Leonard Cohen – The Stranger Song
McCabe & Mrs Miller opening scene
Note: Originally posted October 20, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
The role of Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “The Partisan” in the positively-reviewed Hunt for the Wilderpeople is described in this excerpt from Deep Focus: Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Michael Sragow (Film Comment: June 23, 2016):
We know we’re in good hands from the opening moments, when the New Zealand greenery undulates across the screen while an otherworldly choral chant fills the soundtrack. Even Child Welfare’s Paula seems to tap her pen in counterpoint to the music. The whole movie has an eccentric rhythm because this director is confident enough to let scenes sit and breathe before accelerating his narrative with peppy deadpan montages. In one charged sequence, timed to Leonard Cohen’s “Song of the French Partisan,” Waititi unfolds the action in the cinematic equivalent of a mural. Via some optical and/or digital wizardry, the camera doesn’t stop moving from left to right as we see Hec, Ricky, and Tupac disappear into the snowy forest while bounty hunters, cops, and guardsmen trail them and Paula huffs and scowls eloquently, at different times and without a cut. It’s startling when the paths of heavily armed lawmen and Paula intersect. It’s as if time and space have merged kinetically. [bolding mine]
Note: Most of this was previously posted on this site in June. At that time, however, the film clip was not available.
While he was recovering from his back injury and preparing for the consequently deferred July start of the 2010 Tour, Leonard Cohen signed on as a voice actor, along with Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and others, in YesNo, a seven-minute English-language short based on the book of poetry by Dennis Lee.
These excerpts from BDJ Films describe the video:
YESNO is a playful view of a planet on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Humphrey Bogart meets Werner Herzog in the heart of darkness. A conjurer shuffles bison, emu and orca in a game of extinction. Leonard Cohen voices a last tango over a flood of images that mix live action and animation, poetry and music, calligraphy and DNA …
Based on the 2006 book Yesno, by eminent Canadian poet Dennis Lee, this seven-minute film takes an new approach to transforming poetry into cinema. Dennis Lee’s words are voiced by a pantheon of Canadian poets, including Lenard Cohen, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, D’bi Young, Karen Solie, and Lee himself. Jiving between hope and despair, and between dark comedy and tender pathos, an apocalyptic suite takes us from the folds of the cerebral cortex to the jungles of Fitzcarraldo and The African Queen. Sleight-of-hand by conjurer DAVID BEN forms the connective tissue. The original score/soundscape comes from award-winning composer Owen Belton, who has created music for the National Ballet of Canada (Emergence). The director of photography is Nicholas De Pencier (Act of God). The animation director is Nick Fox-Gieg, who won the award for best animated short (The Orange) at the 2010 SXSW film festival. Yesno was produced, directed and edited by Brian D. Johnson, veteran film critic at Maclean’s magazine.
The video is cued to begin at the point Leonard Cohen takes the role of narrator. Video by bravofact
Credit Due Department: Thanks go to Jo Meul, whose reminder about this film prompted its reposting.
Note: Originally posted Aug 22, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
This excerpt is from Q&A: Brian D. Johnson offers a refresher course in the work of Al Purdy by Shawn Conner, Vancouver Sun: Jan 29.2016)
Q: Another impressive moment is when we hear Leonard Cohen.
Brian D. Johnson: It’s kind of the piece de resistance. It’s an amazing reading of what is really my favourite Al Purdy poem, Necropsy of Love, which is about sex and death. Which is right in Leonard’s wheelhouse. I didn’t send him that poem right away. I sent him a much more canonical poem, The Country North of Belleville, to read, thinking that would be historic. Leonard sent me back a message saying that he didn’t quite understand the poem, and he couldn’t pronounce all of these Scottish names. He said, “Maybe if you sent me a recording of Al reading it, I could figure out how to pronounce the names.” And I wrote him back and said, “Leonard, if the poem doesn’t speak to you I’m not going to ask you to read it.” I said, “I’ll find something else.” The reason I didn’t send him Necropsy of Love in the first place was I thought it was a little too close to home. I though it sounded exactly like a Leonard Cohen poem. But sometimes the obvious thing is the best thing. And he responded, “Yeah, I think I can take a crack at this.”
