portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Aquarium Drunkard Newsletter is just in . . . . . .and apart from a mention of The Killing of A Sacred Deer which my son and I have been discussing,  he knows how much I enjoy the director's, Yorgos Lanthimos' work (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Favourite*) which gives me the opportunity to bang on about Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone but also mentions Hal Wliner who was the most extraordinary catalyst agent provocateur type of producer and also beautifully mentions a John Prine song both people we have now lost to Covid-bloody 19 (it has now lost us Tim Brooke Taylor of The Goodies fame as well as over 10,000 British citizens many of them workers in the care of victims of the virus themselves, doctors, nurses, front line carers and seems to be no limit to age or race or background but may  have a dreadful cost of those in the health services . . . . ) sorry bit of rant there but I'm scared!

Hal Willner (April 6, 1956 – April 7, 2020)
The great Hal Willner passed away last week due to COVID complications. His varied credits, strewn across a vast discography, provide a throughline connecting a string of remarkable visionaries: Sun Ra, Walt Disney, Lucinda Williams, Harry Partch, Charles Mingus, Lou Reed, NRBQ, Nick Cave, Bill Frisell, Allen Ginsberg, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithfull, Leonard Cohen, Charles Mingus, the Beats, the punks—outsiders and insiders alike. Willner had his hand in the music of SNL, Robert Altman's Short Cuts and Kansas City, The Million Dollar Hotel, Anchorman, Step Brothers, Gangs of New York, and many more film and TV productions. "Hal was our visionary, our ringleader, always working against reason itself, armed with a deep love and bottomless knowledge of music, an incredible generosity and reverence for those forgotten and discarded, an eccentric and screwball vision, and a perverse love of chaos, and who produced some of the most moving and unforgettable spectacles I have ever witnessed, or had the honour to be involved in," wrote his friend, Nick Cave, at Rolling Stone. Taken together, his productions, tribute albums, and soundtracks are total art assemblages, testaments to weird cohesion that defies logic. “I was a kid who went around talking to himself, and used to get in trouble drawing cartoons, and locked myself in my room and went into dream world — I was one of those," Willner told the New York Times. "I just retreated into television and records, and that was reality for me.”

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) 

A film comprised of 120 minutes of supernatural, foreboding dread and despair? No, this is not a documentary about Covid 19, but filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimo's (Dogtooth, The Lobster) fifth picture released in 2017. A contemporary take on Agamemnon's bargain. And yes, it's on Netflix. Two quarantined thumbs up. 
* Just watched The Favourite which curiously has become a favourite, as a triple hander with the three main actors being women, the peerless, Olivia Coleman, who can do no wrong currently and is the most delightfully bonkers actor it has been my pleasure to enjoy the work of, Rachel Weisz who I think has been largely under used somewhat since the excellent Constant Gardener and a personal favourite David Hare's Page Eight opposite Bill Nighy (speaking of people who can do no wrong) and of course the delightful Emma Stone who's catalogue is building nicely and we will see better and better work from I reckon from Birdman onwards. Casting choice genius and the story is at once hilarious and steeped in pathos as is Colman's performance. Superb!
 More on John . . . . . . . . that he should have written this for his last album is prophetic beyond heartbreaking . . . . . . 

John Prine, "When I Get to Heaven"

When I get to heaven
I'm gonna shake God's hand
Thank him for more blessings
Than one man can stand
Then I'm gonna get a guitar
And start a rock and roll band
Check into a swell hotel
Ain't the 'afterlife' grand!

And then I'm gonna get a cocktail
Vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I'm gonna smoke a cigarette
That's nine miles long
I'm gonna kiss that pretty girl
On the tilt a whirl
'Cause this old man is going to town

Then as God as my witness
I'm gettin' back into show business
I'm gonna open up a nightclub called
'The Tree of Forgiveness'
And forgive everybody
Ever done me any harm
I might even invite a few choice critics
Those syphilitic parasitics
Buy 'em a pint of Smithwick's
And smothert'em with my charm

'Cause then I'm gonna get a cocktail
Vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I'm gonna smoke a cigarette
That's nine miles long
I'm gonna kiss that pretty girl
On the tilt a whirl
Yeah this old man is going to town

Yeah when I get to heaven
I'm gonna take
That wristwatch off my arm
What are you gonna do with time
After you've bought the farm
And them I'm gonna go find my mom and dad
And good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie
Are still cuttin' up a rug
Wanna see all my mama's sisters
'Cause that's where all the love starts
I miss 'em all like crazy
Bless their little hearts
And I always will remember
These words my daddy said
He said, "Buddy, when you're dead
You're a dead peckerhead"
I hope to prove him wrong
That is ... when I get to heaven
'Cause I'm gonna have a cocktail
Vodka and ginger ale
Gonna smoke a cigarette
That's nine miles long
I'm gonna kiss that pretty girl
On the tilt a whirl
Yeah this old man is going to town
Yeah this old man is going to town

To Make You Smile . . . .

Why we adore Olivia Colman!

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