by Sam Juliano
The Western Countdown will officially commence on Monday, September 30, but the two weeks prior may still feature a few essays on runner ups or western-related topics. In any case, if none or only part of that materializes we will still wait for the 30th, as it will give the current writers more time to complete their assignments. As stated on previous MMD’s the countdown will run Monday through Friday, and will conclude early in December. Group e mails have been distributed to the writers, who now now the dates their respective reviews will appear.
A video produced by 17 year-old High School senior Melanie Juliano of the U.K. trip is completed, and is planned for link up to the site in the coming weeks.
Typically, the past week was hectic in these parts, what will school starting. But for those with year round jobs without the seasonal chapter markers, it’s business as usual. At home I worked my way to the conclusion of THE WIRE Season 4, and now have only the final season left. In theaters Lucille and I saw two films, the latter the first screening in the new season of Film Forum Jr.:
Short Term 12 **** 1/2 (Friday night) Landmark Cinemas
The Three Worlds of Gulliver **** (Sunday morning) Film Forum
I am seriously tempted to rate SHORT TERM 12 with the highest ***** rating, but I’ll go with 4.5 and see if my feelings hold. If they do, (and I’m inclined to believe they will) I may go with 5.0 in the near future. This moving and intimate film features two powerful and naked performances by Bree Larson (Grace) and John Gallagher Jr. (Mason) as counselors in a halfway facility for troubled children. Treading cliched and mawkish territory, the emotionally expansive and intellectually intricate film is about ricks and challenges and the sharing of pain. The prime focus is on two teens: Marcus, formally abused and with an explosive temper, and Jayden, a bright but bored girl, whose life parallels some issues in Grace’s past. The final unforgettable scene bears the same kind of emotional resonance as the final coda in Truffaut’s The 400 Blows.
A staple in the Ray Harryhausen legacy, THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER is irresistible if a bit on the silly side, but the special effects and the legendary score by Bernard Herrmann carry the day. The Film Forum sported a loved 35 mm print for the 1960 fantasy work.
As I fully anticipated Season 4 of THE WIRE was the piece de resistance of the series, even if my profession would make the issues in this unit professionally telling. Hence, I can say without any question that there has never been a more intricate indictment of an American school system in film or television than the ghastly corruption on display in Baltimore. More than the past seasons I can say there is a powerful connection to the characters and the layers of morality examined in the in and out of school trials of Randy, Dukie, Michael and Namond and how human evil again intrudes in the machinations of the Sanfield organization. Robert Wisdom’s “Colvin” is a deeply affected character, and the scene with Wee-Bey is unforgettable. Andre Royo as Bubbles is exceptional, while Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow is quietly terror-inducing as Chris Partlowand Char Coleman is memorable as Cutty. The season is narratively complex and, and delivers the goods like the unfolding of a great novel.