Bernard Mac Laverty’s Classrcal musrc radio programme
The US army helicopter attack on a Viet Cong village in Apocalypse Now is one of cinema's most memorable moments. Megalomaniacal director Francis Ford Coppola might have much to do with engineering the thrills, but so does Richard Wagner. Imagine those choppers, surfers and explosions without the grand sweep of 'Ride Of The Valkyries’? Now you begin to see the role classical music has played in film.
Prize-winning novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and music lover Bernard Mac Laverty sees — and hears — that role too. And in his regular radio broadcast, Grace Notes, Mac Laverty and his special guest, Scene By Scene's Mark Cousins, will prove it.
During the show, which Mac Laverty modestly describes as, ’two hours of classical music and some . . . calibre of chat from me’, he’ll be playing a selection of short pieces. Among them are Lully's ‘The March Of The Turcs' from Tous Les Matins Du Monde, Handel's ’Zadok The Priest’ from The Madness Of King George, Saint-Saéns's ’The Aquarium/Carnival Of The Animals’ from Days Of Heaven, in addition to the whole of Mozart's 'Clarinet Concerto' from Padre Padrone. There’s also a piece especially written for film (the only one in the show), Prokoviev's 'The Battle On The Ice', heard in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.
Stirring music's all very fine, but as with a favourite book is there not a danger of alienating audiences with what might be perceived as a misuse of music? 'There are times when music can be used in film to tell a story,’ says Mac Laverty, who had the experience first hand with his television play, My Dear Palestrina. ’The
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No narrative gymnastics, just old-fashioned humanist filmmaking
'the music is so romantic it absolutely transfers the looks of people into each other's eyes’, Bernard Mac Laverty
problem on the page is that the story’s full of music. When we came to make the play, you could actually play the music - Schubert's ‘lmpromptu in G' — and you can hijack it for its emotional value.’
Mac Laverty will no doubt provide similar examples during the show. And his favourite use of classical music in film? ’I suppose Rachmaninov’s 'Piano Concerto No 2 (2nd mvt)’ from Brief Encounter,’ he says. ‘There, you've got good acting occurring at the same time as the music, which is so romantic it absolutely transfers the looks of people into each other's eyes. And it can’t get better than that.’
(Miles Fielder) I BBC Scot/and FM, Sun 79 Mar, 3—5pm.
During one sweltering summer three
(voyeurism, drugs, shops break-ins) before various life lessons bring them up short.
Ironically, the most striking location on show in Ricardo Franco and Fernando Bauluz’s Lagrimas Negras (Black tears) (* x it) isn’t Spanish at all. It's a Portuguese beach proViding the locale for the film’s conclu5ion, a stunning spot that in its haunting, rock faces and its end of the world feel, knocks the club med look of The Beach in to the bargain basement bin. Sadly, the film’s story, of a young man (Fele Martinez) falling for the wrong woman (Ariadna Gil), less entrancineg holds the attention.
More intrigurngly, perhaps, is a mini lciar Bollian retrospective. Best known
I iViva! 3 6th Spanish Film Festival
' After the mind-bending plots of recent AlmodOvar, Medem and Amenabar movres, we could be forgiven for thinking all Spanish cinema practises narrative gymnastics. This year’s Spanish Film Festival indicates, however, that good, old-fashioned humanist filmmaking is equally in vogue.
Such an approach is evrdent in Benito Zambrano’s Solas (Alone) (****), a delicate study of a 35-year-old cleaning
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woman’s realisation that bouts of drinking and temper tantrums aren’t gOing to make her any happier. As Maria’s mother stays at her city apartment While Maria's father recovers from surgery in hospital, Maria (Ana Fernandez) discovers she's pregnant and decides she wants to keep the child.
Fernando Leon de Aranoa's Barrio (Neighbourhood) (*** t) is equally concerned With real life, though where Zambrano searches out the Andalucian region, de Aranoa concentrates on the teeming housmg estates of Madrid.
to British audiences as the red-haired freedom fighter in Loach’s Land And Freedom, the festival Will also be shOWing her directorial work: Floras De Otro Mundo (Flowers From Another World) and her feature debut, Hola, Estas Sola (Ho, Are You Alone?) And, finally, who can resist Victoria Abril and JaVier Bardeni in a movre about two sex addicts Manuel GOmez Pereira’s Entre Las Piernas (Between Your Legs)? (Tony McKibbin) I Glasgow: GFT Sun 79~Wed 29 Mar; Edinburgh: Film/rouse Mon 20 Thu 30 Mar.
Christopher Frayling’s Sergio Leone: Something To Do With Death (Faber £20 t t kit) is an undeniably monumental biography of the man
who turned the western inside out. It
has over 700 notes and closely inspects all the Leone classics: the spaghetti western trilogy as well as Once Upon A Time In The West and Once Upon A Time In America. It also cheerfully prowdes us with tracts of information about most of the people Leone ever worked With. We find out about Lee Van Cleef’s new Mercedes, his Wife’s fur coat; Clint Eastwood’s deal of $20,000 and a Ferrari for another director's film. Here, the exhaustive topples over into the exhausting. Better is Frayling's analysis of the work: ’Leone was a kind of reverse alchemist, turning gold into base metal’; or, When he comments on Leone’s visual mastery, pointing out the influence of de Chirico and Goya on the rotund maestro. Then there’s the significant use of Ennio Morricone’s music.
If you find the idea of Frayling’s major tome a bit too much, try escaping into the Vivid imagination of Terry Gilliam for a couple of hundred pages. Gilliam On Gilliam (Ed. Ian Christie, Faber £9.99 ir it * *) is pithy (concise swipes at Spielberg and Lucas), observant (good things on De Niro and Scorsese); and Gilliam's so entertainineg articulate that he almost convinces you that Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas demands a second VieWing.
Much of Kazan On Kazan (Ed. Jeff Young, Faber £12.99 * t *) lies dead on the page: Kazan's tough guy taoturnity blocking off interesting areas. We could have done with more on Kazan’s ability to coax method performances out of his actors, his work with Brando (’he’s a genius'), and Kazan’s Willingness to name names during the anti-communist witch-hunts of the 503. Still, anyone who directed A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront is worth our attention.
Finally, an updated Burton On Burton (Ed. Mark Salisbury, Faber £11.99 at at at at) now includes chapters on Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow in What remains a frank and modest self- examinatiori. (Tony McKibbin)
omething to do with death