Touch The Sound Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Touch the Sound" is an illuminating documentary about Evelyn Glennie, a world class percussionist. It traces her creating her unique music both on her own and with collaborators from the streets of New York City to a disused factory in Cologne, Germany to Japan. Drums and a gong are the more traditional instruments used. Glennie makes use of pretty much everything under the sun.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Now, here is the twist: Glennie is severely hearing impaired.(She does not use a hearing aid because she can hear her music better through her sense of touch. This might explain why she performs barefoot...) Glennie's hearing impairment adds a whole another dimension to this documentary. Like the people in "Murderball", she takes a disability and turns it back on itself. Also, the movie made me think about how we hear the sounds around us. [/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]Thomas Riedelsheimer uses the same visual style he employed in "Rivers and Tides." There is great photography, especially of New York City.[/font]
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Super Reviewer
June 19, 2013
I think it goes to prove that you can make a living and be a total weirdo. This woman should hook up with the Soundtracker. He hasn't figured out how to go around listening to things and make money off of it.
lesleyanorton
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2009
Interesting exploration of sound in a documentary about Evelyn Glennie, world class percussionist. Doubly interesting because she's also deaf.
½ July 30, 2009
This doc was visually dynamic for a movie about sound. It made me wish I had a great audio set-up for my TV. (Damn I wish I had money) The movie is about a drummer and her appreciation of rhythm and how music is everywhere and just the vibrations can inspire. Then, there are other surprises as the documentary keeps on.

The movie has great sound captures from everyday life and while the grand central scene is great in it?s dichotomy of being both focused on the subject but capturing how everyone else who can hear it responds is great. And seeing her walk through Japan, especially the sensory overload of Shibuya and Shinjuku was fun. My only real complaint is that is does dwell quite a bit on parts of the story that really aren?t very exciting except for the technical elements.
June 27, 2007
Glennie is a terrific musician who also has a talent for bringing the viewer inside the sound in new ways.
February 20, 2014
Not only are the musical interludes throughout the documentary that are performed by Glennie and her various collaborators filled with emotion; but when coupled with the breathtaking, yet calming shots of the Scottish Highlands it combines to form an exquisite movie that I would highly recommend!
March 4, 2013
Frankly, this is how you shouldn't make a documentary.
½ May 17, 2007
5.5/10. This film did not impress me anywhere near as much as "Rivers and Tides". This documentary can be visually remarkable and at times is fascinating, but too often it is boring and downright stupid. Evelyn Glennie has a screw loose somewhere and she becomes irritating as hell.
½ June 27, 2006
[FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=5][COLOR=Navy]
:fresh:

this is one of the films i'd like to show at mayas books.
have a look at the reviews
what say you some evening 2-7 july yvette? :up:
vh
October 25, 2005
This is a documentary about a woman named Evelyn Glennie who's a Grammy-winning classical percussionist. The hook is that she's profoundly deaf. At first I thought, whoa, that's pretty incredible, how can she play if she can't hear? But then it occurred to me, wasn't Mozart deaf too? So I did a quick google just to be sure and discovered that no, it was actually Beethoven who was deaf. But either way. It's been done.

So the thing about this movie is that even though it's purportedly about Glennie, she doesn't actually talk very much. But when she does, she proves to be a real space cadet. She opines that the opposite of sound isn't silence, that silence is one of the loudest sounds, that hearing is really a form of touch, that we all have a sixth sense that kicks in if we lose another one, and that every sound lives on forever although she doesn't know what happens to them. I'm guessing that she's never taken a physics class.

Much of time the camera isn't actually on Glennie. As she travels around the world to New York, California, Scotland, and Japan to play with various musicians, we're treated to long shots of cityscapes and nature scenes without music or voiceovers. Taxis blow their horns, trains rumble by overhead, a jackhammer jacks or hammers or whatever it is they do, birds chirp, dogs bark, a brook babbles. The world is a very loud place.

When we're not listening to nature sounds, we're watching Glennie hitting random things with sticks or, just to mix it up, rubbing them with violin bows. She and this other guy partner up and rent this huge warehouse in Germany to use as a recording studio and they have a field day running around whacking things to see what sounds they make. Later they take turns throwing rolls of adding machine tape from the gangway on the second floor. I don't know why. It's a very confusing movie.

At one point I couldn't take it anymore so I fell asleep. I dropped in and out of consciousness for a while but I don't think I missed much. When I came fully to, the world was still demonstrably loud, in part due to Glennie's prolific production of what she believes are immortal sounds.

When Glennie bangs on conventional things like drums and xylophones, it becomes clear that she's really very good at what she does. Her sessions with a bunch of Japanese percussionists are the best part of the movie. But there's far too much nonsense about the nature of sound and there are far too many recordings of the sounds of nature.

My roommate in college had one of those alarm clocks that lulls you to sleep with your choice of nature sound motifs. You could choose from the ocean, the rainforest, a babbling brook, and so on. The thing used to drive me nuts because if you listen to it for long enough, you eventually pick up on the pattern. So instead of falling asleep I'd be lying there thinking "here comes that damn screeching bird again".

