DAVID YEARSLEY—In the opening scene of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby of 1968, an old apartment manager named Mr. Niklas shows a young couple through the building which is, unbeknownst to them, home to a coven of witches. As they walk through the foyer, Mr. Niklas discovers that the husband is an actor and asks, “Have I seen you in anything?” It’s a sly bit piece of casting that this line should be uttered by one of the great character actors of moving pictures—Elisha Cook, Jr. As in the unsettling amalgam of manic intensity and slightly askew trustworthiness he delivered in Rosemary’s Baby, Cook gave his characters a ruffled quirkiness that made many of them immortal.
ARTS & FILM
ART & POETRYARTS & FILMVIDEOS
Enthusiasm for Beethoven is particularly strong in Japan. Every year in December, 10,000 choir singers gather in a concert hall in Osaka to sing “Ode to Joy,” the final chorus from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. At the podium for the 20th time is conductor Yutaka Sado, a pupil of Leonard Bernstein. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is performed more often in Japan than in other country in the world. The Japanese simply refer to Beethoven’s Ninth as “Daiku” — the “Great.” Participation in the concert is highly sought-after: The singers have to pay the equivalent of 700 euros to sing “Freude, schöner Götterfunken” in German. And there are far more than 10,000 applicants. The enthusiasm for Beethoven’s most famous symphony goes back to the first performance of the work by German soldiers in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp Bando in 1918.
PATRICE GREANVILLE—This is a highly unusual film, a quiet, at times lyrical, other times creepy documentary on the small mansions —actually impressive mausoleums—where Mexico’s most notorious drug lords (and other victims of the drug war) lie at rest. Hauntingly, most of the residents in this city of the dead are extremely young. A meditation on culture and class, the images say a lot about the almost infinite ability of the poor to scrape a living under almost any circumstances, and about the people of Mexico’s unique attitude toward death and their apparent stubborn belief in an afterlife.
ARTS & FILMBRAZIL
Sensual, liberated and irrepressible: When it comes to Carnival, Brazil Remains the World’s Superpower.
PATRICE GREANVILLE—The Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro are simply a unique cultural phenomenon. Samba Schools do not teach Samba! A samba school (Portuguese: Escola de samba) is a dancing, marching, and drumming (Samba Enredo) club. They practice and often perform in a huge square-compounds (“quadras de samba”) and are devoted to practicing and exhibiting samba, an African-Brazilian dance and drumming style. Although the word “school” is in the name, samba schools do not offer instruction. Samba schools have a strong community basis and are traditionally associated with a particular neighborhood. They are often seen to affirm the cultural validity of the Afro-Brazilian heritage in contrast to the mainstream education system.
GUILERMO ST-I’ve sadly had to see many actors pass away throughout my life, but this one feels sadder than most. Rutger Hauer made possible one of my favorite cinematic experiences during my childhood, which helped me love cinema to this day. One thing’s for sure: his legacy won’t be lost in time, like tears in the rain. There are way too many people who love this movie like I do to let that happen. Time to die… but you will be forever remembered.