For this week’s rhapsody we have the Rhapsody for Piano and Bass Trombone by Hidas Frigyes.
I spent my Sunday afternoon at the Zoo… not my first choice for good drawing time but it was a nice day so why not. Regrettably when I got to the Orangutan exhibit I heard that the male Orangutan, Towan, had died of respiratory problems the week before. He was 48 years old.
I feel just a little bad that the last time I sketched him, really was the last time.
For this week I decided to try for something in the way of a rockumentary… or more accurately mockumentarys like This is Spinal Tap or the Ruttles since i enjoy parodies. Unfortunately this didn’t go quite as I planned. Having seen most of the ones everyone talks about the remaining ones on my list turned out to not actually comedies more accurately dramas using the documentary style to tell the story and were only mildly funny… (either that or I didn’t get the joke.)
The first film I watched, Hard Core Logo is based on the novel of the same name by Micheal Turner and directed by Bruce McDonald and tells the story of the reunion tour of the Punk Band Hard Core Label after being brought back together at a anti-gun benefit inspired by the shooting of their mentor.
From there we follow them across Canada watching everything that go wrong, including the band’s schizophrenic bassist looses his meds, the guitarist missing the opportunity to join a more successful band. Gradually everything falls apart ending with the band falling apart and the temperamental lead singer shooting himself (after getting into a fight with the guitarist on stage.
While this film has it’s funny moments, it’s definitely more of a drama despite marketing suggesting it’s a Canadian version of Spinal Tap.
The next film on my list, 24 Hour Party People is a fanciful comic film telling the mostly true story of the Manchester music scene from 1975 to 1992. When news reporter Tony Wilson, played by Steve Coogan sits in on a Sex Pistols concert he is inspired to be part of the scene founding the record label Factory Records and the accompanying night club, the Hacienda.
From there come’s the history of what starts as Punk and becomes what will be known as the Manchester scene as well as the bands Tony supports, including Joy division (who become New Order after their lead singer’s suicide,) A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column and Happy Mondays.
Factory Records is technically successful butl barely ever breaks even, finally falling apart. All of this is a romanticized version of the mostly true story with Tony as our narrator frequently breaking the fourth wall to tell us that something that we just saw on the screen didn’t actually happen.
The first in my selection, Kakushi Toride no San-Akunin: The Last Princess, was a direct remake of Hidden Fortress directed by Shinji Higuchi. It starts out just like the original, two commoners escape from chattel slavery in the middle of a war, discover gold and get shanghaied into moving the gold by it’s owners, the last retainer of a defeated clan and their princess, to help transport it from the Hidden Fortress through enemy lines to the final destination. But somewhere in the middle it starts to deviate in it’s own way going for a more action driven finale.
While it certainly higher production values then the original film it lacks any of Kurosawa’s skill of pacing jumping the chase of the plot rather than the nearly half hour of buildup of the original, to make matters worse I think it ultimately misses the whole point of the original film focusing more on the princess as a protagonist than the peasants and then redeeming one of them and turning him into the real hero of the film.
The next on my list The Outrage is a western version of Rashomon, directed by Martin Ritt. Done so straight that there’s hardly any other way to describe it,other than Rashomon Gate s replaced with a train station with a preacher, prospector and con artist talking about all the different versions of the murder that happened.
This has officially become my favorite Western version of a Kurosawa film. It is a lovely all star cast with a very young William Shatner as the preacher, Edward G. Robinson as the wonderfully amoral cynical con artist and Paul Newman as Toshiba Mifune’s character (though in this version he’s a Mexican Bandit) It’s wonderfully done in such a minimalist quality I could imagine it being staged as a play. If I have any criticism about it is that maybe it stays a little too close to Kurosawa’s style.