Skip’s Quips: Details on the ‘Interiors’ Doctrine

Blog Sketch 082813These days, I refuse to see any Woody Allen movie made after 1975.

That’s right: I didn’t see Blue Jasmine. You know why? Because I already know I won’t like it.

Plus, Mia Farrow told me years ago that I have a “beautiful singing voice,” so I do kinda feel biased. But that’s another story.

The problem is, I just don’t care for any of Allen’s films with serious themes. Even Annie Hall; it just isn’t my favorite. The non-humorous dialogue and situations peppering his later pictures aren’t credible in my book. And I can’t help but wonder why he gravitated to such content after making some of the most hilarious films to hit the screen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Those include Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death, laugh-a-minute jokefests that, to my mind, are of higher quality and greater import than anything he has made since. He’s a terrific comedian. Why does he seem to feel an all-comedy flick is beneath him?

I’ve remarked before on the phenomenon of great comic actors taking on serious roles in, perhaps, an effort to be recognized for more “significant” work. Yet I wonder sometimes about a theory I have: that great actors are often great comedians, yet great comedians aren’t always great actors. It is just a theory, but it has held true in many a case.

Don’t worry; I’m not gonna patent it or anything.

Woody’s not going to go back in time, I assume, and recreate the past. We’ll just have to live with his annual or semiannual churnout of lackluster, serious films dotted with big stars. And I will have to live with not going to see them. What price contentment, huh?

I’ll just put on Sleeper instead.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Pitching the Prowess of Classical Music

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613The best thing The King’s Speech ever did was remind people that Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is a brilliant piece of music.

Yes, it’s a good movie. Well-scripted, well-acted. But without that majestic second movement boosting the oratory at the end, it’s just another serviceable biopic.

Which leads me to wonder why filmmakers don’t use the strains of the immortal Ludwig van—or, for that matter, any great classical composer—more often.

Sure, that second from the Seventh had a precedent—John Boorman’s confused and often frustrating sci-fier Zardoz. And there’s no shortage of Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange.

But there’s a host of cinematically appropriate works out there by classical masters, and it’s a marvel that Hollywood hasn’t mined this trove thoroughly.

Schubert lieder. Stravinsky ballets. Brahms symphonies.

Boorman at least had the right idea, and his use of Wagner’s Parsifal and Götterdämmerung in his Arthurian epic Excalibur made up for his Zardozian miscues. Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola also hit the mark with their application of Cavalleria Rusticana in Raging Bull and The Godfather Part III, respectively. Even Woody Allen rang true with all that heady S. Prokofiev in Love and Death—though it assuredly was in homage to the master musician’s collaborations with Eisenstein.

I want to see more directors do this. There’s plenty of classical pieces out there that can have a symbiotic effect: enhancing a motion picture considerably while renewing interest in the music. It would be deserved interest, too, and perhaps save these works from being confined solely to connoisseurs’ quarters. Plus, it would expose more folks to these compositions, sell more soundtracks and prevent people from thinking Alex North’s scores should’ve replaced the tunes in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Would every film have the impact The King’s Speech had? No. But it would be a smart beginning, and the potential benefits are significant.

As long as Hollywood doesn’t get its hands on any Mahler symphonies, that is.