Amoeblog

Ingmar Bergman + 1918-2007

Posted by Job O Brother, July 30, 2007 10:25am | Post a Comment




 

(In which Job educates you and also lies here and there.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 17, 2007 12:06pm | Post a Comment
I’m looking around my apartment (it’s a bachelor, so this doesn’t take much time) at my collections of who’s-its and what’s-its (you want thing-a-ma-bobs? I got plenty) to find something I want to tell you about, in hopes that it will inspire or delight you, as it has me.

Which is awfully presumptuous. I mean, there’s a small chance that you and I don’t have the exact same tastes in everything, right? Maybe you don’t think that “Love & Rockets” is one of the finest works of literature in the history of mankind; perhaps you’d disagree that beholding a Rothko in person can be an emotional experience; mayhap, though this seems ridiculously far-fetched, you might even balk at my pronouncement that both Isaac Albéniz’s operas and “SCTV” are under-appreciated.


My idea of a chick-flick. No. 14, 1960, by Mark Rothko

But I digress. Life is confusing and challenging enough without entertaining the idea that you and I might be different. The best course of action is to assume we’re on the same page, and that the only real difference between us is that you don’t know about some of the stuff I do, and my job is to tell you about these things, so you can rush out and discover them. D’accord?

I’ve been employed by Amoeba Music Hollywood for nigh three years. For the first year, I worked full time in the classical music section. This was a valuable opportunity to further develop both my collection and knowledge of the genre. (For instance, I learned that the piano is actually played with hands, and that Mozart wrote most of his music during his lifetime!)

My tastes in classical music are broad. I’m particularly fond of British music of the Victorian era, modern Scandinavian composers, German lieder, and most Baroque music, especially if it involves woodwinds. I’m not a fan of Mozart, except for his operas which are some of my favorites; I detest Chopin and die a little inside when a customer asks me for advice on which recordings of his music to buy; Russian romantics leave me wanting and Anne Sofie Von Otter’s 1993 recording of songs by Edvard Grieg makes me rock out with my cock out.


Frédéric Chopin. "You can just tell from my music that I was lousy in bed. I'll bet I slept with my mouth open, too, and made smacking noises with my mouth when I ate crackers!"

One composer that has brought me much happiness is one that many haven’t listened to. His name: Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges - a Renaissance man who was thankfully born before they invented “Hello, My Name Is” stickers.


Total stud and all-around dignified chewer, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, whom we’ll refer to as "Joe" for the sake of time, was born in 1739 and was a Capricorn.

Capricorns, as those of you who study astrology know, are famous for being ambitious, focused, and more likely to disown bastard children than any other sign in the Zodiac. They were, for a brief period during the reign of King Louis VIII, forced to wear their clothes on the inside of their skin, which is where we get the saying “I’ve got you under my skin,” a term later popularized when Ella Fitzgerald ate a sleeping Cole Porter for lunch.

Joe’s pa was a white, French, plantation owner and aristocrat; his ma was an African slave. As a child he excelled in fencing, violin playing, and music composition. Of these skills, fencing came in the handiest when he fought against the monarchy in the French Revolution, and he eventually became the first black colonel in the French army. He was also the first black, French mason. And, though this is under dispute by some historians, the first black Frenchman to call Marie Antoinette a cow-faced hooker.


"That's nothing compared to what Perez Hilton said about me last March!"

His music is of the “Mannheim school” style, like Mozart and another favorite of mine, Franz Joseph Haydn (affectionately called “Papa Haydn” because he made so many of his Audiences finish their homework before letting them listen to his music).

Sadly, Joe’s life, while often illustrious, ended in abject poverty and isolation. He died in 1799 when his body stopped living.

I love his music. It is sparkling, intelligent; seductive and impassioned without being emotive or gushing. It’s especially nice in the daytime when you want everything to feel clean and alive (a perfect soundtrack for dusting furniture or reading that copy of Penthouse Forum you’ve been putting off).

Like the best of classical-period music, it is trim and precise, yet effervescent, evoking a sense of purity-of-will perhaps only attainable in music before Kurt Cobain shot himself.

I highly recommend it to people interested in starting somewhere with classical music, but unsure where or with whom. That is, if you’re looking for music that evokes a joie de vivre. Those dudes who are looking for something to round-out their collection of Neurosis albums and black metal CD’s would do better to seek out Kronos Quartet’s album “Black Angels” or a symphony by Shostakovich.

I hope this information is of some interest. If you have any questions about where to start with classical music, feel free to write me, or sneak into my house while I’m sleeping and tie me up until I make a few suggestions. I’m happy to help!

(I vilket författaren diskuterar hans favoritt direktör.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 14, 2007 08:23am | Post a Comment

Today is Ingmar Bergman’s birthday!

