1960: 2 movies

(Last updated 17 September 2014)

Jazz on a Summer's Day
Directed by Bert Stern
Written by Albert D'Annibale and Arnold Perl
Cinematography by Courtney Hesfela, Raymond Phelan,
and Bert Stern
Editing by Aram Avakian
Starring Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson,
Dinah Washington, Chico Hamilton,
Anita O'Day, Jimmy Giuffre,
Chuck Berry, Jack Teagarden,
and Thelonious Monk

   One hell of a show! It documents a day and night at a fantastic music festival in a seaside Rhode Island town, Newport in 1958, inter-cutting with clips of the America Cup Trials, which is apparently a series of boat races, as well as clips of surrounding streets, cars, pedestrians, nearby houses, businesses, and the beach. It all complements the music with visual dynamism! Some of the audience shots don't always seem to line up, but when they do, it presents a great document of how powerful the music was. As the hours pass, and the sun sets, the music becomes even more spiritual, the crowd more connected and ritualistic, sweetly primal. Chock full of sublime moments of some legendary musicians! Standing out among the all-great line-up is Anita O'day in her primest, Dinah Washington singing and on the vibes, the Chico Hamilton quintet, Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden, and the closer, Mahalia Jackson. The cinematography, editing, and direction is so good, it feels like "Jaws" (1975) since it's set in a quaint seaside town, shot and edited similarly, except it's 15 years earlier, more daring, more real, and instead of exaggerated shark attacks, we get epic musical performances! And for your info, it's not just jazz, it's early rock, classical and gospel too! Basically, it's a celebration of the best of humanity in 1960.

Directed by Roberto Gavaldón
Written by Emilio Carballido and Roberto Gavaldón
Produced by Armando Orive Alba
Music by Raúl Lavista
Cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa
Editing by Gloria Schoemann
Art Direction by Manuel Fontanals
Special Effects by Juan Muñoz Ravelo
Starring Ignacio López Tarso, Pina Pellicer,
and Enrique Lucero

   Straddling the line between harsh realism and Hollywood fantasy turns out to be a winning recipe, at least for this profoundly beautiful movie from Mexico. It's about hunger, economic classes, religion, and death. It starts pretty drearily but realistically with a man who has been giving his all for his family until he finally reaches his breaking point. And that's when the surreality begins. We travel from peasant life, to rich city, to prison, to the underworld, and more. We feel as if we are in a dream, or a parable. But all the while, the movie is still fraught with the underlying real situation of poverty, governmental corruption, and the struggle for happiness. It's easy for the audience to get hooked, not only for the top-notch story but also for the masterly cinematography, gut-wrenching acting, and the daring but impeccable direction. The many layers make this one to come back to for multiple viewings!

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