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norman lloyd

99 year-old ‘Saboteur’ actor Norman Lloyd speaking to Film Forum audience via Skype from Los Angeles

classic 45

Classic 45 band at Whiskey Cafe in Lyndhurst

by Sam Juliano

Incredibly, more of the white stuff is headed our way tonight, though forecast updates are now painting a much better picture than was was originally speculated.  (In the end we got nothing, praise the Lord!) The New York City area is now facing 2 to 4 inches overnight, with an expected starting time of around 8 P.M.  The way it stands now I’d be very surprised if any of local schools were to be affected, though as always the proof will be in the pudding.  In any case our annual Oscar party is being held at the Tiger Hose Fire House -I am actually writing this MMD just two hours before the gathering commences- where we are expected in the neighborhood of around 35 people.  The expected snowfall will probably impact the attendance of several people who must travel a long way to get here.  The party will be catered by a fantastic local Italian market – Dante’s, which will provide two robust six-foot heroes with three sections (fresh roast beef; turkey and cheese; and an Italian combination) and trays of meatballs, chicken parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, sausage and peppers, cavatelli and broccoli and a three-color arugula salad, and beer, soda, coffee and desert.  As always we will be conducting our annual Oscar pool, where willing participants will choose winners from every one of the 24 categories. (more…)

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Sam, Dennis, Pierre de Plume, and Sammy give their predictions for the 2014 Oscars.

Note:  Pierre de Plume appears at the 1:05 (one hour and five minute) mark.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sam with Horn Book editor-in-chief Roger Sutton after panel discussion at Simmons College in Boston on Thursday, Feb. 20.

by Sam Juliano

The past week’s spotlight event was staged on the fifth floor penthouse of the management building at Simmons College in Boston on The Fenway, just a stone’s throw away from the famed baseball stadium.  Or maybe just a bit further than that.  The 90 minute panel discussion “Why did that book win?” was moderated by longtime Horn Book editor-in-chief Roger Sutton.  His co-panelists included executive editor Martha Parravano, Lesley University children’s literature professor Julie Roach and Kirkus Reviews book critic Vicky Smith, all of whom vigorously promoted a spirited discussion centering around the recent awards given out by the American Library Association.  Ms. Roach expressed gleeful surprise that children’s author extraordinaire Kate Di Camillo’s profusely illustrated Flora & Ulysses won the Newbery Medal despite the general aversion to books that veer away from the generally all-prose format.  A subsequent question from the audience later on addressed the confusion that sometimes emanates from the indecision of whether to honor words or pictures in a book that is seemingly divided equally, as was the case with the Caldecott Honor book Bill Peet: An Autobiography in 1990.  Mr. Sutton pointed to a similar perception in 2008 when Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret won the Caldecott Medal despite the marked division of prose and pictures.

While Ms. Smith was delighted with Brian Floca’s  Caldecott Medal triumph for Locomotive (“the author is no longer a bridesmaid”) there was some disappointment with some of the omissions, a sentiment that prompted Sutton to quip that the title of the discussion should have more in tune with “why certain book’s didn’t win?”  Sutton bemoaned the failure of Kirkpatrick Hill’s Bo at Ballard Creek to achieve recognition in the awards process, while Ms. Perravano was amazed and disappointed that Cynthia Kadohata and Julia Kuo’s National Book Award winner The Thing About Luck didn’t figure in the final Newbery line-up.  The panel addressed the matter of certain books that win the subsidiary awards (Pura Belpre, Coretta Scott King) but fail to win Caldecott or Newbery mention because the perception is that they have their own category.  This has always been the mind-set of the Oscars, where a nomination or win in the animated film and/or foreign language category always always results in being passed over in the major categories.  One spirited questioner talked about the specific perceptions and expectations of certain books aimed at a minority audience, and how those perceptions might be different among a more general reading audience.  Another commenter, an artist and designer, appeared to intimate that some of the committee members should have a more artistic background, and that such a reform would result in different books winning the awards.  This was not a position that others in the group (myself included) shared, and the panel and another commenter with an artistic background argued against such a narrow qualification. (more…)

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Our longtime friend and cinematic colleague Shubhajit Lahiri has happily announced that he and his lovely bride Riya were wed in a beautiful ceremony in India on January 21st.  We at Wonders in the Dark were thrilled beyond words to hear of this surprising but most welcome news, and we wish this perfect couple the very best in the years ahead.  So much seems to be coming together for the “king of the capsule” as of late and this ultimate final piece to the puzzle is one of supreme magnificence.  Here’s to a life of love, success and eternal bliss! (click on ‘continued reading to see second photo) (more…)

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One of the most extraordinary animated short film line-ups ever to compete for the Oscar

Henry Fonda as ‘Young Mr. Lincoln’ screened at Film Forum on Sunday

by Sam Juliano

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!

