by Sam Juliano
Snow and cold weather continues to grip the northeast, as Oscar fans map out their plans for their annual Oscar parties. Winter Olympic Game followers have no doubt enjoyed the unexpectedly fantastic performance by the USA contingent, which presently leads the field in medals. Congratulations to Joel Bocko on the launching of his new site and for the splendid series that began posting at WitD this past day. Action at Dave Hicks’s site continues with tireless enthusiasm for the greatest film noirs, while Jeffrey Goodman is up to the mid 40’s in his consideration of the greatest films of all time. Of course at Wonders in the Dark, Allan’s silent films marathon countdown has reached #36 with Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera. Dee Dee and Tony have collaborated to navigate the Oscar prediction posts, and the work there is outstanding.
On the movie front it’s been a memorable week in theatres, the best of 2009 in fact, led by triumphant returns by film masters Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski, and an exquisitely beautiful and spiritual French film, Lourdes, reviewed here at the site on Friday. I saw four films, one with the entire family, one with Lucille and Bobby McCartney, and two by my lonesome:
The major issue with the passably made documentary PHYLLIS AND HAROLD is that it’s really like watching the home movies of someone who hardly know. The two “subjects” are not very likable people to begin with, and the film’s director Cindy Kline (who is married to Andre Gregory of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE fame) seems detached from her parents, making for a very awkward emotional connection to anyone. These aren’t people I would like to spend any time with. In any case in a crowd of almost all seniors on Friday night, when the director appeared aat the Cinema Village to engage in a Q & A, I was sold a senior citizen ticket at the box office without asking for it, so it’s official now! Ha!
Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited SHUTTER ISLAND, turns out to be a spectacularly-entertaining film, that will still have at least a few bloggers crashing the party, telling us about it’s ‘narrative inconsistences’ as if we were first-graders. Those of us having a roller-ride of a time don’t give one iota about such insignificant issues, as we’re being whisked around at atmospherically-enthralling island, visiting a lighthouse, cave, cemetery burial vault, a prison cafeteria and a doctor’s study among such other deliciously intoxicating places. I never read Dennis Lehane’s novel, so I was thrown for a loop by the terrific ending, and as always was mightily impressed with Ralph Richardson’s weathered lensing and Scorsese’s excellent use of a Dachau flashback structure. Red herrings abound of course, and Leonardo Di Caprio gives his most mature performance to date, and a bevy of supporting players, especially Patricia Clarkson are superb. I already have plans to see this a second time on Tuesday night with sire regular Dennis Polifroni.
Then there’s good old Roman Polanski, who also does not shirk the call of duty with GHOST WRITER, turning in a taut, witty an dparanoid thriller, which recalls David Mamet’s ability to impart vital information in the silences between words. It’s a place Polanski has never visited before, but he’s adept at holding you enthralled with this political film with Hitchcockian pacing and subtle performances, anchored by Ewan McGregor in the title role. It’s a vivid and complex piece about among other things, missed chances.
So how was your week? You know the menu! Let’s hear it.
