Letters to the arts editor

Selena Gomez in “Spring Breakers.”
Michael Muller
Selena Gomez in “Spring Breakers.”

‘Breakers’ accolades unearned

Most movies opening as new releases are given a rating from ½ to 4 stars on Fridays as well as a descriptive in-depth synopsis of the movie by a member of the Globe staff.

Mr. Ty Burr, who generally may be trusted, undertook such an analysis of “Spring Breakers” (“Sand blast,” g, March 22). He awarded it 3½ stars, something reserved for about 5-10 percent of the best motion pictures.

I challenge you to objectively find any redeeming artistic, literary, or societal contribution for the vast majority of your readers, let alone identify any content justifying a prized 3½ stars. Perhaps viewing this trash with your adult children would benefit your professional obligation to report fairly and objectively the rating of this film, let alone the competency of Mr. Burr to justify his overly generous rating (a charitable assessment of his gift to the producers of this movie). It is my understanding that your entertainment reviewers are prohibited from gaining any enrichment from reviews other than their compensation from the Globe. Were this not the rule I would strongly suspect that money or other consideration changed hands to achieve the benefit of this “independent” evaluation. The color cover on your section g, featuring “Spring Breakers,” starts your paper’s promotion; the only other justification for publishing Burr’s column with anything more than ½-star rating is that he has been on the job far too long and some pasture awaits his imminent arrival.


Not only does “Spring Breakers” have no redeeming artistic value, it encourages any teenager able to squeeze by the liberal age restrictions seldom imposed on a cash customer over the age of 12 by most local theaters to be permitted entry to an R-rated movie that sinks to new depths.

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This paper, I believe still co-owned by the New York Times Company, goes far beyond “all the news that’s fit to print” to “print anything that sells” . . . a dreadfully reduced standard.

Please consider this complaint or lose readers, respect, and credibility.



Seeking Asian art at the MFA

I doubt that the folk at the MFA have many kind words for Sebastian Smee these days, but please keep up the good work (“Japan’s gain, Boston’s loss,” Main, March 24).


I moved back to Boston after a number of years living in Asia and have an interest in Japanese prints and painting and Chinese painting. Over the years I have made occasional visits to the MFA and must admit to being thoroughly disappointed with what the museum has had on show for Asian art.

True, there was “Fresh Ink,” which was innovative and fascinating. Yet, knowing what prints are sitting in the vaults, one wonders why the prints shown are so insipid.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art stages exhibit after exhibit of outstanding Chinese painting; the Japan Society in New York stages “Bye Bye Kitty!!!” and the more modest “Edo Pop,” which put up a number of the classic Hokusai prints of Fuji; the Asia Society stages a stunning print show two years ago, and then follows up with a Chinese painting exhibit this year that is outstanding.

As for the MFA, the strong exhibits head overseas.

I watched the new American wing open and saw the hubbub over Chihuly together with the associated fund-raising effort to purchase the large glass tree for the museum. My conclusion is that the MFA director or trustees has decided that there is no money in the Asia collections. That an exhibition staged in Boston of Asian art would not cover the cost of the exhibit.


In the end this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For who would give funds to the MFA in support of Asian art, knowing that the museum will do nothing with those funds to support Asian art? And who would give Asian art pieces to the museum, knowing that they will only sit in the vault where no one will see them?

I have no doubt but that the MFA has offered a thousand excuses as to why it cannot do the shows its material would justify. Some are on offer in Smee’s article. But the same limitations did not seem to apply to “Degas and the Nude” or “Fresh Ink.” At the end of the day, the will needs to be there to do the shows. In the case of the MFA, sadly it is not.

I have to go to Asia in May; perhaps I can catch the exhibit in Osaka. . .



Captivated by masterful prose

As a novelist and a teacher of English for 35 years (Boston Latin School), I cannot, after reading Matthew Guerrieri’s review, “Biss reveals Schumann’s influence in its reverberations” (g, March 25), lament the decline in written English, seen too often in today’s books, newspapers, and magazines. Guerrieri’s essay is a masterful piece of prose. It is difficult enough for a writer to capture the literal in a sentence, but when a writer is able to describe music, the most ineffable of the arts, then one knows that one has met a gifted wordsmith. Guerrieri caught not only Schumann’s introspective musical nature but also Jonathan Biss’s pianistic style: “His touch is crisp but dynamically precise; every layer of every texture is both clear and exquisitely shaped.” I will employ the very same adjectives to describe Guerrieri’s prose: It is crisp, precise, and beautifully shaped. Each sentence is a gem unto itself. For example:

“Berg’s [Alban] music is fugitive, barely getting through an idea before it begins to morph and mutate; but Schumann fairly wallows in his ideas, lingering in their midst at happily intemperate length.” And another:

“Even in repose, Schumann’s music is balanced on a wire.” Such writing is music to my ears. I have not a clue as to who Matthew Guerrieri is, but not only is he well-versed in music, both as a listener and critic, but he is also quite gifted as a writer of English.



Gatti, in tune with the BSO

I was surprised and disappointed by Jeremy Eichler’s uncharacteristically crabbed and ungenerous review of the BSO’s splendid all-Wagner concert conducted by Daniele Gatti (“Gatti elicits rich textures, but misses intensity of Wagner’s ‘Tristan’,” Metro, March 22). In particular, Mr. Eichler’s description of the chemistry between the orchestra and the conductor as “circumscribed” struck me as astonishingly inaccurate: Rarely have I seen and heard such rapport, such mutual understanding and respect, as demonstrated by Mr. Gatti and the orchestra. At the Friday afternoon concert, it was immediately evident that the orchestra hung on Gatti’s every expressive gesture and gave him exactly what he asked for, to wonderful effect. As Mr. Eichler noted, Mr. Gatti conducted each work without a score, and one had the feeling that a score would have been quite unnecessary, so thoroughly had the conductor absorbed the music. I very much hope that Daniele Gatti will return frequently to conduct the BSO, and I can’t help thinking that the orchestra hopes so as well.



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