by Sam Juliano
Happy New Year’s to All Wonders in the Dark staff and readers! Here’s hoping 2010 will bring mutual health, happiness and the attainment of all that is sought out. As expected many bloggers took some time off, as well they should have to spend with family and to enjoy a modest block of time away from work. Others, yours truly included, spent time in movie theatres to catch the final wave of releases before the expected lull for the next three months. But that’s areprieve that isn’t such a bad thing. Allan’s silent poll countdown has faithfully proceded, and as always more than a few have left impressive responses. With year end lists beginning to appear, the one at Wonders may go up on Tuesday morning, complete with capsule assessments and screen grabs. So far, Ari, Just Another Film Buff, Andrew Wyatt and Matt Lucas have published their lists at links provided in a recent post. Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema is nearing his own elaborate post as well. At GoodFellas, Dave Hicks has announced a January 11 launching of his gleefully-anticipated noir countdown. Best Regards always to our dear friend Down Under Tony d’Ambra, who has been a friend to us in so many ways.
I saw three films in theatres this week:
It’s Complicated *** 1/2 (Wednesday night) Edgewater multiplex
The Lovely Bones **** (Friday night) Village East Cinemas
The Messenger *** 1/2 (Saturday night) Cinema Village
IT’S COMPLICATED showcased yet another accomplished performance by Meryl Streep in a film that wasn’t anything new (yes Chuck Bowen, Nancy Myers is hardly Orson Welles!) but was still reasonably entertaining. Not the most probing of films, but oddly engaging with a few uproarious moments. No problem with Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin either. Just don’t expect all that much in psychological depth.
The castigation of Peter Jackson over his direction of THE LOVELY BONES has been an unfortunate backlash against his prior work, but truth be said THE LOVELY BONES isn’t such a bad film at all. Yeah, it’s use of computer-generated effects may be excessive, but underneath everything there’s a deep sense of humanity that at times makes the film a deeply-moving experience. Not every idea works, but there’s enough imagination in the astral passages and some wrenching observation of family grief that makes it a valid adaptations. And Ms. Ronan is wonderful in the lead. I think Jackson is in the doghouse these days, but this film doesn’t deserve the drubbing it took by the majority of critics.
THE MESSENGER is a well-acted military drama that centers around soldiers who are assigned the unenviable task of telling families of soldiers killed in action that their loved ones are gone, but it’s late attempts at romance are awkward an dunconvincing. Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton (as well as the distinguished actors of the victims’ families) give convincing performances, and the first two-thirds of the film is compelling, but then it loses steam when it stops following the vital linear thread. Still, a reasonable accomplishment.
I also saw three works from Allan’s backlog, inluding a nine-hour LITTLE DORRIT BBC production directed by Andrew Davies, the multi-hour THE THICK OF IT, upon which the theatrical film IN THE LOOP was based, as the superlative Film Museum DVD of Pabst’s silent masterpiece THE JOYLESS STREET.
So what did you people see, listen to or experience? Perhaps Dave or Joel can keep us abreast on the football, and Troy on the college and professional hoop scene.
