FiLM REViEW: October Sky, 1999

What a terrific movie. Based on a true story, as they say. I’ve subsequently learned that, as is pretty near always the case, the moviemakers play fast and loose with historical facts. But nevertheless, this is a very engaging story well told.

Central to the story – in which a group of kids in a coal mining town get interested in building rockets, after seeing the Soviet Sputnik satellite pass overhead – are numerous strands of relationships.

Pa wants Homer Jr not just ‘down to earth’, but literally underground.

Perhaps the most foregrounded is that of central character Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his coal miner father (Chris Cooper). Also key is Homer’s teacher, Miss Reilly (Laura Dern). Then there’s his family, his ‘Rocket Boy’ friends, and the community of Coalwood, a town literally built (and owned) by the mining company.

Set in the ‘50s, and depicting a very particular geographical and working culture, the film has a lot of nostalgic appeal. It’s a corking feel-good watch. Certain aspects of the story, and even certain characters, are ‘jazzed up’ a bit. Personally I think it’s a shame moviemakers seem to feel obliged to do such things. But maybe it does make for more compelling viewing?

But for the Rocket Boys, things are looking up.

Watching the movie made me feel I ought to read Hickam’s autobiographical Rocket Boys memoir. But, for now, the feel-good fun of the movie will suffice.

MUSiC: Stone Flower, Jobim, 1970

The sixth disc (or seventh, if you include Love Strings and Jobim) in his discography and my Tom Jobim survey, Stone Flower follows Wave and Tide , both chronologically, and in being an RVG production.

Benefitting from much the same team of personnel as Tide – Ron Carter, João Palmer, Airto, Everaldo Ferreira – and with the same kind of production aesthetic, it’s another solid slice of Jobim’s musical magic. One difference, however, is that Eumir Deodato handles the arrangements (he’s also credited with guitar; I didn’t know he played!?).

As usual with these recordings the horns are top drawer American jazzers. For these sessions we have the very mellifluous tones of Urbie Green, on ‘bone, Hubert Laws handling flutey duties, and Joe Farrell playing sop’ sax (the latter on just the one track).

The album begins with the enchantingly charming, Tereza, My Love (a title with a nice personal resonance for me!). Children’s Games sounds like an early rendition of Chovenda Na Roseira, or Double Rainbow, a really terrific tune. It’s slightly unusual in being in 3/4 time, and, whilst still having the signature mellowness of practically all Jobim’s music, it gets quite percussively energetic, with the drums in particular very active.

Jobim is mostly at the piano on these recordings, and plays superbly. Choro begins with the ensemble stripped back to the core rhythm section, and has a terrific main theme on keys, lithe yet muscular, minimal yet rich.

Track four is a rare thing, as Jobim plays someone else’s material. And he chooses Ary Barosso’s classic Brazil. It’s the first vocal on the album. And he plays electric piano. The quality of musicianship is just sublime. Joao Palma, Airto Moreira and Everaldo Ferreira working together extraordinarily well, and Ron Carter’s richly articulate bass completing the spare rhythm section as perfectly as is conceivable.

Brazil is just incredible. An ‘opus de samba’ of truly epic proportions. Managing to perfectly balance exuberant energy against a light melodic touch. The percussionists do a tremendous job, acting like a taught trampoline over which Carter and Jobim can bounce, in a beautifully sustained meditation on the chordal and melodic themes.

I’m not surprised that another take is added as a bonus track, as these guys are on fire! And Rudy Van Gelder’s recording captures it all as no one else could. One even hears Jobim’s cigarette and cigar soused breathing over the keys occasionally. This is music that is truly alive with energy and feeling.

As an aside, my first taste of any of the music from this disc actually came via Santana’s cover of Stone Flower, on their fantastic Caravanserai album, from 1972.* Jobim’s version is terrific, featuring segments in which violinist Harry Lookofsky at one point takes the melody, and at others Jobim scats a bit.

