Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From Dogs to Opera to an Art-filled Walk . . . with a few movies thrown in

In case, Saturday's post wasn't enough cuteness, I give you Henry, the little guy we dog-sat for our daughter this weekend. Cute as Henry is, he confirmed for us that we will not be bringing home a dog of our own any time soon. In the year since we lost Skeena, while we've had to tolerate more deer (and raccoons!) in the garden, we've also enjoyed much more freedom. Henry, as a much smaller dog, is easier to bring along on walks. He's also easier to have inside, settling down quite nicely in his corner basket. And he doesn't mind staying at home for five or six hours by himself. Still, the having-to-get-dressed by 9-ish to take him out for a bathroom walk, not to mention scooping up warm leavings in a plastic bag and then looking for a convenient garbage container, never mind being out for a walk and deciding it would be nice to stop in for a coffee or some gyozas or some . . no, wait, we've got the dog . . . So for now, we'll borrow occasionally, but will remain dog-free. Sorry, Henry!

In other breaking news, here's what I wore to the opera Saturday night . . .
Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, a rousing production, satisfying on all counts -- I've been listening to it on my Ipod for the last few weeks, so was well primed. What I hadn't expected was how well the subject matter harmonized with my recent reading material: Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety, about the French revolution. Of course da Ponte's libretto and Mozart's delightful music focus on the comic, but Beaumarchais' plot, revolving as it does around the outrageous feudal entitlements of the Count to his servants' wives, was, for its time, a rather bold questioning of other aristocratic rights, by extension. And no heads had to roll . . .

I can't believe how much we fit into the weekend. Besides our visit with Nola (and her great grandparents and her wee second cousin, a great-aunt and uncle, etc., etc.,), our dog-sitting, the opera, we also saw two very good movies. At the cinema, the brilliant Argentinian film (in Spanish with english subtitles) The Secrets in their Eyes. This is among the best films we've seen in several years: the beautifully lit scenes, stunning camerawork (especially the soccer scene), moving character development coupled with satisfying action scenes (a compelling chase scene), and a plot with just the right number of twists and judiciously provided clues to keep you thinking.
Not, perhaps, quite as compelling, but still very good, on Sunday night we rented An Education -- first of all, as a period piece, this seemed to me to capture its time and place (striving middle-class England, 60s, from an adolescent girl's perspective) very well. And every single actor in this film turns in a solid performance, even those who had only very small parts. I'd easily watch this again tomorrow and enjoy it just as much. You might want to as well.

And finally, Sunday afternoon, Pater and I walked to the new Woodwards development to check out the architecture, the art, and to get a sense of how this might be working as a catalyst for badly-needed change in the downtown East side. But mostly, I really wanted to check out this monumental work, a stunning photo-mural which re-creates a riot that took place in the area in the early 70s -- the scene was controversially staged several years ago, to the consternation of the local constabulary (it depicts some historical police brutality -- of which there have been recent examples the VPD was perhaps hoping to play down).



Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971, Stan Douglas' 30x50 foot photo-mural depicting Gastown riots of that summer
The mural is better viewed from the interior of the atrium, but you get a sense of its scale from the outside.
Very dramatic. . .
Again, to indicate scale, in the very bottom left-hand corner is the orange "box" that can lift several men up to reach whatever they need to work on. The lift was parked right below/in front of the mural, so that you can see the figures depicted in the foreground are almost full-size. The history is powerfully memorialized, very life-like, a bold reminder to the state that its actions are seen and remembered and have consequences. Again, as with Hilary Mantel's book, and with Mozart, da Ponte, and Beaumarchais' work, it's a particular view of the past rendered by an artist. As such, I'm thrilled to see controversial artwork taking such a central position, even as we in the Arts and Humanities faculties across the country (and beyond) feel increasingly beleaguered and marginalized.
so there you have it: dogs, opera, dress, movies, art, and even the teeniest political rant. . . Just another day in the week of . . .
next up, as promised, an attempt at styling a new jacket . . .