Friday, May 13, 2005

When Snakes Fly, plus DOWN BY LAW anecdote

I didn't know that snakes fly, or if I knew, I forgot it.

Also: a wonderful anecdote appears in Jim Jarmusch's reflections on the making of Down by Law, which appear on the Criterion DVD. In the section, "Roberto's English," he explains that, mostly under the instigation of John Lurie, Lurie, Tom Waits, and Jarmusch collaborated on consistently misinforming Roberto Benigni about the meaning of various English words. Benigni, Jarmusch relates, is a very serious, devoted learner, currently apparently in the process of learning The Divine Comedy by heart. Lurie and co. would teach him things like that some item -- a cup, or such -- was called a "wedgebow," so that (and Jarmusch, in relating this, adopts an Italian accent) Roberto would say things to waiters like, "Excuse me, could I have another wedgebow?" They also taught him that that the verb for urinate is "to flame," so that (apparently to this day) Benigni says things like "excuse me, I must go to flame." Benigni did eventually figure out the pranks that were being played upon him, tho', and so, when he was being interviewed with John Lurie for Italian TV, he got him back by volunteering to act as a translator. The TV reporters would ask Lurie things like, "Could you explain your creative process in writing music," and Benigni would translate it as, "They ask what style of underwear you are wear," which Lurie would then respond to, making him look like an utter idiot, we gather.

Lovely DVD -- great extras, including a little-seen Tom Waits video directed by Jarmusch and ample interviews and such. Currently Virgin Music Vancouver have a buy-two-get-one-free Criterion DVD sale on, in case anyone out there is a film buff inclined to shop. By Brakhage is the really essential item they have (well, aside from the Cassavetes box). Apologies to Ray Carney for continuing to buy Criterion (see below).

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