November 28, 2009
As longtime editor-in-chief of the American edition of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour knows how to control an image, and how the camera captures and freezes a personality. Judging from “The September Issue,” R.J. Cutler’s documentary about creating what will be the biggest issue of Vogue ever (840 pages, five pounds), those may be the only things Wintour thinks about. So Wintour comes off as carefully controlled as her severely sculpted page-boy haircut: focused, aloof, impersonal. You sense that all the good stuff, the explosions and manipulations, start the second the cameras are turned off. The more interesting face of the magazine is creative director Grace Coddington, a former model who says of Wintour: “I’ve learned just how far I can push Anna. She hasn’t learned how far she can push me.” The real beauty of the film is having a full-access view of what goes into fashioning a magazine like Vogue. “The September Issue,” which earned a cinematography award at Sundance, shows Sunday through Tuesday, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House.
For the first time, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” comes to Aspen road-tested. The company did four performances this past week at the 1,500-seat Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Ark., meaning that the local version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of mice, soldiers and Christmas presents should be in tip-top shape. The ASFB’s “Nutcracker,” complete with a Balinese ribbon dancer, the full corps of company members, and the 100 or so students of the Aspen Ballet School, returns to the Aspen District Theatre Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5-6, with evening and matine performances both days.
It’s been a decade since Bruce Hornsby played a public performance in the area. (That photo on the Belly Up Aspen wall is from a private gig.) The keyboardist-singer has undergone some notable changes over that period. He has re-configured his band, now known as the Noisemakers. His concerts, already heavy on improvisation, have become even more spontaneous. Most significant, Hornsby seems to have re-thought himself as a musician and as an artist. His albums over the past decade incorporate far more electronic keyboards and other effects; “Levitate,” released in September, has virtually no piano solos. His piano, though, was front and center on two 2007 CDs: the straightahead jazz CD “Camp Meeting,” and the duo project “Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby.” Away from the concert stage, Hornsby made an odd appearance (as himself) in the odd Robin Williams film “World’s Greatest Dad,” and is writing the music for a Broadway show, “SCKBSTD.” A self-described “musical jock,” Hornsby created the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s documentary about Kobe Bryant. The drought ends when Hornsby & the Noisemakers appear Saturday, Dec. 5 at Belly Up.