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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 41
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 41

The Gazettei
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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The GAZETTE, Montreal, Sat May 7, 1977 41 Movies: Woody's 'Annie' draws the laughs but makes an 'historical' statement too spwHff New treat from The Band To say that The Band's new record, 'Ulandi (Capitol), is not as good as the previous 'Northern Lights Southern is almost a foregone conclusion. The latter is a rock masterpiece as most of this group's carefully constructed recordings are but 'Is-, lands' is so close in quality that the point is rendered moot. The new album by Bob Dylan's former backups band is a'warm human statement, perhaps less imposing than 'Northern Lights' but probably more personal. The resonance of The Band is a marvel in the electronic sterility and sameness of mainstream rock sound. This is a group that believes in harmony among instruments, each one well defined and co-ordinated with the others.

You can hear Robbie Robertson's tightrope guitar solos backed beautifully by Garth Hudson's mellifluous organ or accordian sorties, or Levon Helm's crackling drumming complementing Rick Danko's thudding bass lines. On the surface, 'Islands' sounds little different from The Band's other albums: The density of harmony is constant and the standard of playing is high, However, The Band is a group that strives to do better each time out; it is nobody's fault that its musicianship is difficult to improve upon. Like 'Northern Lights' the new album takes a few listenings to get acquainted with but that's because there is so much to listen to; once one gets used to the sonorities, the songs take on the feeling of old friends. There is a voluptuous love song, 'Right As Rain' (the, most tender The Band has ever done), as well as a tough night-time on-the-make ode, 'Street Walker'. There's a wonderfully sentimental yuletide dittie, 'Christmas Must Be Tonight' and a splendid Cajun fiddle assimilation, When The Band chooses oldies to interpret, it chooses the best: 'Georgia On My a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael and Ray Charles and The Band itself, and the hard-driving 'Ain't That A Lot Like Love'.

Such is the quality of the music that it's hard to pick favorites among the disc's, 10 songs. The music is letter-perfect, which means The Band has found a way to accentuate hillbilly, folksong voices within the structures of rock 'n' roll (mixed with a heady dose of rhythm 'n' blues) that has been fully developed as a musical art form, and not just a momentary buzz. This is what distinguishes The Band from other rock groups and what makes the quintet such indispensible masters of the genre. JUAN RODRIGUEZ soys. fc fetter 'V VA I o- ti tl il By DANE LANKEN of The Gazette It's the same old Woody Allen in 'Annie the new comedy that the 42-year-old Brooklyn comic co-wrote, directed and stars in (at the Claremont and Fairview theatres).

The familiar insecure, uptight character is back again, with a full arsenal of funny one-liners about sex and society. So sure, 'Annie Hall' is funny; everyone is smiling when leaving the theatre. But in this movie, Allen has undertaken something bigger than the frantic search for chuckles he maintained in 'What's New, and 'Bananas' and 'Take the Money and Here, with a cast of close friends and a story and set of characters clearly not far removed from real life, Allen has produced a movie that is at once his most self-indulgent and, in its evaluation of the mid-20th century North American Zeitgeist, his most interesting. The story is simple enough: Woody, 'as Alvy Singer, a comedy writer and performer with a professional and personal history not dissimilar to Allen's, meets and romances a pretty girl named Annie Hall whose dizziness and singing ambitions coincide perfectly with the apparent off-screen life of actress Diane Keaton who plays fter. Within that framework, we get a review of recent American history and sociology and a re-examination of Allen's own past.

Consider the young Alvy Singer's appearance at an Adlai Stevenson rally, his later fjjrtation with a 'Rolling Stone' reporter, Annie's interest in cats, the couple's weekends away on Long Island, and most telling, hp New Yorker's putdown of easy California living "They don't throw garbage Way in L.A., they make it into TV shows." What does it all mean? Maybe nothing, though in 50 years it may be interesting to See 'Annie Hall' as a catalogue of 1977 lifestyles and attitudes. In the meantime, it's fun to see it because of the Woody Allen one-liners. "No thanks," says Woody, turning down someone's offer of a joint. "I tried it five years ago at a party and tried to take my pants off over my head fv V' if Woody Allen and Diane Keaton star in the new comedy 'Annie Hall' The Eagle Has Landed 'The Eagle Has Landed' (at the Cote des 'Neiges and Bonaventure cinemas) features an all-star cast in a long, complicated and slightly dull wartime adventure centred on "a Nazi plot to land a group of soldiers in 'England and kidnap Winston Churchill. a i Donald Pleasance, superbly sinister as 'Himmler, hatches the plot.

Robert Duvall. complete with eyepatch, plans it, Michael Caine leads the soldiers into it, Donald Sutherland as an Irish patriot aids it, Jean Marsh (yes, Rose of 'Upstairs, Downstairs abets it, and Larry Hagman as a fumbling U.S. soldier, fumbles it. John Sturges, the veteran Hollywood action director, directed mixing weak character development (Caine's "professional soldier" pitch at the beginning doesn't ring true) with good action sequences (generous pyrotechniques), a picture postcard English village setting and a modicum of suspense into the sort of mov that's ideal if you've got a couple of hours Untill. Altman's '3 Women it's intriouina hut don't expect any easy answers Maritime folk classic Stan Rogers is a Toronto singer-songwriter whose family roots are in Nova Scotia.

His debut album, Fo-garty's Cove (Barnswallow) is a superbly executed collection of songs dealing with the Maritimes, from both a historic and contemporary time reference, and from both a personal and sociological point of view. Concept albums either work or fail. This one is an unqualified success for several reasons. Most importantly is that Rogers obviously writes about a people that he knows well. He knows their history, their concerns, their way of life, what they love, what they hate and the economic conditions that guide their lives.

The second reason that the album works is because Rogers is comfortable within the various folk music styles he's using. Most of the songs, particularly 'Barrett's Privateers' and 'Fogarty's Cove' could easily pass for traditional folk songs. His musical forms include folk ballad, sea chantey and Maritime country. The songs themselves reflect various aspects of the Maritimes. The delight of farm life is documented in 'Watching The Apples Grow'; the optimism of love in '45 Years'; the joys of present day Nova Scotia in 'Fogarty's Cove'; tales of the past in 'Barrett's Privateers' and 'The Wreck of the Athens Queen'; folklorish mythology in 'Giant'; and the laments of a destroyed way of life in 'Fisherman's Wharf, 'The Rawdon Hills' and 'Make and Break Harbor.

The album's tour de force however is the recitation that ends the record. 'Finch's Complaint' is a moving poem expressing the plight of a laid-off plant worker. Tom Finch recounts the economic problems that force him into his dilemma and the obvious solution, We Finches have been in this part of the world for near 200 years But I guess it's seen the last of us Come on Marie, We're going to Toronto." Rogers sings in a fine, warm baritone voice accompanied by a sensitive group of musicians including Garnet Rogers, David Woodhead, Jerome Jarvis, Ken White-ly, Grit Laskin, Bernie Jaffe, Curly Boy Stubbs and John Allan Cameron. Producer Paul Mills deserves excellent marks for developing 'Fogarty's Cove' into one of the finest folk music albums to yet come out of Canada. MIKE REGENSTREIF 9 By JULIA MASKOULIS of The Gazette Altman's '3 Women' (at the Place dtf Canada Cinema) is- a psychologically brilliant film that activates emotions like a rumbling volcano.

When the volcano finally explodes, however, and the viewer wants an A History of the Blue Movie 'A History of the Blue Movie' (at the Atwater 2, and in French as 'Anthologie du plaisir' at the Carrefour) offers just that; An era-by-era look at the stag film from its inception (and that came during the flickers' earliest days) to its death, in the early 1970s when popularly successful porno films like 'Deep Throat' made clandestine smut irrelevant. In other words, this is a bunch of stag films spliced together, from a quaint 1915 narrative called 'A Free Ride' (imagine a stag movie in which flies are unbuttoned rather than unzipped), through a series of "40s penny arcade shorts featuring chubby women in two-piece bathing suits, to Candy Barr's "classic" 'Smart Aleck' of the early '50s, to some modern examples of the genre. It's not a particularly artful job, neither in the selection of films nor the idle philosophizing that passes for commentary on the subject. And producer Alex De Renzy's choice of ending the survey with three of his own short films as if these amateurish efforts are the end-all of the stag era is annoying. But the raison d'etre of the stag film is to entertain, and this selection leaves no doubt as to their efficacitv tor had about two Texas women who meet in a desert community and undergo a metamorphosis.

It is not only based on a dream, but Chuck Rosher's melting cinematography continually blends reality with a series of grotesque murals, painted by the third woman, that counterpoint its themes. The film introduces us to the women, whom we get to know in varying degrees. Shelley Duvall's performance as Millie Lammoreaux, a girl who works in a geriatric health spa, saves the film from complete obscurity, for she is the most materialistic of the three. Millae is the ad-man's ideal target; she accepts, without thought or conviction, that if her breath sparkles and if she uses deodorant she will be loved and happy. Sissy Spacek (from 'Carrie') plays Pinky Rose, a pink-cheeked sensitive girl who comes to work at the spa and develops an adolescent admiration for Millie as the "most perfect person" she has ever seen.

The third woman, Willie Hart, played by Janice Rule, is a pregnant artist, married to the man who owns the building the other two women live in. She is the most abstract of the three and can be understood only through her relationships to her husband, to her state of motherhood, and to her murals. While the relationships among the three women elude understanding. Altman seems to be commenting on the women's resourcefulness and versatility. tven a creature as stupid as Millie will pull through instinctively to do what needs to be done where men out of incompetence, insensitivity or weakness back off.

