Artist’s Garden in Argentuil by Claude Monet

artists-gallery-in-argenteuil-by-claude-monet

I saw this painting in person a little over a year ago at the Cleveland Museum of Art as a part of the Impressionist series about the garden.  It was the first of three exhibits to kick off their centennial year, and it was by far the best.

I believe this picture is from the National Gallery of Art.

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Nostalgic Films

I saw La La Land on Monday.  I enjoyed the film; the acting was good, the story was well told, I liked the music and it was well shot.  But it made me think about the role of nostalgia in film.

Film is an art form, and like any art form, film has changed drastically in the past 100 years.  We ended up discussing that today briefly at work, when we were discussing ’80’s movies.  My co-worker even placed 1984 as the last year of the 80’s film.  (For the epitome of the 80’s movie, see Flashdance.  That film eightied more than any other film ever eightied before.)

Naturally, artists are inspired by their predecessors.  But what do we make of films that are incredibly nostalgic, and self-referential?

When I watched La La Land, I kept thinking about the movie The Artist.  They are both done in the style of an earlier form of film (silent films and the 1950’s musical).  But how well do they hold up?  I have not seen The Artist in several years; I don’t know if the conceit of the silent film in modern day holds up.  Will La La Land hold up in future years?

I have no idea.  But I do know that the audience in my theater burst into applause after the opening number.

Postscript: The movie itself is aware of these dangers.  A key exchange between two characters points out that a person who consistently looks to the past can never be a revolutionary.

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Madonna at the Fountain James van Eyck

The Cleveland Museum of Art was fortunate to receive this painting as a part of its Centennial Loan program from the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp.

I took this picture on my cellphone.

madonna-at-the-fountain

Happy New Year everyone!  May 2017  be better than 2016, no matter what you thought of 2016.

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Te Deum for Empress Maria Theresa by Haydn

I was privileged to hear the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus perform this piece back in November.

According to the program, this is not for the famous Maria Theresa (one of the most powerful women in Europe and mother of Marie Antoinette) but rather the second wife of Emperor Franz II.

This is a recording of the Ravenna Festival.

 

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2016: Worst Year Ever?

Until John Oliver brought it up at the end of his election episode, I never thought of this year as being exceptionally terrible.

After all, I’m from Cleveland.  How could it be when this happened?  🙂

The after party and the parade went without a major hitch.

cavaliers-parade-basketball

cavs-win-celebration

Plus, the Cleveland Museum of Art celebrated their 100th anniversary.  Their events to celebrate went off very well.

The Republican National Convention also failed to destroy the city.  🙂

Overall, I had a good year too.

I had a lot of struggles at work, but a lot of personal triumphs.

I applied for a promotion.  I didn’t get it, but I am very glad I went for it, and I made contacts in a new department.

I am much, much more active socially than I have been in the past.  I went to a whole bunch of parties, and even marched in a parade.

I still feel afraid at times.  I worry about my health.  I worry about losing my job.  I worry about my future, especially if I will ever get married and have children.  But I try to live for the moment, and I remember that in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned, as King James would say.

Plus, the world has seen far worse years.  The years between 1940 and 1945 were complete shit.

I must say, with no irony, that it figures that Northeast Ohio would have a great year when the rest of the country (and possibly the world)  went to Hell. It makes perfect sense.

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Small Disappointments

I took several psychology classes in college, though I never minored in it.  One of the things we learned in Psych 102 was that small stressors can be just as bad as large stressors, since they have a cumulative effect.

I was thinking about that this past week because I had several small disappointments this month.

I was hoping to get a facial and go for afternoon tea during a few days off I had, but I did not get the chance to either.

I was hoping to go to the theater, but we had to skip because of the weather.

Perhaps saddest of all, I was really hoping I could take my mom to see The Cleveland Orchestra perform Rhapsody in Blue.   She loves Rhapsody in Blue.

Oh well, I am taking her to hear Bruckner, whoever that is, so it’s not a total loss.  Plus, I realize that my disappointments are the epitome of “first world problems” so I can’t bitch too much.

At the same time, it is strange how a series of small disappointments can have a cumulative affect about how I view myself and the world.  When things go my way, I assume that they will continue to go my way.  When I am disappointed, I start to feel unlucky.  I also become less likely to take chances or to fight back when the world does not go my way.

In the meantime, here is a performance of Rhapsody in Blue, with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic no less!

 

 

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Films About Women 35

1 Cleopatra (1963)

I had a professor in college who once called this movie “four hours of sensuous boredom.”  That may be true, but this is still four hours worth spending.

First of all, this movie is a part of a unique moment in film history.  In the ’60’s, Hollywood was afraid because of the rise of television.  In response, they started making films big.  This is the era that brought us David Lean’s films (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago) as well as Ben Hur and The 10 Commandments.  Cleopatra fits right in with these films.

cleopatra-liz

Second of all, this is the film that introduced to the world the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton affair.  This affair has earned a place in American culture and even defined the way we think about the historical Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

2 Offside

I remember ten years ago when Iran qualified for the World Cup.  This film tells the story of women who dared to attend the soccer match in which the Iranian soccer team won that spot.

In Iran, one of the many restrictions placed on women is that they are unable to attend sporting events.  The director made this film after his own daughter sneaked into a soccer match.  This is not a true story, but does showcase the restrictions many women face in the Middle East, and the women who fight against them.

3 Where Are My Children?

I am so excited to introduce this film.  It was not easy to track it down, but it is so worth it. This is a silent film, written by a woman, about contraception and abortion.  These subjects would quickly become taboo in films with the passing of the Hayes code.  However, it would be a mistake to view this film in a modern lens.  The film draws heavily on the prominent eugenics of the turn of the century.  The film judges abortion and birth control based on the woman using them.  If she is rich and white, then she should have a large family.  If she is a poor woman of color, then she should definitely not have children.

where-are-my-children

It is a remarkable document of film history as well as the history of reproductive history and eugenics at the turn of the century.  Track it down; it is well worth your time.

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