The Nutcracker Ballet is such an intrinsic part of Christmas that it would be difficult to imagine a world without the music, and without the well-known story performed through dance. The reason why the ballet is so magical is the cast of children who convey all of the new wonder of the season.
I am interrupting Late to the Theater’s horror month to bring you my review of Orlando Ballet’s Carmina Burana, and I will start with a confession: I did not pay close enough attention to the playbill to notice that there was no intermission, and I kept patiently waiting for it so that I could go powder my nose.
By dance number sixteen I thought: holy cow this is going to be a four-hour extravaganza! And by dance 25, I realized it was already the reprise of O Fortuna, and I’d watched the whole ballet. (And then I raced myself to the beautifully appointed Harriett’s Lady’s Lounge after the second or third curtain call…)
Clocking in at an hour-fifteen it is a spare yet intense ballet. We discussed the creation of it with Mr. Robert Hill, choreographer, in this piece a few weeks ago, and I’ll point you there for some background in the earworm-inspiring music and philosophy behind the choreography. On to the review.
I am digging deep into my memory to write up a few things in preparation for the memorial of my dad, Dr. Fred Stone. This will be a continuing series.
It was 1984, and the late afternoon rain poured around us. We were sitting in a guest house in Chiang Rai because my dad, Fred Stone (not yet Dr. Stone), had heard rumor of a possible fertile population of albino cave cockroaches deep in the limestone backbone of the northern Thai mountains.
But the rain (which, in 2018, has proved to be a dangerous hazard to the caves in this region) had stymied us on the first day of our trip. Until the rain stopped, however, there was something important dad had to do: teach me how to swallow my malaria pill.
I’ve resisted writing about the film Crazy Rich Asians because this thing hit me in layers, and peeling back those layers was hard. The issues I felt were deeply embedded in my identity, and it was super uncomfortable to admit to them. So here you go, one of the most personal film reviews I’ll probably ever write.
This morning I read a quote from Brie Larson, who was talking about reviews that panned A Wrinkle in Time:
There are a lot of reviews of Ocean’s 8 out there, and probably more than 80% of them are by men. I could let my own observations about the movie pass by, but the second I read Brie Larson’s quote about the disproportionate number of men who review movies, I realized that nowadays it’s a call to action. If you’re a woman and you like a movie, you should probably find time to write about why.
Reviews have been written about Ocean’s 8 and how director Gary Ross lacked the lightness of Steven Soderbergh’s touch, or the layer upon layer of seemingly incidental conversation that turns out to be central to each plot. But whatever, Ross (formerly of Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games, and Pleasantville) did a fine job crafting a heist movie with a powerful and overt message: that you don’t actually have to like the women on screen for them to be viable characters.
There are many reviews that miss this point, but I am not here to parrot those. I’m here to tell you that this movie offers a rich and complex portrayal of women that is found very, very rarely in your average blockbuster (we’re not talking about indie films), and watching it is a revelation. It also might explain why men who like a certain kind of narrative about women are going to be unsettled enough to give the movie a poor review.
I’m going to hop straight into spoilers to show you why.