Music:John Barry: Body Heat (McNeely/London Symphony)
Tim came over on Sunday and met Varinia for the first time. He compared her comportment and outgoing nature to that of a dog, although I think that the comparison was more inspired by her practice of rolling over on the floor when you're petting her. She treats guests as guests, i.e. "you're in my space, but hello!" which I think is very nice. I feel it makes my home more welcoming.
I'm sick. Yes, I'm eating chicken soup.
A few days ago I had a hankering for some John Barry music and a good film. Whilst perusing my collection, the Blu-ray of Body Heat leaped out at me and insisted I watch it. Well, not exactly, but something like that. I was always quite taken with Lawrence Kasdan's sexy updating of Billy Wilder's classic Double Indemnity, in which the first time director embraced the noir genre and brought it to a new level.
This was, of course, Kathleen Turner's first film and her starmaking role, redefining the femme fatale for a new generation. The film ingeniously utilizes the inherent shallowness of the medium to present its main character Ned Racine (William Hurt) as a callow, lazy lawyer whom, as District Attorney Peter Lowenstein (Ted Danson) points out, "uses his incompetence as a weapon." He is a sleazeball, but a likeable one. The entire cast, which also includes Richard Crenna, J.A. Preston, Kim Zimmer and a very young Mickey Rourke, is outstanding and benefits significantly from Kasdan's interest in giving each character their own personalities and motivation.
The visual style of the film is quite stately, only calling attention to itself when dramatically motivated. Richard H. Kline's soft cinematography often quietly defines character relationships and situations, the frame's relationship to Ned often telling us more than any of the characters. Carol Littleton's montage leads the viewer from one moment to the next, sometimes with little dramatic interjections (the most apparent being the fly caught in a spiderweb).
Production designer Bill Kenny deserves quite a bit of credit for procuring all of the Florida locations at the last minute; the film was originally going to be set on the Jersey Shore and I think we can all be happy that this was changed for cultural as well as cinematic reasons. I was surprised when watching the special features that this film, which I always considered one of the quintessential "hot" films (temperature-wise), was actually filmed in rather cold weather. The year that they were shooting Body Heat was one of Florida's coldest winters; "hot" is entirely an illusion made by the filmmakers, the actors and the score.
What I think makes Body Heat work better than most other neo-noir titles is that Kasdan knew when to take the tropes of the genre and when to separate from them. The film takes place in (then) contemporary Florida instead of being a period piece, but the visual design of the film and its plotting definitely hearken back to the classic noirs of the 40s. There is a scene in the film in which Maddy (Turner) presents Ned with a 40s fedora, a moment that solidifies his placement in the film's mythology whilst at the same time visually merging the two figures. Brilliant filmmaking.
Suite from 'Body Heat' (acoustic renditions of "Main Title" and "Kill for Pussy") Composed by John Barry City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nic Raine • Jindrich Nemecek on Alto Saxophone
I have found myself hooked (again) on John Barry's score, the perfect blend of classy and sultry. It serves as an excellent reflection of however Ned is feeling at the time. I prefer the Joel McNeely recording on Varèse Sarabande because it's damn near impossible to find the original recording at anything resembling a decent price, and the sound mix is rather messy. The Varèse Sarabande sounds excellent, the "concert hall" miking for the orchestral portion works in contrast to the closer sound of the jazz band. Hopefully someday the complete original recording can be released (it's the sleazier performance; this is most apparent in the earlier cues in the film, some of which were not included on the soundtrack album), but even if it is, McNeely's recording is an interesting alternative.
The Blu-ray of the film is an accurate representation of an 80s theatrical print. It doesn't "pop" the way that many high-def titles do, but this is a by-product of the film's original photography, and it is definitely an appreciable upgrade from the DVD. Sonically, the Dolby True HD track presents a 5.1 mix for the film that isn't terribly elaborate but is quite effective. Barry's score gains the most benefit from the lossless mix, but there are a few sequences, such as those with the wind chimes, that truly shine. Overall, it won't wow you with the high def, but it does show the film to the best advantage.
My one caveat is that the teaser trailer is included, not the full trailer that was featured on the laserdisc and made great use of Barry's score.
I like having Danilo Gallinari. He's a good player; he gets the ball back from the other team and makes a lot of threes. But he doesn't just look like a doofus, he is totally clumsy. He spends more time on his back a night than a Times Square hooker. As a result, even though I respect his game and think he brings a lot to the team (Saturday they scored a 105 point game without Amar'e), but I'm going to continue to make friendly fun of him for as long as he is the Gerald Ford of the NBA.