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Month: January, 2013

“Don Juan DeMarco”‏

Johnny Depp, someone whom until this movie
I didn’t pay much attention to, agreed to play
his part only if Marlon Brando would play the
psychiatrist, and Marlon Brando in response
goes on to prove again why he is 
 
Johnny Depp, however, is a veritable revelation,
holding his own, and more, to the great man, in
a role that has him take on the persona of “the
world’s greatest lover” conflated with that of
Zorro, an ingenious dramatic twist which the
writer neatly and convincingly interposes 
 
one of the writers, incidentally, is Lord Byron,
excerpts from his poem, Don Juan“, comprise
many of Don Juan DeMarco’s most rapturous
moments, you’ll easily spot them, only poets
can talk like that, or people truly in the grip of
love
 
Faye Dunaway, in a peripheral role, is never
ever a disappointment
 
and if that’s not enough, the whole thing is
presented in the thrilling accents of sensuous
and simmering Seville and the sinuous rhythms
of the smoldering tango 
 
Don Juan DeMarco” is absolutely irresistible,
you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll regain your very
youth in the incandescent spray of its 
rejuvenating formula, you’ll pause, you’ll 
ponder, you’ll find yourself reconsidering,
thoughtfully and profoundly, what it really
means to love   
 
watch 
 
 
Richard
 
psst: original song by Bryan Adams
 
 
 
 
 
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“Wait Until Dark”‏

Wait Until Darkout-Hitchcocks Hitchcock,
this is not an unremarkable feat
 
the director, Terence Young, had already
managed the early James Bond films,
Goldfinger“, and so had already
achieved noteworthy experience,
not to mention acclaim
 
here he delivers perhaps the most satisfying
suspense film ever
 
Audrey Hepburn is again more than luminous,
she claims again, following so many impeccable
performances, her inviolable spot as a veritable
legend and immortal goddess of art, though she
loses again the Oscar, this time to the other
incandescent Hepburn   
 
she chooses all her own clothes for the movie,
incidentally, in Paris
 
 
Alan Arkin has been equalled only recently, to
my mind, as a villain, by Heath Ledger‘s Joker
in The Dark Knight“, a much less convincing,
however, movie, Richard Widmark was pretty
nasty too, come to think of it, in 1946’s Kiss
 
when quizzed on why he didn’t get a nomination,
one, one would think, he should’ve had in the
bag, he replied, “You don’t get nominated for
being mean to Audrey Hepburn!” 
 
gotcha
 
or touché, as we say in French
 
 
you’ll notice that the entire movie takes place
in one setting, a restriction imposed by the
fact of being originally a play, which must
abide such constraints, see Give ’em Hell,
Harry
 
however, having been raised in French I fully
subscribe to the Classical imperatives of unity
of time, unity of place, unity of action, which
this play delivers in spades   
 
the impositions, when masterfully maneuvered,
deliver entertainment of an even more impressive
order, see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?for
another celebrated such instance 
 
 
when Wait Until Dark” was first screened lights  
were darkened “to the legal limit” during the
climactic scene
 
even in your well-lit viewing room, even over
forty years on, think of it, you’ll still need to
hold onto your seat, pacemaker 
 
 
Henry Mancini, however unlikely here, though
not especially ineffectively, does the music  
 
in the last scene he’s heartstoppingly hot
 
 
enjoy
 
 
Richard
 
 
 

“Give ’em Hell, Harry”- Beethoven piano sonata no 18 – “Truman”‏

up until very recently I’d never heard of either
the movie, or the play, Give ’em Hell, Harry“,
or that its lead in this production, James 
Whitmore, had been nominated for an Oscar
for his performance in it, he lost out to Jack   
Nest, you decide  
  
Give ’em Hell, Harry“, the movieturns out to
be a filming of the play, an evocation of Harry
Truman, at a performance one evening in 1973
during its run at the Moore Theater in Seattle,
we are watching an actual play, audience and
all, it is riveting
 
it is a one-man show, an unforgettable experience
when the performer is up to it, James Whitmore 
is eminently up to it, delivering a towering
performance, every inch his President
 
after a brief introductory set of thoughtfully
considered sentences, precisely and decisively
articulated, much like Beethoven’s propositions,
incidentally, at the start of many a sonata, he
starts in at a clip, which, again in the same
Beethovenian manner, will never let up, except 
for at a moment of tenderer reflection when he
slows to an andante, a moderate pace, to maybe
even an andantinoa bit slower than moderate,
but never to an adagio
 
more like a constant allegro, fast, or often even
like a presto, swiftly, like the very wind 
 