Uhh, so what was my point again? I guess I have no point. I just wanted to share this very special movie-inspired memory.

But that's neither here nor there. The bottom line is that I didn't like this movie very much, as you can probably tell. Glennie may be the greatest percussionist who ever lived and brava to her for overcoming her deafness, but remarkable people don't necessarily translate into interesting movies. And this one was a real yawner.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Touch the Sound" is an illuminating documentary about Evelyn Glennie, a world class percussionist. It traces her creating her unique music both on her own and with collaborators from the streets of New York City to a disused factory in Cologne, Germany to Japan. Drums and a gong are the more traditional instruments used. Glennie makes use of pretty much everything under the sun.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Now, here is the twist: Glennie is severely hearing impaired.(She does not use a hearing aid because she can hear her music better through her sense of touch. This might explain why she performs barefoot...) Glennie's hearing impairment adds a whole another dimension to this documentary. Like the people in "Murderball", she takes a disability and turns it back on itself. Also, the movie made me think about how we hear the sounds around us. [/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]Thomas Riedelsheimer uses the same visual style he employed in "Rivers and Tides." There is great photography, especially of New York City.[/font]
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½ September 16, 2005
[i]Touch the Sound: A Sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie[/i], the latest documentary from filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer ([i]Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides[/i]) takes as its subject Scottish-born, solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie, a hearing impaired musician. Due to a neurological disorder, Glennie began to lose her hearing at an early age. By twelve, she was almost completely deaf. Glennie uses lip reading to communicate with those in the hearing world. As a Grammy-award winning classical percussionist, Glennie has transformed her disability into an opportunity to ?hear? music in a profoundly different manner than non-deaf musicians, through waves and vibrations, in effect using her body as a resonating chamber.

As a documentary focusing on an artist and the medium she works in, [i]Touch the Sound[/i] unsurprisingly covers Glennie?s back story, including extensive interviews with Glennie herself, a visit to the family farm in Scotland operated by her taciturn, reserved older brother (where she reminisces about her parents, with a special focus on her father, who played the accordion), and a visit to the school for the deaf where she learned how to play percussion instruments. At the school, she benefited from a far-seeing instructor, who experimented with teaching her how to play percussion instruments through touch and feel (he obviously succeeded). Glennie is shown passing some of her insights to another deaf student, who positively beams when she discovers that she can ?feel? the vibrations caused by playing drums of different sizes.

In a series of interviews conducted over the better part of a year, Glennie discusses the profound difference becoming a percussionist has made in her life. It?s given her life purpose, shape, unique insights into music, the ability to travel, and in an extended sequence, the ability to collaborate with other musicians, from street performers in New York City, to a rooftop (complete with ubiquitous pigeons) with a Latin drummer, to Grand Central Station and the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, to an abandoned industrial warehouse in Cologne, Germany, where she performs and improvises with avant-garde instrumentalist Fred Firth (prior to the performance recorded and filmed for the documentary, Glennie and Firth had never met before). The warehouse, with its vast, open spaces, exposed metal and rusty pipes, functions as a gigantic resonating or echo chamber, all of which Glennie seems to feel and respond to with relative ease.

As in his previous documentary, [i]Rivers and Tides[/i], an exploration of Andy Goldsworthy?s ephemeral, nature-bound sculptures, Thomas Riedelsheimer complements Glennie?s story and performances through editing, cinematography, and, of course, sound design. Through editing and photography (he does both on [i]Touch the Sound[/i]), Riedelsheimer moves from the abstract and the particular (e.g., a snare drum, vibrating when struck, the tap of ghostly feet walking across a semi-transparent floor high above Glennie), to sights and images from Glennie?s peregrinations abroad from her current home in England, to Scotland, continental Europe, the United States, and Japan. Through the sound design, Riedelsheimer reminds his audience both of what Glennie lost when she lost her hearing, and what we tend to ignore or tune out, specifically natural and man-made sounds.

Where Riedelsheimer falters, however, is in overindulging some of Glennie?s more gnomic, cryptic, and sometimes repetitious, pronouncements (Goldsworthy too suffered from an inability to express or explain his work verbally) or in allowing some musical excerpts or interludes to run too long. Alternatively, Riedelsheimer uses the Cologne segment as a wraparound, introducing Firth and the location early in the documentary, then intermittently returning to Glennie and Firth?s performance. Riedelsheimer would have better served the material by, at minimum, bookending the documentary with the initial set-up and closing with the improvised performance. It is possible, however, that Riedelsheimer didn?t feel that the performance could stand on its own, at least not continuously. Still, Riedelsheimer should be commended for bringing a little-known artist and her work to a wider public. Given his emphasis on sculpture in his previous documentary and on music in [i]Touch the Sound[/i], most likely Riedelsheimer?s next documentary will examine the efforts of another artist working in a different expressive medium.
½ April 26, 2005
Touch the Sound is an engaging film that strikes a powerful chord with the audience (no pun intended).
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