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Archive for the ‘Sam’s Blogger Tributes’ Category

Header at Stephen Russell-Gebbett's 'Checking on my Sausages' blogsite

Note:  This is the twelfth entry in an ongoing series that honors creative bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.

by Sam Juliano

He’s no fan of Pixar animation. He has questioned the long-held adoration for Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, and once wrote a scathing dismissal of Citizen Kane, saying the cinema landmark was actually a “bad” film. His placement of Sucker Punch as the best film of it’s year raised eyebrows, and his personal taste remains as autonomous and scrutinizing as any writer committed to culture ad the arts. Yet, one who approaches the often-infuriating prose of Briton Stephen Russell-Gebbett is in for a veritable lesson in how to approach art from a perspective long held as alienating. Russell-Gebbett’s spirited, opinionated and descriptive prose asks readers to think through long-protected views tainted by nostalgia and volumes of scholarly study by critics and historians that have served to maintain an acknowledged position by consensus building. Whether one ultimately agrees with Russell-Gebbett, one can never deny his compelling arguments and the confidence that enables him to demonstrate by the evidence that he’s far more than a contrarian looking for attention. His taste is rarely tempered by sentiment and the ‘emotional underpinning’ and he frankly admits “I have always thought that art appreciation can only really be subjective because nothing is not filtered through an individual person’s senses. A by-product of this is a feeling of freedom in not being squashed by the stamp of popular approval. Art is personal in the making and in the watching. Also, isn’t it so much better to share something with someone by saying “I love it” rather than just the abstract “it’s a great film”? “It’s a great film because I love it”. (more…)

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Max Ophuls's 'Lola Montes' is a longtime Samuel Wilson favorite

by Sam Juliano

Among the Albany Public Library’s more inconspicuous contributions to the film community is it’s formidable archives of obscure and eclectic titles that offer the most enterprising card-holders a treasure trove of off-the-beacon-track rarities and prompt current updates. For an unbeatable price it’s a way to gleefully indulge oneself in many works that can’t be obtained in many on line retail stores.

Fecund and remarkably prolific writer Kevin Gilbert (who goes by the pen name of ‘Samuel Wilson’) has parlayed this unique availability into the main source material for a now three-year-old blogsite named Mondo 70, which represents a labor of love for one of the internet’s most gifted writers. Born in Troy, a neighboring suburb of New York State’s capital, “Wilson,” who holds a PhD in history from the University of Massachusetts, humbly insists he’s not especially knowledgeable in any particular subject, but the scholarly heft of his prose and the level of depth in his comments suggest otherwise. Launched in November of 2008, Mondo 70, whose title pays homage to the Italian cult cinema that Wilson has a hankering for -and has developed a remarkable aptitude for- is a place for the online cineaste with enterprising interests to indulge in engaging, often extraordinary essays of world classics and genre movies that may have slipped by the collective radar. Indeed in an extensive e mail interview completed two weeks ago Wilson asserted: “My actual model are the cult movie magazines, whose readers expect to discover things eccentric and exotic, and in my case sometimes artistic as well.” Wilson is making reference here to Tim Lucas’ Video Watchdog (a popular long-running bi-monthly on specialized horror and fantasy) and Shock Cinema among others. Wilson confides: “While I still like American horrors best, their Italian counterparts have impressed me the most cinematic-ally. There is so much to the cinematography, and the often contra punctually pleasant music -and sometimes even the gore- do much to inspire disquiet that theirs may be the ultimate horror cinema.” (more…)

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"Speaking From The Heart's" effervescent Laurie Buchanan

by Sam Juliano

As humans, we’re multi-dimensional in nature. We operate from physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For true health to occur, we must learn how all these dimensions interact and affect our overall health.

-Laurie Buchanan

Note:  This is the ninth in a series on bloggers who have made a vast difference on the on-line landscape.

