Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just past noon, January 20th, 2009

50 comments:

X. Trapnel said...

Next, cue up the Ode to Joy!

Campaspe said...

Amen, brother. And James Wolcott already posted a thank-you for the shout-out to us nonbelievers. I felt, like, all included and everything. Now I am happy from toasting with an unaccustomed glass of noon wine. French wine, I might add. We can like France again. And Barbra. Ain't life grand. :D

X. Trapnel said...

I've never stopped loving France:

"Play La Marseilles--Play it!"

Vanwall said...

I have to say, we have regained our standing in France, or at least my in-laws - I won't go into Nixon's train wreck, that's a different whole universe of shame, but first I had to endure the questioning disbelief regarding Reagan - that we could elect a mediocre actor who played second fiddle to a monkey, and it was put to me exactly so; then I had a smirking knowing-ness coming over the line in transatlantic calls when the W subject came up - he was also compared to a monkey a coupla times. I have a nice Pouilly-Fuissé waiting for me at home, myself.

And M. X - you're right, they have the best national anthem!

Vive la France!

Campaspe said...

Vanwall, usually all I had to do was bring up Chirac and apartments et voila, suddenly we discussing the meal again. :D

Tucker said...

oh lord, perfect. thanks for that.

DavidEhrenstein said...

When Babs had it she really had it!

Annieytown said...

I just love you.
)))))F((((((

Gerard Jones said...

Best cinematic moment of the day: the helicopter bearing ex-President Bush away, away, away past the Washington Monument.

Best comic relief: the Chief Justice blowing his lines during the oath. (Would have been a little funnier done by Harry Carey, but Roberts did okay.)

Cutest humanizing dialogue bit: "They told me not to swipe the pen. Two more? Oh, I need a cabinet, don't I? I forgot about that."

Ernst Lubitsch award for clever scene set-up: Cindy McCain placed next to Rahm Emmanuel, twisting in discomfort.

My favorite character-actor casting: the two San Francisco gals flanking Obama and Biden at the signing. I live in a pariah city no more!

Yojimboen said...

And to make my day complete, didn't Cheney look exactly like Mr. Potter?

(Et ma femme Francaise est bien contente, merci.)

X. Trapnel said...

Mr. Potter,yes, but the sight of Cheney in a wheelchair brought out the Tommy Udo in me.

Campaspe said...

X Trapnel and Yojimboen, LOLOLOL! Now now. With malice toward none. With charity for all ...

David, I found myself going through all kinds of Babs clips and just remembering how absolutely fantastic she can really be.

Annie my dear, you know it's mutual.

I'm glad you liked it too, Tucker!

And Gerard, on NBC they had a marvelous shot of the two anchors twisted around in their chairs, watching the helicopter go. Like suddenly a perfect confluence of president and gawking media.

Vanwall said...

I sent the Tommy Udo Thought of The Day to Siren's Facebook first thing this morning - we're a twisted crowd, all in all.

StinkyLulu said...

Thanks for this -- really -- just perfect, and the first time I really let myself get misty about today.

DavidEhrenstein said...

The cinematic moment I long for, Gerard.

Tonio Kruger said...

Well, at least that song was a more optimistic reaction than this.

Gerard Jones said...

David...hmm. Assuming that Marat represents the Magic Negro, who should we assume is de Sade? If only culture critics could wield such power...wink wink.

Gerard Jones said...

I do like the first YouTube comment beneath the Marat-Sade clip: "The French Revolution was stupid."

operator_99 said...

Cheney in the wheelchair looked like his final transformation into Dr. Strangelove.

X. Trapnel said...

Or a less winsome Count Orlok

Campaspe said...

Tonio, the Republicans kept invoking "The Candidate" during the campaign as part of their attempt to paint Obama as an empty suit and make popularity seem really, really sinister. Whereas low approval ratings are where it's at. :D

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Lovely. I miss the days when a great singer just stood there and sang, with none of the current day pyrotechnics, ridiculous bling, or frenetic gyrations or gimmickry to distract us from a lack of talent. I miss the majesty of real talent.

Campaspe said...

Jacqueline, you are a class act yourself. And I agree -- Barbra at this point in her career was magical. She still is, when it's just us and her wondrous voice.

X. Trapnel said...

Invoking The Candidate may have had a boomerang effect. If anything, McKay/Redford babbling in the car suggested Bush.

We are living in an age of antimusic. How we got there is a long story...

Flickhead said...

Now that our Evil Empire is limping off to lick its wounds, is there any chance we can all band together to have Fox News taken off the air?

