8/9/14: High Anxiety

Anxiety

I brought a fruit salad & some water for you all while you read the Blog today.

Okay, let me just install this water in the dispenser. Anxiety - Lift “I got it. I got it. I got it. I ain’t got it.” “When I ring the bell, you are tardy! And those who are tardy do not get fruit cup! Anxiety - Bell Okay, come up & get your fruit cup & water. 

You’re probably thinkin’, [feminine] ‘You’re so strict, Professor!’ I’m strict, but fair! And, as you can see, I did work long & hard on this speech!” Anxiety - ProfAs Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety opens, a plane is landing & Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Brooks) is petrified. Anxiety - Thorndyke I’m not an aerophobe, but I can relate. I hate flying. The only good thing about it is getting there fast. I particularly hate the post-9/11/01 airport security process. Anxiety - Security A couple of years ago, my wife Cindy & I P&C were flying to New Smyrna Beach FL Anxiety - NSB with a couple carry-ons each. She went first & made it thru fine. My laptop was A-OK but then when they screened my backpack, am alarm went off and, already a nervous wreck, I turned to Cindy & said, [Jewish] “‘What is this, a game show? What did I win, a Pinto?’ as a TSA agent asked, [baritone]‘Whose bag is this?’ I raised my hand & he said, ‘Follow me! I’m sorry sir, we’re going to have to search you & your bag.’. Anxiety - Security ‘Please sir, what did I do? What did I do? What’s my crime?’ ‘You beeped.’ ‘I beeped! I beeped! Take me away! Take me to Alcatraz! Put me in irons! I beeped! The mad beeper is loose! Take away the beeper! Take me away!’” It turned out that my kids had a party at our house while we were out the Saturday night before, and one of their friends left some cans of Busch Beers in the fridge. Anxiety - Busch I took a few to the movies the night before, drank all but one & forgot to empty the backpack before leaving for Bradley. When he discovered the offending item, he said smiling, ‘Mr. Marino, life is too short to drink crappy beer.’, and I was on my way fully aware Anxiety - Sweat of my need for more of this ===> Anxiety - RG

Alfred Hitchcock Anxiety - HItch often utilized the potential danger in various modes of travel as a plot ploy, and Mel Brooks’ captures the idea perfectly as double Golden Globe Nominee High Anxiety begins. Dr. Thorndyke is the new head of [Dr. Colburn] The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very VERY Nervous. Anxiety - Inst Dr. Charles Montague (Harvey Korman) Anxiety - Korman is angry that he didn’t get the post when the previous head suddenly died of a coronary. Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) Anxiety - Diesel, undoubtedly a parody of Nurse Ratched Anxiety - Ratched from Miloš Forman’s Anxiety - Milos One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Anxiety - Cuckoo, really runs the Institute. Thorndyke immediately notices the suspicious goings on there . There are many great comic performances in the picture, including: Ron Carey as Thorndyke’s assistant, Brophy Anxiety - Brophy; Howard Morris as the Dr. Sigmund Freud character Anxiety - Freud, Professor Lilolman Anxiety - Morris; Madeline Kahn as Thorndyke’s love interest, Victoria Anxiety - Kahn; and Brooks’ 3 co-writers all appear in the film, as does Charlie Callas in a cameo as Cocker Spaniel Anxiety - Callas. 

Hitchcock perfected the MacGuffin, a plot ploy used to move the characters along in the story. MacGuffins seem important, but aren’t. The best way to know if something is a MacGuffin is to substitute the word & see if anything changes. For instance, in Psycho Anxiety - Psycho, Marion (Janet Leigh) Anxiety - Marion steals $40000 & flees Phoenix where she meets Norman (Anthony Perkins) Anxiety - Psycho& her demise at the Bates Motel Anxiety - Bates. But if she stole a MacGuffin instead, wouldn’t her fate have been the same? Watch the trailer at the bottom of the Blog, then add the film to your Netflix Queue. As you watch the film, you can use the table just above the trailer to see where MacGuffin & the other Hitchcock references mentioned in High Anxiety can be found: It’s the most comprehensive list I’ve seen documented anywhere. Not to sound like The Man Who Knew Too Much, but my Suspicion is that my Blog readers know I’m Notorious for film analysis so Rich and Strange that if I was anyone else, even if I was Young and Innocent, Under Capricorn and beyond a Shadow of a Doubt it’d give me Stage Fright, make me Spellbound, cause Vertigo, send me into a Frenzy, and drive me Psycho. If I’m wrong, you can take me Downhill The 39 Steps, throw me out the Rear Window hanging from a Rope until The Birds peck at me, leaving nothing for the Family Plot. And now, even if you’re a Secret Agent, I’m The Wrong Man to Blackmail, I Confess, Bon Voyage, Bunny <=== The Lady Vanishes ===> Geisha, leaving my tribute to Mel Brooks’ tribute to The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock: High Anxiety! 4 Stars!

