Tuesday, 23 March 2010


This amazing movie is finally available on DVD. The New York Times did a review of the package and lauds the restoration of the film and the deep colours it now has. Oh, how can anyone forget that wonderful scene of Hepburn and Bogart trying to push that boat through the swamp. Can't wait to watch it again.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Falling Under The Spell of the Kreutzer Sonata. . .

Last week, I had two very different experiences of watching dance - both events choreographed by famed Canadian James Kudelka. The first was the National Ballet of Canada's production of Swan Lake. I was sitting way up in the nosebleed section of Ring 5 but still marvelled at the gorgeous costumes, dark, theatrical sets, and of course the wonderful dancing. The one good thing about sitting high up is you can really appreciate the choreography in terms of the visual patterns made by the dancers and their costumes. It's almost akin to being the camera in a Busby Berkeley musical.

A few nights later I was in the fifth row at a much smaller theater watching the Art of Time Ensemble's innovative production of the Kreutzer Sonata. This was a terrific night. The first half was devoted to Tolstoy's story about a jealous husband, adapted into an hour long monologue, ably delivered by Ted Dykstra while pianist Andrew Burasko and violinist Marie Benard beautifully played selections of Beethoven's work. After the intermission, we were able to hear the entire sonata while watching Kudelka's work 15 Heterosexual Duets, danced by Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Oh, how I loved it! The choreography was so fast, inventive, playful, humourous, romantic and passionate. All aspects of relationships were conveyed from lust to petulant spats to apathetic boredom. And being so close to the stage, you could really see the power in the lifts and jumps, and the expressions on the dancers. I could have watched this sequence a dozen times in a row.
It was wonderful to hear the music as well, although I equally love listening to Leoš Janáček's version, which I also first encountered in a multi-cultural event. This was a few years ago when I was in London and went to see a production of Brian Friel's play Performances which combined a story about Janáček's passionate epistolary correspondence with a married woman, and the music it inspired - a string quartet entitled "Intimate Letters". I can't remember now who played Janáček but the woman was played by the gorgeous Rosamund Pike (wasn't she just wonderful in the film An Education?) The Brodsky Quartet performed the music onstage and I bought a CD of it in the lobby which also contained Janáček's The Kreutzer Sonata. I highly recommend it - it's really beautiful music.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Some Books I'm Lusting After. . .

Ah, this beautiful spring weather we're having - I'm just aching to wander the streets of Toronto, go out and buy books, and find a park bench in the sunlight. Here are some recent ones I've earmarked as must-reads.

The Letters of Sylvia Beach edited by Keri Walsh
Bookseller extraordinaire, founder of Shakespeare & Company - how can I resist? Plus, if you can't get to Paris. . .

A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War by David Boyd Haycock
I'm a fan of all of the artists profiled in this book - Dora Carrington, Mark Gertler, CRW Nevinson, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer - and have read bits of each of their lives. This collective biography sounds fascinating. Many thanks to Hannah Stoneham and her blog review for alerting me to this book.

I love book history and this tracing of the popularity of Austen's work over the last two centuries has gotten very good reviews. Certainly is my kind of book.

Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury Volume 1: Aesthetic Theory and Literary Practice
Virginia Woolf's Bloomsbury Volume 2: International Influence and Politics
Edited by Gina Potts and Lisa Shahriari
News of this new anthology of scholarly essays went out on the Woolf listserv and the two volumes look terrific but I will probably have to wait until they come out in paperback before adding them to the Woolf shelf - bit pricey in hardcover.

What Becomes by A.L. Kennedy
A new collection of short stories from one of my favourite contempory writers. I love her edgy prose, always on the knife-edge between despair, danger and delight.
A Short History of Cahiers du Cinema by Emilie Bickerton
I subscribe to this magazine to improve my French even though I know it's not as cutting edge as it used to be. Which is why I want to read this book.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Yet another reason why independents rock!

Just love this post from Conversational Reading about a great event hosted by San Francisco's The Booksmith that combines a bookswap with a meet and greet and three hours of bookish talk!
I would love to see a proliferation of literary salons springing up in bookstores everywhere - as much as I love to read blogs, nothing beats face to face literary chat with passionate readers.