I briefly glanced at their Inauguration Gala "report" last night to find the station's unblinking arrogance and haughty dismissal of Obama still in full force.

Their reporter -- some blonde ice queen -- told of her discussions with military personnel (none on camera, of course) who admitted having an "open mind" when it came to Obama -- implying they'd rather be dealing with somebody More Real, like a Republican.

My thoughts about the GOP have been hideous for years now, ugly and horrid images of jailing and torturing the bastards for unAmerican activities and overt assholism... God Hell, my own sister is One Of Them... but I'd better not spew off too loud, because I'm sure Dubya and the Dickster still have agents waiting to swoop down and put a butterfly net over me... whew, bad karma...

Anyway, it was nice to see people smiling again yesterday on TV. It's been too long.

Tonio Kruger said...

Actually from some of the conservative sites I've been viewing, it seemed as if they were invoking everything from Being There to Reds. There was even an attempt on one such blog to compare Obama to a villain on a popular British sci-fi show. And I'm quite sure that if the Republicans thought they could have got away with it, they would have compared Obama to Damien Thorn.

Anyway, I always thought the Robert Redford character in The Candidate was a sympathetic character, who was a lot more likable than any of the "sympathetic" characters in more recent political movies such as Bullworth and Primary Colors. The very fact that his character was so bemused by his electoral victory was supposed to seem like a loss of a good man's innocence, not the triumph of the Evil One.

But your political mileage may vary.

Besides, at least they didn't invoke The Great McGinty...

X. Trapnel said...

Flickhead,

I'm hoping Fox Snooze will simply perish of its own irrelevancy. I share your loathing of Republicans but we must never become like Them (which doesn't preclude prosecuting Bush Co. for war crimes etc. Sign the petition everyone.)

Campaspe said...

Flickhead, you would not believe the darkness of the things I have spewed to poor Mr. C after a bad day with the em-ess-em -- my advice is do what I did, stick to the film blogs. Worst that can happen there is some schmuck will diss Sunrise. :D

X Trapnel, there is yet another post awaiting world enough and time -- where did the music in movies go? and the RESPECT for music? when I saw clips from the Jacqueline du Pre biopic I couldn't believe what they thought they had to do with the camera and lights during that music to make it "interesting".

Ah Tonio, you made me laugh, and check -- we are actually wholly in accord here, right down to our mutual interpretation of The Candidate. During the campaign a rather august(-acting) commentator from the other side of the aisle, who shall remain nameless, invoked The Candidate in a way that suggested he thought it was about an empty suit, parroting whatever must be said to win. Which made me wonder when this august guy saw the movie, and if he was sober when he did...

David, I like Marat/Sade.

Operator_99, Cheney seemed to invoke thoughts of all kinds of wheelchair characters--Strangelove, Mr. Potter, Blofeld-- which is starting to make me wonder why so many of the wheelchair-bound in the movies have been villainous over the years. And yet, with the right makeup Cheney could be very Mrs. Henry Windle Vale, too.

X. Trapnel said...

Siren, I can't wait for ANYTHING you have to say on the enormous subject of movies and music! Let 'er rip! Speaking of non-music, how about that drivel by John Williams yesterday, slow-motion Bernstein sloppily stapled to "Simple Gifts." How could he take the money?
I wouldn't go near the DuPre movie. Just listen to her sublime Elgar concerto (the one with Barbirolli, not the dread Barenboim).

Dan Oliver said...

Ha! Seeing Dick Cheney in the wheelchair I had the same thought as Yojimboen: he looks like Mr. Potter about to foreclose on George Bailey. Later it occurred to me that this pretty much completes his transformation into Montgomery Burns. Also, didn't you love how the initial reports of a pulled groin suddenly became back problems? Yeah, back problems, that's the ticket.

I agree with all Flickhead has to say, including the Republicans-in-the-family part. In my immediate family I am one of the few black sheep Democrats.

As for the music, while a chamber piece (whatever you think of the arrangement) was an odd choice for such a large public event, couldn't the cameras have stayed on the musicians at least 50% of the time? I mean, we ARE talking Perleman and Yo-Yo Ma here; it would be nice to watch these artists actually perform rather than see more shots of people in Chicago and elsewhere laugh at themselves on the monitor.

Having said all this, however, wasn't it a glorious day? For this 50-something white guy, the sense that all of America was finally included in the democratic process was palpable and moving. It just feels SO GOOD to be rid of the past eight years and to have this smart, capable man in charge. Which brings us back to why The Siren's choice of songs was so appropriate. Thanks, Siren.

Campaspe said...

