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Category: at the movies

March: “Black March” – Stevie Smith‏

"The Frozen Pool, March" - Willard Metcalf

The Frozen Pool, March (1909)

Willard Metcalf

_______

in this wonderful film about Stevie Smith,
Glenda Jackson is the celebrated poet,
whose poem, “Black March“, I’ve chosen
to introduce the new month

you’ll love also Mona Washbourne in it,
as Stevie’s beloved aunt

the site presents the film in numbered
episodes, which seamlessly flow if you
don’t touch your dial, but should you,
just click on the episode number, one
of eleven, when you return

Richard

psst: you might also want to compare
this story with that of Emily
Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst“,
another, unconventionally then,
unmarried woman, for which Julie
Harris got a richly deserved Tony
in 1977

read all about it in one of my recent
blog
s

_________________

Black March

I have a friend
At the end
Of the world.
His name is a breath

Of fresh air.
He is dressed in
Grey chiffon. At least
I think it is chiffon.
It has a
Peculiar look, like smoke.

It wraps him round
It blows out of place
It conceals him
I have not seen his face.

But I have seen his eyes, they are
As pretty and bright
As raindrops on black twigs
In March, and heard him say:

I am a breath
Of fresh air for you, a change
By and by.

Black March I call him
Because of his eyes
Being like March raindrops
On black twigs.

(Such a pretty time when the sky
Behind black twigs can be seen
Stretched out in one
Uninterrupted
Cambridge blue as cold as snow.)

But this friend
Whatever new names I give him
Is an old friend. He says:

Whatever names you give me
I am
A breath of fresh air,
A change for you.

Stevie Smith

“Dancing at Lughnasa”

   "O'Malley Home (Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland)" (1913) - Robert Henri

O’Malley Home (Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland) (1913)

Robert Henri

_______

a quiet February evening, or even a quiet
February afternoon, would be perfect to
watch Dancing at Lughnasa“, a fireside
movie with family and warmth, even
chickens, it’s Ireland, 1936, in the distance
the Spanish Civil War, sisters are taking
care of each other

Meryl Streep heads an impeccable cast,
each performer surely inspiring the other
for such excellence to so generally shine
through, the magic is inveterately
consistent

Michael, Christina’s illegitimate son, tells
the story of when his dad visited them all
that summer he was seven, children are
always the victims, also the survivors

the play won the Tony Award in 1992 for
Best Play of the Year

watch, click

Richard

“Macbeth” – Guiseppe Verdi‏

  "Macbeth" / Welser-Most, Zürich Opera

Macbeth / Welser-Most, Zürich Opera

______________

Giuseppe Verdi’s “Macbeth” has everything
you’d ever want out of even the very best of
Shakespeare’s, but with also music, rich,
passionate, searing

in this production, Thomas Hampson is
every inch Macbeth, warrior, murderer,
king, to date my very favourite incarnation

his wife, Paoletta Marrocu, unknown till
now to me, is a sinuous virago, seductive,
maleficent, deadly, “all the perfumes of
Arabia will not sweeten”
indeed “this
little hand”,
Lady Macbeth usually steals
the show if she’s able, here she does it,
incontrovertibly, again

the witches, dependably weird, malicious,
are mesmerizing, wait for the ghoulish
“Unknown Powers” telling of Birnam
Wood, and prophesying that “none of
woman born / Shall”
neither “harm
Macbeth”

chilling

brilliant

do not not watch

Richard

psst: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

“Macbeth”, act 5, scene 5

“Macbeth” – William Shakespeare‏

Henry Fuseli - "'Macbeth', Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters"

‘Macbeth’, Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters (1783)

Henry Fuseli

_______

Judy Dench is Lady Macbeth, Ian McKellen
her consort, in this superb production by
Trevor Nunn

also great witches

watch

Richard

“Le Jazz Hot” – Henry Mancini‏

  John Cage - "Mozart Mix" (1991)

Mozart Mix (1991)

John Cage

_______

in a movie,“Victor Victoria”, that should’ve
gotten more Oscars than it finally did,
Le Jazz Hot sizzles, Henry Mancini
received one for the music, Lesley Anne
Warren should’ve too for her incandescent
moll

lock the door, she says to Julie Andrews,
in an otherwise compromising moment,
a line one should never forget

in Julie Andrews’ category, who could’ve
taken it away from Meryl Streep for
“Sophie’s Choice”

but jazz here is a misnomer, jazz merely
dolls up in this number an otherwise
entirely Classical structure, the melody
is right out of Mozart, rigid rhythm,
unflinching tonality, and repetition after
repetition, you can sing along just as you
can for Mozart, try doing that with anyone
after him, try to hum along with real jazz

but I’ll entirely agree that this
whatever-it-is is hot, steaming

catch the astounding vocal glissando
at the very end, just before the final
whispered recitative, riveting

