Jazz Music

29th October 2021

Charlie Parker (sax) with Miles Davis (trumpet)

JAZZ MUSIC

I love all types of music, but one of my favourites is Jazz. It can be exciting, or thought-provoking, upbeat or mellow, but it’s always different.

Unlike other types of music, Jazz is spontaneous. This means that you never hear the same song the same way; each performance is different. 

Jazz started in New Orleans but moved up to Chicago, New York and even west to California. The first records were made in 1917 and the first true Jazz genius was Louis Armstrong. If you want to hear jazz, you should listen to his records from the 1920s.

You may know some famous Jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I can recommend these musicians to you as first-rate examples of Jazz.

I hope this has made you curious about Jazz, and that you go online to listen for yourself. Who knows, maybe you too will learn to love Jazz.

Duke Ellington's Far East Suite by Duke Ellington (Album, Big Band):  Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

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Jean-Paul Belmondo R.I.P.

8th September 2021

On Monday 6th September Jean-Paul Belmondo, icon of French Cinema, passed away. Jean-Paul, who was 88, worked with many of the top names in French Cinema: Jean-Pierre Melville, with Francois Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Claude Lelouche, with Agnes Varda and Louis Malle. With Jean-Luc Godard, the director with whom he will always be associated.

Noir City International
Le Doulos 1962

Belmondo was much more than an actor; he was a star. His charisma and screen presence was inimitable. In the three films he made with Godard, he portrayed a petty criminal being hunted by the police (‘A Bout de Souffle’), a lovable rogue with a flair for comedy and dance (‘Une Femme est une Femme’) and an existential adventurer on the road to freedom (‘Pierrot le Feu’). With these three film alone, Belmondo became a part of Cinema history.

Une femme est une femme: the places documented - The Cine-Tourist
Une Femme est une Femme 1961

What are their plans for the evening ? Belmondo wants to watch a film on TV “With my friend Burt Lancaster.” He turns to the camera and smiles.

Such a scene is typical of the Nouvelle Vague, the French New Wave of Cinema that wanted to move away from studio sets and unrealistic dialogue. It was youth, energy, charm in abundance, and it was referential and respectful to Cinema and filmmaking. We hear projectors whirl, clapperboards clapping, calls for “Lights, cameras, action.” Characters were named after directors (in the above scene, Belmondo is named after the German director Ernst Lubitsch), they would turn to the camera and address the audience. Cinema was fun, it was life, “In a word ’emotion’,” and we were all invited. Fifty years later, the films retain this exuberance, this spirit, this joie de vivre.

Stavisky - Film d'Alain Resnais - Critique
Stavisky 1974

Belomondo’s performances contribute to this magic because, for me, that is exactly what Cinema is, what it should be – pure magic.

Jean-Paul died aged 88, so at that age, death is not a tragedy. The tragedy is that he is irreplaceable. His persona was unique. So unique. For many cineastes, he is part of our cultural DNA, his work is ineffably part of our lives, which he enriched.

If you’re not familiar with Jean-Paul’s work, here’s a good place to start, some clips from fifteen of his films:

Just in July, I posted a blog about a reunion Belmondo had with fellow French icon Alain Delon, a post that may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/07/12/quest-ce-que-le-cinema-belmondo-delon/

Suggested Viewing:

À bout de souffle 1960 Une femme est une femme 1961 Pierrot le Fou 1965 all directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Le Doulos 1962 directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

La Sirène du Mississippi 1969 directed by Francois Truffaut

Les Misérables 1995 directed by Claude Lelouche

Goodbye Jean-Paul. Merci pour tout

Jean-Paul Belmondo at worst? Close friend discusses rumors of alarming  health

Jean-Paul Belmondo 9th April 1933 – 6th September 2021

Lee Eun-ju: A Korean Star

3rd September 2021

As a prelude to some blogs about my favourite Korean films, I would like to post a little tribute to one of my favourite actors, Lee Eun-ju (also known as Lee Eun-joo). The actress, who was also a talented pianist, appeared in some of my favourite Korean films of the early 2000s.

