ECLECTIC ARTS

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

SEATTLE OPERA LA BOHEME October 16, 2021 Performance (Opening Night) Eclectic Arts

Seattle Opera
LA BOHEME

McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

October 16, 2021


RODOLFO: Yosep Kang. MIMÌ: Karen Vuong.
Photo credit: Sunny Martini



It’s hard to put into words the feeling of being back at the Seattle Opera at McCaw Hall this past Saturday evening. Collectively there was a very understandable electricity in the air as patrons, musicians, artisans, and performers alike anxiously awaited the triumphant return to the live in-person stage of the Seattle Opera.


Who knew that in January of 2020 as the cast was taking their final bows from the production of “Eugene Onegin” that this would be the last in-person performance for twenty months and some change.


Traveling down to the event was much like returning to a favorite vacation spot. Some things had changed along the way (for better or worse) while familiar landmarks stood out even more so than previously.


Of course COVID-19 protocols were in place for those not on the stage. Vaccination status/negative tests before entry, masks at all times, drinks only in certain areas (none were allowed in the hall itself), no press room, etc. None of this really mattered to those in attendance. What mattered was that the Seattle Opera was back and the new season was about to begin at McCaw Hall, not at the respective homes of the patrons in front of a television set or computer.


“La Boheme” was a solid choice to welcome back the old guard and the unfamiliar first time opera goer. Its simplistic love story was easy to digest and of course Puccinni’s music has become one of the most beloved for decades.



MUSETTA: Ginger Costa-Jackson. MARCELLO: John Moore.
Photo credit: Sunny Martini



The cast on Saturday evening lived up to the mission of the Seattle Opera recognizing the lands of the indiginous tribes and the inclusion of all people from all races. They have been putting a focus on this well before the pandemic and the societal movement from 2020. Seeing Asian leads as well as other races in the cast really created an opera production for 2021. It was a pleasure to see.


Having never seen any other version of “La Boheme”, I left the performance feeling that the production was good but not necessarily great. It’s difficult to not let the emotional aspect impact my review but if I had witnessed this performance pre-pandemic, I would have said the same thing.


Having said that, I do have to say Ginger Costa-Jackson is a marvel and she always commands the stage when she is on it - regardless of the role. She is a treasure and a talent of infinite possibilities.


There were other familiar faces in the cast which brought emotional memories back as the show unfolded. This actually happened throughout the performance for this reviewer. It was so good to be back at the Seattle Opera.


My one observation that I do want to note was the lighting design work in Act II, specifically the last scenes (15 minutes or so). I really felt a dramatic turn of the lighting could have added so much more emotional impact to the storyline and performances. Instead it stayed one note for the most part which I found peculiar. Typically, the lighting has been stellar at all of the Seattle Opera performances I’ve attended. But Saturday night this portion, at least, was lacking. Perhaps it was budget or just a bit of rust from the long layoff. In any event, it was something I noticed in a small way.


Overall, “La Boheme” was a good production but the other intangibles of the night made it almost a great production.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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2021 INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL KICKS OFF OCTOBER 20th!



INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL 2021

October 20 through October 25th




The 24th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks off in grand style October 20th. For those not local to the festival, you’re in virtual luck as you can purchase passes for the virtual version of the festival.


https://www.indiememphis.org/2021-festival-home


With an inspired programming lineup, there is sure to be something for every indie film lover in your household.


See you virtually at the movies!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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FOUND Film Review October 19, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Found

Netflix
Reviewed: 10/19/2021

Rating: 5 / 5


***Launching Globally on Netflix October 20th***


(Netflix)



The new documentary film “Found” is a compelling look at adoption, cross cultural identity, and the human spirit.


Three adopted girls who live in different parts of the United States connect with each other virtually once they find out they are cousins. That alone is an interesting narrative that the film explores.


In addition, two of the three girls are interested in finding/meeting their birth families from China, it adds another layer of drama and intrigue to the proceedings.



(Netflix)



The film does a fantastic job exploring the feelings and experiences of each of the girls and their families. The subject of loss comes up - both on the girls side and their (potential) biological parents side. I believe it's one of those issues where if you’re not adopted, you really can’t understand what it's actually like.


There is also the cultural aspect as all three Chinese girls are adopted by caucasian families (one is a single mother). There is the religious aspect of Christianity and Judaism as well.