Anxiety - Table

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8/14/14: Elvis – That’s the Way It Is

Elvis

Music is like no other art form. For those of us of a certain mentality, it can drive you crazy; manifesting in a love for the form in general and The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion Elvis -GRTUD for a particular artist long after death. And I mean your own, not theirs. Mozart comes to mind. Elvis, of course. I love ‘em both. But it’s Jerry Garcia that “rocks my soul”. Elvis - BDown“When you’ve heard him on record, really there, that’s nothing until you’ve heard the live performances. I remember the first time I saw him live, with the Grateful Dead on 4/23/77Springfield Civic Center. Elvis - 42377 He walked out on stage & that’s all it took for me. Ya know, I was a fan immediately. Before…I had heard a lot about him, said, ‘Ya sure. Nobody, NOBODY is that good!’. Well, he’s that good. He’s…um…the original creator of this style – what people call jam bands, a term I take exception to. Well not the original creator, but blended it & put it together in a way that it stayed. And…when he did this, he created something that nobody [laugh-talking] knew where it was gonna stop. A Jerryhead is more than just a follower. It just…somebody that cares enough that they devote a good part of their life to him. I collect every show I can get on CD. I’ve got 100’s of dollars worth of CD books of these shows, taken up in the house anywhere I can get ‘em. And Jerry was very patient with his fans. He really liked them. He loved them”, just like Elvis did his. And as you watch Elvis: That’s the Way It Is, you’ll see this come thru loud & clear! Jerry, by the way, was a huge fan of Elvis’: He covered Mystery Train

and That’s All Right Mama

with the Grateful Dead and his side projects; Run Tutt, Elvis’ drummer, played in Jerry’s solo bands from ’75-‘77;

and Grateful Dead and Jerry Band backup vocalist, Donna Jean Godchaux (née Thatcher), was on the From Elvis in Memphis LP as well as Suspicious Minds which was originally released as a single. 

Elvis - Donna

That’s the Way It Is, which reached #22 on the Variety National Box Office Survey in 1970, documents Elvis’ return to touring after 12 years. In reality, it wasn’t much of a tour. He played the Elvis Summer Festival from 8/10/70 thru 9/7/70 at the International Hotel’s Showroom Internationale in Vegas, then toured for a week. Elvis’ longtime manager, Col. Tom Parker, Elvis - Col is credited as Technical Adviser. He wanted the project to be a closed circuit broadcast of one of the shows, but it was not to be. It was an MGM release, and they did all the filming & called the shots. The studio rehearsals are at MGM Studios in Culver City CA and RCA Studios, Hollywood. The live segments are all from Vegas – opening night and Evening & Midnight performances the next 3 nights. During the opening sequence, a live performance of Mystery Train/Tiger Man, there’s a fan-made sign hung indicating the show is from 9/9/70 – AZ Coliseum, Phoenix, but it’s not. That was the only show of the tour in Phoenix & the tune wasn’t played there. It’s masterfully edited to give the impression that the documentary is of the tour. Film Editing is part of post-production, meaning it takes place after filming is completed. It’s the art of sequencing footage according to the director’s instructions. In 1970, editing was done by splicing sections of film together. Now it’s done digitally. Film Editor Henry Berman Elvis - Berman combines concert  footage, interviews, fans comments, the International Hotel’s Press Conference & such brilliantly in this great documentary of The Return of The King, Denis Sanders’ Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. Unfortunately, this is not available for free but can be rented from Amazon  Video for $2.99. So watch the trailer below then head over to Amazon to see the full movie. [Elvis] “Thank you. Thank you very much”. 3 Stars!