Lee Eun Joo - mỹ nhân tự sát sau cảnh nóng, gây thương xót suốt 14 năm

Lee Eun-ju was born in Gunsan, south-west Korea, on December 22nd 1980, and studied piano when she was at school. At sixteen, she won a modelling contest. From there, she moved into TV dramas and then movies.

One of her earliest roles was in Hong Sang-soo’s ‘Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors” (2000). This art film, shot in black & white, tells the story of how two people meet, and is told in flashbacks showing different perspectives and while some events are similar, others are very different.

The film is one of my top Korean movies. Anthony Leong writes that Lee Eun-ju “delivers the standout performance,” and her charisma is “one of the highlights,” of the film.

S. Korean Star Lee Eun Joo has Commited Suicide - Ent_Pic - Pictures -  Newsgd

The following year, Lee Eun-ju appeared in the reincarnation love-story, ‘Bungee Jumping of their Own’ (2001). She plays a shy girl who falls in love, eventually, with a young man with whom she shares an umbrella during a storm. However, after planning to meet one day, she fails to appear and is never seen again. I will not spoil the film (too much) but many years later, the young man, now a teacher, meets a boy student who shares many of his old lover’s mannerisms.

Lee Eun Joo - Tin tức mới nhất 24h qua - VnExpress

The theme of boy meets girl – falls in love – one of them dies is stepped up a notch in another one of my personal favourite Korean films, ‘Lovers’ Concerto’ (2002). I even watched it (again) last night, to prepare for this blog. Lee Eun-ju shows her acting skills, as she portrays a young lady who is by turns spoilt, unreasonable, tender, loving and so fragile. With her charm and charisma, she really lights up the screen.

Unfortunately, Lee Eun-ju found her last film, The Scarlet Letter’ (2004) a very traumatic experience, along with the subsequent poor reception and backlash. The film, her family assert, caused her to fall into a deep depression, exacerbated by insomnia. On February 22 2004, Lee Eun-ju took her own life. She was only twenty-four.

Lee Eun-joo - Photo Gallery (故 이은주) @ HanCinema

How heartbreaking that someone with so much to offer should be so unhappy. How heartbreaking to think of all the films she could have made. How amazing that an actress with just thirteen film credits should be in two of my absolute favourites.

Thank you so much … miss you so much

매우 감사합니다 ... 당신이 너무 그리워

Lee Eun-ju 1980 – 2004

Grasshopper Educational: 121 Minutes to 180 Minutes
Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (Region-All)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001)
Lover's Concerto - AsianWiki
Lovers’ Concerto (2002)

Sources

Leong, Anthony C.Y. ‘Korean Cinema: The New Hong Kong’ (2002) Trafford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Eun-ju#Life_and_career

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=vi&u=https://zingnews.vn/lee-eun-joo-my-nhan-tu-sat-sau-canh-nong-gay-thuong-xot-suot-14-nam-post919445.html&prev=sear

Charlie Watts R.I.P

30th August 2021

Charlie Watts, the Unlikely Soul of the Rolling Stones - The New York Times

Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to another beloved musician. Last Tuesday Charlie Watts drummer with the Rolling Stones passed away in London.

I was lucky enough to see the Stones twice, in football grounds (Wembley in London, and in Copenhagen), but I also saw Charlie in a much smaller London theatre where he performed a tribute to Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Apart from being a Rock ‘n’ Roll legend, Charlie was a Jazz lover, and played with small groups and big bands.

