Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I am a die hard Tintin fan and I can prove it. Look at the photo below to see the main characters in that Belgium/French world famous bandes dessinées. I have the entire cast and all the books of Tintin in my collection and many books about Tintin. Of course I wanted to see what the latest Tintin movie is about. Based on the series of books by Hergé, the film is produced by Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy. This is a big budget movie estimated at a cost of US $ 130 Millions that recently opened in the Czech Republic on 23 October 2011. This 3D motion-capture and CGI extravaganza cleverly combines three of Tintin's original stories: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure (Le Crabe aux Pinces d'Or, Le Secret de la Licorne and Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge.) If you watch the film, which I think is very good, you can see from the mascots on my photo that Spielberg and Co. have done a very good job. The computer rendering of all of Hergé's (that's his way to nickname himself from his real name Georges Rémi, from the French pronunciation of his initials) characters is amazingly well done. To the right in the photo is the diva Bianca Castafiore. From the comic books (I really prefer their real name of "bandes dessinées") you know that she is a soprano whose voice is feared of being able to shatter glass but that never actually happened in the books. Instead, her singing voice was the terror for Captain Haddock and Tintin's dog Snowy (Milou.) The film worked that into its own story and Ms. Castafiore was given the job to shatter the glass container of the model boat named Licorne with the high note at the end of her recital.

This naturally involves operatic work again. In all of Tintin's books, Ms. Castafiore always and only sang one song: Gounod's Jewel Song from his opera Faust: Ah! Je Ris... I was looking forward to that scene in the movie but was surprised to see that a different opera was used. The song you hear is "Je Veux Vivre" sung by American soprano Renée Fleming. That song is known as "Juliet's Waltz" from the opera Roméo et Juliette, also by Gounod. To even confuse the viewers more, John Williams opened the diva's singing scene with music from Rossini's The Barber of Seville! My guess is that "Je Veux Vivre"'s climatic ending has a higher note than that of the "Jewel Song" and that is more realistic of it shattering all the glasses in the audience. Since it's always nice to know what they are singing about, the French lyrics are below... with translation for you.

If you like this, go see the movie and get to know Tintin. Spielberg and Co. will be producing at least two more Tintin movies that will come along in the future.

Gounod: Roméo et Juliette

Je Veux Vivre (Juliet's Waltz)

Ah! Je Veux Vivre.... Ah! I want to live
dans ce rêve qui m'enivre.... in the dream that intoxicates me
ce jour encore. .... this day again
Douce flamme.... Sweet flame
je te garde dans mon âme.... I keep you in my soul
comme un trésor. .... like a treasure.

Cette ivresse.... This drunkenness
de jeunesse.... of youth
ne dure, hélas, qu'un jour.... lasts, alas, but a day
puis vient l'heure.... then comes the hour
où l'on pleure.... when one weeps
le coeur cède a l'amour.... the heart yields to love
et le bonheur fuit sans retour. .... and happiness escapes without returning.

Je veux vivre.... I want to live
loin de l'hiver morose.... far from that sullen winter
laisse-moi sommeiller.... let me linger and rest
et respirer la rose.... and breath the rose
avant de l'effeuiller. .... before stripping it of its petals

Ahhhh ahhh ahhh

Douce flamme.... Sweet flame
reste dans mon âme.... stay in my soul
comme un doux trésor.... like a precious treasure
longtemps encore. .... a long while still.

In the clip you see by clicking on the photo below, Tintin and Capitain Haddock followed the trail to the third model of the Unicorn that contains the third parchemin to the treasure of Red Rackham. The arch-villain Ivanovich Sakharine has a plan to shatter the glass container protecting that boat and grab the parchemin.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Queen of the Night... Not

You heard a mezzo-soprano already. Mezzo-soprano ("medium" soprano) voice usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (it is written as A3-A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4). Push comes to shove, some may have the range from G3-C6. Soprano, on the other hand, especially Dramatic coloratura soprano, has range from B3 to high F6! F6 is very very high! That note naturally brings me to talk again about Mozart's Magic Flute opera where his Queen of the Night aria reaches the note F6 not one but four times. I had an old blog of this aria from the movie "The Magic Flute," but that soprano is not among the best sopranos who sang this aria. Here is a better rendition by Diana Damrau. This opera was in German and the words are below to help you understand what the Queen was raging about while ordering her daughter princess Pamina to kill her father, the Queen's husband Sarastro:

Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, (The revenge of Hell cooks in my heart,)
Tot und Verzweiflung flammet um mich her! (Death and despair flame around me!)
Fühlt nicht durch dich Sarastro (If Sarastro does not feel through you)
Todesschmerzen, (Death’s pain,)
So bist du meine Tochter nimmermehr. (Then you will never again be my daughter.)
Verstossen sei auf ewig, (you’ll be Disowned eternally,)
Verlassen sei auf ewig, (Abandoned may you be eternally,)
Zertrümmert sei'n auf ewig (Destroyed be eternally)
Alle Bande der Natur (All bonds of nature,)
Wenn nicht durch dich (If not by you)
Sarastro wird erblassen! (Sarastro becomes pale! (as death))
Hört, Rachegötter, (Hear, the revenge of the Gods,)
Hoert der Mutter Schwur! (Hear the mother's oath!)

Everybody wants to sing this aria. Following Ms. Damrau is a hilarious attempt by a nobody soprano. Pay attention to the amusement felt by the violinist sitting behind the singer. She can't reach the high notes, but she's so willing to try!
Queen of the Night

Sunday, December 11, 2011


From the sacred to the profane, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle to Womanizer! Well, just a matter of speech and not really profane so please do not be offended if you love Britney. I love her too and I think she's just perfect! This clip is to prove that I am not always old fashion, and here comes Britney! This is really a practice run for me to see how the video codecs behave in HTML5 when the source is high definition (HD.) To accommodate the non-Flash world, I think the price is pretty high. The video requirement is about triple in size and the processing is painfully slow. Too bad Apple does not like Flash! Fair warning, she's nude at times!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Agnus Dei

Time to take the plunge and from now on, my video clips will be encoded using the new HTML5 protocol. I am sure there will be issues to resolve such as aspect ratio, subtitles etc..., but these videos will play on iPhones and iPads.

You may remember in some of my previous blogs of Fellini's "And the Ship Sails On," there were a couple of references to Agnus Dei from Rossini's "Petite Messe Solennelle," here and here. (Remember, these older blogs will not play on Apple's devices that do not support Flash.) I felt it incomplete to leave that work without returning to it today. I am far from being religious, but many if not all of the great composers wrote divine music especially for religion, and one cannot escape the reality that it is an integral part of life. Here is a complete performance (length 7 minutes 13 seconds) of Rossini's Agnus Dei. Listening to this kind of music, don't you wonder what the singing is about? I do! Without appropriate background, it will be tough to know what the words say... so I did my homework just to satisfy my curiosity... and you can read about it here:

From this, I plagiarized the following..."In Liturgy, Agnus Dei is a name given to the formula recited thrice by the priest at Mass (except on Good Friday and Holy Saturday) in the Roman rite. It occurs towards the end of the Canon, after the prayer "Haec commixtio", etc. Having finished saying this prayer, the priest covers the chalice with the pall, genuflects, rises, inclines his head (but not his body) profoundly towards the altar and, with hands joined before his breast (and not, therefore, resting on the altar), says with a loud voice: "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis" (Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us), repeats the formula unchanged, and still a third time, substituting now "dona nobis pacem" (grant us peace) for "miserere nobis", meanwhile striking his breast thrice, once at each "miserere nobis" and once at "Dona nobis pacem", with the right hand (the left hand resting throughout, from the first "Miserere", on the altar)."