The second half of the album features numerous less well known Jobim tracks, such as the remarkably beautiful Amparo, a gently melancholic chamber orchestra style number, sans rhythm section. Utterly beautiful. And sounding very much like it could be a TV or movie theme piece.

Speaking of which, after the rhythm section returns for the stately Andorhina, we are treated to God And The Devil In The Land Of The Sun, which is a soundtrack to a film of the same name. Musically it sounds like a rehash of another Jobim track, but adapted somewhat, inserting a sax solo by Farrell, and some moody orchestral arrangements.

The album originally ended with a vocal version of Sabia, a middling Jobim track. By which I mean not amongst his most covered, nor his most obscure. Tom’s vocals are a bit approximate, pitch-wise. This is a pity, but the album overall is so good it can take it.

The CD reissue I have appends an alternate take of Brazil. Another fabulous and totally essential Jobim album.

*Santana’s drummer, Michael Shrieve, wrote some English lyrics, of a rather hippy-dippy nature. Perhaps not altogether surprisingly, as he was tripping on LSD when he penned them!

BOOK REViEW: Killing For Company, Brian Masters

My current bout of true crime/serial-killer interest continues. Having recently watched both Des and the The Real ‘Des’, I picked up a copy of the book that was the chief inspiration for the recent ITV drama, Killing For Company, for just £2, at The Works.

Darkly compelling, I read 75% of the book in one sitting, the evening of the day I bought it. If I hadn’t had to go to work the following day, requiring in turn some sleep, I’d have continued until I finished.

In Brian Masters’ own words, this is a book about ‘a man who has constructed his own hell and dragged others into it, without, in the end, really knowing why.’ Directly after this, Masters goes on to say ‘It is because one needs to ask why that this book has been written.’

In stark contrast to the Michael Bilton book I recently read, Wicked Beyond Belief, about Peter Sutcliffe’s crimes, this book focuses on the perpetrator: after starting with a chapter titled Arrest, we are taken via Origins, Childhood, Army, Police & Civil Service to, in chapters 6-7, Victims and Disposal.

Remand and Trial follow, before we reach chapter 10, Answers. At over 60 pages, Answers is easily the biggest single chapter in the book. In this final ‘summing up’ Masters looks at the case from numerous angles, via psychiatry, the law, philosophy, even religion.

Masters visited Nilsen in custody, and received vast amounts of writings (and some quite macabre drawings) from him. These, including numerous quotations of Nilsen’s poetry, inform Masters account. As do numerous other sources, such as the author’s own researches, inc. court proceedings, and so on.

Well researched, written and presented. This is an interesting and morbidly fascinating read. Masters tries to avoid sensationalist emotive writing, and largely succeeds. But his extensive use of Nilsen’s own writings, and other things, mean that the genie of ghoulishness still escapes the bottle.

A postscript (after a series of Nilsen’s grim crime scene sketches), by Anthony Storr, addresses the gulf that became alarmingly apparent in court between law and psychiatry.

All in all, a really fascinating and very compelling read. Highly recommended.

MUSiC: Wave, Jobim, 1967

Holy guacamole! This arrived this afternoon. Plugging another gap in my current run of Jobim solo album reviews. And boy oh boy, is it good!

I should hasten to note here that our living room stereo is a tiny poxy little Sony ‘all in one’ thing. It is decidedly not the gear of a dedicated or wealthy audiophile! That said, Wave sounds amazing! I think a very large part of the credit for that has to go to Rudy Van Gelder, in whose studio (also his home!) this beautiful album was recorded.*

The album kicks off with the title track, yet another Jobim ditty that’s become a standard. The audio quality – the air and energy in the mix – are astonishing. The balance of well known and more obscure material is great, Triste and Wave accounting for the former; amongst the latter such numbers as The Red Blouse, Mojave and Dialogo, and others. So quite a contrast with his debut.

Jerome Richardson, flute.