Charlie Watts: a rock'n'roll legend whose true love was jazz | Charlie Watts  | The Guardian

Stones guitarist Keith Richards posted this image:

Image

Goodbye Charlie xoxo

Charlie Watts (2nd June 1941 – 24th August 2021)

Nanci Griffith: Last of the true believers

18th August 2021

Is Nanci Griffith's Cause of Death Related to a Health Problem? - US day  News

A Personal Tribute

One of the best Sundays I ever experienced was in Nashville, Tennessee. A friend and I were on a road trip, and we had driven up from Atlanta, on route to Memphis, New Orleans and the wide open road.

Sundays in London in the late 80s and early 90s were dire; shops were closed, no football and people were either hungover or dreading the grim imminent Monday morning feeling.

Yet here were were, downtown Nashville, wearing shirt sleeves, sitting on a porch outside a store, sun shining, just passin’ the time and chewin’ the fat. Along comes a fine Southern gentleman, tips his hat to us, smiles and says, “Howdy.” Later, mid afternoon, we popped into a small bar, took an ice-cold beer and began talking with a local. Suddenly he excused himself as it was his turn to take the stage and play, and he dedicated a song to his, “Two new friends all the way from England.” The rest of the bar looked over, clapped and smiled.

CUT TO

London, some months later. It’s autumn, I’m living in a claustrophobic bedsit in the East End of London. The couple in the next room were constantly, and loudly, fighting. The house next door had a burglar alarm that frequently went off in the early hours, and I was working, six days a week, in an unspeakable low-paid job. And it was cold, wet and miserable.

I desperately needed to rekindle my USA vibe. ‘Twin Peaks’ was just starting on TV, but the high-rise council tower blocks made the reception almost unwatchable. Luckily, serendipitously, when I was at the library, going through the small music section (we were allowed to take out two items, price 20p each, 30p for a double cassette or LP) I saw a small black cassette tape by Nanci Griffith. It was the live recording, ‘One Fair Summer Evening’ (1988). Life suddenly became a whole lot better.

I knew very little about her, though I was vaguely aware as I had briefly worked in a record shop and we stocked her most recent LP, ‘Storms’ (1989). Now I was hooked, the intimate warm way Nanci introduces the songs, each one being a self-contained short story. Farmers barely surviving the dust-bowl years, lovers going through relationship troubles, or people just wanting to forget their troubles and take a ‘spin on a red brick floor’.

One of the standout tracks on the live tape was ‘Love at the Five and Dime’ which was on the ‘Last of the True Believers’ LP (1986). Appropriately enough, I picked up the cassette from my local Woolworth’s store in the Leytonstone High Road.

Nanci Griffith Last of The True Believers Rounder Europa Reuc1013 Cassette  Album for sale online | eBay

A year or two later, and Nanci came to London, performing at the Albert Hall. As she remarked during the concert, she’d come a long way from playing small clubs in Austin, Texas to this iconic venue in London.

Nanci Griffith & The Blue Moon Orchestra Royal Albert Hall Magazine Advert  49682 on eBid United Kingdom | 139725431

I moved to Berlin in the mid 90s, and stayed with a friend who only had a few cassettes, but one of them was the Grammy-winning ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ (1993). He later formed a band and they covered ‘Spin on a Red Brick Floor’. We only had the live version to listen to, and we played it over and over, trying to get the lyrics. Some of them were impenetrable, and my friend just made noises and nonsensical sounds.

On a visit to London, I managed to pick up some second-hand LPs, including ‘Once in a Very Blue Moon’ (1984) which had a lyric sheet and I was therefore able to tell my buddy that he should be singing:

“Honey, here’s to you, sleep tight,” not “And a hoochey, coochey coo,” and:

“That hot Houston neon buzzing,” not “ahahahahahahaha hahah.”

NanciGriffithOnceinaVeryBlueMoon.jpg

Another LP I found, and probably my favourite cover, is ‘Lone Star State of Mind’ (1987).

So now, here’s two songs I’d be honoured to recommend (unfortunately I’m not able to post links to YouTube here).

The first is an album track from the ‘Lone Star’ LP, called ‘Beacon Street’.

