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An Interiors Photographer Shares His Favorite Images of the Decade

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As a young man, the Irish photographer Simon Watson thought he’d like to be a painter. Today, his affinity for that medium is still evident in many of his photographs. His portraits and interior images, especially, suggest the influence of Northern Renaissance painters. “I choose lenses based on how van Eyck would see something,” Watson says of the Dutch artist. “I’m a big fan of side window light and I love depth and darkness. I guess that’s a little more Vermeer-y.” As a photographer for this magazine, Watson has turned a painterly eye to 12th-century Austrian castles, Brutalist German factories and 19th-century Irish tenements. For each story, Watson says, he tries to find “a sort of penumbra — the light between dark and bright — where the image comes alive. I like to embrace light as it falls. I’m not afraid of the shadows.”



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A Master of Winter Writes His First Opera: ‘The Snow Queen’

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MUNICH — You could be forgiven for assuming the composer Hans Abrahamsen has an obsession with winter.

He did, after all, once write a piece called “Winternacht” (“Winter Night”), and perhaps his most famous work is “Schnee” (“Snow”). His song cycle “let me tell you” evokes a landscape as wintry as one in a Bruegel painting. And there is no metaphor more apt to describe Mr. Abrahamsen’s music than a snowflake: pleasantly soft and simple from a distance, mathematically precise and complex under a microscope.

But, Mr. Abrahamsen said during a recent interview, he’s actually inspired by all the seasons. And despite its title, winter is not the focus of his first opera, “The Snow Queen,” which has its English-language premiere at the Bavarian State Opera here on Dec. 21. (It will be livestreamed on Dec. 28.)

He said that in Denmark, where he lives, people truly experience the seasons in equal measure. And the progression from the chill of winter to the warmth of summer and the maturity of autumn is one way to read the story of his opera, taken from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale that also loosely inspired “Frozen.”

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‘6 Underground’ Review: Action by the Numbers

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If the B-movie director Andy Sidaris were alive today, he’d be pretty ticked off about “6 Underground,” now streaming on Netflix. In 1979, Sidaris, whose low-budget actioners were generously cast with Playboy Playmates who shot guns and shed their tops with diligent reliability, made “Seven,” in which a master assassin deployed a team of seven specialized killers to take out drug traffickers in Hawaii.

“6 Underground,” the budget of which could probably have funded at least 500 Sidarises, stars Ryan Reynolds as a self-ghosted billionaire in charge of a team of five other espionage specialists out to “do something” about “the evil in this world.”

Directed by Michael Bay with his customary fast-cutting, low-angle-semi-circling-camera, huge-destruction-of-real-and-simulated-property style, “6 Underground” isn’t a wholly blatant Sidaris rip. For instance, Bay flirts with female nudity, as usual, but never crosses the line. The R rating here is earned with blood and gouged eyeballs.

Reynold’s character is like Deadpool filtered through Elon Musk, if Elon Musk were cool, or “cool.” But his performance feels a little disinterested. Hardly matters. The movie opens with a high-speed car chase during which one of the team has bullet-extraction surgery in the back seat. And that’s almost 20 minutes right there.

Engineering a coup in a geopolitical hot spot so vaguely rendered it could be Middle Eastern or South Asian, the gang performs a “Penthouse Extraction” (sounds like what 1970s teen boys did with the magazines their dads hid in the garage). This involves compromising the integrity of an infinity pool with extreme prejudice and then, parkour, parkour, parkour.

When it comes to turning up action to 11, Bay is incorrigible. Not just with sound and fury; there are genuinely eccentric innovations here. There’s certainly not a whole lot of recognizable humanity, but hey, that’s why there’s “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

6 Underground

Rated R for blood, gouged eyeballs, and much more gore. Running time: 2 hours 7 minutes.

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