by Sam Juliano
June is bustin out all over…
-Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Carousel)
As we approach mid-June many are gearing up for their planned respites at the seashore and at mountain resorts. Others not as fortunate will be working summer jobs and playing catch up with work still not completed. For many it’s the time for cultural events and the watching of movies at home under the air conditioning, for others outdoor concerts are on the itinerary. The baseball season is in full fling, July 4th barbeques are being penciled in, and the last remnants of spring weather can now be felt.
Here at Wonders in the Dark plans are presently being executed for the summer ‘Comedy Countdown’ a long-anticipated venture that presently is in the ballot stage. Full Top 60 listings have been cast to this point by Marilyn Ferdinand, Ed Howard, Pat Perry, Brandie Ashe, Dennis Polifroni, Bob Clark, Allan Fish, Maurizio Roca, Frank Gallo, Dean Treadway, Pedro Silva and Sam Juliano, but a number of others are imminent before the July 1st cut off date.
Richard R.D. Finch is nearly blast off at The Movie Projector for his long-anticipated William Wyler blogothon, set to run from the 24th to the 29th. This exciting venture is sure to attract many classic movie lovers and rightfully so.
Lucille and I had the busiest week on the outdoor movie front that we’d had in quite a while, spurred on in lage measure by the Film Forum’s ‘Spaghetti Western’ Festival’ scheduled to run through June 21. I took in a total of nine films, with Lucille on board for five, Sammy for six, Danny for four and the others for three.
The completed schedule for the past week is as follows:
The Mercenary **** (Tuesday evening) Spaghettis at Film Forum
Navajo Joe ** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Spaghettis at Film Forum
The Great Silence **** 1/2 (Wednesday night) Spaghettis at Film Forum
The Price of Power **** 1/2 (Thursday night) Spaghettis at Film Forum
The Hills Run Red **** (Sunday night) Spaghettis at Film Forum
Paul Williams Still Alive **** (Friday night) Angelika Film Center
Prometheus *** (Saturday afternoon) Edgewater multiplex
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory **** 1/2 (Sat. night) Landmark Loews
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone **** (Sat. night) Landmark Loews
Veteran actor Tony Mussante, was on hand to introduce and moderate the screening of THE MERCENARY in the Film Forum’s marvelously eclectic “Spaghetti Westerns Festival” on Tuesday night, and the personable and enthusiastic thespian had much to say about director Sergio Carbucci and some marvelous anecdotes about his casting and fond memories on the film’s sets. As to the actual film, it was a hoot and a buffo example of the genre’s glories. NAVAJO JOE with Burt Reynolds did have it’s moments but overall was a rather lackluster and undistinguished entry; Corbucci’s reputed masterpiece, 1968′s THE GREAT SILENCE complete with an intoxicating setting in the snow and some sadism and nihilism, is mostly unforgettable and a spaghetti western par excellence. Klaus Kinski and Jean-Louis Trintignant give chilling performances. THE PRICE OF POWER yielded a major surprise, though in retrospect our good friend Samuel Wilson has written a most enthusiastic review at few years back at Mondo 70. It’s a piece set in Texas in the Old West, yet vital parallels to both Garfield and JFK’s assassination are part of the plot, and some arresting stylistics including zooms provide for an engrossing good time. This one fully deserves a legitimate DVD release, and will surely be a major highlight of the festival. The esteemed author and director Alex Cox was on hand to initiate a terrific Q & A and to sign his new book on spaghetti westerns in the lobby. On the spaghetti western front I saw a final one for this week on Sunday night, which I will come back here to talk about some time after posting the diary. That film is titled THE HILLS RUN RED (Lizzani, 1966 with yet another Ennio Morricone score) I am back and I must say the film was a complete hoot. Sammy and I had so much fun that I do believe it scrapes out a **** rating!
Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS doesn’t extend the premise of the superior ALIEN, nor do it’s underdeveloped characters and unresolved plot points bring any satisfactory coda to this ultimately uneven space opera. Yet for it’s distancing context there are some arresting moments and a typically buffo set design. The score is stock, and compared to Jerry Goldsmith’s in ALIEN, rather unimaginative. In the end, it’s decent enough popcorn fun.
Seeing the 1971 WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on the massive 60 ft. Jersey City Landmark Loews screen on Saturday night was a real joy, and an emotional experience because of the special fondness that film has maintained with Lucille and I. On the same Saturday night we also took in the first Harry Potter, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, on the same big screen, and it was a real delight for my Harry Potter-loving kids. Included at the end were trailers for all the Potter films. A real nirvana for Potter fans!
Songwriter and actor Paul Williams appeared before and after the screening of a new documentary on his famed life titled PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE, a fascinating look at the talented writer of Evergreen and The Rainbow Connection, talk show mainstay and star of Brian DePalma’s Phantom of the Paradise, as well as other television credits. Williams is quite the down the earth speaker, with a wit and charm all his own, and his recovery from alcohol and substance abuse is an inspiration to his family and friends around the world. Stephen Kessler’s film doesn’t explore teh machinations of Williams’ change, but his subject is much too engaging to allow for an uninteresting film.
