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Heart of Glass

"Glass" is Out of Sync With Its Subject's Music, by Anne Midgette

I heard quite a bit of buzz in the music world about this Philip Glass documentary before it came out, largely concerning the dissolution of his marriage, which happened during the time the film was made, and was said to have taken place on camera. It's not nearly as dramatic as you might think. (After the film was made, Glass fell in love with the cellist Wendy Sutter and wrote for her the gorgeous "Songs and Poems for Solo Cello," one of my favorite Glass works ever.)

What actually bothered me about the film was the way it laid Glass open without giving much of a pay-off. For me, it was a poignant illustration of just how vulnerable someone makes himself when allowing himself to be profiled, and a reminder of how important it is that those of us who are doing the profiling -- filmmakers or journalists -- appreciate the seriousness of the undertaking.

By Anne Midgette  |  April 8, 2009; 5:45 AM ET
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I saw this last year when the NGA screened it and was sorely disappointed. Akhnaten was the first opera I ever loved so had high hopes but the movie to me was like bad Glass in that it needed some serious editing. It felt like it dragged on for hours and hours. I would've loved to see more process in getting the opera to the stage, or the symphony or whatever, and less making of pizza and finding kids' shoes.

Posted by: ianw2 | April 8, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

You're right, this was a strange show--at times it seemed almost like a satire of an overly fawning documentary. Did we really need five minutes (or was it even longer?) of Glass making pizzas? And why so little commentary (as you note in the review) from actual musicians and critics? I'm a fan of Glass's music, but I still think it would have been nice to hear from some informed folks who question Glass's approach and its influence.

Posted by: arebora | April 9, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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