Friday, October 18, 2019

Fleetwood Mac’s Frozen Love: Ryan Reed’s Chronicle

Fleetwood Mac (from left, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie, pose with their awards at the 1978 Grammys after winning Album of the Year for Rumors. (AP Photo)
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past” – William Faulkner

“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”  – Christine McVie
This is a good opportunity to re-examine the long strange trip of a truly phenomenal pop band. Fleetwood Mac was originally formed in 1967 by blues genius Peter Green, long before they morphed into one of the most successful rock outfits in music history. And they refused to break their chain.

Each segment of this band’s incredible saga has been focused on a brilliant guitarist: first Peter Green, then Bob Welch and finally Lindsay Buckingham, all so different and yet all possessed of the necessary ingredient to serve as a pivot for fine vocalists and the superior rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. In the interest of what I guess people call full disclosure, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s already been twelve years since I published my own book on the weird evolutionary leaps of this band from gritty British blues to shiny Californian pop and yet, incredibly, it’s true. Back then, in 2007, it was merely the band’s 40th anniversary, hence my title 40 Years of Creative Chaos, but now suddenly I’m delighted to report that Ryan Reed has updated their insanely twisted saga to mark a shocking full 52 years of survival as rock and pop behemoths.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen / รักที่ขอนแก่น, 2015)

A scene from Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen / รักที่ขอนแก่น, 2015)

Last night, my sleep was filled with a series of vivid dreams, featuring the appearance of abundantly metaphorical imagery and almost-forgotten figures from my past. It was a deep and continuous sleep, and long. The evening prior, I finished myriad small but important tasks that I’d either forgotten or been putting off, and I did so with a vigorous energy previously hidden by layers of lethargy and procrastination. That afternoon, I watched Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen / รักที่ขอนแก่น, 2015).

Monday, October 14, 2019

Rosmersholm: The Pitfalls of Idealism

Hayley Atwell and company in Rosmersholm. (Photo: Johan Persson)

The idealists in Ibsen’s plays invariably end badly – sometimes by destroying the lives of others (Gregers Werle in The Wild Duck is the salient and most shocking example), but almost always by destroying themselves. In Chekhov, as in Shakespeare, human folly is the inescapable verity that always undermines the noble talk, though both these playwrights handle the fools with pity and compassion because they know in their hearts that we’re all fools. Ibsen is less pitying. In his 1886 Rosmersholm, which received an exquisite production in the West End under Ian Rickson’s direction early last summer, almost everyone on stage claims to be living according to an unassailable set of principles. John Rosmer (Tom Burke) is a one-time pastor who abandoned God after the suicide of his invalid wife Beth, but the freedom he asserts he has found is limited by his inability – like, apparently, all his ancestors, whose portraits hang on the walls of his house, Rosmersholm – to express emotion, especially sexually. (This is perhaps Ibsen’s most damning depiction of Scandinavian-Victorian coldness.) Rebecca West (Hayley Atwell), who loves him and lives at Rosmersholm with him though she does not share his bed, credits him with having brought her to enlightenment, but late in the play she confesses that she helped to drive his wife, whose caregiver she was, to her death. Rosmer’s main adversary is his brother-in-law Andreas Kroll (Giles Terrera), the local governor, who represents the forces of conservatism and, like all of Ibsen’s conservatives, is certain that his politics are the bedrock upon which civilization must stand if it is to survive. Kroll’s bugbear is Peter Mortensgaard (Jake Fairbrother), who runs a liberal newspaper; Rosmer, who has not forgiven himself for his unkind treatment of Peter and his now-dead lover (another suicide) in his days as a man of the cloth, offers to support his bid to displace Andreas, only to find that a man who has lost his faith is of no political use to Mortensgaard.