Optimum health is  achieved by a perfect orchestration of the mental and the physical sides of our being, and one without the other can be likened to a fish out of water.  Crystal Lake, Illinois holistic health practitioner Laurie Buchanan has set the groundwork for her loyal readership to experience the kind of well-being that has been the defining coda of her blogsite, Speaking From The Heart since it’s inception in February of 2010.  Buchanan, who hold a PhD in energy medicine, has painstakingly examined the four aspects of a person’s essence that need to work in unison to maintain and eqilibrium of wellness – that of physical, emotional, mental and spiritial.  By exploring the basic tenets of philosophical thought, astrology and practical reality, the tireless proponent of a stress-free life admits that decision making and personal application are vital in the realization of these goals. (more…)

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Troy Olson (left) with Tieryn and Kevin Olson at the Oregon State Fair in 2009

Note:  This is the eighth feature dedicated to bloggers who have made a huge difference to the on-line community.

by Sam Juliano

Literature gave the world the Brothers Grimm and the Brothers Karamazov.  Music gave us George and Ira Gershwin and and the Brothers Sherman.  The cinema has yielded the talents of Joel and Ethan Coen.  In the age of the internet two blogging brothers from the Salem, Oregon area have enriched the film community with their unique insights, specialized tastes, and some of the finest on-line writing available to readers.  Troy and Kevin Olson have matched their long-running and prolific activity on the film boards with the nearly four-year stewardship of two popular sites, Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies and Elusive as Robert Denby: The Life and Times of Troy.  Both the elder Troy and his younger sibling Kevin (the two have a third brother who resides in San Diego) have also written for other sites  and for a very long time have been regular contributors at the homes of others, furnishing many of their colleagues with some of the most valued commentary under film reviews and features.  Troy has reported on his travel, family additions and domestic events at a site aptly dubbed ‘Olson Family Matters,’ while Kevin has been a contributor at a Western blog launched by fellow writer Jon Lanthier.  (more…)

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Filmmaker and blogger Jeffrey Goodman

by Sam Juliano

     Bayou filmmaker and arts lover Jeffrey Goodman is one of those rare people whose very name describe their essence.  In the blogging community he stands alone in his astonishing humility, tireless energy and a deep, almost profound reverence for his fellow writers.  Despite the experience of a lifetime in Paris, where the New Orleans native attended screenings of some of the cinema’s most beloved classics, Goodman is always seeking out the perceptions and opinions of those he feels have earned their keep in the cinematic circles.

      The founder of a red carpet site called The Last Lullaby, (named after his maiden foray into filmmaking) Goodman is a master statesman, an eternally effervescent blogger, who makes all who visit his home feel like a member of his own family.  Indeed, in citing the various influences that convinced him to launch his own blogsite, Goodman acknowledges: “I felt like I was sharing energy with a few friends in different places, and with the blogosphere it was like I discovered a whole new set of friends and cinematic inspiration.”  Debuting in January 0f 2009, the personable Goodman uses The Last Lullaby to report on his weekly film viewings, and to platform the latest developments in the planning of his sophomore film effort, Peril, a film that will feature Tom Sizemore, tentatively set to shoot in northern Louisina in early 2012.  Goodman’s most impressive turn as a blogger was a three-month project in the middle of last year surveying the cinema from 1926 to 2008, a tenacious daily recall of the best film of each year and the runners-up that figured in the summary judgement.  Many fello wbloggers responded to Goodman’s irresistible posterings, and gave their own views which often conformed with those of The Last Lullaby’s proctor.  During the venture Goodman expessed a marked preference for the works of Renoir, Bresson, Godard, Truffaut, Pialat, Ozu, Kitano, Kiarostami, Wenders, Dreyer, Rossellini, Anthony and Michael Mann, Lynch, Jarmusch, Penn, Altman, Ashby, Peckinpah, Hawks, Cukor, Walsh, Gordon Green, Bujalski and the Dardennes, and a professed ‘obsession’ with the French New Wave, though he has quite a bit of personal passion left for Italian neo-realism and the American New Wave, confessing that he strives for a combination of realism and minimalism in his own work. (more…)

