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#OnTheBigScreen: The Marksman and Met Opera streamings

One film enters the South African box office, this week: Liam Neeson plays a former marine who tries to protect a boy on the run from members of a vicious cartel in The Marksman. If you're staying home, this weekend, why not check out some more Met Opera streamings?

The Marksman

The Marksman is a blend of character study, contemporary western, road movie and action thriller.

A former marine (Liam Neeson) lives a solitary life as a rancher along the Arizona-Mexican border. But his peaceful existence soon comes crashing down when he tries to protect a boy on the run from members of a vicious cartel.

“I want people to be entertained first and foremost. My favourite films were intense action movies with realistic undertones, like Bullitt and Heat. And then I used westerns as a template. Beyond that, I want to impart this idea that Liam’s character redeems himself by going through this transformation where he becomes less selfish and more selfless. I think we can all benefit from applying that to our lives, and that’s the theme I was going for,” says director Robert Lorenz, who co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Charles and Danny Kravits.

Met Opera streamings

Few operatic figures are as beloved as Violetta, the dignified, selfless, and sickly heroine of Verdi’s classic tragedy La Traviata (22 January). An elegant courtesan with a heart of gold, she chooses true love over the amusements and riches of her glamorous Parisian life, then sacrifices everything for the sake of a young woman she’s never even met. All of this - the glitter of her earlier wealth, the heat of her passion with the ardent young Alfredo, the pain of their separation, and her tragic end - lands with devastating weight thanks to Verdi, whose score stands as one of music’s greatest depictions of love and loss. Willy Decker’s stunning production of Verdi’s unforgettable drama stars the riveting singing actress Natalie Dessay as Violetta, with Matthew Polenzani, who offers her true love - with tragic consequences.

In his classic potboiler, Tosca (23 January), Puccini stirs together some of humanity’s strongest motivating forces - love and loyalty, fear and cruelty - to create an operatic thriller that sinks its teeth into the listener with the opening chords and never lets go. Taking place in Rome in 1800, the story concerns a fiery yet devoted diva, the painter/revolutionary she loves, and a sadistic police chief determined to crush the political rebellion and claim Tosca for himself. All three are among opera’s most indelible characters. Franco Zeffirelli’s productions are legendary, under his direction, the cast of great singing actors crackles with intensity. Hildegard Behrens as Tosca, the passionate singer in love with Cavaradossi (Plácido Domingo).

In Manon, (24 January) a beautiful ingénue with a taste for the finer things makes her way to Paris, where she becomes irresistible to the men around her - including the passionate Chevalier des Grieux, whose all-consuming love for her leads to ruin. Based on the same scandalous 18th-century novella that inspired Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Massenet’s version features one of the all-time most challenging, and most beguiling, roles for soprano, as well as the composer’s trademark combination of sophistication and sensuality.

The second instalment of the Ring cycle, Die Walküre (25 January) is the most popular and most self-contained episode in the epic tetralogy. It combines the mythical machinations of gods and demigods with the deeply human love story of the brave hero Siegmund and the dignified Sieglinde, whose passion is undiminished even when they discover that they are long-lost brother and sister, separated at birth. It also features one of opera’s most touching father-daughter relationships—that between Wotan, king of the gods, and his warrior-maiden daughter Brünnhilde, leader of the Valkyries.

Read more about the latest and upcoming film releases and opera streamings.

About Daniel Dercksen

Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za

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