Ultimately, "Rubberneck" is an intriguing character study molded into a suspense thriller that sustains the audience's attention for its duration. Unfortunately, the film threatens to alienate its audience as it wears on without ever truly winning it back. A late attempt to redeem Paul makes the film feel formulaic and cliché despite its best intentions.
Every season, I feel that there is one production where the stars align in a transcendent evening that will never be forgotten; Friday's premiere of "Parsifal" was one of those events. A tremendous superstar cast coupled with a phenomenal production elevated Wagner, the greatest star of all, to unprecedented heights. This is the most wonderful birthday present that the Met could give to the God of opera on his 200th birthday.
Ultimately this is a film about two different people coming together and changing people's perspectives and a making a difference. The outcome is predictable and Levine knows it. Instead of investing so much into the action sequences, he focuses on the human drama of acceptance and love story between Julie and R. People will compare this to "Twilight" but unlike Stephanie Meyer's work, this film exercises an incredible balance as a humorous, subversive comedy with a strong human story at its core.
This "Rigoletto" will surely have a fair share of detractors, but those open to new visions and willing to try something different will be pleasantly surprised by how effectively staged Mayer's production is. The singing is solid throughout and includes some truly revelatory performances. I am guilty of criticizing many modern Met productions under general manager Peter Gelb, but I am a strong supporter of this "Rigoletto." It is one of the finest achievements of the general manager's tenure.
It is impossible to deny that the Met has put together another riveting and unforgettable revival with this season's "Rondine." The two principals Opolais and Filianoti bring dynamic and complex portrayals that make this one of the most dynamic and heart-breaking love stories to grace the great opera house in years.
Gangster Squad" ultimately offers up some thrills and will likely appeal to those who enjoy intense violence and the occasional joke. For those looking for an articulate character study or top end crime drama, this film will likely prove unsatisfying and tiresome.
Audiences looking for a night great singing will likely enjoy "Maria Stuarda," but those looking for a transformative theatrical experience will likely feel a bit unsatisfied.
On Saturday, the Met Opera ended its run of Berlioz's masterpiece "Les Troyens" triumphantly. The performance included yet another rousing turn by Susan Graham as Didon and also showcased Deborah Voigt's passionate Cassandra. However, the night's biggest draw was the heroic performance of Bryan Hymel as the Trojan hero Enée.
Ultimately, the film purports the Christian ideal that despite all the suffering of the individual througout his life, he or she is due better later on. The film is lengthy, but Hooper manages to provide an emotional punch at every turn to keep the audience vested in the massive story. The film is filled with a long list of tragedies that bring significance to its title, but not one of them feels unimportant or overlooked. Hooper deftly maintains a strong sense of intimacy with every character and it is this sense of unity and attention to detail that makes "Les Misérables" a rousing and cathartic experience that is not easily forgotten.
Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" comes out Tuesday Dec. 25 in wide release. The film features Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington and tells the story of Django, a free slave, attempting to save his wife Broomhilda from slave owner Calvin Candie.
Berlioz's "Les Troyens" is one of the most underrated works in all of operatic literature mainly due to the fact that it is rarely heard. However, the performance at the Met this Friday showcased how powerful and breathtaking Berlioz's masterful score could be. The opera may not return to the Met stage for another 10 years, but the experience of the current cast (with the addition of tenor Bryan Hymel) and visionary production is one that could last a lifetime.
"Zero Dark Thirty's" early awards buzz is certainly not without merit as Bigelow conjures up an immersive, exciting portrayal of one of the most significant historical achievements in recent US history. Jessica Chastain's brilliant performance keeps the film together on an emotional level while Bigelow's methodic pacing enables her to orchestrate one of the most exhilarating films of the year.
Despite an endless number of battles and the arrival and departure of numerous characters, there is a feeling that nothing actually happened by the end of The Hobbit. The film revolves around Thorin's acceptance of Bilbo, but that focal point is lost in the mishmash of distracting subplots and uninteresting battles. The film is a clear setup for the next two pictures and in the grand scheme could wind up fitting within the framework of a trilogy. But as a standalone film and in the context of its legacy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is overlong, uneven, and ultimately disappointing.
Despite some top notch performances, Django ultimately feels like a fruitless experiment. All of the Tarantino trademarks are present (and that alone will make fans happy), but they become quite tiresome after endless repetitions and ultimately make for an empty experience.
One of the great pleasures of Life of Pi is that it never indicates any philosophical pretenses from outset. It simply opens up a number of ambiguous questions that it sets out to answer. In the process, the film, notable for its simplicity, transcends into a wondrous examination of the human soul and existence, leaving one inquisitive long after the experience has come to an end. It is easily one of the most astounding films of the year as it portrays one of the few instances in which mainstream entertainment can also create a satisfying experience for the intellectual crowd.