There’s a lot of great stuff out there, and it’s my pleasure to provide links:
At Films Noir headquarters, Tony d’Ambra continues to raise the bar with his consumate posts, most recently a stellar essay with literary references and a video clip on Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse. http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/ride-the-pink-horse-1947-a-heart-full-of-soul.html
Dave Hicks’s tireless ‘Noir’ countdown continues with his latest essay on Phil Karlson’s Kansas City Confidential, which checks in at #59: http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2010/02/59-kansas-city-confidential-phil.html
One of the net’s most prolific writers, John Greco, has another marvelous review from Hollywood’s Golden Age up, and it’s Hawks’s Ball of Fire: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/ball-of-fire-1941-howard-hawks-2/
At Aspiring Sellout, Jon Lanthier typically has a lot of recent goodies up including Slant reviews of a television show and the recent film Lourdes: http://aspiringsellout.com/
Talk about sustained passion for a television show?! Well, I’ve been there many times, and Troy Olson’s extraordinarily written and pictured post on Season 1 of Friday Night Lights really takes the cake. It’s stunning: http://troyolson.blogspot.com/2010/02/tv-review-friday-night-lights-season-1.html
Wellmann expert and early American cinema buff Judy in the U.K. has a terrific new review up at Movie Classics on 1932’s Frisco Jenny: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/frisco-jenny-1932/
Craig Kennedy has a breaking report on the BAFTAs up at Living the Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2010/02/21/as-they-happen-the-baftas/
David Schleicher is hot out of the gate with one of the first reviews on Scorsese’s Shutter Island, and it’s a doozer! Head over to The Schleicher Spin: http://davethenovelist.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/shutter-island-part-two-the-film/
Dee Dee, who has supported Marilyn and Greg’s noble ‘Film Preservation blogothon’ all week long, makes a final pitch here at Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2010/02/national-film-preservation-blogathon_20.html
Michael, the active and effervescent “Coffee Messiah,” continues to raise the bar for creativity and the through process with his deft combination of literary quotes, montages and poster art at his one-of-a-kind abode: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/
Marilyn Ferdinand, film preservationist and writer extraordinaire, is winding up one of her most admirable weeks of blogging: http://ferdyonfilms.com/
Daniel Getahun, who actually saw Shutter Island a week before it opened, also has a review up at his place, a stellar 300 word essay with an already building comment section: http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2010/02/300-words-about-shutter-island.html
A great interview involving Ed Howard at “Only Good Movies” contains Ed’s own philosophy on movies and movie going. It’s a must-read: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2010/02/ive-been-interviewed.html
Film Director Jeffrey Goodman moves forward with his terrific (and addictive) all-time annual countdown, and his latest post showcases Wilder’s Double Indemnity as the best film of 1944: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2010/02/1944-double-indemnity-billy-wilder.html
Donophon talks on Shutter Island and “New Directions” at his place:http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/2010/02/shutter-islandnew-formatnew-direction.html
At Radiator Heaven, J.D. has a terrific essay up on “Bright Nights Big City”: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2010/02/bright-lights-big-city.html
At “Cinemascope” Shubhajit has an excellent capsukle up on Hershbiegel’s Downfall: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2010/02/downfall-der-untergang-2004.html
Longman Oz continues his excellent “Noughtie Films” series at his Dublin home “No Ordinary Fool” and as usual he has some great choices here: http://noordinaryfool.com/2010/02/21/100noughtiefilms_2005/
Kevin J. Olson makes some sober admissions at hi smost recent post, a truly great one at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/those-were-days.html
At Mondo 70, Samuel Wilson continues his mastery of world cinema with an outstanding essay of a film from Thailand: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2010/02/fireball-2009.html
R.D. Finch’s most recent post at The Movie Projector is a fine essay on Nicholas Ray’s In A Lonely Place: http://movieprojector.blogspot.com/2010/02/in-lonely-place-1950.html
At Gateway Cinephiles, Andrew Wyatt has penned a great review of a DVD release: http://gatewaycinephiles.com/2010/02/20/film-diary-black-mama-white-mama/
Looks like the gifted “Film Doctor” has really written up an exquisite review of A Serious Man at his place: http://filmdr.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-can-such-sign-mean-schlemiel-and.html
Jason Bellamy talks Shutter Island, and his exceptionally-penned review contains some serious issues he has with it: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2010/02/identity-crisis-shutter-island.html
Tony Dayoub has penned an exquisite review of the 1922 Sherlock Holmes for the historical preservation blogothon: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2010/02/for-love-of-film-film-preservation.html
Greg Ferrara, who with Marilyn, create dthis blogothon also has a magnificent review of the de Mille silent, The Godless Girl, at his place: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2010/02/godless-girl-192829-d-cecil-b-demille.html
More gorgeous photography and incomparable outdoor nature is again featured at Terrill Lynch’s awesome blogsite, Creativepotager: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/simplicity/
Stephen Russell-Gebbet, always one to make forceful assertions, has what appears to be a must-read up at Checking On My Sausages on “Filmmaker’s Intentions.” Check it out: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2010/02/film-makers-intentions.html
At The Aspect Ratio, Ari continues to headlinw with Scott Gleine’s Top 25 list, but it’s a real good one: http://theaspectratio.net/scott2009list.htm
Pat at Doodad Kind of Town is breaking for a bit, but she still headlines her piece on J.D. Salinger: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2010/01/j-d-salinger-1919-2010.html
Likewise, Rick at “Coosa Creek Cinema” is on hold, but he’s still supporting the blogothon: http://coosacreek.org/mambo