Rework: Phillip Glass Remixed
Phillip Glass likes to tell young musicians that finding their voice is far easier than getting rid of it. It’s one reason the iconoclastic composer chose to celebrate his 75th birthday with Rework, which invites other artists — including Beck, Johann Johannsson, Amon Tobin and Tyondai Braxton — to carve up his work. “They do things I can’t think of,” Glass told The New York Times. “And that’s what collaborative work does. Whatever we do together will make us different.”
Back to Blood, Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe sums up Miami in five words: “The sexualization of almost everything.” The man ought to know. Ever the zealot, Wolfe remains religious about reporting, as intrepid as he is dapper — still. So there he was, at 81, a half century after inventing New Journalism, yachting his way through the Regatta/orgy, eyeballing the goods at a Russian strip club, perusing the newsroom, sampling Santoria, scribbling in notebooks all the while. No wonder Back to Blood, which dives into the city’s steamy brew of sex, race and politics, feels less like something invented than unearthed.
WORTH THE TRIP
Elton John – The Million Dollar Piano, October 18-21, 26-28
The Colosseum at Ceasar's Palace, Las Vegas
It took four years, a small army and more than a million bucks to assemble what may very well be the grandest piano of them all. Leave it to Elton John to conjure up a “gargantuan feast of music and imagery” around a musical instrument that looks like it should require a boarding pass. Of course we expect no less from the one-man hit factory who’s been headlining Vegas since 1971. It's also no surprise that when Elton John takes his seat at the keyboard and fires up that caravan of classics, it’s the music, not the set, that takes command.
Sun Kissed, POV, Oct. 18, PBS
There’s a moment in Sun Kissed when a Navajo explains his people’s belief that if your child is disabled, it’s because you’ve done something bad in the past, “like killing ants under a magnifying glass.” But what if the U.S. government is to blame? This heart-wrenching doc goes inside a New Mexico reservation, where children are falling prey to a rare disease that makes sunlight deadly, and reveals that the Long Walk — the tribe’s forced relocation in 1864 — may be what’s haunting them still.
Brooklyn Castle, Katie Dellamaggiore
Charismatic inner-city kids whose big dreams are dwarfed by bigger obstacles has made for many a great documentary — and Brooklyn Castle is just as rewarding as the rest. The film takes place at New York City's I.S. 318, home of the highest-ranked junior high chess team in the nation, and a neighborhood where 65 percent of the students’ families are struggling to survive below the poverty line. As is so often the case, the kids are funny, smart and nothing short of heroic: Alexis, a seventh grader who aspires to get into the right high school so he can get a job to help support his immigrant parents; Patrick, who hopes chess will help him overcome his ADD; and Pobo, a charismatic leader who runs for school president as "Pobama."
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.