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Archive for May 29th, 2012

by Sam Juliano

When a freak accident claimed the life of Polish composer and jazz pianist Krzysztof Komeda at the age of 38 in 1969, the film community lost an invaluable talent at the peak of his artistic powers and a young man was cut short well before his time.  Indeed, director Roman Polanski, in the liner notes to a 1997 Komeda tribute album wrote: “Krzysztof Komeda was not only a valued professional collaborator but a close and dear friend, and it is my abiding regret that his untimely death robbed me of him in both those capacities.”  Komeda developed a personal style that brought the jazz form a new prominence in a communist country that frowned on what was seen as an American creation.  Komeda expanded the jazz parameters by injected a generous dose of ‘slavic lyricism’ and poetic atmosphere that eventually gained the young composer a following in his native country and abroad.  One of Komeda’s most enthusiastic fans was none other than Polanski himself, who courted the fellow Pole to score his first film, Knife in the Water, after engaging the composer on his student film, after many months of attending him on the nightclub circuit.  By that time the composer had received a few other offers (which he accepted) and he came through for Polanski with a low-key jazz score to serve as a counterpoint to the mounting tensions in Knife, employing saxophone and a string-bass driven sound.  The mournful romanticism of the main theme is what most remember most compellingly from the score, but the music throughout is exceptionally applied.  Polanski again called on Komeda for his 1963 Cul-de-Sac, allowing the composer to again write a nifty  jazzy composition, with a dominant use of the moog, bongo and warbling horns.  At around that time Komeda was also composing for the Danish director Henning Carlsen, contributing scores to Kattorna, People Meet and Sweet Music Fills the Heart and the director’s masterpiece, Salt (Hunger), for which a provocative chamber music design was written.  Komeda’s most famous album to this day remains his landmark jazz work “Astigmatic” (1965) which is noted for it’s extraordinarily sublime coordination of piano harmonies and rhythms.  Komeda also worked with Polish titan Andrzej Wajda, penning the score to Innocent Sorcerers, which exhibited the experimentation of form and dark tonalities typical of some of his earlier film music. (more…)

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Exceptionally talented lead player, Norwegian Anders Danielsen Lie in Joachim Trier’s masterpiece ‘Oslo, August 31st’

by Sam Juliano

Wonders in the Dark reached another plateau this past Saturday when the nearly four year-old blog passed the two million mark in page views.  Congratulations are in order to the many writers and loyal friends who have helped boost and sustain this place of ceaseless activities.  As I prepare this diary on the evening of a very hot Memorial Day Monday in the New York City area, I join with other WitD staffers in wishing Allan Fish a Happy 39th birthday!  As always with a new week we inch closer to some upcoming projects, including Richard (R.D.) Finch’s “William Wyler blogothon” at The Movie Projector and WitD’s own “Comedy Countdown” which will move into high gear on July 1st, the day final ‘Top 50’ ballots are due.

At Manhattan’s Film Forum, an Erich Von Stroheim Festival kicked off on Monday with an evening screening of Greed with piano accompaniment.  Upcoming festivals on spaghetti westerns and the 100th Anniversary of Universal at the same theatre are offering some great classics, many double and even triple features for the price of one.

Lucille and I were quiet for much of the week, until the four-day weekend when we saw three films in theatres and a high-profile Harold Pinter stage play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  Broadway Bob attended the play and one of the three film screenings.  By way of sheer quality, this was the strongest week of 2012, with a masterpiece, a near-masterpiece, a film pushing that level, and a memorable night at the theatre. (more…)

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