Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In Memoriam

It was a tough past week for high art, as the world lost both flamenco guitar superstar Paco De Lucia and one of the best filmmakers of all time, Alain Resnais.

De Lucia started touring and recording in the late 1960s, but it was in 1971 and 1972 that he truly started to break ground, innovating in playing style, adding new twists to classics (such as Mario Escudero's Ímpetu) and creating timeless songs himself (Entre Dos Aguas), fusing genres and cultural influences.

In 1979, he formed The Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, which would remain as much a constant in his career as playing solo or with legends of other styles such as Al Di MeolaChick Corea and Eric Clapton. I saw The Guitar Trio with Di Meola replacing Coryell live at the end of the 1990s and was blown away.

He died of a heart attack at age 66.

Resnais was not only one of the best French directors, but in the world. His career spanned nine decades (keep in mind cinema was invented at the turn of the 20th century...), and his influential work started in 1955 with Nuit Et Brouillard (Night And Fog). With Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Last Year At Marienbad (1961), he concluded what was perhaps the most efficient, effective, high-quality 5 years of filmmaking ever (think of early 1990s Quentin Tarantino for scope, with the budget of late 1990s Kevin Smith for budget and means).

But he didn't stop there. Providence (1977) clearly influenced David Lynch's finest works, My American Uncle (1980) was nominated for an Oscar other than Best Foreign Language, I Want To Go Home (1989) was a precursor to American Splendor, Smoking/No Smoking (1993) would have been anyone else's best film, and he kept making award-winning films until the end, highlighted by Same Old Song (1997), Not On The Lips (2003) which contributed to revitalizing musicals, Private Fears In Public Places (2006), and Wild Grass (2009).

I have yet to see You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (2012) and Life Of Riley (2013), who had just won an award at the Berlin Film Festival a few weeks ago. He died at age 91.

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