by Sam Juliano
It’s everybody’s favorite time of the year, but it’s taxing in so many ways, and for many it’s time to relax and uncoil. With Christmas now behind us, preparations are being made by many for a big New Year’s Eve celebration. In the New York area, a rainstorm just about washed away the remnants of last week’s snow, and temperatures went up a bit. It’s cold, but not frigidly.
At Wonders in the Dark, Allan’s silent poll countdown went into full gear, and although the holiday has reduced the kind of hands on involvement we’ve had for poll after poll, it’s expected that after January 1, there will be some serious action. As it is the review for James Cameron’s Avatar has attracted a bushel load of comments, most quite perceptive. Joel Bocko’s Boston Examiner reviews continue to post here and all always receive impressive responses. The newest one is appropriately, the French import A Christmas Tale by Arnold Despletchan.
I’ll let Dave Hicks, Joe and perhaps Joel fill us in on the NFL, though I did see that the Jets pulled a shocking upset over previously-undefeated Indianapolis, which actually kept their playoff hopes alive.
As expected, with the year-end releases opening on Christmas Day and before, I was busy in movie theatres, and even got to see Avatar a second time (this time in 3D) with Dennis Polifroni on Tuesday in Edgewater, and again it was enrapturing. The 3 D enhanced the visual perspective, but the overall experience was the same as the first viewing, methinks.
In addition to the repeat of Avatar, here is what I saw in theatres:
Police, Adjective **** 1/2 IFC Film Center – Wednesday night
Sherlock Holmes ** Edgewater multiplex – Friday afternoon
Crazy Heart **** Angelika Film Center – Friday night
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas *** 1/2 Sony – Sunday afternoon
The Romanian Police, Adjective was a minimalist police procedural, that was so meticulously observed, and so fascinating in detail, that it hardly mattered that nothing was really going on. The last 15 minutes, which features a police director’s lecture on the difference between “conscience” and “justice” ranks as one of the greatets single sequences in any film this year, certainly the equal of the restaurant scene in 35 Shots of Rum, the lyrical “prologue” of Antichrist and the scrapbook segment near the beginning of Pixar’s Up.
The new Sherlock Holmes film by Guy Ritchie was loud, tedious, and ludicrously-plotted, and there were pyrotechnics galore, but there’s no denying that Robert Downey Jr. gives a flamboyant and charismatic reading, which holds the stage, regardless of the weak script he has to negotiate. Our good friend Judy at Movie Classics, seems to have had a generally positive reaction though.
Jeff Bridges may well have won the Oscar for his extraordinary performance in Crazy Heart, and despite a few very minor quibbles, this is quite the vehicle for his big artistic comeback, following in the footsteps of 1983′s Tender Mercies, where Robert Duvall, who plays a supporting role in this new film, portrays a character with a number of similarities to the one Bridges plays. The country music by T. Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton is infectious, too.
As far as Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas, sure it’ds uneven and it often makes no sense, and sure there’s a lot of indulgence on display, but I’ll still take much of this any day as it’s a dazzling fun-ride, Ledger, Depp, Law and Christopher Plummer aboard to populate some wonderous, mysterious and exquisite tapestries, which do have Gilliam’s stamp all over them.
I am close to completing both my ‘Best Films of 2009′ list, and am also working on my decade ‘Best of’ too.’ I will have elaborate picture and essay spreads on this soon.
Around the blogosphere, many have taken a short sabatical, both some others have posted religiously:
Tony d’Ambra has a fantastic roundup of his best posts of 2009 up at FilmsNoir.net, and I can vouch for the choices myself. For anyone who hasn’t yet seen them they are in the links after you link here to the lead piece:
***Action has been torrid at The Aspect Ratio with both Ari and Bob Clark posting year-end and decade-end lists, and individual reviews. Here’s Ari’s Best Films of 2009 list. He’s the first blogger in the circle to post this already:
***Bob Clark has quite a massive project going, naming the Top 100 of the decade, and so far he has this post up, which names and essays #100 to #51:
***Also, Mr. Clark has an impressive essay up there on Shane Acker’s 9:
***John Greco has a fantastic essay up at his place on The Hitch Hiker:
***Dave Hicks, is readying for his big noir countdown at “GoodFellas”:
***Our very good friend Judy at Movie Classics, has been busy as of late reviewing Wellman films, and her latest, an excellent piece is up:
***Pat at Doodad Kind of Town has her 12 Best Films of the Decade up, and it’s quite an array!:
***Jon Lanthier has ‘An Atheist’s Guide to a Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ at Aspiring Sellout:
***James Hanson has an absolutely spectacular post up at “Out 1″ of an interview he conducted with the Romanian director of Police, Adjective. This is a must-read:
***Troy Olson continues to post insightful, impeccably-written essays on current cinema at his place and he has three new ones here including Meadows’s Somers Town:
***Just Another Film Buff has another scholarly post up on a short Kiarostami film at his place:
***David Schleicher has a terrific post up at his place on Avatar that is receiving excellent response:
***Craig Kennedy’s seminal Watercooler is up and running right now at LIC:
***The always-enterprising Film Dr. has a post up on John Hillcoat’s The Road:
***Dan Getahun seems to be taking a brief respite, but his latest post, unsurprisingly is on a Christmas feature: Elf:
***Marilyn Ferdinand has an essential post up on the 25 Essential Documentaries of the decade up at Ferdy-on-Films, which is a must-read!:
***Tony Dayoub has a great review of Sherlock Holmes up at Cinema Viewfinder:
***At Only the Cinema, Ed Howard is highlighting his excellent review of Fantastic Mr. Fox:
***Dee Dee has a review up of perennial Christmas favorite The Snowman at her place:
***T. S. at Screen Savour has four reviews of recent films up at his place that I will be checking out pronto!:
***Shubhajit has a magnificent capsule piece up on Almodovar’s masterpiece, Talk To Her at his place:
***One of the most invigorating places on th enet is Coffee Messiah’s site, where fascinating photos, pictures and prose are showcased:
***Kevin Olson is back, but is breaking briefly for the holidays at Hugo Stiglitz:
***Although Samuel Wilson has been in silent mode he took a break and saw Sherlock Holmes, and you know with him you’ll have a great essay:
***Rick at “Coosa Creek Cinema” has a great essay up on The Third Man:
***Stephen’s most recent fine essay is on Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds at his site:
***J. D. at Radiator Heaven now turns his attention to the great performance sby the ladies in this popular post:
***Judy Garland singing a beloved Christmas song highlights Dorothy’s Inside the Gold:
***Jason Bellamy has a brief sabbatical in hand for the Christmas break, but he has a fun post up on Movie Posters at The Cooler:
***Mad Hatter has a terrific review of Magnolia up at his place:
***My dear friend Kaleem Hasan always has things hopping over at Satyamshot: