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Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knighley in a capture from John Carney’s charming “Begin Again.”

Screen capture from 1949 Film Noir classic GUN CRAZY by Joseph H. Lewis

by Sam Juliano

With today’s posting of the Number 51 film in the Romantic Countdown, Fried Green Tomatoes, we have officially approached the half way mark of the project.  The schedule calls for October 6 as the day to unveil the poll position choice.  Until then it will continue to be every Monday through Friday.  I would like to thank those who have been generous with their appearance and comments during the countdown, and am most pleased that it is doing so well in every sense.

Again I want to thank our guardian angel Dee Dee for keeping things spirited on the side bar, especially with all the latest developments in Film Noir, including the presently-running Femme Noir Festival at Manhattan’s Film Forum, where Lucille, Sammy and I have attended eight (8) of the offerings so far with several more planned for this coming week.

A terrific, comprehensive John Waters Retrospective is slated for Lincoln Center in September, while the Film Forum will be running both a festival on films made from Tennessee Williams’ plays, and one on the American icon Frank Capra.  One week runs for Rome Open City, That Man From Rio, The Conformist and Fedora are also slated also with a five film roundup of the films directed by Leos Carax. (more…)

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56. Bringing Up Baby

by Pat Perry

In 2007, Nathan Rubin memorably coined the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” to capture a familiar character/trope in romantic comedy: “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

There is probably no earlier or better example of this archetype than the character of Susan Vance (unforgettably played by Katherine Hepburn) in the legendary screwball farce Bringing Up Baby. From the first time we glimpse her, striding purposefully onto a golf course, till her final moments in Cary Grant’s rescuing grip as she dangles from a rapidly crumbling dinosaur skeleton, we know that Hepburn’s Vance is a force of nature, giddily marching to the strange rhythms humming inside her own, impenetrable brain – and absolutely the right match for Grant’s befuddled, deadly serious paleontologist.

If  “manic pixie dream girl” has come to be understood as a pejorative, it’s likely because this sort of pixilated dynamic is a tricky thing to pull off – often imitated, rarely duplicated. Two outright homages to Bringing Up Baby – Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc? and James Foley’s Who’s That Girl? have had varying degrees of success (or, in the case of Foley’s film, no success whatsoever)  in convincingly capturing the enchantment that a madcap, free- spirited woman can have over a shy, serious, man who’s about to marry the wrong woman. (more…)

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Screen cap from the most chilling scene in John Stahl’s 1945 masterpiece LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN.

by Sam Juliano

It all comes down to generous gulps of Poland Spring, extended refuges into air-conditioned rooms and mental countdown towards one’s planned vacation.  Some of course are already on those vacations – beaches and resort amusements are very much a part of the daily itinerary.  Summer can be one’s eternal joy, but it comes with some baggage, especially if your region is prone to exceedingly high temperatures.  Since most regions so apply, one is usually engaged in a love-hate relationship with the season.

The Romantic Countdown continues to inch forward to the halfway point.  The high quality of the writing is a constant joy for readers, many of whom have been troupers in the comment threads.

Many thanks to our guardian angel Dee Dee for her continued work in revising the site sidebar.  Coincidentally enough her posters for the just started Femme Noir Festival at the Film Forum are highlighting some of my own recent movie-going as Lucille, Sammy and I took in two double features that launched the venture on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.  This past week we saw: (more…)

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 cap3082 

By Jon Warner

 

There have been several films that follow an inanimate object (or animal) as it is transferred ownership to different people, with the meaning or importance of said object changing depending on the situation and the person involved. Anthony Mann’s Winchester ’73 (1950) follows a Winchester rifle across several owners. Tales of Manhattan (1942) is a fascinating film involving several stories following a formal tailcoat. There’s also The Red Violin (1998). Even Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) and War Horse (2011) do something similar. Max Ophuls’ magnificent melodrama The Earrings of Madame de… seems to follow a similar pattern on the surface, as a pair of expensive earrings transfer owner several times. Ophuls’ film, though, seems to do something just a little different. It’s not really about following the earrings. In fact it is more about the motivations behind the giving and receiving of them than anything regarding chance transfer of ownership. Considering the monetary value of the earrings, no single person seems to give them a second thought until the earrings come full circle back to the original owner, as they are finally received as a gift of true love, becoming a glimmering example of both a failed marriage and an adulterous affair.

(more…)

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Book reading by celebrated children’s book author/illustrator Peter Brown at Word bookstore/cafe in Jersey City, N.J.

Richard Linklater’s visionary “Boyhood” in the best film of 2014.

by Sam Juliano

The romantic countdown is doing quite nicely, with elevated comment totals of late and a real sense of purpose by both the motivated writers and those inspire to contribute on the corresponding threads.  We aren’t so far from the half way point in fact.

Thanks so much to our Guardian Angel Dee Dee for her continued attendance to the sidebar.  And thanks to all who spend even seconds at the site leaving ‘likes’ or acknowledgements.

Summer moves forward, as does the program I am teaching until August 8th.

