Goings On: Adès’s Buñuel Opera and More

“If you go to a single production this season, make it this one.” That’s Anthony Tommasini, chief music critic for the New York Times, enthusiastically recommending Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, an opera inspired by Luis Buñuel’s 1962 film and now running at the Metropolitan Opera through November 21. And there’ll be a live broadcast to cinemas around the world on November 18.

“A new opera from Mr. Adès, more than a decade after The Tempest (2004), is an event,” wrote Zachary Woolfe in a primer on the opera for the NYT last month. “‘He is, first and foremost, a virtuoso of extremes,’ Alex Ross wrote in the New Yorker after the premiere of The Exterminating Angel at the Salzburg Festival last year.” Woolfe’s synopsis: “A wealthy couple hosts a dinner party. But when the meal is over, even though there’s no evident physical barrier, everyone finds it mysteriously impossible to leave the room. Days go by; the guests become hungry, dirty and hysterical, eventually turning on one another.”

“The opera tells this peculiar story clearly and strongly,” NYT film critic Glenn Kenny tells NYT music critic Seth Colter Walls in a conversation the paper’s posted today. “You can, I think, go into the Met with no idea of the source material and experience a work that speaks to you. But people should watch the film regardless! It’s one of Buñuel’s most enigmatic and entertaining works. It feels very deadpan, almost tossed off, which is a key feature of his style. The opera is more, well, operatic.”

More Goings On

New York.Fly Paper, a film by Kahlil Joseph, “a successful director who has worked with Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé,” is an “impressionistic collage of Harlem’s past and present” now “being shown continuously in a new ground-floor gallery space at the museum as part of the exhibition, Kahlil Joseph: Shadow Play.Daniel McDermott in the NYT: “With Fly Paper, Mr. Joseph pays homage to a host of literary and cultural figures, splicing and mixing in references among its scenes of fictional characters.” Hilton Als in the New Yorker: “Joseph concludes the film with a reference to another genius of the interrupted narrative: the documentary director Chris Marker, whose Sans Soleil (1983), is an urtext on film as fragments, film as journey. In Fly Paper, after the parade of disparate lives bound together by aesthetics, politics, belief, and love has ended, the screen goes dark. The world has stopped. The excellence is gone. But the blackness onscreen is as rich and textured as skin.”

From today through December 29, MoMA is presenting Modern Matinees: The Coen Brothers.

Houghton, Michigan. The 41 North Film Festival opens tomorrow and runs through Sunday. “While Kristin [Thompson] and I are there,” writes David Bordwell, “I’ll be doing a lecture on Dreyer and another talk based on Reinventing Hollywood. My first book was a little guide to La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, and my second book was a survey of Dreyer’s films. I’ve returned to him sporadically since then, and I’ve had occasion to rethink his role in film history–especially in light of my and others’ research on silent cinema. (For example, ‘The Dreyer Generation,’‘Dreyer Re-Reconsidered,’‘Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic,’ and this blog entry on Criterion’s Master of the House release.) Dreyer remains for me an impressive, enigmatic figure.”

Toronto. TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey presents an overview of Black Star, the retrospective that “celebrates 100 years of Black excellence on screen,” opens Friday, and runs through December 22.

London. John Gianvito will be at Close-Up this weekend as the Centre for Film & Ethics at Queen Mary University of London presents his complete diptych For Example, the Philippines.Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010) screens Saturday, Wake (Subic) (2015) on Sunday. Gianvito will be on hand for Q&As and then deliver a masterclass in twoparts on Monday.

UK. “After twenty-six years, The Silence of the Lambs holds up terrifically well,” writes the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, and Jonathan Demme’s 1991 film is in cinemas again starting Friday.

Berlin.Around the World in 14 Films has presented the lineup and schedule for its twelfth edition, running from November 23 through December 2. The festival’s known not only for its strong selection but also for pairing the films up with “presenters,” filmmakers, usually, who say a few words before screenings. Wim Wenders, for example, who directed the late Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas (1984), will introduce John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky, featuring Stanton in his last starring role. Valeska Grisebach (Western) will talk about Hong Sang-soo’s The Day After, Thomas Arslan (Bright Nights) will introduce Denis Côté’s A Skin So Soft, and so on.

“Painting in Motion” is the focus of the Arsenal’s “Magical Mystery Tour” this month. The theater’s also presenting a Pascale Ferran retrospective from Friday through November 10 and “the film projects and grant-holders that have received funding from the Female Artists’ Program of the Berlin Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs over the last two years,” from tomorrow through Sunday.

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