8/10/14: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

BHC

Some of you know how much I love Jerry Garcia, right? So I’m gonna tell ya a story. Back in ’85, my wife Cindy & I, and my brother Mike & sister-in-law, Karen, decided to spend 4th of July week in D.C. when we found out the Grateful Dead were going to be at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia MD (what we called Jerryweather) on 7/1 at 6 pm. We left that day at 7 in the morning expecting to make the show, no sweat. Traffic had other ideas so when we got to Columbia, we stopped for dinner at the Holiday Inn and decided to cancel our room in D.C. & stay there for the night. We went up to the woman at the front desk dressed like…um…hippies to book the room. She told us they were completely booked, which made no sense since there were hardly any cars in the parking lot, so Mikey went to the phone booth, called 1(800)HOLIDAY, and booked a room on his American Express Gold Card – those were rare back then! Then he returned to the front desk & laced into her. ‘Give me the keys to our room IMMEDIATELY! Here’s our Reservation #. “Don’t you think I realize what’s going on here, miss? Who do you think I am, huh? Don’t you think I know that if I was some hotshot businessman from out of town that pulled inside here, we’d be the first one to get a room & we’d be upstairs relaxing right now. But I’m not some hotshot businessman from out of town. I’m a hippie that’s in town to see the Gateful Dead. Rumor has it they’re gonna play Sittin’ on Top of the World for the first time since 5/25/72 – London, but as far as you’re concerned, the Dead can Sit on Top of the World Just As Long As We Don’t Stay in the Columbia Holiday Inn ‘Cause There’s No Hippies Allowed in Here!’ In the end, we loved the place. They had little robes with little initials of the hotel on them and when we left, to atone for their prejudice, Mikey had 4 of them in his bag.” 

When Martin Brest directed (and cameo’d as Beverly Palms Hotel Checkout Clerk) the 1984 comedy Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy really was Sittin’ on Top of the World. 16 months before filming began, Playboy ran an article entitled Eddie Murphy Is on Top of the World. The movie made him even bigger. It’s the 3rd biggest box office R-Rated film ever adjusted for inflation. It was critically acclaimed as well, earning Daniel Petrie Jr. & Danilo Bach an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the 57th Academy Awards. Murphy plays Axel Foley, a Detroit detective, quote-unquote, on vacation in Beverly Hills after his best friend Mikey (James Russo) is murdered executioner style while visiting him. His only clue is that Mikey had a stack of German Bearer Bonds that he lifted while working at a job in L.A. that their old friend Jenny (Lisa Eilbacher) got him. Axel isn’t a big hit with the Beverly Hills P.D., and is soon under surveillance by Officers Taggart (John Ashton) & Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold).  

There have been 3 Beverly Hills Cop features in the franchise, plus a 2013 TV movie and Beverly Hills Cop 4 in development. The 3 features starred Murphy. As you know, movie franchises are very popular today but rarely go beyond 5 or 6. Such was not the case in the early days of movie-making, when live action, character-based franchises dominated the industry. There are 20 movie/short franchises of at least 25 that began before ’38, including: Over 200 for Sherlock Holmes, the most of any character, from 1916 to 2015; almost as many Dracula, the first in 1922; 35 Charlie Chan films; over 100 about Cinderella, the first in 1899; there are 17 Andy Hardy’s; plus Jesse James, Hopalong Cassidy, Frankenstein, Tarzan, and Rin Tin Tin. So watch the trailer below, then put Eddie Murphy in Martin Brest’s original Beverly Hills Cop at the top of your Netflix DVD Queue. “Heh, heh, heh!” 4 Stars!

6/18/16: The Great Gatsby (1974)

Gatsby

 “On 9/5/09, the Saturday before Labor Day, we had my daughter Kimmie’s High School Graduation Party in our little backyard. Our good friend Brett Connors of Flipper Dave  Brett  was there. ‘Summer’s almost over, Brett.’, I told ‘im. ‘It’s sad, isn’t it? In 2 weeks it will be the Autumnal Equinox. In the Autumn, my mood is very different. Makes you want to, I don’t know, reach out & hold it back.’ ‘There’ll be other summers. How ’bout a swim? Let’s go to the Lake.’ While there he invited me to Jill & Bill’s Day Before Labor Day Party the next day.

