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February 16, 2021:


Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, just finishing up listening to the three-CD Show Boat set, the John McGlinn thing. I remember getting it on CD right when it came out and enjoying it but finding some of the performances a bit stiff, if you know what I mean. I’ve only heard it once since then, about three or four years ago, I think, but I was reading something about Show Boat and decided to listen again. My issues with it are still my issues with it – it was clearly a monumental undertaking and its praise was well deserved. I wish there’d been a better producer at the helm, because the recording itself is, for me, all over the place. It’s very distant sounding much of the time and then suddenly it’s not. Many of the dialogue sequences are so low you can barely hear them. They spent a lot of money on this thing and none of those issues should have been issues. The mixing is erratic at times and then there’s the actual sound – they still hadn’t quite figured out digital back then and it’s brittle and metallic sounding, like many of that era’s digital recordings were. Then the mastering does nothing to help it because mastering for CD was still in its infancy back then and they probably didn’t know how. Hearing it now, all of that is, again for me, glaring. The fact that no one has gone back to the original masters and redone this and warmed it up and balanced the sound a bit better is an enigma wrapped inside an enigma, given the enormous popularity of it. You’d think that a crown jewel like this would get that kind of treatment. But apparently not. I’m wrong – it did get a subsequent release as part of the EMI Great Recordings of the Century series, but I can’t find a single review of it so who knows if they remastered or not? Anyway, it was fun to hear it again. I don’t think they’d get away with doing this recording these days. Prior to that it was movie time whilst I wait for a few more CDs to arrive. I happen to get a package yesterday with five screeners.

So, first I watched The Little Things, described as a psychological thriller. I found nothing thriller about it nor anything psychological about it. It begins fine and at least held my attention for about eighty minutes – you know, a serial killer movie in the Seven mold, although this script was purportedly written before that movie and has sat unmade for thirty years. It’s easy to see why, once you get to the film’s final third. It doesn’t know what it wants to be at that point and just flounders its way to its completely unsatisfying ending. It got some bad reviews and some good reviews. The actors are all fine – Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Rami Malek. I was really hoping it would be tops but sadly it’s not. Direction is decent but the script is the problem. And then there’s the Thomas Newman drone score that, for me, isn’t even music. And what’s with all these movies lately whose main and end titles are teeny-tiny lettering that one can barely read? It seems to be a “thing” now.

Then I watched two-thirds of something called Let Them All Talk, a terrible title and sadly prophetic in terms of the film itself. A strong cast, for sure – Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, and Candice Bergen are the three leading ladies. It was shot in a week on board the Queen Mary 2 and it’s just an endless gabfest, which wouldn’t be the problem is if the gab wasn’t mostly improvised. In the case of Lucas Hedges, we’re in endless pause and fumfering territory – I hate stuff like that. It also doesn’t help that the scenes are frequently a page or two and end weakly or abruptly and that the structure is just endless repetition as to the way in which scenes are ordered, which sucks any life out of it because it becomes so predictable. Apparently, the credited screenwriter wrote something, but the director Steven Soderbergh decided to let everyone improvise using an outline of the script. But the dialogue, whether improvised or written, just meanders too much and while you get an occasional amusing line here and there, it’s all very arch. The screenwriter’s long-time romantic partner is Wallace Shawn and that’s what this all sounds like – frequently like diluted Woody Allen but more to the point, Woody’s imitators. I’ve got another twenty minutes or so, which I’ll watch once I finish and post these here notes. Oh, and the score – Thomas Newman again, this time aping the 1960s-flavored temp-track (especially Wives and Lovers – but that kind of sound with organ and vibes and it’s oh so cutesy but Mr. Newman would apparently not know an actual melody if it hit him in the face.

Yesterday was, of course, a holiday, so I slept in and got a little over eight hours of sleep. Once up, I answered e-mails, did a few things on the computer, saw that a UPS package had been delivered, so I went and picked that up (the screeners package), then stopped at Gelson’s and got food for the day and for today as well and for the day after that as well. I came home and ate two little chicken tenders and a chicken Caesar salad. Then I spent some more time choosing songs for the Kritzerland show, so I’m moving right along on that. Then I watched the two movies. I was needing a sweet between them, so I went back to Gelson’s and got some coconut fruit bars (chocolate covered) – not too bad, calorie-wise, and very tasty. And I got some fruit, too.

I came home and had one of the coconut fruit bars and the rest you know.

Today, I’ll be up by eleven, I’ll do whatever needs doing, then Marshall Harvey will come over with the full resolution copy of Tonight’s the Night that will be used for the Blu-ray, all thirty gigs of it, so it should look really great. Then he’ll take with him one of the season two Outside the Box episodes, the only one I wasn’t completely happy with, and we’ll chop off two of the three numbers and it should play perfectly after that. And we’ll of course include the uncut version, too, along with the uncut version of Psycho, which we had to pare down a bit, so that will be fun. Once I have that back, then we’ll be able to start preparing the Blu-ray. And Richard Allen is already preparing the sheet music, so that should all be ready in a week or so. I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, then I’ll make the faux chicken stroganoff over rice thing, I’ll continue with the Kritzerland show, and then watch, listen, and relax.

The rest of the week is more of the same, then on Thursday evening we have our callbacks and on Friday I’ll set the cast and we’ll figure out our schedule.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up by eleven, do whatever needs doing, have a visit with Marshall Harvey, hopefully pick up packages, eat, work on the Kritzerland show, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, hoping for some main and end titles that I can actually read.

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