Wednesday, October 05, 2011

George's Guitar

Martin Scorsese's film--

is a revelation of how artists create great music and songs. It is also a profound look into the evolution, first of the Beatles, and then of Harrison, as they all search for meaning beyond material success. Whether it is LSD, Reefer, going to India, learning from Ravi Shankar, meditating with the Maharishi, or bringing the genius of Eric Clapton in to play My Guitar Gently Weeps, we see the progression toward personal enlightenment and achievement as the film presents so many aspects of their lives from many perspectives. And that is just part one.

Part Two follows Harrison into the post-Beatles years-- never idealizing him however much his wife or son might. His ties to Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and a host of others from Monty Python to car racers to his ongoing work with Ravi Shankar is viewed with remarkable insight and humanity. The handling of his death, Ringo Starr shedding a tear but keeping his humor, the accounts of others, and an ending in keeping with Harrison himself works well, I thought. Eros and Thanatos again and all the creativity they inspire... I've added another review Dar sent me from Salon. But, Hell, see the film first.
From Rolling Stone:

George Harrison Hits the Big Screen in Scorsese Doc

Epic new film illuminates the inner life of the most enigmatic Beatle

george harrison wife olivia london 1983
George Harrison and his wife, Olivia, in London, circa 1983.
Tom Wargacki/WireImage
As Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison dug through their archives to assemble the Beatles Anthology documentary in the mid-Nineties, Harrison made a private vow to his wife, Olivia: "One day, I'll do my own anthology." The ex-Beatle, who died in 2001, never got the chance, but his wife made sure his wish came true in grand fashion. In October, HBO will debut Martin Scorsese's two-part documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World – and Olivia has compiled a lavish companion book packed with unseen photos and letters. "I'm fairly awed by what Marty has put together," says Olivia. "It's a story that truly captures the essence of George."
The project had its start in 2005, when Olivia attended the London premiere of Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary, No Direction Home. She shared her hope for a similar movie about her husband with the film's producer, Nigel Sinclair. After discussing possible directors for months, the pair "delicately approached" Scorsese. "To our surprise and delight, he said he was very intrigued by George's story," Sinclair recalls.
The center of the film is Harrison's spiritual quest, a search for meaning in life that began with a Beatlemania-era reve­lation that material success wasn't necessarily accompanied by fulfillment. "He was trying to find a way to simplicity, a way to live truthfully and compassionately," Scorsese says. "It was never a straight line, but that's not the point. I think he found an understanding: that there's no such thing as 'success' – there's just the path."
The documentary includes new interviews with McCartney, Starr, Yoko Ono, George Martin, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton (who recalls watching Harrison write "Here Comes the Sun") and many more. But Scorsese and his team relied heavily on archives kept by Harrison himself: footage of the Beatles on vacation; a recording of Harrison's first sitar lesson with Ravi Shankar; home movies of Harrison fooling around in his recording studio with his son Dhani. "We set up a little production office in our house," says Olivia. "George lived in the house for 30 years, and he would just throw things in this drawer and that drawer. So every cupboard had something in it." The production team set up research offices in New York and London, working for years to find footage and photographs, including every filmed Harrison interview they could track down.
From their sleepless Hamburg days to their Let It Be-era squabbles, the Beatles' story has been told again and again, so Scorsese took great pains to use rare or unseen footage for the first part of the film. "The scenes of them running from hotel rooms and airports and such are just a little bit different than the ones you've seen," says Sinclair. "He approached the Beatles story from George's perspective, so it becomes a more inside, more first-person experience."
The film doesn't shy from Harrison's darker side, showing footage of a ravaged performance from his 1974 solo tour, and hinting at challenges in his marriage. "He never said he was a saint, but he always said he was a sinner," says Olivia. "He wanted to do everything in life. He really did."
The surviving Beatles provide some of the film's most powerful moments: McCartney makes an impassioned argument that anyone who thinks only he and Lennon were important in the group is wildly wrong; Starr begins to weep when he recalls visiting Harrison as the guitarist battled terminal lung cancer.
The post-Beatles section of the film has the most surprises, from intimate footage of Traveling Wilburys jamming to Olivia's harrowing account of a 1999 home invasion by a violent, deranged fan. It also gives equal weight to Harrison's nonmusical ventures: his work as a movie producer; his motor-racing fandom; his loving efforts to restore his country estate. "George thought hard about how to live his life after being a Beatle," says Sinclair, "and what I take away from this film is that he figured it out."

Related The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: George Harrison

George Harrison’s inner light

His new documentary about George Harrison is as serious and sometimes mystifying as its subject

George Harrison
George Harrison  (Credit: AP)
Who is your favorite Beatle? If you prize humility, generosity and gratitude — or if you’re a kid who loves the sound of his funny name –you might answer Ringo Starr. Otherwise it’s probably a two-way race between Paul McCartney, who stands for sentimentality, old-school musical craft and ceaseless productivity, or John Lennon, whose name still epitomizes rebellion, sarcasm, soulfulness and martyrdom. I’ve rarely heard anyone answer “George Harrison,” and Martin Scorsese’s two-part HBO documentary “Living in the Material World” (Oct. 5 and 6, 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 Central) incidentally suggests the reasons why. Harrison was the most studious, elusive and impenetrable Beatle. And as he got older, he became increasingly uninterested in celebrity except as a vehicle that could expose him to new experiences, and bring him into contact with artists and thinkers from whom he could learn something.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Life Imitates Art: Films that are Life Enhancing

Oscar Wilde recognized the truth that Life Imitates Art, not the other way around. His example? The Ubiquitous London Fogs brought on by the Impressionists.

Sunrise by Monet

The influence of art on life today is most obvious in film. Great directors and great films shape our perceptions of reality and alter our lives forever:

Dar, for instance, owes his personality to Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard,
to Gloria Swanson and William Holden.

Norma Desmond (click)

Films that have shaped my life and my understanding of life include:

1900  (socialism and friendship) 
(click the blue or purple ones) 
American Beauty (modern living)
Cabaret (gay 30s Berlin, Liza)
Casablanca (noble character, war)
Chinatown (capitalism, evil, making of L. A. ) 
Fanny and Alexander(it's good to be Bourgeois)
The Godfather (pure evil, crime world)
Harold and Maude (suicide, ageless love)
The History Boys (the joys and sorrows of Teaching)

 Home at the End of the World (love and threesomes)

Juliet of the Spirits(the Beauty of fantasy)
Midnight Cowboy (New York, love)
My Own private Idaho (alienation, existentialism, the Road)
Night of the Iguana (Tennessee Williams, Mexico)
Shortbus (genuine sexuality, love, and the psyche)

Slaughterhouse Five (All's bad in war)
Some Like it Hot (Marilyn Monroe, drag)
The Wizard of Oz (Yellow Brick Road)
Women In Love (D.H. Lawrence)

Akira Kurosawa
(truth is subjective)

But this is just a sampling.
It is also essential to mention the great directors whose films have shaped my life:

Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Werner Fassbinder, Ken Russell, Peter Greenaway,
Lina Wertmüller, Derek Jarman, Pedro Almodovar, Ang Lee, John Waters, Ingmar Bergman, Louis Malle, Pier Paulo Pasolini, Kurosawa, Luis Bunuel, John Cameron Mitchell... even Woody Allen
(all are clickable)

The Guardian has quite a list
of 40 current Film Directors


Current Films

Keep viewing