Finger Snapping Cool
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Jazz musicians were probably the first people to use the word cool who weren't talking about the weather.
Joe Goldberg from essay The Birth of the Cool
in The Catalog of Cool.
"Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."
"Jazz singing is like pornography. You can't say what it is, but you know it when you see it."
The Blues is basically a strict poetic form combined with music. It is based on rhymed couplet, with the first line repeated. For example Billie Holliday sings:
‘My man don’t love me, treats me awful men,
Oh, he’s the lowest man I’ve ever seen.’
That is one stanza of Blues. A full Blues is nothing more than a succession of such stanzas for as long as the singer wishes. Did you notice that the Blues couplet is, of all things in iambic pentameter?
This is about as classic as one can get. It means that you can take any rhymed couplet in iambic pentameter – from Shakespeare, for example – and make a perfect Macbeth Blues:
‘I will not be afraid of death and bane,
Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.’
The Joy of Music,
Leonard Bernstein, A Panther Book
A couple of days ago I watched Peter Yates’s 1968 film Bullit
with Steve McQueen. What was really amazing about this cool film (with a sparse and short cool dialogue) is that all the performers, not only McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset, but also his sidekick Don Gordon (Sergeant Delgetti) and even all the villains oozed in coolness. In the famous chase scene McQueen in his 1968 fastback mustang and the two hoods in their 1968 Dodge Charger never say one word. In fact this one film must have made thousands all over the world suddenly buckle up., Buckling up was cool! The film prepared me for what occurred today.
Today Saturday, my granddaughter Rebecca and my cool friend Graham Walker sat down in the den to watch Westside Story
(1962 directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise with music composed by Leonard Bernstein). We had a lot of fun. Rebecca and Graham bantered back and forth while I watched and remembered what it had been like back in 1962 when I had seen the film and immediately bought two jazz versions one by Oscar Peterson (Ed Thigpen on drums, Ray Brown on double bass) and the other was by Andre Previn (Red Mitchell on double bass and Shelly Manne on drums).
It was at about that time that I listened to Willis Conover’s one hour jazz program on my short wave (remember that?) radio regularly. In fact in those early 60s the US State Deparment’s entry into the rest of the world was through the back door of jazz. Russian “communists” and South American leftists abandoned their negative feelings towards the US and capitalism and demanded more jazz, preferably of the American kind. In fact one of my two favourite jazz albums of all time, The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz Impressions of Eurasia
and Duke Ellington’s Latin American Suite
where the recorded record of their tours sponsored by the US State Deparment.
It was sometime in the mid 60s that I heard the Dave Brubeck Quartet play at the Instituto Americano Mexicano de Relaciones Culturales in Mexico City. I am sure that the audience included spies from both countries checking us out. I saw many other groups like Chico Hamilton’s and the Modern Jazz Quartet in similar sponsored tours. American jazz opened doors and penetrated all ideologies.
Some months ago returning from the Abbotsford Air show with Graham Walker and Sean Rossiter I asked Rossiter why this was no longer the case. He explained that in our present world there is no music that is purely American that could be exported in the way jazz once was.
In the late 50s I would not have been caught dead listening to the hot jazz of Louis Armstrong. I was too stupid and too young and I considered the man to be a has been. Even worse was Harry James. My idols were the Dave Brubeck Quartet and any group with Gerry Mulligan. Some say that this jazz, cool jazz (a sort of post be-bop) was called cool so as not to be associated with Armstrong’s hot kind. Cool came into the English and we acted cool, dressed cool and spoke cool. Being a beatnik was cool as was drinking terribly strong and bad coffee.
|Photo by Richard Avedon|
Watching Westside Story
and seeing all those boys, spics, wops and whites but no negroes (pardon me but want to be part of those times here) snap their fingers and walk and dance while seeing to their duck cuts was cool. Watching them slip the comb in the right back pocket was cool, too. There is no way that Rebecca could have understood.
