With Eddie Murphy out and Billy Crystal back, the Motion Picture Academy’s message — and mine — remain the same. I admire Billy Crystal, and I like him in When Harry Met Sally, one of my favorite performances by an actor. But his hosting the annual event means business as usual: not an awards presentation but a show. Crystal’s fine work over the years and especially as Harry are almost bleeped from my radar by the memory of his spoof of the beauty and tenderness of Brokeback Mountain. The camera found Ledger and Gyllenhaal in the audience, laughing.
Did they have a choice?
DO YOU KNOW THIS FILM?
The Saddest Music in the World
This black and white dark comedy is provocative, scary and entertaining. A superb cast achieves masterful ensemble playing. Best of all are Claude Dorge and Adrian O’Neil as two flaky, garrulous commentators covering contests (between countries for the title of the nation having the saddest music) with unbelievably spot-on banal reactions and comments.
I found nine allusions to other films. I would enjoy hearing from visitors who found others or think I am mistaken about any of my own. I perhaps should have stayed with the 30s, the era of the story. But ranging before and after, I thought I discovered Caligari, maybe Waxworks, A Star Is Born, the Garbo canon, the Dietrich canon, the Busby Berkeley canon, King’s Row, Rashomon, and Juliet of the Spirits.
Reflecting on my list of discoveries in Maddin’s film, I can’t help but remember Thomas Mann’s response to an over-zealous reader of his novel The Magic Mountain: “That’s a hell of a lot more than I saw in it.”
The Saddest Music in the World is available as an MGM DVD. I learned about it through the superb film program offered by David Filipi at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.
Next Post: November 23.