On Dr. Hannibal Lecter: The Man, The Myth and the Icon Reborn

505_hannibal_640

Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of cultured but cannibalistic Baltimore psychiatrist and serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s macabre 1991 classic The Silence of the Lambs is one of cinema’s all-time great sniper attacks by a talented but criminally undervalued actor, a singular, stunning star turn that announced Hopkins, then a meandering sort of Shakespearian journeyman, as a talent deserving, nay demanding, of the love of masses both popular and critical. His psychotic doctor was so charming, so calculating, so insidious, so unknowable, so alien and yet strangely relatable, equally capable of thoughtful commiseration and unspeakable acts. Audiences, who had never quite seen a character such as this on screen, were spellbound. Continue reading “On Dr. Hannibal Lecter: The Man, The Myth and the Icon Reborn”

DVR Hindsight #4 (2/24/14): Reviewing/Handicapping “The Amazing Race 24 (All-Stars)”

phil-at-rainmaker

Most season premieres of The Amazing Race are predictable and decidedly ramshackle affairs, featuring hurried, bite-sized but still only intermittently chewable introductions to eleven faceless two-person teams, with all the requisite professional, regional and status identifiers (Hey! I relate to these two reasonably fit and photogenic people because they’re best friend/sibling/engaged/married/ separated/retired/parent child/cousin firefighters/cheerleaders/circus clowns/teachers/body builders/roller derby girls from SoCal/Sri Lanka/Utah/Kentucky/Canada!) included, along with hints of varying subtlety at the team’s dynamic and underlying personalities. First impressions can mean a lot here, often unfairly marking the team on the scale between terminally bland or insufferably obnoxious for subsequent weeks. Continue reading “DVR Hindsight #4 (2/24/14): Reviewing/Handicapping “The Amazing Race 24 (All-Stars)””

Movie review: “A Late Quartet” (2012)

quartet

“Casals emphasized the good stuff, the things he enjoyed. He encouraged. And for the rest, leave that to the morons, or whatever it is in Spanish, who judge by counting faults. ‘I can be grateful, and so must you be,’ he said, ‘for even one singular phrase, one transcendent moment.’”

Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet contains as much useful insight into what it is to be a professional musician as any movie I can recall. It also fairly vibrates with the passion with which aficionados of classical music feel and play the music they so love and internalize, a passion which pulses and propels, but also on occasion spills over walls and poisons wells. The film may be flawed in its construction, but those flaws only really reveal themselves later, and, that said, it is still rarely ever less than fascinating. Continue reading “Movie review: “A Late Quartet” (2012)”

Concert review: Dark Tranquillity

dark_tranquillity_by_valeriyasegal-d5rnv1c

also appearing:  Omnium Gatherum, Exmortus                                                                              Skully’s Music Diner, Columbus, Ohio – February 11, 2014

Columbus, Ohio is a pretty great town for concertgoing. I’m living, breathing, blabbering proof of it. There is ample opportunity here for both culture and comfort food of all kinds, and a veritable legion of concert venues of varying class, charm and capacity in which to make it all happen. For all the Katy Perry and Michael Buble invasions we periodically endure, the town also has a wonderful, fully independent radio station, CD102.5, that sees its mission, at least in part, to import as many indie rock and alternative bands as possible and put them in front of enthusiastic, relatively adventurous and discerning potential new fans, occasionally at a discounted price. Columbus also has a surprisingly consistent, if not by universal acclaim vibrant, underground metal scene. Continue reading “Concert review: Dark Tranquillity”

Philip Seymour Hoffman – An Appreciation

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman died over a week ago, and, as an admirer, I’m really only now coming to terms with it. My initial disbelief quickly morphed into anger when I heard he’d fallen prey to a drug overdose at age 46, and I imagine, or hope, that I wasn’t the last remaining person to know of Hoffman’s struggles with drugs only in passing. As some news outlets lingered on salacious details and others posited him as a classic cautionary tale, I tried increasingly to shut out much of the noise, because the whole thing just struck me as unbelievably sad. I mourned for his family and friends, of course, but the loss I felt was concentrated more in the artistic realm, where he had so thrived as a shining ensemble star in some of the best independent and/or lower profile films of my life. Continue reading “Philip Seymour Hoffman – An Appreciation”

Concert review: The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady at Musikfest Cafe

The A&R Music Bar, Columbus, Ohio – February 3, 2014

Craig Finn’s lyrics are rich, involving and endlessly evocative, of a specific time, place and mood that he wants to make universal. Listening to his band, The Hold Steady, one feels instantly included, like he has a place at the table, or at the end of the bar with his friends, around some summer bonfire, checking out the girl playing pool across the room or listlessly counting stars on a cloudless night, always wrapped up in contemplation of both what’s passed and what’s next. Finn paints scenes that, to me, are of a piece in quality with and seem direct descendants of renowned classic rock lyricists like Springsteen and Jackson Browne. They are small scale epics, highly personalized tales of aimless fun, regrets and redemption. Continue reading “Concert review: The Hold Steady”

On Super Bowl XLVIII: The Night of the Wounded Duck

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For the players, coaches, and fans of the Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XLVIII was a waking nightmare from its first snap to its final whistle. I do not envy the aches and angst they will surely wake with tomorrow morning. For the Seattle Seahawks and their supporters it was both vindication and beautiful dream, in some ways an unprecedented one. Seattle played the first “clean” game in Super Bowl history – no sacks allowed, no turnovers committed – and seemed to break Denver’s will in the early going, then bury them altogether. Even one Bronco mistake would be one too many against such a performance, and armchair analysts will have a litter to pick from. Continue reading “On Super Bowl XLVIII: The Night of the Wounded Duck”