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Screen grab from outstanding Swedish film ‘Broken Hill Blues’ screened at Tribeca Film Festival

by Sam Juliano

Note: I trust all celebrating Easter Sunday had a great day!  Thanks as always to Dee Dee for her fabulous sidebar holiday tribute!

The late April Easter has come and gone amidst a nagging cold spell that performed an uneasy tango with the Spring temperatures that ruled the day-time hours on the day of Purple and Yellow.  The unusual tardiness of the holiday allowed it to clash with the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, which launched on Holy Thursday, and will continue until Sunday, April 27th.  Lucille and I have taken full advantage of the press passes we have enjoyed for the past several years, and found ourselves cabbing back and forth between the Bow Tie Cinemas on 23rd Street and the East Side Loews Village 7, with even a single stop at the SVA, a block down from the aforementioned Bow-Tie multiplex.  The madness will continue through next week, and attendance will be challenging, what with school re-convening today.  But I have four unused personal days (I am rarely absent, and have over 200 sick days in the can) and will be using two of those this week on Tuesday and Friday to allow for better options and more movies.

After attending the final Tout Truffaut feature of the well-attended Film Forum retrospective of the iconic New Wave French director (Small Change) we rested up for a few days, knowing that the 11 day Tribeca event would have us in cinematic overkill, and partaking in the cut-rate -for-Tribeca-patrons veggie burger program at Lucky’s next to the Bow-Tie multiplex.  As always, the festival has featured some most impressive films that deserved full distribution, and some others that left us indifferent.  But what a fun time this experience allows for and you could feel the excitement in the air on the streets around the theaters. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

It has taken a far longer time than we could ever have imagined, but I could now say with the utmost confidence that winter has been vanquished at last, and won’t be seen again, even in compromised form until a good seven or eight months from now.  Pollen allergies, the baseball season, short-sleeve shirts, sneakers, and the approaching Tribeca Film Festival, not to mention some April showers and a fast-approaching Easter Sunday have all converged to paint a picture of Spring and some glorious 70 degree temperatures.  Speaking of the Tribeca Film Festival, Lucille and I will again be armed with two press passes for the entire event, and I am presently attempting to put together an exhaustive schedule for the 11 days that comprise the April 17 to April 27 window.  Opening Day (the 16th) is not covered by the passes, but in effect it is a day of special events rather than the schedule proper anyway.  The preliminary (tentative) plans are now to see 37 films over the eleven days.  Yes, I know that is “certifiable” but I did see 38 last year.  There is no cost for the films, just for the toll getting over to the city, and maybe one or two tickets that will allow my daughter Melanie to come over for the Bjork documentary and teenage horror film that follows it.  Lucille, as usual will be my companion for most of the days, though for a few she will stay back to rest, allowing Broadway Bob Eagleson to fill in as he did last year.

The Romantic Films countdown is set to launch on Monday, May 12th, with the posting of the No. 101 choice, and will continue every Monday through Friday well into September.  The full results were sent out to the voters and writers shortly after being announced by Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr, and will only be known by voters as they unspool in essays that have been reserved and assigned to an incredible 27 writers: Marilyn Ferdinand, Tony d’Ambra, Brandie Ashe, Jon Warner, Sachin Gandhi, Jaimie Grijalba, Duane Porter, Joel Bocko, Pat Perry, Judy Geater, John Greco, Maurizio Roca, Shubhajit Lahiri, Dean Treadway, Lucille Juliano, Allan Fish, Pedro Camolas, Stephen Mullen, Mike Norton, John Grant, Pierre de Plume, Jim Clark, J.D. Lafrance, Ed Howard, Sam Juliano, and possibly Peter Lenihan.  One surprise writer is also aboard for one essay.  As is the case with all the past genre countdowns, we are hoping for active comment threads under the reviews. (more…)

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1968′s musical treasure ‘Oliver!’ screened on Sunday at Film Forum

by Sam Juliano

I just now, before publishing read a very sad e mail sent on to me by Tony d’Ambra.  The beloved actor and American institution Mickey Rooney has passed on at age 93.  His life and legacy will hopefully be included and/or well represented in today’s comment section.

The erstwhile adage April showers brings May flowers could not have been any more apt than the manner it has been applied for the first week of the month when Spring will first make its official appearance.  Several days of some serious drenching has linked up with the first days of the pollen season and the result for some of us has been sore throats, itchy eyes, incessant coughing and various other allergy-related discomfort.