The girls' stories are intriguing and their visit to China is also another aspect of the film that broadens its scope.


“Found” is a very memorable film and highly recommended.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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NETFLIX OFFICIAL SITE




ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU Film Review October 19, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Escape From Mogadishu

Well Go USA
Reviewed: 10/19/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


(Well Go USA)



The new film “Escape From Mogadishu” is a period thriller based on a true story. Government diplomats from both North and South Korea find themselves trapped in the middle of a civil war in Mogadishu.


The cast is formidable if you follow South Korean cinema and the film has been nominated for several awards in its home country.



(Well Go USA)



The story is compelling to a point but it does lose its focus from time to time. I really wanted to care about the characters and the outcome but I found myself not emotionally invested at the end.


“Escape From Mogadishu” is a solid film but I wouldn’t consider it award winning material ala the Oscars.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Monday, October 11, 2021

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET Singularly Cerrudo (Digital Performance Review) October 11, 2021 Eclectic Arts



PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET

Singularly Cerrudo

10/7/2021 - 10/11/2021 (Digital)






The Pacific Northwest Ballet took the stage for in-person performances once again in late September 2021. After mounting a successful digital season during the earlier parts of the pandemic in 2020/2021, the PNB kicked off their season with “Singularly Cerrudo” - three pieces by PNB’s resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.


While I would have loved to have been there in person on opening night, my schedule just couldn’t accommodate another event. I’ll be back at McCaw Hall soon enough to take in the splendor of the PNB live and in person. The next best thing was to view the digital program.


Featuring Silent Ghost, an excerpt from One Thousand Pieces, and finishing with Little mortal jump, the program was a bit of the familiar and the new.


Silent Ghost was a moody, mesmerizing way to start the program. The visuals, coupled with the ever flowing choreography, provided a strong statement that the PNB was indeed back.


The excerpt from One Thousand Pieces brought me back to the dress rehearsal that PNB offered right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. How strange it was to watch something that I had already seen before (different performance and cast) but granted in a very different state of mind of course. The excerpt from One Thousand Pieces is still a daring and beautiful piece that reminded me of the beauty and high art that is ballet.


Little moral jump was a contrasting piece that was whimsical at times and had a completely different flavor which allowed the viewer (and audience) to finish the program on a positive, upbeat note. Cerrudo’s choreography is very daring and the PNB cast pulled it off with stunning results. I had forgotten just how immersive the world of ballet can be when all of the pieces work together.


Just like everyone else, my world has changed in the last year and a half and some change. It’s honestly going to take me a while to meld the worlds that I was a part of pre-pandemic and the worlds I developed during the pandemic. But, rest assured, both worlds compliment each other and I’m looking forward to the day when I can set foot back in McCaw Hall to witness the beauty and power of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in person.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

SOUTH OF HEAVEN Film Review October 6, 2021 Eclectic Arts


South Of Heaven

RLJE Films
Reviewed: 10/6/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


RLJE Films will release SOUTH OF HEAVEN in theaters and on VOD and Digital on Oct. 8, 2021.


(RLJE Films)



The new film “South of Heaven” is a bit of a slow burn narrative featuring the talents of Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso,”Colossal”) and Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man, Avengers: Endgame). Jason plays a former convict that is paroled. His only goal in life is to give his childhood love played by Evangeline the best year of her life (she has a finite period of time to live).


([L-R] Evangeline Lilly as Annie and Jason Sudeikis as Jimmy in the action/drama film, SOUTH OF HEAVEN, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.)



“South of Heaven” is an interesting film but it takes a long time to really build up the storyline. The acting is on point and the subplots throughout the film actually add to the narrative (which is a bit of rarity these days).


Overall, the film is a solid character study wrapped up in a drama.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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DETENTION Film Review October 6, 2021 Eclectic Arts


Detention

Dekanalog
Reviewed: 10/6/2021

Rating: 3.5 / 5


Taiwan's biggest horror hit arrives in U.S. cinemas October 8th!





The new film “Detention” has plenty of Taiwanese accolades to it’s credit. It is a mixture of period drama, thriller, mystery, and of course horror.


While the story is a bit convoluted and at times hard to follow, there is no question that some of the visual sequences are scary and perfectly executed.






I was torn watching “Detention” because when the film really started to strut its stuff, it would cut back and forth between old situations and new ones. I wish the editing had been different and had taken the time to really focus on the narrative for longer periods of time.


