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Happy Halloween


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Rafa Pérez & Damon Trammell - 2

Rafa Perez and Damon Trammell, lead players in Barry Germansky’s “The Answer-Killing Question Buys A Crisis at the Crown Theater.

by Sam Juliano

Barry Germansky’s Off-Off- Broadway play The Answer-Killing Question Buys A Crisis, which this weekend completed its one-month engagement at the Crown Theater in Manhattan, has been billed as a satire on the the suppression of individuality in American classrooms.  Without any trace of humor -though one scene where the two male leads are seemingly instructed to engage in sex is obviously barbed- this austere and minimalist production can aptly be framed as an allegory on how academic convention (Germansky describes it in an interview as education being far more focused on systematizing knowledge than allowing for freedom of expression) leaves little room for the kind of inspiration inherent in an individual-based educational system.  There is sparse effort to examine what might happen to those who buck the system, but it is clear enough from the implied brainwashing of one of the two students who initially collaborate in resisting, that the system aims to break down and snuff out learning that doesn’t conform to the general order.  A second-season episode of television’s The Twilight Zone, “The Obsolete Man” offered up a scenario where the protester gave up his life to expose the system and the purveyor of its totalitarianism by forcing him to share the same fate.  Germansky’s dystopian premise does evoke Vonnegut and Orwell, but the idea of one bucking the system by not succumbing to the fate of his colleague bears an ideological kinship to Jack Finney’s The Body Snatcher, where all minds were absorbed into communal thinking.  There is a sense of immediacy to the writing- this is not tame criticism but an urgent plea for extensive reform.  Andrew -the anarchic rebel writing his book- is eventually betrayed by his pal Conrad, but not before the dialogue’s trenchant focus is fully exposed.   As Andrew, Rafa Perez gives a powerful and affecting performance as the unyielding idealist, while Damon Trammell as his brainwashed classmate Conrad Warr delivers an intense turn as the student who is eventually worn down by rigid scholastic orthodoxy.  Matt Tracy as the Professor comes off as dehumanized, while Jillian Walters as the Kindergarten teacher who delivers the bookend monologues is skittish and seemingly resigned.  The Answer-Killing Question Buys a Crisis needs few props besides a few chairs, and director Cihangir Duman is wise not to let the basic staging interfere with Germansky’s sharp, accusatory writing.   The play was produced by the esteemed movie scribe and President of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Tim Sika.  This new visionary work deserves an extension in the Big Apple or a second run in another city.  Note:  Broadway Bob, Lucille and I attended the Friday night performance, which commenced at 8:00, running 100 minutes with no break.  The Crown Theater is on the second floor of the Producer’s Club on W. 44th. (more…)

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18 YEAR-OLD MELANIE JULIANO’S SHORT FILM “100 LIKES” (3 minutes, 11 seconds) has been chosen as one of the finalists in the ‘Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow Bergen County High School Film Festival’ to be held at Fort Lee High School on November 8th. We are all so proud of her!!!!
Available in HD! My submission to the Jersey Filmmakers of Tomorrow Bergen County High School Film Festival.

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Allan left ICU last night and is now on ward 11 which I believe is surgical ward, he has had a very good night’s sleep and is settled nicely.Things are really looking up for him, full report when we have visited today. LOL xx  - Anne Cafferkey

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bird man

by Sam Juliano

The extraordinary Allan Fish Bonanza Encore Series will continue unabated till Tuesday, October 28th, but in reality it will not end there by a long shot.  The site will continue to exhibit Allan’s priceless work every Saturday and every Sunday until the middle of May, at which point it is anticipated Allan’s new reviews will be ready to post.  I also reserve the option to post one of Allan’s reviews during the week should the new material lag off.  In any case no matter how you read it, Allan will be here with us, even as he continues to make great progress from his recent operation in a British hospital.  Thanks again to all who have stepped up to the plate with their selections, as well as with insightful comments and page views to keep the celebration going full throttle.  Anyone wishing to make further suggestions, by all means add them to any current site thread, and they will be honored.

The supremely talented young lady Melanie (Jane) Juliano has again completed a stupendous short video, this time on the recent trip to Baltimore.  Though it is up on FB getting some much appreciated raves this eight-minute summation of the trip will also be posted as the very first comment under this thread.  As always’s Melanie’s editing and musical selections are fantastic.

With a school presentation (for Melanie) occupying a good part of the weekend, Lucille and I visited some older family members and the young son of a very close friend who went through an operation to solve a collapsed lung.  We were running around all week, and only got to see a single film on Saturday night.  But what a film it was.  I’ll play conservative right now and go with a 4.5 of 5.0 rating, but this could still go to 5.0 after I take in a second viewing. (more…)

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divine and kids

melanie and poe

by Sam Juliano

The Allan Fish Bonanza Encore Series is moving ahead magnificently, and will continue until October 28th.  I have decided to add a third full week in view of the series’ success, and simply because when Allan is around even if only in spirit, Wonders in the Dark is just such an incomparably exciting place.  Furthermore, even when we do reach the 28th, the series will not end, but will continue every weekend with postings on both Saturday and Sunday!  And this schedule will be rigidly maintained until May of 2015, at which time it is anticipated that Allan will be back in print with new stuff.  In any case we would like to thank all the readers and regulars who answered the call of duty by making some fantastic selections in the comment section of the announcement post, with a few others reaching me by e mail.  Deepest thanks too are extended to those who have contributed some wonderfully inspiring comments under the encore postings of some of the best film reviews ever written by anyone.  It has been a great ride and frankly the fun has only just begun.

Lucille, the kids, Broadway Bob and I took a day-trip down to Baltimore on Saturday, and managed an incredible number of stops until we departed home at around 8:30 P.M.  Arriving at around 11:00 A.M., we visited Divine’s (Glenn Harris Milstead)  grave at Prospect Hill Cemetery in bordering Towson about five miles out of downtown Baltimore.  We then toured the small cemetery alongside Westminster Church, where Edgar Allan Poe is laid to rest along with his beloved young bride and family members.  We visited the Poe House, a short distance away in a run-down area of town, where the literary icon lived in his late 20’s.  We then caught the pulse of the city, encircling Camden Yards, where thousands of Orioles fans descended on the popular ballpark for the 4:00 P.M. playoff game with the Kansas City Royals.  (The Orioles lost that game to go down 0-2 in the best-of-seven-series for the American League pennant).  One ticketless fan told me he’d pay a scalper’s price of $500 for a ticket, but of course we had none to offer.  It was quite an exciting place to be with the pennant fever in the air.  We then visited St. Jude’s Shrine, the mid-week home of our own Our Lady of Grave Pastor, the Rev. Peter Sticco.  We made a stop at The Senator movie palace, where John Waters movie all had their premieres and much enjoyed all the fantastic sidewalk engravings for many films that opened there dating back decades.  We also eyed the storefront that was once the “Hefty Hideaway” in Hairspray, and finally Fells Point along the harbor, where numerous quaint shops were toured, including the storefront once owned and operated by beloved Waters regular Edith Massey.  The kids absolutely loved the city and are hot to trot for a return visit.  We dined at an Old Country Buffet in a Baltimore suburb, and then headed back home.  We covered a remarkable amount of ground for the relatively short period we were there. (more…)

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Note: This review of Abbas Kiarostami’s ‘Through the Olive Trees,’ is the ninth posted in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  It was chosen by Film Noir writer extraordinaire Tony d’Ambra, who confided that Allan himself always favored this piece as one of his own best.

by Allan Fish

(Iran 1994 104m) not on DVD

Aka. Zire darakhatan zeyton

25 or 65?

p  Abbas Kiarostami  d/w/ed  Abbas Kiarostami  ph  Hossein Jafarian, Farhad Saba

Mohamad Ali Keshavarz (the director), Farhad Kheradmand (Farhad), Zarifeh Shiva (Miss Shiva), Hossein Rezai (Hossein), Tahereh Ladanian (Tahereh),

It’s difficult to say where the story begins, or indeed when.  1987 seems a good place to start, with the release of Where is the Friend’s House?  Kiarostami’s film was simplicity itself, following one little boy’s search for another boy in his class because he’s accidentally picked up the other boy’s notebook and, if he doesn’t return it, said other boy could be expelled from school.  The location of the tale is Koker, northern Iran, is not especially important at this time.  There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

Koker would become known for other reasons soon enough, as the whole area was effectively flattened by a terrible earthquake in 1990.  Around 50,000 people lost their lives, still more lost their homes. Kiarostami, concerned about the people who had welcomed him to make the film a few years previously, decided to make a film about it.  And Life Goes On… would be about a fictional film director, essentially himself by proxy, travelling with his little boy, back to the region to try and find trace of survivors from the earlier film and see how they are coping with their lives after such a calamity.  He has with him a poster of the earlier film, with the little boy from the film, Ahmed, on it.  He asks various people along the way if anyone knows the boy.  One man says he does, but also says he doesn’t know if the boy or his family have survived.  The director goes on and his journey becomes less about the boy and more about seeing people going about their daily shattered lives, including a newly married man and woman.  We don’t find out what happened to the boy.  There was an old lady who swallowed a spider… (more…)

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