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August 30, 2018:

DESSERT ISLAND

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it was all quiet on the Indiegogo front – nothing to do about that until the start of our third week, when I’ll really go to town with some new perks and really try to get everyone energized.  Plus, we’re released the cast list so we’re hoping that those cast will share the campaign with their nearest and dearest.  Other than that, the day was about okay.  There was a little stress at the beginning of the day, but what else is new?  I got about seven hours of sleep, maybe a bit more.

Once up, I did all the usual things – answer e-mails, printed out a few orders and had a telephonic call.  Interestingly, the title that’s doing best isn’t the one I would have thought – the title that’s doing best is Porgy and Bess.  Who knew?  Then I went and had a bacon and cheese omelet and a bagel, then picked up some packages and no important envelope (a couple due this week).  I came back home and just tried to lay low for the rest of the day.

Then we had part two of our first rehearsal.  First up was Robert Yacko.  We ran the new What If – he took an approach that was fun, but I felt we had to approach it just as it would be done in the show that the tune is from and he agreed. He did it that way and I found it pretty funny – one never knows how others will react, but the juxtaposition of the two shows is so extreme that I’m hoping everyone will get it.   Then we ran his second number, something from Honeymoon in Vegas, a concert version of which he was in recently.  And finally a put-together of three Company songs – the two that didn’t work and the one that did – Happily Ever After, Marry Me a Little, and Being Alive.  It’s kind of fun and interesting and he does Being Alive wonderfully. 

Then came Kim Huber.  First up for her was a put-together – I’d Like to Be You for a Day from the original Freaky Friday movie, and then a song from the recent musical of it – but not the TV version, the stage version.  Kim just did the show – so, that’s a nice put-together.  Then she ran On My Way to You, which will be beautiful.  Then hubby Roger came and they ran their duet, Big D, from The Most Happy Fella – they both just did a concert version of it.  Kim left, and Roger ran his other two songs – first, The Happy Time, and then Watching the Show, a song I recorded for Broadway Bound, which I really like a lot – and I happen to be about to work with the lyricist, Joe Keenan.  And that was that.

I listened to some music, then had to do a Ralph’s run for water and Diet Coke and I guess I bought some low-cal low-fat ice cream, too – Kroger – that’s Ralph’s own brand, I believe – and a weird but oddly amusing flavor called banana split. Then I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture I’ve seen many times and written about in these here notes many times.  What makes a movie compulsively watchable?  Most movies I see, certainly newer ones, I would never want to see again, but even some certified classics I’ve seen too many times to want to watch them again.  But there are just a handful of films I never tire of and those who’ve been around these here parts pretty much know what they are – and they’re the movies, maybe not the greatest ever made, but they’re the movies that I’d take with me to a desert island, although I’d prefer going to a dessert island.  For example, one filmmaker has two movies on my list – Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown.  Never tire of them, they always surprise me, and I love every single thing about them.  Singin’ in the Rain would be another – although I did reach a saturation point a few times – and I’ve never been happy with any of the home video releases – apparently the Technicolor negative either doesn’t exist anymore or can’t be used – don’t remember exactly, but even the Blu-ray simply does not have the luster of the dye transfer prints, of which I owned several, both in 16mm and 35mm. The Court Jester might be another. But one that would absolutely be on the list is what I watched last evening – Kurosawa’s High and Low, a brilliant film adapted from an American novel by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter).  It’s a bit surprising that there’s never been a US film made from the book, but it would never top Kurosawa’s film.  From the main titles right through to the end almost three hours later, you are in the hands of a master filmmaker.  The opening fifty-six minutes or so all take place in basically one room.  The way the blocking is and the camera angles is a textbook example of how blocking and the ever-shifting positions within the frame can not only keep a scene alive, but illuminate characters.  It’s positively breathtaking to watch, plus that aspect of the story is so interesting that for a time you actually think that’s what the film is going to be about. 

But then you find while that’s a side story, the real story kicks in and it does so in a way that is so clever in terms of how Toshiro Mifune’s character behaves and reacts – it’s a brilliant moment out of nothing BUT brilliant moments.  Once that aspect of the plot kicks in, all the tension from the first part of the scene shifts hugely to this new drama that’s unfolding.  I’m not saying what any of this is because you just need to see it for yourselves.  Then we have the first scenes outside the room we’ve been in, a bravura sequence on a train, at the end of which, about sixty-three minutes into the film, we hear the first note of actual music (save for the main titles) and because there’s been no music for over an hour, boy does it have an impact. 

From there, the film becomes like a police procedural and that aspect works beautifully, too, with nary a misstep.  We meet the villain in the most subtle way, see a bit of what he’s about, and then the rest of the tale plays out in several spectacular set pieces.  The final scene is not anything like you’d expect. It’s an unabashed masterpiece and something every serious film fan should see.  The Criterion Blu and Ray, while not perfect, is so far above any previous home video release – the correct aspect ratio, Perspecta stereo sound, and it’s very sharp and detailed with excellent contrast. 

After that, it was time to write these here notes, which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is what I’ve been doing.  Oh, and another interesting factoid – I’ve inadvertently used the same title for the notes on a few occasions, but this will be the fourth notes entitled High and Low, including one back in January.  But more interestingly, not one of those High and Low-titled notes was actually about High and Low.  Go know.

Today, I’ll do my morning stuff, then I have a lunch meeting at one, then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages and an important envelope, and then we have our second Kritzerland rehearsal, with just our core cast – neither guest star will be there, nor will young Peyton.  Then I’ll relax.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with my set and sound designers, and then I may or may not attend an opening night.  It really depends on how tired I am.  Saturday is our stumble-through, after which I’m sure we’ll grab a bite to eat, and then Sunday is our sound check and show in our new venue.  Next week has suddenly become hugely busy with no rest for the likes of me.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do morning stuff, have a lunch meeting, hopefully pick up packages and an important envelope, have our second Kritzerland rehearsal, and then relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your five top desert or dessert island movies?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have seen High and Low for about the twentieth time. Actually, now that I think of it, we’ve never titled these here notes Dessert Island, so I’m using that, damn it all from here to eternity and HELL and back.

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