Flipper Dave FD  was playin’ & goofy Ralph Ralph would be sittin’ in on percussion. Well we went & when we got there, I’d never been to a place like it: Gatsby - Mansion Mansion on a hill; manmade lake in the backyard; screened-in pool; waiters & waitresses, butlers & maids everywhere; huge stage w/ a lighting rig & full P.A.; bars & coolers & appetizer stations; girls in bikinis; a hippie dream; oh & there was Olive. More on her later. I popped my 1st brew & got tapped on the shoulder: [Brit] ‘How do you do, Old Sport? I’m Vantine.’ I believe that very few people were actually invited to this party. They just went. They got into automobiles that bore them out to Norfolk & somehow they ended up at Bill Vantine’s door.” “Joined the comin’ par-arty” “with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.’” That’s when Ralph happened by & introduced me to Olive, a pretty, fit, drunk platinum blonde in way too tight white spandex pants & a black spaghetti strap tank top; her bikini was soon to follow. Oh…she was also in her 70s. Gatsby - Olive [Popeye] ‘This is Olivesk. She’s coo’, but a bit muchada coug’ toe Gatsby - Toe or I’d marry ‘er. He-he-hoo’ “‘Rich girls don’t marry poor boys.’ ‘Olive is always here; probably been here since a party I threw in April. She’s an Oxford woman, Old Sport.’ ‘Like ‘ell she is. She wears white spandex pants!’ There was Flipper Dave’s music throughout that summer night. In his enchanted gardens, men & girls came & went like moths among the whispering & the champagne & shrimp cocktail & steaks & the stars. Almost everyone stayed the night in 1 of the 25+ rooms. We didn’t. And the gourmet delights didn’t stop us from hitting Torrington McDonald’s for Late Night Dollar Menu on the way home either.

Gatsby - McD

And the great parties that The Great Vantine threw were nothin’ compared to those Jack Clayton’s The Great Gatsby (Robert Redford) had in the Summer of ’22. Jay Gatsby was a secretive multi-millionaire living in a huge coastal mansion in nouveau riche West Egg, Long Island, just across the bay from old money East Egg where Tom & Daisy Buchanan (Bruce Dern & Mia Farrow) lived. Nick Carraway (Sam Waterson), Daisy’s 2nd cousin & Tom’s Yale buddy, rented the cottage next door to Gatsby that summer.

 The overriding symbol in the novel & film is the billboard advertisement for Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, Occulist. What does it represent? First, “oculist”, which is an ophthalmologist or optometrist, is spelled incorrectly. There is only one “c” in oculist. Spelled “o-c-c-u-l-i-s-t” reminds us of the occult. It’s missing just the 1st “t” for it to be occultist. Spelled with a “double c”, the word seems to mean seer. And that’s how George Wilson (Scott Wilson) Gatsby - Wilsonsees the billboard: As the Eyes of God, overlooking the Valley of Ashes – now Flushing Meadows, but a barren, industrial dump of a wasteland in 1922. Next, the name T.J. Eckleburg reminds us of T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contemporary & co-American ex-patriot in Paris, whose success predated Fitzgerald’s. Gatsby was published in 1925 but takes place in 1922, the year that arguably Eliot’s greatest work, the epic poem The Waste Land was released. The Waste Land is Eliot’s reflection of the cultural & physical impact that World War I had on Europe, especially France & Germany. The name “Eckleburg” seems of German heritage. The poem is 64 pages long & dedicated to Ezra Pound, the poet that helped develop & expose Eliot, whose work soon became the more important. The dedication is for “Ezra Pound, il miglior fabbro”, “the better blacksmith” or “craftsman”, because he helped edit the poem down to the published 64 pages. Also, an oculist could be viewed as a blacksmith for the eyes. Take a look at these 2 pictures: The first is, of course, the billboard in Clayton’s Gatsby. The next one adds a little Eliot to it: The eyes on the top are Eliot’s from the photograph on the cover of his The Complete Poems and Plays; and the book is The Waste Land.

The movie won Oscars for Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Aldredge) and Nelson Riddle’s Adapted Score. The Oscar for Best Original Score went to Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola for The Godfather Part II. Carmine’s son Francis Ford was busy in ’74. He directed & co-wrote The Godfather Part II’s screenplay; wrote & directed The Conversation; and adapted Gatsby’s screenplay after original writer Truman Capote was fired.

