Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Monday, February 19, 2024

Queen's Throat Opera, Homosexuality And The Mystery Of Desire by Wayne Koestenbaum- 1993 - 272 Pages



 Queen's Throat Opera, Homosexuality And The Mystery Of Desire by Wayne Koestenbaum- 1993 - 272 Pages

"This passionate love letter to opera, lavishly praised and nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award when it was first published, is now firmly established as a cult classic. In a learned, moving, and sparklingly witty melange of criticism, subversion, and homage, Wayne Koestenbaum illuminates mysteries of fandom and obsession, and has created an exuberant work of personal meditation and cultural history." From The Publisher 

Wayne Koestenbaum's book is beyond amazing.  It is now a classic, about opera, the meaning of camp, growing up Gay in America.

Susan Sontag (-read her notes on camp) saw Opera as high camp striving to be high art.  koestenbaum's reflections on the nature of camp are very illuminating.


"Susan Sontag defined "camp" as the anarchic jolt we experience in the face of artistic artifacts that try to be serious and fail. But it is not the object's or the artist's failure that makes the artifact campy: the camp sensation is produced by our own joy in having discovered the object, in having been chosen, solicited, by it...I'm grateful, however, for the world's silence, for the privacy in which I study the image of Nellie Melba telegraphing "Either Alda or myself ' to the conductor Cleofonte Cam-panini. It's more sublime and more camp to keep quiet about joy and then rescue the story later, once everyone else has abandoned it. The pleasure I take in diva lore ("This moment, this aside, this tableau is useless and therefore I claim it as mine!")" From the Book

(I would personally expand the notions of Camp to include Arnold Zifiel and the Adamms Family)

"A love for opera, particularly on record, is a nostalgic emotion, and gay people are imagined to be a uniquely and tragically nostalgic population-regressive, committed to dust and souvenirs. A record, a memento, a trace of an absence, suits the quintessentially gay soul, whose tastes are retro and whose sexuality demands a ceaseless work of recollection: because queers do not usually have queer parents, queers must invent precedent and origin for their taste, and they are encouraged, aged, by psychoanalytic models, to imagine homosexuality as a matter of trauma and adaptation." From the Book 


"opera seemed campy and therefore available to gay audiences only when it had become an outdated art form, sung in foreign languages, with confused, implausible plots. Opera's apparent distance from contemporary life made it a refuge for gays, who were creations of modern sexual systems, and yet whom society could not acknowledge or accommodate. Opera is not very real. But gayness has never been admitted..into the precincts of reality. And so gays may seek out art that does not respect the genuine.into the precincts of reality. And so gays may seek out art that does not respect the genuine."


About the author

Wayne Koestenbaum is the author of six collections of poetry including Model Homes, published by BOA in 2004. Koestenbaum writes frequently for periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, and the London Review of Books. He is also an art critic, participating in panels at the Whitney Museum of American Art, contributing regularly to Artforum. He is a tenured professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

If you are interested in Opera, LGBTQ life in America before anyone used this expression I highly endorse Queen's Throat Opera, Homosexuality And The Mystery Of Desire by Wayne Koestenbaum- 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Can Can- A 1960 American Musical Film Directed by Walter Lang Starring Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Maurice Chevalier


 The film tells the story of Simone Pistache (MacLaine), a cabaret owner in Montmartre who defies the law by featuring the can-can in her shows. Judge Philippe Forrestier (Jourdan) is determined to shut her down, but he soon finds himself falling for her charms. Meanwhile, Simone's American boyfriend, François Durnais (Sinatra), tries to win her back.


"Can-Can" was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $10 million at the box office. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Music, Score and Best Song ("C'est Magnifique"). The film is known for its lavish costumes, catchy songs, and energetic dance numbers.

Here are some of the things that make "Can-Can" a memorable film:


The music: The film features a score of classic Cole Porter songs, including "I Love Paris," "C'est Magnifique," and "It's Alright with Me."

The dancing: The can-can numbers are energetic and exciting, and the choreography is top-notch.

The performances: The cast is uniformly excellent, with MacLaine delivering a particularly charming performance as Simone.

The setting: The film captures the beauty and charm of 19th-century Paris.



Silk Stockings is a 1957 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. It is based on the 1955 stage musical of the same name,[which had been adapted from the film Ninotchka (1939).[he film was choreographed by Eugene Loring and Hermes Pan.



Silk Stockings is a 1957 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. It is based on the 1955 stage musical of the same was adapted from the film Ninotchka (1939).the film was choreographed by Eugene Loring and Hermes 


Silk Stockings follows Ninotchka Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse), a stern and dedicated Soviet commissar sent to Paris to retrieve three defecting composers. However, Ninotchka's rigid communist ideals are challenged by the city's vibrant atmosphere and the seductive charms of American producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire). As she experiences the freedom and luxury of Parisian life, Ninotchka begins to question her beliefs and finds herself falling for Steve



It is based on the 1955 stage musical of the same name, which had been adapted from the film Ninotchka (1939).

The film was choreographed by Eugene Loring and Hermes Pan.

The plot revolves around an American producer who tries to convince a respected Russian music composer to score his next movie.

The composer is immediately charmed by the excess of Parisian nightlife and refuses to return to Russia.

Moscow dispatches a frigid bureaucrat to retrieve the wayward composer.


