PART OF SAKAMOTO FILM SERIES THIS WEEKEND AT THE QUAD IN NEW YORK
Ryuichi Sakamoto will introduce a 35mm screening of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale Sunday, May 14, 7pm at the Quad in New York. The screening is part of a four-day series this weekend: "Forbidden Colours: Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Movies". Femme Fatale will screen again Monday, May 15, at 9:15pm.
"Multitalented Japanese electronic music superstar Ryuichi Sakamoto crossed over into movies as both actor and composer in Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence in 1982," reads the Quad website series description. "Since then he has provided over 40 features and documentaries with his unique sound. On the occasion of async, his first album in eight years, which he has described as 'a soundtrack for an Andrei Tarkovsky film that does not exist,' we present eight of the best."
The site's Femme Fatale description reads: "Sakamoto’s reshaped version of Ravel’s 'Bolero' accompanies the virtuoso Cannes Film Festival-set jewel-heist setpiece that sets in motion a dreamy, sinuously crafted thriller that’s filled with surface pleasures and meta-cinematic tricks. Rebecca Romijn plays the titular thief, whose attempts to start a new life in Paris are complicated when she crosses paths with photographer Antonio Banderas."
Bilge Ebiri at The Village Voice posted a preview of the series yesterday:
When The Revenant got twelve Oscar nominations a couple of years ago, I was struck by the fact that Alejandro González Iñárritu's film wasn't nominated for best score, the one category it deserved to win. The mournful, ethereal music of Ryuichi Sakamoto was everything Iñárritu's overbaked pseudo-western wasn't — understated, evocative, and ultimately rousing.
The Revenant isn't screening in the Quad Cinema's short tribute to the Japanese composer, but some of Sakamoto's greatest work is. A classically trained pianist and ethnomusicologist, he had already achieved international fame as a member of the pioneering Japanese synthpop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra when director Nagisa Oshima hired him to star in and score the 1983 P.O.W. drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. His music for the film is at times playful, even bordering on pop — particularly in the catchy main theme — and at times discombobulating, almost atonal. The seesawing mood makes an ideal match for Oshima's heated, surreal tale of obsession and torment.
Scoring diverse films, Sakamoto has revealed himself as surprisingly good at pastiche: His music for Pedro Almodóvar's High Heels (1991) is the noirest noir that ever noired. His traipsing boleros and Vertigo homages in Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale (2002) are unforgettable. (Also included in this retro is a rare 35mm screening of Volker Schlöndorff's 1990 The Handmaid's Tale, a first go at adapting Margaret Atwood's seminal novel.)
But I'd argue that Sakamoto's best work came in collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci. An opera fanatic, the director often had lush, unabashedly melodramatic scores in his earlier pictures (think back to Georges Delerue's rhapsodic melodies for The Conformist, Ennio Morricone's sweeping marches for 1900, or Gato Barbieri's crashing jazz crescendos in Last Tango in Paris). He clearly connected with Sakamoto's ability to mix the lyrical and the ethereal, to nestle brisk compositions within stretches of melancholy ambience.