One of the ‘lesser’ pieces – by which I mean less famous, not less good – is one of my all time favourites by Jobim, Lamento. I recorded my own version of this many years ago, as part of my Too Much Time jazz/bossa recording project. This and Remember from Tide strike my main nerve, for some reason.

Every now and again Jobim dabbled with an unusual choice of keyboard, and here, on Antigua he plays the keys part on … harpsichord! The glassy tone makes for an interesting contrast with the soft pillowy clouds of flutes, trombones and strings.

Urbie Green, trombone.

The powerful presence of sound on the superbly titled Captain Bacardi is astonishing. The drums in particular project almost alarmingly in the mix, and there are sections where it’s just drums and a repeated piano chord. Rarely has such minimalism had such grit and power. And then a cuica joins in! What sublime music.

Claus Ogerman is the arranger again. And my how well he and Jobim work together. Ron Carter’s lithe muscular bass articulates the solid but flexible spine, Brazilian drummer Claudio Slon is superb, aided by percussion from Dom Um Romoa and Bobby Rosengarden. American jazzers – Urbie Green, Jimmy Cleveland, Jerome Richardson – blow their righteous horns.

Claudio Slon, drums.

The only issue with this sublime recording is that there isn’t lots more of it. Ten tracks, totalling just over half an hour! Totally essential, and as good a place as any to start your Jobim journey.

*I think this is also part of why Stone Flower and Tide are so damnably good!

MUSiC: The Wonderful World Of, Jobim, 1965

NB – Earlier today I lamented the gaps in my Jobim survey. And presto! Shortly thereafter the missing albums arrive. So here’s the first gap-filler, Jobim’s second solo album, and the first with his singing on it!

Jobim’s second album starts with the vocal She’s A Carioca, sung mostly in English, with a little Portuguese and some jazz-bossa Scat!This is followed with Agua de Beber, one of the several songs here to join the ranks of Jobim’s jazz/bossa standards, starting in Scat, before continuing in Portuguese.

Apart from the vocals the music and mood are pretty much a smooth continuation from The Composer Of Desafinado Plays. Track three is the slightly nutty Surfboard. The melody in this first version is mellower than his later electric organ version, and whilst I love it for its zaniness, it’s not the strongest track on this album.

Jobim at work.

Useless Landscape (or Inutil Paisagem), sung in English, is rendered here in hyper mellow but otherwise normal m.o. for this era. Whilst this version is perfectly good – it’s a terrific number – quite how great and powerfully emotional this can be isn’t revealed here to best effect here, for my money. I much prefer the much later recording with (I think?) Elis Regina singing.

So Tinha De Ser Com Voce, Tristeza and Felicidade are a string of songs sung in original Portuguese. The first of these is less covered, whilst the second and third are in the middling group of Jobim songs; played often enough, but not quite as frequently as the evergreen standards that Ipanema, Insensatez, Desafinado and such like became.

Bonita makes her first showing here, as track eleven. I think this version, whilst a little blander arrangement wise, finds Jobim in better voice than on the version that opens A Certain Mr Jobim. Having mentioned the arrangements, this time we’re hearing Nelson Riddle, not Claus Ogerman. And overall they are, er… well, less noticeable, on the whole. To some extent they’re not massively different from Ogerman’s, in that we hear strings, flutes, trombones, and it’s all soft, pillowy textures.

But I think Ogerman brings a bit more to the party, so to speak. Riddle’s in the background minimalism is, conceptually, something I like. But one almost feels half the time it’s just not there at all! That’s said, the new to me and rather lovely Valsa Do Porto Das Caixas, a super mellow instrumental, is just Jobim at the piano, with Riddle arranging, and it’s utterly gorgeous!

Nelson Riddle, at work.

After this, I found myself more attuned to Riddle’s m.o. and totally dug what he does with Samba do Aviao. This and the achingly beautiful Por Toda A Minha Vida, the latter just Jobim and his guitar, are both in Portuguese. And this last song, one I’ve always loved from knowing much later versions, is just sublime. Love it!

