Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Review: Eveline Glennie – Touch the Sound

Eveline Glennie is a percussionist, born in Scotland in 1965 and has played throughout the world with many great musicians, orchestras and chamber ensembles. What is unique about Ms. Glennie is that she is extremely hearing impaired and relies on a varieties of other senses to guide her musical effort.

I saw Touch the Sound recently and thought it not up to the level of Rivers and Tides, Thomas Riedelsheimer's film on Andy Goldsworthy (in terms of clarity or erudition), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. One of the most intriguing scenes, where Glennie is talking to a student and they are discussing the relationship between dynamics and touch was something I wish she had commented on more. For me, that was something totally unique to her experience and yet it was left (for the most part) unexplored.

The few performances in the film were nice. The autobiographical fragments were OK but drifted a bit. I especially liked her performance on snare drum in Grand Central Station - a captivating scene!

As much as I enjoyed the film and wished there were more like it out there, I couldn't help but feel the film lacked a clear focal point (I think more attention to the element I mentioned in the 1st paragraph would have allowed the film to succeed on this level).

Upon further reflection, I wondered if the tone and pace of the film was trying to pull the viewer further into Ms. Glennie's world - a world that may read a bit un-tethered due to her hearing impairment. I can appreciate this desire on the part of the filmmaker (if indeed he considered it), but the final product may not have succeeded having made that stylistic distinction/decision.

But hey, how many films can you say are made about great, off the beaten path musicians? I'm glad I saw it and would encourage anyone on the list to check it out. I hope it did well enough to keep Thomas Riedelsheimer's in good favors with film financiers; he certainly deserves to keep at it (and you know how fickle film financiers can be). I caught it at the Balboa (one of the last great low-key rep theaters in SF with superior programming), and there were only a few folks in the audience.


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