Monday, April 23, 2007

Update to the DVD Spotlight

This week's selection for the DVD Spotlight is Martha Fiennes' Onegin, a gorgeous and beautifully judged rendering of Pushkin's classic novel in verse. Sadly, Onegin suffered the same inglorious fate of several other Ralph Fiennes films that bowed so close to the end of December that Stateside audiences barely noticed them: the same was true of the exemplary Oscar and Lucinda, the terrific-until-it-collapses The End of the Affair, the intriguing but annoyingly hermetic Spider, and last year's wildly uneven but nonetheless worthwhile The White Countess, notable mostly for a strong score and creative sound design. Ralph has really gotta get on the phone with his distributors and ask them what exactly it is about his aquiline beauty and finely-etched acting that makes them think "let's bury this film after Christmas."

Anyway: Onegin is on my mind because I recently enjoyed a high-definition broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's terrific production of Tchaikovsky's opera, beamed right into the AMC Rivers East 21 in Chicago, Illinois. The opera production was superb; in fact, the acting as well as the singing by Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, and Elena Zaremba was all so strong, the stylized lighting and sets were so gorgeous, and the conducting of Valery Gergyev was so luscious that Eugene Onegin ranks easily as the richest experience I've had in a movie theater in 2007. Liv Tyler plays a much more remote Tatyana in the movie than Fleming does onstage, and Fiennes is a less domineering Onegin than Hvorostovsky is, but the film is still a pristine and affecting piece of work, lit to chilly perfection by the superb cinematographer Remi Adefarasin (The House of Mirth, Elizabeth). If you missed Onegin in theaters—and Samuel Goldwyn virtually guaranteed that you did—check it out on DVD, and follow up with my review!

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Blogger StinkyLulu said...

What did you think of "opera at the movies"? I saw Tan Dun's First Emperor and found the whole adventure to be a fascinating experience...

8:48 PM, April 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember being completely blown away by Onegin (especially its cinematography) and valiantly defending it on various online discussion boards straight away, but I was something like 12 years old at the time. I have never come across it since (on TV, on DVD, on VHS, in online discussion boards, in random conversation - never) - I'd completely forgotten it existed until you brought it up just then. I might try harder to track it down now actually.

9:49 AM, April 24, 2007  

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