Lucille and the gang came along for two new releases this week in theaters.  We also attended a book reading and presentation at the Word Bookstore in Jersey City.  Peter Brown of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild fame was on hand as per my FB report: (more…)

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Screen grab from Richard Lester’s classic Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)

by Sam Juliano

A few glorious days have followed the remnants of a storm that went out to sea on the cusp of the July 4th weekend that saved the holiday for many, and allowed barbecues to operate successfully until the fireworks upstaged all.  Independence Day was a fine day for many, and it’s conclusion marks the start of the dog days of summer.

I want to thank Dee Dee from the bottom of my heart for her remarkable sidebar updating and the usual holiday markings.  This site remains in her debt for years.

The romantic countdown continues with several more superlative entries this past week.  Both the page view and comment totals remain constant in a very good way, as we get closer and closer to the mid-way point.

The tragic passing of a 57 year-old longtime friend of a 12 year illness kept everything in a state of melancholy most of the week.  John Mesisca was a trustee on the Fairview Board of Education for multiple terms. (more…)

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Le Quai de Brumes (France 1938)

By Tony d’Ambra

The fog of angst seeps from the faces of two doomed lovers in the dank gloom of Le Havre. Jean is on the run and Nelly is trapped in a psychic prison as real as the physical constraints on her existence. Happiness is something that may exist but neither knows it. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

One down and four to go.  Our wonderful daughter Melanie -the oldest of our five children- graduated Cliffside Park High School this past week outdoors on a steamy hot and humid Wednesday evening at 6:00 P.M.  For us it is hard to believe that one of our kids has reached this point, though now it we pretty much be one after the other.  We certainly are very proud of our Melanie, who did finish in the top third of her graduating class, finishing with a fantastic senior year in academic achievement.

Best wishes for a soulful retirement to Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. (our long time voting tabulator extraordinaire) who was the toast of a dinner on Wednesday night at Cafe Tivoli in Ridgefield.  D’Arminio and his wife Kathy plan to re-locate in South Carolina by the end of the summer.  He served as President of the Fairview Board of Education this past year after completing two separate stints on the nine-person panel.  We wish Angelo the very best in the coming years.

Despite a packed week with all kinds of events (Melanie’s graduation party was held on Sunday at the Tiger Hose Firehouse in Fairview) Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I managed to see three films in theaters this past weeek, though one of those was a twelve minute short shown at the BAM Film Festival that was directed by our good friend Jason Giampietro.  The two feature films we saw in theaters was another at the same BAM Festival, and the beloved STAR WARS at the Film Forum, shown as part of the Alec Guiness Film Festival.  At the STAR WARS screening on Sunday afternoon we met up with Bob Clark and had a very fine talk after the film in the lobby.  Whether one is a fervent fan of all the films or not, there is no denying this very first film made in the series as a landmark of the cinema for all sorts of reasons.  We all had quite a bit of fun I must say. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

One of the funniest stories from my childhood, one that has been often told to me to inspire riotous laughter among friends, has a direct tie-in this past week’s release of Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, based on the smash Broadway musical.  It goes something like this:  When I was eight years old, the Four Season’s released the single “Sherry.”  As a 45 buyer all the way back to that year, the song was one of my earliest infatuations.  I was so smitten with it -and in typical Juliano obsessive fashion I played it at least 20 times a day or so – that I was heard by neighbors sitting on my backyard fence singing  Sherry.  Sherry baby…Sherry.  Sherry baby.  She- er-er-er-ery baby!  Sherry baby!  Of course I was mortified at the prospects of there being an audience back then, though I never had a problem singing in my own bedroom.  The memories came flooding back to me again over the weekend while Lucille and I heard the song several times during the two hours plus running time of the film.  In fact “Sherry” was done more times than any other Four Seasons song in the film, though such standards like “Rag Doll,” “Let’s Hang On,” “Oh What A Night,” “My Eyes Adore You,” and the celebrated Frankie Valli solo “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and others kept you humming a long.  As expected three days later those songs are still in my head.  And well they should be.  The Four Seasons were one of America’s premier groups and their Cinderella story -OK it is an edgy one too- is given entertaining treatment in the film version that appears to have split the critics down the middle.  It is far from perfect, but Jersey Boys on film alternately explores the fame and despair in the lives of the group members, including Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio  Sit back, relax and enjoys these great songs again.  A few too many people were looking to pick a fight with Eastwood, methinks.  Sure it longish, but so what.  The end credits for me were not long enough.  Christopher Walker was great too as a benevolent Mafioso. (more…)

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Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in “The Fault in Our Stars”

Screen capture from British satire masterpiece “Kind Hearts and coronets” shown as part of Alec Guinness Festival at Film Forum

by Sam Juliano

In quick succession Father’s Day, the longest day of the year (June 21st) and the ending date of school signal the Dog Days of Summer are ahead.  Indeed weather forecasters are predicted number in the low 90’s for the coming week in the New York City area, and other friends living elsewhere are reporting much the same.  The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will be staging their own annual film festival next week, and included on the itinerary is a new short film by our longtime friend Jason Giampietro, and our Film Forum pal Kyle Molzan who is making his debut with For the Plasma.  Richard Body in this past week’s The New Yorker has some very nice things to say about Kyle’s film.  Lucille and I (and probably Sammy and Danny) will be on hand for both screenings.  Our darling daughter Melanie graduates high school next week and we have a party set for the 28th. (more…)

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