ECLECTIC ARTS

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

VANQUISH Film Review April 14, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Vanquish

Lionsgate
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4 / 5


VANQUISH in select theaters on April 16, 2021, on Digital and On Demand on April 20, 2021 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 27, 2021.


(Lionsgate)



The pandemic had basically put a halt on any movie productions for a long period of time. Some started up again only to be shut down, etc. or they had to pivot to figure out how to complete a project during quarantine.


The new film, “Vanquish” is a fun thrill ride that feels like it could have done big business during 2020. It’s now scheduled for release this week and hopefully, with things opening up again, it will find its audience around the world.


Morgan Freeman stars in the film and yes he is in the film from beginning to end. It isn’t one of those annoying cameo appearances that are done to help sell a film with a big star's name attached. Mr. Freeman plays a retired top cop that was injured and thus confined to a wheelchair. Victoria (played by Ruby Rose) is a former Russian courier that works for Damon (Freeman).



(Morgan Freeman as Damon in the action, crime, thriller, VANQUISH, a Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate Company release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.)
 


Damon has his hands in some dirty business and hides Victoria’s ill daughter from her in order to blackmail her to do his bidding one last time.


The film has plenty of action and Damon’s home has a bit of a Michael Mann feel to it. Ruby Rose carries the film well and I would like to see her in future action based films.


“Vanquish” reminds everyone that going to the movies for certain films (vs watching them at home) requires the big screen experience and is a missed and necessary pastime.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, April 12, 2021

SIFF 2021 Coverage Eclectic Arts



Seattle International Film Festival 2021
April 8 through April 18, 2021





My Eclectic Arts coverage of SIFF 2021 will be updated here (with an overall impression recap at the end of the festival). Reviews as they are completed will be added here from the first film reviewed to the most recently reviewed film at the bottom of the list.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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CHUCK CONNELLY: INTO THE LIGHT Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Chuck Connelly: Into The Light

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 5 / 5





I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into by watching “Chuck Connelly: Into The Light”. Having zero knowledge of who Chuck Connelly was in the art world, the trailer had me intrigued and I decided to give it a go Saturday night. Boy am I glad I did.


Once considered one of the leading neo-expressionist painters in the 80’s, Chuck fell into the trappings of alcoholism and rejection. He moved from New York to his home of Philadelphia and became a recluse.


But he still painted every day.


The documentary follows the day to day of Chuck and his paintings. And his philosophy. And his rants. And his art.


He initially comes across like a bitter old man who once had the world by the balls. But as the film unfolds, it becomes more that this artist is exactly that. An artist. He doesn’t play by the rules and is quite frankly misunderstood if I go by what this documentary revealed.


The art world wants to see certain things from its artists. Chuck Connelly didn’t fit that mold so they broke him. Or tried to.


But underneath the massive layers of confusion, anxiety, and agoraphobia, is an artist that enjoys teaching others. An artist that wants to connect with his work in a deeper way than what the rules say he must do.


“Chuck Connelly: Into The Light” was an inspiring piece of film making about an artist that eventually found himself in his work and in his life. On his terms.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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SUPER FRENCHIE Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Super Frenchie

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4 / 5





The documentary “Super Frenchie” would not normally be a film I would review. Why? Not because of the film itself or the category, it’s because I have a fear of heights (in certain circumstances).


The film follows the career of one Matthis Giraud who is a ski base jumper. Throughout his life he went from extreme sport to extreme sport culminating in skiing down some of the most treacherous areas in the world and base jumping - all at the same time.


Matthias is a captivating personality. HIs passion for what he does is infectious and it helps because one might think you’d have to be insane to do what he does. His wife (and eventual son) understands this drive in him as she explains in the film. Once they become parents, her view on his career changes slightly but also she knows her husband well. And that ski base jumping is a part of who he is.


The footage is spectacular that they got for the film. It wasn’t nearly as cringy for someone like me as I thought it would be with only a few exceptions.


There is a dramatic turn in the film which you’ll have to watch as there are no spoilers here.


“Super Frenchy” was inspiring in terms of getting the most out of life no matter what your pursuits are. It also reminded me that some people are just wired differently and that’s not a bad thing at all.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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CENSOR Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Censor

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4.5 / 5






I know there was some buzz about this film and when I saw what it was about I was in. I love the fact that SIFF programs all genres of film, not just the predictable.


“Censor” is the feature length film that was spawned from the short film “Nasty” - both directed by Prano Bailey-Bond.


The film centers around Enid who works as a censor during the time of the “video nasties” in Britain in the early to mid 80’s. Due to the arrival of VHS back then, many films were deemed inappropriate (due to violence) and thus a censorship group was created to watch and censor such films.


In “Censor” Enid must deal with a murder that was blamed on a film she cleared for distribution and her sister who had been missing. Her parents want to consider her deceased since she was not found. There’s more to the plot but I don’t want to spoil anything.


The film has this really esthetic quality to it that I liked. It goes from grainy 80’s full frame ratio to a modern letterbox ratio and back and forth. At times the viewer feels like they are in the actual movie and other times we are observers from the outside.


The director really did a fine job walking the line between disturbing and interesting. You never quite know where the film is going and it captures a dream like state superbly.


Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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MOGUL MOWGLI Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Mogul Mowgli

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 3 / 5






After my first day of watching films to review for SIFF 2021, I decided to see what others were suggesting for folks to check out. The film “Mogul Mowgli” was one of them. So, instead of going on instinct, I went on recommendations this time around.


The film is about a rapper that is ready to get his big break opening for a tour in Europe. But, he is sidelined due to some unknown health issues, and reconnects with his family while in care.


I’ve said this before in some of my other reviews over the last year but every now and then I will come across a project that I don’t really understand. I get the sense that there is more that I’m supposed to be understanding on some other level but I just don’t.


This film fits the bill.


The dramatic turns with the lead character and his family I understand. Same with the issues with his girlfriend. But some of the other scenes were just confusing to me to the point where I didn’t know why they were in the film.


This doesn’t make the film bad in my opinion. It just leaves me perplexed and assuming I have more to learn about cinema is all (which I’m doing).


I will always enjoy seeing a diverse cast in a film from anywhere in the world so that’s a plus with “Mogul Mowgli”. I think it’s a film that I will need to re-watch at some point and see how it comes across once I have more film reviewing years under my belt.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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ALL SORTS Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


All Sorts

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4 / 5






A film with local ties, “All Sorts” is the first comedy that I watched this year for SIFF. It sets the quirky tone of the movie right from the start with the main character of Diego, his boss Vasquez, and his co-worker June.


The film is hard to describe even though the website says it’s a workplace comedy - which it is. As I watched it, I laughed at times, and could sense this film finding it’s audience amongst a cult following.


The main game that is played has to be seen to be believed. I won’t spoil it here. But it’s funny and done very, very well


“All Sorts” didn’t necessarily completely resonate with me but, again, it’s the type of film that will find its audience as many quirky, cult, films do.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


East Of The Mountains

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4 / 5






I approached my first year as press covering SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) with my usual laser-like precision and intention. This is to say I was honestly overwhelmed and just went with my gut on what to start watching and reviewing.


“East Of The Mountains” was my second film choice to review. Based on the novel by David Guterson, the film tells the story of a retired doctor with a terminal illness that decides to go on a trip back to Eastern Washington state to call it a day.


Starring Tom Skerritt in the lead role as Ben Givens, with support from Mira Sorvino as his daughter, and Annie Gonzalez as the veterinarian, the film has a somber, searching tone to it which is perfect considering the trip Ben is on.


Ben encounters car trouble, dog trouble, and other assorted unplanned adventures as he comes to grips with his past.


The film is neatly compact in it’s runtime which I really appreciated. I’ve been reviewing too many films lately that tend to think longer is somehow better. If the story is told, end it. There is no need to pad a movie with filler.


Tom Skerritt is of course wonderful as Ben. Now in his eighties, Tom carries the film like only a veteran actor can. He makes the difficult look easy as all professionals do but Tom really feels perfect for this film.


I also must say that Annie Gonzalez had me asking myself “who is this actor”? She was very captivating in her scenes with Tom and I hope to see more of her work soon.


“East Of The Mountains” is a good one. I’m two for two with my SIFF selections. Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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FRUITS OF LABOR Film Review Seattle International Film Festival 2021 April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Fruits Of Labor

SIFF 2021
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 4.5  / 5






The documentary “Fruits of Labor” tells the story of a Mexican-American teenager who is working two jobs and trying to graduate from high school. She, along with her mother, are the main income sources for the family.


The film shows a distinct viewpoint on the immigration issues going on today directly from a family living within it (such as the threat of ICE raids, etc.).


While many of us can spout our armchair opinions from the comfort of our homes, the film reminds us that these are people’s lives we’re talking about. And in many cases, hard working people that have hopes and dreams just like the rest of us.


When it comes to the news though - we hear and see of criminals and children taking center stage in the immigration debate. We don’t see the average immigrant family that is working long hours, traveling extended distances on the bus to commute to work and school, and quite frankly contributing to society unlike so many others that the media would have you believe.


I may be biased as I used to work with undocumented students in a former life, but “Fruits of Labor” is truly a necessary viewing. Recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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THE LAST ANIMALS Film Review April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Last Animals

1091 Pictures
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 5 / 5


AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE OR RENT ON APRIL 13, 2021


(1091 Pictures)


When a writer/director/producer with the background of award winning photojournalist Kate Brooks tackles a documentary, you can better believe it’s going to resonate with a gut wrenching feeling of sadness, anger, and disbelief.


The film centers around the poaching of rhinos and elephants in Africa. But it goes beyond just the grunts that are paid to harvest the horns and ivory. It shows the money makers abroad that fund these poaching expeditions and the syndicate that is indeed worldwide.


Director Kate Brooks has put herself in harm's way for decades capturing some of the most inspiring images by any photographer. Her handling of the material in “The Last Animals” takes the same no nonsense approach but she guides the film with a steady and understanding hand.



(1091 Pictures)



It would be easy to just show one side of the situation with the subject matter, to demonize the poachers and leave the viewer wanting justice. But Kate shows that like with many illegal operations, the poaching foot soldier isn’t the shot caller here. The head of the snake is in a position of power and there are many others that are profiting from the killing and eventual extinction of these magnificent animals.


“The Last Animals” is an important wake up call to everyone around the world. We are, indirectly and directly, eliminating species of animals from Earth and in many cases many people don’t seem to care until it’s too late. We should learn at a minimum to live with the land, not on it. And that goes the same for the creatures that were once plentiful and in the hundreds of thousands that have now become endangered species (or are already gone).


Think about that. We as human beings have gotten to a point where we have eliminated entire species from the planet.


“The Last Animals” is a must see film. Period.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY Film Review April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Marijuana Conspiracy

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 3.5 / 5

THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY On Demand and Digital on April 20, 2021.


(Samuel Goldwyn Films)



The new film, “The Marijuana Conspiracy” is based on true events. Back in 1972 the government wanted to see what the effects of marijuana were on women. They recruited a group of women who were kept in isolation for nearly 100 days. They were given tasks to do (crochet) and different strengths of marijuana. They were compared to a non “smoking” group and oftentimes had higher production rates than the group that wasn’t high.


This is the basic premise of the film. There are of course other interesting subplots and an ending that I won’t spoil here.


The film is interesting and the acting is done well. The ensemble cast really created a bond that was believable which it needed to be considering the premise of the film.



(Brittany Bristow as Jane in the drama, THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY, a Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.)
 


I did find the film a bit long after a while. Even though its runtime is around two hours, I think it could have been trimmed down to 105 minutes, maybe even a little less to tighten up the pacing.


It’s interesting how far we’ve come in terms of understanding cannabis and legalizing its use. For so many years it was demonized and now its benefits can be seen by many.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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JAKOB'S WIFE Film Review April 12, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Jakob’s Wife

RLJE Films and Shudder
Reviewed: 4/11/2021
Rating: 3.5 / 5


JAKOB’S WIFE In Theaters, On Demand and Digital on April 16, 2021.



(RLJE Films and Shudder)



The new film, “Jakob’s Wife” starts off as an interesting “what’s going on” sort of thriller/horror film. Once things take a turn about half way through, the movie without giving anything away becomes somewhat campy and definitely cliche’.


The shining spotlight is definitely on horror legend Barbara Crampton. It’s easy to forget just how good many of these actors are that have been performing for so many years, especially those that work in the horror genre. But Barbara delivers the goods and really should be considered for more dramatic roles as she can carry the load any time she’s on screen.



(Barbara Crampton as Anne Fedder in the horror JAKOB’S WIFE, a RLJE Films and Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.)



While I enjoyed “Jakob’s Wife”, it was one of those films that with a bit more structure and vision, could have been solid from beginning to end. Instead it’s a good film that could have been great.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

IMAGINE VAN GOGH - TACOMA, WA! On Sale Friday April 9th, 2021!



