by Sam Juliano
Time is passing at record speed, and people stateside are thinking beyond the trick-or-treat ritual and costume sharing of next week to the purchasing of butterballs at the local supermarket. As it is pumpkins are to be seen on porches, office desks and at produce depots, and those with an aversion to brisk temperatures are actually turning on the warm air. Here at Wonders in the Dark business moves forward as usual, with one of the most spirited posts in the four years and two months the site has been going, under the voting thread for 1961, won by a comfortable margin by the landmark musical West Side Story. Travel there at your own risk! So far about 230 comments have been posted, many of a rather contentious nature. The comedy countdown is better than half way complete, and after the present week, there will be 40 entries remaining, meaning eight weeks up until #1 is unveiled only days before Christmas.
Redefining the ‘bionic man’ our Chilean friend and colleague Jaimie Grijalba continues with his own miraculous Top 100 ‘horror countdown’ at Exodus 8:2, while the petition trio of Dee Dee, Lori Moore and Barbara LaMotta head onward and outward with their own miracle project aimed at gathering support for a ‘John Garfield’ boxset. Just on Sunday morning Dee reported a slew of new signatures, which can be accessed on the page thread denoted by the link under the sidebar photo of the iconic actor.
Yankee fans are crying in their beer, with some calling for the heads of players they championed when they were going good. Ah, you know how it is with short memories and ‘what have you done for me lately?’ But heck, spectacular salaries should mean better effort, no? Not sure if our wonderful friend from Michigan Jon Warner (who continues to do first-rate work at Films Worth Watching) is a Detroit Tigers fan, but if so we extend our well-wishes for success in the Fall Classic. Of course the Giants or Cardinals are in this mix too.
Looks like Obama vs. Romney could go either way at this point with various polls given conflicting results. Final debate is this evening - a foreign policy tiff down in Boca Raton. I have the path to the White all figured out for President Obama – I am hoping he walks down that way.
High-quality movies are starting to release across the country, which is no surprise when one considers this is the time for the year’s best stuff to gain strategic dates. Lucille and I (with the kids for some) saw two exceptional films over the past week, both of which are strong contenders for ‘ten best’ lists. While I resisted giving either a five star rating, that’s not to say that one, the other or both can’t or won’t win that categorization at some point down the line. We saw:
Holy Motors **** 1/2 (Wednesday night) Film Forum
The Sessions **** 1/2 (Saturday night) Angelika Film Center
Seven Psychopaths *** 1/2 (Friday night) Secaucus multiplex
Dr. Jack **** (Monday night) Harold Lloyd at Film Forum
Speedy **** 1/2 (Sunday afternoon) Harold Lloyd at Film Forum
Brief Encounter ***** (Tuesday) Film Forum
Ben Lewin’s THE SESSIONS could well have been a cringe-worthy and exploitative play on the pathos and constrictions of physical disability, but instead it’s a surprisingly affecting and often funny realistic adaptation of an essay “On Seeing A Sex Surrogate” by San Francisco-based poet and journalist Mark O’Brien, a 38 year-old man imprisoned in an iron lung as a result of severe polio since childhood. The film focuses in on the loss of virginity for the character played by John Hawkes( in one of the year’s most extraordinary performances), brought about by sex sessions with a therapist (played with moving restrait by Helen Hunt) and condoned by O’Brien’s priest (played with earthy abandon by Bill Macy). The film is carried by the superlative acting, and the riveting conversations, and it builds to a deeply moving climax. The film’s fluctuating moods are beautifully transmitted by a spare piano score by Marco Beltrami, minimalist and full of feeling. HOLY MOTORS, a perverse, atmospheric, deeply melancholic film with the specters of Cocteau and Godard hovering overhead is a visual poem, a dream that comes to life with searing images and a swath of visual imagination. Leos Carax’ exhilarating metaphorical film features a spectacular multi-character performance by Denis Levant is, according to the director (who appeared ‘under the weather’ at the Film Forum Wednesday night for a Q & A) based on an acute sadness from his own life, one he was reluctant to identify. This cinematic roller-coaster also contains a haunting song by Minoque titled “Who Were We?” A single viewing will never provide all the answers, but it still confirms it’s one of the best films of the year. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS by Martin McDonagh (IN BRUGES) is an exceedingly violent dark comedy that showcases a largely brilliant script in a work that certainly brings Tarantino into focus, but the cast offers some welcome surprises (Woody Harrelson and Colin Farrell) and a few others by sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken that meet expectations. You always hate yourself for liking it, but it’s deliriously entertaining. Too bad the ending betrayed the rest of the film, but there’s too much fun to pass it up. Two Harold Lloyd films (and one short with each) were offered up in the Harold Lloyd Festival (DR. JACK and the wonderful SPEEDY) with fabulous piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner. The Sunday afternoon screening of the latter was a sold-out event that featured a slide show presentation by author John Bengston, who then signed copies of his new Lloyd volume in the lobby (I bought a book myself) and an audience sing-along of the song “Speedy.” Lloydmania was alive and well in NYC on Sunday and it was a great thrilled to be there with Lucille and the three boys.