Beethoven does the same especially in his Middle
Period when he’s full of fire, not impeded by 
earlier questions of unmastered technique, nor
later subdued by his progressive disillusion
with life 
 
you heard the Middle Period fire, in his 15th 
again not a single adagio nor, you’ll note by the
opus numbers, very far behind – a less convincing
sonata for me for not as assuredly engaging as
well as my admiration my heart, but which 
nevertheless must be considered of the very
highest order  
 
in the spirit of music as narrative, a spirit as I’ve
suggested Beethoven had been evoking, let me 
propose that, were the association with music
pursued here I would liken this play to a set of
musical variations, a series of takes on a subject 
that elaborate a central notion, here, of course,
that of Harry Truman, the President
 
to note that a sonata is also a one-person
performance does much to acquaint these
two at first glance unacquainted arts, allowing
each of these several consummate artists here,
in the 15th, in the 18th, and in …Harry, to
deliver resounding bravura performances
 
notice also, incidentally, the similar joy in each
his enraptured countenance
  
 
Richard   
 
psst: here’s Truman“, a more detailed account
          of the not often recollected man, at least
          not outside America, in a not at all
          undistinguished production  
 
          it is no longer necessary, of couse, to
          italicize the Italianate tempo markings,
          but for me it makes the letters dance 
 
 
 

“Dumbo”‏

Pinned Image
 
                                                           View of Murnau
        
                                                           Wassily Kandinsky
 
                                                      ______________________
 
 
once again a movie for children of all ages – 
including for Zoë, incidentally, whose birth
date is coming up in May – Dumbo is another
Walt Disney masterpiece, and once again
fraught with the tropes, the creative novelties
and devices, of the most modern arts
 
it’s not difficult to intuit the influence of
Saint-Saëns‘ – an awful lot of sibilants
in the possessive case of only those two
capitalized syllables, by the way – his, I say,

especially, of the elephantsfor Disney‘s
famous sequence here of elephants on
parade, wherein psychedelia makes an
appearance in 1941 no less, years ahead
of its historical, and revolutionary, great
fruition, surely informing Warhol,
generally the entire Pop Art coterie 
 
he was transferring however what he’d
been learning from the German especially 
Expressionists, their attraction to bold,
dissonant colours, flat uninflected
surfaces, arbitrary and malleable
dimensions    
 
what Disney brought significantly to the
mix was essentially the spirit of fun, which
is what transformed all art after the First
World War, that generation’s response to
the utter failure of all that had come before,
politics, economics, ideologies, even the
very concept of the existence of God, none
of these had prevented the horror that had
been that signal event, the best defence, as
we said in the Seventies, was living well,
therefore the Roaring Twenties, therefore,
for that matter, the Seventies 
 
we haven’t retreated from that imperative
yet, be it for better or for worse remains
still to be seen, for faith or fun, the opposite
poles of personal responsibility, both fell 
and heal 
 
 
animals, incidentally, courtesy of the spirit
 
 
Richard
 
 
 
 
 

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”‏

need much introduction, it is the ultimate movie
in the popular imagination about asylum inmates,
people in psychological distress, everyone here 
got Oscars, including the picture, except for the
one who deserved it most, Brad Dourif, who
gives a performance of equal stature, I think,
transcendental, wrenching, and unforgettable
 
of all the entries in this especially fraught field,
the field of mental ill health – see to compare 
for instance the highly honoured, eminently
commendable, but nevertheless imperfect 
Ciff Robertson – Brad Dourif‘s remains to
my mind unparalleled, in my opinion still
untouched, still the most sublimely,
stirringly, incandescent 
 
what do you think 
 
 
Richard
 
 
 

“Charly” / “Awakenings”‏

Flowers for Algernon“, a book that was
written in 1966, back when I was already
reading everything, was not a book that
I expected could ever be made into a film,
it had been written from the point of view
of a mentally challenged person who’d
been asked to keep a diary of his
progress in an experiment to make him
smarter, eventually seriously smart, the
style therefore follows the infelicities of 
the main character’s misspellings as he 
tries to write proper English  
 
his name is Charly, Charly Gordon 
 
Algernon is the mouse whose promising
treatment Charly would hopefully as
successfully follow 
 
the book is still irresistible, as confirmed
recently again by my mom, who couldn’t
put it down 
 