Jerome Robbins’ choreography was instantly recognizable as jazz dance. I would suspect that jazz dance has been superseded by modern dance. The dancing of this film was comforting but dazzling to me. And it was today, reading my NY Times Sunday (it arrives on Saturday night) that I found whence this comfort comes. In a review of André Aciman’s Alibis –Essays on Elsewhere
reviewer Teju Cole writes:
We enjoy with him [Anciman] the satisfactions of coincidences, and (to put it as he might) of dreaming of pasts in which we dreamed of the future from which we are now dreaming of the past.
Those skinny pants and Robbins’s choreography would never have translated to the baggy oversize pants of our day’s hip-hop.
|Four of my coolest|
I do believe that one’s notion of what is cool is extremely personal. If I were to pick the coolest film of all time (which at the same time contains some of the coolest jazz/music of all time, the sound track is played by Stan Getz and the music is composed by Eddie Sauter) it would have to be Arthur Pen’s 1965 Mickey One
with Warren Beatty. That this cool jazz album ( same name as the film and prominent in my collection) followed the previously just as cool 1961 Focus
with Stan Getz and a string orchestra with music composed and arranged by Sauter himself just reinforces for me Getz’s coolness.
By the time I arrived in Vancouver in 1975 Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew
(1970) had for me deconstructed cool jazz so that it would never ever return except in my own living room where I played my cool jazz records on the ultimately cool Acoustic Research turntable, Acoustic Research amplifier and Acoustic Research AR-3A speakers. I find it impossible to believer that if everybody (and that is everybody) listens to music now on that ever cool iPod, iPhone or iPad there is no way it can be cool. For me cool has to have a whiff of snobbish exclusivity!
By 1977 I had found the cool Classical Joint
on Carrall Street which I would frequent on Thursday nights because that ever cool a lot sax player, Gavin Walker was in command with a core group that always allowed for cool intercessions by musicians who would come in and sit in.
Patrons drank illegal dark coffees (laced with Irish whiskey) and smoked cigarettes. Walker smoked mentholated Kools. This man, most uncool sucked on a pipe. When the Joint closed in the mid or late 80s cool was out, except of course in my living room. My Acoustic reseach speakers had been stolen so I had them replaced by the almost equally cool JBL studio monitors.
I looked for an old book I had purchased back in the 80s called The Catalog of Cool
. In it I had found that Art Bergmann’s Young Canadians Hawaii album had made the list of cool punk groups of the 70s and 80s.
During my many years of associating with author William Gibson I noticed that he stopped using cool and started using the expression hip. At that point I realized that I was getting old and that cool was over. I was never a hipster and I hated Howl
I hope that some day my Rebecca will come to understand what all that finger snapping was all a about and she might even say ( I will be pushing daisies by then), “My papi was a cool daddy-o.”
David Cooper, Joe Lederer & Yours Truly Went Our Different Ways
Friday, October 07, 2011
|Photo by David Cooper|
In the late 70s my first really good photographic jobs were all at the CBC. I was hired to take stills of variety shows. But I was not the only photographer shimming up for work. There were a few more but I remember two in particular because they were really good. One was Joe Lederer and the other was David Cooper. Lederer had lots of drive and drove a BMW. He was much more aggressive than I was so he got the good gigs. The other, Cooper was a tall, thin serious man who would have not looked out of place wearing a doublet and tights in Borgia Italy. He rarely spoke and when he did so it was in an almost whisper.
I was extremely jealous of Cooper because he owned a blimp. A blimp was a device that enveloped a camera and prevented its shutter clicks from being heard in a quiet TV studio during taping. If the sound engineer heard your click more than once (if he were generous) you were summarily ejected and you were history.
The best of the blimps (and I am sure that is where Cooper had purchased his) were expensive and were made in California especially for professional golf tournament photographers. A click heard in a quiet green could end your career as a photographer.
Since I had no blimp my photographs had to be taken at the end of takes or if there were music, during loud passages. I made a makeshift blimp (it worked pretty well) from several layers of wool blanket. It was rectangular and I could slip my camera from one side. There was a little square hole in the back where I could look through and a round hole in the front where I would fit whatever lens I was using. On the downsize was the fact that my hand would sweat terribly.