Young Jeremy had his picture taken with famed French comic and clown Pierre Etaix, who is the subject of a six-film festival that commenced over the weekend. I will be seeing his most essential film LE GRAND AMOUR on Tuesday night.
As far as David Lean’s 1945 BRIEF ENCOUNTER, in a new DCP print, that was pure cinematic bliss. No matter how many times one sees this ‘perfect’ film one is again ravished by Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, the superlative script, gorgeous black and white and Rachmaninoff’s aching lyricism. For many it’s Lean’s greatest masterpiece.
Here are the links. Sad to say this is one week where I couldn’t manage any updates:
At the magical Creativepotager’s blog Terrill Welch has a showcase of visual treasures up in her ravishing new post “New Homes for art and other studio musings”: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/new-homes-for-art-and-other-studio-musings/
Laurie Buchanan’s latest post “Quiche Me Quick” at the soul-stirring Speaking From The Heart broaches incomparable matters of familial love: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/quiche-me-quick/
Jon Warner has authored another superlative review at Films Worth Watching, this time on Jules Dassin’s 1949 “Thieves’ Highway”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/10/thieves-highway-1949-directed-by-jules.html
Tony d’Ambra has just posted a tremendous piece at FilmsNoir.net on “Naked Alibi (1954) “bizarre images, strange juxtapositions, and erotic plays”: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/naked-alibi-1954-bizarre-images-strange-juxtapositions-and-erotic-plays.html
Judy Geater also considers Vidor in her splendid essay of the director’s little-seen 1935 film “The Wedding Night” at Movie Classics: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/the-wedding-night-king-vidor-1935/
John Greco has penned a terrific review of 1949′s “On the Town” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/on-the-town-1949-gene-kellystanley-donen/
Pat Perry has penned eight splendid capsules of a wide array of films she’s seen recently at Doodad Kind of Town: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-catch-up-post-little-bit-about-lot.html
Joel Bocko astutely considers “Halliwell’s Hundred” and “Hellzapoppin” at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/10/halliwells-hundred-and-hellzapoppin.html
Ed Howard has penned a master-class essay of the neo-realist masterpiece “The Bicycle Thieves” at Only The Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/10/bicycle-thieves.html
Sachin Gandhi offers up a fabulous report on the Calgary International Film Festival at Scribbles and Ramblings: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/10/ciff-2012-wrap-up.html
Samuel Wilson is in the horror mood as we approach Halloween, and he’s offered up a doozer of a piece on “Blood Bath” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/10/blood-bath-1963-66.html
Weeping Sam has a most interesting Major League Baseball update at The Listening Ear: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2012/10/very-quick-baseball-post.html
In Tokyo our good friend “Murderous Ink” has posted Part 3 of ‘The Lady of Musashino” in a fantastic essay at Vermillion and One Nights: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/10/musashino-landscape-that-never-was-part.html
Dee Dee offers up petition co-founder Lori Moore’s own take on a John Garfield classic over at Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2012/09/john-garfield-in-nobody-lives-forever.html
Shubhajit Lahiri has penned a typically brilliant capsule review at Cinemascope on Jacques Becker’s “Le Trou”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/10/le-trou-hole-1960.html
Marilyn Ferdinand, as per her annual custom has been writing some excellent essays on the Chicago International Film Festival, and the latest is Chilean director Raul Ruiz’s last completed film “Night Across the Street” at Ferdy on Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2012/ciff-2012-nigh…-enfrente-2012/16238/
David Scheicher has a fascinating update on “Boardwalk Empire” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/10/14/boardwalk-empire-youd-be-surprised/
At Exodus 8:2 Jaimie Grijalba continues with his “100 Days of Terror” with a terrific review of the semi-classic “Werewolf of London”: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/10/14-werewolf-of-london-1935-n-83.html
R.D. Finch has written a splendid essay on 1965′s “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-spy-who-came-in-from-cold-1965.html h
Kaleem Hasan offers an engaging post at Satyamshot titled “Shahrukh in Conversation with Yash Chopra”: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/shahrukh-in-conversation-with-yash-chopra/
One of the net’s finest writers, the exceedingly talented Jason Bellamy has written a fantastic essay on Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” at The Cooler: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2012/09/touching-void-master.html
At Patricia’s Wisdom our friendly host has penned a terrific review of a volume on Pope John XXIII: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/10/the-good-pope-the-making-of-a-saint-and-the-remaking-of-the-church-greg-tobin/
The comment section under Kevin Olson’s superlative essay on “The Master” at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies makes this presentation a must read for film fans: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-master.html
At the Coffee Messiah’s blog the indominable Michael Harford features a collage on cultivation: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2012/09/cultivate.html
Craig Kennedy has penned at terrific review on “Frankenweenie” at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2012/10/05/frankenweenie-2012/
Stephen Russell-Gebbett has posted another thought-provoking piece, this time on 2010′s “Burning Bright” at Checking on my Sausages: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/09/burning-bright-2010.html
David Lawrence, thjat erudite and personable educator from the U.K. features a poster of a Hammer classic at his new site Musings and Meanderings: http://1mouth2ears.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/movie-posters-1-dracula-has-risen-from-the-grave-1968/
Brandie Ashe happily announces a “Singin in the Rain” giveaway at True Classics: http://trueclassics.net/2012/08/10/singin-again-plus-a-giveaway/
Roderick Heath has posted a terrific new review on “Chronicle” at This Island Rod: http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2012/07/chronicle-2012.html
J. D. LaFrance has penned a terrific piece on Tony Scott’s “The Last Boy Scout” at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-last-boy-scout.html
The esteemed Film Doctor, a professor on Film Studies at a southern university, has written a fascinating piece on P.J. Anderson’s “The Master” at The Film Doctor: http://filmdr.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-master-s-whip-lash-8-notes.html
Adam Zanzie has posted a terrific “alternative Sight and Sound list at Icebox Movies: http://www.iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2012/08/my-alternative-sight-sound-list.html
Jason Marshall has continued his superb coverage of 1942 at Movies Over Matter with a wonderful post on his Best Actor choice for that year: Chishu Ryu: http://moviesovermatter.com/2012/08/09/chishu-ryu-in-there-was-a-father-best-actor-of-1942/
Peter Lenihan has written a superlative essay talking about two films: “Dredd” and “Savages” at The Long Voyage Home: http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/2012/09/double-feature-dredd-savages.html
At The Blue Vial Drew offers up “w/o” and some intriguing Fordian parallels: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2012/10/wo_5.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
Stephen Russell-Gebbett at Checking on my Sausages again offers up a brillinatly-creative feature on ‘Sport as the Perfect Fiction”: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/08/sport-is-perfect-fiction.html
Tony Dayoub takes a look at the summer’s Barnes and Noble 50% off sale for Criterion collectots at Cinema Viewfinder: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2012/07/criterion-summer.html
Greg Ferrara at Cinema Styles talks about the Colorado shootings in a moving feature: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-dark-knight-shooting-in-colorado.html
Jeopardy Girl talks about her “least favorite film” at her wonderful new series at “The Continuing Saga of Jeopardy Girl”: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/2-my-least-favourite-film/
Hokahey takes a fascinating look at “Looper” at Little Worlds: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2012/09/looper-glossary-of-terms.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