Now listen to the mezzo-soprano Manuela Custer (born in Novara, received her diploma from the "Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory in Turin under the guidance of Elio Battaglia. She made her debut in 1985 as ENRICO in Rossini's Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra with Lella Cuberli, Rockwell Blake, and Daniela Dessì, conducted by Gabriele Ferro,) and the choir, that's what they are singing. I am not sure why they cannot memorize these lyrics and have the need to each carry the pages that they hold in front of them. The words are not that complicated admittedly it's Latin. I am sure I can remember this if I were paid to sing this in a choir... but they will have to pay me handsomely! A king's ransom would do!
Agnus Dei

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pina in HTML5

OK. It's time to adapt! For years, I have used Flash as the format of the video clips I post here. That is fine and dandy, but my clips cannot be played by devices that do not support Flash such as Apple's iPhones and iPads. To solve that problem, I am now using HTML5. This is the same clip of the movie Pina, in HTML 5. This should work with all browsers but Chrome should be the best one to use; AND also this should work with the Safari browser native to the iThings of Apple. If you have any problems, please let me know.
Correction: Google Chrome is not the best browser to view my new HTML formatted streaming videos because it does not allow the full screen mode. Safari does.

Friday, November 25, 2011


The Darjeeling Limited (2007,) a film by director Wes Anderson is a fine comedy exposing American materialism and its often times comedic spiritualism in a subtle and quite funny critical manner. This film has a very moving scene depicting a traditional Indian cremation burial of a young boy and his father's grief during the dispersion of the child's remains in the river. But if you find this too gloomy, and you want something more uplifting, another scene of that movie was blogged here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Although I have quite a few videos about ballet, I rarely pay much attention to them... There is just not enough time for everything. I was always intrigued about dance sequences in movies by talented directors. There is one that is very famous in the movie Hable Con Ella by Pedro Almodóvar, in which he showed a scene excerpted from "Cafe Mueller" by surrealist choreographer Pina Bausch (the scene with two sleep walkers and the chairs.) Being surreal (one can define it as marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream which may be unbelievable and fantastic at the same time,) on first blush, that kind of dance seems to be very strange, but once you pay close attention, you realize that there is something to it and you want to see more, perhaps by sheer curiosity. Recently, there is a newly released movie by Wim Wenders, who was made famous by his classic movie Wings of Desire. Wenders made this movie to eulogize her death and to honor Pina Bausch for her work. That 3D movie is named Pina, which is a feature-length dance film with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch who untimely died in the summer of 2009.

Wim Wenders' 1hr 46min documentary takes the audience straight onto the stage and follows the dancers out of the theatre into the city and the surrounding areas of Wuppertal - the place, which for 35 years, was Bausch's home. "Pina" had its world premiere at the Festival in Berlin in 2011, where it was highly appreciated. It was screened in Romanian cinemas starting in September of this year. Just last week, Wim Wenders attended a premiere during the 6th International Rome Film Festival on October 31, 2011 in Rome, Italy. He was also at the AFI Fest 2011 premiere of Pina held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on May 11th, 2011. Ottawa will premiere Pina on November 22.

The clip below lasts 15 minutes and 37 seconds and it contains some scenes I selected from Pina which reflect my personal bias about this surreal art form. I think Bausch was very obsessed with visual art, gravity and repetitiveness... which makes me want more to see what she'll show next, and what the dancers will do to their bodies next. The scenes are quite surreal but at the same time quite beautiful... the dance energetic, stochastic, athletic but has its own beauty; and the music is just what I like too. The audio is in German and I am sorry I did not have the time to turn on the English subtitle. The strange group dance is to illustrate the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The dialogue is sparse and it's easy to guess.

According to some critics, the 3D does add another dimension to the movie (of course, it's 3D) so watching my clip does not do justice to Wenders' work. If you like this kind of art and are curious, go see the entire movie in 3D. There is a lot more than what you see here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dull Boy Jack

It's Halloween and you want to be scared silly. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a proverb. It appeared in James Howell's Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659.) While the proverb is used in several examples of popular media (from James Joyce's short story, "Araby", to Jack Kerouac's Big Sur, to the 1957 movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai,) I think the most famous example appears in the 1980 movie The Shining, in the clip below. The proverb's psychotic use in The Shining has profound effect on popular culture, inspiring several other works in more recent movies and videos.

It doesn't matter how many times I watch this scene, it continues to scare the daylight out of me. Put yourself in Wendy's shoes: she has an only son, Danny, who seems to have strange and scary mental "shines;" she is cooped up with her son and a husband, Jack, who behaves more and more psychotic by the day; who works day and night on his book; they are alone and snow bound in a huge and creepy hotel... Then she discovers what his book is about... That amply justifies why she holds on to the baseball bat with dear life when walking the hallways of the Overlook hotel. It's Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining!" Perfect for a Halloween night! You want more? Watch this!
Dull Boy Jack

Saturday, October 29, 2011


While I am trying to tickle your funny bones, let me show you an old clip that I never had a chance to get to this blog...

Shower (洗澡) is a 1999 Chinese comedy-drama film about a family-run bath house in Beijing, directed by Zhang Yang. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 14 September 1999 and won the FIPRESCI Prize (International Critics' Award.) Shower was selected for numerous film festivals, including San Sebastian Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and Seattle International Film Festival, where it received many awards.

This movie has very good rating... not that that really matters because I think movie rating is very subjective and you should be the ultimate reviewer for yourself. This clip is designed to declare that this is a comedy... but this movie is more dramatic than comedic. The opening shower scene is obviously a spoof of a car wash to get laugh. Did you see that the brushes are only for the rear end? Don't they wash the front end too? There is also a woman getting in the booth nearby. Now, that is a huge challenge because the topology is quite different and I would like to see this set up for the female customers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Indians and Cowboys

I feel bad for the kids of today. I think their entertainment is largely controlled by adults with adults' taste and ethics. Being kids, their tastes may be different. In my days, this is the kind of fun we had, non-sensical, full of stereotypical and in today's standards, offensive material but full of fun. Of course, there were too many Indians getting killed but being kids, we loved it.

Here is my favorite scene from The Son of Pale Face. I still laugh out loud when I see it again. No physics, no politics, just pure fun. The cowboy on the fast horse was Roy Rogers riding his famous horse Trigger. You can see the Harvard logo on the car driven by the son of pale face and I love the umbrella scene.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Love At First Sight

Some told me I'm too dark, as reflected from the clips I chose... Some accused me of old fashion from the clips I chose... Some asked me to lighten up... So here is what all of us should love, light as a feather... bright like a sunny day... still old fashion, yes, but that's me. Of course you all know what that music is: Sleeping Beauty - Waltz, by the great Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893.)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Frida Kahlo

In December 12, 2006, I blogged a clip from the movie Frida but did not say anything about or even named that movie. Let's now elaborate a bit more...

Frida is a 2002 biographical film depicting the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It stars Salma Hayek in her Academy Award nominated portrayal of Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

The movie was adapted by Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas and Edward Norton from the book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. It was directed by Julie Taymor and won Oscars for Best Makeup and well deserved Best Original Music Score by Elliot Goldenthal.

This clip has the beginning and ending of the movie, in which Frida, bedridden and dying, determined to attend a solo exhibition of her paintings in Mexico. The movie begins with Frida and her bed being transported to the exhibition where Lila Downs sings the song "La Llorona" accompanied by a mariachi band. During her cremation, the song you hear is "Burn It Blue" by Caetano Veloso and Lila Downs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Me Love You Long Time

Here is one clip from a hard hitting Viet Nam war movie: Full Metal Jacket which is a 1987 war film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is an adaptation of the 1979 novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford and stars Matthew Modine as the main character nicknamed "Joker." In this scene, Joker was having some off time just prior to the 1968 big famous Tet offensive that was the definitive turning point of the Viet-Nam war. This scene was famous with Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made for Walkin' and the "Me So Horny" and "Me Love You Long Time" of the Da Nang's hooker. This is the only light moments of this very tense war movie full of scenes not for the faint of hearts, especially that of the deranged marine who killed the drill sergeant and committed suicide after his famous uttering "Seven-six-two millimeter. Full metal jacket" which was the specification of the ammunition used by the infantry riflemen during this war.
Full Metal Jacket

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


How about some country music for a change? Willie Nelson was joined on stage by some of the biggest names in country music for a concert to celebrate his 70th birthday in 2003. The live event was released on a DVD entitled "Willie Nelson & Friends: Live & Kickin." This clip is a 14 minute excerpt from that DVD. If you didn't like the operas, you may like this.
Willie Nelson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Miminashi Hoichi

Hoichi the Earless (耳なし芳一 Miminashi Hōichi) is a character from Japanese mythology. His story is well known in Japan, and the best-known English translation first appeared in the book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn.

