Sunday, March 29, 2015
Documentary - Seymour: An Introduction
I can understand why actor/director Ethan Hawke became fascinated with pianist Seymour Bernstein upon meeting him at a dinner party, enough to want to deepen the friendship and learn what makes this gentle soul seem so content with life and able to so completely share his passion for music and the piano with his supremely fortunate students. But SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION is the kind of documentary you'd stumble upon at a small film festival, in between two other films you really came to see. It's only Ethan Hawke's name and longtime connections in the business that could have pushed the film to the forefront. This doc, now in theaters, won't have a completely wide release, but anytime I get tickets to give away, and can see a press screening in the evening, means its on the mainstream radar.
I don't mean to disparage the film, it's got its moments. I'd actually had a somewhat stressful day of trying to fit too much into too few hours, before coming to the screening; so Seymour's slightly nasal yet amiable voice, the sonority of piano concertos by Beetovan, Bach, Brahms and others famous composers starting with other letters of the alphabet; along with watching this meticulous little man fold up his blankets, while sitting in his pull out couch/bed and then continue with the daily, over 50 year, morning process of putting his one room Manhattan apartment back to rights - was all very soothing and relaxing, without being boring.
Some serendipity has lead me to a Bible study which meets Tuesday mornings for 6 weeks, 3 times during the year, made up of all kinds of fabulous women of differing ages and backgrounds and stages in life. It's been a joy to have joined in the conversation and fellowship. The woman who generously allows 20 or so ladies and assorted children to take over her home for this meeting - Linda, and I hit it off, and have started a friendship. So I asked her if she'd like to accompany me to see Seymour: An Introduction.
After the film, I said to Linda if you want to jot down any thoughts on the movie, I'd love to include them in my post:
Thanks so much for inviting me to the movies last night. I enjoyed "Seymour: An Introduction" - that's the simple statement. Here's why:
It drew me in easily and held me (for the most part). Seymour Bernstein's sweet, engaging demeanor defies you to think ill of him. A gifted classical pianist who refused to deny his gift and committed his life to perfecting it. I am a sucker for biographies. I love to listen, watch, read about true lives. Seymour's was remarkable in his commitment to sharing his gift through teaching, which captivated my educator's heart. He is the perfect teacher: accurate and encouraging. His instructions to his gifted piano students are perfectly individualistic and ultimately affirming.
The picture that Seymour painted of the plexiglass dome surrounding him preventing the hurtful forces of his life from penetrating was powerful. When he identified one of these “ravens” as his father, I felt his pain.
I tried to follow his spiritual journey but had troubling understanding and connecting. His conversation with the mystic was a fragmented insert. His statement of developing the god within you was left undeveloped. Lest you think my Christian viewpoint is limiting my vision: I wanted to hear more fully how Seymour integrated his spirituality with his extraordinary gift, I just didn't get it.
In the end, the inspiration of his hands touching the sky made me feel like anything is possible.- Linda Visconti
T &T's LAMB: 2.5 outta 5
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