Barbara Kopple Director of Wild Man Blues
Of all documentary-makers, Barbara Kopple is the one least likely to be masterminding a film about so lightweight a subject as Woody Allen's jazz tour. She is, after all, the recipient of two Oscars for radical films about American labour conflicts — Harlan County USA, from 1976, and American Dream in 1990.
'Like actors,’ she says, 'directors play different roles. I've done films on Mike Tyson [1993's Fallen Champ], music films [Woodstock ’94], episodes of Homicide; so this is nothing out of the ordinary. Doing different things is what keeps it interesting. The thing that connects it all is storytelling. You know — getting the audience to feel as if there isn’t a camera there, and that they're living it and experiencing it.’
In sharp contrast to interventionists like Michael Moore, Kopple’s style is low key, almost anonymous. ’All I do is keep the technical thing away from their faces, and allow an atmosphere where they can live their lives, be who they are, to speak,’ she explains.
In keeping with her reputation as a ’people' filmer, Kopple is keen to stress her interest in what makes Allen tick, rather than the music per se. 'I never intended the film to be about jazz,’ she says. ‘I always intended it to be about Woody Allen, and what his
Thar he blows: Woody Allen on clarinet in Wild Man Blues
relationship is with Soon-Yi and with his sister Letty. The jazz was just something he was doing that motivated the trip.‘
Word has it that she was brought in after Terry Zwigoff, who made Crumb, declined the commission after disagreements over who would have the final cut, but Kopple refutes any notion that Allen was a difficult subject. ‘The basic ground rule was that I had total access or I don’t do it,’ she states. 'Woody was very easy, and I never had to ask him to do a thing.’
Allen, she asserts, is natural material for a documentary, and that the final shape of the film owed more to weeding out than anything else. 'There was so much great stuff; my first edit was eleven and a half hours. One of the bits I miss most is a scene with the band in a bar in Rome, and they got a bartender to read them the reviews, and they weren't good reviews. Very funny.
‘The thing is', she concludes, 'he's a celebrity, and he does live the life of a celebrity, and I think the audience gets to see what it's like to be famous, what it's like to have paparazzi following you, hundreds and hundreds of fans waving for you. Most especially what it does to someone like Woody Allen.’ (Andrew Pulver)
ﬁ Glasgow Film Theatre from Mon lS—Wed 77 Jun. See rewew
Child‘s play: Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid
it to local musicrans to fling melodies together.
In his later life, Chaplin worked from his home in SWitzerland, writing original scores for his old movres, collaborating With professional arrangers to get the notes on the paper, It was during this period that he wrote the music which Carl Dams and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra . Will play in Glasgow at screenings of ’ The Idle Class and The Kid.
Chaplin's style — Cinematic and musical — was overtly sentimental, and yet he won an Oscar for Best Score
Charlie Chaplin Composer of The Kid
These days, when a film soundtrack is little more than an excuse for a spin-off compilation album, its rare to find a director whose craft extends to shaping the music that underlies each scene. Even then, few reach the level of Charlie Chaplin, who also numbered actor, writer and studio boss amongst his credits
Chaplin claimed that 'music first entered my soul' when he wandered the stieets of London as a child listening to musicians on the
pavements. His early career in the music hall was another inspiration, and it's thought that he cajoled the players in the orchestra pits to give him lessons on Violin and cello.
In 1925, Chaplin wrote the mUSIC for his film The Gold Rush and even recorded it to play on set so the actors could tap into the requrred mood for a scene. At a time when no film was truly silent — anything from a pianist to a 60-strong orchestra might accompany a screening — Chaplin was almost unique in writing scores that could be played wherever the film found an audience, rather than leaving
(Limelight, presented in 1972 when the film first played America, although it was made in 1952) and reached Number One in the UK charts With Petula Clarke's rendition of ‘This Is My Song' from the same film.
'Charlie wasn’t an educated musician, and maybe that's the tnck,’ Clarke told a Radio 2 documentary last year. ’Sometimes educated mu5icians get a bit too clever. It's nice to have mUSIC that tickles the ear and teases your mind a little, but Charlie went straight to the heart.’ (Alan Morrison)
I The Kid and The Idle Class .' Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sun 27 Jun
Lothaire Bluteau Star of Bent
Few actors have qurte the same combination of intensity and soulfulness as Lothaire Bluteau. The 41-year-old Quebecois' tiny frame seems, at times, ready to burst from inner pressure, while his doleful brown eyes hold depths of sadness. It's there in his performances as a put-upon actor playing Christ in Jesus Of Montreal, as a tormented Jesurt priest in Black Robe, as a young man searching past and present for clues to his identity in The Confessional.
In his latest screen role, Bluteau plays a man sentenced to a Na2i concentration camp during WW2 for his homosexuality. Bent is an adaptation of Martin Sherman's successful 1979 stage play, which Bluteau reckons was one of the first pieces of writing to tell the stOry of the gay minorities who suffered in the camps.
'There’s very little information because people couldn't talk about it,’ he explains. 'You could still be sent to jail for being gay after the war, and any time you spent in a concentration camp wouldn't count — you'd still have to finish your sentence. If you managed to survwe the camps, you’re not going to open your mouth about it. It's almost the same thing today: how many gay men can openly tell even their family that they’re gay? How far have we really gone? That’s a very interesting subject'
Bent was partly shot in Scotland, using a disused power station in Renfrew as a Berlin nightclub and a mining heritage museum near Ayr as part of the camp. Bluteau even suggests that the Scottish weather influenced his acting.
'You're a sponge when you’re making a film,' he says. 'At the same time as nature in Scotland changes completely in four minutes — from Winter to Summer and back — emotion is like that. My character starts happy, then one second later, it's like "What the fuck happened to him? Why is he angry7”. Something as strange as nature itself Will give me the key, stop me being too linear and logical. Sometimes, if I’m lost and I don’t know what to do in a scene, I'll think "What would a horse do?" ’ (Alan Morrison) a Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 19 Jun.
Lothaire Bluteau in Bent
11—25 Jun 1998 THE U8T25