I know – you’re ready to leap from the computer to rush out to buy a piñata and cake.

Or, more likely, you re-read the above sentence a couple times as your brain grappled with confusion over whether or not I wrote Ingrid Bergman. Quite possibly, some of you still think I did.


Actress Ingrid Bergman, star of "Casablanca" and the Bergman film "Autumn Sonata";
no relation to the director and much better looking in a dress.

I’m not being (intentionally) condescending; it’s just that that’s what seems to happen every time I gush about my most favorite film director.

Fellini, Buñuel, Pasolini, Hitchcock, Godard, Woody Allen… There are many film directors that cause me to go weak in the superego, but none of them so deeply penetrate my soul and slop it on the screen like ol’ Ingmar.

Furthermore, many of his films star his ex-wife and one of my favorite actresses, Liv Ullman.


Liv Ullman looking ravishing as she has a nervous breakdown in "Persona"

I’m the first to admit that his films aren’t for everyone. They’re an intimidating option when considering an evening’s entertainment. When faced with “what to do”, who in their right mind would subject themselves to a somber, cryptic and psychologically penetrating film in which handsome Swedes come to grips with their innermost core-of-self amidst Midnight Sun landscapes?

Me. I would subject myself. Sadly, I’m often alone for the ride. It’s hard to convince your date that a five hour epic like “Scenes From a Marriage” – in which you see a happy couple crumble toward divorce in episodes that make “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” seem like “Oliver & Company” – is good material for snuggling.


"Oh darling, I can hardly wait until your treachery leads me to contemplate suicide!"
Liv Ullman & Erland Jospehson in "Scenes From a Marriage"
My father was a proud Swede. Actually, most Swedes are proud Swedes. Listening to him speak about Swedish culture, you’d think the Garden of Eden still existed, and it’s capital was Stockholm. He took me there when I was a teenager for a disastrous trip that was meant to bring us closer together but instead ended up in me pretending to have the flu and hiding in my hotel room to watch Euro-Mtv while he went out in search of museums and got lost.

Even so, his expressions of admiration for Sweden had an impact on me; not in that I was hypnotized with amour for the country itself, rather, it became a reminder of everything that was my father. He was a typical Swede, so Swedes remind me of him. (He passed away in 2000.)

Oh… I suppose I should have mentioned that Ingmar Bergman is Swedish. Those of you who didn’t know were probably wondering what the hell was going on as I leapt from subject to subject without any semblance of continuity. Sorry!

Anyway, milkshakes are a delicious, cool, dessert beverage that are wonderful to attract ants with on a hot summer’s day.


I cite my relationship with my father because it accounts for some of the profound emotional impact that Bergman’s work has on me. Those of you who didn’t have stoic, Swedish dads who were raised by Victorian women (and many of you don’t, it seems) may not buckle in the face of Bergman’s work like I do. The final scene of “Through a Glass Darkly” ends with the son exclaiming in astonishment that his father “spoke” to him (meaning honestly) and it makes me cry every time.

Even so, you may find yourself deeply pondering the nature of your heart and mind after watching one of his movies. Bergman himself stated (in a 2004 interview) that he can no longer watch his own films because they "depress him". Ouch.

Many, many filmmakers cite Bergman as an influence, and any film student will/has been presented with his work.

There are dozens of hilarious spoofs of his films: Chevy Chase and Louise Lasser do a sketch in the first season of Saturday Night Live about tricking Death into leaving them alone by sending him away to pick up a pizza; SCTV has a great scene in which listless women babble in fake Swedish while accosted by midgets; the character of Death in "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" is a take-off of the Death character in “The Seventh Seal” and Woody Allen’s fantastic film “A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy” is rife with silly nods to the director.


"I would love to have children!" Happier times between Woody & Mia

Woody Allen very directly (no pun intended) went through a period wherein which he made films so obviously influenced by Ingmar that they are referred to as his “Bergman period”. They also account for the period in which fans of Woody’s comic pieces were frustrated and annoyed by him. Of these works, “Interiors” is the most obvious “Bergman film”.


Separated at birth: Scenes from Ingmar's "Autumn Sonata" & Woody's "Another Woman"

Are you still reading this? It’s not one of my funnier blogs. I get really worked up by Bergman.

If you’ve never seen any of his works, I recommend starting with “The Seventh Seal”. It’s his most famous, and it’s a good gauge to determine whether or not to continue with others. If you see it and like it, continue on with “Persona” (a personal favorite). If you hated it, try “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” because it is funny and has nothing to do with Bergman. At all.

And let me know what you think. I’m always curious to hear people’s opinions about his films.

Grattis på födelsedagen, Ingmar!