Wednesday, September 25, 2013

RIP Spaghetti Western Screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni

Luciano Vincenzoni, who wrote (or co-wrote) Sergio Leone's iconic spaghetti westerns “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,”and “For a Few Dollars More” , as well as many other movies, died in Rome on Sept. 22, aged 87.

The New York Times obituary states:
Mr. Vincenzoni contributed to about 70 films, chiefly as a screenwriter or script doctor. His humorous touch could be found in films like “Seduced and Abandoned,” which he made with Pietro Germi in 1964, and “The Best of Enemies,” which Mr. De Laurentiis, the producer, released in the United States in 1962.
But to the general public Mr. Vincenzoni was most associated with“For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” two hugely successful Italian-made westerns directed by Sergio Leone that are now recognized as classics.
“I have written movies that won prizes at Cannes and Venice,” he told Sir Christopher Frayling, a cultural historian and Leone biographer. “These were screenplays for which we suffered on paper for months. Do you know how long it took me to write ‘For a Few Dollars More’? Nine days.”
Read the full obit

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Broken Circle Breakdown -- Belgian film set in the European bluegrass scene

For some reason the Belgian movie "The Broken Circle Breakdown" never appeared on my radar. It should have -- it sounds fascinating: a love story/drama set against the background of the European (and particularly Belgian/Dutch) bluegrass scene. Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, it is based on a play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, which was published in 2008 in book form.

The movie came out in 2011 and got great reviews, and the sound track can be downloaded from ITunes. The band tours with live concerts in mainly Belgium and the Netherlands.

John Lawless has just written about the movie in Bluegrass Today, as the film, which been shown at festivals, is about to hit selected theatres in the U.S., with screenings at 13 art house cinemas in the south next month and then limited engagements elsewhere in November and December:

The two primary characters in this dark drama share a passion for each other, and for American music. Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) plays banjo in a bluegrass group, and Elise (Veerle Baetens) runs her own tattoo parlor. She sings with the band, and the pair falls hard for each other, a romance that is followed both on and off the stage. Things runs smoothly for these two, until a tragedy tears them apart.
Original music for the film was composed by Bjorn Eriksson, but all the music in the band scenes is performed by the actors, a testament to the active Dutch and Belgian bluegrass scene.

Here's the trailer, with English subtitles.

See U.S. screening dates and more on Bluegrass Today.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Filming in Pullman City!

This is a picture from several years ago, but some of these guys may have been in the Pullman City saloon last night! Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Just a quick note -- I arrived in Pullman City, the wild west theme park in Bavaria, to do some filming on Revia Freifeld's documentary on the imaginary wild west in Europe, The Old World and the Old West!

I has been just over ten years since my first visit here, when I wrote about it for the New York Times. I've been here several times since then... looking forward to see what's changed and what has not....

This is what I wrote after my first visit, and it still stands!

IT'S nowhere near high noon, but a tough-looking hombre in a black leather vest, black stovepipe pants and a black cowboy hat is sauntering down the dusty length of a frontier Main Street, a gun belt slung low on his hips.
He strolls past the sheriff's office, the Palace Hotel and a saddled horse hitched loosely to a wooden railing, then pauses for a moment at the broad covered porch of the Black Bison Saloon.
Entering, he strides up to the bar and places his order.
''Ein bier, bitte.''
This is Pullman City, a theme park in southern Germany where more than a million visitors a year step out of 21st-century Europe into an American Wild West fantasyland of stagecoaches, gunfighters, mountain men and Indians.
Set on 50 rolling acres a two-hour drive northeast of Munich, near the Bavarian town of Eging am See, Pullman City is a compendium of mythic iconography engrained in the global psyche by well over a century of hugely popular adventure stories, movies, television shows and traveling Wild West extravaganzas.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Cowboy protest" for more country music on UK radio

Country music fans whooped  and line-danced in "cowboy protests" outside British radio broadcasters last week to press their call for more country music on UK airwaves. The protests were organized by a group called Cowboys for Country Music.

The New Musical Express reports:

The Cowboys For Country Music demonstrated outside the BBC's Broadcasting House last week as well as the headquarters of Global Radio in London - the company who own Capital FM. The group line-danced in front of the venues in an effort to make UK radio stations play more mainstream American country music, by artists such as the Grammy Award nominated The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum. The group ... were holding placards and wearing chaps and cowboy boots and danced to 'Cruise' (Remix) by Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly.

Here's a great video of the protest! (You may have to click over to YouTube to watch it -- at this link )

On the video, a cowboy-hatted fan says they were protesting because "It makes up such a big percentage of the music industry; it's extremely popular, obviously, Stateside, and there's a lot of demand for it here in the UK, but because the radio stations don't play enough of it, that's why we want to try and promote that."