Friday, January 04, 2008

Two great tastes

What I learned this week: Don't go to the Met doped up on cold medicine. It makes it really really hard to stay awake, especially when the opera is Prokofiev's War and Peace, which goes on for over four hours. I hear it's one of the Met's most lavish productions, which is easy to believe since Prokofiev wrote something like 60ish roles and at times it feels as if there's hundreds of choir members and extras (plus the occasional horse and dog) onstage.

What I had not realized going in was that it was staged by Andrei Konchalovsky, who must have one of the most bizarre trajectories in modern cinema, going from cowriting Andrei Rublev for Tarkovsky to directing the superb epic Siberiade to…Tango & Cash? Hard to believe the same man who could convincingly fit both war and peace (plus the occasional horse and dog) on an uptown stage once handled both Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell for the screen. I do have a fond memory of his Hollywood debut, Runaway Train, a nifty action movie (based on a screenplay idea by Akira Kurosawa!) that starred Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay—the latter two back when above-the-title careers still felt like a serious possibility. Runaway Train was a far sight from Siberiade, but even then, going from it to Tango & Cash must have been a rude awakening as to the inner workings of commercial American cinema—which would find a way to turn the horse and the dog into cute anthropomorphic sidekicks, what with that war and peace business being a bummer and all.

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