Monday, January 15, 2007:

body snatchers mix, part 7

Carol screams (Ferrara, 1993)
Carol screams (Ferrara, 1993)
(a.k.a. "You! Problematic director! Front and center!")

Les Paul -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (June 1950)
Les Paul with some overdubbing experimentation, second guitar like a dream where someone is shouting in a windstorm, sound snatched away, yet somehow you understand and it's all okay.
[The New Sound]

Dave Brubeck Octet -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (July 1950)
Brubeck's version starts somber, melancholy, and cautious, exploring a cage by lanternlight, then the lights come up and it's not a cave at all but a milquetoast ball at a military installation. The band strives to be polite, wanting very much not to meet the MP.
[The Dave Brubeck Octet]

Charlie Parker -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (1950)
Is it silly to say about a Charlie Parker song that you like the saxophone? Hm, then I won't. Instead I'll say I like the strings, and the brushed drums with the occasional kick, and the piano skipping down the street, and how Parker plays around all of them, and how the audience seems maybe unsure of what to expect but willing to go along with it.
[available on Charlie Parker with Strings]

Charlie Parker -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (March 25, 1952)
Parker and the band doing their damnedest to blow the roof off (Parker is a gunslinger, see; he uses the first half-dozen notes or so, then shoots holes in the melody until it's alive but barely recognizable. And that's how he leaves it, so its loved ones can identify the corpse in full realization that it was not as badass as it thought).
[digitized from The Verve Years (1952-1954), VE-2-2523, now available on Confirmation: The Best of the Verve Years]

Frank Sinatra -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (1953)
There are a lot of ways I could have imagined the song. This isn't one of them.
[Hello Young Lovers]

Frank Sinatra -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (April 1954)
Sinatra tries again, this time taking a much more melancholy approach to the song which probably suits it better.
[In the Wee Small Hours]

Charlie Mingus -- What Is This Thing Called Love? (Dec. 1954)
Some time in the mid 1990s, I read someone disparaging jazz by saying it was what happened when four different people played four different songs at the same time. I don't think I ever heard a jazz track that fit that definition until I sought out this one for this mix. The back of the LP tells me that what we have here is John LaPorta on alto sax playing the title track, Thad Jones on trumpet playing "Hot House," and Teo Macero on baritone sax playing "Woodyn You." Very strange, frequently dissonant, and 100% wonderful. Sorry for the few rubs on the LP though.
[Digitized from Everest Records FS235, which has since gone out of print; also available on Jazzical Moods.] [--thanks, Jason!]

(more Body Snatchers discussion: spoiler warnings still in effect)

Rereading "Genre and Closure in the Seven Versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Finney ('54, '55, '78), Siegel ('56, '56), Kaufman ('78) and Ferrara ('93)" I'm struck by how similar my take on Ferrara's film is to Robert Shelton's, but I suspect that Shelton is the more perceptive reader. Shelton notes that the pacing in Ferrara's film slows "when Marti (played by Gabrielle Anwar) has no clothes on," which includes both her leisurely bath and the scene later when she's been taken to the hospital for some very un-Hippocratic treatment. I'd noticed the slowed pace the first time, missed it the second. In the hospital, pod tendrils snake into Marti's nose and mouth and the pod figure sits up, nude, back arched and mouth open as if in rapture, and then turns to Tim and strikes (and holds) a rather seductive pose, speaking to him in a soft tone. All of these are behaviors we have no reason to expect from a pod person. I'd be tempted to relate the pod's indifference to her public nudity to the alienness of the pod people, as in Kaufman's version, except that it's not, really; it's saddled with an imitation of human behavior which Marti's pod has no reason to indulge in. At this point in the film Tim is surrounded with enemies who will gladly and permanently subdue him, so the nudity seems to be there for reasons other than story-logic, which is already saddled with the stipulation that Marti survive and that (nearly) everyone else is expendable.

Shelton also points out the "idiot plot hole" of the General allowing Marti and Tim to leave: "Let them go," he says, "no one will believe them." As Shelton notes, "When the equivalent of this remark was made in Siegel's 1956 version, a solitary, unarmed, exhausted small town doctor was being 'let go'; in Ferrara's 1993 version, General Platt has just 'let go' an armed attack helicopter and pilot."

All of this suggests (to me at least) that Ferrara's film is what a feminist would call "problematic," yet I have to admit that it's also successful on somewhat unexpected terms: I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Maybe that ties back to Rosenbaum's notion that a great film doesn't have to be a good film (or, stated another way, that the quality of a film is distinct from how much it causes the audience to think). I'm not sure if Ferrara's film is a great or even a good film but it's definitely been a thought-provoking one.

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Problems with Charlie Park links, anyone? The first one opens, but it's the second song; the second link does not open.

Ah, sorry about that. Reuploaded the track under a slightly different name, republished the post. Seems to be working now.

Just wanted to say that your Charles Mingus "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is the same version as on "The Jazz Experiments of Charlie Mingus." I'd recommend, however, getting the OJC version of "Jazzical Moods" which is ALSO the same recording plus one more track (thus completing the session)! It is listed as by Charles Mingus/John LaPorta. Hope this makes sense!

If I may ask one favor: since you're nice enough to actually rip from vinyl, would you mind also putting the titles of the original sources too? Thanks for posting such great music & info!

Thanks for the information, Jason. I've updated the post with original source LP info and changed the CD link for the Mingus track.

Ah, yes. There was this entry into the Ferrarathan which took screengrabs from all three films every five minutes for comparison; and more recently, Elusive Lucidity posted the posters to each of the three films.

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