Author Archives: Phil Paine - Page 3

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Some hand­some Vic­to­ri­ans not far from my more hum­ble apart­ment.

FILMSMARCH 2019

(Joffe 2017) Tin Star: Ep.1 ― Fun and (S)Laughter
(Rye 2011) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.91 ― Mur­der of Inno­cence
(Sil­ber­ston 1998) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.3 — Death of a Hol­low Man
(Rye 2012) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.92 ― Writ­ten in the Stars
(Tay­lor 1998) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.4 — Faith­ful Unto Death
(McNaughton 1974) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.41 ― Michael Ellis
(Moore 1976) Mur­der By Death
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First-time listening for March 2019

30148. Has­saniya Music From The West­ern Sahara And Mau­ri­ta­nia
30149. (John Foxx) Meta­mat­ic
30150. (Queen­srÿche) The Warn­ing
30151. (Daniel Avery) Song for Alpha
30152. (Toshio Hosokawa) Voice­less in Hiroshi­ma, Ora­to­rio for Soloists, Nar­ra­tors, Cho­rus &
. . . . . Tape ad lib
30153. (Juliana Daugh­er­ty) Light
30154. (Child­ish Gam­bi­no) Poindex­ter [mix­tape]
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READINGMARCH 2019

27649. (Michael Breen) The New Kore­ans
27650. (Kon­stan­ti­nos Kopa­nias & Sher­ry C. Fox) Head­shap­ing and Iden­ti­ty at Tell Nad­er
. . . . . [arti­cle]
27651. (M. Ginolfi, et al) Where Does Galac­tic Dust Come From? [arti­cle]
27652. (Hergé) Tintin au Con­go
27653. (John T. Koch) Hα C1α ≠ PC [The Ear­li­est Hall­statt Iron Age Can­not Equal Pro­to-
. . . . . Celtic] [arti­cle]
27654. (W. D. Val­gar­d­son) Thor
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(Richardson 1965) The Loved One

This is the kind of film that should be seen by hap­pen­stance. A delib­er­ate view­ing can’t match the deli­cious plea­sure of stum­bling upon it by chance. I real­ly shouldn’t even be telling you about it.

In 1947, the British nov­el­ist Eve­lyn Waugh was approached by Hol­ly­wood for a pos­si­ble film­ing of his nov­el Brideshead Revis­it­ed. The book’s two essen­tial com­po­nents were a heavy dose of the mys­ti­cal upper-class Catholi­sism which exists only in Eng­land and bears no resem­blance to Catholi­cism any­where else, and a steamy homo­sex­u­al yearn­ing that man­ages to nev­er men­tion homo­sex­u­al­i­ty. The idea that this would have been made into a film even vague­ly resem­bling the orig­i­nal was ludi­crous, but Waugh was hap­py to let Hol­ly­wood give him an all-expense-paid trip to Los Ange­les to hag­gle. Waugh had no inten­tion of going through with the deal. Waugh was a snob — he was revolt­ed that “low­er-class” ser­vice peo­ple spoke to him as an equal, detest­ed Amer­i­can infor­mal­i­ty, and com­plained about every­thing. But snobs often write the best satire (think Thack­er­ay), as they have no com­punc­tions about hurt­ing people’s feel­ings. Hol­ly­wood is a bizarre, arti­fi­cial, and goofy place even for Amer­i­cans, and Waugh found plen­ty of mate­r­i­al for his next satir­i­cal nov­el, The Loved One, which appeared in 1948. He was par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by Amer­i­cans’ pecu­liar atti­tudes towards death and (to a Brit) weird funer­al cus­toms. The plot is sim­ple: A young Eng­lish­man with a posh edu­ca­tion but no par­tic­u­lar ambi­tion wins a trip to Hol­ly­wood, and stays with an Uncle who is a stal­wart in the expat British com­mu­ni­ty in the film stu­dios. His host com­mits sui­cide, leav­ing him to fend for him­self on this alien plan­et. Attend­ing to his uncle’s funer­al, he becomes involved with Aimée Thanatogenos, an embalmer work­ing at Whis­per­ing Glades Ceme­tery, a spec­tac­u­lar­ly vul­gar Dis­ney­land of Death cre­at­ed by the mega­lo­ma­ni­ac Blessed Rev­erend Glen­wor­thy. He encoun­ters an assort­ment of lunatics, all of them dis­play­ing extreme ver­sions of Amer­i­can cul­ture that Waugh found offen­sive and laugh­able. As in many of Waugh’s books, and many of the same ilk, the “hero” dis­plays no notice­able virtues oth­er than not being one of the loonies. 

