Brad Mehldau's first solo piano album is not only his best record to date, it is one of the most searching, most inventive solo piano albums since Keith Jarrett's best solo concerts of the 1970s, and it throws virtually the whole Maybeck series into a cocked hat, too. For one thing, it is a truly unified cycle of mostly improvised reminiscences, starting from a Chopin prelude-like base on "Bard," peaking dynamically with "Trailer Park Ghost," and cycling right back to the "Bard" theme seamlessly, inevitably, at the close.
From its first gliding aerial shot of a generic suburban street, American Beauty moves with a mesmerizing confidence and acuity epitomized by Kevin Spacey's calm narration. Spacey is Lester Burnham, a harried Everyman whose midlife awakening is the spine of the story, and his very first lines hook us with their teasing fatalism–like Sunset Boulevard's Joe Gillis, Burnham tells us his story from beyond the grave.
It's an audacious start for a film that justifies that audacity. Weaving social satire, domestic tragedy, and whodunit into a single package, Alan Ball's first theatrical script dares to blur generic lines and keep us off balance, winking seamlessly from dark, scabrous comedy to deeply moving drama. The Burnham family joins the cinematic short list of great dysfunctional American families, as Lester is pitted against his manic, materialistic realtor wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening, making the most of a mostly unsympathetic role) and his sullen, contemptuous teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch, utterly convincing in her edgy balance of self-absorption and wistful longing). Into their lives come two catalytic outsiders. A young cheerleader (Mena Suvari) jolts Lester into a sexual epiphany that blooms into a second adolescence. And an eerily calm young neighbor (Wes Bentley) transforms both Lester and Jane with his canny influence.
Credit another big-screen newcomer, English theatrical director Sam Mendes, with expertly juggling these potentially disjunctive elements into a superb ensemble piece that achieves a stylized pace without lapsing into transparent self-indulgence. Mendes has shrewdly insured his success with a solid crew of stage veterans, yet he's also made an inspired discovery in Bentley, whose Ricky Fitts becomes a fulcrum for both plot and theme. Cinematographer Conrad Hall's sumptuous visual design further elevates the film, infusing the beige interiors of the Burnhams' lives with vivid bursts of deep crimson, the color of roses–and of blood.Sam Sutherland
Formed in Los Angeles in 1981, The Bangles are an American band, who had several hit singles through out the 1980s. The bands hits included "Walk Like An Egyptian", "Hazy Shade Of Winter", and the 1989 No.1 single "Eternal Flame". The band officially broke-up in 1989 but almost ten years later, in 1998, started drifting back together . In 1999, they officially re-formed to record a song for the soundtrack of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me". The reunion continued with a tour in 2000 and in 2003 they released, "Doll Revolution", their first album since 1988's "Everything". Their classic line-up consisted of Michael Steele on bass and vocals, founding members Susanna Hoffs on vocals and rhythm guitar, Debbi Peterson on drums and vocals, and Vicki Peterson on lead guitar and vocals. In 2005, The Bangles announced the departure of Michael Steele who left due to artistic disputes over touring and recording.
The steady increase in recordings of his music has now established Suk as one of the great musical poets of the early 20th century. Too much is made of his affinities with his teacher and father-in-law, Dvorák; for his own part, Dvorák never imposed his personality on his pupils and Suk's mature music owes him little more than a respect for craft and an extraordinarily well developed ear for orchestral colour. His affinities in the five-movement A Summer's Tale, completed in 1909 – a magnificent successor to his profound Asrael Symphony – reflect Debussy and parallel the music of his friend Sibelius and Holst, but underpinning the musical language is a profound originality energising both form and timbre.
Mackerras's recording joins a select band: Šejna's vintage performance on Supraphon and Pešek's inspired rendition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; his is an equal to them both and the Czech Philharmonic's playing is both aspiring and inspiring. While their reading is suffused with a feeling for the work's myriad orchestral colours, they recognise that Suk's music is much more than atmosphere. In particular they excel in their handling of the drama and overwhelming emotional urgency of this remarkable, big-boned symphonic poem.