Tuesday, February 10, 2009


It was a weekend of entertainment that either made perfect sense or not much at all.

The film The Secret of the Grain lets you into the life of this family so thoroughly that you might as well be walking into their kitchen for dinner. Unhurried in its pace and willing to take the time to get to know its characters, the film lets you into its world for the two and a half hours you're at the movies. Sure, it could've been at least a half-hour shorter if the editing had been tighter, but it's an interesting place that you get to when you're turning away from the screen because you're seeing too much and the camera's gotten too close. Trailer here.

David Rousseve's Saudade (excerpts here and here), however, was the opposite experience. Rousseve talks about so many themes throughout this non-linear performance art/modern dance piece: slavery, racial and sexual subjugation, joy, the emotional trauma experienced by Hurricane Katrina survivors, the tortune of Abu Ghraib prisoners, sickness, identity - and it's all combined with a fado soundtrack and a chameleon-like tiled backdrop that draws considerable attention to itself. So, yes, it lacked narrative coherence, but still managed to achieve a sense of closure at the end.

Visually, the dance was arresting and intimate but also repetitive. The constant breaching of the fourth wall was distracting, too. I'm glad I went, but I'm not convinced that a moment of closure and a tableau of interesting images was enough to outweigh spending most of the piece hop-scotching around the choreographer's brain.

So, I'm now off to spend a few days skipping through the collective brain of the media/music/tech community. Come out if you can...or watch the live webcast on Wednesday, February 11 from 9 am - 6 pm (*fingers crossed*).

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