Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Lou Reed - The Power of the Heart (2008)

Typically tender, romantic Lou Reed song: like most of his work after New York it's quiet and assuming and the more you listen to it the more you like it - play it a few times in this window while you're updating your social networking profiles or sending e mails, and see how much you enjoy it.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

TONY CURTIS 1925-2010

"What'll I be in the history of Hollywood?" Tony Curtis said in the late 1960s. "A footnote?"

He was more interested, in that interview, in advocating the legalization of cannabis, and the US movie magazine I read this in was shocked that he "admitted" giving his father cannabis when his father was dying of cancer.

There's a similar scene in the novel he wrote with Barry Paris - a character gives his mother cannabis and she finds it takes care of her pain to a degree the doctors' drugs don't - leaving her able to be herself in the midst of the illness and able to be accepting.

Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow is amateurish in the best sense of the word - it's enthusiastic and idiosyncratic and Curtis takes the narrative wherever he's interested in going - perhaps ad libbing as he liked to as an actor. I read it in one night when I was 15 or 16, and again in my 20s much more slowly and carefully, and both times I enjoyed its pace and gusto and poignant humanity. The opening line is "The 20th Century Ltd pulled in to the station.", and I thought this was symbolic - the 20th Century Ltd is actually a train that went between NY and LA. The sentences in the book are short and snappy and tight and witty, and it starts fast and stays fast, and keeps a clear line of progress even with its discursiveness.

Round the time of his cannabis campaigning Curtis was disappointed he'd not been better received in The Boston Strangler. His is a fearless performance in a grim, interesting, voyeuristic film - all Henry Fonda films seem obsessed with lines of guilt and innocence and justice and ambiguity - but there was a moment watching it when, as Curtis sneaks down a hallway with the same furtive moves as in The Persuaders, that I wished I was watching him in something less bleak and ugly. I felt guilty for not giving him more leeway - he's raw and compelling and cold and clumsily real in the role - risking real awkwardness in the mimed reconstructions when his character is in custody. I'm not a big fan of Some Like It Hot, enjoyable though it is, and I think Curtis's best work is probably the press agent flattering and ingratiating and plotting in The Sweet Smell of Success - he called it a "feel-bad movie".

He was also a beautiful chat-show guest, usually as an engaging, funny storyteller. On Aspel in 1984 he upstaged both Jackie Collins and Pamela Stephenson, which I would guess is not as easy as he made it look.