by Peter Cates
Castles in Spain
Michel Legrand and his Orchestra; Columbia – CL 888, mono 12-inch vinyl LP,
Now 84 years old, Michel Legrand is one of the most interesting all-around musicians/arranger, composer, conductor, pianist, to impact the American music scene since his 1956 Columbia LP, I Love Paris, which has sold several million copies and is on CD. The wiki biography does a pretty thorough job documenting his accomplishments and is worthwhile reading. I will say that his most well known song is The Windmills of your Mind from the 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.
Castles in Spain is a beautifully-scored musical collage of Spain and her expressive dimensions and moods. He includes several well known pieces of music – Espana, Malaguena, Jungle Drums, Andalucia, etc. – and re-works them with the freshest, most alive treatments, a main quality of his music-making, whether applied here or to his own compositions. Several selections from the LP can be heard on Youtube while the entire album has also been reissued on a still available CD.
London Has Fallen
Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, etc.; directed by Babak Najafi; produced by Millenium Films, 99 minutes, released 2016.
As a sequel to 2013’s Prometheus Has Fallen (which I have not seen), this film caters to the huge demand for cathartic blockbusters featuring supermannish secret agent heroes versus terrorist blood suckers. Nine out of ten of these flicks are quite forgettable but still have their two- or three-day cash cow run at the local Flagship. And I will be the first to admit that I do have a taste for these entertainments!
A British prime minister has died so several world leaders will be attending the funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral, including U.S. President Benjamin Asher (competently played by Aaron Eckhart). For purposes of security, his entourage arrives ahead of schedule with his favorite SS agent, and best friend, Mike Manning (Gerard Butler) right by his side. Without going into ad nauseam detail, their arrival in London is greeted by the split second unleashing of apocalyptic mayhem. Naturally, Manning and the president are reduced by the carnage, thanks to the agent’s own gifts of strength, speed, quick thinking and extremely preternatural intuition, to being just about the only survivors of the entourage but inevitably reduced, for the remainder of the film, to hopscotching around the besieged city by foot and the occasional stolen vehicle. Enough of the details.
I admit to a certain restlessness during my Netflix viewing but stayed the course, assigning a definite C to C-minus to this cinematic excursion.
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