I didn't mind Simple Gifts -- I might have wanted one of Beethoven's late quartets or something but it was supposed to be short, sweet and accessible. And besides, I love the idea of him becoming president while Yo-Yo Ma is playing--Ma is surely one of everyone's favorite Americans. And Perlman too.

Dan, I had something very bipartisan to say but I just now looked up the Ma/Perlman performance on Youtube, trying to get the names of the other musicians and found it tagged with "Hitler Youth Nazis Control" (on a Perlman performance!!!!!) and so I am not feeling it. I'm just gonna click on Barbra again.

X. Trapnel said...

I'll second the Siren's suggestion for late Beethoven quartets. No. 15in A minor would be especially appropriate with its slow movement (the absolute pinnacle of music) described by LvB as a thanksgiving for restored health.
Another choice for future (Democratic) inaugurals would be George Whitfield Chadwick's Jubilee, a glorious, roof-raising piece of Americana with a ravishingly lyrical second subject guaranteed to tighten throats and bring tears.

Gerard Jones said...

Tonio, now that you mention it, The Great McGinty would be a natural for those right-wing blogs painting BHO as a front-man for Special Interests. Akim Tamiroff as David Axelrod. William Demarest as Rod Blagojevich. ("Without graft, you'd have a very low type of person in politics. Men without ambition!") I suppose they haven't mentioned it only because they don't watch enough old pictures.

As much as I like LvB, they just *had* to go American. That Berlin rally dogged the campaign for weeks. To bring German music into the inauguration...uh-uh. I was just glad that Williams picked a tone that wove from our early history through the New York Era of high-ish culture. And he left the Superman fanfare out of it.

Funny how we can compare the former Vice President to Mr. Potter, Dr. Strangelove and Count Orlok, and all I can think is...suddenly those guys don't seem so bad!

Gerard Jones said...

Correction above: "...Williams picked a TUNE..."

X. Trapnel said...

Gerard, I agree the piece should have been American and there is so much buried treasure in our musical heritage, but Williams' music is so nondescript, here and elsewhere. He is to Korngold as You've Got Mail is to The Shop Around the Corner (no need to mutate the mutandis).

Compared to Cheney, Orlok is lovely to look at, delightful to know, and heaven to kiss...

rudyfan1926 said...

How perfect!

Cheney looked all the world like Mr. Potter as Dr. Strangelove.

What an incredible day!

Vanwall said...

I guess a good Murican song choice, an early "jass" music classic: "The Darktown Strutter's Ball", prolly wouldn't have the cut. ;-)

A second choice, Copeland's "Hoe-Down", would at least have warmed the blood a little on a cold day.

Neither one woulda sounded like they came from Yurp.

Gerard Jones said...

I would like to hear the Darktown Strutters Ball played by Perlman, Ma, et al.

At first I was pleased to hear that their Inaugural Ball song was At Last, both for its '40/'50s associations and its Etta James echoes. But man, were those a bunch of dead versions! Thought we'd heard the last of Beyonce as Etta, but there she was again, gargling and yelping. And even a good dancer couldn't do much interesting with that rhythm.

Of course, no one FORCED me to keep watching through seven royal-couple ball appearances.

Bob Westal said...

I actually thought the live Beyonce version of "At Last" (from the "Neighborhood Ball" on ABC) was fine -- and I thought the recording she made for the "Cadillac Records" soundtrack was pretty much dead. She just didn't have the passion that song needs on the recording -- but it seemed to me the intensity of the moment got to her in a good way. Or maybe it just got to me. Who knows.

And, Campuspe, a great video choice which I'll be linking to directly on my simlarly themed post. I was going to make a crack about Obama being "like butta," but what's the point? Good is good.

X. Trapnel said...

You mean it was the REAL "At Last"!!?? I just assumed it was some contemporary drivel with the same name! Maybe they felt they had to compemsate for the choice by making it dull. I remeber hearing a "contemporary" version of "Skylark" in which "they" shaved off a note in order to flatten out the melody. As I said: antimusic.

Vanwall said...

Gerard -

Only if they wore skimmers and one of 'em plays the bass fiddle, and spins it around to thump the back twice and then back again between verses like so:

Goin' to dance out both my shoes,
Thump, thump,

When they play those Jelly Roll blues,
Thump, thump,

Tomorrow night, at the Darktown Strutters Ball.

Ya can't get more American than Jelly Roll and jazz.

Gerard Jones said...

I can see Yo Yo spinning and slapping the cello, Perlman sawing like Joe Venuti, Montero striding the ivories, and McGill wailing on the agony stick like Johnny Dodds. Then Obama could holler, "Slap that thing, Ma, slap that thing!" And Rick Warren could jump up and do a little buck and wing. Now that's an American inauguration!

