Some of the finest Bluegrass music these days is of Dutch and Belgian origin and out of that imported artform was born the inspiration for the play The Broken Circle Breakdown Featuring the Cover-Ups of Alabama. Written by the wonderful human being/writer/director/actor Johan Heldenbergh along with Mieke Dobbels in 2009, it was performed to sold out crowds throughout Belgian Flanders and the Netherlands.
So deeply moved by the production, director Felix van Groeningen and writer Carl Joos adapted it for film with the shortened title The Broken Circle Breakdown. Felix cast Johan as Didier in the lead male role, as he was in the play, and Veerle Baetens as Elise, the female lead. They perform all of the music in the film; Johan learned to play banjo, mandolin and guitar for the role.
The film tells the story of a passionate love affair between two souls who connected so effortlessly in the beginning, with their love of music as the tie that binds, and how tragic circumstances tested that bond. The question is whether love can conquer intense pain and grief. All of these emotions are told against the moving backdrop of country bluegrass music (soundtrack HERE). Johan Heldenberg has said that when he was writing the play it was just after 911 and he feared that religious ferver would take over and decided that his characters' struggle over religious paradigms be set against the hymnal strains of this folk music.
The title refers to the traditional Christian hymn Will The Circle Be Unbroken -- that pursues the idea of being reunited after death -- later rewritten in the style of country/folk by Alvin Pleasant Delany Carter (founding member of The Carter Family, of country music fame). While researching the roots of the song, I discovered that Alvin's wife Sara had a cousin named Maybelle. In the film Dider and Elise have a daughter named Maybelle. Sweet name.
The film had its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Panorama Audience Award and the European Cinemas Label prize and has now been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. I wait on bated breath to see it.
It always amazes me when I read the Feedjit Live (the blog traffic cop in the lower right sidebar), how by way of my varied subject matter - it brings people here from all over the globe and from such diverse origins. A glimpse of the feed today showed a range of people looking for: my pillow project with placemats from Pier 1 Imports; Handsome Bob, the Guy Ritchie gangster (played by Tom Hardy); and English textile designer Paul Vogel. The readers who searched these three topics were from Kent, Cardiff and Birmingham, England, Salt lake City, Utah, and Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
Several times a day I get visitors searching for Danny Kaye's daughter. Go figure.
P.S. I forgot to celebrate my fourth blog anniversary last month! Could it be because I was in the hospital? Can't be my memory failing. Nah. You think that's bad, my neighbor introduced herself as Charlotte, "Oh no wait. I live on Charlotte Way. My name is Cathy." Hah. That one has been keeping me laughing for days.
Guy Ritchie's latest film, RockNRolla was just released on DVD and it's so much fun! His writing is as raucous and entertaining as ever (Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels). Handsome Bob is Ritchie's best character yet, played by one of my faves, the captivating and endlessly believable Tom Hardy.
And Guy's keen ear for music (excepting Madonna; ugh, what happened there?) does not disappoint, providing us with another fabulous soundtrack, including one of my all time favorite Clash songs, Bankrobber. Toby Kebbell is simply brilliant as Johnny Quid. Check it out. In the meantime you can see my cameo at this link!!** Note link broken, waiting to here from web master.
So many people have been abuzz about the interiors in the film Mamma Mia so I thought I'd do a post on sourcing the look. Mind you I haven't seen the film. I must say, I really can't stand Abba (sorry Abba fans) and I'm too much of a Pierce Brosnan fan to have the illusion shattered by hearing him sing. Nice boys should be seen and not heard, ha.
One of the things everyone is obsessed with in the film is Donna's (Meryl Streep) bedroom. This still photo shows the serene palette and lovely textiles:
Everyone seems to love the bedspread. If you like
that sort of red embroidery on white cotton or linen there is an old art form known as
Redwork. In fact I belong to a Redwork group on Flickr. You can find vintage pieces that resemble the spread in the
film, like these shams found on Ebay:
If you visit the web site for Arolithos you will find examples of Cretan embroidery and rugs. And for mediterranean feeling rugs check out this jute one from World Market:
Here are some offerings from my shop that would fit in with the breezy island decor:
Stick with me here. It's a tangled yarn. This has been a morning where the message is "outsider art". First I went to "visit" Victoria over at sfgirlbybay and she had this excellent post on the film Beautiful Losers, a documentary about underground American artists (still trying to find out how to see it).
Then I received an email from my Maman telling me about Craig Cramer's blog, Ellis Hollow, because she thought I might like his post with music videos, and audios. Oui Maman! He includes one of Gogol Bordello, the gypsy punk band (coincidentally, I just watched the documentary on the Ukrainian lead singer, Eugene Hutz; The Pied Piper of Hutzovina.)
Ellis also has a video of Manu Chao, a Parisian Spaniard, who I saw at the Roxy in L.A. (Madonna was there, sitting on Warren Beatty's lap). That was around 1990 when he was fronting Mano Negra. Believe it or not, you can see this brilliant band in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on August 22nd at the Outside Lands Festival!!
Ellis also had a Loudon Wainwright III video, stay with me now, that led me to discover this artist from Chicago: John Kline, a.k.a. Johnny Smooth.
His bio on Etsy: "John Kline was
born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. His mom was an artist and his
dad was a policeman. He has one older brother. His mom gave him art
materials at an early age, so he would leave her alone. He drew and
drew and drew a lot of naughty pictures. He currently resides in Chicago. He belongs to a street gang. Male, born on August 17"
I could go on with many more degrees of separation that would fascinate you! But it's not morning anymore and my tummy is calling....lunch time. In closing, please consider this: indulge in outsider music, outsider art, outsider activities...outside the box! I'm going to do like the guy in the trailer for Beautiful Losers and walk backwards today, into a youthful and unscripted state of mind. Ciao!
I am so incredibly pleased that the song Falling Slowly from the movie Once won the Oscar for best song. The Oscar show, which is all too often so commercial, found some heart last night. Twice in fact. The song's female singer/pianist Marketa Irglova of the duo The Swell Season was cut off from giving an acceptance speech. I pleaded outload, "They have to bring her back...someone should give up their time to her...let her speak instead of showing another silly montage. Pleeeeeease." My partner Richie says he continues to be stunned by my psychic directoral powers over the television. Ha! They brought her back out!
It's been almost two months now since I spent three and a half hours (partly due to my computer still being very buggy) writing a post all about the film ONCE. When I finished writing the post and clicked "preview" the whole thing disappeared. I haven't been able to return to posting til now.
I can't say enough about this sweet story. Everything about it really does inspire hope; the music, the $100,000 budget, the use of handycams and non-actors (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova), the writing -- an archetypal story of love and longing and second chances -- and the directing (John Carney), all made in three weeks on location in and around Dublin, Ireland (without permits!). Real people getting together and making real art. That's why it's a film that moves me like no other in a very long time. It's very real and raw. P.S. Bassist Alaistair Foley and I share the same surname :)
Congratulations to all involved in the process of making such a fulfilling and simply lovely piece of work.
"Raise your hopeful voice...you have a choice...you make it now"