by Sam Juliano
The rock critic Robert Christgau considers Berry “the greatest of the rock and rollers”, while John Lennon said, “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Ted Nugent said, “If you don’t know every Chuck Berry lick, you can’t play rock guitar.” Bob Dylan called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” Berry, one of the greatest guitarists of all-time passed away at the miraculous age of 90 sometime on Saturday, leaving behind a legacy few musicians can or have matched. Songs like “Maybelline,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” and “Rock n Roll Music” are among the most famous and beloved ever written, and the Chess label has long defined Berry’s output. I fondly recall his later gimmick song “My Ding-a-Ling” which for many inspired a renaissance of his classic tunes. A cultural icon and incomparable innovator is gone and music has lost a giant. R.I.P.
One of the most unforgettable evenings for our family was staged on Thursday night at the Venetian Catering Hall/Restaurant in Garfield, New Jersey where my youngest brother Paul, age 46, was honored as the “Man of the Year” by the Fairview Chamber of Commerce. 750 people were on hand to hear a bevy of speakers (including Yours Truly in a keynote address) honor my brother, a town leader in every capacity. It was a night of great buffet food, speeches and meeting friends, many not seen in years. This will be a cherished memory for all-time. The week as a whole was engineered in overdrive, as our area was hit with a major snowstorm on Monday evening after midnight as Lucille, Sammy and I were heading back from Binghampton, New York after spending time with our dear friend Angelo D’Arminio, who shockingly lost his wife last week. The four hour ride brought us in the start of the blizzard, but we made it home safely before the blizzard accelerated. On Saturday morning we traveled down to Toms River near the Jersey shore to attend the funeral of a dear cousin, Mary Barbara Bunero.
Once again Terrence Malick has crafted an unforgettable cinematic meditation-a modern day intimate love triangle (“Song to Song”) negotiated in elegiac, sensual and spiritual strokes, one contrasting the beauty of nature with the bullying cityscapes. Malick trots out many themes, employing his patented tone poem with propulsive energy. A breathtaking work by this towering master of the cinema. Lucille, Sammy and I took in the 7:15 P.M. screening last night at the Landmark Cinemas in Manhattan.
Song To Song **** 1/2 (Saturday night) Landmark Cinemas
Beauty and the Beast **** (Sunday night) Secaucus multiplex
The live action version of Beauty and the Beast represents another triumph of this material, with only the actor who plays Gaston seemingly miscast. CGI and lavish production values count mightily. The celebrated score by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken is the most vital ingredient in the film’s success, as it represents the high water mark of their musical collaboration, wedding energy and audacity with lyrical felicity and melodic invention. Rising to the demands of the story’s emotional underpinnings, composer Menken wrote some of his most ravishing melodies, and lyricist Ashman responded with his own measure of poetry. Some splendid additions are heard here as well.