- Last night a tornado swept through Queens. Okay, I know you read that, now read it again, because that's a pretty crazy sentence. I mean, seriously folks, don't we make fun of people who choose to live in Florida for crap like this?
While there was plenty of damage wrought by falling tree branches and whatnot, one of the things most disturbed by this natural catastrophe was a failure of the transit system. The subway was running, barely, but the surface buses in Queens weren't running. When I got to Main Street and ascertained that there was nothing to be gained by staying there, I walked all the way home to my apartment right off of Bell Boulevard. For those of you not familiar with Queens, that's a hike and a half.
My walk home was along several main bus routes, and I saw buses parked and powered down. I was pretty annoyed until I got a bit further down and saw how much damage there was. The routes were blocked. Several of the neighborhoods I passed through didn't have power. Buses again started running right when I crossed the Clearview Expressway, though by that point I there was no point in getting on one (I would have saved ten minutes had I waited at Main Street).
This morning, in the light and from the better vantage point of the bus, I could see that it was even worse than I had initially thought, and that was after some clearing had been done.
- Okay, so about this Tadlow recording of Lawrence of Arabia…
It sounds exactly like it should. It's as good a performance as the original soundtrack recording and the sound is much, much better than any previous edition and the score plays beautifully in complete and chronological form, a few moments of desert tension notwithstanding.
It is rare that I say one can outright discard any previous version of a score, but even as a strong supporter of the concept of alternative interpretations of film music, the original soundtrack album is missing too much important music and sounds like utter crap anyway, the Tony Bremner recording has better sound and more music but a pretty boring performance, and many of the arrangements just never sounded right to my ears (the reduced string section is a particular problem), nor to James Fitzpatrick who clearly felt that the Larry issue needed to be set right (he addresses this in the liner notes). The new recording is just brilliant both in performance, sonics and content; there's no real need to reach for any other when wanting to listen to Lawrence of Arabia.
The "A Personal Choice" disc is pretty cool. Magician of Lublin is a rather traditional work for Jarre (though quite attractive), but you can get more of his self-proclaimed "harmonic perversions" in the haunting The Fixer suite and Resurrection. Solar Crisis is stately and dignified (unlike the film). The themes from Prancer and The Palaquin of Tears are delightful. The real star of the second disc, however, is Firefox, an older performance conducted by Derek Wadsworth, but it's got some very Jarre-esque playing. It doesn't quite have the stridency of the original soundtrack recording, but it makes up for it in enthusiasm and the fact that this is literally the only recording of this theme that's out there.
- The print of The Hunger shown at the B.A.M. was beat to hell, with scratches all over the reel changes and a few moments where it had been repaired. While the colors seemed a bit faded on this print, they nevertheless seemed to match more the current DVD edition rather than the old MGM/UA laserdisc which had more saturated hues. Because of the audience's familiarity with the film, there were also a few moments of inappropriate laughter.
This film is one of those that can not be panned-and-scanned at all, every part of Stephen Goldblatt's anamorphic frame is used; even as simple a shot of David Bowie lighting a cigarette has an arresting quality to it. This is one of the glossiest movies ever photographed, and even though there were presentation problems, the scale of a projected image allowed for the film's imagery to transcend the limitations of the print. The statuesque Catherine Deneuve has a vulnerable-but-tough screen presence that is only amplified in projection.
While far from my finest film revival experience, it was still quite worth it to me. I only hope that a better print shows up someday.