Andre Previn - The Kindness of Strangers
Sarah Watson | Vancouver BC | 05/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As I am a fan of Andre Previn and have never seen him in action outside of the arena I found this film to be quite interesting. It brings to the audience more insight on the man himself. If you are an Andre Previn fan I would highly recommend it. However, through this bio I thought that it focused a little more than what I would like on the "Streetcar Named Desire" play that he had been working on. Briefly boring in this respect."
Andre the Giant
Ted L. Reinert | New York, NY USA | 09/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the many pleasures this documentary affords, the greatest is Andre Previn himself, who must surely be one of the wittiest, most engaging raconteurs alive.
The documentary is ostensibly about the rehearsal process and world premiere of Previn's first opera (may it not be his last!), but it is really about music in general. Previn has always made headlines -- often for the wrong reasons -- but it seems that at long, long last, critics are beginning to realize what the hearing public has known all along, viz, that Sir Andr? is one of the four or five finest conductors working today. (For my money, he is hands-down the greatest.)
There is a lot of talk in the documentary about the way critical opinion has, ever since Previn stopped composing movie scores, routinely dismissed him as a Hollywood hack. Previn speaks about this foolish, exasperating musicological snobbery with humorous resignation, but one can easily imagine the toll it must have exacted from him over the years. Frankly, Hollywood's loss has been classical music's gain: I could only wish Sir Andre had the time and inclination to continue to compose for pictures. It almost hurts to consider what his genius could have done for "Titanic" or "The Lord of the Rings" -- movies on a grand scale that would have been greatly enhanced by a first rate score. The simple truth is Previn has always been a superb musician, a great conductor and a fine composer. This thoroughly engrossing movie should lay to rest any lingering doubts one may entertain about Previn's artistic credentials or his profound understanding of all forms of music (excluding, by his own admission, rock). An artist of the most penetrating sensitivity combined with an almost diabolical hard-headed practicality, he wears his erudition lightly and with splendid panache.
There is wonderful footage of the opera ("A Streetcar Named Desire") in rehearsal and in performance, and the clever editing gives a nice sense of the many tensions and difficulties attendant upon mounting a major opera.
But the chief attraction is Previn himself -- not only a great artist, but also a brilliantly scintillating, charming man who, to borrow a phrase from William Shakespeare, is full of "sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.""