Okay, for starters, I just want to point out the fact that Joseph Losey's The Prowler (1951) is playing for the next week at Film Forum. I'm a big Losey fan and have always wanted to see his legendary third feature. A brief Hoberman review in this week's Village Voice alerted me to its re-release with a nice new print from the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Losey's first two American pictures are pure hokum, but The Prowler may be the lost noir we've all been waiting to see. I'm going on Sunday.
I was unable to post last Friday because I was attending the opera for the first time in my life on Thursday evening, when I normally sit down to write. I know nothing of opera and may even actively dislike it. However, the current production of Shostakovich's 1930 work The Nose combines three things to make it appealing to one ignorant of the genre like myself: 1.) its source material is Gogol's proto-surrealist story of the same title, 2.) the music is almost entirely atonal, shrieking, percussive noise, and 3.) artist William Kentridge was enlisted to provide animated projections and set designs to structure the performance. While Kentridge's aggressive visuals make it nearly impossible to concentrate on the score--it's a piece of white elephant art through and through--his contributions are stunningly beautiful and are executed in an idiosyncratic style that would likely appeal to many of this blog's readers. The show, which runs from March 5-25 at the Met Opera, has been consistently sold out since the beginning of its short engagement. I was convinced to go by my partner, Faith, who managed to get nosebleed tickets (ha, ha) via phone the morning of the performance. If you don't mind standing on your feet for two hours (I do) while trying to appreciate high modernist art, then this is probably your cheapest and best bet. You could also wait 3-4 hours on line for limited quantities of rush tickets; it is already quite a bit warmer than it was last Thursday.
The Nose has been staged very few times. It was immediately suppressed as bad art upon its inaugural performance in 1930 and was only seen again in St. Petersburg in 1974. Shostakovich was 22 when he wrote it; his other Gogol opera, The Gamblers, was never finished, though he did complete the Nikolai Leskov-based Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District in 1934. The Met has Paulo Szot playing Major Kovalyov, the petty bureaucrat whose nose has gone missing, and the score is conducted by Valery Gergiev. A recent CD release by the Mariinsky Soloists, Orchestra, and Chorus features many of the same performers, but alas, this being an all-Russian release, Szot is here preceded by Vladislav Sulimsky. A few selections from their recording of The Nose: A Satirical Opera in Three Acts (Mariinsky, 2009) are provided below:The Nose: Act I: Interlude
Interestingly, shortly after our attendance, Faith found a plaster nose on the streets of New City, NY while jogging. It has a hook on the back, implying that this bizarre item was once hanging on the wall of someone's home. Why is the bridge completely unfinished while the nostrils are so well-formed? Many unanswered questions in this Gogol-meets-Blue Velvet scenario.
Completely unrelated--but what I've really been enjoying this past week is the following clip from Ted Bafaloukos' Rockers (1978). Short and sweet but infinitely repeatable, it shows Bongo Herman, "the first man in Jamaica to break-dance in a movie," tearing it up to Dillinger's "Cool Operator" (aka "Stumbling Block"). There are so many great scenes in Rockers, but this one really says it all.