Downtime: Downtime: Apr. 9, 2007

3 minute read
Lev Grossman, Belinda Luscombe and Camille Agon

Cheat Sheet: Children’s Movies. Spring break is upon us. Any films you can take the whole family to?

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THE LAST MIMZY Rated PG Opened March 23 MEET THE ROBINSONS Rated G Opened March 30 BLADES OF GLORY Rated PG-13 Opened March 30 ARE WE DONE YET? Rated PG Opens April 4 WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT Kids find weird toys on the beach that give them strange powers. Trouble with the law ensues Orphan geek boy travels to the future to foil a plot by a nefarious man in a bowler hat Two feuding ice skaters–one rough, one gentle–must work together to have a future The family from Are We There Yet? moves to what seems like a perfect suburban house. WHAT’S IN IT FOR KIDS? The kids save the world by … um, Mom, what’s DNA? Cool inventions, a dinosaur, a cute robot, a toilet joke Will Ferrell–but kid-unfriendly, vulgar, vomiting Will Let’s see: Do kids enjoy seeing heavy objects falling on body parts? WHAT’S IN IT FOR PARENTS? The fun of trying to explain the plot over and over Mildly amusing homages to other films Who doesn’t love vulgar, vomiting Will? This is probably one you suck up for the kids WHAT THE MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT Pollution: bad. Listening to children: good Failure: good. Festering over failure: bad Harmony: good. Competitive ice skating: weird Family: hard work but worth it. Suburbs: scary


By Norman Lebrecht

324 pages


The Ugly Fate of Beautiful Music

In 1902 an enterprising young American persuaded a “short, fat and ugly” tenor to record 10 arias in a Milan hotel room for 100 pounds. The singer was Enrico Caruso, and the album, a huge hit, gave rise to the classical recording industry. In The Life and Death of Classical Music the smart, crusty, blustery critic Norman Lebrecht frog-marches readers, prestissimo, through the glory days of Toscanini and Glenn Gould to the bloated collapse of the early 2000s, brought on by inflated contracts, corporate mismanagement, mindless rerecordings of the warhorses and a welter of weak-minded classical-lite crossover acts. The book ends with a list of the 100 best classical recordings of all time, richly annotated with backstage gossip–and the 20 worst. When Lebrecht takes apart Andrea Bocelli’s recording of Verdi’s Requiem, you don’t know who to feel sorrier for, Bocelli or Verdi, whose work the sweet-voiced but technically underpowered pop star “vocally murdered.”


Transform This

In summer, grownups gladly pay to see what used to be considered kids’ stuff. (Ever heard of Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man or Shrek?) TRANSFORMERS, those ’80s playthings, are getting an adult makeover. Exhibit A is the new Bumble Bee, right, once a toy, but in action director Michael Bay’s hands, a much more looming presence. And this one’s a good guy.

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