By early 80s variety shows became fewer and I seemed to get all the work. It was probably not because I was the better photographer but probably because Lederer and Cooper saw the writing on the wall.
Lederer chose to pursue the still photograph in the increasingly larger film scene in Vancouver. Shooting stills meant you were paid union wages (good ones) for the duration of the making of a film. If it took two weeks you were paid for two weeks. There were fringe benefits like very good and very constant food and beverage.
Cooper, with the help of good talent and his blimp pursued theatre and dance. At the beginning he might have even shared a studio with Lederer. In this studio Cooper had a high ceiling and one of the nirvanas of a studio photographer, a coved wall that eliminated the need of expensive and size limiting background paper.
With a good set of studio lights and a boom (a device whereby you can suspend a light high without unsightly and intrusive stands) Cooper began to photograph ballet and modern dancers soaring in the air (high ceiling!). These pictures and his beautifully taken set up shots for forthcoming plays became his bread and butter.
|Meg Roe by Alex W-H|
Unlike this photographer who never abandoned film, Cooper saw the future and quickly adapted to the digital camera. But unlike other photographers he figured out how to manipulate these photographs to incorporate graphics. This meant that Cooper could provide the Arts Club Theatre Company not only with a photograph but also with a well designed poster that went along with his photograph.
By then this photographer had made his choice. I had chosen the editorial field of magazines and newspapers. Editorial rates were not all that good but for quite a few years in the late 80s I shot lucrative annual reports for logging and energy companies. They paid me those magnificent day rates that are no more.
For my magazine assignments I was given free rein to do as I pleased and I photographed women in bed with booms surrounded by countless teddy bears, etc. I used elaborate lighting schemes. It was fun while it lasted. The Georgia Straight
kept me employed for many years when they successfully competed with the Vancouver Sun
to obtain original images that could not be duplicated by the Sun. This all began to disappear as budgets diminished or perhaps the desire to compete was no longer needed or desired. This meant that the Straight
and the Sun
would both feature the same beautiful photograph of a Ballet BC dancer shot by David Cooper (it took Cooper many years of quiet fighting and insisting to obtain his photo credit for these pictures in those publications). As wonderful as these photographs were (they are called handout or provided art and they are routinely not paid for by the publication printing them) they were duplicated and you saw the same picture on the Straight cover and on a bus shelter poster.
While it lasted I was for a time assigned to photograph dancers for the Straight. I knew it was fruitless for me to attempt the soaring dancers that Cooper did so well. I stuck to my own style of shooting dancers in portrait situations.
For many years it seemed that our diverging styles and directions kept Cooper, Lederer and me apart. I liked it like that. It meant that Lederer, now called Foto Jo, was making good money in stills with no worries and good food. But there were a few regrets. Lederer told me that I had the luck and the pleasure of contact with my subjects before I photographed them. Cooper had the supreme pleasure of taking photographs of all those actors, actresses and dancers that I had never a hope to photograph. I had my regrets there, too. I told myself that unlike Cooper I could take intimate shots that seemed to never be needed by theatre companies. I was wrong!
Alas! That is no more. I saw this exquisite ad for a forthcoming play The Pelenopiad
(written by Margaret Atwood). The photograph by David Cooper is of the equally exquisite Meg Roe. It was probably taken on a bed or sofa and Cooper must have used a boom. This photograph transcends they usual theatrical poster. This is more and it reveals an intimate moment between actress and photographer.
I am so jealous for a job so well done!
I had a nice long chat with Joe Lederer, who unlike this blogger, has no financial worries as he pursues his love of film stills with his digital camera. In my chat with Joe I learned something that I should have known all along. It seems Lederer read sometime around the year 2000 that photography was to become a language, “Just like English, French and Spanish,” Lederer told me. And then he said, “People now communicate with photographs.”
With that in mind I would point out here that David Cooper certainly knows that.
When I could I did
Alas no more!
Pi Theatre's Visions Of Vancouver - An Evening With The Twilight Zone
Thursday, October 06, 2011
The opening performance of four short plays, the same four actors and one director at a brand new venue would be enough of a draw for anybody who enjoys good theatre. For me (at first) only three elements (director Richard Wolfe, playwright Kevin Loring
and actress Carmen Aguirre
were enough to lure me on an evening when the plays were competing with a nearby "opening performance" of the Vancouver Canucks.
But I am happy to report that those first three elements also came with other stuff and that was a most pleasant surprise.
Pi Theatre’s Visions of Vancouver
, held at CBC’s Studio 700 tonight was directed by Pi Theatre Artistic Director Richard Wolfe (always quiet, gracious and warm) and it featured four actors, Carmen Aguirre, Patrick Keating, Jennifer Mawhinney and Shaker Paleja. The plays were The Bridge
by Michele Riml & Michael St. John Smith, Elevate
by Adrienne Wong, The Dead Line
by Dennis Foon and The Thin Veneer
by Kevin Loring.
True to their roots in the avant-garde these four plays will be available as podcasts in late 2011. Does that sound strange? No! These four plays (why you might lose a tad in not seeing the faces) were done in the tradition of old CBC Radio plays and Rosemary my wife and I could have just as well kept our eyes shut during the performance without missing a beat.
While I am not enamoured with the prodigious re-concreting of the old CBC
into the new CBC the venue, Studio 700 still gave the impression of being in the centre of a large city where everything happens. The site of the huge TV studio (with its equally large plate glass windows) and all the lights and aluminum prepared me for the whiff of science fiction of the delightful The Dead Line where Shaker Paleja, who has made a fortune in real estate (buying up in Little Mountain before the seas rose and enveloped most of Vancouver in a not so distant future). The play points into the direction of what anybody can do when phone sex no longer excites. How about phone sex with the very real, but dead Marilyn?
The other three plays all, refreshingly, were about the city where we live. While all four plays might not wash in a small theatre in Vermont, it is enough for me that finally in a play, unlike all those US films about Seattle, etc, Vancouver is our Vancouver.
gave me a glimpse of why I might not want to live in any of those tall condos in downtown Vancouver. In fact as we navigated north on the Cambie Street Bridge, the new B.C. Place Stadium loomed like a combination of a Star Wars spaceship and a scary metallic black widow. The lights and the huge TV display screens shone on the nearby condos. I would think that their residents will be experiencing day for night for the next while!
had the most scary Patrick Keating laying down the law on all the possible infractions a resident of such a condo can break. The consequences of these infractions were dire, indeed. In a career where Carmen Aguirre has played from Frida Kahlo to a possible future appearance as Tina Modotti, Elevate
had her as a most authentic yapping dog.
was all about the travails of those unlucky enough to live in the North Shore and who must navigate its two bridges. Thanks to the CBC Second Narrows is no longer that but the ominous sounding Ironworkers Memorial Bridge (there is a police incident on the north lanes). This play brings into the mix not only one of these ironworkers (this one much alive) but Malcolm Lowry, a young couple in a car about to have a divorce over whipping cream, and a Native Canadian cop played so well by a non yapping Carmen Aguirre.
Loring’s Thin Veneer
, after all that I have read about the hockey riots to the point of boring banality, put a fresh take on it. This is truly a radio play that I hope to hear again soon. It is a vision of Vancouver that while putting an uncertainty into its future, it does offer us a plausible positive resolution.
In fact as Rosemary and I navigated home there were no crowds. Perhaps the game was not over. But then as Shaker Paleja said so often in The Thin Veneer
, “ We lost, we were let down.” And yes the Canucks lost. Those who braved a Vancouver evening at the theatre were the winners.
The Cowboys Of The Santa Fe - Texas
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
All photographs taken with a Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD with a 90mm lens. Film was the last of my Kodak Plus-X in both 120 and 220.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
|English Rose, Rosa 'William Shakespeare' & English Rose |
Rosa 'Spirit of Freedom'
In the last year my granddaughter Lauren, 9, has shown an interest for details that quite amazes me. One day Rosemary bought a container of liquid hand soap and put it in the guest bathroom. She told, “ I bet Lauren notices it.” As soon as Lauren and Rebecca arrived some Saturdays ago (they visit us all day just about every Saturday) she immediately went into the bathroom and came out and asked me,” What’s the container in the bathroom for?” Any diversion from my usual route in the car will immediately make Lauren ask,” Where are we going?” or “Why did we turn on this street?” She has a very good sense of direction.
