Sunday, August 10, 2008


I Never Sang for My Father (1970, Gilbert Cates)
Antonia’s Line (1995, Marleen Gorris)
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937, Leo McCarey)
Madadayo (1993, Akira Kurosawa)
Tokyo Story (1953, Yasujiro Ozu)
Saraband (2003, Ingmar Bergman)
The Notebook (2004, Nick Cassavetes)
Calendar Girls (2003, Nigel Cole)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989, Bruce Beresford)
Elsa and Fred (2005, Marcos Carnevale)
Harry and Tonto (1974, Paul Mazursky)
Safe House (1998, Eric Steven Stahl)
Tatie Danielle (1991, Etienne Chatiliez
The Shameless Old Lady (1965, Rene Allio)
Love in the Time of Cholera (2007, Mike Newell)
The Memory of a Killer (2003, Erik Van Looy)
Evening (2007, Lajos Koltai)
Boynton Beach Club (2005, Susan Seidelman)
Cocoon (1985, Ron Howard)
Venus (2006, Roger Michell)
Nobody’s Fool (1994, Robert Benton)
The Battle of Narayama (1983, Shohei Imamura)
The Gin Game (2003, Aaron Brown)
Harold and Maude (1971, Hal Ashby)
The Bucket List (2007, Rob Reiner)
Starting Out in the Evening (2007, Andrew Wagner)
Kotch (1971, Jack Lemmon)
The Lion in Winter (1968, Anthony Harvey)
A Thousand Acres (1997, Jocelyn Moorhouse)
The Sunshine Boys (1975, Herbert Ross)
Dad (1989, Gary David Goldberg)
Tell Me A Riddle (1980, Lee Grant)
Grumpy Old Men (1993, Donald Petri)
Being There (1979, Hal Ashby)
Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975, Sam O’Steen)

These, of course, complement Dr. Dennis McCullough’s picks from my previous post:

Umberto D. (1952, Dir. Vittorio De Sica)
Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
On Golden Pond (1981, Mark Rydell)
The Trip to Bountiful (1985, Peter Masterson)
Foxfire (1987, Jud Taylor)
The Whales of August (1987, Lindsay Anderson)
Everybody’s Fine (1990, Giuseppe Tornatore)
The Company of Strangers (also called Strangers in Good Company, 1991, Cynthia Scott)
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway
(1993, Randa Haines)
To Dance With the White Dog (1994, Glenn Jordan)
Buena Vista Social Club (1998, Wim Wenders)
The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)
Innocence (2000, Paul Cox)
Iris (2001, Richard Eyre)
About Schmidt (2002, Alexander Payne)
Secondhand Lions (2003, Tim McCanlies)
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005, Dan Ireland)
Aurora Borealis (2004, James Burke)
The Savages (2007, Tamara Jenkins)
Away From Her (2006, Sarah Polley)

Next up? Fictional accounts of old age.

I’ll start.

Patrimony (by Philip Roth)
The Optimist’s Daughter (by Eudora Welty)
As We Are Now (by May Sarton)
Angle of Repose (by Wallace Stegner)

Several years ago, I invited some nonmusical friends to my concert of Shostakovich Symphony 5. Beforehand, I gave the couple a CD so they could have a listen before the live performance. I didn't really want to bore them with my "vast" knowledge of the work, composer's miserable life, or why it is significant in history. That was in the program notes with the CD, which I encouraged them to read. If they had any questions after that or wanted more info, I told them to feel free to ask.

After the concert, I was eager to hear how they liked the performance.

"It was fine, sounded like the recording," said one friend.

That was it? I wanted to ask if they were moved by such a powerful and important work but my other friend started into her experience.

"We listened to the CD, and purposely chose not to read the jacket," she said. "We felt we wanted to listen on a blank slate, gather our own conclusions and see if more explanation was necessary. Having lost a friend to cancer earlier this month, I felt that the first movement expressed every possible emotion that I felt. The last movement to me was a sheer powerful force that beckoned me into wanting to live life to the fullest and enjoy every bit since my friend was no longer able to."

I was touched by her response and it sounded perfectly logical, so I asked the first friend why he had such a mediocre reaction.

"Well, the conductor gave too much information before the concert," he said. "He gave us historical facts that were interesting, and probably to a few in the audience, it was important. But for us, it took away our own personal meaning. We felt like ‘our piece' was no longer ours. Plus if we wanted a lengthy history lesson, well you know."

Neo Classical by Holly Mulcahy
February 4, 2008

The music the BBC banned

God-bothering was out until the mid-Sixties, which meant that Billy Fury's gorgeous My Christmas Prayer had no airplay. Equally sinful, in the committee's eyes, was having the audacity to reshape a classical tune into something more swinging. One barbarian at the gates was Perry Como: I'm Always Chasing Rainbows was his rendition of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C sharp minor. “This is a bad perversion of a Chopin melody and should be barred,” the BBC snarled, and, even in 1963, they stopped Ken Dodd's cover version from being broadcast.

The reason for this was the place on the committee of the conductor Sir Arthur Bliss. His wrath was incurred by such unlikely revolutionaries as Liberace and Mantovani, and the score of Kismet, borrowed from Borodin, which meant that MOR standards such as Stranger in Paradise and Baubles, Bangles and Beads were rarely heard. Bliss was a particularly stormy weather vane: while he considered Tony Bennett's version of Stranger in Paradise to be sufficiently tasteful (it reached No 1), the Four Aces' sprightlier version was out of bounds. Meanwhile, kids with flick knives were slashing cinema seats at screenings of Blackboard Jungle.

Brian Eno & David Byrne

He (Eno) adds: “Without even discussing it that much, we shared a feeling about what kind of record this should be. We both wanted to make an album that combined something human, fallible and personal with something very electronic and mathematical. We wanted to paint a picture of the human trying to survive in an increasingly digital world.” Which sounds a bit Radiohead, both in sentiment and in the way that the album is being released via the internet before it comes out on CD. “Yes. It’s deliberate,” Eno says. “I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped buying CDs”.

But surely the huge sales of the Coldplay album proved that the CD format wasn’t dead? “It’s changing. There are lots of new ways you hear about music now. I hardly go into record shops any more. I buy from iTunes.”

On his website Byrne goes one farther. “In the past, I might have undertaken all kinds of expensive marketing plans to prepare for a record release. It’s going to be interesting to see if audiences find out about this record solely through internet word-of-mouth.”

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