Thursday, February 17, 2005

Musical Realism

M____ requested the movie Xanadu from the library and we picked it up tonight. (or last night, Wednesday, since I haven't been able to synch blogger to my own time)

You do know you can do that, don't you? Your local library system is, even as we speak, adding titles to their collection of movies. In our system, you can even type in "DVD" or "VHS" into the online search page and get an alphabetical list to request from, and have them delivered to the closest branch to your house. This week was Xanadu, last week was the first season of M*A*S*H, last month Yale lectures on Existentialism and Shakespeare's Twelvth Night. More varied than a video store, if not as well represented in new releases. Remember, libraries get public money based upon how much we use them! Next time you want to rent a movie, think about your local library!

You're already paying for it, so use it!

Anyway, I was as enchanted by Olivia Newton John as was the rest of my generation back in 1980, which may not mean anything to people not of my age. But trust me, she could do no wrong in 1980.

I only saw this on TV, because I was, well, a twelve year old boy and neither me nor any of my twelve year old friends would dare cop to wanting to see this to each other. So I saw it on TV a year or so later. Adored the soundtrack for ELO as much as ONJ, which I never owned because a whole ablum was a bit much for our household budget at the time. Read all the lyrics and credits at Aunt Chris' house, to be sure-- "'Destiny-y' will arive, not "destined the eve' will arrive! Ahhhh." I had a lot of 45s, though. $1.49 fit within my allowance, but $6.99 didn't.

Seeing it again, I think I may actually have liked it more than I did when I was twelve. This isn't usually the case as most movies completely suck when I watch them again. When the TV broadcast rolled around, the magic had worn off and it just seemed a bit cheesy. There was probably some lingering resentment about not being able to afford the soundtrack album, as well, but who knows...

Okay, it's still cheesy, but cheese which has aged and which a refined palate, properly prepared for the experience, can discern elements to appreciate in the proper context. Some nostalgia ages well, and some gets musty and bitter and best left alone. Then again, there's no cheese so musty and bitter that you can't find someone else to appreciate it, but Xanadu is many things but not bitter by any means!

The pacing still sucks, though, and there's no getting around that.

However, I've now got an excuse to finally rent TRON, since the visual effects guys from Xanadu who did all the back projection work which M____ really liked went on to greater glory there.

Tonight, I actually had seen enough movies and understood enough about the history of the movie musical to get all the many references to past movie musicals. And there were a lot. I had no idea who Gene Kelly was when I was 12, for instance, not to mention other obvious nods to people like Busby Berkeley. M____ is right about Kelly, though, he looks much less gay here than he did when he was younger and wearing a tight sailor suit all the time :)

In watching it and talking about musicals in general, I came up with an interesting phrase. She had pointed out that in the tap scene, sometimes their shoes tapped, and sometimes they were soft. Then in the next musical scene, I noticed that the "recording studio" they were in would be lousy for recording, but made a great dance area. I'd been thinking for a while about the literary concepts of Magical Realism, which I enjoy, and the ways in which cinematic magical realism differs from the literary kind.

I think that there needs to be a term Musical Realism which describes the genre of art where the presence of music alters the demands of physical reality. If there's a good song playing (from where? don't ask...) then you just dance around and six months of work and promotion gets done in an afternoon!


In another note, when you make homemade half-whole wheat rolls and have dough left over, you can put it into a plastic baggie and save it for a few days in the fridge. Used the leftover Valentine's Day dough for pizza tonight. I should probably develop a post on tomato sauce for pizza vs. tomato sauce for pasta, because they're two very different things, and M____ tells me I do both quite well.


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