Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Special Screening: WILD MAN BLUES

A screening of Wild Man Blues, the 1997 documentary directed by two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, will be held on Saturday, August 22 at 7:30pm (Tickets $20) in the New Marlborough Meeting House. (Route 57 on the village green in the center of New Marlborough. Call 413.229.2785 or visit newmarlborough.org for additional info.)

I've watched this picture at home on VHS. The movie offers a rare glimpse of filmmaker and actor Woody Allen as jazz clarinetist touring Europe with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Indie filmmaker, Simon’s Rock faculty member and New Marlborough resident Lawrence Burke will introduce the film. The film’s editor Larry Silk will host a question and answer period following the screening and will offer additional commentary on the much revered and occasionally reviled writer, director and musician. (Silk’s editing credits span over half a century and include three Academy Award winning films. He is a faculty member at New York University.)

Accompanying Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band on their 1996 European tour, this skillfully crafted documentary will be of interest to lovers of music and cinema alike. The title takes it name from a composition alternatively attributed to Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong and reflects Allen’s love for New Orleans blues and ragtime. The jubilant music provides a rich backdrop for the often witty, sometimes cranky, foot-tapping star in this delightful documentary.

The grand tour of Europe complete, the film’s finale takes place back in New York when Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, his wife to be, pay a visit to his elderly parents. The underwhelmed reaction of his parents to their son’s success provides a poignant counterpoint to the fanaticism of his European fans as his mother wonders aloud whether he would have been more successful as a pharmacist!

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