Saturday, November 14, 2009

Talent in excelsis

Thirty years ago, when Irene Cara was singing “Out Here On My Own”, famous people were famous for doing something. They could break your heart with their singing, or defy gravity when they danced, or sum up the human experience with a line reading. Talent meant something. (True, there have always been useless celebrities, but they were not as visible or influential as they are now.) Today people are famous for being famous. They don’t have to work that hard, they just have to go viral. The audience doesn’t have to admire them, they only have to think, “Hey, I can do that, too.” When anyone can be famous, fame is cheap. Hence this pointless remake.

-- From “Lame!”, Jessica Zafra's review of the new Fame

Didn't see the movie, so I can't agree or disagree. But how perfectly said: [F]amous people were famous for doing something. They could break your heart with their singing, or defy gravity when they danced, or sum up the human experience with a line reading. True enough, some famous people immediately came to mind with those lines.

1. Luther Vandross, A House Is Not a Home. Gorgeous, sensuous voice and the kind of sheer poetic ardency that could have you weeping in heartbreak or ecstasy or an improbable combination of both--whatever, you're simply moved.

2. Defy gravity, eh? Who else but the greatest dancer of the last century, Rudolf Nureyev, whose jaw-dropping physicality onstage redefined ballet forever? Here, from an electrifying moment in Le Corsaire:

3. And matchless line readings--a wicked, wicked entry: Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, in that scene where she explains how she invented herself and became a “virtuoso of deceit.” The lines themselves--all elegant fire and savage wit (by the playwright Christopher Hampton)--are worth savoring before finding out how Close transforms them into one of the greatest monologues in the movies:

When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew then that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest to me, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork onto the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with, and in the end I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.

Your candidates?


beektur said...

i think it's a bit unfair to compare this batch of kids with the earlier batch, they generations apart! i like the first version of fame, never watched the tv series and didn't see the new film version. but, quote paul simon, every generation has a hero of the pop charts. to pick on kids having fun (and no artistic control over writers/directors/etc) is quite effortless, and therefore unfair. i'm sure that when the first fame came out they were also measured against generation of artists ahead of them and were found wanting.

beektur said...

ooops, i almost forgot, luther vandross has a good voice but sometimes, these vocal calisthenics can be very annoying.

feistyphi said...

I watched the premiere night of the movie. I also didn't see the original movie (only the very memorable, Body Electric scene courtesy of youtube) but, after watching the movie, there's nothing. Parang wala lang. I felt shortchanged in a way. I am also expecting something spectacular at the end of the movie since its the graduation and it seems that it is the culminating activity for the students (at para din sana may consolation sa panonood nito, hehehe), but again there's none. The standing ovation pa in that scene looked pilit kasi wala namang jaw-dropping or phenomenal thing na ngyare. Ewan ko, but i kind of share the sentiments of Ms. Zafra. Hehehehe... =)

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