There is some great stuff around the blogosphere:
***One of the nicest and most gifted people anywhere is Jon Lanthier, and he has posted some most interesting ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ at The Aspiring Sellout:
***Craig Kennedy exceedingly popular Watercooler thread, upon which the ‘Monday Morning Diary’ was patterned on, is up and running at Living in Cinema:
***’Just Another Film Buff’ has posted a ten-best list at his place that is simply brilliant in taste and intelligence. It’s one of the very best I’ve yet seen, and I haven’t seen a few of the choices either:
***Likewise, Ari at The Aspect Ratio has had an excellent list up for almost two weeks:
***Andrew Wyatt at Gateway Cinephiles again shows was he’s one of the most tasteful and intelligent of all the blogger critics with a list of true cinematic distinction:
***Matt Lucas, another relentless critic who never leaves a stone unturned, has a list of ultra-ecclectic fabric up at From The Front Row, that’s unlike any other one out there, and I say this in a positive sense:
***Bob Clark’s Top Ten of the Decade is up at The Aspect Ratio, and as always, Clark will have you thinking:
***Everyone at Wonders is urged to run over to Twenty-Four Frames, where John Greco has published one of the all-time greatest posts, examining the theatrical release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. As always the pictures alone are to die for:
***Dave Hicks, that purveyor of blogging effervescence, has officially announced he will launch his long-anticipated ‘Noir Top 100 Countdown” on January 11th at his Good Fellas blog:
***Troy Olson has quite a round-up of his own favorites posts he’s published at his place over the past year, and it’s quite an assortment of riches:
***Dee Dee is featuring a Best of the Decade Top 25 list from Eric Armstrong over at Darkness Into Light, which I will soon investigate!:
***David Schleicher, ‘Writer Extraordinaire’ has penned a terrific essay on Michael Haneke’s widely-celebrated The White Ribbon, and it’s frankly a must-read:
***Pat at Doodad Kind of Town has a “baker’s dozen” up for her superb ‘Best of the Decade’ list complete with great capsules and photos!:
***T.S. of Screen Savour, one of the net’s best writers and film scholars, has been reviewing some of the latest year-end releases as per his annual custom, and he has some frank admissions that are surely a must-read:
***At Movie Classics, Judy has been on a months-long “roll” and early cinema has become her specialty. She’s got a rarely-seen Wellman film up at her place now, and she’s also been active on the silent scene as of late:
***Amazingly prolific Samuel Wilson continues his torrid movie going and reviewing with an exhaustive study of Henry King’s silent classic Tol’able David (1920) satrring Richard Barthelmess over at Mondo 70:
***Over at Only The Cinema, Ed Howard has a very popular review up of Coppola’s classic The Conversation:
***Stephen at Checking My Sausages is still highlighting his excellent, thoughtful essay on Avatar that takes a most different approach to things:
***The “King of the Capsule,” Shabhajit, has another one of his typically insightful short review up at Cinemascope on Despletchan’s A Christmas Tale:
***Coffee Messiah, ever the enterprising blogger, always has a fascinating array of drawings, posters, parchments and poetry feature in an engagingly abstract format at his place of ‘beans and dreams.’ Check it out:
***Jack of All Trades Kevin J. Olson wishes his fellow bloggers a Happy New year, and prepares for another year of superb action at Hugo Stiglitz:
***Dan Getahun has an absolutely excellent piece on at Getafilm on blogger backlash, where he talks about the situation with Avatar and related matters:
***Dorothy Porker is maintaining her stellar Awards coverage, and sh ereport son today’s National Society of Film Critics Awards, where The Hurt Locker won yet again.
***Exquisite writer Marilyn Ferdinand has what appears to be another on eof her reviewing gems up at Ferdy on Films with Robert Altman’s Gosford Park:
***The Film Doctor has an outstanding review up of Reitman’s Up in the Air at his place:
***R. D. Finch, ever reliable and brilliant, has what appears to be a great essay up at The Movie Projector on Part 4 of Hollywood’s ‘Second Greatest Year’, 1962:
***At Movie Zeal, Luke Harrington has a most interesting post up on the Ten Best versions of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which I’ve already read:
***Ha! Wouldn’t you know it? Kaleem Hasan has a post up at his place on a press release that Cuba Gooding will play the lead in a ‘Tiger Woods’ biopic!:
***Our Canadian friend J. D. at Radiator Heaven, has a MOST interesting post up on the Best Scores of films of the new millenium. I’ve already added my two cents:
***Tony Dayoub is examining the Best Films of 2003 at Cinema Viewfinder:
***As always Jason Bellamy look shard at a recent release, and it’s resulted in an excellent essay on Reitman’s Up in the Air ay “The Cooler”:
***Rick Olson has a stellar assessment of the blue-ray release of The Godfather Trilogy up at Coosa Creek Cinema:
***At “Out 1″ James Hanson is still headlighting that awesome interview with the director of “Police Adjective” at his place:
***Tony is highlighting his personal accomplishment post:
Again, have a wonderful 2010 everyone!!!!