Browsing articles in "Reviews"

True North Strong and Free

Feb 13, 2010   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Reviews  //  No Comments

Yesterday was a good day to be a Canadian, but beyond that, it was a good day to be a Canadian artist. The level of artistry, skill, technical ability, and talent that went into the Opening Ceremony last night was amazing, and it made me proud to be a part of a community of artists that has the skill to pull that off. Beyond that, it was a great day for Calgary artists. The composer/music director, Dave Pierce; the assistant music director, Donovan Seidle; and the choreographer, Jean Grand-Maître, are all Calgary-based artists with huge international successes.

However, aside from the dampening of the day for the most obvious reason (and my heart just aches for the Georgian team and the Kumaritashvili family), there’s something that has been nagging at me for weeks. The more I hear of the controversy and ill-will surrounding the Games in Vancouver, the sadder it makes me. The Olympics in Calgary were such a great experience for the city — culturally, they put Calgary on the world stage, and the arts and culture (not to mention both amateur and professional sports) have flourished so much in the last 22 years due to the foundation laid by the Games — they seemed to draw the city together, not tear it apart. Read more >>

Through the wardrobe

Nov 20, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Reviews, Theatre  //  No Comments

Last week, I went to see PCPA’s production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was a decent production — technically very good, relatively strong acting overall — and while there were things that I nitpicked about it and directing choices that I would have made differently, I really did enjoy the show.

I’ve talked before about adaptations and maintaining the integrity of the work, and there are certain movies or adaptations that I won’t see because I enjoyed the original too much to risk being disappointed by an adaptation that falls short. If the story is misinterpreted or characters don’t look the way I think they should or the overarching themes are viewed differently than I’ve always seen them (not to mention the disturbing propensity for adaptations to change the endings of the original work), it can turn the experience of a beloved story into a bittersweet (perhaps more bitter than sweet) shadow of what it should be.

I realized last weekend, though, that while that may be my immediate reaction to many adaptations, it’s actually the middle ground for me. On the one side, there are adaptations where I have little or no attachment to the original. Most comic book movies, for instance. I have virtually no attachment to the generative works, and while I fully recognize that I am experiencing the work on a very limited level, I’m enjoying it on its own merits and I am happily ensconced in my ignorance of the work. Read more >>

Sweetness and light

Sep 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews  //  No Comments

We saw The Ugly Truth last weekend — with friends; it was their choice of movie, not ours — and it was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. Lots of crude humor, lots of denigration of healthy relationships, and a very dim view of men.

Now, I don’t have a problem with most content in movies. Much to my mother’s consternation, I don’t filter my movie choices based on violence, language, sex, or other “objectionable” content. Those may, in the end, affect my enjoyment of a movie, but I rarely rule out a movie because I think that what I see, I won’t like. I’d rather base my enjoyment of the movie on its story, and those elements can all be used very effectively to tell the story and make a specific point. Often, the movies with the most disturbing content (think Monster’s Ball, Requiem for a Dream, or Pan’s Labyrinth) are the most beautifully crafted, well-told stories with the most to think about and take away.


Weekly Round-up: June 21

Jun 22, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Movies, Reviews, Television, Theatre, Weekly Round-up  //  No Comments

This was supposed to post last week, but with one thing and another (first some internet downtime and then some “me” downtime), I’m just getting to it today. The plan is for this to be a weekly post, but like everything else, it seems that it’s taking a little longer to get started than I’d like it to.

Once I get into the habit and routine, this will be a weekly roundup of what I’m reading, listening to, watching, attending, and doing. This one, however, is not quite a weekly roundup; more like a “last 3 or 4 weeks” listing.

When “good enough” isn’t good enough

May 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Faith, Reviews  //  4 Comments

One of my primary goals when I was working with the drama ministry at the church was to see it become as professional and high-quality as possible, because what’s the point of putting on shoddy work? Too often, I think that the attitude within the church is, “Whatever we give God, he’ll do something good with, so I don’t have to give my best.” And yes, while it’s true that God makes beauty out of our brokenness, it doesn’t give us the excuse to be lazy or to give less than our best–not only the best of what we currently are, but the best of what we can be, through training, practice, and honing our skills.

(And if I ever end up back in a position of leading the drama ministry at Foothills, one of my goals is to make it a place of training, mentoring, and growth for the team members themselves, as well as a place to use theatre as a ministry to the church and community.)

Mom and Dad gave Colin and I the movie Fireproof for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet, but despite not having seen it, I’ve been pretty vocal with my disappointment in it (and maybe I’ll post a review of the movie itself once I’ve seen it, but this isn’t a review of the movie; it’s a discussion of the reactions I’ve heard). I’ve read reviews from sources that I trust, and everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a pretty formulaic “Christian” movie: overly expository writing, not-so-great acting, less-than-subtle conveyance of its message, and mediocre production value.

Even the opinions of people who liked it have been mixed. They thought it was a good story, but the acting wasn’t the best they’ve ever seen; or they thought the message was good, but it could have been told better.

My argument against it from the beginning has been this: Why put something out there on a stage where it can’t possibly compete with the best that’s it’s up against? Why create something–with a God-honoring message, and with the best intentions in the world–to a standard of mediocrity, where even the people who like it only like it with reservations?



Dec 3, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Music, Reviews  //  1 Comment

This weekend, one of the things I got to do in Calgary was see Ambrose University College’s Messiah, which Colin, Mom, and Dad were all singing in (with the AUC Community Singers). It was good, overall, but disappointing in places. The first, biggest, thing was that it was held in the gym of the college that was hosting it. That wasn’t the director’s choice, but the school just built a brand-new campus, so of course the administration wanted the Christmas concert to show it off. Unfortunately, there’s not a large enough concert hall for the event, so they set up the gym.

The sound was quite good, and it didn’t have the terrible acoustics that most gyms have, but the aesthetic was terrible. The mood and formality of the event was really compromised by having it in the venue that they did. I get why the administration wanted it there; I’m also completely on the director’s side, who has said that he’s going to fight to make sure it never happens in that location again. It’s why I will not have my wedding reception in a community hall or something similar. No matter how much you try to dress it up, it still looks like a high-school dance, and that’s an aesthetic that isn’t appropriate for a concert like that.

The Saturday night concert was a sing-along, which I was really excited about, but it was far from meeting my expectations.


Improv Everywhere

Nov 1, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Reviews  //  No Comments

I’m kind of in love with Improv Everywhere. It’s a New York-based performance art group that takes large-scale pranks out into the public, and the whole “improv” concept is rooted in the way the audience responds to the performers’ actions. It’s kind of like a cross between Punk’d, candid camera, and performance art, and the result is really cool.


Casey and Finnigan

Oct 16, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Reviews, Theatre  //  No Comments

I’m taking a really fantastic class this semester called “Leadership and Management.” There are seven of us in the class–two each of producers, production managers, and stage managers (and one lighting designer, who’s married to one of the production managers), and each of us is working on projects with several people in the class. I’m working with three of them directly, and the lighting designer is working on my show as well, so there’s an element of working with her, too, although it’s not quite as directly as with the others in the class.

It’s basically a discussion class. Well, actually, not “basically;” it is a discussion class. We read several chapters of a book on leadership (Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” for Managers, Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, and Developing the Leader Within You are the textbooks for the semester) and then spend three hours talking it, both in broad, philosophical terms, as well as how it relates to our day-to-day work in theatre, whether that’s at the school or professionally.


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