The romantic countdown polling stage is now complete, with the Tuesday, April 1st deadline long gone, and final results will soon be released to the e mail chain of voters and prospective writers.  WitD readers of course will see the countdown unfold in reverse order starting on Thursday, May 7th, and running well into September.  This will mark the first non-autumn roll-out for one of our genre festivals, but it was done purposely to wed Spring and Summer with the romantic theme.  Between 20 and 25 films have been “reserved” by eager writers, but even if those claims were to stand (some probably won’t for a number of reasons) that would still leave 75 to 80 essays to be covered, so we will definitely need a lot of help.  A lot.  But all that bartering will be done behind close doors.  Ha!  I do anticipate sending out the results later tonight, as I have spoken at length with Angelo.  One thing that is certain is that we have decided to do a full Top 101 for the countdown, much as we did for the comedy countdown (100), largely because we received a whopping 30 ballots, and because Angelo tabulated the full hundred.  This is obviously one of the most popular pollings, and we should at least match the comedy countdown.  Somehow, 101 is a distinguished number that stands apart from an ordinary 100, and because of a tabulation error Angelo has tabulated 101, so 101 it will be. (more…)

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spielberg_guide5_ss_697da926-bab1-44fe-83dd-df70360208c0_1024x1024

by Sam Juliano

Take 2 Publishing has released its first project on Kindle, and this comprehensive labor of love is now available on kindle through Amazon at a price of $9.99.  The project is the brainchild of John Pruzanski, who worked feverishly over many months to assemble reviews on director Steven Spielberg’s films from both the professional and blogger ranks.  Such Spielberg supporters like Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joseph McBride , Matt Stoller Seitz and James Bernardinelli are featured in multiple reviews, while stellar work from my colleagues John Greco, Joel Bocko, Ed Howard, Roderick Heath and several others have been published right alongside them.

Two reviews that I wrote for Wonders in the Dark (War Horse on January 2, 2012 and A.I. Artificial Intelligence on May 13, 2009) were included in this definitive collection that has greatly enhanced the Spielberg literature.  John Greco’s superlative review on Jaws in there as are several by the brilliant Joel Bocko including essays on Jaws, E.T., Duel and Schindler’s List.  And what with the Spielberg archives at Only the Cinema holding a whopping ten reviews on the director, Pruzanski and his enthusiastic editor Adam Zanzie of Icebox Movies has performed some glorious plundering there to bring Howard’s incomparable scholarship to a wider fan base.  Writer Extraordinaire Roderick Heath is also well represented with his own stupendous comprehensive coverage of the director with essays that were originally published at Ferdy on Films and This Island Rod.

Congratulations to all connected with this remarkable project.  Pruzanski has plans to move forward on other directors, and has tentatively named Woody Allen as his next subject.

Here is the amazon link to the Kindle guide:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Take2-Guide-Steven-Spielberg-ebook/dp/B00IUQVUPK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396649531&sr=8-1&keywords=take+two+publishing+steven+spielberg

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Miracle find in basement of this Liverpool fish n chips shop in the U.K.

 

The unthinkable has happened, and film fans around the world are in frenzied celebration.  The owner of a Liverpool fish n chips store, Edward Fotheringham came forward late last night with news that has rocked the earth on it’s axis.  Once owned by a collector who dealt with underground acquisitions during the war, but who subsequently vanished, mint condition complete prints of the two most hoped for mutilated films were housed in a safe that Fotheringham said was found during basement excavation.  The print for GREED runs nine hours, while THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS runs close to four.

Film historians and authorities are estimating the find to yield Fotheringham tens of millions at auction later this month at Southbys, and early reports indicate Queen Elizabeth will be active in the bidding.

The winner will no doubt be besieged by film fans to commission a theatrical run and corresponding blu ray release.  The great grand daughter of Greed’s venerated director Erich von Stroheim told The Daily Mail that her famous ancestor is celebrating in heaven, while descendants of Welles are envisioning the iconic director lighting up the biggest Cuban cigar after the incredible news.

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Iconic final freeze shot of Francois Truffaut masterpiece “The 400 Blows”

 

by Sam Juliano

More moderate temperatures have descended on the metropolitan area as some rain has cascaded on the region as if to portend what could be in store for April, traditionally the wettest month of the year.  While I wouldn’t quite recommend putting those winter coats in mothballs just yet, it does appear that Father Winter has nearly gone into hibernation.  These benign observations however, may serve as a jinx, so readers are advised to roundly reject them.  Baseball fans are no doubt in their own kind of nirvana as the season is set to commence this week.  Yours Truly of course is a lifelong Yankees rooter, and has reason to be optimistic this year in view of the spate of new acquisitions.

The romantic countdown ballot phase is nearly over with any and all ballots still outstanding due no later than tomorrow evening (April 1st) by 11:00 P.M.  I believe we have received in the neighborhood of 22 or 23 ballots, and may well get a few more before the deadline.  Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. will probably have the final Top 75 results ready for the inner group of people who cast ballots or were privy to the constantly updating e mail chain a few days later, or by the end of the week.  Readers of course will learn the results peace meal during the course of a three to four month Monday to Friday essay presentation that will launch on Thursday,  May 1st.  Some titles have been reserved by specific writers, but all this is tentative as some of these films may not even make the final cut, while others may draw multiple statements of interest. Latest report from Angelo:   As of this morning 25 ballots have been cast!

