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September 18, 2018:

THE HAPPY TALE OF 109% AND THE SAD TALE OF HANS ROTT

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, we’re just about twenty-four hours from the finish of our Indiegogo campaign.  Yesterday we went up to 109% and are, in fact, only thirty bucks away from 110% – and we’re at ninety-nine contributors, so I think being number one hundred would be very special.  Still great perks to be had and we’re going to puuuuuuush right through to the end. Here’s the link again.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-carol-christmas-a-new-musical-needs-your-help/x/9165600#/

Yesterday started off with a whimper and couldn’t have been more annoying, and yet within a few hours the day turned around, thanks to a little miracle, and then I could finally have some breath, which was a good thing, because an old Jew sans breath usually leads to not good things.  I had my eleven o’clock meeting with my set designer at the House of Pies.  I never learn not to order the broasted chicken before five, but I did and it wasn’t very good.  I had two chicken breasts, a little salad, and garlic bread.  The set is very simple but really fun, and it will make the show move really smoothly.  He’ll now send me renderings of every scene configuration as he did with his set for Levi, plus he’ll make me a model, which I find very helpful.

After that, I came home briefly, then went and picked up a couple of packages and no important envelope.  If that thing isn’t here by Wednesday, I will have to have another conversation about it. Then I came home again, was able to breathe, did some work on the computer, chose a few more songs, didn’t hear from our one performer, and listened to some interesting music.

I can’t remember exactly how I found it nosing around on YouTube, but somehow I ended up hearing a symphony by a German composer I’d never heard of – Hans Rott – his one and only symphony, written when he was twenty.  It was fantastic, so I read up on his short and sad life.  He was friends and roommates briefly with Mahler and you can hear Rott’s influence on Mahler clearly.  He studied with Bruckner.  But he was plagued with mental illness, and it didn’t help when he showed his symphony to Brahms and Brahms basically told him it was worthless and he should stop writing music.  Rott became delusional, was put in an asylum, and at the age of twenty-five he died from tuberculosis.  The symphony is filled with wonderful melodies and his orchestrations are pretty expert for a person of twenty.  It was virtually unknown until it was finally unearthed and recorded about eighteen years ago.  Since then, people have discovered it and fallen in love with it and there have been five or six other recordings.  Check it out on YouTube in the version conducted by Gerhard Samuel, whose recording was the first.

Then I went to Gelson’s and got a couple of small snacks, then came home, ate them, and then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture entitled Rules Don’t Apply, a film from two years ago directed by, written by, and starring Warren Beatty.  It was a huge box-office bomb, and critics weren’t having any of it, although a handful found things to like.  There were lawsuits from all concerning what Beatty and company called the mishandling of the film.  Well, no, that’s just delusional.  No one wanted to see it, it was that simple and it wouldn’t have mattered how it was sold. It’s simply not a film, sad as it may be, that today’s audiences would care about or sit still for because none of the moviegoers today, the ones who determine the hits, have the patience for a movie like Rules Don’t Apply.  I’d wanted to see it, but it came and went very quickly and of course they didn’t do screeners of it at all – not for the DGA, the WGA, or SAG.  It was very much like last year’s Wonderstruck – no one would see it, they just literally would not watch it.  Now, I happened to think Wonderstruck was the best film of last year and I believe in the future it will be looked on as a classic, with people scratching their heads trying to figure out why they wouldn’t watch it, much as what happened with Spielberg’s A.I.

Mr. Beatty has always been a quirky actor and quirky filmmaker but even when I find his films not that great, the ones he’s directed have always been interesting to me.  I loved Heaven Can Wait, enjoyed Reds and certainly admired its scope and filmmaking, loathed Dick Tracy, but admired its production design, and thought Bulworth was very ahead of its time and very interesting.  I found Rules Don’t Apply an apt title – not a good one, but apt, as clearly the usual script “rules” of today certainly don’t apply to Mr. Beatty, which is one of the reasons I think critics and audiences didn’t like it. Because it’s two completely different films in one – but I like that and it all meshes together rather well, I thought. I was actually quite taken with the film – it’s very old fashioned, which I like, it’s not hyperactive, its style is classical in terms of filmmaking, and best of all none of the actors mumbles, which I have to believe is because Beatty wouldn’t let them.  The entire cast is great, but most especially Lily Collins (Phil’s daughter), who should have been up for an Oscar for it (she did get a Golden Globe nomination).  She’s a real find and she’s wonderful.  I can’t remember the young leading man’s name but he was very good. The supporting cast is great – Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick (a really great part for him and he has one incredible scene that is hilarious), Amy Madigan and Ed Harris, Dabney Coleman, Candice Bergin, and a whole slew of other folks – oh, and Mr. Beatty, who’s great.

The production design is fantastic, and the period details are incredible.  I have no idea where they got the 1961 Hollywood footage for the driving scenes but my jaw dropped from the clarity of them. In my favorite shot from those sequences you see Hollywood Blvd. in all its 1961 glory.  At first I was confused because Ben-Hur is playing at the Egyptian (where I saw it at the end of 1959), but at the Vogue, and you won’t believe the greatness of this, The Parent Trap is playing (which is where I saw it at least ten times and which I go on and on about in Kritzer Time.  But then I remembered that Ben-Hur had a two-year run at the Egyptian and was there until King of Kings opened in October of 1961. There are other amazing shots, too, including going up Vine, with Wallichs on one side and NBC on the other. I have to watch those again and do some freeze-framing.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those lame Blu-rays where when you freeze a timeline pops up, so you can’t screen shot anything.  Anyway, I really enjoyed it, so I guess I’m the minority opinion.

After that, I relaxed, listened to more music, took a shower, and relaxed.

Today, I have to finish the Kritzerland show stuff or we’ll be behind, which I do not want.  We finally heard from the performer and she has a conflict on the stumble-through day so she’s a no go.  And the search continueth.  I’ll eat a little something, hopefully pick up packages, and finish casting and choosing songs no matter what.  And of course we’ll be counting down to the end of the Indiegogo campaign.

Tomorrow I’m meeting a potential lighting designer, Thursday we have auditions, and there are also meetings and meals and additional miracles needed.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, finish Kritzerland show stuff, eat, hopefully pick up packages, finish casting and choosing songs, countdown to the end of our campaign, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Warren Beatty?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, as we continue our countdown to the Indiegogo finish line, and hoping some of you will listen to the marvelous symphony of Hans Rott, whose sad tale was told in these here notes.

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