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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Music appreciation from Jonathan Demme

For some reason, I've never seen Philadelphia, and I also worked in the classical department of a record store in the years following its release (and therefore always needing to be able to hook up a customer with Maria Callas singing La Mamma Morta at any given time), so I was not expecting to be so blown away by this scene as I came across it in the Onion AV Club's appreciation piece for the late Jonathan Demme.

This is stuff that could easily go bad in the wrong hands, possibilities for stereotypes and melodrama abound. But the performances by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington (and Callas), the camera looking down from heaven, the moisture on Denzel's moustache, even having the roaring fireplace seem a bit too much until you go "oh, that's why it's there."

The rest of the clips are good. I love in the clip from Stop Making Sense where Bernie Worrell and Alex Weir share a smile at the end of Bernie's solo in the middle of the song. Something Wild is a hoot and a holler you may not have seen. If you ever hear me utter the line "please... attempt to be cool" (though I usually direct it towards myself), it comes from that movie. (And is delivered by Steve Scales, the percussionist in Stop Making Sense.)

I remember once after watching a couple of jittery handheld shot movies from the 90's, I next watched Demme's Neil Young concert film Heart of Gold, and my first reaction was "now, there's a man who knows where to point a camera."

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