by Sam Juliano
The Western Countdown is slated to commence a week from today, with Number 50 scheduled to be written by none other than Allan Fish. As announced several times during the project’s earliest stages, essays will be published Monday through Friday until the very last piece is posted on Friday, December 6. There will not be essays posted on Saturdays and Sundays, as there weren’t for previous pollings. It is much anticipated that excitement will build as we moved through the upcoming week for this long-awaited project, and the right authors are in place.
Though I stayed back from work this past week to allow for full recuperation from the procedure of September 13, I managed to see some films over the weekend, and completed the fifth and final season of THE WIRE at home. Lucille attended all three theatrical showings, while young Jeremy came along for the weekly Film Forum Jr.
David Copperfield (1935) ***** (Sunday) Film Forum
Blue Caprice **** (Sat. afternoon) Montclair
Enough Said **** (Sat. night) Angelika Film Center
1935′s literary adaptation of one of Charles Dickens’ masterpieces is one of the great Hollywood classics, directed by George Cukor and starring some of the greatest actors of the day. Pure cinematic bliss seeing this timeless work at the Film Forum as part of their weekly Film Forum Jr. series. W.C. Fields’ grand-daughter was on hand to introduce the film with program director Bruce Goldstein.
Nicole Holefcener’s sharp and touching ENOUGH SAID features James Gandolfini is one of his last roles, and that fact alone heightens the poignancy of the film. The harrowing BLUE CAPRICE slowly builds suspense in a deeply disturbing psychological thriller.
I have finally completed Season 5 and the entire THE WIRE series. As ever the realism and character development was superlatively transcribed and the suspense kept the show engrossing throughout. This time the newspaper The Baltimore Sun was the major focus, though the clash between Marlo Stanfield and the ever-fascinating Omar is a major thread. Like the other seasons lawlessness, ethics, bureaucratic corruption and greed are examined and The Baltimore Sun is every bit as dysfunctional as the streets, police department and the school system, and the blur between good and evil keeps the final denouement as ambiguous. Maybe to David Simon’s discredit he tries to resolve too much when the fact is that Baltimore is the same at the end as it was in the beginning. The use of “cameos” isn’t particularly effective, but the story is still fueled by thematic connections to a city in moral disintegration. All told I liked this season somewhat less than the others, but it’s still a buffo finale and brings everything full circle. Maybe not the greatest series ever as some claim, but for me definitely in the top bracket.
I received this brief report from Allan:
“Seen very little, been sidetracked. Spent the week watching some of the downloads, so Michael Wood’s Legacy and King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons, 3rd episode of Schama’s The Story of the Jews and Neil Oliver’s A History of Scotland. Among films, watched several old Evgenii Bauer silents (best of which was Daydreams 1915 ****), Lino Brocka’s Fight for Us (***½), and Godard’s 6 hour France/Tour/Detour/Deux/Enfants (****). I hope to also have a copy of the silent version of the 1929 High Treason (Maurice Elvey)to go with the part talkie I already have along with 15 or 20 other new arrivals this week.”