Well, dear readers, it’s the final three days of 2008. And soon we’ll be saying 2008 we hardly knew ye since ye flew by so fast, like a gazelle eating pickled herring. Well, I will damn well enjoy these last three days of 2008. This year has been, I think, a difficult one for many people, myself included. But there have been some wonderful things that have happened this year and so I shall choose to dwell on them. Over the next three days I’ll talk about some of the highlights for me and I shall forget the lowlights altogether, other than try to learn from them and hopefully have them go away forever. Certainly my major highlights from the beginning of the year would be finishing my eighth book, Murder At The Grove. I wrote it very quickly and I was very happy with the result, and, best of all, it was really fun and painless to write. From there I pretty much went directly to the LA Festival of New Musicals production of The Brain From Planet X at the Chance Theater. The experience was mostly a good one, with a few exceptions, the main one being the cost of gas driving down to Orange County pretty much every day for two months. I liked our cast very much, and it was fun revisiting the show and finding a few new things, staging-wise. The only other real disappointment was not having our full five-piece band, but I made peace with it after fighting as hard as I could. And having an actor completely turn his very good performance into a complete caricature as the run went on. Because of the horrid drive down we kept leaving earlier and earlier and my assistant, Miss Adriana Patti and The Brain, Mr. Mark Rothman, would do dinner every day before the rehearsal. Unfortunately, the dinners were always at places like Claim Jumper and I added at least fifteen pounds to my already overweight frame. But, boy, was some of that food yummilicious. The audiences really seemed to enjoy our show and it was mostly sold out during its six-week run. We were also fortunate to get unanimously good reviews. And that was basically the first third of the year, although I did do several other fun things during that time. Speaking of that time, yesterday was a nice relaxing day. I slept till about ten, got up, had a short visit with former dear reader Hisaka, then did the long jog. It was quite a pretty day, with blazingly blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. After that, I went to Gelson’s and got three small chicken tenders, a reasonable portion of lobster salad, and a small amount of righteous red potato salad – and that was my meal o’ the day. I then sat on my couch like so much fish.
Yesterday, I watched a motion picture on a region 2 DVD entitled Rosebud, the penultimate film of Otto Preminger. I’d never seen it before, nor have I seen his final film, The Human Factor (which is on its way to me). It stars Peter O’Toole (who replaced Robert Mitchum after two weeks of filming), Peter Lawford, Richard Attenborough John Lindsay (yes, THAT John Lindsay), Raf Vallone, and the very young Isabelle Hupert and Kim Cattrall (seventeen at the time of filming). This and The Human Factor are generally considered Preminger’s worst films – for example, on the imdb you cannot find more than one comment that has anything positive to say. Funnily, though, they all say the exact same thing in the same words, as if they’d read the same book that contained all these comments. So, how IS Rosebud? Well, not good, but not quite as bad as you’ve heard. The script is very weak, but Preminger’s direction, at least visually, is excellent. However, he fails completely with his actors, not one of whom gives a decent performance. It’s hard to know what Mr. O’Toole is doing, he looks so uninterested and befuddled – and also pale, wan, and emaciated (he has a short nude scene from the rear that is a little nauseating). The five teenage girls who’s kidnapping sets the plot in motion are, with the exception of Miss Huppert, inept and amateur, and that includes Miss Cattrall. Mayor Lindsay is embarrassing. But all that said, the main reason the film doesn’t work is the music. In fact, this film is a textbook of bad choices for music, which actually prevent the film from working better than it does. If a Goldsmith or Bernstein or Jerry Fielding (all composers Preminger had worked with early in their respective careers) had done this film it wouldn’t have nearly the horrid reputation it has. The action scenes are all basically unscored, which makes them look amateur and idiotic. The film has a decent theme, but it isn’t used well, and I don’t think there’s more than ten minutes of actual music in the entire 122 minute film, and some of what’s there is actually laughable in its ineptitude – there is one long sequence which, with a proper score, could have been quite interesting, that is entirely scored by some idiot playing rising scales on a bad electric piano. I couldn’t believe my ears, actually. The film looks good, and this transfer is quite nice.
After the film, Miss Juliana Hansen and her mother Diane came by. We had a fun chat and then they said they were hungry so we went to the Studio City Hugo’s, where we promptly ran into Juliana’s high school drama teacher and several gals she went to school with. What are the odds of THAT? I didn’t eat, but Juliana and her mum had some pasta dish they really liked, and then they had a vegan pumpkin pie (no dairy) with a cashew crust and light whipped cream. I had a couple of small bites and it was out of this world good. I’ll have to go have a meal there one day – a small Caesar and the pie. We were there for about two hours and had quite a good time. I then came home and watched the extras on the new Casino Royale special edition (the 1960s version). Whoever was responsible for the retrospective documentary (no one but the production company is credited) was firmly schooled in the inept way of Laurent Bozeareau – non-stop inappropriate music from the film (I love the score, but when it’s used over interviews like it is here you can’t even pay attention to what they’re saying), and using lines from the film as if they were commenting on the comments of the people being interviewed. It’s a shame they keep giving these buffoons these assignments – they actually got really good people for the interviews and all they had to do was stop trying to be a smart-ass and just let them play. There are some great stories from directors Joe McGrath and Val Guest, and Jacqueline Bissett appears as does Joanna Petit and Dahlia Lavi. Also appearing are second unit director of photography Nick Roeg, Woody Allen’s manager Charles Joffee, and several production people. The person who comes off worse is Peter Sellers, who apparently was a complete jerk. The film’s producer, Charles Feldman, comes off equally poorly. But there are some really hilarious stories and I was happy to have watched it. I’m sure I’ll get around to the film at some point, but I checked the transfer and it seems lackluster, with none of the eye-popping colors it had when printed in Technicolor. It’s not terrible, just milky-looking and too mundane, color-wise. I no longer have the original DVD to compare it to.
Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because if I make these notes much longer it will be 2009 by the time I finish them.
I gotta tell you – 2008 we hardly knew ye. But, we get to know ye for another three days. Today, for example, I shall do the long jog, I shall do some errands, ship a couple of packages, hopefully pick up a package or three, make some telephonic calls, and then eat something reasonable and fun, whilst watching a DVD or three. I have a volume two Alice Faye collection to get through, as well as a Carmen Miranda collection, but right now I’ve started watching the 1956 version of 1984 (the film title – the book title is actually spelled out – Nineteen Eighty-Four).
I was planning to see a couple of movies today, but I pushed that until tomorrow. I’ll attend the first show of something, take a break and then attend the second show of something else. Wednesday, I think I’ll be meeting my editor in the editing room so that he can begin doing an assembly of the Kevin and Sean footage. And I’m really hoping the CDs are ready Tuesday rather than Wednesday, but as long as they arrive by Wednesday I’ll be a happy camper.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, do errands and whatnot, ship packages, and whatever else comes along. Today’s topic of discussion: What were your favorite performances this year – in films and on stage? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and do remember – 2008 we hardly knew ye.