In the late 1930s, still fresh off the success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Walt Disney came across a story by the English writer P.L. Travers about a magical nanny that visits the Banks family — young Jane, Michael, and baby twins John and Barbara. Disney became fascinated with the stories, and felt they’d make an ideal setting for a motion picture. He pursued Travers for some 20 years until she finally relented and allowed Disney to adapt her books.
Few films manage to push as many buttons as “Straw Dogs” does 40 years after its release. Sam Peckinpah’s film is not in the business of entertaining you, enlightening you, or teaching you a lesson. It does not want you to cheer for the hero, although you might. “Straw Dogs” is populated with characters that we actually despise to varying degrees. And yet its genius is that you may find yourself understanding their actions, but then feeling uneasy about yourself for doing so.
A painter may paint a picture, a composer may write a beautiful melody for solo piano, but in the world of the theater (and here I count motion pictures as well), one person may have a vision, but production is a collaborative art. W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan worked together on a total of 14 comic operas, of which “The Mikado” is far and away the most popular, and arguably the best. Two new releases from the Criterion Collection highlight the work of Gilbert and Sullivan in different ways.
"There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication."
Judith Lang Zaimont’s music is internationally acclaimed for its drama and expressiveness and has been programmed around the globe by major ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi Symphonies, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Czech Radio Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuosi, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (New York and Boston), American Guild of Organists, Harlem String Quartet, International Double Reed Society, World Viola Congress, Norway’s Bergen Wind Quintet, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet and others.