But I digress. We were discussing the score. An original score is original music which sets the film’s mood & drives the action. The soundtrack is some or all of the film’s music packaged for sale, via CD or download these days. The 1st soundtrack was a set of 78 RPM records of the music of the 1937 Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Gatsby - SW&amp;7DAn adapted score combines the 2: The score is presented as previously written music set to the action; sort of a performed soundtrack & hence not an original score. So what you’ll hear in the trailer below & the film when you stream it on Netflix is period music in Nelson Riddle’s great Adapted Score for Jack Clayton’s The Great Gatsby. 4 Stars!

 

6/9/16: Jezebel (1938)

Jez

NOLA Jerry

That’s my buddy Bob ===> Meehan <=== who I’ve known since I was 10. We went to some 75 Jerry & Grateful Dead shows together. In ’07, he met controlling Priscilla & we thought we’d seen the last of him. That’s his sister Barb, who calls him Rob. She was crushed over his new relationship “She told me she treats him like a chalice: ‘A frail, delicate chalice, to be cherished & protected. Rob’s messy & Priscilla tends the house as no house has ever been tended. She’s so particular, if he leaves an article a half inch out of place or there’s a speck of dust on anything, she notices it; and I bet she flails the living daylights out of him & loves it.’ ‘Well I always say ′Spare the rod & you spoil the child.′.’ One day she asked him ‘Rob, why did you do it? Why Rob?’ ‘Because I love her.’ ‘But you had our love & gave it up. Wasn’t that more real than anything she had to give to you?’ ‘Maybe I love her most when she’s her meanest.’ ‘I’m thinkin’ of a woman called Jezebel who did evil in the sight of God.’; and he walked away. ‘Oh, don’t be cross with me, Rob. Of course, it’s your right to go with her.’ ‘I am gonna make her my wife!’ ‘Your wife? When?’ ‘Within a year!’ ′Punctuality is the politeness of kings.′, I always say. Well that didn’t happen. They broke up for a year within that year. But then in ’09, they got married. ′Better late than never.′ I always say. No friends got invited but I did get him to meet me for a drink: ‘Do you remember going to see Jerry with us, Bob?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘How much do you remember?’ ‘Every show we went to. Everything we ever said or did. But that’s passed now, Paulie. Done. Finished.’ ‘We don’t understand. You don’t have to leave her. You just have to come back home, back to all of us? You have to come back to the lazy gate of winter’s summer home. Sometimes you have to visit your country & live in your home, because this is your home; because you belong here! Nothing can change that. Bob, Listen: Can you hear them? The nuthatch noises?’ ‘Well Paulie, sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone. But the heart has its beaches, its homeland & songs of its own.’ Well I always say ′Let sleeping dogs lie.′ Good thing too because I got an interesting bit of news in 2011: Bob came back! 

Nut

In William Wyler’s Jezebel, Preston’s (Henry Fonda) heart has a “song of its own” when he returns to Halcyon Plantation, outside NOLA in 1853 after a year in Boston. Her ex-fiancé Julie (Bette Davis), a strong & independent woman, has been waiting as patiently as she can to rekindle the engagement that Preston ended after her shocking behavior at NOLA’s Olympus Ball. Julie family has moved to their lazy country home as a result of a terrible outbreak of yellow fever.

I discovered something that I have been unable to find documented anywhere else. As such, I feel it is important to get it documented & therefore attain credit for its discovery before anyone else does; or worse, hears of the discovery & takes credit for it. Now, I find it amazing that what follows got by a director of Wyler’s magnitude but it did. So here it goes. At one point, Preston quotes Voltaire’s “I disagree with everything you say & I will defend to the death your right to say it”. The actual quote is “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, and it is misattributed to Voltaire when actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre, an English writer best known for her biographies “The Life of Voltaire” from 1903 and “The Friends of Voltaire” from 1906, from which the quote is taken). What Voltaire actually said in defense of French philosopher Helvétius’ 1758 book criticizing religion & morality, On Mind, was “What a fuss about an omelette.” Why is that quote in this in the film? Why would Preston quote Voltaire? Or more properly misquote Voltaire 53 years before the quote ever existed? Because Voltaire was among the leaders of the Age of Enlightenment. That movement embodied the ideals of liberty, tolerance, freedom, separation of church & state, societal fraternity, reliance of scientific thinking & proof through experimentation, and the questioning of generally accepted religious conventions. And those ideals are exactly what gave rise to abolitionism.