I have re-posted last week’s links, updating a few. Hope to do some more updating:
Judy Geater at Movie Classics has posted a fantastic contribution to the ‘Mary Pickford blogothon’ with a fascinating review of one of the star’s most celebrated films, the 1910 “Daddy Long Legs”: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/daddy-long-legs-marshall-neilan-1919/
David Schleicher features his Top 60 comedy list in a buffo presentation at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/06/10/the-spins-top-60-comedies-of-all-time/
Samuel Wilson has just posted a buffo essay at Mondo 70 on Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus”: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/06/on-big-screen-prometheus-2012.html
Jon Warner has penned another exceptional essay at Films Worth Watching, on Murnau’s “Faust”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/06/faust-1926-directed-by-fw-murnau.html
Terrill Welch presents another magnificent oil painting, “Alone by the Sea” at the Creativepotager’s blog: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/alone-by-the-sea-original-oil-painting-by-terrill-welch/
Tony d’Ambra’s new post at FilmsNoir.net takes a marvelous discerning look at Mitchell Leisen’s “No Man of Her Own”: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/no-man-of-her-own-1950-sudser-or-noir.html
Roderick Heath has a new extraordinary mega-essay up on Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2012/raiders-of-the-lost-ark-1981/14698/
John Greco offers up part 2 of his splendid interview with stunt double Martha Crawford Canterini at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/interview-with-stunt-double-martha-crawford-canterini-part-two/
Laurie Buchanan has again provided her readers with food for thought with a lovely and thoughtful post “The Art of Sharing” at Speaking From The Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/the-art-of-sharing/
Ed Howard has written another master-class essay at Only The Cinema, this time on Carl Dreyer’s masterwork “Vampyr”: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/06/vampyr.html
Jason Marshall has posted a stupendous review of Ozu’s “There Was A Father” at Movies Over Matter, where he places the film as one of the five best of 1942: http://moviesovermatter.com/2012/06/02/i-thought-perhaps-wed-live-together-this-year-but-no-there-was-a-father-best-pictures-of-1942-4/
Joel Bocko has made quite the triumphant return at The Dancing Image with a marvelous piece on Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye”: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/05/long-goodbye.html
Roderick Heath has posted “an academic piece” on the film “Gallipoli” at This Island Rod, and it truly looks like spectacular stuff: http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2012/05/civic-mythology-sequence-from-gallipoli.html
Richard R.D. Finch has posted a definitive piece on Vittorio DeSica’s neo-realist masterpiece “Shoeshine” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/05/shoeshine-1946.html
Patricia at Patricia’s Wisdom discusses ‘doing vs. being’ in her most interesting latest post: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/06/thinking/
At Cinemascope the amazingly prolific and resilient Shubhajit Laheri keeps up the pace with a terrific capsule on Bob Rafelson’s “King of Marvin Gardens”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/06/king-of-marvin-gardens-1972.html
Sachin Gandhi has a spate of posts up at Scribbles and Ramblings on various films, all bracketed within their country designations under the unifying banner ‘Euro 2012.’ Some great stuff here!: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/06/euro-2012-german-film-storm.html
Craig Kennedy has penned a terrific essay on “Prometheus” at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2012/06/07/prometheus-2012/
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
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
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 Blue Vial Drew McIntosh has four fabulous capsules leading up, including Henry King’s “The Gunfighter”: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/
J.D. takes on Sidney Lumet’s 1986 feature “Power” in a captivaing essay at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2012/06/power.html
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 an extraordinary scholarly piece on gender roles in post-war Japan, making compelling reference to 1949′s “Green Mountains”: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/05/someone-who-looks-like-gary-cooper.html
There’s plenty of good stuff up at The Long Voyage Home by way of capsules and screen caps courtesy of Peter Lenihan: http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/
Stephen Russell-Gebbett at Checking on my Sausages again offers up a thoughtful post, this one on the film “Super 8″:http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/05/unearthing-grief-and-love-in-super-8.html h
Greg Ferrara at Cinema Styles has written a splendid essay on ‘The Ranking of Rock’: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2012/06/insincerity-insecurity-and-self.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
Hokahey has penned a terrific takedown of “Battleship” at Little Worlds: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2012/05/boom.html
At The Cooler Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss two-time Cannes winner Michael Haneke for the latest phenomenal ‘Conversations’ dialogue: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2012/05/conversations-michael-haneke.html
Adam Zanzie has posted a superlative review of Lawrence Kasdan’s “Dreamcatcher” at Icebox Movies: http://www.iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2012/05/dreamcatcher-2003-lawrence-kasdans.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/