by Sam Juliano
June continues, leaving behind some torrential rains and some seasonal temperatures. Graduations, proms and summer programs are on the horizon in area school districts, while in the private industry vacations are fast approaching. While movie lovers can look ahead to high profile Cannes releases, a number of highly-regarded independent films are competing for attention with the commercial fodder, at a time when movie greatness is normally elusive.
The western countdown draws closer, though there are still about seven weeks left for prospective voters to finalize their Top 60 choices. Eight (8) ballots have been submitted to this point according to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. who again will be compiling the numbers in early August to determine the 60 films that will be receiving full essays by a host of writers, in assignments to be firmed up when the totals are sorted.
Lucille and I watched three movies in theaters and one as an HBO on demand exclusive at home. We saw:
Wish You Were Here *** (Saturday night) Landmark
Mozart’s The Magic Flute **** 1/2 (Sunday) Chelsea Cinemas
Behind the Candelabra *** 1/2 (Thursday) HBO on demand
Floating Weeds (1959) **** (Sunday) Ozu Festival at Film Forum
I am planning to pen a full review on Kenneth Branagh’s ravishing adaptation of Mozart’s immortal final opera THE MAGIC FLUTE for later in the week, but for now I’ll say I was blown away by this imaginative World War I set updating of the opera with the catchiest tunes and I do think that both Stephen Frye and Branagh did a fabulous, extraordinary job in translating Mozart and librettist Ennanuele Schikaneder employing the phantasmogoric playbook of Julie Taymor. The Masonic context was cut, but Mozart’s glorious score is intact and listening to the great orchestration and sublime vocals I was elevated to emotional heights, while finding yet another reason to find this masterpiece as one of the great accomplishments of western culture. Branagh was incredulous when asked about the opera film this past week, as it was really made back in 2006, but only now has finally received a US opening in selected theaters, with an encore set up for this coming Tuesday. The Region 1 DVD will be released on Thursday, and needless to say my order is in. The film’s June 2013 theatrical release means that it will count for this year despite the five-year hiatus.
Steven Soderbergh’s BEHIND THE CANDELABRA has been winning some superlative notices from critics and audiences, and I’m willing to join in for the most part, though I didn’t feel it probed all that deep and was rather conventionally crafted. Still, there are some stylish moments and the two lead performances By Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his younger lover are often electrifying.
Naturalistic dialogue and taut performances partially redeem the rather disjointed and convoluted Australian thriller WISH YOU WERE HERE, though all the major characters are sympathetic. Ozu’s 1959 FLOATING WEEDS, a re-make of his 1934 THE STORY OF FLOATING WEEDS boats some glorious color cinematography from the legendary Kazuo Miyagawa.
Some Links have been updated:
Weeping Sam offers up his Top Ten favorite Beatles songs at The Listening Ear in an irresistible post by the rock specialist: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/06/beatles-top-ten.html
John Greco has posted a fabulous review of Ford’s celebrated western “My Darling Clementine” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/my-darling-clementine-1946-john-ford/
Tony d’Ambra has penned a terrific review of the ‘last of the B movies’ “The Burglar” at FilmsNoir.net: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-burglar-1957-the-last-b-movie.html
Shubhajit Lahiri has posted a superlative review on Sergio Leone’s “Duck You Sucka” at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/06/duck-you-sucker-fistful-of-dynamites.html
Samuel Wilson has written an excellent essay on the 1972 western “Ulzana’s Raid” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2013/06/ulzanas-raid-1972.html
Joel Bocko has posted one of his great pieces from two years back, “The Flight of the Red Balloon” at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/11/flight-of-red-balloon.html
Dee Dee’s ‘Ning’ is currently featuring a lead post on the 1947 noir classic “Nightmare Alley”: http://filmnoire.ning.com/video/nightmare-alley-1947-parte-1
Laurie Buchanan leads up with a fabulous post titled “The Cat That Ate the Canary” at Speaking From The Heart: http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2013/05/28/the-cat-that-ate-the-canary/
Judy Geater leads up at Movie Classics with a terrific review of Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/it-happened-one-night-1934/
Jon Warner has posted another excellent essay at Films Worth Watching on Rossellini’s “Journey To Italy”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/06/journey-to-italy-1953-directed-by.html
Craig Kennedy has posted a terrific review of Josh Whedon’s Shakespeare adaptation “Much Ado About Nothing” at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2013/06/09/much-ado-about-nothing-2013/
At the ever-ravishing Creativepotager’s blog Terrill Welch treats her readers to more ravishments in the name of roses: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/sunday-roses-in-june-at-la-casa-de-inspiracion/
Marilyn Ferdinand has penned a fabulous review on Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” at Ferdy on Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2013/the-great-gatsby-2013/18611/
Jeffrey Goodman glowingly features R.E.M.’s “Reckoning” at The Last Lullaby: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-burglar-1957-the-last-b-movie.html
Weeping Sam has a post-Memorial Day song list up at The Listening Ear that incldes two CCR gems: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/05/friday-five-post-holiday-edition.html
Patricia Hamilton’s latest post at Patricia’s Wisdom is a fabulous review of the novel “The Lemon Tree”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2013/06/the-lemon-tree-an-arab-a-jew-and-the-heart-of-the-middle-east-sandy-tolan/
Dean Treadway has a fantastic display of 70 double-feature movie posters up at Filmicability: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-love-double-feature-movie-posters.html
David Schleicher examines J.J. Abrams’s latest “Star Trek” film at The Schleicher Spin, and the verdict in an excellently-penned review isn’t bad at all: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/05/20/do-ya-do-ya-want-my-khan-the-shiny-happy-people-of-j-j-abrams-star-trek/#comment-27317
Sachin Gandhi features a stupendous post on the Cinema of Neveldine/Taylor at Scribbles and Ramblings: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-cinema-of-neveldinetaylor.html
J.D. LaFrance at Radiator Heaven has started up a fascinating new series on film critics who inspired him, with the celebrated Harlan Ellison as his first subhject: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/05/film-critic-hall-of-fame-harlan-ellison.html
The exceptional writer Andrew Katsis has a terrific essay on “Casablanca””’ up at Dee Dee’s place Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2013/04/heres-looking-at-you-kidas-my-writer.html
Jaimie Grijalba has penned an excellent review of the Argentinian “Mujer Lobo” at Overlook’s Corridor: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/argentinian-cinema-2013-4-mujer-lobo-2013/
Murderous Ink at Vermillion and One Nights has written another extraordinary essay, this time on Yosujiro Shimazu’s 1931 “Love, Be With Humanity””: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2013/05/love-be-with-humanity-1931.html
One of the best writers out there, the incomparable Ed Howard is still working at an impressive pace at Only The Cinema, with his latest post on the silent classic “Golem”: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-golem-1920.html
Jason Bellamy tackles Malick’s To the Wonder in typically spectacular form at The Cooler: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2013/04/penrose-stairs-to-wonder.html
Paddy Mullholland has penned another excellent “Hidden Treasures” installment at Screen on Screen: http://screenonscreen.blogspot.com/2013/05/hidden-treasures-all-about-lily-chou.html