IMAGINE VAN GOGH

THE ORIGINAL IMMERSIVE EXHIBITION IN IMAGE TOTALE©

OPENING IN TACOMA/SEATTLE ON DECEMBER 18th 2021



ON SALE ON FRIDAY, APRIL 9th, AT 10AM PST


(Photo by:  Laurence Labat)




Imagine Van Gogh the Original Immersive Exhibition in Image Totale© featuring more than 200 of the Dutch artist’s paintings, is making its West Coast debut in Tacoma on December 18th, 2021, at the historic Tacoma Armory situated on South Yakima Avenue. Imagine Van Gogh the Original Immersive Exhibition in Image Totale© was presented in Paris in 2017, sold more than 500,000 tickets across Canada this past year, has enchanted audiences everywhere, and is now ready to do the same across the USA. The exhibition will also open in Boston on December 21st at the SoWa Power Station.

Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, renowned for their work at Cathédrale d’Images in Les Baux-de-Provence, South of France, are the Artistic Directors behind the creation of the Imagine Van Gogh the Original Immersive Exhibition in Image Totale©. This unique exhibit brings Van Gogh’s canvases to life in a vivid, spectacular way using the concept of Image Totale© conceived by Albert Plécy. The audience enters the artist’s world of dreams, and visitors are surrounded by a total immersive experience; a journey to the heart of the artist’s work.


“Original canvasses are expanded and fragmented, then projected into unusual shapes to emphasize the mesmerizing exaggerations and distortions of Van Gogh’s work. Visitors experience their energy, emotion, and beauty like never before”. Annabelle Mauger, Vancouver Sun.

“In 2008, Annabelle Mauger created her first immersive Van Gogh exhibition, building off what she learned about immersive experiences from her husband’s grandfather (Albert Plécy), who created an early model known as Image Totale©. She has continued to adapt it, working with an art historian to present the last two years of the artist’s life. She wanted people to appreciate the details of Van Gogh’s artwork and his thick and sometimes violent-looking brush strokes without the barrier of a frame”. - Christina Morales, New York Times



With the safety of guests, employees, and the community as the highest priority, Imagine Van Gogh the Original Immersive Exhibition in Image Totale© will open this December in accordance with the public health guidelines of Pierce County and Washington State. The exhibition is a contactless experience spanning over 24,000 square feet with a limited number of guests that will be allowed on a timed-entry basis. Hand sanitizer will be provided, physical distancing of six feet will be required, and masks will be mandatory upon entering.


Tandem Expositions, in conjunction with Encore Productions (France) are excited to bring this spectacular production to Seattle-Tacoma for the very first time.

The exhibition will run December 18, 2021 – January 30, 2022 at the Tacoma Armory, 1001 S. Yakima Ave in Tacoma.

Tickets starting at $ 41.00 (including service fees) go on sale Friday, April 9th at 10:00 AM PDT, and are available online at www.imagine-vangogh.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE KILLER Film Review April 6, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Slaughterhouse Killer

Breaking Glass Pictures
Reviewed: 4/6/2021
Rating: 3 / 5

View The Movie Here:
https://www.bgpics.com/movies/the-slaughterhouse-killer/


(Breaking Glass Pictures)




I grew up with horror films so I’m always game to check out a new one. “The Slaughterhouse Killer” is released today via Breaking Glass Pictures.


The film centers around a man that works in a slaughterhouse in Australia (shot in Tasmania). He is a simple man that is pretty much a loner with no real friends not even at work. He befriends the new guy at work and through a certain set of circumstances things get violent.


When I first saw the title of this film I thought it was going to be a body count type of horror film. Like - how many kills did the lead character get sort of thing. It’s not really that at all which I was somewhat disappointed by.



(Breaking Glass Pictures)
 


The film has a decent story and the director spends quite a bit of time making sure the narrative is solid throughout the movie. Of course there are deaths in the film but nowhere near as many as you might think with a title like “The Slaughterhouse Killer”. The title is more literal - the lead character works at a slaughterhouse and kills a few people.


Overall the film was a decent viewing for horror fans that don’t mind story over kills.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, April 5, 2021

HONEYDEW Film Review April 5, 2021



Honeydew

Reviewed: 4/5/2021
Rating: 2 / 5


Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting will release HONEYDEW on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on April 13, 2021.





I am always up for reviewing a horror film. Having grown up on the genre, I’m always curious to see what filmmakers will do to make things new and interesting.


The film “Honeydew” explores the story of a couple that ends up taking refuge in a rural home with a farmer and her son.


Things of course go awry and the couple end up going down a rabbit hole of the horrific and just plain odd at times.


I was initially intrigued by “Honeydew” as the story was set up nicely. But once things ventured into the realm of hallucinations and just absurdity, it lost me. I know there is an audience for this type of horror film so some will enjoy this much more than I did.



(Barbara Kingsley as Karen in the horror film HONEYDEW, a Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting.)



The mood and tone of the film is interesting and there is definitely a creepy factor to the proceedings which is always a plus in a horror film.


Overall, the film came up short for me. Perhaps it won’t for you, though.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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SEATTLE OPERA "FLIGHT" Review Streaming April 23-25, 2021. Eclectic Arts


FLIGHT
Seattle Opera


McCaw Hall (virtual)
Seattle, WA
April 5, 2021

Subscriber Early Access Days Begin April 3.
Streaming April 23-25, 2021.




(Philip Newton Photo)


As we find ourselves marching into another year of this pandemic state due to Covid-19, “Flight” from the Seattle Opera is a timely production.


Set inside an airport terminal, and inspired by a real life event, the first thing that stands out is the way it was captured on film. Utilizing the Museum of Flight as a stage, one can get an idea of just how unusual yet stunning the performance looks. The Seattle Opera has been utilizing the digital realm to great effect with their virtual performances. Instead of merely filming the production, they have thought outside of the box this year and “Flight” is a perfect example.


The locations within the Museum of Flight lend themselves perfectly to create a rich atmosphere and staging for the performers to tell the story. A refugee has been living in an airport terminal, with other passengers stuck due to stormy weather.



(Philip Newton Photo)



The concept of being stuck in one place with no real timeline of when things will reopen (and air travel will resume) should hit home with just about everyone due to the pandemic. Even as we are seemingly moving toward the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, there will still be many question marks and unresolved issues for months, if not years, to come.


“Flight” tackles the characters issues with levity and even a surprise during the last act. The overall performances and music were engaging and easy to digest throughout the performance.


The Seattle Opera has produced an amazing show in “Flight - and during a pandemic no less. Make your reservation for this destination soon.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
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PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET Rep 4 April 1st - 5th, 2021 Eclectic Arts



PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET

Rep 4

4/1/2021 - 4/5/2021

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE!


Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Elle Macy and principal dancer Dylan Wald in the world premiere of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Future Memory, which PNB is presenting as part of a triple-bill with a new work by Donald Byrd, and an encore performance of Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, April 1 – 5, as part of PNB’s all-digital 2020/21 season. Photo © Angela Sterling Photo.



The Pacific Northwest Ballet recently released Rep 4 in their Dance Happens Everywhere 2020/2021 digital season. Consisting of two world premieres as well as an encore presentation, Rep 4 was a mixed bill.


Starting with And the sky is not cloudy all day with choreography by Spectrum Dance Theater artistic director Donald Byrd, the performance was set in the old west. The colorful lighting design and costumes immediately popped off the screen. The concept was creative but somehow odd at the same time. As the performance continued, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had just interviewed a Lakota Native American actor/artist this weekend so the cowboys and Indians theme seemed off the mark based on the discussion we had just had.


Perhaps the juxtaposition of the old west meets ballet and the contradictions therein was a part of the point Mr. Byrd was trying to get across to the audience. For me, I liked the tone and the look of the piece but overall it came up short.



Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Dylan Wald in the world premiere of Donald Byrd’s And the sky is not cloudy all day, which PNB is presenting as part of a triple-bill with a new work by Alejandro Cerrudo, and an encore performance of Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, April 1 – 5, as part of PNB’s all-digital 2020/21 season. Photo © Angela Sterling Photo.



Next up was Future Memory from resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. A stark contrast to the first piece, the ebb and flow of the performance was strikingly emotive and rich throughout. This piece would have greatly benefited from being seen in person on the McCaw Hall stage. The moodiness coupled with a live audience in attendance would have added to the emotional weight that the piece carried. I enjoyed this work.


And to round things out an encore performance from 2017 - Pictures at an Exhibition with choreography from Alexei Ratmansky. I enjoyed seeing this archival performance as it was recorded before I started reviewing the PNB. I recognized many of the dancers which in some ways brought back those feelings of going to McCaw Hall pre pandemic. Opening night, driving down to Seattle, meeting my friends, and just the event of it all. As a part of Rep 4 it fit as all three pieces were very different from each other - sort of the purpose of a mixed bill.


Rep 4 is available to purchase through Monday April 5th.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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