It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Film and Best Actress (Charisse).

The film was a critical and commercial success, and is considered one of the best musical films of the 1950s. It is also notable for its use of Technicolor, which helped to create a lush and vibrant visual style.


It was the last musical film that Astaire made for MGM.

Charisse was originally hesitant to take on the role of Ninotchka, but she eventually agreed and gave one of her best performances.

The film was shot on location in Paris, which added to its authenticity.



The film's score was nominated for an Academy Award, but it lost to the score for The King and I.


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Throughly Modern Millie - A 1967 Musical Movie directed by George Hill - Starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing


Available on Internet Archives 


The screenplay, by Richard Morris, is based on the 1956 British musical Chrysanthemum.

Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews) is a young woman from Kansas who arrives in New York City in 1922 with dreams of becoming a modern flapper and marrying a wealthy man. She gets a job as a stenographer at Sincere & Company, where she sets her sights on her boss, Trevor Graydon (John Gavin). However, Millie's plans are complicated by a number of factors, including her roommate Dorothy Brown (Mary Tyler Moore), who is also in love with Trevor; her landlady, Mrs. Meers (Beatrice Lillie), who is secretly running a white slavery ring; and Jimmy Smith (James Fox), a poor paperclip salesman who falls in love with Millie.

The film was a critical and commercial success, and won six Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Costume Design.




 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hairspray - A 2007 Movie Musical Directed by John Spankman - Starring Michelle Phiefer, John Travolta and Nikki Blonsky


 Available on HBO GO 


"Hairspray" is just plain fun. Or maybe not so plain. There's a lot of craft and slyness lurking beneath the circa-1960s goofiness. The movie seems guileless and rambunctious, but it looks just right (like a Pat Boone musical) and sounds just right (like a Golden Oldies disc) and feels just right (like the first time you sang "We Shall Overcome" and until then it hadn't occurred to you that we should). It bounces out of bed with Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a roly-poly bundle of joy, whose unwavering cheerfulness shines on the whole movie. "Good morning, Baltimore!" she sings, as she dances through a neighborhood where everyone seems to know and love her, even the garbagemen who let her ride on the roof of their back-loader. She's like a free-lance cheerleader." From Roger Ebert 

The film is set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, and follows the story of Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky), a large, quirky teenager who dreams of dancing on the Corny Collins Show, a popular teen dance show hosted by the charismatic Corny Collins (James Marsden)

 When Tracy finally gets her chance to audition, she wins a spot on the show and quickly becomes a local celebrity. However, Tracy's newfound fame soon leads her to clash with the show's producer, Velma Von Tussel (Pfeiffer), who is determined to keep the show segregated.

With the help of her friends, her family, and her love interest, Link Larkin (Efron), Tracy sets out to integrate the Corny Collins Show and challenge the city's racial segregation laws. The film is a heartwarming and uplifting story about acceptance, friendship, and standing up for what you believe in..

The film features a number of memorable songs, such as "You Can't Stop the Beat," "Welcome to the Sixties," and "I Know Where I've Been." The choreography is also energetic and fun to watch.

The cast of Hairspray (2007) is uniformly excellent. Nikki Blonsky is charming and endearing as Tracy Turnblad, and John Travolta is hilarious as Edna Turnblad, Tracy's mother. The rest of the cast, including Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, James Marsden, Amanda Bynes, and Brittany Snow, all give memorable performances



The Phantom of the Opera- 2004 - a Movie Musical Directed by Joel Schumacher, i starring Gérard Butler in the title role, with Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson,




The Phantom of the Opera- 2004 - a Movie Musical Directed by Joel Schumacher,  starring Gérard Butler in the title role, with Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, - Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber


I very much liked the apparel, the vivid color and the setting of the movie. I found at times


It was produced and co-written by Lloyd Webber and directed by Joel Schumacher.
It stars Gerard Butler in the title role, with Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Simon Callow, Ciarán Hinds, Victor McGuire, and Jennifer Ellison in supporting roles.


The film tells the story of Christine Daaé, a young soprano who is tutored by the mysterious Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom becomes obsessed with Christine and helps her career to flourish, but he also demands her love in return. Christine is caught between her feelings for the Phantom and her love for her childhood friend Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny.


The film was released in 2004 and was a box office success, grossing over $154 million worldwide. It received mixed reviews from critics, but was praised for its visuals and acting, particularly the performances of Butler, Rossum, and Wilson.


Here are some of the awards and nominations that the film received:


Academy Award for Best Original Song Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Saturn Award for Best Musical Film


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1949 American comedy musical film directed by Tay Garnett and starring Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix


Available on Tubi

 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1949 American comedy musical film directed by Tay Garnett and starring Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and William Bendix


"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" is a musical fantasy comedy based on Mark Twain's 1889 novel of the same name. It stars Bing Crosby as Hank Martin, a 19th-century mechanic who is knocked unconscious and wakes up in 6th-century Camelot. He uses his modern knowledge to impress the king and the people, but he also gets into trouble with the evil magician Merlin


Bing Crosby's performance: Crosby is charming and charismatic as Hank Martin, and his singing voice is in top form.The film features a number of catchy songs by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, including "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon" and "Busy Doing Nothing."

The film is full of funny moments, both physical and The film is a lot of fun to watch, as Hank Martin uses his modern knowledge to get himself out of jams and impress the people of Camelot