Dryden series showcases French great

11:03 AM, May 01, 2013

Jean-Louis Trintignant in 2012's Amour, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. (Films du Losange/Sony Pictures)/

Written By Jack Garner

During the Oscar season, I wrote fondly of the French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant after we got to see him, now 82, in the Oscar-nominated Amour. He was always a favorite, going back to several superb European films of the ’60s and beyond.

Now the great actor is being showcased in four of his films this month at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House. The greatest of the four, Bernardo Bertolucci’s beautiful and thought-provoking The Conformist is being shown at 8 p.m. Tuesday. In it, Trintignant plays a weak-willed, would-be fascist assigned to kill his former professor.

Other films in the series are Jacques Deray’s The Outside Man, in which Trintignant is on the run from killers in Los Angeles (May 14), Confidentially Yours, a comedy in which he plays opposite Fanny Ardant in what would be the final Francois Truffaut film (May 21), and finally, Il Sorpasso, an Italian “road picture” by Dino Risi (May 28).

The Dryden is also showcasing the work of the much-debated director Terrence Malick this month, starting with his two early masterpieces, Badlands, at 8 p.m. Thursday and Days of Heaven at 8 p.m. May 9. Among the other Malick films in the series is the Rochester premiere of his latest, To the Wonder, with Ben Affleck, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. May 18 and 2 and 5 p.m. on May 19.

AH, VINYL. It was interesting that Record Store Day — April 20 — found its glory and success in a seemingly outmoded technology — vinyl records. And yet, for independent record stores, sales of LPs and 45 rpm records is the only growth segment in a relatively declining marketplace.

According to industry trade magazine Billboard, of the 544,000 independent store albums sold the week of National Record Store Day, 200,000 were vinyl LPs.

Some argue that vinyl simply sounds better than CDs or MP3s, that’s there is a depth of reality in the sound that comes when a diamond needle rides a vinyl groove. Personally, I’m not convinced. And even if there is an infinitesimal sonic difference, is it worth the accompanying pops and scratches that too often accompany it?

Plus, after 20 minutes you must flip the album. With CDs, you can go 70 minutes or more. With MP3s (on an iPod, for example), you can listen till the cows come home, put the animals to bed in the barn, come back into the house and listen some more. In fact, you can take the iPod with you when you go to the barn.

You have a much better chance to win me over to vinyl if you play the romance card or trigger my nostalgia. Now you’re talking. I have such fond memories of the records of my youth.

I’m old enough to remember going to a record store in my hometown of Williamsport, Pa., flipping through the new records, and taking a possible choice into a listening booth to give it a sample try. (Can you imagine that they let you do that with fragile 78s?)

The first few records I bought with my buck-a-week allowance were 78s, and I also listened to my parents’. (I loved their recording of “Shadrack,” by The Golden Gate Quartet.) Being just 10, another of my favorites was the theme from Davy Crockett — King of the Wild Frontier.

But soon, with the advent of rock ‘n’ roll, I began weekly trips to the record store for the latest Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly or do-wop 45. And, eventually, long-playing records (LPs) came along. What an abundance of riches — to go from two songs (A & B sides) to 12 songs (six on a side).

I can remember staring at a spinning disc, become almost hypnotized by the groove. (Remember the old joke? How many grooves on the average LP record? Just one, it just keeps going.)

I also far prefer the packaging on an LP. The much larger format has room for fabulous photographs and artwork, and great album notes. I hate the tiny booklets you find with CDs.

I was reminded of this by my own personal Record Store Day treat — three classic Miles Davis LPs, released in limited editions by Sony Legacy. It’s such a joy to hold the large-format covers in my hands of Round About Midnight, Milestones, and Someday My Prince Will Come. All three albums are seminal recordings by the first great Davis quintet, with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley — and are must-haves in whatever form you choose.

But, with the Legacy LPs, I can once again enjoy the beautiful cover photos and read informative album notes without having to resort to a magnifying glass. So, although I honestly have not become a revisionist, running back to vinyl, I am thrilled that LPs and 45s are still part of the mix of how to present the music I love.