I had lunch at a nearby Irish Pub Friday and met a former rugby coach of mine, "Schnauzer." Schnauzer is notable in my life because he bears a tattoo I once designed! The story is here and in the photograph which follows it.
Saturday was the annual Gettysburg Remembrance Day parade; this year Don and I marched down Baltimore and Steinwehr Avenues carrying the colors which were mounted on ridiculously tall staffs. It felt like we were carrying antenna masts. We spent the entire parade squinting upwards taking care not to snag telephone lines, tree branches or traffic lights. We won't be volunteering to do that again next year! Photos here.
As promised, I also got some videos of the Federal City Brass Band's sunset concert atop the Little Round Top: "Old Joe Hooker," "We Are Coming Father Ab'ram."
I also saw the U.S. Navy Band's wind octet perform in Alexandria yesterday; it was nice. Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Mozart. The Masonic Memorial amphitheatre is a cool performing space few locals know about. Access is easy, there's a ton of free parking and the acoustics are great.
My bride and I watched three films over the weekend:
Follow the Fleet (1936): A breezy and rather brain dead Irving Berlin musical starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. But who watches these for the plots? You watch them to see Fred and Ginger dance, of course. It was a bit overlong. There was one hilarious scene where Fred is teaching sailors on a ship how to dance - naturally, this being 1936 there are no dames aboard, so the sailors must pair up together. You might know just then a squad of Marines arrives and witness this; the tough old sergeant does the world's funniest 1930's double take and the inevitable fistfight ensues. Back then they didn't ask, tell or dance. I liked the opening number, We Saw the Sea, which my pard Don alerted me to.
Get Carter (1971): The Michael Caine one, of course, not the remake. (In general, I don't like remakes.) My first take on this film was that it was soulless and pointless, but the more I think about the film the more inclined I am to like it. It can still be soulless and pointless - there are plenty of nihilist films noir in the canon (1961's Blast of Silence is a notable example) - but what's winning me over in part is the bleak, windswept ending and the musical theme, "Getting Nowhere in a Hurry." There's a good video of the theme song being played here. I like the Indian percussion and treated piano, but then I would. I'm a fan of John Barry's scores, and this is very much in his style: a hooky ostinato with the main theme being played on an exotic sounding instrument.
The Sting (1973): Seven Academy Awards? This won seven? And beat out American Graffiti for Best Picture that year?!? Graffiti - a far better film, in my opinion - was robbed! I know why... this has Stars. It has an overly-mature Robert Redford (he attempts to portray a winsome twentysomething in this but was 38 when it was filmed) and Paul Newman, modeling clothes. See Paul Newman in his fedora and wife-beaters! See Redford in his striped suit and 1930's workingman's cap - then watch as he switches into his tux for the sting operation! Meh. Like a couple of Ken dolls. I could see the trick ending a mile away and I thought this flick suffered from terminal cuteness. A little too much sparkle and wit, thank you. And I also don't buy the plot: a mobster kills a black man and so various grifters and con artists extract revenge. Could that really have happened in 1936 Chicago? No. Like Redford's unauthentic hairstyle, the sensibilities of this film are firmly set in 1973's Hollywood.
It also doesn't help that the film ushered in a fad for Scott Joplin rags; I remember being really, really tired of hearing The Entertainer intruding into my classical station, KFAC.
Perhaps what I really disliked about this film is summed up by Roger Ebert as a compliment in his contemporary review: "The style here is so seductive and witty it's hard to pin down. It's like nothing else I've seen by Hill, and at times, it almost reminds me of Jacques Tati crossed with Robert Altman. It's good to get a crime movie more concerned with humor and character than with blood and gore; here's one, as we say, for the whole family." No thank you. I'll take my crime films straight.
Get Carter is looking better and better.
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