The Metropolitan Opera opened its 2016-2017 season with the Wagnerian favorite, Tristan und Isolde. Directed by Mariusz Trelinski, it featured a strong cast including Nina Stemme as Isolde, Stuart Skelton as Tristan, and Ekaterina Gubanova as Brangäne. With the orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, this had all the makings of a great production.
Unfortunately, a relentless onslaught of truly bizarre staging torpedoed it from beginning to end. It was set on a modern naval vessel, but it was difficult to figure out just what sort of crew this was supposed to be. Tristan was dressed in a formal naval uniform, complete with emblems of rank and a chest full of ribbons. The rest of the crew, on the other hand, were a motley assortment of thugs who looked like they’d be far more at home smuggling heroin than escorting the king’s intended bride. There was certainly nothing resembling military discipline on board. The sailors lost no opportunity to leer at the women and menace them. One went so far as to smell some of Isolde’s lingerie before stealing it. These goons were supposed to be an honor guard? Continue reading →
On the heels of a summer of remakes nobody wanted or asked for (Ghostbusters, Ben-Hur, Pete’s Dragon), we have The Magnificent Seven, a light but entertaining shoot ‘em up that will never reach the iconic status of the 1960 movie of the same name or Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, but will provide a fun diversion for a couple of hours.
(l to r) Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio and Martin Sensmeier in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.
In director Antoine Fuqua’s latest iteration, the bandits stealing food from a village of farmers are replaced by an evil gold mining company trying to steal the land. Emma (Haley Bennett), wife of a murdered villager, sets off to hire some defenders, and with the help of Chisolm (Denzel Washington), manages to assemble a band of western archetypes, including a wise-cracking gambler/sleight of hand artist (Chris Pratt), a confederate sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke), a gun/knife master (Byung-hun Lee), a Mexican outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), an Indian (Martin Sensmeier), and a mountain man the size of a mountain (Vincent D’Onofrio). Continue reading →