A version of this story appears in the film Kwaidan, as well as the play The Dream of a Summer Day, which are both based on Hearn's work. Hoichi the Earless is closely associated with Akama Shrine in Shimonoseki, as his story takes place at the Buddhist temple Amidaji, which preceded the shrine before Shintō became the state religion of Japan. According to legend, Hoichi was a blind minstrel (or biwa hoshi) with amazing gifts for the biwa (a loquat-shaped Japanese lute). He was particularly good at performing the Tale of the Heike, an epic describing the fall of Emperor Antoku, who is buried at Amidaji Temple. His performances were so wonderful that "even the goblins could not refrain from tears."

The ghosts of Emperor Antoku's dynasty came and lead Hoichi to nightly performances at the palace that really is the cemetery among the tombs. It is also well known that a person that has developed a relationship with the world beyond would eventually expire due to these nefast influences... as it is evident on the face of Hoichi. That didn't escape the attention of the head priest of the Amidaji temple and he decided to help Hoichi with an eastern version of exorcism... or rather a preemptive move to ward off the ghosts' attempts. The standard most effective remedy is to paint Hoichi's body with the Kanji characters of the Heart Sutra for protection that makes him invisible to the ghosts. Unfortunately, a grievous oversight took place and his ears did not get any of the magic Kanji letters. The ghosts came, they only saw the ears so they took them to their Emperor as proof that they did their diligence. Thus Hoichi became the Earless but survived to continue playing his biwa.

This clip comes from the movie Kwaidan in the Criterion collection. This movie is pretty dark and scary with many ghosts. I no longer watch Kwaidan because I will surely get a heart attack if I do. I told you I'm afraid of ghosts, especially the beautiful ones in form of beautiful but lethal women who usually are either snakes or worse, foxes. Not for me! Besides, if the head priest wants to paint my body with Kanji stuff, he'll tickle me to death way before the beautiful women get to me.
Glass Symphony

Monday, September 12, 2011

Easy To Love

A recent blog of the movie "Midnight in Paris" highlighted Cole Porter. To know who Cole Porter was, you ought to watch the movie "DeLovely." You can find several blogs I made of this movie, one of which is here. That clip has a well loved song by Porter "Easy To Love." You may want to see my clip of March 2007 to see Kevin Kline play the piano and hear him sing this Cole Porter tune when he was declaring to divorcee Linda Lee Thomas, played by my favorite actress Ashley Judd.

This famous song was featured in many movies and recorded by all of the best vocalists. Today's clip is from a movie by Woody Allen (again... that's because his movies always have fabulous choice of music that is worth showcasing,) Anything Else. Christina Ricci, also my favorite actress, is in the role of adorable Amanda, always arriving late to her dates. This movie starts with a sound track of Billie Holliday singing "Easy To Love."
Glass Symphony
Click on this player to hear "Easy To Love" by Billie Holliday.

Click on this player to hear "Easy To Love" by Ella Fitzgerald.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

The guitar is still stuck in my mind, so here is another clip about that musical instrument.

Early in his career, in 1969, Woody Allen signed a contract with United Artists. He wrote "The Jazz Baby," a screenplay about a jazz musician set in the thirties but that was turned down by the UA executives. He replaced that with "Bananas," which I do not like much. In 1998, he returned to his original idea and out came "Sweet and Lowdown," telling the story of a fictional arrogant, obnoxious, alcoholic jazz guitarist named Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn after they could not get Johnny Depp because he was not available) who regards himself as perhaps the best guitarist in the world, or second best, after his idol, Django Reinhardt.

Sweet and Lowdown was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Samantha Morton.) Morton played the role of Hattie, a lovable young mute girl who did not utter a single word of dialogue in the film. Her performance was met with lots of critical acclaim.

The music for the film was arranged and conducted by Dick Hyman. All of the guitar solos were played by guitarist Howard Alden. Alden also coached Sean Penn on playing the guitar for his role in the film. The soundtrack of this movie is excellent, containing 15 memorable songs mostly to showcase the guitar solos.

In this clip, Penn went cruising with his buddy and they picked up two young women. After a short straw decision, Penn was stuck with Hattie, who was mute, and took her to his room with a promise to play the guitar for her, a promise he kept. She instantly fell in love with his playing... If you can find the time, watch this movie. It's refreshingly good and very entertaining.
No resistance

Thursday, September 08, 2011

At Sea Funeral

This is why the Gloria N. sailed to the island of Erimo, to spread soprano Edmea Tetua's ashes in the waters of the island of her birth. I think that no matter how much you hate a person, you probably would shed some tears at that person's funeral because death is so final! Again, the somber mood is reintroduced with the sad piano score of Rossini's Agnus Dei. After a brief ritual, the soprano's voice is heard from a gramophone. What you hear is the great and very well known aria from the third act of Verdi's Aida: O Patria Mia. That aria is sung by an Ethiopian princess, daughter of king Amonasro, held captured as slave by the Egyptians. In love with Radames, an Egyptian general, she is lamenting that her love is lost and she intends to commit suicide in the river Nile, and will never again see her country. Well... I am sorry to be so dramatic in my explanation, but that is what operas are about.

Despite intense jealousy and envy, soprano Cuffari broke down along with others in attendance. The very brief shot of Tetua's lover is shown again just prior to the frames showing that all ashes have been dispersed by the wind.

If you have not seen this movie, try to watch it. "E La Nave Va"'s music score is truly exquisite, and there are so many interesting characters to enjoy, including that of a love sick rhinoceros! What? Watch this movie to see the final scenes.
Fierce Competition

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Operatic Impromptu

Stark contrast between society classes in Italy in the 10s is obvious in "E La Nave Va." It is seen repeatedly throughout the movie but none is as eloquent as this clip is showing you: the huge difference between the poor working class and the high upper echelon that the operatic stars represent. In the first clip when the ocean liner departs, a quick glimpse of the sweating men stoking the boiler was shown during the choral of Verdi's "La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny)." In this clip, during a tour given by the ship's captain, the working men asked the most prominent diva, soprano Ildebranda Cuffari, to sing for them. She was immediately upstaged by tenor Aureliano Fuciletto. What follows is a fierce competition from all the others, to the delight of the crew. If you watch again the first clip, you would have seen the disdain tenor Fuciletto displayed for soprano Cuffari when she arrived in her car.

The point here is that these voices are so marvelous, they can compete against the deafening noise from the engine in the boiler room. I will add one more clip from this film, the actual at sea funeral... before moving on to a different movie. Another Fellini? How about Casanova? Now, that movie is INTENSE!
Fierce Competition

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Glass Symphony

Confined in a ship inching to the island of Erimo in the Adriatic Sea, what are the music giant maestro, conductors, composers, entertainers to do? The maestro in this clip are creating an impromptu symphony to entertain the workers in the kitchen. To their delight, Schubert's Moment Musical No. 3 in f minor is in the program, played on crystal glasses and bottles. Below is an MP3 player on which you can click to hear a recital by Valerian Shiukshvili of the same Schubert piece on the piano... To be continued...
Glass Symphony
Click on the player to hear the music track.

E La Nave Va

And the Ship Sails On (Italian: E la nave va) is a 1983 Italian film by Federico Fellini. It depicts the events on board a luxury liner filled with the friends (and some enemies as well) of a deceased opera star, diva Edmea Tetua. Many of Italy's most famous operatic names gathered to mourn her death.

In December 2006, I blogged three clips from this movie. Those video streams are no longer viewable and I decided to repeat them here because I think this movie is truly underated and regrettably is largely unknown. I place this movie to the same level as Felllini's Amarcord. It is a second Amarcord with a great soundtrack to boast. Felini was known to hate operas. Somehow, he made this movie that is populated with nothing less than numerous characters to portray an entire ensemble of the most famous stars of the operatic world.

