by Sam Juliano
Air conditioners are now in regular use as Northern Hemisphere inhabitants are officially planning for the fast-approach summer. Heck, even I just submitted my ‘summer 2012′ intent form for the program I have worked in for the past 18 years consecutively. It was during some computer time back in the summer of 2005 that I first met Allan during an e bay transaction and subsequent e mail conversations from the Lincoln School annex, so the practice has widened the personal and social horizons, to say the least. It seems our own vacation plans will again be focused on the beachfront resort, Wildwood, in Cape May County, New Jersey, a place of many fond memories that we have visited endless times over the years. It’s a place of multiple boardwalks, roller coasters, ferris wheels, beach sand, and a quaint colonial town of older well-kept structures dating back to the colonial era. It’s also a place that boasts the famed ‘Lobster House’ and it’s succulent New England clam chowder. But August is a long time away, and before then us devout bloggers are thinking of R.D. Finch’s William Wyler blogothon in late June, and the launching of the long-awaited ’Comedy Countdown’ on July 1st. For the latter venture, it has been decided that each voter will be submitting their own Top 50 comedies, which can be any combination of features and/or shorts by July 1st. A final countdown list of 60 films will be tabulated and revealed to those who have cast ballots, and assignments will be divided among the voters who also want to write, and a few others who only want to write.
Marilyn Ferdinand, Roderick Heath, the Self-Styled Siren and Greg Ferrara have just completed yet another hugely-successful and popular Film Preservation blogothon, and a salute in in order to them all for their peerless commitment and tireless energy towards this most worthy cause. Throughout the blogosphere, many took up the call to arms, and some top-drawer prose was highlighted. Ed Howard of Only the Cinema was on a rampage the last two weeks offering up one early Hitchcock review after the other in an incredible run. But the effort came in from all quarters, and as I say it was quite a venture. I also want to thank Marilyn and Rod for their exceedingly kind words in appraisal of the posts that appeared at WitD from Allan and myself. I also want to yet again acknowledge Dee Dee, who kept the sidebar active and updated in enthusiastic support of the blogothon.
Peter Lenihan has contributed his final entry in his superlative “Finding Ford” series, his tenth to be exact, and everyone at Wonders is that much richer for the postings. Peter is swamped with work at the present time, and what with his taking up residence overseas, it is never a certainty when he can even get on-line as he’s admitted. What Peter has done has expanded the Ford literature, and his writings will be cherished. Peter has indicated there is a possibility he may return down the line, but though that would be fantastic, what he has done over the past months is deeply appreciated. Thank you my friend!
Our Chilean friend and colleague Jaime Grijalba will be assuming the “every other Wednesday” opening on weeks that Jim Clark isn’t posting. I am very happy for Jaime, who has well earned this spot.
Lucille and I had another moderate week, though a stage play by John Patrick Shanley in Manhattan, two classics on the big screen and one new movie opening were still negotiated.
The Dictator ** (Friday afternoon) Secaucus multiplex
Grand Illusion (1937) ***** (Thursday night) Film Forum
The 39 Steps (1939) ***** (Sunday afternoon) IFC Film Center
Storefront Church (stage play) *** 1/2 (Saturday night) Linda Gross Theatre
The stage work, STOREFRONT CHURCH is the first production to be presented in the Linda Gross Theatre on 20th Street by the Atlantic Theatre Company since the new renovation was recently completed. The third of a trilogy by John Patrick Shanley the production features Once Upon a Time and Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito (who is long known for his roles in Do The Right Thing and The Usual Suspects, Tony winner Tonya Pinkins, Tony nominee Bob Dishy, Tony nominee Zach Grenier, Drama Desk winner Jordan Lage and Ron Cephas Jones. The play completes Shanley’s “Church and State” trilogy, which began with his Tony-winning play, Doubt. The show tells the story of a Bronx borough President (Esposito) who, forced by the mortgage crisis, must confront a local minister (Jones). The question in front of them is one that faces us all: What is the relationship between spiritual experience and social action? The drama has some powerful moments, and the cast is inspired, but it’s a mixed effort for the most part, and a far cry from the first famous installment.
Sasha Baren Cohen’s crass and shameless shtick works in a few hysterical scenes (one a borderline conversation with an elderly couple on a plane) in THE DICTATOR, but outside of these and a buffo ‘dedication’ to start the film, the thin material wears thin, and even at 90 minutes you can’t wait for the movie to end. It’s rather a miracle that Ben Kingsley was persuaded to be in the cast. THE 39 STEPS and GRAND ILLUSION need to embellishment here, but I’ll only say that Renoir’s film was taken in for the umpteenth time in an absolutely gorgeous restored print, that again had me loving the film all over again. The bedside sequence near the end with Raufenstein and the British soldier and the clipping of the window geranium provide for some of the most unforgettable moments in all of cinema.
This week’s featured link scroll is as follows:
In a wonderful new series at Movie Classics Judy Geater takes an in-depth look at silent and pre-code actor Warner Baxter: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/warner-baxter/
In her latest post at Patricia’s Wisdom our erstwhile proprietor talks about the transporting properties of film and literature in her latest post: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/05/transportation/
Jon Warner at Films Worth Watching again writes with great skill and insight on Powell and Pressburger in his assessment of 1945′s “I Know Where I’m Going”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-know-where-im-going-1945-directed-by.html
Jaime Grijalba has come through big-time for the Film preservation blogothon with a terrific essay on “Psycho” at Exodus: 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/05/alfred-hitchcock-presents-psycho-1960.html
Laurie Buchanan asserts “My Hat’s Off to You” in another delightful and insightful post at Speaking From The Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/my-hats-off-to-you/
Samuel Wilson has written a stupendous new piece in his ‘Pre-Code Parade’ series on 1932′s “The Hatchet Man” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/05/pre-code-parade-hatchet-man-1932.html
After the hectic week at Ferdy-on-Films and This Island Rod, Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath are taking a well-earned break, though a guest writer Paroma Chatterjee offers up an excellent review of Hitch’s “Suspicion” at the former site: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=14413
John Greco has penned a terrific review of Joseph H. Lewis’ “The Big Combo” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/the-big-combo-1955-joseph-h-lewis/
Tony d’Ambra at FilmsNoir.net is heading up with a tube displaying a new neo-noir titled imperfect by Michael Tucker, that’s quite a treat: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/imperfect-impressive-new-indie-neo-noir.html
R.D. Finch expands the Ford literature with a fabulous review of “The Prisoner of Shark Island” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/05/prisoner-of-shark-island-1936.html
At Doodad Kind of Town Pat Perry’s splendid contribution to the For the Love of Film Preservation blogothon is on Hitch’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/05/hitch-does-rom-com-for-love-of-film.html
At Scribbles and Ramblings Sachin Gandhi takes a fascinating look at two high-profile Spanish films at ‘Euro 2012′: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/05/spanish-films.html
Ed Howard’s incredible Hitchcock series for the Film Preservation blogothon concludes with this excellently penned, blunt assessment of “Jamaica Inn” at Only The Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/05/jamaica-inn.html
Craig Kennedy’s latest review at Living in Cinema is a great one on Wes Anderson’s soon-to-release “Moonrise Kingdom”: http://livingincinema.com/2012/05/17/moonrise-kingdom-2012/
“Stormy Sky Over the Belle Chain” leads up at the wondrous Creativepotager’s blog run by the great Mayne Island artist Terrill Welch: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/%EF%BB%BFstormy-sky-over-the-belle-chain/
David Schleicher is proud to announce that ‘Issue Two’ of the Stone Digital Literary Magazoine’ is now available. It’s over at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/05/15/issue-two-of-the-stone-digital-literary-magazine-now-available/
Just Another Film Buff has penned a terrific capsule on Satoshi Kon’s 1997 “Perfect Blue” at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2012/05/19/ellipsis-61/
At The Last Lullaby, the ever delightful filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman takes a look at part sixteen of his long running quartet series: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2012/04/favorite-four-part-sixteen.html
At Vermillion and One Nights Murderous Ink has written a towering analytical and superbly referenced essay on the appearance of the piano in Japanese cinema: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/05/88-keys.html
Stephen Russell-Gebbett at Checking on my Sausages again offers up a thoughtful post, this one titled “The New Cinema of Shattered Minds”: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/05/new-cinema-of-shattered-minds.html
At Cinemascope Shubhajit Laheri is leading up with an excellent capsule review of Fassbinder’s “The Third Generation: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/05/third-generation-1979.html
Greg Ferrara at Cinema Styles has written a splendid essay on Alfred Hitchcock: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-have-nothing-new-to-say-about-alfred.html
A notable artistic collaboration leads the way at Michael Harford’s heartening Coffee Messiah’s blog: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2012/05/collaborations.html
At The Blue Vial Drew McIntosh asserts “It’s in the Eyes!”: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2012/05/its-in-eyes.html
J.D. offers up a fascinating essay on “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up” at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/in-case-you-didnt-feel-like-showing-up.html
Dave Van Poppel has a tremendous batch of short reviews up at Visions of Non Fiction on the Toronto Film Festival: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com/
Why did I do 26, some will ask. I had time to. Some weeks I will not and will go will the number I had decided on. But I had time tonight to take it further.