March 25 2015 03:18 PM

Seymour: An Introduction suggests the importance of craft

Seymour: An Introduction

Not only a tale of one man's love affair with music, Seymour: An Introduction also passionately argues the importance of craft in an artist's progression from amateur to master. "The struggle is what makes the art form," says legendary pianist Seymour Bernstein during a crucial interview in Ethan Hawke's generous and minimalist documentary, suggesting that far too many current celebrities and pop-culture mainstays have bypassed this important element entirely. Seymour's appreciation for process can also be seen in his tender approach to teaching, which became his life long passion after he decided to leave the limelight and stop performing in public at the age of 50.

Seymour: An Introduction thrives on its subject's positive energy. "The essence of who we are resides in our talent," he says, connecting the dots between a person's passion and ideology. Hawke appears in front of the camera a few times to confess he's having a crisis of faith directly related to this statement. At first, the famous actor's appearance is distracting, but eventually we see it as a plea for help that Seymour embraces but doesn't entirely know how to address.

This ambiguity produces a disarming quality throughout Seymour: An Introduction, which opens Friday, March 27. Relationships between mentors and pupils are often portrayed as incomplete and potentially one-sided, but ultimately worthwhile.

Less interesting are Seymour's conversations with friends about the ways in which mysticism and art overlap. Also, the narrative arc ending with his long-awaited performance after three decades away from the stage seems a bit too tacked on to feel as powerful as Hawke intends it to be. These conventionalities seem minor, though, in hindsight—forgivable blips in a cagey documentary that captures Seymour's spirit while also letting the weight of his philosophies linger in the air like piano notes.


Get Hard: A white-collar criminal (Will Ferrell) bound for San Quentin enlists the help of a smooth-talking friend (Kevin Hart) to prepare him for life behind bars. 

Home (3D): An alien on the run from his own species lands on Earth and makes friends with an adventurous young girl trying to find herself.

October Gale: Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman star in this thriller about a killer stalking the residents of a remote Canadian island. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Queen and Country: John Boorman's playful sequel to his autobiographic hit Hope and Glory finds the character of Bill Rohan entering the army right before the Korean War. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Ken Cinema.

Serena: Bradley Cooper stars as a logging baron trying to make it rich in Depression-era North Carolina. His business starts to crumble after meeting a mysterious young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with a traumatic past. See our review on Page 27.

Seymour: An Introduction: This tender documentary about pianist Seymour Bernstein doubles as a passionate love story about the power of craft and music. See our review on Page 27.

The Hunting Ground: Investigative documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick looks at the wave of sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States.

Wild Canaries: The mystery film gets a hipster twist in this madcap comedy about a bickering couple that tries to uncover the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a neighbor. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

One time only

Calvary: Brendan Gleeson plays a Catholic priest who gets a death threat from one of his constituents and decides to spend the last week of his life finding out who in his community hates him that much. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at the Mission Valley Library.

The Matrix: As Neo (Keanu Reeves) would say, "Whoa." Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at Arclight La Jolla.

Garden State: Zach Braff created the hipster aesthetic with this whiny, entitled, ironic comedy about a young man searching for meaning. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Frances Ha: Greta Gerwig plays a fleeting, whimsical young woman looking to achieve her dreams of being a dancer. Directed by Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming). Screens at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: The massive Hobbit trilogy comes to an end when armies of the dwarves, elves, and orcs converge. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.

Dr. Strangelove: Stanley Kubrick's brilliant and mad satire about the nuclear era is still just as scathing today. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at the Ken Cinema.

Lost in Translation: Bill Murray's depressed actor meets a young photographer played by Scarlet Johansson while working in Tokyo. Screens at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at Arclight La Jolla.

Records Collecting Dust: Riot House Pictures presents a documentary about how vinyl has impacted the music scene both in San Diego and around the world. A record fair will take place at 5 p.m. in Copley Alley. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at the Horton Grand Theater Downtown. Filmmaker and actor Q&A will follow the film.

On My Way (Ell s'ev va): Catherine Deneuve stars as an ex-beauty queen who, after a lover jilts her, decides to take a quick ride into the French provinces and ends up experience a revelatory journey. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 30, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.

Callejero: An underground boxer struggles to find purpose in life after being force to retire. Filmmaker and actor Q&A will follow the film. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at the Horton Grand Theater, Downtown.

Led Zeppelin: This concert film includes footage of the legendary band's greatest performances, including segments from Madison Square Garden in 1973. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 30, at various theaters. Visit for more information. 

Step Brothers: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were born to play man-children working out their parental issues by scream adolescent obscenities at each other. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Now playing

Merchants of Doubt: Robert Kenner's documentary about pundits-for-hire tells an unspeakable truth about corporate malfeasance in America today.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent: Super-revolutionary Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) confronts the powerful alliance that threatens to tear her society apart. 

The Gunman: Sean Penn plays a former special-forces soldier who must clear his name after his old compatriots try to frame him.

The Wrecking Crew: This documentary tells the story of The Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians who helped revolutionize the West Coast sound and win multiple Grammy awards in the 1960s and '70s. Screens through Thursday, March 26, at the Ken Cinema

'71: During a violent battle in the middle of Belfast, an English solider is left behind to fend for himself against a hostile community. 

Ballet 422: Jody Lee Lipes' documentary goes backstage at New York City Ballet to watch the process of an exciting new choreographer named Justin Peck. 

Cinderella: Kenneth Branagh's lavish live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale stars Lily James as the servant stepdaughter who wins the heart of a dashing prince. 

Deli Man: Hungry? This delicious-looking documentary takes a look at the history of delicatessens in New York City and the United States at large. 

Run All Night: A former hit man (Liam Neeson) must go back to his old ways to save his son from a mafia boss out who's for revenge.  

Chappie: Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directs this sci-fi film about a police robot who's reprogrammed to think and feel for himself, drawing the wrath of his totalitarian overlords. 

The Salvation: Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Danish immigrant seeking revenge for the death of his family, this western set in the 1870s echoes the work of Leone and Eastwood.  

The Second Best Marigold Hotel: The long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel to the movie you never thought would get a sequel, this time sporting the charms of Richard Gere. 

Timbuktu: This Oscar-nominated drama by Abderrahmane Sissako depicts the oppression of a Malian town under siege by Islamic militants. 

Unfinished Business: Three hard-working business associates travel to Europe, hoping to close a massive deal, only to get sidetracked by numerous distractions involving booze and women. 

Focus: Will Smith and Margot Robbie talk wise and look sexy as grifters embarking on one last con job. It's directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem: A distraught Israeli woman spends years in a rabbinical court trying to obtain a divorce from her well-respected husband. 

The Lazarus Effect: Olivia Wilde stars in this thriller about a team of medical students who discover a way to bring back the dead. From the looks of the creepy trailer, this was not the best idea. 

Leviathan: A land dispute in a rural Russian town escalates quickly, leaving a family in ruin and reinforcing the corruption wielded by government and religious institutions. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev updates The Book of Job with striking force.

Red Army: Documentary about the Soviet Union's famed Red Army hockey team, as seen through the eyes of the squad's leader.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: In order to save a friend who's been shot, the Hot Tub gang jumps back into the time machine and begins messing with the past.

McFarland, U.S.A.: Kevin Costner stars as a cross-country coach in a small California town who takes a team of Latino athletes and transforms them into championship contenders. Disney strikes again. 

The Duff: Bianca (Mae Whitman), a teenager who's been labeled unattractive by her more popular friends, decides to lead a social revolution that will undermine the pecking order at her high school. 

The Last Five Years: Richard LaGravenese adapts the famous musical about a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist lover (Jeremy Jordan) who experience the highs and lows of a volatile relationship. 

What We Do in the Shadows: Four vampires living in modern-day New Zealand struggle to find happiness and friendship in Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi's hilarious mockumentary.

Fifty Shades of Grey: The perfect Valentine's Day present for your masochistic significant other. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Colin Firth leads a team of British secret agents against a maniacal bad guy played by Samuel L. Jackson. 

Seventh Son: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore team up in the craziest sequel to The Big Lebowski that you could possibly imagine.  

Jupiter Ascending: Have you ever hoped to experience Channing Tatum in full eye shadow and Mila Kunis as a world-saving goddess? Andy and Lana Wachowski's long-delayed sci-fi opus will be your chance. 

Humpback Whales: Experience the awe-inspiring and diverse world of the humpback whale, which 50 years ago was on the verge of extinction. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of the Water: "Making waves in our world." That tagline says it all, really. 

Still Alice: Columbia University professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and must come to grips with her own fading memory and mortality.

Song of the Sea: Merging folklore and fairy tale, Tomm Moore's gorgeous animated film tells the story of a brother and sister who get swept up into a fantasy world of selkies, sprites and giants. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

A Most Violent Year: When his business is threatened by a string of armed robberies, the owner of a New York City gas company (Oscar Isaac) must adapt to the volatile surroundings to survive. 

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood's unflinching and critical biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who became the deadliest sniper during four tours in Iraq.

Paddington: Traveling from Peru, a young bear arrives in London hoping to find a home. There he meets the Brown family, who offer him a temporary safe haven. 

The Wedding Ringer: Who best to impress your new in-laws than a loud, vivacious Kevin Hart? Josh Gad's shy young groom-to-be agrees.

Selma: Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) attempts to create voter reform in Selma, Alabama, a hotbed of racism and disenfranchisement.

Taken 3: Liam Neeson reprises his role as the badass who keeps losing family members to kidnappings. Maybe third time's a charm? 

Into the Woods: Beware the Wolf, Sondheim. Beware the Wolf. 

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as real-life code breaker Alan Turing, who led a squad of British mathematicians in breaking the Enigma code during World War II.

Unbroken: Angelina Jolie's sophomore effort examines the life of Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) who overcame extreme odds to survive a Japanese internment camp.

Wild: Based on the best-selling novel, this drama tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who trekked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to reassess her troubled life. 

Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller's dark sports film tells the tragic true story of the Schultz brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum), wrestlers who became forever entwined with the wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune (Steve Carell).

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease just as he's graduating with a doctorate degree in physics from Cambridge and starting a new life with his wife (Felicity Jones).

Birdman: A burnt-out superhero actor (Michael Keaton) tries to mount a play on Broadway in order to prove his worth. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.

Whiplash: A sadistic music teacher tortures a young drummer at a posh New York City conservatory. 

Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.


See all events on Friday, Oct 21