 
two years later the  movie was made, to
my delight, of course, and surprise,
called, whatever for, instead of Flowers
 
this one’s therefore for you, Mom
   
 
that year’s Oscar went to the man who
played the lead role, Cliff Robertson
   
  
Awakenings“, with Robert De Niro playing
a parallel role in the fictionalized true story
of an essentially, however improbably, 
identical case, has Robin Williams playing
Oliver Sacks, who co-wrote the script, and
has also fully acknowledged himself as the 
doctor in the touched-up representation 
 
but more significantly Oliver Sacks is a
very highly regarded scientist for his
penetrating work in especially neurology,
though his writings veer easily towards
more philosophical speculation, as does,
for instance, also the work of Freud  
on that interdisciplinary account
 
Oliver Sacks most famously wrote The
 
 
the science in Flowers for Algernon“, or
Charly“, a fiction, has become with
Awakenings“,  it appears, fact 
 
well be I’ll flummoxed 
  
 
Robert De Niro didn’t get the Oscar for
that year’s counterpart Charly Gordon
incidentally, to still my dismay,
dissatisfaction and astonishment  
 
what do you think
 
 
Richard

 

 
 
 

poetry without words

this little tyke and his dog are right out of
irresistibly, in either case, engaging
 
the music however, instead of the completely
unrelated rock song clanging away here,
should’ve been the much more apt
“Pastorale” Sonata of Beethoven, I think, 
which catches to my mind entirely the
innocent, carefree, effervescent and
unadulterated spirit of the the tyke, of any
man or woman about to discover the world,
any world, no matter how young or old we,
any of us, are 
 
 
wishing you only ever wonders
 
Richard  
 
psst: this is also an apology for a particularly
          lax text in my last instalment, wherein
          I should’ve made the Pastorale” 
          particularly shine but didn’t, here I
          think I make amends, you might
          actually, and incontrovertibly
          profitably, listen

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Beethoven – “Pastorale” Sonata, no 15, opus 28‏

from the very beginning of this musical series I’ve
been wanting, looking forward to, highlighting
somewhere, somehow, this incandescent piece
by Beethoven, but hadn’t yet found either a
complete nor, more significantly, a worthy
interpretation, though one briefly came and
went in a blazing virtual, as it were, transit, that
would’ve been perfect, and may now be never 
seen again, o, vast, too vast, eternity   
 
here Konstantin Semilakovs, not even a finalist at
Competition last September, 2012, the competition
must’ve been severely tough, plays an enchanted
rendition 
 
Beethoven is at the height of his euphoria here,
after his 7th sonata, his opus 10, no 3, he’d
followed through with his still resounding 8th, 
hisPathétique“, opus 13, through several
significant others to just before this one his
 
the Pastorale“, his opus 28 – “pastorale”,
incidentally, usually retains the German spelling,
for the feminine word in German “Sonate”, and
it is generally pronounced, with an enunciated
“e”, that way – is in all of music the piece I find
the most enchanting, I call it my “Johnny
Appleseed” sonata for its youth, freshness,
exhilaration, sense of adventure, infinite and
effervescent possibility, there isn’t a single
adagio here, note, just, at the very slowest,
an andante, a normal walk, there’s too much
wonder and fascination in the music to slow 
anything here down
 
you’ll note that Beethoven doesn’t too much
sway from the rigours of Classical structure,
the beat doesn’t significantly, nor even
infinitesimally much alter, though there are
some idiosyncratic Romantic liberties taken,
not an uncommon occurrence, by the interpreter,
fully redeemed however by his magical, meticulous 
rendition
 
nor does Beethoven touch tonality, we remain
always in the same key, each according to its
own movement
 
repetition is also there in spades, but you get
there only after he’s taken you through a veritable
rabbit hole, like Alice, and you don’t even know
where you are, where you started, but there you
are again suddenly, to your enchanted wonder,
but already he’s starting you up again for another
apparently iteration, o joy, o even ecstasy  
 
 
note intimations of Prokofiev already a century
earlier in the third movement, the sprightly
scherzo (allegro assai)”, note the eccentricity
of the syncopation, already the future is here,
spreading its nascent but fully burgeoning
wings into even our very own 21st Century,
decisively, we will not hang Beethoven out
to dry, that’d be like losing Shakespeare
     
 
the elements of Classicism, to summarize, 
remain strong with Beethoven, even essential
to his conception of music, the profound
difference is with the impact of the piano,
soft, loud, the hold petal, his use of volume,
his use of, from solemn to effervescent, pace 
 
with these opportune tools he changed the
face of music, channeling through them his
profound, his supremely inspired, genius,
becoming along the way and incontestibly
the Homer, the highest priest and most
revered elder, of Western music, to this very
day unchallenged, still not outshone, nor
even ever yet matched, just listen 
 