The movie is about a special ocean voyage that was commissioned in 1914, only a few weeks before World War 1 broke out, to scatter the ashes of Edmea Tetua, the world-famous opera star who passed away. She was born in the island of Erimo, and wished to have her remains scattered in its waters. The cruise ship Gloria N. was setting sail from Naples harbor. You must know that this movie was shot entirely in Rome's Cinecitta studios, and there was no ocean liner or battle ship. The huge sets were constructed by Oscar-winning set designer Dante Ferretti.

The first clip shows a very original way that Fellini conveyed the time stamp of his story: the time of silent movies in sepia colors of the 1910s, when the cameras were hand held. While the reporter Orlando assigned to cover this event prepares for his job with the cameraman, many of the main characters of the movie arrive to board the ocean liner, including the proud soprano Ildebranda Cuffari who wants to take the coveted place of Tetua now left vacant. After more than 4 minutes with only the cracking noise of the hand-cranked camera, the music comes alive with Agnus Dei - from Petite Messe Solennelle by Gioachino Rossini with Gianfranco Plenizio at the piano. Now the audience realizes it is a funeral and the ashes of Edmea Tetua is being carried onto the ship. It is not clear who the sole woman in black veil who follows the urn was, but the man wearing a scarf you see blowing a kiss to the urn was Tetua's lover.
Funeral Procession
The next clip follows with Verdi's Overture to The Force of Destiny for the departure of the ocean liner. The conductor is Il Maestro Albertini. The film moves from the kitchen to the luxury dining room with Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers from "The Nutcracker." To be continued...
Funeral Procession

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Back in 2007, I blogged 2 clips: Gypsy & Toreador from a great screen opera of Bizet's famous Carmen. But that was done very low key and I did not say much about this production. Now, let's give it a second look. Shot entirely on location in Andalusian Spain, this screen version of Bizet's Carmen has been hailed as the definitive version of this classic opera. In this version, Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes-Johnson sing and dance to tell the story that took place in 19th century Seville. This story is well known: tempestuous Carmen (Migenes-Johnson) seduces a naive Army corporal, Don Jose (Domingo), newly assigned to the village fortress. Madly in love, Jose abandons his career, his fiancée and his dying mother to follow the sultry gypsy in her nomad life style. Soon, Carmen abandons him for her new conquest, toreador Escamillo (Ruggero Raimondi). Crazed with jealousy, Jose begs Carmen to return to him, but her taunting declaration of independence results in tragedy.

This clip lets you hear a small portion of Bizet's intoxicating melodies and his famous "Habanera" in a production that sets itself apart from all other performances. The clip ends with a Don Jose hopelessly fallen for his Carmencita that he just met.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Cinema Paradiso

You are Sicilian, You live in the late 40s after World War II. What do you do for entertainment? Thank heaven to "Cinema Paradiso!" This clip shows you that nostalgic period of time when life was simple, the pleasure of life was few but lasting long and deep. In this clip, you see an adolescent Toto. Salvatore is now a handsome young man who takes over the projectionist job after Alfredo was blinded by a fierce fire that demolished the older "Cinema Paradiso." Toto is seen holding a pack of books at the beginning of the clip, near Ciccio, the man on the phone who is the new owner of the cinema. If you want to know about the sad love story between Toto and a local beauty Elena, find and watch this movie. It's worth your time and you'll love the beautiful ending.
Cinema Paradiso

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Toto and Alfredo

Nuovo cinema Paradiso, internationally released as Cinema Paradiso, is a 1988 Italian film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio; produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli. The movie was shot in director Tornatore's hometown Bagheria, Sicily and in Cefalù on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The short version of 123 minutes was released internationally to an instant success. It won the Special Jury Prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

This clip introduces Toto, a charming and witty kid living in this Sicilian village with his mother while his father went to war never to return. Toto is the altar boy of the local priest who, after the Sunday mass, doubles in the role of the village's head of the censorship committee of one. Alfredo, the projectionist of the only movie theater "Cinema Paradiso" shows private viewings of all movies to the priest who makes decisions and commands Alfredo who cuts out all kissing scenes. Alfredo has to re-splice the cutting scenes before returning the movie reels to the distributor. Toto befriends Alfredo and gets to watch all these censored scenes. He develops a special bond with Alfredo who gives him a father figure he longs for; and a deep passion for movies which later shapes his life.
Cinema Paradiso

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Wizard of Oz

Are you blue? Life is tough on you? Your stocks went South? Are you melancholy? Lovesick? Sad? Leave your trouble outside... come in here for 13 minutes to listen to Over the Rainbow with a twist. This will cheer you up!
Over the Rainbow

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recuerdos de la Alhambra

My last blog lead me to the guitar of Orpheus. That reminds me of my old classical guitar days. I gave up after getting tired of trying the tremolo. One thing leads to another and I must show you a great piece of classical guitar music: Recuerdos de la Alhambra, composed in 1896 by Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega. This work was done in Granada where you find the Alhambra, the most important and also the best conserved Arabian palace in Spain. The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root meaning "red or crimson" suggesting the hues of its towers and walls. Originally designed as a military area, the Alhambra became the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century. It is for this fortress that Tárrega wrote his great recuerdos, meaning memory or I remember (remember Amarcord? It's the same idea.)

This composition is a must for all classical guitar players to master. It's a test of endurance for the tremolo, which is the playing continuously a guitar string using the annular, middle and index fingers to produce an uninterrupted string of crisp notes. I can tell you from personal experience, it ain't easy. The tremolo is designed to create the illusion that the music is a duet of two guitars, but it is a solo performance. This composition is in the A minor key transitioning into the major A in the latter part, so Granada, so melancholy but oh so romantic!

All classical guitarists have recording of this composition. This clip is by Sharon Isbin, a world class classical guitarist. I selected her performance over many others, including that of Andreas Segovia because you may agree with me that her entire soul is in her playing. The clip is from a Korean TV re-recording so the quality is abysmal, but that's all I can find.. for now.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Friday, August 26, 2011

Orfeu Negro

Black Orpheus (Original Intl. release title: Orfeu Negro): The Film. Dispat Films, December 1959, is a great classic Portuguese-language film by French director Marcel Camus and based on a play by Vinícius de Moraes. The music of this film became known throughout the world.

"Manhã de Carnaval" ("Morning of Carnival"), is the title of the most popular song by Brazilian composers Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Maria. Particularly in the USA, the song is considered to be one of the most important Brazilian Jazz/Bossa songs that helped establish the Bossa Nova movement in the late 1950s. Manhã de Carnaval has become a jazz standard in the USA, while it is still performed regularly by a wide variety of musicians around the world in its vocalized version or just as an instrumental one.

In the USA, the song is also known as "A Day in the Life of a Fool", "Carnival", "Theme from Black Orpheus", or simply "Black Orpheus". In France, the song is also known as "La Chanson D'Orphée." The song is also known by the Spanish title "Mañana de Carnaval". All versions of foreign texts were written by different people using Bonfá's original music. The list of Recordings of Manhã de Carnaval is impressive, litterally by everyone who's who in the world of music.

Although most of the songs in the film, Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) were composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes, Manhã de Carnaval was one of two by composer Luiz Bonfá (the other being "Samba de Orfeu"). Manhã de Carnaval was by far the song that got branded popularly as the movie theme in "Black Orpheus." Luiz Bonfá's success with his 1959 hit song was great, and made his name so well known in the music industry internationally that on several occasions US producers brought him from Brazil to the USA for TV presentations. "Manhã de Carnaval" was originally sung by Elizete Cardoso and Agostinho dos Santos.

The first clip from Black Orpheus was blogged in December of 2006 here. In that clip, Orpheus was singing  Manhã de Carnaval to the two kids who believe that Orpheus has the magical power of making the sun rise by playing his guitar and singing. During this song, he was heard by Eurydice in her room next door, and love was born.

Today's clip is the second famous song, Felicidade, sung by Orpheus to Eurydice while a fabulous new sun was rising over the slumps of Rio de Janeiro where the story took place.

Music: Antônio Carlos Jobim
Lyrics: Vinicius de Moraes

A minha felicidade esta sonhando..... My happiness is dreaming
Nos olhos da minha namorada..... In the eyes of my girlfriend
E como esta noite, passando, passando..... It's like this night, passing, passing

Em busca da madrugada..... Seeking the dawn
Falem baixo, por favor..... Speak low, please
Pra que ela acorde alegre com o dia..... So she might wake up happy
Oferecendo beijos de amor..... Offering a kiss of love

Tristeza nao tem fim..... Sadness has no end
Felicidade sim..... Happiness does

A felicidade é como a gota..... Happiness is like a drop
De orvalho numa pétala de flor..... of dew on a flower's petal
Brilha tranquila..... Brilliant and tranquil
Depois de leve oscila..... Then quivering

E cai como uma lagrima de amor...... Then falling like a tear of love.

You can read the English translation in the subtitle of the clip.
Black Orpheus
In case you are really interested in this movie, its original soundtrack has 14 tracks. The second is heard at the very beginning of the movie when the credit runs. It is an introduction to Felicidade, the lyrics of which is below:

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como uma gota de orvalho
Numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranquila
Depois delevocila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor

A felicidade do probre parece
A grande ilusão do carnaval
A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
Por um momento de sonho para fazer a fantasia
De rei ou de pirata ou de jardineira.
Pra tudo se acabar na quarta feira.

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como uma pluma
Que o vento vai levando pelo ar
Voa tão leve
Mas tem a vida breve
Precisa que haja vento sem parar.

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim
Click on the player to hear this original track.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Want a Woman

In Amarcord, Fellini created a large cast of characters to populate his fictitious Borgo to represent the Rimini of his childhood. Each of the personalities has his/her own charm.

Fiorella and her sister Gradisca (Magali Noël), the village beauty, the blind accordion player (Domenica Pertica) relentlessly tormented by schoolboys; Volpina (Josiane Tanzilli), the stringy blond nymphomaniac; the stout and buxom tobacconist (Maria Antonietta Beluzzi); Titta (Bruno Zanin), the rosy-cheeked adolescent protagonist based on Fellini's childhood friend; Aurelio (Armando Brancia), Titta’s father, a construction foreman of working-class background. Modest and reserved, Aurelio responds in frenzied anger to Titta’s pranks while Miranda (Pupella Maggio), his wife, always comes to her son’s defense. Miranda’s brother, Lallo (Nando Orfei), lives with Titta’s family, sponging off his brother-in-law. In tow are Titta’s grandfather (Peppino Ianigro), a likeable old goat with an eye on the family’s young maid, a street vendor, Biscein (Gennaro Ombra), the town’s incorrigible liar; and many more unique characters...

In this clip, during one summer afternoon, the family visits uncle Teo (Ciccio Ingrassia), Aurelio’s brother, confined to an insane asylum. They take him out for a day in the family's country farm house but he escapes into a tree yelling, "Voglio una donna!" ("I want a woman!"). After 5 hours, they managed to get him down. "We are all mad at times," is the message of this clip. Watching this clip, do not miss it when Titta asked his father if he should go get Volpina to help getting his uncle Teo down from the tree.

This movie is well known for a scene about the protagonist Titta having his unforgettable encounter with the village's huge tobaccconist in her store. If you want to see that scene, you must see this movie because I do not really want to blog it here. Should I?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Back in December 02, 2006, I blogged my favorite segment from the movie Amarcord, but that clip is no longer viewable. Let's redo it here. Today's clip may be a bit longer... but it is still my very favorite excerpt from that movie.

Amarcord is a 1973 Italian film directed by Federico Fellini, a semi-autobiographical tale that combines poignancy with history and yes, comedy. It tells the story of a wild cast of characters inhabiting the fictional Borgo based on Fellini's hometown of Rimini in 1930s Fascist Italy. Amarcord is Romagnolo for "I remember."

Amarcord won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Director and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. If you have not seen that movie, you must! I'll blog another clip here soon...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles is the title of a song originally written and recorded by American country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1968 album of the same title. Since then, it has been covered by many other artists, including American country music band The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose version (recorded for the 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy) was issued as a single and rose to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1971.

Walker has said he was inspired to write the song after an encounter with a street performer in a New Orleans jail. Walker said while in jail for public intoxication in 1965, he met a homeless white man who called himself "Mr. Bojangles" who told a story about his dog and when it turned too sad, he escaped with a tap dance.

Walker's song has been re-recorded by many popular artists, including Harry Chapin, J.J. Cale, Sammy Davis Jr., Chet Atkins, Rod McKuen, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson, Bob Dylan, Don McLean, The Byrds, Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Cole, Elton John, Lulu, Arlo Guthrie, Nina Simone, Esther Phillips, John Denver, David Bromberg, Neil Diamond, Tom T. Hall, King Curtis, Radka Toneff, John Holt, Kristofer Åström, Bermuda Triangle Band, Robbie Williams, David Campbell, Jamie Cullum, Ray Quinn, Edwyn Collins, Frankie Laine, Cornell Dupree, Jim Croce, Todd Snider, Jim Stafford, Jamie Walker and Cat Stevens. Furthermore, composer Philip Glass makes reference to "Mr. Bojangles" in his minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach. A French version of the song was recorded in 1984 by Hugues Aufray on his album L'enfant Sauvage. Jim Carrey has allso preformed this song on his earlier stand up stuff plus at his first movie copper mountain.

I think that Sammy Davis Jr. had his signature on this song and owned it in this performance. This is quite a sad song.
Midnight in Paris

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ya Ya

Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999,) an American movie director, made many memorable movies. A perfectionist, he always paid meticulous attention to the details of his movies, each one of which is a work of its own, distinct from all of his others. I have blogged two of his movies: Paths of Glory and Eyes Wide Shut. This is Lolita, a 1962 film based on the classic novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov. The film stars James Mason as Humbert Humbert, Sue Lyon as Dolores Haze (Lolita, a nickname that forever after associated with a nymphet) and Shelley Winters as Charlotte Haze with Peter Sellers as a devilish character named Clare Quilty.

Due to the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) restrictions at the time, the film could not faithfully recreate the far more provocative aspects of the novel, leaving a lot to the viewers' imagination. The actress who played Lolita, Sue Lyon, was fourteen at the time of filming.

The prudish censorship of the time severely restricted Kubrick's artistic creativity. He later commented that, “because of all the pressure over the Production Code and the Catholic Legion of Decency at the time, I believe I didn't sufficiently dramatize the erotic aspect of Humbert's relationship with Lolita. If I could do the film over again, I would have stressed the erotic component of their relationship with the same weight Nabokov did.” In a 1972 Newsweek interview, Kubrick said that had he realized how severe the censorship limitations affected his movie, he "probably wouldn't have made the film."

Lolita's age was raised to fourteen, as Kubrick believed that this was the right age. He has commented that, “I think that some people had the mental picture of a nine-year-old, but Lolita was twelve and a half in the book; Sue Lyon was thirteen.” (Actually, Lyon was 14 at the time of filming: she was born in July 1946 and it was shot between November 1960 and May 1961.)

When released, Lolita was Rated BBFC X by the British Board of Film Censors, meaning no one under 16 years of age was permitted in theaters where it was showing.

This clip is when Humbert came to see Charlotte Haze, Lolita's mom, looking to rent a room for the summer. Charlotte, desperate widow, immediately came on strongly to Humbert after learning that he was divorced. Watch to see how she does that, which turned him off completely and he was ready to get away from her... until he saw the "Decisive Factor" which is the name of the movie chapter when he first saw Lolita. Alea iacta est!

Midnight in Paris

Veteran arranger Nelson Riddle composed (with Bob Harris) and conducted the music for Kubrick's Lolita. The song introducing Lolita throughout the movie is "Ya Ya," with its loping guitar riff and baby doll "ya-ya-wo-wo-ya-ya" vocal. Below is the Lolita Ya Ya sung by Sue Lyon.

Friday, August 12, 2011


This clip is from a charming 1995 movie, "Il Postino." It was produced with a modest budget of about US $3 Million, and grossed more than $ 75 Million worldwide. At release, the film was so successful its theatrical run in New York City lasted almost 2 years.

Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret,) the famous Chilean poet, is exiled for political reasons to a small fishing island in Italy. There, a postman, Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) is created to deliver Neruda's mail as his personal "Il Postino." Using Neruda's poems, Mario got into trouble with Rosa, aunt of beautiful Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) who fell for Mario's borrowed poems. This clip is so charming, I redo it here and make it longer with subtitle, more complete than the blog "Nude Madreselva" on December 09, 2006, yes, 5 years ago!

Writer/co-director/star Massimo Troisi postponed heart surgery so he could complete the film. The day after filming was complete, he suffered a fatal heart attack. Massimo Troisi was so weak that it was only possible for him to work for about an hour each day. Most of his scenes were shot in one or two takes. A shooting schedule was designed to allow the film to be shot around him. His stand-in had striking resemblance to the real Troisi and was used for all back to camera, long/medium shots and most of the bicycle riding sequences.
The beautiful tango scene's music is "Madreselva"
Written by Francisco Canaro (as F. Canaro) and Luis César Amadori (as L.C. Amadori), performed by Carlos Gardel.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Time Travel

Owen Wilson, in the role of Gil is transported in time from Paris present to Paris in the 20s. This is his first encounter. At the stroke of midnight, an antique limousine picks him up and upon arrival he finds himself in company of famous luminosities of the Golden Years. In this clip, he is in a party thrown for Jean Cocteau (Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau, 5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963, was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María Félix, Édith Piaf and Raymond Radiguet,) where Cole Porter was entertaining his friends with my favorite tune of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love." Listen to this song, and I am sure you will. Then Wilson couldn't believe it when he meets Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda is so lively here, and I absolutely love her 'Bama accent. The next car ride took Wilson to a "drop dead" street dancing scene by Josephine Baker after which he'll meet Ernest Hemingway and Co. In case you are too young to know who Josephine Baker was, she made the bananas famous by dancing and singing wearing just a banana skirt. Would you like to see that clip?

Although I think this is not Allen's best movie, it is very good. This is the only clip of this movie that will make it to this blog. The guitar background is guitarist Stephane Wrembel playing Bistro Fada.
Time Travel

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Midnight in Paris

There is a new Woody Allen movie that came out recently and I need to see it. But while I wait to find time, here is its opening sequence. Having lived in Paris for a while, I can recognize most of the locations in this clip. I want to go back, not at the contemporary time, but at time bygones. This movie is about just that, a nostalgic time travel to Paris' past of the 20s with encounters of the like of Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Matisse, Salvador Dali, T. S. Elliot, Djuna Bames, Josephine Baker, Luis Buñuel, Man Ray and others. This movie got a rare 92% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and I will block some of my time to watch it soon. I may even blog a few things from it. The opening Bechet tune is called "Si tu vois ma mere" which means "If you see my mother.".
Midnight in Paris

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Gift To You and To Me

Happy BD

The Hable Con Ella CD has 20 tracks, only 6 are selected to be included here. Select one of them to play then click mouse on the track of your choice. These are my favorite tracks. Enjoy!

Hable Con Ella

Talk to Her (Spanish: Hable Con Ella) is a 2002 Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar (one of my very favorite motion picture directors,) starring Javier Cámara, Darío Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Geraldine Chaplin, and Rosario Flores. The film won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the 2003 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign-Language Film. In 2005, it won a large number of awards as Best Foreign Film, too numerous to list here. Time magazine film critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel included Talk to Her in their list of the All-TIME 100 Greatest Movies. This is, in my book, a great movie to be watched again many times to fully appreciate it. If you do,pay full attention to the music.

In 2006 and 2007, I blogged two short clips from this movie, but they did not really do justice to it. This time, this blog gives a better glimpse of Hable Con Ella. This movie partly owes its great success to its sound track, which I adore.

Continuing the successful collaboration that begun on 1995's The Flower of My Secret, composer Alberto Iglesias works with director Pedro Almodóvar to produce a quietly sophisticated music ensemble to accompany a fascinating story in 2002's Hable Con Ella. If you never heard of Brazilian vocalist Caetano Veloso, listen to his "Cucurrucucu Paloma" by Tomás Méndez (as Tomás Méndez Sosa) here; or listen to a teaser of "Raquel" By Rufino Almeida & Africa Nostra, from the album "Tôp d'Coroa" by Bau.

Today's clip from "Hable Con Ella" is about Lidia, the female professional bull fighter. The first half of the clip's soundtrack is the haunting "Por toda a minha vida" written by Antonio Carlos Jobim (as Tom Jobim) and Vinicius de Moraes, performed by Elis Regina, a famous Brasilian singer who died at the very young age of 35. The song's Portuguese lyrics essentially says "Love is the saddest thing when it goes away." This is a very famous song and the next clip lets you hear it rendered by the master crooner Caetano Veloso himself (I got that from Youtube so the quality of the video is not so good.)
Valse Triste
The second half of the Lidia clip shows you a very rare close up of how a toreador (that's the bull fighter's name) is clothed for the very horrific and theatrical bull fights in Spain's bloody arenas. The bulls' bloodiness in this film is real. An ecological group in Madrid tried to sue Pedro Almodóvar for ill treatment of the animals, blaming society for accepting it. Almodóvar said that he had the permission of the bulls' owners to kill them. The story line of the movie has it that Lidia is gored by the bull and never recovered from her coma resulting from her injury. The music during the bull's rampage is "A Portagayola." Return here to hear some of the better movie soundtracks from "Hable Con Ella" in my next blog.

Here is the Youtube clip of "Por toda a minha vida" by Caetano Veloso who has aged a bit since his singing "Cucurrucucu Paloma" in "Hable Con Ella."
Valse Triste

Friday, July 29, 2011

Valtzer Triste

Valse triste (Sad Waltz), Op. 44, No. 1, is a short orchestral work in waltz form by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was originally part of the incidental music he composed for his brother-in-law Arvid Järnefelt's 1903 play Kuolema (Death), but is far better known as a separate concert piece, which was performed in Helsinki on 25 April of that year as Valse triste. It was an instant hit with the public, and remains one of Sibelius' signature pieces.

Originally, the play Kuolema depicted the final moment of the life of a sick mother while her son kept vigil at her bed side. The incredibly sad waltz of Sibelius ended with her last breath. It is far too sad, and I have no wish to show it here.

Instead, also intensely sad, I think it is somewhat better you hear this great piece of composition in a gem of an animation feature: Allegro Non Troppo. It is a 1976 Italian animated film directed by Bruno Bozzetto. This film features six pieces of classical music. Allegro Non Troppo is a parody of Disney's Fantasia, but I think it is a class above.

Among the six, Valse Triste in "Feline Fantasies" hits you in your gut, and I am sure you will be misty and will not soon forget this gem. Enjoy, and get out your handkerchief!


Valse Triste

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


While doing the "Henry & June" blog, my mind was locked in the era of the 30's... Now, allow me to talk about "Taboo," which comes to mind when one sees the movie "The Lover," reliving a story that took place in VietNam's 1929. A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and forbidden based on moral judgment and religious beliefs. High on the list is that of forbidden love. And that is the subject of "The Lover." Many discussions about this movie always are focused on the sex scenes. I believe there are four of them, but that is not the only, nor is it the most interesting subject to talk about.

The Lover (French: L'Amant) is a 1992 film produced by Claude Berri and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Based on the short Goncourt prize winning semi-autobiographical 1984 novel by Marguerite Duras, the film details the illicit affair between a teenage French girl and a wealthy Chinese man in Indochina, later known as Viet-Nam when it was still a colony of France, in 1929. In the screenplay written by Annaud and Gérard Brach, the girl's age is changed from 15½ to 17 and is portrayed by actress Jane March, who turned eighteen shortly after filming began.

Production began in 1989, with filming commencing in 1991. The film made its theatrical debut on 22 January 1992, with an English release in the United Kingdom in June and in the United States in October of the same year. The film won the Motion Picture Sound Editors's 1993 Golden Reel award for "Best Sound Editing — Foreign Feature" and the 1993 César Award for Best Music Written for a Film. It received mostly negative reviews from American critics. However the film's performances and cinematography were generally praised.

It is noteworthy that the movie director Annaud almost gave up to have the movie filmed in VietNam due to difficulties found in the country. Realizing they must film their movie in VietNam to retain authenticity, the team returned to VietNam and began filming. Despite tight censorship from the VietNamese government, the movie does contain steamingly hot sex scenes which are not of interest in this blog. Instead, this clip is shown because it contains very nostalgic imagery of the trip from Sa-Dec to Saigon via route 1, about 140km away. From Sa-Dec, where the teen-aged girl lived, passengers must cross one of the branches of the great Mekong river by ferry to reach route 1 by automobile. Route 1 first passes by Vinh Long, another river town downstream then to Saigon. The ferry name was Vam Cong, in the southern province of Dong Thap. The car used in this movie was an authentic Morris Léon-Bollée as it was identified in the book.

The scenery in this clip is strongly suggestive of VietNam in the 30s under French colonialism but the filming was in the 90s and on location. It is hard to believe that VietNam's Sa-Dec in the 90s still looks and sounds like what the movie is showing. I would love to find the behind the scene documentary of this movie to learn how this was done. Did you see the car traversing the wooden bridge? Is it real? There are many more scenes at various on site locations in this movie that tempt me to look further in its making... and keep me wondering how did they do that? But... if you are curious about the sex scenes, you probably will not see them here. The voice you hear recounting the teen-aged girl's life is that of the lovely French actress, singer, screenwriter and director Jeanne Moreau, a legend in her own right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Henry & June Soundtrack


The Henry and June CD has 18 tracks, scroll the list to select one of them to play using the scroller at right then click mouse on the track of your choice. Enjoy!

The back cover states that "The material on this disc was recorded over a period of sixty years (tracks 1 & 18, 1930; 5, 1932) and in a variety of locations" so the quality of the sound is uneven.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Je M'Ennuie

OK. I am going to finish this Henry & June series with this clip that some of you may not like because the scene takes place in a lesbian night club. However, you need to realize that Paris in the 30s and 40s was truly like what this movie is trying to show the audience.

This is the last night that June and Anais spent together before June leaves for New York. Anais is in distress because she began to fall deeply for June after the short time they spent together. The music you hear is one of my very favorite piece and it is played throughout the entire clip in the background. It was arranged by Mark Adler and this song was made popular by none other than diva Marlene Dietrich, entitled "Moi... Je M'Ennuie," music by de Wal-Berg and lyrics by Camille Francois. Dietrich (1901-1992) recorded this song in Paris on July 15th, 1933. If you are interested in that recording, you can hear it using the MP3 player below.

The French lyrics are quite "benign" but don't forget that it was the 1930s... If you never heard Dietrich sing, here's your chance.

De ce que fut mon enfance,
Je n’ai plus de souvenirs.
C’est peut-être que la chance
Ne m’offrit pas de plaisirs.
Et chaque jour qui se lève
Ne m’apporte aucun espoir.
Je n’ai même pas de rêve
Quand luit l'etoile du soir.

Moi, je m’ennuie,
C’est dans ma vie
Une manie.
Je n’y peux rien..
Le plaisir passe,
Il me dépasse.
En moi sa trace
Ne laisse rien.
Partout je traîne,
Comme une chaîne,
Ma lourde peine,
Sans autre bien.
C’est dans ma vie
Une manie.
Moi, je m’ennuie...

Par de longs vagabondages,
J’ai voulu griser mon coeur,
Et souvent, sur mon passage,
J’ai vu naître des malheurs.
Sur chaque nouvelle route,
A l’amour j’ai dû mentir ;
Et le soir, lorsque j’écoute
La plainte du vent mourir...

Moi, je m’ennuie...
C’est dans ma vie
Une manie.
Je n’y peux rien..
Le plaisir passe,
Il me dépasse.
En moi sa trace
Ne laisse rien.
Partout je traîne,
Comme une chaîne,
Ma lourde peine,
Sans autre bien.
C’est dans ma vie
Une manie.
Moi, je m’ennuie...

Many reviews of this movie gave a lot of compliments about the cast chosen for this film, and I do agree with everything said... except that... if you read Anais Nin's biography book by Deirdre Bair, you would have discovered that Nin, although slim, was not the petite woman described by many writers. She was five foot six inches tall and she towered over the tiny June who was about five foot two. Uma Thurman, who is five foot 11 inches is too tall for June, but her Brooklyn accent (along with Fred Ward's as Henry Miller) and her demeanor were perfect to impersonate June Miller while Maria de Medeiros fit Nin to a T although she is shorter than the real Nin. So the casting was truly well done making this movie a pleasure to watch multiple times to appreciate the music and the work devoted to its making.

According to Nin's diary, her relationship with June stopped here at the end of the clip. The movie has some steamy scenes with June but that were only in her imagination as Kaufman has skillfully orchestrated according to his screen play.

Interestingly, I found another blog devoted to this same film here. I will try to find some time and post the soundtrack of this movie in the next blog.
Je M'Ennuie

Sunday, July 24, 2011

June and Anais

It's time to lower the curtain on Henry & June... and this is the next to last blog about this movie. There is a book written by Deirdre Bair who, it was said, had unlimited access to the unpublished writings of Anais Nin, including more than 250,000 handwritten diary pages: "Anais Nin. A biography" was published in 1995 by Putnam, New York, in hardback, and in 1996 by Penguin in paperback. The relationship between the two women was complicated and Bair said a few things that were relevant to Henry and June, the movie. June was known to be a compulsive liar and Henry Miller had told Anais Nin about June's several lesbian affairs in New York. Nin's and Bair's writings are very important readings for the audience to fully appreciate the directing of Kaufman in this movie, and particularly in this clip. In this scene, June abruptly announces her trip to New York after more lies about her upbringing. Later, the clip highlighted the usual way June negotiates to get what she wants in life. Again, Debussy's "Pour l'Egyptienne" is heard in the background. This scene is a prelude to my last Henry and June clip that includes the great famous song "Je M'ennuie," coming here soon...
Tropic of Cancer

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I am always interested in learning how a movie director creates a scene in his films to tell a story. The authenticity of a scene is so crucially important that it can make or break a movie, especially if it is a film telling a historical event, whether it is embellished and dramatized or not. It is the attention to details that makes a story believable. Henry and June was a labor of love for Philip Kaufman and his wife Rose, and it showed.

The story begins when Anais Nin and her husband Hugo lived in a house in Louveciennes, from 1930 to 1936 at 2 bis, rue Montbuisson. The house shown in the Henry and June movie looks remarkably similar to the real home in Louveciennes that is now listed for sale at about 4,000 Euro a square meter.

Louveciennes is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, between Versailles and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, adjacent to Marly-le-Roi, and was frequented by impressionist painters in the 19th century. According to the official site, there are over 120 paintings by Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, and Monet depicting Louveciennes. Even Marcel Proust and Maupassant came to this town to escape Paris regularly. The well known composer Camille Saint-Saëns lived in Louveciennes from 1865 to 1870; and Marie Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, the most famous female painter of the 18th century, died in Louveciennes 30 March 1842; Louis, 7th duc de Broglie, physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, died in Louveciennes 19 March 1987. It was thus very significant that Anais Nin started her career as an author in this very special town.

This clip shows the brief time Henry and June Miller were staying with Anais Nin and her husband Hugo in their home in Louveciennes as guests. Nearby is the forest de Marly, renamed from the ancient name of forest of Crüye at the end of the 17th century by Louis XIV who used it as hunting ground. The bicycle riding scene through the forest looks so authentic, and I really would like to know where it was filmed. During this visit, the Millers were not shy to show the great desire they have for each other and that openly charged energy and the aggressiveness of June did not escape Nin's silent fascination. Later on, back at the house, during the classic French match of "petanque" between Henry Miller and Hugo, the wide eyed Nin was the object of June's intense seduction. I am surprised that Kaufman did not play Debussy's Pour l'Egyptienne during that scene. He left the images speak silently without any musical background. You should try to find and read Nin's diary for this particular encounter. During the bicycle ride, the music you hear is Claude Debussy's Petite Suite - Ballet.
Tropic of Cancer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tropic of Cancer

This is a very short clip, reflecting the way Philip Kaufman told the story of Henry & June... in short apparently disjoint but connected segments. The entire movie is revolved around Henry Miller's struggle as a writer inking out what eventually became his famous "Tropic of Cancer." I often wondered why that name was chosen... and this my theory:

The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern tropic, is the circle of latitude on the Earth that marks the most northerly position at which the Sun may appear directly overhead at its zenith. This event occurs once per year, at the time of the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent. So, it made sense for Miller to write the biography of his wife whose name is "June," and associated it to the Tropic of Cancer. The imaginary line is called the Tropic of Cancer because when it was named, the Sun was in the direction of the constellation Cancer (Latin for crab) at the June solstice. However, this is no longer true due to the precession of the equinoxes resulting in an annual drift of this imaginary line of latitude. According to International Astronomical Union boundaries, the Sun now is in Taurus at the June solstice. So, a modern day's name for this book would have to be "Tropic of Taurus!" I like Cancer better. Of course, you know about the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern hemisphere. Let's keep that for another blog in the future.

There are many very interesting histories about this famous book. Tropic of Cancer was first published in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France. Its publication in 1961 in the United States by Grove Press led to an obscenity trial that was one of several that tested American laws on pornography in the 1960s.

While famous for its frank and often graphic depictions of sex, the book is also widely regarded as an important masterpiece of 20th century literature. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Tropic of Cancer 50th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

The book was distributed by Frances Steloff at her Gotham Book Mart, in defiance of censorship pressures.

In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Grove Press, Inc. v. Gerstein, cited Jacobellis v. Ohio (which was decided the same day) and overruled state court findings of obscenity.

Again, in this clip, because of June's presence, Philip Kaufman inserted Debussy's "Pour l'Egyptienne" motif in the background.
Tropic of Cancer

Thursday, July 21, 2011

June Mansfield

This clip introduces the first meeting between June Miller and Anais Nin. Here, you hear Claude Debussy's "Pour L'Egyptienne" From "Six Epigraph Antiques," performed by Ensemble Musical de Paris. This is the motif used by movie director Philip Kaufman to accompany Uma Thurman portraying June Miller repeatedly. The atmosphere of this clip reflects well what Anais Nin wrote in December 1931 in her diary shortly after meeting June for the first time. It was published later as Henry & June, page 14:

"A startingly white face, burning eyes. June Mansfield, Henry's wife. As she came towards me from the darkness of my garden into the light of the doorway I saw for the first time the most beautiful woman on earth.

Years ago, when I tried to imagine a pure beauty, I had created an image in my mind of just that woman. I had even imagined she would be Jewish. I knew long ago the color of her skin, her profile, her teeth.

Her beauty drowned me. As I sat in front of her I felt that I would do anything she asked of me. Henry faded, She was color, brilliance, strangeness."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parlez-moi D'Amour

In the book and the movie Henry & June, according to her diaries, Anais Nin, although married to her husband Hugo, formed a triad of lovers with Henry and June Miller. If you only watch this movie superficially, you may misunderstand her true relationship with June. Henry & June, the movie, because of its frank and quite tasteful treatment of sexual themes that were openly and widely accepted in France in that period of time, was threatened with an X-rating, that later was toned down to NC-17. So, who was Anais Nin? Nin was born Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell, (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977.) She was a French-Cuban author who lived first in France and later in the United States where her journals were published. Her diaries spanned more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death, that is her erotic literature and short stories were published posthumously. She was raised a Roman Catholic and spent her childhood and early life in Europe. After her parents separated, her mother moved Anaïs and her two brothers, Thorvald Nin and Joaquin Nin-Culmell, to Barcelona, and later to New York City. On March 3, 1923, in Havana, Cuba, Nin married her first husband, Hugh Parker Guiler (1898–1985), a banker and artist. The couple moved to Paris the following year, where Guiler pursued his banking career and Nin began to pursue her interest in writing. According to her diaries,Vol.1, 1931–1934, Nin shared a bohemian lifestyle with Henry Miller during her time in Paris. Hailed by many critics as one of the finest writers of female erotica, her diaries recounted that, faced with a desperate need for money, Nin, Miller and some of their friends began to write erotic and pornographic narratives for an anonymous "collector" for a dollar a page in the 1940s. Some of her early work were eventually published as Delta of Venus and Little Birds.

This clip shows one of her outing with Henry Miller who was portrayed as a shameful vagabond with an abandon life style that fascinated Nin. The scenery depicted with some fidelity Paris showing the infamous street urinoirs and nude prostitutes waiting for customers in brothels of shady quarters. After taking some money from Nin, Miller immediately entered a brothel, followed by Nin, wide-eyed in bewilderment that later turned into an obsession and ardent infatuation with Miller. Again, period music is heard in the French well known tune "Parlez-moi D'Amour" by Jean Lenoir & Bruce Slevier. This song was performed by Lucienne Boyer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sous Les Toits de Paris

This series of blogs turns out to be more complicated than I anticipated and takes more time too. For those of you reading this blog and did not know what "Nin" of my previous blog stood for, it's Anais Nin, and that clip was a scene at the beginning of the 1990 movie "Henry & June." I believe that movie got a lot of bad press because it had the dubious distinction to have received the first ever (and thus created) the American motion picture rating of NC-17. In the US, a movie is rated before it can be shown in theaters. The highest rating of R, which means the movie should be for adults only is OK and it is quite common. An X rating is reserved for pornographic movies that cannot be shown in main stream movie theaters. The NC-17 (no children under 17) is almost a financial kiss of death because its showing is severely restricted. As you can see then, it's all money driven, and movie directors must pay close attention to what they can and cannot do, or what they want or do not want to show in their movies, unless they do not care about making a profitable movie, and put in films what they really want to show. Phillip Kaufman made Henry & June, and he took the NC-17 rating stoically. Interestingly, it is said that the NC-17 rating was caused mainly by the showing of a postcard that Anais Nin was looking at at the beginning of the movie. Fancy that! Having lived in Europe for many years, I frankly do not understand what the big fuss is about. Henry & June is, in my opinion, a great movie that teaches the audience about many interesting things provided it cares to pay attention to what is shown. To start, director Philip Kaufman read Henry Miller's book "Tropic of Cancer" when he was student at the university of Chicago. He recalled that at that time, EVERY ONE was reading that book because it was banned due its strong sexual nature. He also met Anais Nin in 1962. Kaufman's movie closely followed the book of the same title, Henry and June: From the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (full title Henry and June: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931–1932)) published in 1986, one year after the death of her husband Hugo according to her wish to shield Hugo from all the details of her love for Henry. If you plan to watch this movie, you ought to read about Anais Nin's work and her passionate love affair with Henry Miller. In 1973 Anaïs Nin received an honorary doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Art. She was elected to the United States National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1974. Not to bore you here with too many details, you can watch this video clip. In this clip, you can hear "Sous les Toits de Paris" which is Kaufman's homage to the first French film with sound and its great movie director Rene Clair. In this clip, after meeting Henry Miller for the first time, Anais Nin wanted to let him use her typewriter. She delivers it herself to the apartment of Osborn, a colleague of her husband Hugo. Osborn lets Miller share a room in his apartment. This clip introduces for the first time June Miller, Henry's wife. Her picture was shown with only a few notes of the music motif from Claude Debussy's "Pour l'Egyptienne," which is the motif associated with June Miller throughout the movie. Uma Thurman portrayed June Miller with great intensity in this movie to match with the gravity of Debussy's "Pour l'Egyptienne." There are more clips that I intend to post here, time permitted, I'll get to the music tracks of this movie, as I usually do with movie soundtrack.