Of late she has spent much more time in the garden than her sister who maneuvers with both hands, her phone and her iTouch, upstairs. She likes to be in the garden as Rosemary and I fidget trying to figure out when the garden is officially last year’s and we can begin to tear up beds and change things. Casi the cat is with us and he plays with Lauren. Lauren looks for roses that might be in bloom. With clippers we cut them and she arranges them artistically into a vase that we use to decorate our Saturday dinner table. Last Saturday had few pickings. Previous week's Rosa ‘The Fairy’
was no longer in bloom but the flowers were still fresh in Lauren’s arrangement. We found that Rosa ‘ William Shakespeare’ had one yet to open bloom but that Rosa
‘Spirit of Freedom’ had one flower that was at least one day past its prime. We cut both and we decorated our arrangement using some of the long and now most aggressive canes of the species rose sericea ssp. omeiensis f. pteracantha
|Lauren in garden, fall 2011|
Today I looked at the arrangement and Spirit of Freedom’s pink petals were all over the table cloth but William Shakespeare was looking very good.
It is impossible for me to forget my special affinity for Rosa
‘William Shakespeare’ who is not a frequent bloomer and, indeed, was delisted by its hybridizer, David Austin when he introduced a supposed better version called William Shakespeare 2000. That number, 2000 does not sit well for me with the glorious name of a rose that is a rich crimson that darkens to maroon as it ages. Even Mexicans might object to such a name.
Mexicans and Latin Americans in general have a thing about foreign names. In Mexico City there is a nice statue of the father or the United States. The statue is in a plaza with the name Jorge Washington. For some years I lived on Calle Guillermo Shakespeare.
As soon as Argentine birth record officials found out Sean was John which in turn was Juan, few in Argentina could ever be called Sean unless some money was transferred under the table. All in all a Rosa ‘Guillermo Shakespeare’ sounds a lot better than the one with the number. This is why I have such an appreciation of my good old Rosa
‘William Shakespeare’ whom I believe is saying good night to us all until next spring.
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor - Vibro Con El Ambiente -
Monday, October 03, 2011
|Raúl & Alex, Veracruz 1964|
My father was most central to my life until I was 11. He voluntarily left the house when my mother told him we as a family could no longer cope with his alcoholism. He visited us on weekends and he would take me to the movies. There were times when that custom did not happen as my mother determined that he had had too much too drink and I would stay home. I was always ambivalent about this. I was many times ashamed when my friends were around when my father arrived drunk but at the same time I really loved my father and I always looked forward to a movie with him. I was particular fond of the smell of his jacket. It combined whiskey, Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes and some sort of brisk after shave lotion. It was my father’s smell so unique it is still in my memory.
I returned to Argentina from Mexico in 1965 to do my my military service in the Argentine Navy. But my real reason for the return was to find my father. I found him and we had many pleasant father and son afternoons until about 6 months later he died.
Between my leaving Buenos Aires in 1954 and returning in 1965 I had a few very good surrogate fathers. One of them was my grandmother who taught me many things like humor, Cervantes, about my grandfather, art and spoiled me to no end and took me to see cowboy and war movies. I had the excellent Brothers of Holy Cross
at St. Edward’s High School in Austin. They instilled in me a love of knowledge and prodded me to do things I didn’t want to do which now I see as a Godsend, like my now severely limited ability to read musci because of lack of practice. A couple of brothers, Brother Edwin Reggio, CSC
and Brother Anton Mattingly, CSC
inspired me to pick up a camera a buy one and thus defined my life in the end.
But I had another surrogate father, Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
whom I met in 1964. His background has always been a mystery. We know that his father was from the Philippines and his mother was Mexican but nobody has ever been able to find out his place of birth. Was it the US where he lived for many years? Or was it Mexico? We know that he went to a very good prep school in Switzerland and that there he perfected his uncanny ability to master any language quickly. Raúl speaks at least 9 languages and can even speak German with a Yiddish accent or Hungarian with a French accent.
