The Sound of Music Echoes On…

Today is the 50th anniversary of the American release of The Sound of Music movie musical so stop everything you’re doing and go climb some mountains!

The movie is of course based on the 1959 musical which was the last collaboration of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical dream team, since Oscar Hammerstein II died nine months after the Broadway premiere, of cancer.

An interesting Youtube find was this footage from actors on the set during the making of the movie:

Of course, the Oscars recently commemorated the anniversary of their 1966 Best Picture Winner with a medley performed by Lady Gaga that was an internet sensation.  Proof that the movie and the musical have still got it, all these years later!

Irish Songs and Secret, in Cartoon Form

This Sunday are the Oscars, and the nominees for animated feature film feature three pretty big American releases (How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, and Big Hero 6) and two more exotic releases, including the latest Studio Ghibli release.  Besides Japan, the other foreign country represented is, perhaps surprisingly, Ireland!

Song of the Sea was created by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, and it takes on the Irish myth of the selkie, seals who shed their seal skins to become women and take human husbands… or something like that…  The Oscars’ page on the film has some more footage, and it really is stunning!

The selkie is a pretty folk tale, but of course my favorite interpretation is John Allison’s!  Selkies figured into a 2012 Bad Machinery case, and I just love those meddling mystery-solving kids!  Click on the image below to read The Case of the Fire Inside from the beginning!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Tomm Moore is also the creator of the similarly-Irish-themed and similarly-gorgeously-animated 2009 feature film The Secret of Kells, this one about the classic monastic illustrated manuscript, The Book of Kells.

Peach Boy goes to War

Tomorrow I’m seeing a 1942 propaganda anime, Momotaro’s Sea Eagles, which transposes a traditional Japanese folk tale to the Pacific during World War II.  The movie, 37 minutes long, was released with English subtitles for the first time in the above early anime sample pack from Zakka Films.

A 74 minute sequel, Momotaro: Divine Warriors of the Sea, was released in 1945.  This was the first full-length animated feature out of Japan.  Some kindly soul has put it up on YouTube for all to enjoy:

PS: Sorry for the long absence dear fans!  I just finished the last of my summer classes and have been trying to make my part time job as full time as I can ever since…  Will try to get back on schedule now…


Bechdel Test Visualized

My sister shared these charts with me the other day, visualizing the proportion of movies that pass the Bechdel Test, which is made up of 3 rules as follows:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

This is of course named after famous cartoonist Alison Bechdel, whose long-running strip Dykes to Watch Out For basically always passed the test…  Even though in this case, which may actually be the very first strip, from 1987, it’s two lesbian women talking about women…  Seems like a technicality…

Cartoonist David Willis is always pointing out sexism in the geek world in Shortpacked!, and in his college webcomic Dumbing of Age he has a whole chapter called “The Bechdel Test” in which a Gender Studies class applies it to their own favorite movies:

Data visualization is another big emerging field in the library world apparently, so I was quite taken by those Bechdel charts.  Wish I’d thought about it first…

Happy Bicentennial Birthday Wagner!

Today is the 200th birthday of everyone’s favorite German marathon opera composer, Richard Wagner.  I know I’m kind of ready to move on after all the Wagner-festivities of the past season…  To celebrate his first centennial, in 1913, German film pioneer Carl Froelich directed this silent autobiographical movie:


Interestingly, to avoid royalty fees for using Wagner’s music, they instead commissioned Italian-born, German-based composer Giuseppe Becce to create the original, Wagnerian-ish score.  As if that wasn’t enough, Becce even played the title role!  Such an auspicious omen for an aspiring composer, literally stepping into the role of a great predecessor, but doesn’t seem to have rubbed off too much onto Becce.

Miyazaki Movie Marathon

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?  The Brooklyn Academy of Music, in addition to being an occasional host to opera, also offers theater, concerts, and film…  And right now they’re halfway through a film series of Hayao Miyazaki movies!  This is the last weekend to see these movies on the Brooklyn big screen, with Porco Rosso tonight, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle on Saturday, and Spirited Away on Sunday.


I seriously need to catch up on my Studio Ghibli, but I don’t think they’re on Netflix?  So I might need to just head out to Brooklyn…  Cuz my local librarian probably judges me enough as is without me borrowing Kiki’s Delivery Service from them too : P  Just kidding, wear your freak flag proud!

Trolley Song Remix

So at a friend’s house the other day this familiar seeming song came up on his record player:

That’s jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck performing up there, and in case you don’t get the reference, here’s the original, 1944 movie musical version:

It’s coming back to you know, right?  That’s Judy Garland in Meet me in St. Louis, obviously.  I thought it was so charming that something from the (admittedly pretty campy) movie musical world would go on to the jazz world, but upon reflection it’s not a rare occurrence at all!

Just one other example, Charlie Parker performing Gershwin.  I guess the Trolley Song just seemed strangely… specific?

That’s Entertainment!


Enjoy your super-boring Oscars awards tonight, I think I’ve given up on them, pretty boring.  Not that the above clip is much better?

That’s Entertainment is probably the one hit of the movie it came from, 1953’s The Band Wagon.  I actually inexplicably saw it in a film studies class, and even I, with my soft spot for tacky movie musicals, was a bit… confused by it all.  That being said, it’s apparently beloved by critics and historians, so shows you what I know.

Strange Anniversary Bedfellows

Sorry for the prolonged absence!  Really done with classes now, so hope to get back in the swing of things…

I’ve been digging around Operabase‘s statistic and anniversary watch features lately, and good thing too since I learned of this notable double feature anniversary today…  Premiering just 7 years apart Puccini‘s 1918 Il Trittico and Berg‘s 1925 Wozzeck are nonetheless worlds apart stylistically; old-school Italian verismo versus Berg‘s cutting-edge atonal, expressionist opera.

Il Trittico premiered here in New York at the Metropolitan Opera and is actually made up of three one-act operas: Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi, the latter being the most popular nowadays, though Suor Angelica was apparently Puccini’s favorite.   To celebrate, here is a (incomplete?) performance from the state conservatory of Yerevan, Armenia, because it’s the randomest:

Berg, as a pupil of Schoenberg‘s, adapted his 12-tone compositional technique for his first opera Wozzeck about a man’s descent into madness and murder, driven by jealousy.  Not too far off thematically from certain verismo works, but told in a much more jarring way…  Here’s an amazing movie version of Wozzeck from Hamburg State Opera in 1970.  It is in full on Youtube somehow, but if you like it (and what’s not to like), consider buying it through Naxos (a nice little stuffing stocker perhaps?).

This may seem like a weird duo, but Madrid’s Teatro Real did put on a  Suor Angelica / Il Priggionero double-bill (video trailer at link) last month, so not too far off…