Saturday, August 21, 2004

WCBE 90.5 FM (NPR): "It's Movie Time" - "The Saddest Music in the World," "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring"

“It’s Movie Time” with John DeSando and Clay Lowe
“The Saddest Music in the World,”
“Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, . . . Spring”
Taped: 4:00 pm, August 18, 2004
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, August 20, 2004
Streams live on the web at

"The Saddest Music in the World" is Guy Maddin’s audacious tribute to black and white cinema . . .

"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring" has not enough seasons to satisfy its stunning cinematography. . .


Richelle Antczak:
It's Movie Time in Mid-Ohio with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . . .

I'm John DeSando

And I'm Clay Lowe.

John ("The Saddest Music in the World")
Clay, And I thought “Dogville” was stylized. Canadian writer/director Guy Maddin has created a film like no other this year except possibly “Triplet’s of Belleville.” “The Saddest Music in the World” is set in 1933 Winnipeg, where Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) is holding a contest to award $25,000 to the performer of the saddest music.

What happens in the film can be categorized as surrealism of the wackiest sort: For instance, Indian singers in short-skirted Eskimo costumes dance to ''California Here I Come'' with sitars and banjos commemorating a 19th-century kayaking accident.

I know I’m not making much sense here—Trust me, this film is bizarre enough to satisfy the geekiest cultist in our audience. For the rest of us, just trying to appreciate all the signposts Maddin constructs to further his absurd and funny vision is exhausting.

Clay ("The Saddest Music in the World")
John, Guy Maddin’s “The Saddest Music in the World” is as surreal as “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” as brooding as “Citizen Kane,” and as wickedly clever as David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” If this makes the movie sound like a grand tour through the archives of some of cinema’s most outrageously stylistic directors, that’s because it is.

Not since Tim Burton paid tribute to Hollywood’s master of schlock, Ed Wood, has a director so successfully re-created the look and feel of the early heydays of black and white cinema.

Add to this mix the naughty and seductive performance of Isabella Rossellini who plays a beer heiress with artificial glass legs, and then blend in a soundtrack, the likes of which we haven’t heard since “Moulin Rouge” and you have yourselves one helluva cinematic delight.

John ("Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring")
Clay, I have to get off this “9/11” preoccupation—I’m seeing the event underlying too many films. Recently I saw the xenophobia in “Dogville” and “The Village”; it occupies my imagination again in “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring,” a lyrical South Korean masterpiece about isolation, love, death, and renewal.

A young Buddhist is tutored by a master on a floating monastery for 2. A young girl coming to be cured brings a different kind of sickness to the compound: lust. Although the old monk warns the boy that lust "awakens the desire to possess, which ends in the intent to murder," he doesn’t listen. He follows her to enter the “real world,” for which he is unprepared.

The cinematography is so painterly and mystical that the film could stand alone on that merit. You won’t forget the images or the lyrical evocation of humanity in its beauty and imperfection. “Spring” is one of my favorite movies this year.

Clay (""Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring"")
John, South Korean director, Ki-Duk Kim, is known for his films of violence and cruelty. So what is he doing making a lyrically contemplative film about a Buddhist monk who secludes himself in a temple that floats on the placid surface of a lake set in the midst of a primeval paradise?

That question haunted me as I struggled to get beyond the movie’s obvious message, that is, that human cruelty is fueled by lust of the flesh and the invidious desire to possess.

Could it be, instead, that the monk’s sexual guilt was the source of his own cruelty? Could it be that it was his own desire to possess his student that caused him to beat and sorely punish him?

Sorry, John, beneath this movie’s lyrical appearance there is embedded a message that is narrow, puritanical and latently cruel.

But enough of this Buddah bashing, it’s grading time.



"The Saddest Music in the World" earns a "B" because it's BARELY of this world . . .

"The Saddest Music in the World" gets an “A” because Guy Maddin makes maddeningly marvelous films . . .

"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring" earns an "A" for ADAM's ALLEGORICAL ASSIGNATION with Eve . . .

"Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and ... Spring" gets a “C” because there’s more Mel Gibson in this film than Buddah . . .

Clay, I'm going to find Princess SummerFallWinterSpring from the '50's Howdy Doody Show to play the saddest music a Catholic boy ever made . . .

I'm outta here.

John, winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, you’ve got a friend.

See you at the movies, folks, I’m outta here too.

The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is produced by Richelle Antczak in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus 106.7 FM in Newark, WYSO, etc.


Copyright 2004 by John DeSando & Clay Lowe