Christian McKay as Orson Welles in Richard Linklater's charming film "Me and Orson Welles"
by Sam Juliano
Although traffic has declined over the Thanksgiving break at Wonders, as it has on just about every other blogsite, a number of early week posts have again attracted large comment totals, with most of exceeding high quality. Countdown reviews of L.A. Confidential, Eyes Wide Shut and Breaking the Waves have inspired stupendous discourse with the usual suspects on hand to pull the triggers. A recent review of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans also did well, and new essays of Lars Von Trier’s Anti-Christ, Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles, Jane Campion’s Bright Star and John Hillcoat’s The Road are due over the next week and a half. Last week’s Monday Morning Diary was the most successful of that weekly post that we’ve ever had here at the site, so there’s reason to remain quite optimistic. As always thanks to the readers and loyalists who have allowed this continued success.
I took a much-welcome break from the torrid activity of recent weeks, but even the three times out I did enjoy I was with Lucille for all three and with the kids for one. I certainly have no misgivings for my complicity in the year-end frenzy, and neither does Lucille. I hope some of the WitD faithful were able to negotiate some trips out during the extended vacation.
Lucille and I (and Broadway Bob Eagleson) attended a one-woman show at the City Center Theatre on 55th Street on Saturday evening at 8:00 P.M. that featured legendary actress Lynn Redgrave in an extended hour-and-a-half reflection that focused on her relationship with her grandmother, Beatrice Kempson. There were some interesting segments, but the two directions the marathon monologue ventured to never came together, and much of this play was torture to sit through, even though Ms. Redgrave is often enchanting. A full review is planned for the site.
I managed two films over the past week:
The Road (Hillcoat) ** Wednesday evening; Paramus multiplex
Me and Orson Welles ****1/2 Friday evening; Angelika Film Center
THE ROAD, an apocalyptic tone poem based on the popular novel by Cormac McCarthy (which I read in its entirety shortly after it appeared and rather liked) is a dull, flavorless, one-note treatise that some have priaised -largely because of a touching final coda- and others have dismissed. There’s little insight into behavior as there is in the novel, and basically this is an incohesive lot of invidual set pieces, impressively filmed but with no direction. I have usually rallied behind bleak, apocalyptic films (Children of Men, Time of the Wolf) but this is a deadining and predictable journey that resembles the conventional horror film in tone and narrative. Surprisingly, the otherwise gifted Cave and Ellis’s score is overwrought. Both David Schleicher and Craig Kennedy liked it though, and that means quite a bit. And to boot I’ve found out that my dear friend Pierre de Plume is a fan too, so go figure.
ME AND ORSON WELLES If anyone would have told me two weeks ago that I would dislike THE ROAD and love a film by Richard Linklater, I would have said they were crazy. But there you have it. British theatre actor Christian McKay delivers an impersonation of the Mercury Theatre genius that must surely rank as one of the year’s best performances, and even the lightweight Zac Efron is reasonably charming in a film about Welles’s staging of Julius Caesar and his notorious mean streak and obstinancy. For once Linklater manages some genuine emotional resonance, and this is surprisingly one of the years most entertaining and well-crafted films. I went back and forth between 4 and 4 1/2 and I decided at the last moment to be generous.
One of the internet’s most wonderful persons, and to this site a personal favorite, Dave Hicks, an Ohio blogger who navigates the Good Fellas Blog just wound down his six-month annual countdown project, which rightly as Samuel Wilson suggests, make dave the ‘blogger of the year.” Dave has the rare combination of humility and stupendous talent, and he’s as nice a guy as you’ll ever meet. It was a great joy following his countdown, and I urge everyone to check up his wrap-up and backlog of yearly-roundups. And be sure to continue following Good Fellas as Dave will surely have some great stuff posted.
Dee Dee’s interview with authors Eric Beetner and Jennifer Kohl just posted this afternoon, and it’s a whopper. It’s a fascinating and revealing piece, superbly moderated by Dee Dee.
