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Screen capture from A Nagy Fuzet (The Notebook)

by Sam Juliano

Labor Day.  Summer’s End.  The arrival of September.  The time the year’s most prestigious movies are released.  The opening of the opera and classical concert season.  The launching of the NFL Season.  The final weeks of MLB.  The start of cooler weather.  The opening of the school year.  Back to work for some late vacationers.   Lucille, the kids and I will be attending a holiday barbecue at the home of our lifelong friends Tony and Sara Lucibello today (Monday, that is).  A nice group, including my brother Paul and his family, and some cherished friends will also be in attendance.

The Romantic countdown is set to examine the Top 25 tomorrow.  Its hard to believe that three-quarters of the marathon project is complete, but here we are in the final lap.  The superlative quality of the writing continues, and no doubt will continue to right up until the final entry on October 6th.  It has not been an easy endeavor for a number of people -myself included- but in just five weeks many will earn a well-earned extended rest.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time to comment and follow the unveiling, and especially to the writers, all of whom have worked their tails off to offer unique new interpretations of the films that landed in the countdown. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Some of the most beautiful days of the entire year around the metropolitan area were enjoyed at a time when sweltering heat usually confines most indoors.  Yet, breezy, low-humidity low 70’s weather defined most of the past week.  The hottest days of the summer are set for later in the week, though an immediate cold front will restrict that rise to only a couple of days.

Labor Day barbecues are being planned, while for some the school year is set to start the day after the holiday.   September looms.  And the Fall season inches closer.  The marathon Romantic Countdown continues to move forward.  It is two-thirds complete, and will roll on until October 6th.

This past week was not much of a movie going week for the first time in quite a while.  Lucille and I did see one new release, LUCY, and also wound up seeing THE GIVER for a second time, to appease my cousin Robert McCartney, who was hot to trot to see it. (more…)

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Brenton Thwaites in screen capture from haunting THE GIVER, based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 Newbery Award winning masterpiece.

Capture from Lenny Abramson’s audacious and melancholy FRANK.

by Sam Juliano

Relatively mild August temperatures continue to stay the course as we move closer to the final days of the month that usually scorches.  Vacations are reaching the last leg, as September and the new school year is just about two weeks away.  A very difficult week, with the loss of a 64 year-old first cousin (mother’s brother’s daughter), Antoinette Rotundo, who suffered through a decades-long illness, and a bike accident in Toms River down the Jersey shore that required a hospital stay for my brother Thomas Juliano (Fairview Police Chief).  Concussion, broken nose and face scrapes were the result of the mishap.  After visiting my brother in the Toms River Medical Center -he will be fine but a little recuperation time at home- we all stopped down at Seaside again for their famed large slice pizzas and another brief excursion on the boardwalk.

The Romantic Countdown continues, moving closer to the two-thirds completion point.  It all ends on October 6th.

Lucille, young Sammy and I (and the others for one) managed to see three films this week around the hospital visits, several wakes and my cousin’s funeral: (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The summer continues to hold to temperatures in the lower to mid 80’s in the New York City area, but all things together this is a blessing – in past years we’ve had much worse.  For me it’s been an uncomfortable week, what with a persistent sore throat preventing me from having all that much fun.  In any case the Romantic Countdown continues, and will be moving in the 30’s this week.  Incredible, when you consider it seemed like yesterday when it launched.  As announced on previous MMD’s the projected final date for the unveiling of the Number 1 film will be on October 6th.

In the meantime we move closer and closer to September and the beginning of yet another new school year.  We are not sure what we have lined up for the coming weeks aside from a few screenings of the Classics of Polish Cinema  series (vigorously promoted by Martin Scorsese and reviewed at FoF by Marilyn Ferdinand) in Philadelphia.  It appears that Lucille and I will be making at least two trips there, and one -on Wednesday, March 20th to see Pharaoh will involve a family ride there with the entire brood and a family friend.  If things work out I will also see Eroica and Night Train and one or two others.  The plans are all tentative.

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By Dean Treadway

I first encountered Lars Von Trier’s masterful Breaking the Waves in an unusual way: it had just been nominated for a slew of Golden Globe awards (including the top three Drama awards, yet it would only garner one eventual and clearly unavoidable Oscar nod), in a year dominated by indie-flavored movies like Fargo and The English Patient. When the nominations came down, I was dumbstruck, because Breaking the Waves had not yet played in my hometown, but had definitely made a splash in Cannes earlier that year. I wasn’t even able to make it out to the theaters to see it that year, it was so low on my priorities. I was a fool.

When I finally did see it, I was doubly dumbstruck,  and could have kicked myself for not catching it on the big screen when I had the chance. I found it to be a complete masterpiece–to the point where it still remains the most recent entrant into my personal top twenty films of all time. As overwhelming as it is cinematically, with Von Trier and cinematographer Robby Muller working at their absolute apex, it was Emily Watson that impressed, and still impresses me most. Her Bess, so loving and trustful and completely devoted, was unlike any fictional character I had ever seen. She felt like a wide-eyed child, but yet she was very much an alluring woman, with a woman’s fullest desires, but perhaps without the wherewithal to understand those drives, except to say that she knew she totally had to follow them to what she saw as their natural end. She is like a strong but tiny bird one wants to help survive the cold outside. The fact that she had equal desires to be faithful to God and to her church complicated matters, especially since the church she follows (in early 70s Scotland, where the film is set) has a very dim view of women’s thoughts or contributions, except as earthly birth vessels. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

It seems almost miraculous, but the New York City metropolitan area continues to dodge the 90 degree temperatures that define late July and early August.  Days have alternated between the comfortable and the humid.

The romantic countdown has dashed to the half way point and beyond, with a final date of October 6th set to unveil the review for the #1 film.  Comments and page views have been reasonably impressive for a time of the year that is traditionally down for blog sites.

The hectic week we absorbed no doubt played a role in my present battle with the flu: nausea, aching joints, head aches and feverish flashes.  A lot of advil the last four days.  The better solution would have been to stay home!

On Monday at the beginning of the week we embarked on a day trip to Seaside Heights, New Jersey with the family.  This was the area that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy last year.  It is remarkable how the area has rebounded.  The kids enjoyed the rides on the Casino Pier, pizza and ice cream, and the arcades.

Lucille, Sammy and I attended a terrific band at the Emerson Hotel off Kinderkamack Road on Friday night.  Known as the “Rated R” the membership included a female vocalist, bass guitar and vocal, guitar, keyboard, percussion and drums.  They did songs by Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, the Commodores (Brick House), Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads (Take Me to the River),  Journey, Tears for Fears, Dion, Three Dog Night, Van Morrison, Marshall Tucker Band, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar (3 songs!), Grand Funk Railroad, The Mamas and the Papas, Frieda Payne, Otis Redding, Beatles (You Can’t Do That) Sly & the Family Stone, Four Non Blonde, Box Tops, Aerosmith, Jefferson Airplane, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Carly Simon,  and a song from the movie ‘Eddie and the Cruisers.” (more…)

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by Sachin Gandhi

Love and Romance are emotions that often escape logical explanations. When one is hard pressed to understand why one person loves another, the phrase “Love is Blind” or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to the rescue. Once these phrases are uttered, no further explanation is required. No one will ask to dissect the meaning of these phrases and instead nod their head in agreement. As a result, these phrases can also result in an airtight screenplay, where a writer/director can use these phrases to have a plot that cannot be questioned. Not surprisingly, such phrases can be gold in the hands of the right writer/director. Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve, based on a story by Monckton Hoffe, utilizes these phrases in such a clever manner that one cannot fault anything but instead laugh and admire the effort. In the film, Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) falls for the same woman twice, blindly following his heart and shutting down his mind even though all evidence points to him staying away. (more…)

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