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March 29, 2008:

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, my day off is a thing of the past and it’s back to work until my next day off, next Friday. What an informative way to start these here notes. Just the facts, ma’am. No purple prose or even green prose, just simplicity for simplicity’s sake. I just laid it on the line and now it is lying there on the line like so much fish. Frankly, it doesn’t even like the line but there it lies nonetheless. And why is it lying there? Can’t it tell the truth there? It is a habitual liar or, at the very least, a habastardual liar. You know, if anyone out there in the dark has a clew as to what the HELL I’m talking about, please don’t let anyone know, as I think a little mystery is good. In any case, I think we’ll do our Dragnet notes today, our Jack Webb notes today, our just the facts, ma’am notes today. Speaking of today, yesterday was my day off. I got a good night’s sleep, got up, did some work at the piano, then fooled around on the computer for a while, then shipped a couple of packages, and that was really about it. I got an e-mail and it was a good e-mail, but I’m still going to have to wait for a really good e-mail, which I hope will arrive at the beginning of the week. I listened to a few CDs, made a few telephonic calls, but mostly I enjoyed the day and relaxed as much as I could, and spent as little time in the car as possible. And those are the facts of yesterday the day. Oh yes, I did eat a fun dinner at Islands in Encino. It was an early five o’clock kind of dinner, and I had the excellent Big Wave burger (with bacon and cheese) and some onion rings. All of it was quite yummilicious. I then came home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched an episode of The Rookies. It was a pretty okay episode guest-starring my neighbor, Mr. Earl Holliman (who smiled at me the other day as we drove by each other), and Miss Pippa Scott. It had another excellent score by Mr. Elmer Bernstein. I then watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Angel, directed by Mr. Francois Ozon in English. The screenplay is an adaptation of the romance novel by English writer Elizabeth Taylor. I’ve read several idiotic reviews of this film written by idiotic people who simply don’t understand any sort of stylistic choice outside their frame of reference, which is unfortunately usually limited to films they’ve seen since their childhood, which, in the case of said idiots, is somewhere around 1995. Mr. Ozon has chosen to make Miss Taylor’s romance novel into a Douglas Sirk style melodrama, with all of its artifice and it’s wonderful to behold a film of this style today. The lead character is a teenage girl living in poverty above a grocery store, who refuses to let it be her world – she, in fact, lives in the world of her writing, and she completes a novel and sends it off to a publisher. She is a willful, hardheaded, young girl and when the publisher agrees to publish her book but has a couple of minor suggestions, she refuses to change one comma. He publishes anyway, the book is a sensation and she’s off living the life she could only imagine before. She doesn’t really ever see the real world, but only the world she wants to see – she’s obnoxious, treats people poorly, marries a man (an artist) by proposing to him and making his life as comfortable as he wants it (not that that ultimately matters to him), and ultimately finds out that things don’t and won’t necessarily turn out the way she’d have them turn out if she was writing her story. The actors are all very good – I don’t know the leading lady’s name, but apparently she was very good in the film Atonement, and she’s very good here, in a very difficult role that requires her to be very unlikable a lot of the time. Sam Neill is wonderful as her publisher, and the rest of the cast does wonderful work. But it’s Mr. Ozon’s love of the style of the film that shines through in every frame. His delirious visuals are real throwbacks to Mr. Sirk and the melodramas of Mr. Minnelli – there are some real unforgettable images in the film. The film starts almost monochromatic in its color scheme, then, as Angel begins to achieve success, the colors become more bold. There are old-fashioned montages, there are (hallelujah) actual dissolves (remember them?), and there is rear projection the likes of which you haven’t seen since the late 50s, and it all works beautifully if you just accept the conceit and style of the film. What I never understand is why young people can’t accept the style of something like this, but CAN accept Saw and Spiderman and any number of films that bask in artifice. I have spoken of the score to Angel on several occasions – I think it’s the best score of the last decade, filled with gorgeous themes and brilliant orchestral writing by French composer Philippe Rombi (occasionally channeling the style of Mr. Frank Skinner but never ripping him off). This DVD is from the Netherlands and I’m afraid it’s a bit substandard, image-wise. I can’t imagine this film doesn’t look stunning and this transfer doesn’t do the film any favors. Also, the running time is 113 minutes, six minutes shorter than the German release, and a full sixteen minutes shorter than the French release, which is now on its way to me. I’ll be interested to see what was cut, and, more importantly, I’ll be interested to see a hopefully great transfer.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I have a very early rehearsal and a long day ahead of me, so I must get my beauty rest.

Man, what happened to the Dragnet notes? I got very long-winded there, didn’t I? Okay, from now on, just the facts, ma’am.

Today, I shall be working through and assembling as much of the show as I can, going from the top to the end, slowly and stumbling through. Then there’s a three-hour set building thing I have to attend, and then I’m sure I’ll have some dinner.

Tomorrow is more of the same, and then it’s every night until Friday, and then next week our choreographer arrives and the next three days are his and will be very intense.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, rehearse, attend a set building thing, eat, and then watch a DVD or three. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your all-time favorite films in terms of being visually ravishing, stylish, and unforgettable? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and remember, just the facts, ma’am, because this is a Dragnet kind of day.

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