Riddle and the orchestra are back and in fullest effect for the closing number, Dindi. A terrifically beautiful piece which Jobim sings in English here. The pace is stately, the vibe intensely gorgeous. And though Jobim’s voice wobbles a little. It’s not enough to effect the beauty of the song.

Having reached the end, I’m mightily impressed. Ok, not every single number here, as on The Composer, has become an every day standard. But the musical standard has not dropped at all, even with the advent of Tom’s infamously wobbly vocals (which are more of an issue on the later A Certain Mr album).

I have to admit that the cover image, looking more of a piece with the aberrant Love, Strings & Jobim, had my expectations lowered. I think Riddle does well, but Ogerman seems more Jobim’s arranger soulmate. But overall, like his debut, this is another essential slice of Jobim.

MUSiC: Tide, Jobim, 1970

NB – There are already a couple of gaps in my survey of Jobim’s solo recordings: The Wonderful World of (‘65), and Wave (‘67). I only recently realised I don’t have the former. And the latter I have as a peculiar release on vinyl LP. I’ve decided to fill those lacunae in my slightly old-fashioned way, by ordering them both on CD. When they arrive, I’ll plug the gaps!

I have to confess that I absolutely adore this album. I feel compelled to give it six stars; an honour observant readers of this blog might notice I do occasionally confer upon my real favourites!

Jobim’s collaboration with Ogerman hits the first of several climactic highs on these sessions, for my money. Allmusic gives this album just three stars. Say, wha’? I think they’ve allowed jaded ears/assumptions to cloud their judgement.

There are a number of reasons I particularly love this album. First of all, Jobim plays electric keys – Rhodes/Wurli’, or other? (It’s not specified, sadly) – which add a beautifully warm timbre. Secondly, the core group, Jobim on keys/guitar, plus Ron Carter on bass and Joao Palma on drums, with congas and percussion from Everaldo Ferreira and Airto Moreira, are simply sublime.

Drummer João Palma.*

The bossa nova style is, at heart, quite a laid back and minimalist one, and these guys capture that here utterly perfectly. Listen to Rockanalia, to hear how full and rich a sound this small combo can generate. Thanks in no small part to the dexterous double-bass of maestro Ron Carter.

But I digress with these observations, I guess, from giving the other reasons this is such a particularly fine entry to the Jobim solo catalogue. Like his debut, this is bossa nova in its purest most concentrated form. Unlike his debut, however, every single track of which has become a standard, this has much more relatively obscure material. Some of which is amongst my favourite. Remember is a good example; I’ve got a whole post dedicated to that track (here).

Tema Jazz brings me back from my digressions to yet more reasons this is amongst the best of Jobim’s albums; you can hear that the band and soloists are absolutely smokin’! And the modern CD reissues include a few extra alternative takes (hearing the studio count-ins is quite nice!), which allow one to further appreciate just how great these guys are.

Ron Carter.

Going back ‘to the top’, this album kicks off, as does The Composer of Desafinado Plays, with The Girl From Ipanema. Only this version is quite a bit slower, and morphs through more dramatic transitions, some quite ‘formal’, others pretty ‘impressionist’. Ogerman’s arrangements adding plenty of colour. This highlights how, in the hands of the masters, this material easily bears continual reinterpretation.

Some of the sonic textures we find here have subsequently become clichés of easy-listening. But that’s hindsight. What we have here is the genesis of such combinations. And I for one feel fortunate that I still hear and appreciate them as such. Anyone who can’t discern between the ‘old masters’ and some later by numbers knock-offs hasn’t got ears to hear, in my view.

So, after an ‘imposter’ entry in his catalogue (Love Strings & Jobim), and a slight dip in form with his second foray into vocal material (A Certain Mr Jobim), Tide is, to my mind, a triumphant return to top form, akin to – and actually even better than – his by now classic debut, The Composer of, etc. Very much essential, and a great place to start.