8 Excellent Cinematic Moments Set to Leonard Cohen Tunes by Monika Bartyzel (Film School Rejects: Sept 25, 2014) considers the impact of Leonard Cohen’s contributions to the soundtracks of not only the usual suspects such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Pump Up The Volume, and Natural Born Killers but also a number of less frequently examined specimens, including Secretary, True Love and Chaos, and Beware of a Holy Whore. Highly recommended. The following is excerpted from the opening of the article:
Nearly half a century since he sung about Suzanne, Cohen’s career has been beautifully long, spanning vastly different worlds, and evolving through the years without being felled by the indecipherable mumbles of his contemporary, Bob Dylan. His poetic lyrics ruminate on everything from love and passion to religion and politics, sold through the man in the suit and fedora, but extending far beyond his shadow’s reach, especially in the realms of cinema. Where other artists enjoy surges and disappearances, their music only returned to when the passage of time makes then wildly affordable, Cohen’s presence in film has been almost constant, spanning everything from silent foreign films to bloody Hollywood blockbusters. It’s music and sentiments that might seem straightforward superficially, yet have an uncanny knack of seamlessly sliding into any scenario it faces, regardless of the format or generation. What follows are eight of the best uses of his work in film – one for every decade of his poetic life.
The The full article, which can be accessed at 8 Excellent Cinematic Moments Set to Leonard Cohen Tunes, reviews scenes from Beware of a Holy Whore, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Pump Up The Volume, Natural Born Killers, Exotica, True Love and Chaos, Secretary, and Take This Waltz with commentary and videos.
Note: Originally posted September 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric
Excerpted from The Best Music Moments of ‘Transparent’ by Wondering Sound Staff Contributor (Wondering Sound: Nov 3, 2014)
Leonard Cohen, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” (Episode 9)
In a ranking of best-named songs to fit plot points, this is easily the most brilliant. In Episode 9 (Looking Up), Shelly’s second husband Ed (Lawrence Pressman) is in a coma and Shelly is in agony waiting for him to die, as her kids are all too selfish to realize she needs help and is lonely, and Maura is the only one there to comfort her. While the Pfeffermans are in the kitchen plotting to off him with Percoset (save for Ali, who’s disgusted and the only one who’s shown any concern for Ed), we see Ed pull himself out of his bed and plunge toward the front door to escape. Then we cut to a scene early in Ed and Shelly’s relationship, where he tells a joke involving Alzheimer’s and the clap, and he says with a smile, “I’m just here to make you happy.” Ed raises his glass with a toast of “l’chaim” (“to life” in Hebrew), and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” by Leonard Cohen plays through the credits. It’s a sweet ode to Ed, who, while unable to speak in the present day, has always come across as endearing (when he escaped early in the show, he returned with a caricature and cotton candy), even though Shelly wrote him off as a pain in her ass. “Yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new/ in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,” Cohen sings, “But let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie/ your eyes are soft with sorrow/ Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.” — L.L.
Leonard Cohen – Hey That`s No Way To Say Goodbye
While not a musical like the original Pete’s Dragon (1977), the 2016 Disney reboot offers a massive soundtrack with offerings from a talented set of musicians, including So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen.
Check out the full track list below:
“The Dragon Song” Performed by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
“Something Wild” Performed by Lindsey Stirling featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
“Nobody Knows” Performed by The Lumineers
“Something On Your Mind” Performed by St. Vincent
“So Long, Marianne” Performed by Leonard Cohen
“Gina Anne” Performed by Bosque Brown
“Are You Gonna Eat Me?”
