric filmmaking of Viking Eggeling. On the one hand, the Qatsi series is often celebrated as a series, or as an accomplishment characterized by a long-term vision realized across several films; but on the other hand, celebrations of the weight and accomplishment of this series are often relegated to the first film. Koyaanisqatsi’s sequels, Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002), are only mentioned a fraction as often as the landmark first film. On the one hand, this trilogy is one of the most radical critical critiques of capitalism and industry to arise from a relatively mainstream release; but on the other hand, the aesthetic “purity” of these films enables the major risk of a message lost. And on the one hand, Koyaanisqatsi launched the film careers of cinematographer Ron Fricke (whose most recent feature, Samsara, was exhibited in 70mm last year) and avant-garde composer Philip Glass; but on the other hand, these two have become considerably better known through their contributions to movies than the trilogy’s ambitious director, Godfrey Reggio. The Qatsi series is at once a single vision and an inspired […]

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Foreign Objects - Large

The goal of this column has always been to explore international cinema from all around the globe. To that end I’ve been an inconsistent tour guide as our destinations haven’t been as evenly spread about as they could have been. My own preferences lean towards traditional Asian, Western European and South American cinema which means Foreign Objects explores places like Africa, Eastern Europe or India very rarely. Russia is a huge country with a long-standing film community, but in our 131 installments we’ve only visited there twice… first for the abysmal Philosophy of a Knife and then for the mediocre Alien Girl. Which probably explains why it took so damn long for me to return… Elena is a fifty-something house wife to a well-off retiree named Vladimir. Together just two years, their relationship is more an extension of how they met than a true marriage. She was a nurse, he was a patient, and now her caregiver role continues. She sleeps on a couch, wakes early, keeps the high rise apartment clean and prepares Vladimir’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Both have grown children from previous marriages, both of them irresponsible in their own ways, but while Vladimir has a soft spot for his daughter he harbors nothing but disdain for Elena’s son. A heart attack sidelines the old man, and with callous forethought he informs Elena that he’s going to change his will to make his daughter sole inheritor. What’s a mother with a son and infant grandson in need […]

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Why Watch? Because the format needs challenging. This short film from Tatiana Plakhova consists of two things. One, the music of Philip Glass. Two, the music of Philip Glass expressed as mathematically created art. It’s experimental to be sure, but the effect is a stirring one that is sure to either create an emotional response, or at least a nod of approval for the beauty of its combination. Or, like all art, maybe it won’t do anything for you at all. But finding out should be fun. What Will It Cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out Music Portraits for yourself:

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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