The second is a live version of ‘Love at the Five and Dime’.

I hope that you love them as much as I do.

Goodbye, Nanci, love forever xo xo

Nanci Griffith July 6 1953 – August 13 2021

Lee Scott Revelle R.I.P.

6th August 2021

Last Monday, and with great sadness, my friend Pete texted me that our former bandmate, Lee Scott Revelle, had passed away the previous day, Sunday 1st August.

Lee had been hospitalised for a short time with an acute illness. His final Facebook update stated that the doctors were approaching the point when they were running out of options. The next posting was from his family, announcing Lee’s passing.

Lee and I met over our love of the 80s band Echo & the Bunnymen, and we formed a band together, bringing in my buddy Pete on bass. We only wrote a handful of songs, made one demo and played one gig, way out in Essex (east of London) in a sports pavillion. We earnt £1 … split four ways … minus mini cab fare and beers. Not a financial or artistic success, but an experience.

That band didn’t last long, but Lee continued to play, write and perform.

Pete, who’s also still making music, has an online radio show, and he’s dedicated this week’s one to Lee. Listen to it here:

https://www.mixcloud.com/flatwoundssounds/flatwounds-sounds-miscellany-show-40-5th-august-2021-rip-lee-scott-revelle/

No photo description available.

Book into Film: The Painted Bird

29th July 2021

9780553124606 - THE PAINTED BIRD by Jerzy Kosinski

Over twenty years ago I read ‘The Painted Bird’, by the Polish-born author Jerzy Kosinski and, as I was reading it, I knew the images, the emotional impact, would be indelible. Last night, I watched the 2019 film version, and now I hope this blog introduces the work to a new audience.

The book cover succinctly simmarises the tale. The setting is an unspecified area of eastern Europe during World War II. The Nazis are invading, bringing with them their ideology of racial superiority. The Communists are pushing back from the east, while brigands of bandits are attacking hamlets. Destruction, torture and violence. Mankind without the humanity, a return or regression to barbarity. There is – almost – no right or wrong, merely who is the strongest.

The film opens with a boy, Joska, running through some woods, clutching a pet stoat. We can tell he is being chased, although we do not see by whom. Inevitably, he is out-run and out-numbered and Joska is beaten by boys his own age, who take the animal. This is war time, maybe the animal will serve as food for starving villagers … but, no … the animal is gruesomely tortured. This scene encapsulates the theme: brutal violence for the sake of brutal violence. This is the world Joska was born into. No compassion, no empathy, no mercy; kill or be killed.

The Nazis, foreshadowed early in the film by a solitary plane observed by Joska, are just one of many threats. This world, this mid-C20th Europe, is dominated by ignorance, superstition and cruelty, it is the Bible of the Old Testament, animated by Bruegel and Bosch.

Already we have seen boys, children, symbols of innocence and purity, torturing for pleasure. Joska moves from place to place, at the mercy of adults, and cannot comprehend the brutality that is done to him or in his presence. He witnesses a miller, obsessively jealous of his young wife, rip the eyes out of a young apprentice because he dared look at the mistress. While the miller is beating his wife, Joska runs away, looking for the apprentice. The boy tries to help by giving the apprentice some round objects to replace his eyes, then continues his flight realising he has, inadvertently, caused more pain.

Each act of violence serves as an allegory of that world. Blindness, not knowing, not wanting to know. Genocide victims are numbered in hundreds of thousands, in millions. Such figures are beyond our comprehension, so the power of the story comes from seeing evil on an individual level. We become desensitised viewing death en masse. Watching a solitary act of brutality has a far more powerful effect. We feel the victim’s pain and fear, we abhor the evil personified by small groups of people. People who look the same as us.

The title is taken from an episode in which a seemingly pleasant older man collects small birds. He derives pleasure from painting one, then releasing it into the flock. The other birds sense something different and begin attacking. Just one of many incidents of cruelty, but a suitable metaphor, that justifies its prominence.