Palma in later life.

*Palma passed not that long ago, in 2016, aged 75. He continued to play till the end.

MUSiC: A Certain Mr Jobim, Jobim, 1967

Until I got The Wonderful World Of, I thought this was the first of Jobim’s albums to put his vocals front and centre. I’ve subsequently realised it’s actually the second. It gets off to a bit of a wobbly start, pitch-wise, with Bonita.

This recording comes just after Jobim’s collaboration with Ol’ Blue Eyes, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim, also released in 1967. So Jobim had just had a major boost to his profile. Ironically, the earlier version of Bonita, on his second album, is better sung!

After this precarious start, we have Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você (known as Someone to Light Up My Life, in English) which returns us to the instrumental format of Jobim’s debut solo album, before we are treated to another slightly wobbly vocal. This time, somewhat more aptly, an English language version of Desafinado, entitled Off-Key here.

Claus Ogerman.

Photograph, another vocal, belongs to a very particular part of the Jobim repertoire, in which he spends lots of time having the melody kind of oscillating between two closely pitched notes. Returning to the instrumentals, Surfboard goes a little bit bonkers/off piste, with a very ‘Blackpool organ’ sounding percussively syncopated melodic figure. Claus Ogerman’s arranging gets a tad more baroque on this little oddity.

Once Again (Outra Vez) is less gonzo, but the combo’ of flute and whistling that forms much of the melody, before a bit of Brazilian style scattin’ at the end, is a sonic combination that has become allied in people’s mind with a subsequent musical tsunami of molten gruyere!

And then we’re back to the vocals for Esperanza Perdido (literally ‘lost hope’, but rendered in English as I was Just One More For You). Estrada do Sol returns us to the kind of lush string-soused instrumental bossa vibe of The Composer of Desafinado Plays.

Dom Um Romão, Jobim and Sinatra, 1967.

Finding complete musician credits for these sessions is proving difficult. At present I only know that Jobim sings and plays guitar and keys (he also plays flute, but does he do so here?). Claus Ogerman arranged the strings. Other than that the only credit I’ve found is Dom Um Romão, as drummer. This lack of info’ is annoying!

It must be admitted that Jobim’s early forays into singing as a solo artist aren’t always, strictly in terms of his vocals, the most accomplished or assured. And it would perhaps be a bit churlish to deny that not everyone will warm to his meandering around the melody. As he sings Por Causa Do Voce (Don’t Ever Go Away), you feel his sincerity, which is touching, but boy is his pitch rather approximate!

The album ends on Zingaro, a piece I have a real soft spot for, having first encountered it via the dreamily tragic Bruce Weber Chet Baker doc’, Let’ Get Lost. Not the strongest entry in Jobim’s solo catalogue. I wouldn’t recommend this one as a starting point either. But essential for the fan or devotee of the man and his music.

MUSiC: Love, Strings & Jobim, 1966

Strictly speaking I shouldn’t bother with this. At least not in my current series of posts on Jobim’s solo albums. So, strictly speaking this isn’t part of that series. But as it was on the list of solo albums I started off with, and remains on the Wikipedia list of Jobim’s solo albums, and is included as part of a five album/CD set … I’m going to write it up now anyway.

The arrangements are by Lindolpho Gaya (?) and Eumir Deodato, the latter also playing piano. Other than the presence of his picture on the cover, and the allusions to his name, twice in the albums title/subtitle, the only other things that might locate this in a series of Jobim-related posts are the inclusion of two of his compositions, and the presence of Edison Machado on drums, who played the same role on Jobim’s genuine debut, just a few years earlier.

Anyway, (kind of) moving on from the Jobim series I’m currently writing up, let’s dive into this on its own merits. But, before we do that, let’s address this mis-attribution issue. How and why has this come to be thought of as a Jobim recording? Basically it’s down to the US music biz marketing folk. The Brazilian original, on the Elenco label, told a more honest story (see the two pics below).