Locally the five-week ‘Complete Hitchcock’ Festival at the Film Forum has ended, with the ‘Tout Truffaut’ two week run officially starting.  Lucille, Sammy, Danny and I were busy taking in the various screenings and events of the week in what was surely one of the more active weeks in quite a while.  When I have time I will discuss the entire festival in a separate post.  I managed to see 40 of the 53 films screened over four and a half weeks, though I have already seen the ones I didn’t watch in the festival. (more…)

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Screen grab from ‘The Birds’

by Sam Juliano

Spring is now official, and the weather has certainly risen to the occasion over the last several days, at least in the NYC metropolitan area.  However some snow is now predicted for mid-week, and once again temperatures will drop into the 30′s.

Sixteen (16) ballots have been cast so far for the romantic countdown, and the April 1st deadline for further submissions is fast approaching.  The actual countdown will commence around May 1st, with essays to post every Monday through Friday.

Sammy and I were busy all week with The Complete Hitchcock Festival at the Film Forum.  Lucille attended most of the screenings as well.  A big event was held on Friday evening at 6:30 P.M. at the Nyack Public Library on Broadway in Nyack, New York, where author Peter Danish offered up readings from his new book The Tenor, and spotlighted a soprano and tenor from a local opera company to sing two arias vital to the book’s narrative.  The first was the beloved tenor aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima” from L’Elisir d’Amore.  Danish employed a slide show on some of the novel’s World War II era settings and signed copies of the book afterwards.  The entire family attended the presentation.  That same night we drove back down to Closter, New Jersey for an encore of the rock group Nemesys at the Harvest Bistro.  60′s and 70′s rock standards were performed by the three member band.  The kids were absolutely thrilled with the show. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Is that Spring that has been trying to force its way through the chilly air mass?  And what’s with the snow melting away under a rejuvenated sun?  Well, I think we are in a fair enough position now to sign the certificate of death for Winter 2013/14, and look ahead to some very nice things from Mother Nature.  For those living in areas where the dire weather continues to persist I can only offer my best wishes for a soon enough changeover.

The romantic films countdown was given a real shot in the arm this past week with a flurry of completed ballots being sent on to e mail network members.  As of Sunday afternoon a total of fourteen (14) Top 75 lists have been sent on to the members and Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr., who will be enforcing an April 1st deadline for all submissions and changes.  About a dozen films that are anticipated to make the final cut have been “reserved” by several bloggers to write essays for, and further requests to that end will be similarly honored.

That portly man with the trademark profile and distinct English accent has been haunting our dreams over the past several weeks, and this past seven day stretch has been again dominated by his specter with Lucille, Sammy and I overdosing  at the Film Forum, seeing nine (9) more of his films, while taking in two new 2014 releases on Saturday, when Hitch had a day off.  We saw: (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

     There are some small but telling indications that the ferocious winter that most of us have somehow endured over the past months is drawing to an end.  But I must say that without an ounce of confidence, as March can still bring some unwelcome surprises.  The snow on the ground in the NYC area is melting away and the clock has now been pushed forward, extending our daylight, and we are being promised some days in the 50′s.  The romantic polling has officially commenced, with ballots being sent out to the email network from Dean Treadway, Allan Fish, Tony d’Ambra and Yours Truly this past week.  They will be accepted up until April 16th, at which point Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. will step in to compile the results.  Shortly thereafter, assignments will be decided voluntarily.

For Sammy and I it has been all Hitchcock this past week, with a real sense of purpose in absorbing the Film Forum’s fabulous five-week festival on one of the cinema’s greatest masters.  We saw nine (9) films, though we still didn’t see every film that was offered during the week: (more…)

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by Duane Porter

It’s been a great year for movies, even though there are quite a few I have yet to see. I try to limit my selections to those that had prominent premiers during the year 2013. For example, Kiarostami’s Like Someone In Love, Baumbach’s Francis Ha, and De Palma’s Passion have appeared on some 2013 lists. All three of these are in my top ten for 2012. Also, there are several films from 2013 that I am waiting to see, such as Claire Denis’ The Bastards, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, Philippe Garrel’s Jealousy, Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin, and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Any one of these may have the potential to alter my present list. So, with these reservations in mind, here is my list of the best films of 2013.

1. Before Midnight, Richard LinklaterImage

After putting his son on a plane for home, Jesse returns to his car and the waiting Celine. For the next ten minutes or so, in a scene evoking Rosselini’s Voyage to Italy and more recently Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, Celine and Jesse talk. The long take allows the conversation to flow with a naturalness not often encountered in American movies. It’s the talking that’s exciting, the banter, the arguing, the philosophizing, I could listen to them talk for hours.

Dinner time. The conversation continues. This time there are several couples, in a scene reminiscent of Rohmer’s Le rayon vert, talking of food, books, relationships, sex, and life itself. Mingling the perspectives of youth, midlife, and old age the consensus around the table seems to be that we are all just passing through. (more…)

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