by Sam Juliano
July 1st. The signal that high temperatures are here to stay, and vacations for most are upcoming. Lucille and I and the entire family will be embarking on that long elusive “trip of a lifetime” in just under 40 days, with a Virgin Atlantic flight set to leave Newark late on Wednesday August 7th, a day that is the official end of the summer program that I am currently teaching. We will be spending six days in London and seven at the home of Allan Fish in Kendal, a breathtakingly scenic enclave 50 miles south of the Scottish border. Our plans include a one day train trip from Kendal to Edinburgh, Scotland, another one to Liverpool (my kids are huge Beatles fans, as Lucille and I are) and a shorter hike from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, where I will realize the aspirations I’ve maintained for decades to visit the Bard’s final resting place. Many other stops in London to the most popular destinations are on the itinerary, all covered by the “London pass” that will be secured for all of us. Allan will be meeting us in London upon our arrival at the hotel, and will stay with us for the period of time in the big city, and then guiding back on the train ride to his Kendal home. There are two very close friends and WitD associates that we are very excited to see as well. But I’ll wait until the trip report to discuss this rare event, surely a major highlight in everyone’s lives.
Speaking of “life” highlights, this past Monday night our 14 year-old son Danny graduated the eighth grade at a spirited ceremony at La Fortuna Restaurant in Fairview. Danny, a talented artist, with begin Cliffside Park High School in September. He is now the third of our five kids to reach that level, with only Jillian (entering grade 7) and Jeremy (starting grade 6) still to reach that threshold.
The western countdown draws nearer still, though we still have a full month for Top 60 ballots to be submitted. As stated previously the deadline is August 1st. This past week the number of ballots turned in by e mail to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. rose to eight after terrific submissions were made by Sachin Gandhi and John Greco. It is anticipated that assignments will be filled before we leave for the U.K., with a September 1st start-up for the countdown. We will be doing 60 for this one in the usual reverse order, leading up to the number 1 sometime late in November. As with the previous two countdowns (musical and comedy) the essays will appear Monday through Friday.
This past week represented a substantial scale back from the previous one, though we still managed a few films, including two in ongoing festivals.
20 Feet From Stardom **** (Friday night) Montclair Claridge
Yankee Doodle Dandy -1942- ***** (Sunday) Film Forum Jr.
That Night’s Wife -1930- *** (Wednesday) Ozu at Film Forum
I’ve seen the irresistible YANKEE DOODLE DANDY many times in my life, but Sunday morning’s viewing (the first for my three boys) may well have been the most enjoyable of them all. Offered as the last entry in the Film Forum Jr. series until it resumes in September, the timing of course was to coincide with the Fourth of July holiday coming up on Thursday, and this rousing, foot-stomping slice of Americana always revitalizes those dormant patriotic genes! It is very difficult to contest our good friend Judy Geater, who recently in a post at Movie Classics named the ever-versatile James Cagney as the greatest actor of all-time. It’s always a close call for me between the charismatic Cagney and Marlon Brando, but after Sunday morning and yet another viewing of this festive celebration of a man’s incomparable talent I am ready to go back to Cagney. The print at the Film Forum was absolutely gorgeous, and all my boys (and Lucille of course) loved this classic flag-waver. I was humming Cohen’s songs all over again in the car on the way home, especially since we all got stuck in some serious Manhattan gridlock traffic because of the Gay Pride parade. Richard R.D. Finch, of course hosted a highly-successful Cagney blogothon a few months back, and gave away a two-disc DVD set of the film. Brian (Classic Film Boy) covered the film with a wonderful essay for the blogothon.
The often inspiring and always pulsating music documentary 20 FEET FROM STARDOM includes vital contributions from Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting and Mick Jagger, and it offers a telling look at ego, disappointment and how elusive fame is for backup artists who are talented enough to deserve far better, and though it’s redundant at times, it’s wholly irresistible, and a moving homage to a time capsule and people who worked their hearts out.
Ozu’s silent THAT NIGHT’S WIFE is a minor work in the towering’s director’s canon, but it’s still intriguing, and an about face for Ozu, who takes an intriguing look at the thriller genre. Steve Sterner provided spirited piano accompaniment for the silent film that David Bordwell contends “rewrites Lang and Von Sternberg.”