Tony Richard­son, a British direc­tor who had scored big with crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed and finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful films (Look Back in Anger; The Enter­tain­er; A Taste of Hon­ey; The Lone­li­ness of the Long Dis­tance Run­ner; Tom Jones) filmed the book in 1965. The script was writ­ten by the wild­ly unlike­ly com­bi­na­tion of Ter­ry South­ern and Christo­pher Ish­er­wood. South­ern is not much read now, but in 1965 he was in lit­er­ary vogue, and usu­al­ly paired with Kurt Von­negut as a satirist. Ish­er­wood was a gay play­wright and nov­el­ist who had chron­i­cled the sex­u­al under­ground of Weimar Ger­many, and would lat­er reach a wide audi­ence with Cabaret. Waugh had vicious­ly car­i­ca­tured Ish­er­wood in one of his nov­els, but in that cat­ty lit­er­ary crowd such things appar­ent­ly did not mat­ter much. The film script sticks fair­ly close to the book, but adds a some scenes that make it fit in bet­ter with 1965. These addi­tions would, I sus­pect, have been fine with Waugh. Visu­al­ly, the film is a feast. Every shot fills the eye with details just as fun­ny as the sit­u­a­tions and the dia­log. Every cut serves a satir­ic pur­pose. But the real bonan­za is the cast­ing. Aimée Thanatogenos is played to per­fec­tion by Anjanette Cormer, whose remark­able tal­ent was nev­er well-used by Hol­ly­wood. The Eng­lish hero is played by Robert Morse, one of the few Amer­i­can actors at the time who could con­vinc­ing­ly play an Eng­lish­man — while the vul­gar Amer­i­can film mogul is played by Rod­dy Mac­Dowall, then still best known as a for­mer Eng­lish child star. Lib­er­ace turns in a hilar­i­ous per­for­mance as a funer­al direc­tor — he real­ly missed a chance to be a great com­ic film actor. Jonathan Win­ters plays both the Rev­erend Glen­wor­thy and his incom­pe­tent twin broth­er, mak­ing each char­ac­ter a gem. Rod Steiger chews the scenery with the moth­er-obsessed and near­ly psy­chot­ic Mr. Joy­boy. Paul Williams is a child rock­et sci­en­tist. The actu­al Hol­ly­wood Eng­lish Con­tin­gent (reg­u­lar­ly cast as “Lords and but­lers”) essen­tial­ly play them­selves: John Giel­gud, Robert Mor­ley, Alan Napi­er. Mil­ton Berle, James Coburn, Mar­garet Leighton, Bar­bara Nichols, Lionel Stander, and Bernie Kopell do well-craft­ed bits. There are numer­ous Hol­ly­wood in-jokes that the audi­ence could hard­ly have been expect­ed to catch. For exam­ple, the cow­boy film star who is being absurd­ly voice-coached by the stu­dio to play an Eng­lish Lord is played by Robert Eas­t­on. Eas­t­on was him­self a voice coach, and one of the worlds great­est author­i­ties on Eng­lish dialects. Many in the cast were clos­et­ed gays. Tab Hunter plays a tour guide! 

It’s extra­or­di­nary that this satir­i­cal film, made 54 years ago, based on a book writ­ten 71 years ago, remains rel­e­vant and bit­ing­ly fun­ny.

Image of the Month

19-03-01 BLOG Image of the Month

FILMSFEBRUARY 2019

(Kagan 1974) Judge Dee and the Monastery Mur­ders
(Malle 1971) Mur­mur of the Heart [Le souf­fle au coeur]
(McNaughton 1973) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.37 ― Den­nis Moore
(McNaughton 1973) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.38 ― A Book at Bed­time
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.678 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 1
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.679 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 2
(Ritt 1963) Hud
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.680 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 3
(Ware­ing 1989) Doc­tor Who: Ep.681 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 4
(Seltzer 1986) Lucas
(Guð­munds­son 2014) Ártún
(Sil­ber­ling 2004) Lemo­ny Snicket’s A Series of Unfor­tu­nate Events
(Lourié 1953) The Beast from 20,000 Fath­oms
(Elston 2013) The Oth­er Pom­peii: Life & Death in Her­cu­la­neum
(Mar­cus 2007) Roman Mys­ter­ies: Ep.3 ― The Pirates of Pom­peii, Part 1
(Hitch­cock 1936) Sab­o­tage
(Liu & Li 2008) Jus­tice Bao [包青天; Bāo Qīng Tiān]: Ep.1 ― Beat­ing the Drag­on Robe
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First-time listening for February 2019

