Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the coolest spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Glad you could join us this week in the first regularly-scheduled After Dark after the end of the lockout. There’s no cover charge tonight. Please make yourself at home, especially if you’re reading this at home. We’ve got a few tables still available. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Last week in our special post-lockout edition, I asked you who you thought would be the best still-unsigned free agent who would join the Cubs before the start of the season. The winning vote went to the optimists, since 24 percent of you thought that the Cubs would sign Carlos Correa. I’d put that as a pretty good estimate of the odds of Correa signing with the Cubs—24 percent. Of course, that means I think there’s a 76 percent chance he won’t.
On the other hand, I left Seiya Suzuki off the poll because I thought there was close to no chance the Cubs would sign him. Suzuki is reported to have met with the Cubs’ front office this past evening, which would indicate that there is a better than “almost no chance” odds of the Japanese slugger coming to Wrigley. That just shows how much I know.
In second place, 18 percent of you thought the Cubs would bring back Kyle Schwarber. In third place was “None of the above” with 15 percent. We know these 15 percent of you were wrong because Andrelton Simmons was on the list and he got four percent. Of course, the Cubs seem likely to sign at least someone other than Simmons to a bigger contract yet this off-season.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Ah yes, Josh is going on and on about a 75-year-old silent picture tonight.
I featured the great Abbey Lincoln a while ago and her role as the singer for drummer Max Roach’s 1960 protest album We Insist! But I haven’t featured her in her own right, so here is a performance that she did more than 35 years later. This is her own composition “Who Used to Dance,” which is the title track of the album that she released in 1997. I don’t know when this show for BET was recorded, but 1997 seems like a very good bet from the available clues. (The album was released in 1997, which she would certainly be promoting. There’s a crawl ad for “BET Jazz,” which went on the air in 1996, so it couldn’t be any earlier than that.)
I may have to move the time that I write a movie essay to the Wednesday night/Thursday morning edition. My daughter has started a program on Monday evenings and driving her there and back is taking up a great deal of my time to write on Mondays and I don’t want to do a rushed job. You may ask, why you don’t just write the article on Sunday and then run the piece on Monday night? You also probably think you’re so smart.
Anyway, I’m going to say a few things about director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) tonight and then I’ll finish my thoughts on it on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Maybe some of you will watch it before then.
The Passion of Joan of Arc is widely considered to be one of the top silent films ever made and some lists have it among the greatest films of all time, The more recent Sight & Sound poll of the worlds greatest films ranked The Passion of Joan of Arc as the ninth-best film of all-time. On top of that, Renée Maria Falconetti’s performance as Joan is sometimes mentioned as the greatest acting performance on screen ever.
It’s not hard to see why so many rank Falconetti’s performance as perhaps the greatest of all-time. The entire story of the film had to be conveyed essentially through her facial expressions. As a silent film, she couldn’t use her voice to create her character. Dreyer decided that none of the characters would wear makeup, so she couldn’t rely on that. Most of the scenes of the movie are closeups of her face, mostly shot at an angle and from the top down.
Joan of Arc had always been a big symbol of French national identity, but there really was a major upswing in the popularity of the warrior-teenager in the early twentieth-century. Joan was a major inspirational figure used in French propaganda during the First World War, exhorting women and even men to take up the spirit of Joan and drive the Huns out of France, just as she attempted to drive out the English. She was beatified in 1909, canonized as Ste. Jeanne in 1920 and named a secondary patron saint of France in 1922. With all that Joan of Arc mania going on in France at the time, there was no way that they weren’t going to make a movie about her.
The Société Gėnėrale des Films in France recruited the successful Danish director Dreyer to make a film about Joan. They gave him a script which he immediately threw into the trash. Instead, he spent months going through the transcripts of Joan’s heresy trials and created a script that comes almost entirely out of the words spoken at her trials.
The resulting film isn’t much about France or Joan or why she was famous. Instead, it’s very focused on the experience of the trial and the ordeal of one girl (Joan was 19 when she was executed). The Christ parallels cannot be avoided—the film is called “The Passion” after all and Dreyer is using the word in its religious context—but Dreyer never makes Joan out to be anything other than human. This is not some holy hero who is willingly going to her martyrdom but rather a very human hero who is scared and in pain, but who absolutely cannot go betray the divine truth of God, no matter what the personal cost.
I think I need to re-watch The Passion of Joan of Arc anyway, because this is a very disorienting film. Dreyer shoots quick cut of closeups repeatedly throughout the film, going from close-ups the looking down from heaven on Joan to close-ups looking up from hell at the judges and back again in rapid succession. There aren’t any establishing shots and Dreyer rips up the 180-degree rule and tosses it in the trash. The result is confusing and menacing, putting the audience in a role somewhat akin to Joan at her trial.
It’s ironic that the entire film is shot in close-up with a few medium shots tossed in here and there because Dreyer insisted upon having a giant mock-up set of Rouen Castle built for the movie. It’s a good thing it still exists and that you can go see it at the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen because you sure as heck can’t see it in the film. Occasionally a bit of it shows up in the background and in some of the medium shots that the film ends with, but for the most part the actors may as well have been working in an empty room. The producers were not happy that their expensive set was barely used, but Dreyer insisted it was necessary to get the best performances out of the actors. Directors always justify their extravagences that way and still do today.
But boy, does Falconetti turn in a performance. But I’ll have to say more about that in two nights. But in the meantime, you can get a glimpse of what I’m talking about here.
Welcome back everyone who skips the jazz and cinema.
There was a huge trade this afternoon as the Athletics sent first baseman Matt Olson to the Braves for a large package of some very highly-regarded minor leaguers.
I’m not going to ask you what you think of the trade—I imagine most of you aren’t really familiar enough with the Braves minor league system to really evaluate it fairly. I am sure that you probably know how good a player Matt Olson is. You can read more about what the A’s got back in the deal here, if you’re a subscriber to The Athletic.
But this deal also closes the door to free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman returning to Atlanta. As excited as Braves fans are about getting Olson, they are also no doubt ripped up about losing Freeman.
But in that article that Keith Law wrote that I also linked to above, Law thinks that the Braves are definitely better with Matt Olson playing first base than Freddie Freeman. That doesn’t mean he thinks the Braves made a great deal—he thinks the A’s got a king’s ransom—but he does argue that Matt Olson is probably a better player than Freddie Freeman in 2022 and even if he isn’t, the $15 million a year the Braves would save on the deal could be spent on a pitcher that would almost certainly improve the Braves for 2022.
But what do you think? Which player would you rather have? Freeman was the National League MVP in 2020 and has finished in the top ten of voting in each of the past four years. Olson did finish eighth in American League MVP voting in 2021, but was pretty miserable (by his standards, at least ) in 2020, hitting under .200, although his OBP was .310 which isn’t terrible.
Still, Freeman has a much better track record than Olson. On the other hand, Olson is four years younger than Freeman.
Tonight’s question is simply “Who will be the better player of the next two season, Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman?” I say the next two years because that’s how much team control that the Braves still have on Olson. Plus, Freeman will be turning 34 in two years and you’ve got to think that he’ll start to decline after that. But the defending World Series champion Braves are in “win-now” mode, so what the two players are like in 2025 really shouldn’t have mattered much to them.
So who will be the better player in 2022 and 2023? You don’t need to take salary into consideration. You’re not an owner.
Who will be the better player over the next two seasons?
This poll is closed
Thank you again for stopping by. We hope you could take your mind off your troubles for a little while, at least. Maybe you found some time to relax and listen to the music. That always helps for me. But please get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. Tell your friends about us. And join us again tomorrow for another edition of BCB After Dark.