“Be careful what you wish for” goes an old saying, “You might just get it.” In a neat reversal, there are many examples of appalling occurrences and outright disasters which have created the need for change – change which can lift our lives to a whole new level which would otherwise never have been reached. An elderly friend recently had a nasty fall and broke her hip. Her life has been on the up and up ever since. At a time when he was presumably looking forward to a quiet retirement, Leonard Cohen’s manager embezzled most of his money. As a result, Cohen has been forced to record new music, go on gruelling tours around the world (tours which might have finished off an artist half is age), and as a result has been loved, feted and admired by long-time fans and new converts alike. Presumably he wouldn’t have missed it for the world. All he had to do to reach this new level of success was be ripped off by someone he trusted! At the age of 77, Mr Cohen is just about to release his new album, Old Ideas.
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Recently, I read a story by Franz Kafka in which he described a man who wanted to hold a party with people who would come together without being invited. They could observe or speak without knowing one another, dine according to their individual tastes, appear or disappear whenever they wanted to, have no obligation to their host and yet, without hypocrisy, be always welcome. Eventually, we realise (writes Kafka) that in order to relieve his loneliness the man had invented the first café. Read More >>
I watched I Vitelloni (1953) again recently and, although I’ve seen Fellini’s early masterpiece many times, I always discover new delights. There are also favourite scenes which never disappoint, such as the sequence where the five friends stand at the end of a rickety jetty, gazing out to sea. It is a bleak, winter’s day and they’re wrapped up in their scarves and long overcoats to protect them from the chilly sea air. It’s a delightfully glum and extremely evocative scene during which Riccardo, played by the director’s brother, looks down into the icy water and asks the others, “If someone offered you 10,000, to jump in, would you do it?” Without waiting for an answer, he adds mournfully, “I would.” Read More >>
I was about 7 years of age and living in Belfast when I first became aware of film editing. It occurred to me that in westerns we never got to see anyone actually being hung. We’d see the noose put around some varmint’s neck while he was sitting on his horse and we’d see the rope being tied to the branch of a tree but just when it was getting really interesting, they’d cut away to onlookers as someone would slap the horse or fire a gun to spook it. The onlookers might flinch – I remember a woman fainting in one film – but we never saw the varmint actually die. My seven-year-old self was very put out about this. Read More >>
A friend who used to organise screenings for the film industry once told me that if she gave away free tickets the cinema would usually be only a quarter full. However, if she charged two dollars per ticket then a full house could virtually be guaranteed. Did the punters really value their two dollar outlay that much? Or was it more the different level of commitment from someone who had decided to buy a ticket rather than simply accept a freebie? I’ve often wondered about this tendency to undervalue things we haven’t had to pay for.
In one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs she sings about someone not unlike herself, who, while stopped on the sidewalk, waiting for the lights to change, is transported by the sound of a busker playing his clarinet. She, who plays for fortunes and velvet curtain calls, has ‘a black limousine and two gentlemen’ to escort her to the halls, while this “one man band by the quick lunch stand” plays real good for free. Sadly, nobody stopped to hear him ‘though he played so sweet and high’. He’d never been on their T.V. so they passed his music by. The singer thinks of going over to him, ‘maybe put on a harmony’, but the signals change and she goes on her way, leaving the busker, seemingly unconcerned, playing real good for free. Read More >>
If you want to see the blue palm trees of Piazza Vittorio, if you want to see the sea at Ostia in super8, if you want to see Rome, the city of Romeo and Juliet, if you want to hear “Mission Impossible” played on the cymbalon gypsy-style, if you want to see a Cuban practice yoga, an Indian on a white Vespa at the Coliseum fotogramma film without a helmet so as not to muss his hair,
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