Monday, May 10, 2010

R.I.P. Lena Horne; and other, more trivial ramblings

The great Lena Horne passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Although she earned enduring and well-deserved fame as a singer and pathbreaker for African American entertainers, she never completely overcame - or forgot - the entrenched racism that stymied her movie career. Today, it's hard to imagine someone as lovely and talented as her not being able to get traction in Hollywood. Or maybe not so hard; in too many ways things haven't changed enough, or even all that much, since the '40s. At any rate, her small body of film work was Hollywood's loss - but also our own. Luckily we still have the legacy of her music.

I really can't improve on the Film Experience's beautiful tribute to Lena, so I won't try. Be sure to check out the well-chosen musical clips - including the song for which she's best known today, "Stormy Weather" (from the 1943 film of the same name).


Other odds and ends that have been rattling around in my brain today:

Ray Bradbury: Over at Slate there's a good piece on Bradbury, inspired by a new Everyman's Library edition of his stories. The author makes a persuasive case that that form - the short story - is where Bradbury's true literary genius lies. I wholeheartedly agree. What cracked me up, though, was this observation:

The irony in many of his stories is that the innocents are the adults, while the children are devious little homicidal maniacs.

It's funny because it's so true. (Exhibit A: "The Veldt".) I think it's one of the reasons I like Bradbury. Well, that and his writing style.

Movies: I saw two movies this past weekend that at first glance couldn't be more different - the first blockbuster sequel (but surely not the last) of the summer, IRON MAN 2, and the Argentinian film EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS (The Secret in Their Eyes), which snagged the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year. But on reflection, I found one striking similarity between the two, at least in my reactions to them: I was much more engaged by the relationships between the characters than the mechanics of the plot ostensibly driving them. It's not really a fair comparison, as the plot of "Secret" is a deal more carefully thought out, and integral to said character development, than that of "Iron Man" redux. Still, in both cases what stays with you is first, the soul-searching of the main character; second, his dynamic with - and unexpressed love for - the girl; and third, the not-as-fully-sketched but still-vividly-realized secondary characters. I'll develop all this more fully in due course once I've had more time to think about both films, especially "The Secret in Their Eyes."

I also had some thoughts of doing a compare/contrast piece between "Iron Man 2" and the upcoming "Robin Hood" - something about the respective models and/or genres of movie heroism embodied by Russell Crowe (old school) and Robert Downey, Jr. (very new school, even though they're only a year apart in age) - which obviously depends on my seeing the not-yet-released RH, due in theaters this Friday. Of course the movie itself may well undermine my expectations, along with whatever inchoate ideas are currently percolating in my subconscious. I'll just have to wait and see.

My Must-See TV: I've also been mulling doing a spring TV roundup, focusing mainly on "Lost" (which I think finally "lost" me last week - pun fully intended), "Glee" (which has been uneven, but on the whole still more enjoyable than not, since its return), and the sublime "Friday Night Lights," which had its fourth season premiere on NBC last week. I may wait a little, however, for "Lost" to end (if I can bring myself to swallow my outrage and watch the last few episodes) and for FNL to get a little further along.

Anti-Stratfordians and trash humpers: And finally, on quite a different note, if you're looking for something funny and pop-culture-related to read, here are two pieces that made me laugh out loud, even though - or perhaps because - I have no desire to see either of the movies they describe: a Da Vinci Code-ish take on the "true" author of Shakespeare's plays, directed by - wait for it - Roland Emmerich, and a movie about - well, "Trash Humpers". The comments on the latter are pretty amusing as well.

Well, that's enough free association for today; more organized thoughts next time!


Post a Comment

<< Home