In the annals of great film soundtracks, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off must rank up there somewhere. Amazingly, a soundtrack album was never issued—it seems director John Hughes was worried his selection of songs was simply “too eclectic” and didn’t cohere into a unified album. Fortunately, you can get a track listing here. I mean, remember when they drive into Chicago in the Ferrari and Beat City by the Flowerpot Men is playing? Awesome.
Beckett’s play “Eh Joe,” directed for the stage by filmmaker Atom Egoyan, is transformed from play to web video by the New York Times. They should do more of these. Peneleope Wilton’s narration is haunting—the static slides almost remind me of Chris Marker’s La Jetée.
I’ve recently become enamored with Ryan Nelson’s Film Still Archive series on his personal blog, Making Known. Ryan’s a Design Fellow at the Walker Art Center who’s also written some great posts about typewriter type, Pistilli Roman, and my favorite used book find Color By Overprinting, not to mention this spot-on post on balloons, spilt liquids, and paper constructions.
There’s definitely music in the air on L&UL lately. Especially movie music. Kottke recently pointed me to this excellent post on The Morning News by RadioLab’s Jad Abumrad. Abumrad rounds up some of his favorite movie music moments, and I must say my jaw dropped when I saw his list beacuse it was so close to my own. Alexandre Desplat’s lush orchestral score for Jonathan Glaser’s extraordinary film Birth takes the Disney fairytale sound and throws it ever so slightly off-kilter, perfectly matched to the eerie magic of Glaser’s lush fantasyland on the Upper East Side. Huge Soderbergh fan that I am, I agree with Abumrad that the only really redeeming thing about his remake of Solaris was Cliff Martinez’s incredible, minimalist score. With overtones of Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Martinez’s looped percussive phrasing is hypnotic—listen to this music while you’re in motion and your journey will be transformed. Also on Abumrad’s list are Bernard Hermann’s great scores for Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Psycho, the jarring high notes of which both Abumrad and I see shades of in Jonny Greenwood’s superb soundtrack for There Will Be Blood.
The night before I read my essay “Part Notes” at KGB Bar as part of SVA’s D-Crit Reading Series, I found myself stealing a free few hours to go see Paul Thomas Anderson’s breathtaking new film, There Will Be Blood.
About halfway through the film, there’s a gas explosion at one of Daniel Plainview’s derricks, and his adopted son H.W. is thrown back and hits his head from the blast. I was so emotionally engrossed in their relationship that for several minutes I did not realize that that the music playing beneath the scene was Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres,” the very piece of Pärt’s that’s the subject of “Part Notes.” And it’s not just any version of the piece: it’s the version I first heard, recorded on Tabula Rasa with Gideon Kremer on violin and Keith Jarrett on the prepared piano. My concerns about the datedness of an essay from several years ago faded: here was a bracing, delicate, and original use of Pärt’s thrilling piece. It seemed as relevant to me as ever.
From one of my new favorite blogs, Smashing Telly, comes Derek Jarman’s wonderfully weird feature film on Wittgenstein’s life from 1993.
From Eugene Jarecki’s informative documentary Why We Fight, ex-CIA agent Chalmers Johnson explains effortlessly in 3 minutes how “there is a direct connection between events that happened more than 50 years ago and the war in Iraq today.” Johnson is famous for his popularization of the term “blowback,” which describes the unintended consequences of covert operations. The term is also the title of his book, which is available here.
“Typically, when I asked him about choosing between cinema and architecture, he replied that the two fields are more alike than they are different. ‘You are considering episodes, and you have to construct the episodes in a way that is interesting and makes sense or is mysterious,’ he said. ‘It’s about montage also—whether it’s making a book, a film or a building.’” From Arthur Lubow’s NYT Magazine article, “Rem Koolhaas Builds.”