 
Richard   
 
psst: you might want to compare this Beethoven  
           with Schubert’s  “Wanderer” Fantasy, for
           their itinerary spirit
 
 
 
 
 

Brice Maiurro/John Donne on bugs‏

who says poetry isn’t supposed to be delightful,
poetry is delightful, exhilarating, inspirational,
the good stuff is 
 
I couldn’t resist sending again some utterly
ingenious Brice Maiurro, an absolute wunderkind
in my estimation, consistently artful and unfailingly
entertaining, topical, terse and dependably
insightful ever 
 
John Donne seemed an obvious comparison to me
here 
 
Brice Maiurro sees no reason not to swat the fly
apart from their equally existential, and essentially
blameless each, journey
 
John Donne is after the girl, the fly is the conjunction
of their blood, “suck’d” from each, and therefore
sacred, a “marriage temple”, he calls it, though she
remains apparently unimpressed
 
literary history however was, and is, and I, for at least
one, had never forgotten it, him  
 
nor probably them
 
thanks Brice, thanks John   
 
 
Richard  
 
                       ____________________
  
 
 

1.

as i watched
this fly
land on the beer
on my dresser
he clasped his hands
together

this fly
prays more than
i do

2.

he swarms
around my head
and near my ears
as my blood boils
and i think about
murder

he just wants
attention

he just wants
to be seen
and heard
and loved

3.

how come
i never
encounter a fly
when other people
are around?

4.

this fly moves
in a severely unorthodox way
zig-zagging
and writing through the
stale air

either he governs
his own motion
or something else does

he lands
just to take off again
he goes
to the same place
twice

there is a method
to his madness
i don’t know what

what keeps him
doing the
same quaint thing
over
and again?

5.

if i swat at him
recklessly
i will never kill him
i have to watch him

i have to understand him
at least a little
if i want to absolve him
of his horrid fly life

(is it horrid?
i can’t fly.)

he grows to trust me
it feels like:

he lands on my bed
then the fabric
of my pajamas
then my knee
then my bare chest

6.

after i killed him
i lifted my pillow
where i found him dead

i picked up his lifeless corpse
and his legs moved
pain
i euthanized him
from the suffering i began
and set him outside
of my window

i’m not cut out for this

life is so big
and i’m flying desperately
in chaotic patterns
landing in the same spot
over and again

 
              Brice Maiurro  
 
            ______________________
 
 
 
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
     Yet this enjoys before it woo,
     And pamper’d swells with one blood made of two ;
     And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we’re met,
And cloister’d in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
     Let not to that self-murder added be,
     And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck’d from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
    ‘Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
    Just so much honour, when thou yield’st to me,
    Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee 

 
 
                                                John Donne  (1572-1631) 
 
 
 
 
 

“Paths of Glory”‏

hot on the heels of Sergeant Yorkhere’s
another war story, of war movies the one
that has left of all of them with me the most
indelible impression, Stanley Kubrick‘s 
searing Paths of Glory
 
incongruities exist, Kirk Douglas plays the
French Corporal Dax, not sounding at all like
a Frenchman but like the American voice of
reason back when such a position held, nor
do most of the other players, apart from,
among especially the military leads, more
formal, aristocratic, which is to say, viable
accents
 
but these inefficiencies soon cede to the
power of a compelling story, all consistently
thickening drama, to the very inexorable end
 
some situations are heightened of course
for the sake of tension, but this is a completely
valid metaphorical device of fiction, I argue, for
the sake of a more profound truth, reality would
be too fraught with its own not as readily 
scrutable inconsistencies and conundrums 
 
the tale is as involving, incidentally, as a
Beethoven sonata, with even its own
incandescent coda, a short musical epilogue,
that will leave you blubbering, a scene of such
subtlety and vision, poetry and powerit has 
remained personally etched forever on my
however maybe too impressionable heart 
 
you’ll need, I think, some Kleenex
 
Kubrick even married his leading lady,
remaining together with her till ’99, the
year of his surely greatly grieved demise
 
 
interiors incidentally by Fragonard,
exteriors by the ravages of war 
 
 
Richard
 
psst: where have we heard about
           courts-martial lately