Yojimboen said...

I dunno, color me sentimental (I weep unashamed at supermarket openings, card tricks and such) but Simple Gifts always knocks me to my secular knees - and it didn't hurt Mr. Copland's career, did it?

Pity the Shakers aren't still around to give us some more lovely melodies, but they practiced abstinence and, as they say, celibacy is not hereditary.

Here is another simple gift for the tasteful X.T and... our ever-gracious hostess. Enjoy.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

May I return the compliment.

(I almost typed "condiment". By the way, here's your ketchup back, too.)

mndean said...

Siren,
Politics and moviemaking may be linked in a lot of ways, but boy do I hate talking politics when I'm at a film blog. I quit one place just for that reason.

As I remember it, in The Candidate, Redford was the son of a senator and a lawyer/social activist. He was not supposed to be taken seriously as a candidate and was supposed to be a guaranteed loser in the election. It's one of the reasons he looks like a leaf being battered in the wind for much of the movie. The ineptitude was built into the campaign. He also didn't really want the job.

As far as antimusic, I hear you. Most music today is as spectacle with little thought to any actual music, which is often pro forma and dull. One bad thing that happened is the almost total elimination of the professional songwriter. Not only did this person set trends, s/he tended to make other work better just from competition. Back in the day, a songwriter did little but that (they played instruments and sang, but either were not good enough to be onstage or were making too much money writing songs to bother performing much) and the singers and musicians were chosen for their talent and most could actually read music. I don't say that every musician needs to read music (some great ones didn't), but most did. Nowadays it seems looks and attitude are more important than any ability. Things like American Idol are a symptom of a long festering disease.

X. Trapnel said...

mnd
Last night I paid the penalty of my addiction to NJ Route 1 diner coffee by inadvertantly receiving my first dose of American Idol (I am still numb, dumb, and vague as I write this). This is not just antimusic; it's an act of aggression, an assault on the neural system. I don't know what was worse, the amelodic, pitchless, speech-song (which, truth to tell, didn't sound any worse than the "professional" stuff you hear piped into public venues) or the trans-obnoxious judges (including a particularly smarmy Englishman badly in need of a pie in the face)with their haut-en-bas benedictions. We know the powers of beautiful melody, rich harmony, intoxicating or tranquil rhythm, irridescent tone color. What,then, can explain a positive lust for ugliness and boredom? Why does our age hate music.

Yojimboen, thanks for the link, but my dull Luddite brain couldn't access the music.

Yojimboen said...

Sorry - here's a better link.

X. Trapnel said...

"Where words falter music begins to speak"--Heinrich Heine

Truly.

Thanks so much, Yojimboen. Anyone new to the music should know that the movement continues for another sublime 6-7 minutes.

Gerard Jones said...

Going tangential here: has anyone seen Benjamin Button? I've let it pass because I keep hearing it's a snooze, but I just heard the soundtrack and flipped my wig. A very creative journey back along a hot American musical stream.

Kevin said...

A wonderful blog, Siren, which I've discovered.

Rosson's Corvette K225 is, along with Christian Nyby's The Thing from Another World, an important "limit case" in making the case for Hawks' auteurism. Many trademark Hawks themes here, including a strong female character who directly challenges received male authority in the small world of the film's immediate action, and by so doing, wins the affection and respect of the male leader. The small group of professionals here can be fruitfully compared to the aviators in Only Angels Have Wings or Rio Bravo. The characters are not nearly as vividly painted as in most Hawks'-directed films, and oddly, the stakes seem reduced (even though it's a war...) compared to the existential contest with fate in OAHW. Maybe it's that this war film convenes a group of professionals whose task is so easily recognized and honored by society at large, whereas the isolated groups of other Hawks films (including the weird but interesting Tiger Shark)seem so distant from the larger society. Or maybe it's that if Hawks was directing, he'd have found away to get the Ella Raines character on the ship itself, rather than leaving her as The Girl in Port. And of course, Hawks' visual style was often indistinguishable from lesser directors at the time, even in his best films, so there's no productive way to compare Corvette K225 to Hawks' other films in that way. Nonetheless, Corvete K225 should be considered as a Hawks film -- kind of...

For me, Hawks remains one of the greatest of film artists. His fundamental optimism, hisb intiolerance if bluff and foolishness, his celebration of professionalism, his joyful proto-feminism and his enthusiasm for characters who can rehabilitate themselves -- what a consistently humane world he creates.

GuardsmenDM