As a lifelong horror and Asian cinema fan, “Detention” was definitely a cut above some of the other genre films I’ve reviewed. But, overall, instead of being a good movie it really could have been great.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

THE RESCUE Capsule Film Review October 5, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Rescue

National Geographic Documentary Films
Reviewed: 10/5/2021

Rating: 5 / 5








The new documentary film “The Rescue” is a perfect example of just how powerful filmmaking can be. The tragedy-turned-triumphant story of the soccer team in Thailand that was trapped in a cave after a flood captured the world’s attention back in 2018. “The Rescue” not only does the story justice but it also manages to show how the human spirit can come together, from around the world, for a single humanitarian cause. Highly recommended!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts


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Monday, October 4, 2021

"THE SQUAD" #NOTTHERETODANCE Film Review October 4, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Squad #NOTTHERETODANCE

SIFF DOCFEST
Reviewed: 10/4/2021

Rating: 4 / 5








The virtual portion of SIFF DOCFEST which I'm reviewing three films for continues this first full week of October (through the 7th). The documentary “The Squad” is an interesting look at the Olympique Lyonnais football (soccer) team from France.


Made up of multinational players, the team’s quest for a triple crown in one season is well documented in this film.


Any sports fans that follow women’s sports (any of them) like I do, know the huge disparity between the men’s and women’s games in terms of pay, awards, recognition, respect, etc. This is no different for the OL team from France. They didn’t become a professional team until 2009. They didn’t see a professional practice facility nor place to play until 2011/2012. And the list goes on.


Being a sports fan, and a WNBA season ticket holder of ten years before, I could empathize with what the players were saying. As the Welsh player stated, respect is the biggest deal breaker. Money, contracts, etc. are all secondary to receiving the respect they deserve as professional athletes.


I think the documentary could have been condensed into something similar to an ESPN 30for30 episode - one strong hour of storytelling footage (and yes I know some of those episodes are longer than an hour). The film veered all over the place at times and I think it lost a little, just a little, of it’s impact because of it.


“The Squad” is an interesting look at professional football in France. For the sports fan, I think you’ll find it worthwhile. For the non sports enthusiast, I’m not so sure.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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"THE MISER" Performance Review The Phoenix Theatre Edmonds, WA October 1, 2021 Eclectic Arts


The Miser

The Phoenix Theatre
Edmonds, WA

Performance: Friday October 1, 2021





(Cast of "The Miser")



The new in-person production by The Phoenix Theatre is a delightfully entertaining farce entitled “The Miser”. The plot has many subplots but to keep it simple the play is about an older man who wishes to marry a younger woman who his son happens to be in love with. Of course there’s much more to it than that but, as always, I prefer to let the patron go into the show fresh without too many spoilers from this reviewer.


Michael Gene McFadden plays Harpagon (The Miser) and once his character gets going, he never lets up. He was the mad man that kept the audience laughing through his delivery, physical humor, and over the top (only when needed) character choices. Being the central character, it was vital that Harpagon be played by an actor that could capture the audience's attention and keep it for the duration of the play - and keep it he did!  Jumping out into the audience for a quick part (complete with face shield) was a creative touch.


The ensemble cast including Phoenix pillars Susan Connors and Melanie Calderwood, and Phoenix regulars James Lynch and Curt Simmons, were a welcome sight to see back on the stage.


Like many of the past Phoenix productions I’ve reviewed, “The Miser” was a sum of it’s abundantly talented parts. And for all of us, myself included, I’ve so missed walking upstairs to the doors of the Phoenix and sitting down amongst my other Edmonds local patrons, and enjoying a laugh and some incredibly underrated theatre.


Of course I want to mention how much care the staff put into making this production as safe as possible for everyone involved. Masks, vaccination or negative tests, social distancing (reduced seating for more than ample spacing between everyone), and everything else they could think of to make this return to live performances work.


Being that this was my first in person arts event back “after” the pandemic to review, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Aside from the strange realizations I had before the show started (that I hadn’t been in the Phoenix since February of 2020, the sheer amount of virtual media work I had accomplished during the pandemic time period, etc.), I was relieved, happy, and more than satisfied to be back at the Phoenix.


“The Miser” is the perfect return for the Phoenix Theatre. Do not miss it!


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts:  Social Media Links Here