30088. (Nic­colò Pagani­ni) Sonata #2 in D for Vio­lin & Gui­tar “Cen­tone di Sonate”, Op.64a
. . . . . MS112 #2
30089. (Nic­colò Pagani­ni) Grande Sonata for Vio­lin & Gui­tar in A, Op.39 MS3
30090. (Nic­colò Pagani­ni) Sonata Con­cer­ta­ta for Gui­tar & Vio­lin in A, Op.61 MS2
30091. (Nic­colò Pagani­ni) Cantabile in D for Vio­lin and Gui­tar, Op.17 MS109
30092. (Waka Floc­ka Flame) Big Homie Floc­ka
30093. (Wreck­less Eric) The Won­der­ful World of Wreck­less Eric
30094. (Avril Lav­i­gne) Let Go
30095. (Guil­laume Dufay) Ave Maris Stel­la
30096. (Guil­laume Dufay) Ave Regi­na Coelo­rum à 4
30097. (Gruff Rhys) Babels­burg
30098. (Demi Lova­to) Don’t For­get
30099. (John Gay & Johann Pepusch) The Beggar’s Opera [com­plete opera; d. Sar­gent;
. . . . . Cameron, Mori­son, Sin­clair]
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READINGFEBRUARY 2019

27625. (Alber­to Ren­zul­li et al) Pan­tel­le­ria Island as a Cen­tre of Pro­duc­tion for the Archa­ic
. . . . . Phoeni­cian Trade in Basaltic Mill­stones [arti­cle]
27626. (Kenan Işik & Rifat Kuvanç) A New Part of Horse Trap­ping Belong­ing to Urart­ian King
. . . . . Min­ua from Adana Archae­ol­o­gy Museim and on Urišḫi-Urišḫusi-Urur­da Words in
. . . . . Urart­ian [arti­cle]
27627. (Fri­da Beck­man) Gilles Deleuze
27628. (Gina L. Barnes) Chi­na, Korea and Japan ― The Rise of Civ­i­liza­tion in East Asia
27629. (John T. Toth) For­ma­tion of the Indo-Euro­pean Branch­es in the Light of the
. . . . . Archaeo­ge­net­ic Rev­o­lu­tion [arti­cle]
27630. (Nuwan Abey­war­dana et al) Indige­nous Agri­cul­tur­al Sys­tems in the Dry Zone of Sri
. . . . . Lan­ka: Man­age­ment Trans­for­ma­tion Assess­ment and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty [arti­cle]
27631. (William S. Ayres) Review of Rapanui: Tra­di­tion and Sur­vival on East­er Island by
. . . . . Grant McCall [review]

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Two Wild Spirits: Heinrich and Ives

19-02-26 MUS Ives

Charles Ives

Anthony Heinrich

Antho­ny Hein­rich

Those of us who admire a wild and irrev­er­ent spir­it in music have long looked to Charles Ives (1874–1954) as our patron saint. With his mul­ti­met­ric chaos, his noisy brass bands, cheer­ful mix­ing of pop­u­lar and clas­si­cal themes, his tem­po­ral dys­syn­chronies and his star­tling flights into the infi­nite, he ful­filled every require­ment for an eccen­tric genius ahead of his time. And he was pro­found­ly, quin­tes­sen­tial­ly Amer­i­can. But he was lit­tle known in his life­time. The bulk of his com­po­si­tions were writ­ten then tucked away, unper­formed, in a New Eng­land barn while he pur­sued a more suc­cess­ful career as an insur­ance sales­man. He also pub­lished pam­phlets advo­cat­ing what we would now call “direct democ­ra­cy” and got into a heat­ed argu­ment with a young Franklin Roo­sevelt over his idea of pro­mot­ing gov­ern­ment bonds cheap enough for the ordi­nary cit­i­zen. But it was not until the 1960’s that his works were fre­quent­ly played, and his name became famil­iar to clas­si­cal musi­cians and lis­ten­ers. Much of this change came about through the ardent advo­ca­cy of con­duc­tor Leonard Bern­stein. It is pos­si­ble to lis­ten to a per­for­mance of Ives’ Sym­pho­ny #4 today and expe­ri­ence it as “mod­ern, avant-garde music” even though it was com­posed in the 1910s! (It wasn’t per­formed until 1965).