However, there are some glimpses of hope. A Nazi, expected to kill Joska because he is Jewish, allows him to run away, instead firing two shots into the air. Later a Russian sniper takes to Joska, protecting him. When four Russian soldiers are attacked by locals, the sniper calmly goes to the village and with a long-range rifle, kills four people. He teaches Joska the, “Eye for an eye,” policy.

Read as an allegory, we see all vices and perversions, the depravity that humans can sink to. Yet we also, fleetingly, see hope, warmth, friendship and compassion. We see how insidious intolerance and prejudice can be and what evils it can inspire.

‘The Painted Bird’ is intense in the extreme. For me, it is an unforgettable experience.

Qu’est-ce que le cinema ? Belmondo & Delon

12th July 2021

Jean-Paul Belmondo – CINEBEATS
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Alain Delon | The Great Acting Blog —
Alain Delon

Two icons of French Cinema, reunited for a Paris Match anniversary, back in 2019:

Jean-Paul Belmondo has his place in the Cinema Parthenon for his work with Jean-Luc Godard in the early 1960s

1960
1961
Blu-ray Review: Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le Fou on the Criterion  Collection - Slant Magazine
1965

Belmondo also worked with Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Pierre Melville and Alain Resnais.

Bande à part & Pierrot le fou : critiques

Alain Delon has worked with Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Pierre Melville and one film, in 1990, with Jean-Luc Godard.

Nouvelle Vague 1990
Rocco and his Brothers 1960
L’ Eclisse 1962
Le Samourai 1967

The actors worked together in 1970 in ‘Borsalino’ (Dir. Jacques Deray)

Borsalino (W9) Delon / Belmondo : la guerre des egos

Vive le cinéma!

Makiko Esumi and ‘Maborosi’

5th July 2021

Makiko Esumi - FamousFix.com post

A sign of a truly great film is how repeated viewings offer different and deeper perspectives. One such film is ‘Maborosi’ (1995) by Hirakazu Kore-eda.

Makiko Esumi’s performance is stunning. Her minimal movements convey the inner anguish, confusion and helplessness. Life, so tentative, has to continue. Peace comes not from knowing but from accepting that one will never know.

After several viewings, I still want to watch the film again … and again. I will write a blog about the film in the near future. In the meantime, here is a brief photo introduction to the lead actress, a former model.

Makiko is better known for her TV work but for me, she is the soul of this beautiful, delicate film.

Makiko Esumi (left) and Tadanobu Asano in the film Maborosi.
A scene from the beginning of ‘Maborosi’
Makiko Esumi - eCartelera
Photo de Makiko Esumi - Mushi-shi : Photo Katsuhiro Ôtomo, Makiko Esumi -  AlloCiné
Makiko Esumi - IMDb
Maborosi archive review: Hirokazu Koreeda's softly luminous debut | Sight &  Sound | BFI

Youn Yuh-jung: Best Supporting Actress

Congratulations-축하합니다

28th April 2021

Dân Hàn khóc, vỡ òa vì 'chiến thắng đỉnh cao' của Youn Yuh Jung tại Oscar -  VietNamNet

I was over the moon that Youn Yuh-jung won the Oscar for her role in ‘Minari’ (Dir. Lee Isaac Chang).

Youn Yuh Jung không muốn bị gọi là Meryl Streep của Hàn Quốc, căng thẳng vì  đề cử Oscar | VTV.VN

I fell in love with Korean cinema about ten years ago and I shall post a blog listing some of my favourite films, in the near future.

In the meanwhile, we can celebrate last year’s Best Film winner ‘Parasite’ (Dir. Boon Joon-ha) as well as raising a glass to Youn Yuh-jung’. This blog is dedicated to Sassy Girls wherever you are.

Hình ảnh phim My Sassy Girl | DienAnh.Net