Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

Music: One From the Heart soundtrack
Crystal Gayle and Tom Waits  

No one could believe the pairing of Tom Waits with Crystal Gayle but on this recording they were absolute magic. They were the entire musical act for Coppola's musical movie One From The Heart. Their voices were heard off screen while the characters enacted the love story on the screen. Their voices are an absolutely perfect pairing. Hers is perfect, sultry, clear, high.  His is low, raspy, tender. They were the musical incarnations of the characters played by Teri Garr and Frederic Forrest. Although the movie failed when released, this soundtrack earned Waits an Oscar nomination. The soundtrack also became the cult classic which the movie never quite attained but deserves as well. If you don't own this, you are missing a classic.

This album is available at Amazon's MP3 store and iTunes. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Movie: One From the Heart, Francis Coppola                     

At the time this came out, it received both rotten reviews and terrible box office.  It fared no better on video or DVD. At least it is more available today since it can be seen online with streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video. Coppola was forced to give up his studio Zoetrope because of this film's fantastic failure. I think the major problem was that most people could not envision the director of the Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now making a musical love story set on a soundstage which he built of Las Vegas (this rebuilding was utterly gorgeous). Then he violated another rule: none of the characters sang.  Instead, Crystal Gayle and Tom Waits sang off camera. 

Then there were the actors. The leads were not typical leads.  They were everyday types played by ordinary looking actors, Frederic Forrest and Teri Garr. The secondary actors, also the secondary love interests, were played by two powerhouses, both looks and talent, Nastasha Kinski and Raoul Julia. The ordinary lovers breakup and have romantic interludes with the secondary stars which border on being fantasies or dreams. It is a fantastic film and I've lost count of how many times I've seen it. If you have never seen it, you missed one of his major movies which has remained a buried treasure.

This film is available at Amazon Instant Video and  iTunes.  I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here. 

TV: Masters of Sex, Michael Sheen & Lizzie Kaplan                             
I watched the first episode of this show thinking that the scientific sex studies of Masters & Johnson was not likely to be riveting fare. The main reason I tuned in was that I have loved Michael Sheen in absolutely everything he's ever done. Why he wanted to play Bill Masters was beyond me but as an actor, he is first rate. Within five minutes, I knew I was seeing the best new series of the year. Bill Masters, the leading star OB-GYN at his hospital in Missouri, is a frustrated guy. This is because he has never wanted to be just a super successful doctor. No, for years he has been solidifying his position because he wants to do research into human sexuality. Everyone in medicine and research, however, is dead set against him. He has the absolutely wrong personality to try and get subjects to loosen up potential recruits. He is stiff, pedantic, arrogant and wholly lacking in magnetism. Enter Virginia Johnson, who becomes his secretary. He is no dummy. He can see that Johnson is probably as smart as he plus she is wonderful with people and is charismatic as can be. Plus she is wildly sexy. With that we are off and running as Masters and Johnson becomes every kind of story you could wish for, about sex, medicine, love, romance, family and all the nastier emotions which run alongside those things. Lizzie Kaplan is every bit as wonderful as Sheen. Really, drop everything you are doing and get this series. What a windfall!

This was on Showtime. If you get that premium cable channel, then you qualify for Showtime Anytime. The how-to instructions for watching this series online are at that website. If you do not get Showtime, the series will shortly be coming out on DVD.  I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Novel: We Need to Talk About Kevin 
Lionel Shriver, author; Coleen Marlo, narrator 

I started out by reading the print version of this book and switched shortly to the audio version. Boy, am I glad I did. The narrator is absolutely wonderful. (I did go back and finish reading the print version as well.) 

I think this is the first time i've heard a narrator do a woman and a man, husband and wife, and truly sound like both a man and a woman. Excellent as she is as the mother, her job as the father took my breath away. The writer's handling of the father is no less adept. For the father is constantly in Kevin's corner, believing him over the evidence which keeps piling up that something is wrong with Kevin and they better start talking about it. Whenever they try though, they occupy opposite poles, the husband believes every preposterous story Kevin proposes, while the wife sees straight through him as if he were transparent. Of course, the father loves the son unreservedly and with total commitment to him.

For those people who believe guns are the problem, the author does an interesting switch. The son has taken archery at school for six years and is an expert archer. He kills everyone with arrows he shoots from a crossbow. This is very clever because we need never get into discussing guns, gun control, whether guns kill people or people kill people, etc., etc., Archery is an olympic sport so everyone is blissfully unaware of why Kevin is becoming such an expert at it. Perhaps they just think he plans on being an olympic contender. You know from the start of the book that Kevin is a mass high school murderer. 

Much as I loved the non fiction book Columbine by David Cullen, this book covers entirely different territory. It gets deeply into the characters themselves in the family unit rather than pouring through evidence in the case. I think the extreme denial practiced by Kevin's father is very similar to the real life denial practiced by Eric Harris's father in Columbine.

This is excellent writing, excellent narrating. I think it would be a perfect selection for book clubs. The film which followed was also excellent.

This book is available at Amazon, Audible, iTunes and Overdrive (your public library app).  I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

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