|Saw  Os Desafinados [Out of Tune] (2006, Walter Lima Jr.), which amounts, roughly, to the Brazilian That Thing You Do, following the tribulations of a fictional bossa group though '50s/'60s Brazil, and for at least 1/2 the movie, NYC, where they go to crash one of the famous Carnegie Hall concerts that brought the style to public notice in the U.S.. Nice thread early on where an American producer buys the rights to one of their originals for the seemingly princely sum of $1000, and then proceeds to register a crappy English version of the lyrics in his own name. Other than that, disappointingly inspecific about the particulars of how this kind of music came to be (for that you can read Ruy Castro, I guess), but not off the mark, in a generalized way, as to the joys and tensions of playing and writing together at a certain age. Not that there aren't elements of the fantastic, as when the group wanders into a recreated Village Vanguard and begins jamming, w/o invitation or prearrangement on "Take the A Train" (an unlikely choice in that sort of club in the mid-'50s) with the cats on the bandstand to general acclaim -- evidence, I guess, of how thin the line is between what people (and filmmakers) want from a "musical" and movie "about music." Once the film gets back to Rio, the '64 coup in comes in eventually, mostly so there can be some suspense around the band's filmmaker buddy's attempt to smuggle his film out of the country; later, the group's composer/pianist is kidnapped and killed in an Argentine prison, leading to protest concerts at which the bassist has suddenly turned into, essentially, Gilberto Gil. Far more of the movie is given over to romantic hocket among two of the band members, the stalwart wife of one, and an Anglo-Brazilian singer/flautist -- the film's Jeanne Moreau/muse figure -- they meet in America. (The latter is played by Cláudia Abreu, a lithe Siena Miller type with a distractingly Anistonian 'do.) Both the young guys in the band and their older counterparts in the contemporary framing sections are likeable; a final sequence, however, in which the muse-figure's son shows up and "brings the old gang back together despite it all" for a group sing of the title tune, is hard to take. A much slicker entertainment than I'd been expecting -- I hope that the other films I mean to see in MoMA's "Premiere Brazil" series (esp. Basic Sanitation: The Movie) have less of an air of transplanted Hollywood.|
Saw  Lullaby of Broadway (1951, David Butler). Opening shot replicates Busby B's famous slow dolly up to a disembodied head (here, Day's) from Gold Diggers of 1935 (there, Wini Shaw's, I think), which has the effect of making one conscious of just how bizarre the scale of a face on a movie screen is. Has anyone noted the affinity between this and Wavelength? That's the only interesting thought I had during this barely-ok musical, in which: Day is amusing and fresh but not, despite a couple of classic reaction-pouts, the comic actress she'd become; "Cuddles" Sakall, on loan from Metro, receives, thankfully, much more screen time than the nominal male lead, a very boring Gene Nelson; Gladys George is quite touching as Day's alkie mother; the song choices are an unmotivated grab bag of catalog items; and all the choreography is at the level of what you'd expect to see from nightclub "terp" duos of the kind that used to be reviewed in Variety.
free music, discography, etc. here
- The format I've been attempting here for the last ...
- 24. Stars Like Fleas, The Ken Burns Effect
- 22-23. American Music Club, The Golden Age, Mark E...
- Cost of replacement aside: things I'm least happy ...
- 21. The Paragons, My Best Girl Wears My Crown
- 20. Bruce Springsteen, Magic
- p. 123, you're it
- 19. Big Dipper, Supercluster
- 18. Juno, Encores! at City Center, 3/30
- 17. Alex Hassan, Phantom Fingers