It was Raúl (he was 15 years older) who taught me about the better life of good films, good literature, history and good food.
I remember driving my VW beetle one day around one of the many Mexico City roundabouts (glorietas). Raúl was with me. I spotted a pedestrian crossing so I did what anybody who has lived in Mexico City for some time will do, I honked on the horn and accelerated. Raúl was extremely angry and he told me, “That is a human being you want to run over. Think of what you are doing and stop. Don’t hit him.”
In spite of having lived so many years in Mexico City (and perhaps even having been born in Mexico) he had something European about him. It was something almost alien that I soon appreciated and tried to copy.
Raúl became my best go-to-the-movies partner. He always picked them. They were mostly French or Italian films and early Peter Sellers comedies. Perhaps he wanted to instill in me a culture of the avant-garde (we used to drink coffee at a place called Un Chien Andalou (it was actually called El Gato Andaluz) and of the European fine art film directors. It was enough for me that the Antonioni films he took me to, which went well over my head, had the beautiful Monica Vitti. That was enough for me!
With Raúl I experienced the culture of the café and talking into the wee hours of the night. With Raúl I learned to scrounge for books in book bins of the many bookstores that in those days, the 60s, closed around 1 in the morning. It was Raúl who first exposed me to Aldo Ciccolini playing Erik Satie's Gymnopedies.
And as I wrote here
, Raúl taught me of the wonders of the sea and its salt. I had until then mostly avoided the sea and the oceans and had no idea how important the sea had been to my mother had been born in Manila.
Because Raúl was of Filipino heritage I learned more about the country of my family and many of its words and some of its language.
There was only one talent that I had in which I could top Raúl. This was eating. We were often invited to the house of my Filipino aunt, Fermina Miranda and my Uncle Luís. We were there for some special lunches where Robby (my cousin and Fermina and Luis’s son), a friend of Robby’s Raúl and I would compete as to which of us could eat more. We would have platefuls of spaghetti and then we would eat T-bones. We would brag, “This is my third one!” Then when dessert came we would do the same. I have to admit that Raúl (not in the least fat and has always maintained a handsome trim line) won many of these. But so did I!
If anything to this day I can go anywhere and hold my ground in any conversation about literature, music and the various other arts. I know about this stuff but Raúl taught me to appreciate art and how it makes us better human beings. While I lose my temper quite frequently I would never honk the horn and accelerate should I see a pedestrian crossing the street.
I called up Raúl a few days ago. He is in his mid 80s and still goes to the office every day. He rents and sells exclusive properties to well heeled foreigners who visit Mexico or come to stay. He frequently goes to out of the way places in Poland or Hungary with his two cousins, one of them being the actress Ivette Mimieux, the other Gloria.
I told him (on Skype), “Many years ago when somebody asked you what you were you answered in Spanish, “Soy híbrido.”
(I am a hybrid). By this you meant that you were not Mexican, or Filipino or American but nothing and everything.
I further told him that after having lived in Vancouver since 1975 (when I was about to move to Vancouver Raúl had warned me, “Remember, the fact that the people there will be mostly white it will not mean that they are civilized.”)
I still feel like a tourist visiting. I asked him if he ever felt he belonged anywhere. I told him that I had recently discovered that nostalgia for a place only happens when you are not there.
He said that was not true for him. He mentioned listening and watching a Mexican tenor sing on TV in a Berlin program and that he felt huge nostalgia for Mexico even though he was watching it in Mexico.
He told me that one of the most beautiful cities in Europe is Varsovia (so much more romantic sounding in Spanish than the English variant Warsaw) even though most of it is a brick by brick reconstruction of the original city that was bombed by the Germans. And he added in Spanish, “Vibro con el ambiente. Vibro en Varsovia."
He explained that some places give him a felling of a sympathetic vibration much like if you strike a tuning fork and get it close to another of the same type, the other will vibrate along. He belongs when that happens. He might appreciate everything that London has to offer but probably (I suspect he would be motionless there).
