Koyaanisqatsi ("life out of balance") was a near-masterpiece. I really got caught up in the relentless, driving intensity of the musical motifs and the imagery, contrasting the serene beauty of nature with the grim wasteland of American factories, highways, and general lifestyle. I say "near-masterpiece" only because 85 minutes of scenery without narration or plot is a bit much to handle at one sitting.
Powaqqatsi, the second film, was subtitled "life in transformation" but more literally translated to "parasite". It featured footage of people in Southern Hemisphere, many in poverty, doing backbreaking labor. Near the middle of the movie a few glimpses of commercials for American and other first-world products were shown. The idea was that these people suffer to enable us to enjoy our way of life. The music I found more accessible than the first (the main theme was re-used in The Truman Show), but the message was more muddled. Some of the footage, such as an Orthodox Jew at the wailing wall, didn't seem to fit the theme at all, and the subjects just didn't fit together as well as in the first movie.
Naqoykatsi, "life as war", was I felt the weakest of the three, though Ziggy enjoyed it more. The cello music was lovely (originally performed by Yo-Yo Ma, here played by the beautiful and dynamic Maya Beiser), but the imagery in the film was all over the map. I didn't get a coherent "life is war" theme from the occasional archival footage of violence plus lots of digital imagery, views of the human body, Dolly the cloned sheep, etc. One part I did enjoy featured closeups of famous historical figures from Madame Tussaud's wax museum, scrolling by so slowly it took some moments before each face became recognizable.
All three films were marred by the inept house management, which decided to start each show a full 30 minutes late since the many people getting tickets through will-call were lined up around the block. They had announced no late seating, but people continued to file in for at least the first 20 minutes of the first film, totally ruining the mood. People were even walking in front of the projector. Ziggy was outraged enough to write a letter to the president of San Francisco Performances, who had made the late-start announcements from the stage. The move was very unprofessional.
Also this weekend, I had my first private voice lesson, at Blue Bear. Ziggy and others had been nudging me to take lessons for years, and I finally took the plunge. I clicked well with my assigned teacher, Vicki Burns. Her style seemed similar to that of Jane Sharp, who I really enjoyed taking a class from at the Jazzschool in Berkeley some years back. Vicki gave me some vocal exercises which I will try to remember to practice daily.