When you’re looking for Carmen Miranda to save a movie, you know something’s really wrong with it.
I was hoping for a bit of that salvation from Miranda while watching Nancy Goes to Rio, a generally flat, dreary musical starring the famous Latin personality, along with Ann Sothern and Jane Powell. Try as she might, however, Miranda wasn’t able to salvage quality from the wreckage, and I ultimately had to turn the film off in frustration.
It wasn’t funny. The songs were poor. What more could you not want?
All kidding aside, I do like Miranda a lot; I just wished this movie was a little better … and that she was onscreen more often. She did liven the proceedings to a certain extent, but unfortunately she seemed to take a back seat to the blah storyline and uninteresting main characters played by Sothern and Powell.
My biggest concern with the flick, though, was the music, which was remarkably subpar. That includes the dreadful title number, a repetitious little ditty with a dull melody and weak lyrics. The other songs didn’t fare much better. In a musical, you just gotta have good tunes. There’s no way around that.
Needless to say, I won’t be watching the rest of this picture any time soon.
No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with the movies. Instead, it concerns a great mystery: Why I keep seeing the Met Orchestra perform at New York City venues.
Yes, this is a fantastic group of musicians, and its conductor, the estimable James Levine, is one of the best out there today. But this is the umpth time I’ve attended concerts featuring this orchestra within only a few months, and I’m not even a subscriber to the Metropolitan Opera.
Don’t get me wrong … I don’t mind these concerts a bit. In fact, they’ve been terrific. For example, yesterday afternoon at Carnegie Hall, I saw and listened to wonderful renditions of Beethoven’s Second Symphony and Schumann’s Second, Dvorak and Strauss songs warbled by famed soprano Anna Netrebko, and some dreadfully noisy Elliott Carter “Illusions” that seemed quite out of place in the presence of such melodic masterpieces. In general, the afternoon was brilliant, and the sound produced was exciting, with Carnegie Hall’s renowned acoustics doing the great pieces justice.
I just wonder why I’ve been present so frequently at the Met Orchestra’s performances of late. Is it destiny? Fate? It’s like I’m in some Wagner opera dealing with predetermination.
At this juncture, it’s not clear when the next concert will be. I suspect, thought, that it’ll be sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to go back and dig the movies you loved in childhood as much after becoming an adult, but I’d say Meet Me in St. Louis stands the test of time. This favorite of old has a real evergreen quality, with charming, tuneful songs, able performances and vibrant direction.
So why haven’t I seen it that often?
It’s not always on TV; there’s one reason. And the fact is, I chanced upon it last night on the telly. For some reason, I don’t seek it out like I do other movies. I guess that’s too bad. It’s really worth looking for.
Of course, it’s Judy Garland’s movie, and she’s terrific in it. The film basically glows, and it’s mostly because of her; she sings the marvelous tunes with such feeling that you’re likely to join her in regaling your loved ones with the catchy melodies. I did, despite the fact that my pipes are nowhere near what Garland’s were.
That didn’t stop me, however.
Meet Me in St. Louis is one of those pictures that has aged as gracefully as a fine wine, and it’s one of the few flicks that remains as good now as it did when I was a kid. I’m happy about that; it makes revisiting my childhood all the more special while allowing me to retain a grown-up’s perspective. You don’t get that chance too often. You’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts.
I’m doing that right now.
It turns out that I didn’t watch Searching for Sugar Man at dinnertime tonight, as I originally predicted.
I watched it before that, in the early afternoon.
And what a film it is. The story of the hunt for 1970s musician Sixto Rodriguez – who made a huge impression in South Africa but hardly any commercial impact in the United States – Searching for Sugar Man is a terrific documentary about failure and success … about a man who seemingly doesn’t crave glory or riches, but is content to live a generally quiet life despite his fame across the pond. This movie is directed superbly by Malik Bendjelloul and is packed with classic Rodriguez tunes, all of which I hadn’t heard before. They lend themselves well to the film, which features plenty of fascinating interviews with Rodriguez’s colleagues, fans and family, as well as the man himself.
I felt that this was a sad picture, despite the fact that it has a happy ending. But then my wife asked me why I should feel that way, and I started to think differently. So what if Rodriguez doesn’t revel in the trappings of fame and fortune, like many other celebrities? Is it a fault to live so simply, to – seemingly – want so little? Perhaps it’s just an indication of what kind of man Rodriguez is: a person who doesn’t gravitate to the same things most of us do. Does that make him a tragic figure?
I guess it doesn’t. It actually makes him triumphant. Which the film is as well. I’m happy to have seen it, heard the songs. And I’m happy there are people out there like Rodriguez. He really made this Searching worthwhile.
Hi, everyone! Just letting you know about an interview I did for James Curnow’s wonderful, cinema-oriented CURNBLOG with former Saturday Night Live writer Ferris Butler (yes, that Ferris Butler) and legendary songwriter Beverly Ross, she of “Lollipop” fame. Incidentally, Ferris and Beverly are also my uncle and aunt and were gracious enough to field my questions. If you’d like to read it, the interview (which covers everything from their careers in the entertainment industry to the story behind Ferris being the inspiration for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) may be found on this CURNBLOG page: