Music and Film: Perfect Together

Joni Mitchell and Neil Young performing in The Last Waltz

April 3, 2017 – What do you get when you combine music and film?

Aside from two of my favorite things – or a great soundtrack – if you’re a Philadelphia area resident, you get the WXPN Music Film Festival.

WXPN is a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which broadcasts adult alternative music, and may be best known for its World Café music programs. This year’s festival, which ran from March 31 through April 2 at the Prince Theater, celebrated the 25th anniversaries of both the World Café music radio program and the Philadelphia Film Festival. It featured classic concert films as Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and The Band’s The Last Waltz. It also featured movies about music, like High Fidelity, Singles and Almost Famous.

I attended the viewing of The Last Waltz on Saturday night, and although I’ve seen it several times, the experience of watching it on the big screen, and at the loud volume it was meant to be shown, made the great concert film even better. Martin Scorsese directed the film, which chronicles The Band’s farewell performance in 1976, and features guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and several other notable artists.

The WXPN Music Festival and Philadelphia Film Festival are perfect ways to celebrate the spring and the fall each year. The Music Film Festival takes place each March/April, and the Philadelphia Film Festival in September/October.

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The Test of Time

hourglassAugust 19, 2016 – This month marks the 77th anniversary of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” As a fan of old movies, it is one of my favorites. I can quote from it and sing along with its upbeat tunes as if I were performing it myself.

A true classic appeals to all generations. Here are a few other entertainment vehicles stands the test of time.

Movies:
There is abundant of movies to choose from, but the first two that pop into my mind is “Casablanca” and  “Citizen Kane”, although the latter isn’t one of my favorites. And, of course, “The Wizard of Oz”. Honorable mention goes out to anything by Alfred Hitchcock, and to the wonderful family movies made in the 1960s, such as “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, to name a few. My own personal favorite, “So I Married an Ax Murderer”, makes me stop flipping through the channels immediately.

Television Shows:
Classic TV shows are readily available to new generations now that so many cable channels broadcast them. However, classic and stand the test of time do not always go hand in hand. “Seinfeld”, for example, is relatively new, but it can stand against any classic now and probably in years to come. Others include “Bewitched”,  my personal fave from childhood, “MASH”, “Cheers” and “I Love Lucy”. They are examples from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. I’m not sure any television show beyond that (at least so far) qualifies.

Singers/Bands:
How about Frank Sinatra, or anyone in the Rat Pack to start? They are still wildly popular today. You could also include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Bob Dylan in the mix because all of their music still has a strong audience, even though many of the songs were recorded 50 years ago. I wonder how many people will listen to Kanye West or Justin Bieber in 50 years. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say not many.

Songs:
Funny how Led Zeplin didn’t cross my mind as a band, but their song “Stairway to Heaven” certainly makes the cut for songs that stand the test of time. At least it continuously makes top five of every classic rock list. “Hey Jude”, “Let it Be” or anything by the Beatles is also a qualifier, and it’s the same for any hits by the Stones or The Who. Let’s reach back a little further and consider those romantic ditties from crooners past, such as “The Way You Look Tonight” or “Fly Me to the Moon”? They are still making present generations swoon. Or,  how about the most popular song ever—“Happy Birthday”?

Books:
This is probably the easiest category because schools will always push the classics on students, although they probably won’t really appreciate them until they are adults. So, what books stand out? How about “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Bell Jar”, to name a few? I would be remiss not to mention Judy Blume because I know that young girls in the future will still likely be captivated with “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?”. And something tells me the Harry Potter books will stick around for a long time, too.

I could add more, but this post might end up as long as a Marcel Proust novel, and I’ve been working on knowing my limits.

 

Experimenting with black and white photography

November 4, 2013 — Back when film was used, I loved trying to take black and white photos. I had little success; my shots were dull and flat, and the opposite the intriguing images that caught my eye.

Today’s digital cameras and photo software help amateurs like me look better than we are. I may never be Ansel Adams, but here is my attempt at the color shot followed by the black and white shot from Laurel Hill Cemetery in the East Falls area of Philadelphia:

laurel hill 1

laurel hill 1 bw

laurel hill 2

laurel hill 2 bw

Below is an interesting comparison. Even though there isn’t much color in the first photo other than the red roof and green leaves, the black and white shot looks quite different proving they do tell a different story.

small house color

tiny house bw