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Excerpts from the blogs of Inquirer critics.

Carnegie and the Peri

From Peter Dobrin's "ArtsWatch"


Because it has a great acoustic, and because Philadelphia Orchestra concerts there usually come after performing the same program several times, Carnegie Hall is often the site where you hear the Philadelphia Orchestra in its highest form. Maybe it's also something about players being charged for a different sophisticated audience.

Friday night's

Paradise and the Peri

in Carnegie was dappled with great moments - but marred by some surprising disarray. The chorus, the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, wasn't in top form. Simon Rattle seemed to lose control of the ensemble at one point. A trumpet entrance was early. This time, Philadelphia got better than New York.

But I'd sit through Friday night again if I could, not only to get a handle on what happened, but also to linger in that performance's opening orchestra-only moments, when every player was absolutely on, and when the sonority was so smooth and luxurious it was, well, paradise. That must be what the Peri heard on the other side of heaven's gates luring her in.

- Peter Dobrin

Winner of the Wilford Brimley lookalike contest is . . .

From "Mirror Image"


Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren by a whisker! Andy Reid and Holmgren have long seemed like they're in some death match as to who is the coaching spawn of Quaker Oats-shilling actor Wilford Brimley. Today, we hand it to the winning coach. Are we bitter? Yes, we are. Is this becoming a regular Monday sentiment? Yes, it most assuredly is. Reid also resembles a character in the recurring


"Da Bears" skit, sort of a redheaded Ditka, though less jovial and verbose.

Next Monday: How would the Giants' Tom Coughlin look in Tom Landry's fedora?

- Karen Heller

There's no there there

From Carrie Rickey's "Flickgrrl"


Bob Dylan, the elusive subject of

I'm Not There

, Todd Haynes' meditation on the troubadour who led many lives, is played by no fewer than six actors in the film, among them flinty Cate Blanchett as an enigmatic oracle, edgy Heath Ledger as flawed family man, and the remarkable young Carl Marcus Franklin as the Woody Guthrie-loving American folkie.

Much as I admire their performances, and much as I respect Haynes' attempt to create something deeper than the standard movie biopic, I left the theater scratching my head, thinking, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, "There's no there there." It's an enigmatic movie about an enigma - not unlike a boring song about boredom.

Thankfully, Haynes successfully avoids replicating the biopic's standard arc of struggle/flameout/phoenix rising from ashes, the cliche of every

VH-1: Behind the Music


While structurally ambitious, his six actors in search of one character - or actors representing different facets of one character - deny us the elemental pleasures of narrative buildup and catharsis.

The film has its advocates, among them my colleague Steve Rea and The Voice's Jim Hoberman, who observes that Haynes' film "is part of the larger, ongoing Dylan revival brilliantly orchestrated by his manager, Jeff Rosen."

I sympathize with those, including Haynes, who want more from a biopic than the predictable rhythms of fall-and-rise. But my hunch is that audiences will prefer the forthcoming lightweight biopic satire

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

to Haynes' deep-dish ruminations.

The divine Miss Ross

From "Mirror Image"


Diana, Miss Ross to all of us, the diva of all divas, received her Kennedy Center Honor on Sunday wearing a dress that was an endless cloud of white, too much for almost anyone but the ever-stylin' Miss R. poses the great question of the ages: "True or False: A Legend Can Wear Whatever She Damn Wants."

Frankly, we think a woman can wear whatever she darn well wants if she does it with style and wit and commits to the grand statement. Sometimes, too much is just right.

- Karen Heller