by Sam Juliano
A powerful blizzard pelted the northeast from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning, dropping about a foot of snow on the New York City metropolitan area, and the suburbs, including Fairview, New Jersey. Yet, you’d never think the high winds and brutal cold that had descended on the area just hours before could possibly yield to such a bright and intense sun that showed itself all day Saturday and helped to downsize all the local snow piles. Such is usually the case with the February white stuff, whose slushy texture is only useful for the young ones focused on heaving snowballs and building snowmen. In any case, as this was really the only serious snowstorm this winter and the first bad weather event since Hurricane Sandy, I don’t think we can complain. Heck, our very good friends Laurie Buchanan, Jon Warner, Pat Perry, Marilyn Ferdinand, Mark Smith and perhaps even Jim Clark have suffered through one of the worst mid-west winters in a while, and have scantly even complained about it. We did at least dodge the bullet by keeping our power the entire way through, and got to “enjoy” a half-day off from school on Friday. Lucille, Sammy and I hit the local multiplex right after dismissal to squeeze in a showing of the new Soderbergh film just before the theater closed down as the storm began.
I met up with filmmaker and friend Jason Giampietro on Thursday night at the local Boulevard Diner on Kennedy Blvd. in North Bergen, New Jersey to engage in our annual Oscar predictions interview. Most of the talk was a thorough discussion of the major categories and our own sizing up of the various voter swings that in recent weeks seem to have firmed up a final verdict. For the first time, 15 year-old Sammy -who has now seen 7 of the 9 Best Picture nominees- and a lot of other films over the course of the year- was an active participant in the discussion. The interview will be posted at the site on one of the upcoming days still to be determined. The British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) announced their awards on Sunday, and they continued the Argo juggernaut, but naming the film Best Picture, and by awarding Ben Affleck the Best Director prize. The acting winners are: Day-Lewis, Riva, Hathaway and Waltz, and the four awards won by Les Miserables was the the evening’s highest total, for whatever that is worth. Most would say ‘absolutely nothing’ and I’d have to agree even while I mention it here. Jaimie Grijalba has posted the vital installment of his ‘Frank Awards’ at Overlook’s Corridor: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/
Lucille and I (with Sammy and Danny for most) saw the following in theaters:
Little Fugitive ***** (Tuesday night) Film Forum
Side Effects *** 1/2 (Friday afternoon) Edgewater multiplex
Caesar Must Die ** 1/2 (Wednesday night) Film Forum
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts **** 1/2 (Saturday) Montclair
The week’s highest was the 1953 LITTLE FUGITIVE, a naturalistic work that purportedly influenced the French New Wave, and was directed by three people–Raymond Abrashkin, Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin. Featuring excellent use of non-professional actors in real Coney Island locations, and shot in 35 mm with a hand-held camera, the film won the Silver Lion at Venice and once seen is absolutely unforgettable.
The five Oscar nominated animated shorts were presented in a theatrical program that also included several fine works that missed making the final five. My own favorite of the group -and the one that seems to be favored to win- is John Kahrs’ irresistible The Paperman, which I had seen a few times earlier in the year before main features in theaters. I am providing the link to it on the first comment to the MMD. Maggie Simpson’s The Longest Daycare is a close second, and Adam and Dog would be right after. The other two, Fresh Guacamole and Head Over Heels are fine too and round-out a splendid lot.
SIDE EFFECTS has some rough edges, and one can’t be too invested or the ending will disappoint, but it often is an engrossing psychological piece dominated by pill popping from both sides of the divide, and it’s played out in hushed exchanges. For me it’s the best Soderbergh movie is a while. Sadly it could be his last as he says he will retire now. CAESAR MUST DIE is a novel idea embracing the real and imagined, but this Italian drama-film based on Shakespeare never manages to connect on a the human level that “Julius Caesar” did, and despite some brilliant sections, it’s often a tedious watch and listen.
I finished Mark Cousins’s seminal documentary series STORY OF FILM. It’s masterful and essential viewing for every cineaste. I hope to have plenty more to say on this in the upcoming weeks.
This week I have brought back the links, in full force:
John Greco offers up a superlative piece on Hitchcock’s ‘Sabotage’ at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/
Sachin Gandhi has posted an incredible presentation at Scribbles and Ramblings that examines not only 2012 and 2013 so far, but the best films of every year over the past decade. It’s a fascinating post for cinephiles: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2013/02/best-films-of-last-decade.html
At Filmacability Dean Treadway is leading up with an enthralling Top 25 for 2012: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-25-best-movies-of-2012.html
Samuel Wilson has penned a spectacular review of Michael Haneke’s “Amour” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-big-screen-amour-2012.html
In his newest post “Paper vs. Plastic” Joel Bocko presents a terrific photo essay and a link to insightful prose on David Fincher’s “The Social Network” at I Lost it at the Movies: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2013/02/paper-or-plastic.html
At Vermillion and One Nights the ever-talented Murderous Ink has posted the fifth and final installment of his monumental ‘Evangeline’ series: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/
Shubhajit Lahiri is leading up at Cinemascope with yet another superlative capsule, this time on Bunuel’s swan song “That Obscure Object of Desire”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/02/that-obscure-object-of-desire-1977.html
Judy Geater is leading the way at Movie Classics with an enthralling post on the ‘My Favorite Film Actors of All-Time” that movie lovers simply must check out: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com
Jon Warner has written one of his great essays on David Lynch’s “Mullholland Drive” at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/02/mulholland-dr-2001-directed-by-david.html
At The Last Lullaby Jeffrey Goodman has posted a stupendous post on this ‘Best Films of 2012′ list: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-top-10-or-so-films-for-2012.html
Laurie Buchanan offers up another wonderful post “Yoga Gone to the Dogs” at Speaking From The Heart and poses a pointed question: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/yoga-gone-to-the-dogs/
Tony d’Ambra is leading up at FilmsNoir.net with a fascinating post “Jean Valjean in the Shadows” that takes a look at the classic 1934 French film of Hugo’s novel: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/jean-valjean-in-the-shadows.html
R.D. Finch comprehensively covers 1969 and 70 in his focused look on the Oscar nominees of each of the two years in the main categories: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-oscar-picks-1969-70.html
Dee Dee at Darkness Into Light has posted a terrific capsule of “Gun Crazy” with links to Marilyn Ferdinand’s interview with Peggy Cummins included:Marilyn Ferdinand interview with actress Peggy Cummins…”
Weeping Sam at The Listening Ear offers up some atmospheric prose and scenic photos of the two foot blizzard that struck his New England hometown: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/02/snowy-snow.html
“Art Studio in Real Time” leads up at the always-ravishing Creativepotager’s blog: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/artist-studio-in-real-time/
David Schleicher at The Schleicher Spin has posted a terrific piece of Soderbergh’s “Side Effects”: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/02/08/side-effects-may-include-smirks-butts-on-the-edges-of-seats-and-oh-no-she-didnts/
Roderick Heath has penned a quintessential and enthralling essay of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” at Ferdy-on-Films: Spielberg’s “Lincoln”
Ed Howard has posted an extraordinary essay of Ouseme Sembene’s “Xala” at Only The Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2013/02/xala.html
Craig Kennedy’s newest installment of his beloved ‘Watercooler’ is leading the way at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2013/02/10/31468/
At Patricia’s Wisdom, the wonderful proprietor offers up a tonic for negativity in the thousands: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2013/02/14000-things-to-be-happy-about-barbara-ann-kipfer/
At The Confidential Report Anubhavbist has posted a fantastic Top 10 of 2012 listing with superlative prose in defense: http://theconfidentialreport.wordpress.com/
Head over for a sip of ‘Twin Peaks Coffee’ at the incomparable Coffee Messiah’s blog: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2013/02/twin-peaks-coffee.html
J.D. LaFrance has posted a dazzling essay on “Hidalgo” at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/02/hidalgo.html
At Screen on Screen Paddy Mullholland has posted a terrific capsule review of “How to Survive a Plague”: http://screenonscreen.blogspot.com/2013/02/review-how-to-survive-plague.html
Just Another Film Buff has posted a terrific review of Mani Ratnam’s “Kadal” (The Sea) at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2013/02/10/ellipsis-69/
Jason Bellamy has written a master class review of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” at The Cooler: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2013/01/everybody-breaks-bro-zero-dark-thirty.html
Drew McIntosh has posted a wonderful presentation of Maxwell Anderson’s “The Eve of St. Mark’s” at The Blue Vial: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-eve-of-st-mark.html