But fas­ci­nat­ing as Ives is, he is not alone in the sto­ry of Amer­i­can music. Anoth­er com­pos­er, liv­ing a full cen­tu­ry before him, shared many of Ives’ char­ac­ter­is­tics. Like Ives, he was self-taught, eccen­tric, exper­i­men­tal and ahead of his time. Like Ives, he wore his patri­o­tism on his sleeve, loved loud nois­es and order dis­guised as chaos, and was drawn to tran­scen­den­tal themes. He died 13 years before Ives was born, and Ives prob­a­bly nev­er heard of him. Unlike Ives, how­ev­er, he has found no high-pro­file cham­pi­on. His works are played only occa­sion­al­ly and few peo­ple have heard them. 

The man in ques­tion was Antho­ny Philip Hein­rich. He was born in 1781, in the north­ern­most vil­lage of Bohemia, in what was then a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Ger­man-speak­ing part of that land. Like Ives, he pur­sued a suc­cess­ful career as a busi­ness­man, rel­e­gat­ing music to a hob­by. But the Napoleon­ic wars ruined him, and he found him­self pen­ni­less in Boston in 1810. He plunged into a new life enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly, deter­mined to be a wan­der­ing musi­cian on the open­ing fron­tier. He trav­eled most­ly on foot, liv­ing rough, through Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio and Ken­tucky. This expe­ri­ence instilled in him a pro­found love of nature and an ide­al­is­tic patri­o­tism for his adopt­ed coun­try. Final­ly he set­tled in a log cab­in in Ken­tucky and began to com­pose. Amer­i­ca as yet had no real sym­pho­ny orches­tras and few trained musi­cians. His larg­er com­po­si­tions could only be played in Europe. Even­tu­al­ly, he par­tic­i­pat­ed in found­ing the New York Phil­har­mon­ic, and achieved some pub­lic suc­cess, but this quick­ly fad­ed, and he died, reduced again to pover­ty, in 1861.

His music not only drew on Amer­i­can folk music and on the melodies and rhythms of Native Amer­i­cans [Comanche Rev­el; Man­i­tou Mys­ter­ies; The Cherokee’s Lament; Sioux Gal­liarde], but it was sat­u­rat­ed with the sig­na­ture ele­ment of Amer­i­can music: impro­vi­sa­tion. Musi­col­o­gists would no doubt clas­si­fy him as his century’s most con­sis­tent prac­ti­tion­er of musi­cal inde­ter­mi­na­cy. Bird song filled his music, which often sport­ed spec­tac­u­lar­ly grand ornitho­log­i­cal titles: The Columbi­ad, or Migra­tion of Amer­i­can Wild Pas­sen­ger Pigeons and The Ornitho­log­i­cal Com­bat of Kings. Per­haps the piece that sums him up is the vocal/orchestral suite, The Dawn­ing of Music in Ken­tucky, or, the Plea­sures of Har­mo­ny in the Soli­tudes of Nature. Noth­ing he com­posed fol­lowed the musi­cal con­ven­tions of Europe. Alto­geth­er, I’ve heard 18 of his works, and all of them gave me plea­sure, while some of them seemed to me both rad­i­cal and pro­found. In oth­er words, the qual­i­ties that drew me to Ives were present in Hein­rich a cen­tu­ry before. 

It’s impor­tant, in this dark time for Amer­i­ca, to remem­ber that the nation that has sunk to the lev­el of elect­ing a scur­rilous con-man, crim­i­nal and trai­tor to its high­est office has in the past, over and over again, nur­tured cre­ative men and women imbued with the spir­it of lib­er­ty, and will no doubt do so again. At this moment, I’m lis­ten­ing nei­ther to Ives nor Hein­rich, but to a coun­try-rock album from 1968, The Wichi­ta Train Whis­tle Sings. It’s by Mike Nesmith, remem­bered most­ly as being one of television’s Mon­kees, but actu­al­ly a man of var­ied tal­ents. You can hear many ele­ments of Hein­rich and Ives bub­bling through this almost, but not quite for­got­ten album. And they are bub­bling in many works by singers, com­posers, garage bands, rap­pers, and elec­tron­ic artists today. To use anoth­er Mike Nesmith album title: And the Hits Just Keep On Comin’.