About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

11 September 2013

Movie: Elysium

Elysium is effectively set in a world where the current economic and political policies are taken to their extreme, logical conclusion. A world where there is an effective two-class economy - the very rich, and everyone else (extrapolation of the current discrepancies in countries such as South Africa, Brazil and India), where immigration of the poor is controlled with a degree of viciousness (Australia's new immigration policies?), where even basic health care is difficult to get (almost everywhere except Europe), dependence on warlords for safety and security (Hamas in Palestine, Somalia?), over-population leading to vast slums (India, Brazil, South Africa) and a scenario of factories working off effectively slave labour (China). It is a dystopian future that has been on screen and books before - but I just don't think it has been shown in such extreme brutality.

In this setting, the story of Max (Matt Damon) who inadvertently starts a fight against the system is compelling, but ultimately looses out of steam about 70% of the way in - but by then the movie needs to finish a story, and not provide a philosophical parable. Perhaps the most telling point is that ultimately, in the future, it is the android robots that are more humane than the humans.

It is visually stunning, backed up with some great acting - especially by Sharlto Copley as the renegade mercenary Kruger. It is definitely worth watching, on a big screen.

08 September 2013

Buskaid 2013

It was yet another sold out event for the annual Buskaid concert at Linder Auditorium last night; which presented yet again an eclectic compilation of music; most of which has probably not been presented on South African stages before. Two pieces also featured German musician Uwe Grosser playing the chitarrone; a strange plucking instrument descendant from the lute - probably another first in South Africa. 

The classical ensemble pieces included selections from Rameau's Suite from Les Indes Galantes, Vivaldi's Ercole su'l Termodonte: Simfonia and selections from Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer. Of the three, the Vivaldi piece was the closest to a standard symphonic piece; while the others are shorter works which were often meant to be accompanied by dances (in the case of Rameau) or singing (in the case of the Brahms). Perhaps, for future concerts it would be worthwhile for Buskaid to consider such accompaniments - as it would certainly make the concerts a richer experience.

There seemed to be fewer individual pieces (i.e. featuring soloists), but they were certainly the highlights of the evening for me. Recent graduates from the Royal Academy of Music in London - Kabelo Monnathabe and Tiisetso Mashishi played the first two solo pieces - Nigel Hess' Theme from Ladies in Lavendar (from movie of the same name) and John Woolrich's Ulysses Awakes. Of these two, Ulysses Awakes was the surprising piece - a very somber moving piece for the viola.

The highlight piece was certainly Simiso Radebe (also a current student at the Royal Academy of Music) performing Jenő Hubay's Hejre Kati. In previous concerts, Simiso has often performed the virtuoso violin pieces, and this concert was no difference - this was the flashy piece, showcasing a wide range of what the violin can perform, and Simiso delivered a brilliant performance.

As per other Buskaid performances, the concert ended with a selection of kwela pieces; after a vocal solo piece - Hoagy Carmichael's Lazybones. The kwela pieces were new arrangements, and both the vocal pieces and the kwela pieces differentiate the Buskaid concerts from run of the mill classical concerts with more energy and fun - for both the performers and the audience. 

It was once again, a brilliant Buskaid concert and a great showcase of musical talent. Buskaid is a great initiative that deserves more support and has the potential to be a cultural institution for South Africa.