Audrey Tautou, who rose to international stardom with the title role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's worldwide smash Amelie, reunites with the director for this drama, set during the darkest days of World War I and its immediate aftermath. Mathilde (Tautou) is a pretty but frail young women who was left with a bad leg after a childhood bout with polio. Mathilde lives in a small French village with her Aunt Benedicte (Chantal Neuwirth) and Uncle Sylvain (Dominique Pinon), and is engaged to marry Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), the son of a lighthouse keeper who is fighting with the army near the German front. Manech is one of five soldiers who have been accused of injuring themselves in order to be sent home; in order to discourage similar behavior among their comrades, Manech and the other soldiers are sentenced to death, and the condemned men are marched into the no man's land between the French and German lines, where they are certain to be killed. Mathilde receives word of Manech's death, but in her heart she believes that if the man she loved had been killed, she would know it and feel it.
The second section of the cantata is a long vocal section opening with four soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) singing together. Many recordings of this cantata use a choir for this section, but recent recordings have featured a one-voice-per-part strategy here, as does this one. The texture of this is excellent, although the balance between the voices wavers a bit. The tenor, bass and soprano each have ariosos within this section. Tenor Knut Schock enters a bit heavily, but his voice is quite appropriate for the melancholy tone of his section. Bass Bas Ramselarr has a slightly dark, yet clear voice. His section features a delightful accompaniment by the two recorders - in an interesting counterpoint with such a deep voice - and, again, the balance is slightly off, his voice sometimes drowning out the recorders just a bit…
Considered fairly gruesome in its day, the original 1958 The Fly looks like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood compared to this 1986 remake. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis star as Seth Brundle, a self-involved research scientist, and Veronica Quaife, a science-magazine reporter. Inviting Veronica to his lab, Seth prepares to demonstrate his "telepod," which can theoretically transfer matter through space. As they grow closer over the next few weeks, she inadvertently goads Seth into experimenting with human beings rather than inanimate objects. Seth himself enters the telepod, preparing to transmit himself through the ether – but he doesn't know that he is sharing the telepod with a tiny housefly.
New Zealand screenwriter Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) made his feature directorial debut with this science fiction drama, set in a future when one's life is determined by genetic engineering rather than education or experience. The wealthy can choose the genetic makeup of their descendants. People are designed to fit into whatever role is decided before birth. But what happens when someone desires another way of life? Citizens in this impersonal future-world are fashioned as perfect specimens, so those in the natural-born minority are viewed as inferior to the pre-planned perfect specimens (aka "Valids") who dominate. One of the natural-borns (aka "In-Valids"), Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), has several defects (poor vision, emotional problems, and short 30-year life expectancy), but he also develops a different outlook on his pre-ordained fate. He yearns to break free from society's constraints, and he dreams of a journey into space as a Gattaca Corp. navigator.