This is most succinctly expressed in the climactic childbirth scene which is ugly and painful; the artist's husband gets drunk leaving his wife at home in labor. Millie ends up delivering the baby, which is, naturally, still-born. The film does not purport to make universal statements. It is partly impressionistic, highly symbolic and extremely personal. It is a film about three specific relationships, from which one cannot draw conclusions about others.

answer or a tocus tor tnose rumoiings. there is none. And the gratification received is elusively symbolic, subtle and sophisticated. Altman is one of the finest directors working in Hollywood. Along with financial success 1970.

1975) this eloquent director has made films, like '3 which will find more selective audiences 1972, 'Brewster 1971). '3 Women' has the Altman stamp excellent performances, superb cinematography and esoteric originality. While the first two qualities do not hinder a film's commercial success, obscurity can turn people away, and '3 Women' is incomprehensi- ble enough to do just that. The film is based on a dream the direc 'Fleuves' must be more than a costly modern music lesson Music Notes By Jacob Siskind 0 Gilles Tremblay's 'Fleuves' is probably the most important and definitely the most expensive premiere in the history of the Montreal Symphony, costing troore than $50,000. The work was commissioned last year and was to have been presented last spring in Montreal and on the orchestra's tour of United States and Earope.

However, the work proved to be too complicated for the then-musical director of the orchestra. Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, and he decided to wait a full year to present the premiere la order to provide the music with its proper setting, Jl was planned to have rehearsals for Use piece aver the coun of severs! months before the of-f'cial premiere. la fact over 29 re- -ami hours were ipent in preparation ftCIS concerts lhs week Ife'bea mt realizes Utst this entire work we? for the mu groups through interactions to implosion groups. At a single hearing it seemed far less complex and less difficult than all of this mumbo-jumbo would lead one to expect. Indeed, listening to it was a pleasurable experience.

Watching the audience flee in dismay, before and during the performance, I found it regrettable that so many people were so intolerant of new sounds and noises. Had they stayed they might very well found some of the music to their liking. At the close of the performance on Tuesday evening someone screamed "garbage" from a vantage point somewhere in the first balcony. In retrospect. I suspect that it was a put-up job The shout came eves before conductor Serge Garant had" time to get fcjs arms down after the last rcurd from the orchestra.

The complainant must have known in advance when to shout. If it was his intention to gaivam.te a sympathetic backlash in the of the sicians of the MSO, and that a week of salaries of the orchestral players costs in the region of J40.000, the implications are quite staggering. From a single hearing of 'Fleuves' it is apparent that this is a major new-work. For sheer size, noise and length it is overwhelming. It requires the services of a full orchestra, with augmented percussion sections.

It is written in a style of notation that is so individual that the composer has had to include a glossary of terms and symbols. No one looking at the score casually could possibly decipher the composer intent simply from glancsng at the printed page. The work is organijed a'orjg very clear lines and it is ebviousjy a labor of considerable devotion, not to say tove. There are mystic and religious overloTies ia the composer ois eipia-nalion of the score that are interestir.g. if always helpful II? speaks of thought associations audience, however, the ploy failed.

People simply did not care enough either way to bother to react unless they were from a small, partisan group of contemporary music fans who came to this concert out of a sense of duty to Trembiay. The fact of the matter is, though, that the work is worth having presented. My only doubt is about the length of time required to prepare it. If Serge Garant had had a great deal more experience conducting a full symphony orchestra, I am certain that he could have accomplished the same end nyjch more economically. On balance, the Montreal Symphony, has invested a great of money ia teaching its players to perform contemporary music of a kind with which this ensemble ordinarily has little raitacL It has also invented a great deal of money in giving Serge Garar.t the experience fee piewsisry did not have in rehearsing a orchestra and preparing a major orchestral work.

It enabled one of Canada's most important composers to hear what a full orchestra can and cannot do with a new work ami this experience must be counted among the most important lessons from the occasion. I can only hope that all of this expense will not be a total waste that Lhe lessons the orchestra, the conductor and the composer have learned from this venture will allow all three to go on to greater things. The MSO should not only perform work again and again but present others comparable difficulty. Garant shocld be invited to conduct the orchestra again and soon. And most important.

'Trembiay should be invited to compose another work for the MSO, one in which he will be able to take advantage of tne experience he has gained or? this occasion. Only then is the expense of the present premiere justifiable. with the UUe of the piece. "Fleuves to flow circulation, as of the blood, or of ideas a broadening, as in societies or in the St. Lawrence River the mysterious relationship of the movement of celestial bodies and of farthly waters rhythm as in water or in seashells" He aiJ details several therres that occur as mjsical descriptions of certain concepts sun.

bells, flower. Trembiay also descnbes the lorm of the muse as developing from explosion.

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