In these last few days I have been waiting for that vibración. I have not felt it yet. Perhaps I might have to see L’Eclisse,
feast my eyes on Monica Vitti, the rest will surely come. Or could it be that, I too, soy híbrido
Sunday, October 02, 2011
Recently Rosemary and I watched Frank Tuttle’s 1942 film This Gun for Hire
with Allan Ladd, Veronica Lake and Robert Preston. It may have been the third time that I have seen this vintage film noir with a remarkable performance by Allan Ladd. Ladd was phenomenally underrated for most of his acting life. Having seen this, the next film to see is another Allan Ladd/Veronica Lake film, Stuart Heisler’s, 1942, The Glass K
ey (a 1932 novel by Dashiell Hammett). From there it might be logical to proceed to the Maltese Falcon
(a Hammet novel) or perhaps Rosemary and I could skip four decades to 1982 and watch the very fine Hammett
(directed by no less than Wim Wenders and with a superb actor Frederic Forrest.
Very soon (perhaps by the end of this month) this sort of semi illogical viewing schedule will next to impossible to achieve. Let me explain.
For some time I have been regularly going to the remainder/last copy film DVD bin of my closest Real Canadian Superstore on Marine Drive. I have even made friends with the Italian/Canadian woman at the digital camera lab (nearby) Manuela who when she sees me going at the bins (you must transfer one side of the pile to the other without missing one DVD as some are only one copy) she says to me, “There are some good ones today.”
I have recently found in that bin Robert Wise’s, 1963, The Haunting
with Claire Bloom and Julie Harris (one of my favourite female actors of all time), Paul Schrader’s 1998 Affliction
with Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn and Willem Dafoe (!!! are definitely needed here!) and John Sayles’s, 1996, Lonestar
with Kris Christopherson, Matthew McConaughey but also with Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Peña who quietly make the movie a real gem.
After seeing Lonestar
(very little violence even though it is labeled a Western) and reading a review of a novel in the NY Times by John Sayles (the reviewer) I knew I wanted to see more Sayles films but in particular his 1997 film (all in Spanish and filmed in Mexico) Men With Guns
(Los Hombres Armados).
Rebecca is going to review in my blog the forthcoming Vancouver Opera production of Westside Story.
I wanted to see with her the film to prepare her. The 7 or 8 copies at the Vancouver Public Library are all out.
My granddaughters and I have been watching the Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan Tarzan movies after Saturday dinner. We have seen three of them and we plan to stop with the sixth one Tarzan’s New York Adventure
because that is the last one with O’Sullivan who is half the reason to see this series.
I went to Videomatica (it is still open) and asked for Men with Guns, Tarzan’s New York Adventure
; Tarzan’s Secret Treasure
and Westside Story
. All three DVDs were put in front of me instantly.
I challenge anybody in Vancouver to get these films in some other way in a short period of time. I am not even sure that all these four films would be available for even illegal downloads.
Once Videomatica is gone the only game in town for any sort of esoteric film choice will be the Vancouver Public Library. They do not have Lonestar but they do have Affliction
and The Haunting
. They have no This Gun for Hire
, no Glass Key
and no Hammett
. But they do have Beau Geste
with Gary Cooper and Laura
with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Vincent Price and Clifton Webb. Videomatica had Vancouver’s only copy of Carlos Saura’s, 1999, Goya in Bordeaux
until their copy “disappeared”.
Perhaps by now you know what I mean. We (according to my friend Paul Leisz there are few of us and more of them who want to download the latest or near latest from Netflix) who treasure old films, (is 1996 Lonestar an old film?). We who enjoy good films (the ones more likely to disappear from availability lists) will have to resort as my friend John Lekich says, to waiting for the off chance that any of the above will be offered by Turner Classics Movie Channel.
Until then I will socialize with Manuela at the Real Canadian Superstore and if I want to share with Lauren Gunga Din
(I saw it with Rebecca when she was much younger) I now I can take it out from the Vancouver Public Library. If Rebecca says, “Papi let’s see Sahara
(with Humphrey Bogart)” one of her favourite old films, I will have to tell her that Casablanca
may be the only viable alternate option. Only Videomatica still has Sahara.
So Mama Don't Take My Videomatica Away