The Brazilian Elenco release…
… is more honest about the contents.

As can be seen, the original idea was to use Jobim as the ‘familiar face’, and via his success or celebrity, introduce new Brazilian talent to a wider audience. With typical marketing department crassness, however, this morphed into outright misrepresentation, in pursuit of sales.

Initial US releases not only plastered Jobim’s name everywhere, but credited him as both pianist and guitarist, despite the fact he isn’t on the album as a player at all, but rather as the composer of just two of the twelve tracks.

And even those two tracks are presented here under their English titles, for the US market: Eu Preciso de Voce becomes Hurry Up and Love Me, and Samba Torto is renamed Pardon My English (and both are arranged by ‘Gaya’, about whom I know nothing).

The contrast between the more exotica flavoured opener, Hurry Up And Love Me, which is rambunctious, and the more authentically mellow and laid back bossa nova vibes of tracks two, If You Went Away, and three, the latter the slightly more upbeat jazzy waltz Seu Encanto (or The Face I love), both composed by Marcos Valle, and both arranged by Deodato, is very striking.

Deodato’s arrangements are much more in keeping with the Jobim/Ogerman style, as heard on The Composer of Desafinado Plays.

After Jobim, the two artists/composers most likely to be known outside Brazil are pianist and arranger Eumir Deodato, whose arrangements on this disc are – as just noted above – terrific/very authentically bossa nova, and the then very young Marcos Valle. Other featured artists include Baden Powell, Luiz Eca and Roberto Menescal, and others. Baden Powell’s classic Berimbau gets a good outing, with a pretty fabulous Deodato arrangement, more dramatic and even cinematic than typical of the rest of the album.

The young (pre-hippy haired) Eumir Deodato at work.

Track seven brings Jobim’s work back, but in an odd arrangement, whose exotica stylings – parping low-register brass! – tip over into the overtly comical. Not your typical Jobim stylings at all. This is, I suspect, the mysterious Gaya again. Once again the contrast when we return to the more authentic bossa stylings of Durval Ferreira’s Chuva (Rain) are very striking. This latter number is also notable for the unusual use of harmonica as a melodic lead voice.

A Jobim purist might be annoyed by the con-job of passing this album off as a Jobim solo disc, and it is in itself a bit of a mixed bag, not just on account of being the work of multiple composers, but that of more than one – and quite differing in style – arrangers.

The Deodato arranged stuff is, fortunately, both more plentiful and just plain better/more suited to the material. All of the compositions are presented here, as indeed are the all-Jobim selections on his Composer Plays debut, as instrumentals. And whilst not quite of the uniformly high standard of Jobim’s own such stuff, the other material here does share enough Brazilian bossa/samba DNA to be worth having.

So, bit of a mixed bag, and definitely neither essential, nor a good place from which to start an appreciation of Jobim’s musical genius. But still worth having if you’re a lover of this style and era of Brazilian music, as I am.

MUSiC: The Composer of Desafinado Plays, 1963

Jobim’s solo debut kicks off with an instrumental version of what is undoubtedly his best known number, The Girl From Ipanema. [1] Oddly, though, the album is billed with reference to another and different hit he composed, Desafinado. I’m guessing that the latter had already been a pretty big hit, for someone else?

Just as it might be hard to credit why the album might be billed under a less obvious/famous choice of song, until one knows the history of way back when, it’s even harder to appreciate now, how fresh this music sounded at the time it first appeared. It truly was nova, new.

Up till this point Jobim had been a back room boy, so to speak. That’s not a sexual euphemism, by the way, but a reference to his behind the scenes role as composer, and whatever else (arranger, studio musician, etc.), working on other people’s recordings.

Edison Machado…
… feeling those grooves!

It’s also interesting that the album is entirely instrumental. Jobim’s lyric for Desafinado, the headline song promoting this disc, was all about having a weak off-key voice! Like Donald Fagen many years later, Jobim was, perhaps, a reluctant vocalist! [2]

Amazingly, every single tune on this disc – from opener Ipanema via Insensatez and Samba de Uma Nota So to Desafinado itself – has become part of the contemporary jazz canon. Whether all the compositions were already hits back when Jobim released this album, I don’t know. I suspect probably not.

But such is the respect and love for his work, that every single track here has been played countless times, at jazz gigs and sessions around the world. And they continue to be performed and enjoyed.

George Duvuvier, anchors it all beautifully.

O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Favela), possibly one of the ‘lesser’ tracks – not at all in terms of quality, rather in terms of fame – exemplifies the spare, pared down nature of bossa nova, in the hands of the master. This number is followed here by the better known but equally minimal yet lush Insensatez. Every piece is a gem.

The clichés of easy-listening loungecore decadence, or elevator muzak, something ubiquitous and ‘cheesy’, which have come to haunt this genre – not something I’ve ever had any issues with, personally – are, I suppose, a shame. As they have the potential to mean people won’t recognise this fabulous music for what it really is, achingly sublimely beautiful, laced with saudade.

Jobim (and countless others) would revisit these pieces time and again over the years. Perhaps there are legions of tired renditions of some of this stuff? But they are certainly not to be found here.

Leo Wright & ‘Tom’ Jobim…
… recording Favela, 1963.

The cast of players include American jazz cats such as double-bassist George Duvuvier, locking in with Brazilian baterista, Edison Machado. And Jobim’s signature penchants for flute and trombone are entrusted to Leo Wright and Jimmy Cleveland. Great players making great music.

Also worthy of note is that way back here, in ‘63, we find Claus Ogerman already supplying the luscious yet spare string arrangements. Jobim and Ogerman continued to collaborate for much of their whole lives.

For those with ears to hear, this is an incredible debut. A motherlode of music that countless extremely talented artists and performers have mined for years, never coming close to exhausting the magic these compositions can potentially reveal.

‘Bone appetit, Jimmy Cleveland!

When it comes to the platters that really matter, this one is history in the making, and is totally essential.


[1] According to the Wikipedia entry on the song, The Girl From Ipanema is the second most recorded song of all time, just behind The Beatles’ Yesterday.

[2] We can hear him vocalising along to his piano solo on Vivo Sonhando, bless him!

FiLM REViEW: Secret Window, 2004

Not happy with Identity, Teresa demanded that we watch another movie (which she fairly promptly fell asleep to!). That wound up being Secret Window, starring Johnny Depp.

Depp’s very popular, I believe. I know he can act (Dead Man, Fear & Loathing). But many films he’s in are too trashy for me (Pirates, etc.), and those perfume ads he does? Eugh! This odd little movie finds him a bit confused as to how to play his part.

Madly enough, straight after Identity, the opening sequence is shockingly deja-vu-ish: sleety snow replaces the rain, but we wind up at another dark, sleazy motel! This opening scene suggests a troubled mind.

Depp is Morton Rainey, a writer in the process of getting divorced, living in a remote and beautiful log cabin style luxury home out in the woods by a lake. Living a lazy bohemian life, with an elderly maid, and writer’s block.

Visited by a hat wearing hick, John Shooter, played by John Turturro, who accuses him of plagiarism, we quickly realise, as Mort tries to deal with the strange scenario, that he’s not a well man. In the end, then, the central conceit of Secret Window is very like that of Identity. Only where the chief character in the latter has multiple others to contend with, Mort just has the one, Shooter.

The denouement is both kind of obvious and predictable. Although, that said, it could go one of two ways. The way it goes is… well, that’d be spoiling it, wouldn’t it?

Watchable, but far from classic, and certainly not essential. Although I score them the same, I think of the two Identity is, perhaps, marginally better. But there’s not much in it.