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November 7, 2008:

THE DAY OFF

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I’m taking today off. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I, BK, am taking a fershluganah day off and I don’t care who knows it. I need to clear my brain and gear up for a really busy next three weeks and by gum and by golly and buy bonds I shall clear said brain by taking today off. Actually, I have one annoying little errand to do first thing in the morning, but after that, the day is mine all mine and no one can say boo about it. And if someone does say boo about it do you know what I’ll do? I’ll say boo right back, that’s what I’ll do. And that will be two boos, or as we like to say, a boo-boo. Speaking of a boo-boo (oob-oob, spelled backwards), yesterday was a fairly nice day with hardly any annoyances. For example, I got up. That was fairly nice. I did the long jog, and then Druxy arrived for our meeting. We discussed what we had to discuss and he took his leave. I then went and picked up a large package, which had actually arrived yesterday. And said package contained the new giant Jacques Demy box set from France. I have been salivating whilst waiting for this set to be released. There was virtually no information on the set at amazon France, so I took a real chance, because I had no clew as to whether any of the films in the set had English subtitles. The only films I knew I was completely safe with were The Model Shop and The Pied Piper, as those films were shot in English. So, imagine my happy happiness when I looked at the box and saw that every film in the set had English subtitles, save for one strange anomaly – the film A Slightly Pregnant Man had only French audio and/or and English dub. Luckily, I have the US DVD release of that film, which does have subtitles. The set contains every film Demy directed, including all his short films. Needless to say, for me it’s probably the DVD release of the year – the chance to see quite a few films I’ve never been able to see because they’ve never been released in the US. I couldn’t wait to dive into the set, but I had some business to do, which I did. I did some work on the computer, had many e-mail volleys with our musical director for the Bacharach benefit (coming along nicely – excellent song choices so far), and having a few long telephonic conversations, including one with Adam, the benefit’s choreographer – we discussed at length the opening number and how I saw it, and he had really good ideas, too. I had a little lobster salad and potato salad for lunch, and a few other snacks throughout the rest of the day and evening. Finally, in the late afternoon I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Yesterday, I managed to watch three count them three motion pictures on DVD, all of which were directed by Jacques Demy. The first motion picture on DVD was entitled Une Chambre En Ville. As most of you know, I issued the CD soundtrack to this film and it’s one I absolutely adore. I was one of the 200 or so people who actually saw this film on its one and only screening in the US at the Filmex film festival back in 1982. I can only say that by that time Mr. Demy was not in fashion, and his melodramatic musicale tragique was laughed at and derided at that screening. And that was pretty much the reaction during its very short theatrical run in France. And then the film literally disappeared. I remember liking it, although it was hard to get around the derisive laughter. Finally seeing it again after all these years, it’s an amazing movie, right up there with the best of Demy’s films. Time has been kind to it, as time sometimes is to misunderstood films. The score by Michel Colombier is glorious, and Demy’s direction is wonderful. The performances are all terrific, especially an almost unrecognizable Michel Piccoli as a fatally jealous husband. For me, the film is definitely a companion piece to Les Parapluis de Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles De Rochefort. The decor by Bernard Evien is eye-popping with bold colors, very much in the Umbrellas style. There aren’t a lot of laughs in the film – it’s grim and unrelenting, but there are moments of powerful beauty, and if you just surrender to its tragic finale, it’s quite moving. The transfer is not the sharpest thing I’ve ever seen, but the color is perfection and it’s pretty damn good. I then watched Lola, a film I’d only seen once before, on the US DVD release. It’s a lovely little film, again with Demy’s patented bittersweet relationships that never seem to go the way they should. Anouk Aimee is wonderful as the titular Lola and the rest of the cast is excellent, as is the score by Michel Legrand. One of the leading male characters, Roland Cassard (played by Marc Michel) would go on to recur in Umbrellas. In fact, his theme in Lola is Watch What Happens from Umbrellas – one of its prettiest melodies. The transfer (black and white scope) is about the same as the region one DVD, maybe a little sharper. I then watched the third motion picture on DVD, which was entitled The Model Shop. The film was Mr. Demy’s first English-language film and it was all shot on location in Los Angeles circa 1967/68. The film, which is very dated, still has a hypnotic feel to it, and Mr. Demy shoots LA brilliantly. His shots are so mesmerizing that it took several minutes to figure out exactly what streets he was shooting on (I did figure out all the locations). It’s a real time capsule film and captures perfectly the malaise and weirdness of that time. Gary Lockwood is very good, but his character is irritating, which is part of the film’s problem. But the most interesting character is Anouk Aimee, reprising her role from Lola. Not a great movie but an interesting one, and beautifully shot. The transfer is a little on the soft side, but the color is great. Unfortunately, there’s sort of a phasing problem with the sound that’s a little annoying. I’ve begun watching a Demy film I’ve never heard of, let alone seen – Parking, and I’m enjoying it. I’ll be spending a lot of my time with this set and you’ll be getting the full report.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I need to get up early and get the annoying errand out of the way as well as the long jog, because I’m taking the rest of the day off and no one can say boo about it.

Today, I am taking the day off (in case you missed the other twelve references to that fact). I shall do the long jog, do the annoying errand, find something amusing to eat, and then I shall just relax and smell the roses or the coffee or the Vick’s Vapo Rub. I’m quite sure I’ll watch some more Jacques Demy films, too.

Tomorrow, I have a few errands and whatnot to do, some Nudie Musical work to do, and then I’m attending the opening night of Silk Stockings at Musical Theater West. Sunday, I have several things to attend to, and Monday I’m seeing The Most Happy Fella at the Alex Theater. And Monday is the day CDs are scheduled to arrive. We’ll see if they make it this time.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, do the annoying errand, and then do only what I wish to do. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – DVD, Jacques Demy for quite some time. CD, the four CD Michel Legrand set from Universal France – that came out a couple of years ago, but I got a hankerin’ to listen to it again – what a great set it is. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I luxuriate in the day off.

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