Links carried over from last week with a good many updates:
Judy Geater has written a superlative review for the ‘Margaret Rutherford blogothon’ at Movie Classics on David Lean’s “Blithe Spirit”: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/margaret-rutherford-in-blithe-spirit-david-lean-1945/
Sachin Gandhi is leading at Scribbles and Ramblings with a fantastic discussion of the WitD western countdown, one that includes a brief talk about spaghetti westerns and his exceptional Top 60 ballot: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2013/06/essential-western-films.html
Tony d’Ambra’s latest review at FilmsNoir.net is imbued with insight, scholarly heft and a deep appreciation of Christopher Nolan’s 2000 “Memento”: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/memento-2000-the-days-of-future-past.html
Jon Warner has written a fabulous piece on a D.W. Griffith rare western “The Massacre” at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-massacre-1912-directed-by-dw.html
Samuel Wilson has penned a terrific review on the 1970 ultra-violent western “Soldier Blue” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2013/06/soldier-blue-1970.html
Laurie Buchanan’s leading post at Speaking From The Heart is a thought-provoking one on “Critique vs. Criticism”: http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2013/06/25/criticism-versus-critique/
Weeping Sam’s “June director” is Kon Ichikawa, and his list and discussion at The Listening Ear are revelations: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/06/june-director-kon-ichikawa.html
Joel Bocko offers up a link to his already-published, sensational essay on Lawrence of Arabia (which may be his favorite film of all-time) at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/08/lawrence-of-arabia.html
John Greco has written a fabulous essay on Rouben Mamoulian’s “City Streets” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/city-streets-1931-rouben-mamoulian/
Shubhajit Lahiri has posted a superlative review of 1959’s “Warlock) at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/06/warlock-1959.html
Roderick Heath has authored an extraordinary review of Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio” at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2013/berberian-sound-studios-2013/18869/
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
Murderous Ink at Vermillion and One Nights leads up with a fabulous new post on “Conversion to Talkies: Japanese Studios”: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2013/06/conversion-to-talkies-japanese-studios.html
David Schleicher has penned a classic take down of “World War Z” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/06/25/im-sick-of-these-zombies-in-world-war-z/
Jaimie Grijalba has written an excellent essay on the 2012 Chilean film “Carne de Perro” at Overlook’s Corridor: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/chilean-cinema-2013-14-carne-de-perro-2012/
At the ever-ravishing Creativepotager’s blog Terrill Welch manages to capture the “emotion of the Canadian landscape”: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/capturing-the-emotion-of-the-canadian-landscape-is-no-easy-task/
Jeffrey Goodman celebrates the Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light” is a terrific musical post at The Last Lullaby: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2013/06/remain-in-light-talking-heads-1980.html
David Schleicher has penned an excellent essay on the new Superman movie at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/06/15/tea-party-wish-fulfillment-messianic-fetishism-and-the-american-way-in-man-of-steel/
The best in Indian film, politics and culture is on display at Kaleem Hasan’s incomparable Satyamshot: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/
Patricia Hamilton’s latest post at Patricia’s Wisdom is a fabulous review of the novel “The Beautiful Heist”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2013/06/the-beautiful-heist-agency-of-burglary-and-theft-by-kim-foster/
Drew McIntosh presents a fascinating point of contact between two films at The Blue Vial: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2013/06/points-of-contact-61313_13.html
Felix Gonzalez Jr. has written a terrific capsule assessment of the underrated “Return to Oz” at Film Fantomes: http://filmfantomes.wordpress.com/
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
Michael Harford’s latest post at the revived Coffee Messiah blogsite is another poetic collaboration with Paul Hawkins: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2013/06/week-6-38.html
J.D. LaFrance at Radiator Heaven has penned a typically great and comprehensive review on Josh Wheadon’s “Serenity” at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/06/serenity.html
Craig Kennedy has posted a terrific (and favorable) review of Berberian Sound Studio at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2013/06/14/berberian-sound-studio-2013/
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
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 an outstanding capsule review on “The East” at Screen on Screen: http://screenonscreen.blogspot.com/2013/06/review-before-midnight.html