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Roderick Heath and Marilyn Ferdinand in Chicago during the summer of 2003

by Sam Juliano

Note:  This is the sixth entry in an ongoing series that honors creative bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert, in assessing “Ferdy on Films”  declared “You put a lot of love into your blog,” while appreciative fellow blogger Daniel Getahun opined: “I feel like commenting here in the presence of greatness.”  Indeed, both observations inform the attraction and worth of the long-running site, based in Chicago and founded by a mid-50’s freelance writer and editor named Marilyn Ferdinand (who happens to double as an impassioned cineaste and film preservation champion.)  Ms. Ferdinand, who holds a B.A. from Lyola University of Chicago is a well-traveled culture maven, with a taste for vegan food preparation, classical music and gardening, but beyond these innocuous interests, she’s a tireless crusader for artistic purity and social justice.  Whether she is discussing the rescue of a long-lost silent film, the sadness surrounding a death caused by prejudice, or the outrageous incarceration of an outspoken film director of a third-world country, Ms. Ferdinand is gloriously opinionated and guided by a strong underpinning of morality, human rights and the preservation of our national heritage.  Hence, her film reviews invariably go much further than just evaluating a work’s elemental value, but actually project her uncompromising views on politics, philosophy and femisnism, while maintaining an equilibrium in expressing certain principles that underline her world-view and an abiding adherence to what she feels will ultimately reform failings in the system.

The Windy City native, who is married to Shane Truax, is at the height of her erudition and persuasiveness when discussing gender issues, but her extraordinary work as a film critic is arguably as imperative, and adorned with a marked talent for descriptive writing.  Her spectacular review of Ken Russell’s The Devils, which was informed by a life-long infatuation with the director’s work, is matched by her soulful piece on Leo McCarey’s wrenching American masterpiece, Make Way For Tomorrow, where she emotionally admits in the essay’s comment section that “she was never moved as much by any film in her life” and by her incomparable coverage of festivals, where she regularly attends just about every feature offered, and subsequently of penning a high-quality review at her site within a few days or even hours afterwards.  In 2010, her coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) was the envy of bloggers everywhere, as she got the jump on the latest features by masters such as Kiarostami and Weerasethakul, and some critically-praised documentaries like Lucy Walker’s Wasteland.  Indeed, the documentary feature is as specialized a form for Ferdinand, as is her admirably chronic attention to the silent era.  The documentary, in fact, often encompasses and constitutes for the erstwhile revisionist, a platform to segue in the ‘call for action” that is often the underlining motive for a number of filmmakers.  (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

     Note:  This is the fifth entry in an ongoing series that honors creative bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.

     One of the blogosphere’s most renowned film communities, Living in Cinema, was launched in April of 2007 by Los Angeles native Craig Kennedy.  The forty-ish Kennedy, who was an active blogger at Sasha Stone’s Awards Daily for several years before the advent of LIC, was born and raised in the Seattle area before heading south to the “City of Angels” in 1995.  Kennedy, a low-key sort who seems to have been born to be a moderator, admits that he was motivated to start up his own place “out of frustration over the content of many of the professional sites I read at the time. There was too much focus on box office and celebrity gossip and too often they put the awards cart before the movie horse. Film festival coverage seemed to consist of sticking fingers into the wind to anticipate what was going to be the next Little Miss Sunshine. I wanted a site that approached movies with movie enthusiasm for its own sake – one that didn’t judge the quality of a movie based on how much money it made or how many awards it received, so I started one.” 

     Almost by design, Kennedy’s formula for an alternative blogsite immediately began to attract fellow movie lovers, many of whom have stayed on tenaciously for the three-and-a-half years the site has been thriving.  The site’s core supporters include close friend Joel Ehly, an Oregon native who in the three year duration of the site has commented on over 90% of Kennedy’s postings, and has triggered many lengthy discussions in the unique cummunity-style discouse that often escalates into what can rightfully be refered to as “live discussion.”  Jennifer Boulden of Arkansas, Alison Flynn of New York City, New Zealander “sartre”,  Daniel Getahun of Minneapolis (himself the proprietor of the popular and long-running bogsite Getafilm), Don Haumant (a.k.a.”Pierre de Plume”) of Minnesota, Slant critic Chuck Bowen, San Francisco-area film writer Alexander Coleman, and the Big Apple’s Dorothy Porker have stayed with Kennedy since the site’s inception, spending countless hours rendering verdicts on their recent movie viewings in the theatres or at home, and in contributing thoughtful commentaries on coming attractions, passings or happenings in the lives of the site’s other regulars.  A number of others have recently appeared, as Kennedy’s affable demeanor and flexibility has accomodated (and indeed has attracted) those with a passion for the movies. (more…)

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