Jezebel won 2 Oscars in 1939 at the 11th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress (Fay Baintner as Julie’s Aunt Belle); and Bette for Best Actress. On 7/19/01, Steven Spielberg purchased her Oscar at auction Christie’s, and returned it to the Academy. Jezebel was also nominated for Picture, Cinematography (Ernest Haller), and Max Steiner’s great Score. 

Steiner was born on 5/10/1888 in Vienna & died of heart failure on 12/28/71 in CA. A child prodigy of rich Jewish parents, he wrote his first operetta at 15 years of age; went to Broadway at 26 for 15 years conducting musicals of George Gershwin, Jerome Kern & others. He was one of the 1st composers to write original music for movies. His 1st movie score was 1914’s The Bondman; his final, 1965’s Those Calloways. He composed almost 250 film scores & was nominated for 24 Oscars, winning 3. He scored: King Kong; The Caine Mutiny; and Dark Victory, Gone with the Wind, and 11 others in 1939 alone. He worked with Bette Davis 21 times, including William Wyler’s Jezebel. So watch the trailer below then add it to your Netflix Queue. 4 Stars!

 

 

 

7/28/14: The Big Lebowski

TBL

[The Dude] “Let me explain something to you, man, while I sip this Caucasian. Um, today, I am not Paulie. And I’m sure as Hell not Mr. Marino. Today, I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, El Dude-Marino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Back in Waterbury, there was this friend of mine… a fella I wanna tell ya about, man. Fella by the name of Dave Biello, man. Now this story I’m about to unfold took place back in 1983 when I was first got married & we lived in the 2nd floor apartment of a Victorian. Dave was a huge Deadhead, a good man. He was one of us. Even if he drank too much. He was a lot of fun, man, until the end of the night when he was drunk & belligerent. Most of the time he was a pacifist. But not at the end of the night, man. That’s when we all used to call him The Monster. If he fell asleep, ‘Don’t wake up the monster, man!’. One night after a party in our apartment, The Monster fell asleep on the sofa. I woke up around 3:00 a.m. to some rumbling in the living room, ya know, man? Dave had his weiner out, a window to the porch open, and he was babbling about the toilet. Well to Hell with that, man! I woke The Monster; and stopped him from peeing out onto the porch. Instead, he peed on my rug! The Monster peed on The Dude’s rug. On 11/3/07, Dave died of a heart attack & 3 days later we committed his final mortal remains to the earth which he loved so well.” You know, man, I was watching Beauty & the Beast the other day & thinkin’: We were kinda afraid The Monster back then, but what really sucks is “no one pees on El Dude-Marino’s rug anymore! [Normal voice] Good night, Little Prince.

Jeff Bridges, the voice of The Aviator in Mark Osborne’s 2015 animated feature, The Little Prince, stars as The Dude, in The Coen Brothers The Big Lebowski. The Dude, a slacker who loves to party & go bowling, has disavowed his given name, Jeffrey Lebowski. One day, he’s mistaken for the rich paraplegic, Jeffrey ‘The Big’ Lebowski (David Huddleston) who owes someone a lot of money. The Dude is roughed up to expedite the payment & one of the Thugs, the Chinaman Woo (Philip Moon), pees on his rug. The Dude’s best friends are his bowling teammates, very bi-polar & hilarious Walter (John Goodman) and dim-witted Donny (Steve Buschemi). The story is told by The Stranger (Sam Elliott). Julianne Moore & Philip Seymour Hoffman are fantastic as The Big Lebowski’s daughter, Maude, an artist who paints in the nude, and Brandt, his sycophantic assistant.

The Big Lebowski received no Oscar nominations. The Coens have many & 4 wins; plus 2 nominations as Roderick Jaynes, their Film Editor pseudonym. Other siblings in the movie industry who’ve worked together on films include: The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges & his brother Beau (The Fabulous Baker Boys); Charlie Sheen & Emilio Estevez (Young Guns and Men at Work); Casey & Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone and Good Will Hunting); Walt & Roy O. Disney worked on 6 films together including Steamboat Willie; Jake Gyllenhaal was Donnie Darko and Maggie played his sister; Francis Ford Coppola’s sister is Talia Shire (Connie in the Godfather trilogy); The Marxes were Brothers. The Coens are the best director brothers, but Andy & Larry Wachowski (The Matrix) are the most interesting. In 2008, Larry became Lana. Oh, and the Kaufman twins, Charlie & Donald, nominated for their Screenplay Adaptation for Adaptation. in 2003 at the 75th Oscars. But Donald doesn’t exist. Charlie wrote him. That’s the Academy’s tale of mistaken identity; and at the end of this Blog, you’ll find the trailer for The Coen Brothers’ tale of mistaken identity, The Big Lebowski. 4 Stars!

 

7/25/14: Amadeus (9/19/14)

Amadeus

Some of you know how much I love Jerry Garcia. On 4/23/77, [reverently] “he came…to the Springfield Civic Center. That night…changed my life. I was quite immobile – in a sling with my left arm badly broken & my left shoulder shattered. Everyone else was dancing wildly. On the stage, he looked like nothing, wearing a black t-shirt & brown corduroys. The lights…were simple, almost comic: Like a rusty squeezebox. When the music started, it was just a pulse – bass & rhythm section. Then suddenly – high above it – lead guitar, a single note, hanging there unwavering, until Jerry’s vocals took over & sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no performance by an aging hippie! This was a music I’d never heard; filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it made me tremble. It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God.” And I went on “searching for the sound”, seeing shows by the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Band whenever possible; a total of [slowly] 115 more times; the last on 6/25/95 – RFK Stadium. Then, on 8/9/95, “that fateful day”: “The day…the music…died!” It all ended. Cindy called me at The Hartford and told me to sit down. She said, “Jerry died!”. My response was, “Jerry who?” And then it hit me. It’s impossible to describe how traumatic it was! “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror & were silenced.” Our connection was so close though I never met this genius that I felt certain in the days to come that it was my fault. I was not trying to be my best & this was my punishment. “Alas, poor Jerry, I knew him, Horatio!” “Jerryyyyy! Jerry, I confess, I killed you! Forgive me, Jerry!”

Amadeus - GDAmadeus - RFKAmadeus - 8995Amadeus - ForceAmadeus - Alas

Music is like no other art form. For those of us of a certain mentality, it can drive you crazy. And that’s one of the themes Miloš Forman explores in Amadeus. F. Murray Abraham is composer Antonio Salieri in an insane asylum in 1823 telling Father Vogler (Richard Frank) the story of his relationship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), that began more than 40 years earlier. He’s was put in the asylum relatively recently because he blames himself for Mozart’s death and, as a result, tried to commit suicide. Salieri is simultaneously obsessively jealous of & sycophantically in awe of Wolfgang & his music. Hulce was nominated for Best Actor in 1985 at the 57th Academy Awards; Abraham took home the Oscar. 2 more great performances: Elizabeth Berridge as Stanze, Mozart’s wife; and Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph.

 

Amadeus - MilosAmadeus - VoglerAmadeus - HulceAmadeus - SalieriAmadeus - StanzeAmadeus - Jones

 

Amadeus was nominated for 9 additional Oscars, winning 7 of them, including Best Director and Picture. Best Picture was presented by a 77 year old Sir Laurence Olivier who, beginning to show signs of dementia, opened the envelope & read the winner but not the nominees. Although music crucial to the picture, it was not nominated for Best Song or Original Score. Because, of course, the score – the music which accompanies the action & sets the mood for the film, or in this case drives the action & mood – is not original; much of it is Mozart; a bit Salieri. Amadeus’ soundtrack is fantastic. A film’s soundtrack differs from its score in that the soundtrack is a product that accompanies the film for independent or packaged sale, consisting of some or all of its music. These days, soundtracks are sold on CD. The first soundtrack was a package of 78 RPM records of the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. All but 2 tracks of Amadeus’ 2 CD Soundtrack LP are Mozart. So watch the trailer below then add the movie to your Netflix Queue.  4 Stars! “Well, there it is.” http://www.hark.com/clips/jfkwbnrbhh-laughing

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