Scene from Jane Campion’s Bright Star
Poster from documentary In Search of Beethoven
by Sam Juliano
New York sports fans are on cloud nine this weekend and in baseball the Yankees completed a sweep of the Boston Red Sox to clinch the eastern division crown, while both the football Jets and the football Giants have begun their seasons with 3-0 records, the first time such a feat has occured in many years. However as part of our staff here is a Beantown rooter and Boston-based, particularly the Patriots, we will hold our tongue.
Roman Polanski in captivity?!? Well, everyone is welcome to discuss that here or wait for Joel Bocko’s lead-in essay next week. Whew, that’s a stunner!
Wonders in the Dark regular Bob Clark of The Aspect Ratio made his writing debut here with a thesis-level 12,000 word review of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, which frankly to these eyes is one of the greatest of all on-line reviews. We are thrilled to have Bob on board. As always, Joel Bocko of The Dancing Image and The Boston Examiner continues to raise the bar with his incomparable and lengthy comments, which take analytical discussion to the highest level. Bocko’s newest essay, posted today on film criticism titled “For the Love of Movies” seems like a perfect conversation starter. As a stand-alone it’s typically for its author a brilliant essay. Site regular Kaleem Hasan had a torrid week at the site with astounding submissions under many threads, but as always there are so many others to thank including the indominable Dee Dee, John Greco, Jamie Uhler, Daniel Getahun, Dave Hicks, Jon Lanthier, Ed Howard, Dennis, Judy, Margaret, Anu, Bobby J., Troy Olson, Kevin Olson, David Schleicher, Pat, Frank Gallo, Alexander, Peter, Joe, David Noack and many others.
Of course it goes without saying that Alan Fish’s continuing countdown remains the centerpiece of the site, and the main reason why so many come here in the first place. Anyone who can pump out review after review for every placement on a personal list deserves the highest praise, and typically his pieces get many comments including mega-action under both his The Asthenic Syndrome and The Shining essays.
I had one of the best movie weeks quality-wise of the year, with both a rare five-star film and a four-and-a-half star documentary in the mix. I saw:
Bright Star ***** (Sunday afternoon; Tenafly Multiplex)
Coco Avant Chanel *** 1/2 (Saturday night; Chelsea Cinemas)
In Search of Beethoven **** 1/2 (Friday night; Cinema Village)
On Wednesday I escorted the entire family to see the beloved classic The Wizard of Oz (1939) at a local multiplex, and while we were all thrilled to see the film on a big screen we were less than satisfied with the pedestrian HD presentation. I wrote a short post on the experience on Thursday morning.
Jane Campion’s Bright Star was a sumptuous, intelligently written and acted period piece about a brief love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, before his untimely death at the extremely young age of 25 of tuberculosis. The film is passionate, sensory and poetic, the latter quality befitting the life of the English language’s second-greatest poet ever behind Shakespeare.
The team that made the very fine In Search of Mozart in 2007, have made an even better film on Beethoven, with th esimilarly titled In Search of Beethoven. Piecing together talking heads, paintings, re-enactments, letters, diaries, and most of all a generous sampling of some of Western music’s most sublime musical compositions, this is a Beethoven lover’s dream, but even for the novice an educational and engrossing doc that neither insults it’s viewers nor bogs them down in off-putting musical technicalities.
Ace film composer Alexander Desplat had a field day once again with his ravishing score for Coco Avant Chanel, a film that could have been deeper, but is still a reasonably solid piece of entertainment thanks to Desplat, Audrey Tautou and some lovely costumes and cinematography. Some of the material here seems rather simplified. Get that Desplat score CD!
Some of the excellent work around the blogosphere includes:
John Greco once again digs deep into the cinematic landscape with a superlative review of Frank Perry’s little-seen Last Summer, at Twenty-Four Frames, a 1969 film that won Cathy Burns an Oscar nod. The film is unavailable on DVD:
Jenny Bee Boulden has written one of the greatest reviews ever posted on-line (I kid you not!) of That Evening Sun at “Awards Daily.” This review is priceless:
Dee Dee is headlining a very fine noir review from her affiliate Australian Andrew Katsis, on Frank Tuttle’s This Gun For Hire at Darkness to Light:
The great Jon Lanthier, who is busy with a project at the current time, has an essential review up at The Powerstrip of Von Trier’s Anti-Christ:
Before his wedding sabatical (and WitD wishes him a great week and married life!) Ed Howard posted another brilliant piece on Patrice Chereau’s Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train:
Ever on top of breaking news, Kaleem Hasan has the scoop here on Roman Polanski’s Swiss arrest at Satyamshot:
After a brief sabbatical, T.S. of Screen Savour has returned with a vengeanace, continuing his Keaton series with a stellar piece on The General:
The action is torrid at Movie Zeal, where newcomer Kevyn Know has joined both good friends Phillip Johnston and Luke Harrington, in reviewing Adventureland, while Phillip has The Horse Boy up, and Luke has The Informant:
Good friend, college student Joey Demme is still headlining Inglourius Basterds at Cinexcellence:
Marilyn Ferdinand, writer extraordinaire, has a new post up reviewing The Burning Red at Ferdy-on-Films:
Scholar and good guy “Film Dr.” has his latest installemt of “Notable Film and Media Links” up at his place:
Lovely Dorothy Porker has a timely piece up right now at Inside the Gold on Polanski’s arrest:
“Pat” Perry, a Chicago-area based blogger with a great blogsite named Doodad Kind of Town reflects on her trip last week to Manhattan, a trip where we met after her theatre play. She did so much in such a short time:
Our great friend Dave at “Goodfellas Film Blog” will soon be moving ahead with his annual countdown. His tremendous Raging Bull essay is still headlining though:
Dan Getahun truly had a fantastic weekend in Minneapolis speaking with critic Elvis Mitchell and meeting none other than Joel and Ethan Coen in a discussion after a showing of several of their films:
Our friend and neighbor David Schleicher is still headling a great review of Silent Light:
Kevin J. Olson has an excellent review of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth After Youth up at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies with some stunning screen caps on display:
If you didn’t yet get around to our dear British friend Judy’s review of Jean Negulesco’s Under My Skin, I advise clicking th elink to her review at Movie Classics, which is still headlining:
Satyajit Ray fans have reason to rejoice, as two of the iconic director’s little-known films are being considered by film by that jack-of-all-trades scholar, Qalandar at this site. This is a must:
Samuel Wilson has a great review up at Mondo 70 on Honour Before Thieves:
Troy Olson is talking television, and some of the shows his wife and I have been seeing recently. here’s his wonderful round-up:
Neighbor, and gifted your cineaste and theatre fan Ryan Kelly’s newest post is “Goodbye, Moon:
The great film fan and reviewer R. D. Finch has a great essay up on Ray’s On Dangerous Ground at The Movie Projector:
Tony Dayoub will be covering the New York Film Festival!!! read all about it here at Cinema Viewfinder:
Of course our own alumni have work up at their own places too!
Tony d’Ambra’s excellent capsule on Caged is up at FilmsNoir.net:
Everything has been quiet at Ric Burke’s “Films For the Soul” but after a year of tireless work and enthusiasm on the suspended Zeroes Project, it’s time to honor this man in a big way! I will soon be running a post for Ric here. Here’s his site: