Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Melinda and Melinda

Last night my family and I watched Woody Allen's 2004 film Melinda and Melinda. It had some terrific acting, particularly Radha Mitchell's ability to play the two contrasting Melinda roles so well, and Will Ferrell's ability to play Woody Allen as a plausible love interest so well. The film had the unlikely presence of not one but three pianists as romantic characters (one for each of the Melindas, and one for Melinda's friend-rival—actually you can count Melinda as one of the pianists, which brings the total to four), and one of them was even a composer.

Then there was a musical soundtrack that had lots of Ellington, Garner, and Hyman, the Stravinsky Violin Concerto (there was a line, "You certainly know your Stravinsky") and the Bartok Fourth Quartet featured prominently—even played on camera by the Shanghai Quartet and discussed slightly in the booth at a recording session. There is mention of Mahler's Second Symphony, and the principal players are even seen leaving a concert at Carnegie Hall discussing the "second movement" of something on the way out. There were also implausible musical moments: a performance of a Bach Prelude at a party by the soon-to-be love interest pianist (he entered as the "help" and I assume he left as a guest) that morphed into a four-hand version without the addition of the lower parts of the piano. One pianist got up and the other continued, but the remaining pianist was not sitting in a plausible spot for her hands to play the notes they were playing. There were also other scads of other implausibilities that you can read about in the reviews.

Then there is a scene in a movie theatre (probably the Thalia) where the soundtrack of the movie the actors are watching is billed in the credits as a piece by Brahms (which it was, in part), but the people who wrote the musical credits at the end of the movie neglected to mention that the slow movement from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony was in there too. (My daughter said to me "I love that. That's Beethoven's Seventh, right?"). I started wondering if Brahms had lifted the Beethoven's Seventh Slow movement and inserted it into his piece. I don't think so.

All in all I enjoyed the movie immensely.

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