Around the blogosphere there’s some great new stuff:
Dave Hicks’s final piece (as mentioned above) is appropriately a wrap-up, and for statistic fans it’s a fantastic essay as well:
Judy at Movie Classics has written her masterpiece as a blogger, and it’s a passionate account of William Wellman’s Wings, which all film lovers should read!:
And speaking of “masterpieces” our friend ‘Just Another Film Buff’ has written the mother of film reviews over at his place on the yet-to-be-released The White Ribbon. (titled ‘Children of Men’) As I read this I was simply astounded, but JAFB isn’t all that pleased:
Troy Olson features an addictive Thanksgiving/Christmastime Movie Quiz at his place, and his answers are fantastic:
John Greco’s coverage of the Universal horror films has yielded it’s most distinguished entry (and essay) at “Twenty-Four Frames”:
The Garden State’s finest, David Schleicher, is one of the first bloggers to review The Road, and typically it’s a superb read:
Jon Lanthier has a superlative Slant review of the Angel Heart blu-ray up at Aspiring Sellout:
At Only the Cinema Ed Howard has a typically stupendous review up of an old Boris Karloff camp classic, The Mask of Fu Manchu:
At Mondo 70, IP MAN beat out RED CLIFF for Hong Kong awards according to Samuel Wilson, who pens an excellent piece for the martial-arts film:
The terrific Eric-Beetner/J.B. Kohl Saturday afternoon interview feature at Wonders today, is also highlighting at Dee Dee’s Darkness Into Light, as well it should be:
Animation lovers rejoice! The esteemed ‘Film Dr,’ professor of film at university, has another multi-part gem, this time praising the dazzling Fantastic Mr. Fox:
Shubhajit has an excellent piece up on Lynn Ramsay’s Ratcatcher at Cinemascope:
A poll question concerning Indian cinema is the lead post at Kaleem Hasan’s ever-animated blogsite, “Satyamshot”:
At Getafilm, Dan Getahun offers up a breather of a film that many will findly remember: (segment from City Slickers):
Marilyn Ferdinand has what appears to be an essay to die for on Pabst’s The Three Penny Opera. I will be there during the day Monday!!!!:
Tony d’Ambra’s latest noir ‘tone poem’ “The Dream are Theirs” at FilmsNoir.net features Kirk Douglas in The Man With A Horn:
Craig Kennedy and I are definitely on the same page with his polite dismissal of Precious at “Living the Cinema”, which is an excellent essay as always:
Film Writer Extraordinaire Andrew Wyatt admits he’s “late to the game” with his Star Trek review, but it’s a great capsule, as are so many others on display at “Gateway Cinephiles”:
Our great friend Pat at Doodad Kind of Town has a very fine essay up combining Precious and Pirate Radio:
Indian-American film and political scholar Qalandar has a new piece up on Hindi Cinema:
The ever astute Rick Olson has one of the greatest reviews up at Coosa Creek Cinema yet written for the Coens’ A Serious Man:
Jason Bellamy has a brilliant review up on The Blind Side at The Cooler, and the follow-up discussion is really terrific too:
J.D. at Radiator Heaven has really hit a home run with his stellar review of the Criterion Collection DVD of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm:
Fecund R.D. Finch of The Movie Projector has a Samuel Fuller up under the magnifying glass at his place and it’s the usual insightful piece:
James Hanson’s colleague at Out 1 Film Journal, Chuck Williamson, has a great essay up on Twilight: New Moon:
The latest film review being showcased at Movie Zeal, was written by Editor Luke Harrington’s staff writer Paul Hood, and it’s a five-star assessment of Precious:
We’re all confident that Dorothy Porker and K will soon be active again at Inside the Gold. Keep looking in at their blog:
to say we are missing Kevin Olson is an understatement of epic proportions. We are waiting for the torch to be lit again:
Deep in our heart, we envision a new beginning for Ric Burke, and a hopeful resumption of the Zeroes Project at “Films For the Soul”: