by Sam Juliano
Having reached the mid-way point of February 2013, those of us in the northern hemisphere ‘snow zone’ have our fingers crossed that the white stuff has run it’s course until next year, but our experiences tell us now to hold our breath. In any case the NYC area did enjoy two days of mild temperatures this past week, and one can at least hope that March comes in like a lamb rather than the other way around. One can never feel as if they are safe from Mother Nature’s prospective wrath until April is upon us, and even then a few are still unconvinced. (Note: Again I spoke too soon. Bone-chilling temperatures here in the NYC area on Sunday night are keeping people inside.)
Devout or passive Catholics (I fall into the latter category) might be most interested in the coming papal conclave that is set to convene at the Vatican in early March after the unexpected resignation of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, also known as former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a Bavarian who cited advancing age and dissipating energy after eight years as Pope. On future MMD’s we’ll take a look at the candidates who appear to be most likely to ascend to the throne of St. Peter. While the Italian voting bloc is the biggest in the 117 strong contingent who will elect the next pope (one-quarter in fact) indications are that the cardinals may again be looking outside of Italy, as they did with the previous Polish and German choices. The general perception is that the church’s future is tied to the strength of the religion in South America and Africa, with even a serious look at North America. Still, some Italians reportedly want one of their own to re-take the papacy, and there are several Italian cardinals who are considered among the favorites. Three candidates are being touted now as the absolute leaders: Peter Turkson of Ghana, Marc Ouelet of Canada and Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Arinze, however, is 80, and is probably passed the point of feasibility. He was leaked to have finished a distant second to Ratzinger in the 2005 voting. Even lapsed and non-Catholics ate usually interested in the historic and dramatic aspects of the papal voting. Both Nino Moretti’s Habemus Papam and Michael Anderson’s The Shoes of the Fisherman play well to the recent matters at hand. Moretti’s film concerns a final refusal of the chosen candidate, while Anderson’s movie based on Morris West’s acclaimed best-selling novel looks at an unexpected radical choice that defied tradition.
Hero teachers and administrators of Sandy Hook Elementary School were awarded supreme congressional medals of honor by President Obama this past week at the White House, with family members present to accept. The honor in my view is as significant as the Purple Heart, as the courage shown here was much the same in putting the lives of others ahead of the person performing the selfless act, or even more so, as these heros lost their lives doing so.
The Oscar telecast is less than a week ago, and while it seems clear right now which film will cop the top prize, there is still some major drama surrounding the Best Actress, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor prizes. It’s always fun to try and predict what will happen on that ultimately forgettable night, and the Oscar video by Jason Giampietro featuring Dennis Polifroni, my son Sammy and myself is posted over the MMD this morning.
Lucille, Sammy and I saw the following (with Danny and Jeremy for the Whale):
Sound City **** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Landmark Sunshine Cinemas
No **** (Friday night) Angelika Film Center
Frankenstein (1931) ***** (Sunday morning) Film Forum
The Tell-Tale Heart (1953, animated) ***** (Sunday morning) Film Forum
Gone with the Wind (1939) ***** (Saturday night) Lafayette Theater (Suffern)
SOUND CITY, an often electrifying rock documentary is a labor of love of the venerable Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, who serves as director, interviewer and emcee of this endearing look at a legendary studio set in an industrial park in southern California, that opened in 1969. Grohl, a musical force of nature, imparts raw energy in clips featuring Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield, Paul McCartney, Nirvana, Tom Petty and Metalica among others. The documentary’s all-together riveting forward motions makes it one of the best films of it’s kind, and 2013′s first entry in the near-masterpiece bracket.
The Chilean nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, NO, featuring Gael Garcia Bernal is a largely perverse, humorous and ultimately moving film features a superb turn from the actor, a riveting sense of urgency due to the cinema verite style, and excellent incorporation of the news footage of the time to make it seem as if we are right there on the street with the characters. The ‘yes’ or ‘no’ of course has to do with whether the vote will maintain the murderous reign of dictator Augusto Pinochet. Pablo Larraine’s direction keeps things at fever pitch, even with a few dead spots.
The OSCAR NOMINATED LIVE ACTION SHORTS grouping yields two exceptional works and three others that can rightly be framed as ‘very good.’ A moving study of old age with an irresistible employment of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Schumann’s glorious Andante Cantabile from his famed ‘Piano Quartet Op. 47′, HENRY (by Yan England), like Michael Haneke’s Amour and Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet takes a melancholic look at old age and memories with a generous context of classical music to enhance the theme. It builds to a deeply moving climax. DEATH OF A SHADOW features a specter of death that takes photographs of people as they die, while the US made CURFEW has a vivid sense of whimsy and a convincing feel of time and place, as well as some effective dark humor. The other two shorts, ASAD and BUZKASHI BOYS offer a few nifty surprises.
Lucille, Sammy and I traveled up to Suffern, New York on Saturday night to watch GONE WITH THE WIND at the Lafayette movie palace in the scenic town just over the Garden State border. I’ve seen the film well over a hundred times in my life, but introducing it to young Sammy was quite a treat. And then the Sunday morning “Film Forum Jr.” series continued with the 1930 FRANKENSTEIN (another film seen too many times to remember) which was accompanied by the 1953 seven-minute animated classic THE TELL-TALE HEART based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, narrated by James Mason. Sammy, Danny and Jeremy came along with Lucille and I, and after the movie and short we drove up to Times Square and weathered the windy and chilling weather to spend some time in the Toys Are Us megastore, and a three-floor Barnes & Nobles.
I am thrilled to offer up the vimeo of Jason Giampietro’s new film CANDY RIDES here at WitD:
I have re-posted last week’s links:
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
Jaimie Grijalba features Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” at Overlook’s Corridor in his best of the year list: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/no4-django-unchained-2012/
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