Van Gogh, The Remakes

In a tribute to murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, friends are remaking some of his films in American versions. “Each film will be shot on digital video in the rapid, three-camera style used by the late director. Filming will last only two weeks per title to keep the budget low and the intensity high. Unlike the last few of van Gogh’s films, none of the remakes focus on religious or political themes, sticking instead to the sexy, provocative themes and edgy characters that made van Gogh both a pariah and favorite at home.”

Moving On To War

“War has haunted choreographers of all ages and artistic orientations in the past few years. Given that people’s bodies serve as the medium of dance, it is hardly surprising that a struggle involving their destruction preoccupies the art. Still, choreographers are careful about how they approach the war in Iraq.”

Harry Potter US Sales Lagging? (2.5 Million Copies Unsold)

“Even though Americans have bought 11 million copies of the latest epic adventure, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the book remains at number two in the Publishers Weekly sales chart, Scholastic’s adoption of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s most famous pupil is causing it financial grief. Stacks of unsold copies are collecting dust in bookstores and warehouses across the US, and Scholastic – the world’s largest distributor of children’s books, and best known in the UK for Clifford the Big Red Dog – is bracing itself for an avalanche of returned copies.”

A Thing For Arvo Pärt

Last month composer Arvo Pärt turned 70. Pärt “has caught on because of the luminous beauty of his sound. It seems to come from somewhere beyond our normal experience and expectations. It haunts the ear. But just about every tribute to him I’ve read lately begins defensively, explaining that musical simplicity does not necessarily equal triviality. No, we are reminded, Arvo Pärt is not New Age. He isn’t a Minimalist, as such. He’s neither this nor that. We need no such reminders. Maybe he’s not to everyone’s taste, but he’s loved and admired by a following that is wide and that breaks through categories.”

Fiber For Cello

Luis Leguia couldn’t find a cello he liked. “So he invented one himself using an unlikely material — carbon fiber. And now he designs, manufactures, and sells carbon fiber cellos, violins, and violas through Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Instruments, a company that he started five years ago and runs out of his home. Carbon fiber, strong but flexible, is strands of carbon tightly woven and set in resin. He has sold 100 cellos, 12 violins, and 20 violas.”

Doubt About A Bach Toccata

Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for organ is one of the composer’s best-known works. It’s spooky, the theme for countless scary movies. “Turns out Halloween’s soundtrack also has been cloaking its true form: The Toccata and Fugue probably was not written by Bach and almost certainly wasn’t written for the organ. In music circles, that assertion is as scary as it gets. It’s not every day such a famous work gets shaken to its foundations. However, scholarly consensus is building that the baroque master did not write his most well-known organ work.”

The End Of The Great Critics?

“Great critics are rare birds; rare birds need a welcoming aviary and the zookeepers are not on the lookout for such special and specialist breeds of plumage any more. Over time, the priorities have shifted towards ‘personality’ writers with no background in their subject. The long, slow haul of a career as a critic, with its period of apprenticeship, dedication and accumulation of wisdom and experience – as exemplified by Andrew Porter – is suddenly becoming a thing of the past.”

After the Russian Ballets

A film on Ballet Russes “refers to several linked ballet companies, and the catalyst for the film was a 2000 reunion of veterans of the various troupes. What makes this film delightful is the people involved, the women made-up, coiffed, bejeweled, with their evident joy at seeing one another again, sometimes after nearly 40 years, and their unstoppable reminiscences. What makes this film important is what it tells us about the evolution of ballet as an art form.”

Can Chickens Save Disney Animation?

“In 1999 the Disney animation workforce numbered about 2,200. In the aftermath of massive layoffs and the shuttering of the company’s Florida animation studio, the total is about 700. Those who remain have accepted a reality that would have been unthinkable back when Walt Disney was drawing Mickey Mouse: Disney is out of the hand-drawn animation business. Instead the company has placed all of its eggs into the computer-animation basket. Who’s supposed to hatch them? Chicken Little.”