Lincoln  (viewed in theaters 18 November 2012)
We saw this at my grandmother’s request as a family. The actors who played Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were amazing. I’m not sure they could’ve been more well-cast. Overall, the film made me (1) want to learn more about Lincoln himself, (2) think of the sinking of the Titanic and films based on said (in that we already know the ending, so it’s only a matter of time before everyone breaks down crying), and (3) want to fist pump and high-five Thaddeus Stevens for being totally badass, driven, and radical. He’s the kind of guy I want on my side, and I wonder how he’d see the present day if he was transported from the Civil War era into the twenty-first century. Stevens might be a historical person I’d like to speak with if given the chance. Man after my own heart. And it made me wonder: what the hell happened to that Republican party, hmm? What happened to all that awesome to create today’s idiotic GOP? Arrrrgh. I have feelings about this, obviously. -_- So much potential, either used up or wasted.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland [ballet] (viewed live ballet 21 October 2012)
After seeing Don Giovanni at the Music Center in Los Angeles, I was made aware of other live performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, including a ballet depicting Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed by the National Ballet of Canada. My family attended a Sunday evening performance dressed to the nines and sat up in the second balcony. I really enjoyed myself, and the ballet was stellar. I borrowed my grandmother’s binoculars and was able to see many of the dancers close up, even though we were sitting so far away. The music was good, the Queen of Hearts great, and Alice (with short, dark hair, as had the original Alice) well-cast. Because there was no speaking and all the performers had to tell the story only through their dancing, I was glad I’d recently read the stories. I also liked the way the ballet ended, in the present day. Very beautiful. (And amazing dancing, as one may expect from professional dancers!)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (viewed at home 07 October 2012)
Grandma chose this film as a “family night” selection, and while I thought it was somewhat outdated in its dealings between women and men in relationships, I could see the value in it after I’d seen the entire thing. It was produced in black-and-white in 1951, and the idea that humanity needs a savior but is too afraid to accept one is quite obvious. The parallels my grandmother drew to Jesus were… unnecessary, in my opinion. I’d like to see the remake, just to see how times have changed (and how they’ve stayed the same), and read the short story upon which both films were based.
Don Giovanni [LA Opera] (viewed live opera 03 October 2012)
My best friend and I attended the performance of Don Giovanni at the Los Angeles Opera after our German teacher suggested the students attend live performances by German composers. He and I got to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a few minutes to spare to get student tickets ($25 each for seats on the first floor ten rows from the stage = sweet!). I changed into opera-appropriate clothing (my friend had forgotten a tie, but it turned out okay), and we ate expensive salad and desserts (more than $50 for two salads, two desserts, and two Shirley Temples = NOT sweet >_>) before the performance began. I guess I should’ve already known that the opera was written in Italian and not German, but I hadn’t connected that before the performers began to sing. Luckily, the audience was provided with supertitles in English so that we would understand what was actually going on. It was pretty funny, for an opera first performed in the late eighteenth century, anyway. There are two deaths, but the first was necessary for some/most of the plot to take place, and the second was the apparently necessary conclusion for the protagonist so lacking in “good morals”. I also realized that Gaston and Lefou, antagonists in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, were lifted almost exactly from the characters Don Giovanni and Leporello. The difference was that, in Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni/Gaston and Leporello/Lefou are the main characters—it’s their story that’s being told. In Beauty and the Beast, it’s Belle’s. I learn something new every day, it seems.
Gershwin on the Green (LA County Arboretum 08 September 2012)
I think this was Dad’s idea, though I don’t completely remember. We attended the dinner (which we brought) beforehand and had reserved table seating, so we were actually relatively close to the musicians when the performance began. I was able to lie on the grass watching the stars cross the sky and listen to more Gershwin than I ever have before at one time. It was good. Some of the music I recognized, most of it I didn’t. I learned that Gershwin is one of my grandmother’s favorite composers, and the conductor who was originally supposed to be conducting the performance (Marvin Hamlisch) had died shortly before, so the entire concert was dedicated to him instead. In between pieces, various people close to Hamlisch metaphorically sung his praises, which I found annoying, but I’d never met the man, so who am I to deny those mourning a little bit of celebration and closure? I had a good time despite the concert’s interruptions, and I’m glad I went.