Richard

ballin’ the Jack‏

 Leonora Carrington  - "Jack be Nnimble, Jack be Quick" (1970)

“Jack be Nnimble, Jack be Quick (1970)

Leonora Carrington

_________

a friend writes about my most recent
parsing art – Rouseau/Siudmak entry

“You are so perceptive, Richard. How did you possibly remember these two very disparate paintings and realize (in your mind!!!) that they were so similar????
Encyclopedic visual memory?

Brilliant! Fun!

Thanks!

Theresa.”

I answered

first I put my two knees close up tight,
I swayed them to the left and then I
swayed them to the right, I twisted
around the floor kind of nice and light,
and then I twisted around and twisted
around with all my might

it works every time, just click

enjoy

Richard

Visconti’s Death in Venice‏

  William Turner -  "Venice Looking East from the Guidecca, Sunrise" (1819)

Venice Looking East from the Guidecca, Sunrise (1819)

William Turner

_______

Death in Venice is perhaps the most
beautiful film I’ve ever seen, just click

Visconti suffuses his masterpiece with
all the colours and textures of Monet,
Renoir, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and
a host of other Impressionists, and
settles them all upon, nearly inevitably,
the splendours of a Canaletto Venice

Dirk Bogarde has never been better,
his von Aschenbach is definitive,
Silvana Mangano is every single inch
an aristocrat, the epitome of poise,
elegance and propriety, Tadzio is
throughout the very incarnation of a
Botticelli

all is given stately motion by the art
of film and made thereby into another
equal and haunting form of poetry

enjoy, marvel

Richard

psst: Visconti even makes Mahler sound
profound

as does Leonard Bernstein, incidentally,
in the accompanying clip, who is
manifestly transported throughout his
evidently otherworldly experience,
just as you might even be, just click

life lessons from Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor


just click

is this a dramatic monologue, I asked

it depends on who you think she’s
talking to, I answered

cheers

Richard

“Music”

Gustav Klimt's "Music"

Music (1895)

Gustav Klimt

______

not for lack of imagination, lately, but for,
rather, lack of confidence, the complaint
of any would-be poet, the complaint of
any proponent of oneself, one’s persona,
one’s own, however benign, however even
benevolent, ideas, I retreated into myself,
surrendering to forthright inspiration for
any, elusive enough, courage

inspiration, through its usual unsuspected
channels, and as ever categorically, gave
me, reliably, Music“, Klimt‘s ineluctable
masterpiece, not even for its iconic image,
but for its transcendental comment on
art’s interpretive counterpart, music

world’s meld

a “magical mystical miracle” happens, as
Katharine Hepburn, in her utterly
enchanting movie, Summertime“,
would have it, irrepressible as ever

I had to share

Richard

psst: note the juxtaposition of contrasting
colours, patterns, impressions, note
the Baroque presentation of Classical
imperatives, touched with Romantic
sensibilities, kicking off, not
incidentally, Modernism

“Why Do I Love You?” – from “Behind the Candelabra”

just when you thought you’d never see
Elizabeth Barrett Browning again, here
she pops up in, of all places, a movie
about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra“,
a not undistinguished representation of
the high life, the over the top life, of an
aging and flamboyant superstar with his
much younger companion, feathers fly,
Ferraris too, and so do tempers

but at one point Liberace recites this
poem, “Why do I love you?”

where have I heard that line before, I
said to myself, and needed no one, of
course, to answer, here was Elizabeth
handing over her mantle to someone
in the XXlst Century, maybe

you decide

Richard

psst: Liberace also said, “too much of a good
thing is wonderful”,
I’ll drink to that

__________________

Why do I love you?

Why do I love you?
I love you not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I’m with you.
I love you not only for
what you have made of yourself
but for what you are making of me
I love you for not ignoring
the possibilities of the fool in me,
and for accepting
the possibilities of the good in me.

Why do I love you?
I love you for
closing your eyes to the discords in me,
and for adding to the music in me
by worshipful listening.
I love you
for helping me to construct my life,
not a tavern, but a temple.
I love you because
you have done so much to make me happy.
You have done it without a word,
without a touch, without a sign.
You have done it by just being yourself.
Perhaps, after all,
that is what love means,
and that is why
I love you.