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October 17, 2019:

TIRED AND PERFUNCTORY, NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am most tired, quite tired, really most quite tired so I cannot guarantee these here notes will be of any quality whatsoever.  Of course, when are they ever?  No, these here notes may be tired and perfunctory, not necessarily in that order.  I gotta tell you.  Otherwise, I’ve been sitting here like so much fish, listening to an eclectic batch of music, including film composer Danny Elfman’s new violin concerto, which I thought was okay, and his new piano quintet, which I thought was Herrmann-like and Glass-like, not necessarily in that order.  And more Beethoven conducted by William Steinberg, which I’m finding surprisingly enjoyable – this evening was the seventh, which does have one famous movement that I really do like a lot.

Yesterday was the only kind of day it could be, with me arising at six in the morning.  I was expecting a little delivery and the window was six to nine.  I stayed in bed until it happened, which was around eight-fifteen.  Then the helper’s boys came by with their truck and hauled off some stuff I was getting rid of.  Then I answered e-mails and climbed back into bed around ten-fifteen.  The idiot neighbors were being a bit loud, so it took me about forty minutes to fall asleep and I didn’t arise until around one-thirty.  I think I got just under a total of five hours of sleep.  I answered more e-mails, had a couple of telephonic calls, and then I moseyed on over to the mail place, where I picked up some packages.  Then I decided to go just up the street and get two mild chicken breasts at Popeye’s with their attendant biscuits.

I came home and ate all of that – very good – and happily, that was the ONLY food I ate all day and night.  I had a brief Grant Geissman visit, and then the day was done and somehow it was already seven-thirty.  I checked on Doug Haverty, who had a little out-patient surgery – he was a bit groggy, but everything went well, so that was good news.  Then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture entitled The Mind Benders, a British film from Britain, starring Mr. Dirk Bogarde and Miss Mary Ure, directed by Mr. Basil Dearden in black-and-white. My history with The Mind Benders: I saw the film at the Lido Theater here in LA as a sneak preview a month or two before its release. I absolutely was riveted by it – loved the photography, the music, and especially the acting, and I kind of crushed on Mary Ure in a major way. I saw the film about eight times after that when it played its run. I bought the DVD when it came out and the film really held up well, I thought. So, I was excited when the Blu-ray was announced, but kept said excitement in check because you never really know what you’re gonna get with Kino – sometimes great, sometimes a lot less than great.

I’m happy to say that this transfer is pretty great – it would be all great save for, I believe, one misstep in the transfer. I don’t have the DVD handy so I can’t check it there, but more about that in a minute. Other than that one thing, the transfer is just stellar. One reviewer points out a scratch here or a blip there – no, there aren’t ANY save for the opticals, where there’s a hair on the right side of one of them – that kind of thing that’s standard operating procedure for opticals. There’s also a series of extreme close-ups on Bogarde during a birth sequence that are obviously optically blown up and therefore very grainy, also standard operating procedure.

So, what is the misstep? Well, there’s an entire sequence that follows the sequence of Bogarde in an isolation tank. He’s removed after eight hours, then they do a kind of brainwashing experiment. When that’s done, Bogarde is hungry for bacon and eggs, thinking it’s still the morning or early noon hours (they haven’t told him he was in the tank for eight hours) – they inform him it’s nine at night. When one of the characters opens a door, you can see the window and it’s clearly day outside. Then the following scene outside is also kind of late afternoon, yet all the streetlights and building lights are on. This carries on for the entire sequence, which, I’m pretty sure, was shot day for night and should have been printed that way and wasn’t. I wish I could find the DVD – if anyone has it, maybe you could check that sequence. This happens more than you’d think with new transfers, this printing day for night incorrectly – if memory serves, there’s a day for night sequence early on in Ride the High Country that’s printed too bright. Anyway, it’s just a bit weird and doesn’t really detract hugely.

The film remains taut, suspenseful, beautifully acted (Mary Ure is absolutely brilliant in this), and beautifully and simply directed by Basil Dearden. Now, I never listen to audio commentaries, because every time I do, unless it’s my late friend Nick and his ever-lovin’ Julie, I am inevitably irritated by them, most recently that woman who did the Sweet Charity commentary, which was so irritating I shut it off after about six minutes. I decided to see what these commentary fellows had to say – I believe I had a bit of a set-to with one of them on Facebook or somewhere – who remembers?  Well, I lasted about fifteen minutes and finally had to shut it off because I would have hurled my shoe through the TV. Clearly these fellows, these self-called film historians, never saw the film when it came out, and since it really hasn’t been on anyone’s radar all these years, I’m not sure where the expertise comes from, other than offering opinions about what they’ve viewed or read online. And off on tangents they go while interesting actors are on the screen with no comment (at one point, Edward Fox has a one-line bit, probably his first job – what, you don’t point that out?) and instead we get a lot of talk about Ealing films because Dearden directed some Ealing films – this film is not, however, an Ealing film. They say it was clearly inspired by The Manchurian Candidate – no, it was not. The clear inspiration for it is stated rather largely and in easy-to-read type directly after the main titles. The film carries a 1962 copyright (released here in early 1963) and would obviously have been shot mid that year and have been written the year before. Well, I had to stop. And believe me, having done a few commentaries in my life, I know how difficult they are to do – you don’t want to chatter so fast that you can’t be understood, which these film historians do, and you really do want to stick to talking about things that are germane to the film, which these film historians don’t. Yes, when I’ve done commentaries with folks like Richard Sherman or Jean Louisa Kelly, we’ll talk about their careers and stuff because, well, they’re there – anyway, not my cuppa commentary. Anyway, highly recommended by the likes of me.

After that, I just listened to music and relaxed and also relaxed and listened to music.

Today, I’ll get up no later than ten-thirty, and I have a noon o’clock lunch meeting in the Bank of Bur.  After that, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, then I’ll come home and write that damn second set of liner notes.  Then I’ll listen to music and perhaps watch a motion picture of some sort.

Tomorrow, I still think something is happening and I still can’t remember what it might be.  Perhaps nothing.  Saturday we have our first What If rehearsal, which I’m looking forward to, Sunday is a day of rest, Monday is our second What If rehearsal, Tuesday is a stumble-through, and Wednesday we play show one, and Thursday show two.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a lunch meeting, hopefully pick up packages, write liner notes, relax, watch something, and listen to music.  Today’s topic of discussion: Which are your favorite symphonies of Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, and Schumann?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to hit the road to dreamland, where I shall hopefully sleep well so that tomorrow’s notes will not be tired and perfunctory.

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