“Gavin Knows What He’s Doing”
“You Are Not Alone”
“Elliot Gets Lost”
“It’ll Be Just Like It Used To Be”
“Follow That Dragon”
“Elliot at the Bridge”
“The Bravest Boy I’ve Ever Met”
“The Dragon Song Revisited” Performed by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
“Candle On the Water” Performed by Okkervil River
Credit Due Department: Thanks to Piotr Wilczewski, who alerted me to this item.
The inclusion of Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire on the soundtrack of the recently released Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has prompted the republication of this 2007 1HeckOfAGuy.com post about the Bird On The Wire soliloquy from the Absolutely Fabulous TV series.
In yesterday’s post, Leonard Cohen BBC Interview: “I’d like to go out [on tour] again”, the BBC interviewer alluded to the use of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire”1 in an episode of the British sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous. And, it turns out that, although “Bird On The Wire” has been covered by everybody from Joe Cocker to Jennifer Warnes to The Bobs, the Ab Fab version is, I believe, uniquely memorable.
Jealous: Series 3, Episode 4 (First broadcast 27 April 1995)
Edina (AKA Eddie, AKA Eddy), has expectations of winning the PR Person of the Year Award over her rival, Claudia Bing, but, despite rigging the vote, loses instead and wants revenge. Later, at an industry luncheon, Edina loses her prepared remarks but proceeds unabated to give a drunken speech, one portion of which consists of the lyrics of “Bird On A Wire.”
From IDMB (with “Bird On A Wire” lyrics placed in bold by me):
[Edina (Eddie) has lost her speech which she has to present to the PR meeting]
Eddie: Yeah I was gonna’ make a-
Eddie: Testing. Testing. -Yeah I was gonna’ make a speech, but I just can’t be bothered anymore. I mean, this used to be like fun you know; yeah it used to be fun, but I’m getting bored of all the ‘fun’ bits now. You know, your endless bloody lunches and launches, you know, no-career celebrities and party desperates. And what for, huh? Some colony of crap tags and mags! Well I’m sorry there has to be a little more than that doesn’t there?
[slams her handbag down]
Eddie: Hmmm? You know I had a speech, you know, my… my integrated-projected-global-tele-network system bloody system-system. But you know, if that’s what the worlds coming to I don’t want to be in it. No I don’t want that. I don’t want to be in some sort of cyber-space-hypervirtual bloody reality. I don’t want that- exchanging e-mails with some old age bloody hippies with more information at their fingertips than is safe to know about. I don’t want that! What kind of reality is that, huh, you know, with a thirteen-amp plug on the end of it? Huh? Huh?… That can be un-plugged like that? Come-on I’m going.
[She turns to leave, but… ]
Eddie: No I’m not going yet! No, you!
[points to her competition, Claudia Bing]
Eddie: You, you, just sit there like your velcroed to some bloody add-man! You know those crap-head add-men over there, you know, those kings of bastardization that have just taken everything that was ever real and genuine and honest and original and attached it to a toilet cleaner! Whereas I, I… Like a bird on a wire… Like a drunk in a midnight choir… I have tried in my way to be free.
[Then she sings]
Eddie: Like a bird, on a wire.
Patsy: Go for it Eddy.
Eddie: [singing] … Like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way to be free.
[Claudia Bing and her colleagues are laughing]
Eddie: Yeah you can laugh, but you know something- I don’t want more choice I just want nicer things! And you, you can take that look off your face, sitting there with your… with your wheels and AIDS and starvation. You know, skimming a neat profit of the whole of human misery. Labeling us all with this- with this global guilt. Well it may not be all great and good but it ain’t that bad, so cheer up world it may never bloody happen!
[slams her bag down again]
Eddie: Come on I’m going.
[Edina walks off making rude farting sounds at everyone in the room]
Edina – “Bird On A Wire”
Spoken word portion
Edina – “Bird On A Wire”
This clip (may not be available in all countries) comprises the final third of Absolutely Fabulous Series 3, Episode 4: Jealous (First broadcast 27 April 1995). The pertinent portion begins at 4:35
Note: Originally posted July 17, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric