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Wednesday, September 10

Well, it's been a pretty poor day. It did have one point in its favour. I received my copy of the 20th Anniversary Double CD of the Evita original concept album. I've only listened to the first act so far, but it's pretty special. Sure, there are faults in it - it's a classic version one (as in flawed and in need of revision) - but it's amazing how much has survived as far as the movie version with which I'm most familiar. Indeed, it's a tribute to the excellent writing and original performances that so much of what was created in concept in the studio has been worth keeping for the last 27 years! It's worth remembering that orchestrations and lyrics are not all that makes a musical - the phrasing and accents used by the performers are part of the deal too.

But, it has been a poor day. I've felt remarkably alone. I start the day alone - sleeping is a very solo process, and I sleep exceedingly deeply and always just that bit longer than I want to, somehow the solitude is addictive to me. Amazingly, I was able to rise yesterday at 3.45, but unable to get out of bed this morning at a more sensible 7.45 or even 8.45! However, I managed to arrive at work in time for my meeting. Yes, I went to the meeting on time and they'd started without me! Not quite a good start to the day. Then after a variety of solo tasks, it was time for a meeting in which I felt that I was the only person who understood a central problem we were facing. Alternatively, I was the only person who didn't understand the central problem we were facing. Either way, I was on my own. As such, there's not much I can do. If you're on your own but people are looking to you for guidance, then you are in a position to communicate with them, and they want to hear what you have to say. If you are on your own and people think you've lost the plot, then there's not much you can actually do, except rant and rave, which gets you nowhere, or bite your tongue and bide your time. I can't hold my silence when I feel strongly. I'd be shit at poker.

So, I walked home after work on a bit of a downer. I had two things in my hand. One was my new Evita CD and the other was a cheap DVD, which I received in the post this morning - my first DVD with Chinese writing on the front. It was cheap because it was the Chinese release of a western film that I'd rather not pay an extra £5 for. The benefit of a multi-region DVD is being able to buy the cheapest release of the film you want. Hooray for digital data!

So, without realising it, I was about to embark on what shall be termed as my first "theme night" at home, alone. In fact it was "Chicago Night". Since about 7pm, when the evening's entertainment started, I've been in rapture, watching movies. I only managed to watch two, but they were two movies worth watching. First off, the new DVD. Possibly my quickest time from receiving a new DVD to watching it through - it only took 9 hours before it was off and rolling. The movie, why it was "Chicago" of course.

Chicago is a musical which I saw at the theatre with Steve a few months back and thought was pretty amazing. I had heard that the movie was done differently and it certainly was. I knew the movie versions of the songs, since I have a copy of its soundtrack. I had intended to see it at the cinema, but never had time when it was on general release. As a movie, this musical needed something clever to turn its stage devices into screen-friendly scenes. They found someone clever and it was directed very well, performed excellently and it flowed like a dream! The only disadvantage to the screen version is the absence of the song "Class", which appears on the CD (albeit marked as a bonus track). However, the fact that the movie runs to a succint 90 minutes or so is probably a good trade-off for the missing song. Watching "Dr Strangelove" the other day, I remarked how well a shorter film seems to work, compared with the 3 hour epics that modern producers seem intent on foisting upon us! Anyway, "Chicago" is a masterpiece, well deserving of its Oscars and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The music of Kander and Ebb is proof positive that modern Broadway musicals can be written well (a standard that I found lacking in some of the shows I saw at Edinburgh). The performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere were stunning. It was interesting to see that the credits billed "Singing and dancing for Richard Gere - Richard Gere" and so on for the others. As if they needed proof that it wasn't all special effects.

"Chicago Night" continued with another DVD. This is a movie I've loved for years and have not seen for around 9 or 10 years. "The Blues Brothers" is a classic film and the version on my DVD showed it at its best. The film is set in Chicago - I don't know if I realised that when I chose to watch it, or if it was even a subconscious link in my mind. I'm not sure if the DVD had extra scenes or whether I just noticed a few new things in the mix. I was certainly kept entertained for the duration of the movie, though. I'd never considered it a musical before, but I suppose it is. The fact that some songs sort of just happen, and the choreography applies to people outside of the band and the fact that the scenes are prone to flights of fancy - where people start behaving in a way that is irrational in the real world, but appropriate musically - well, it all adds up to the symptoms of a musical. In this case, of course it's the sort of musical where you have dry comic scenes, huge car chases and a surreal part of the city where John Lee Hooker is a street performer, Aretha Franklin runs a restaurant, Ray Charles runs a secondhand music shop and James Brown is a priest... in a world where Princess Leia from Star Wars is a jilted bride/stalker. It's delightfully silly! I had never realised that Steven Spielberg had a cameo role in the film until today (when I read the credits).

It's good that I found more entertainment at home, alone, that I did at work, alone. However, I think my days would be rounder if I was entertained all the time. Perhaps I need a troupe of clowns to follow me round and perform their amusing antics when I'm looking a little peaky.


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