-William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 97″

Every state in the nation has been visited by the ultimate barometer of winter -that once welcome, but now tiring and meddlesome white marauder- over the past week, except for Florida.  In the now beleaguered northeast it has been a conveyor belt of storms and frigid temperatures, and the latest word is that we may not yet be done.  Certainly our dear Midwestern brethren have suffered through the darkest season in many a year, and there has been some catastrophic weather in parts of the United Kingdom.  March inches closer, but can anyone feel safe until April Fool’s Day or even then in this season of uncertainty and vulnerability.  Amidst all the mayhem, some school districts -including our own in Fairview- are closed for President’s Week, allowing for some recovery and/or meditative time.

The e mail chain for the Romantic Film Countdown polling will be sent out to all e mail members this coming Wednesday, February 19.  Those casting ballots will have until April 1st to vote and send on to the network.  While it has admittedly taken quite a bit of time to get this project off the ground for various diversions and considerations, I am (personally) ready to move forward and am very excited.  Hopefully a good number of friends and readers are of the same mind-set. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Wonders in the Dark crossed the finish line for 3,000,000 page views earlier today.  This feat is a testament to the site’s sustained popularity as a meeting place for movie loving bloggers and many others who have come to expect the current diverse attention paid to all the arts including live theater, literature, television and music and opera.

The two most traveled threads -and both continue to get hefty hits each day- are The 50 Best Movies of the 2000′s and The 25 Greatest Opera Films with 161.000 and 26,000 hits respectively.  I am proud of both those posts, especially the one on opera which continues to amaze me with its resiliency.  Both the recent Best Westerns countdown and the extended series on the Caldecott Medal contenders attracted remarkable numbers as well.  The most page views ever for any countdown was the one for The 70 Greatest Musicals, while the weekly voting thread that ran for almost two years achieved solid numbers as well.

I would like to thank my very dear friend Dee Dee for the miracles she has performed for this site since its inception all the way back in September of 2008.  I would also like to thank dear friends like Pierre de Plume, Laurie Buchanan, Frank Gallo, Maurizio Roca, Jon Warner, Sachin Gandhi, Jim Clark, Peter M., John Greco, Pat Perry, Samuel Wilson, Jeffrey Goodman, Jaimie Grijalba, Stephen Mullen, John Grant, Mark Smith, Dean Treadway, Judy Geater, Patricia Hamilton, Terrill Welch, Murderous Ink, Tim McCoy, David Noack, Ed Howard, Bob Clark, Brandie Ashe, Duane Porter, Shubhajit Lahiri, David Schleicher, Jason Marshall, Mike Norton, Celeste Fenster, Joel Bocko, Dennis Polifroni, Marilyn Ferdinand, Roderick Heath, Peter Lenihan, Stephen Morton, Just Another Film Buff, Jason Giampietro, Drew McIntosh, Michael Harford, R.D. Finch, Adam Zanzie, Hokahey, J.D. La France, Dave Hicks, Stephen Russell-Gebbett, Kaleem Hasan, Pedro Silva, Anukbav, Movie Fan, Kevin Deaney, Longman Oz, Troy and Kevin Olson, Rick Olson, Jason Bellamy, Joe, John R., Karen, Broadway Bob, Jeff Stroud, sirrefevas, Dave Van Poppel, Jeopardy Girl, Greg Ferrara, Marco and of course to Allan Fish for collectively bringing this place sustained activity and prominence.  My longtime friend from Down Under, Tony d’Ambra has helped this site above and beyond and has remained an unwavering and dependable friend all the way to the time we first unveiled this place to the public eye. (more…)

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Cliff Bernunzio and Nemesys rock the Recovery Room in Westwood

The Lego Movie figures

by Sam Juliano

As I pen this week’s lead in snow is again falling on the Metropolitan area, though expectations are that it will conclude around midnight, leaving in its wake two inches.

What can beat a glorious marathon session of classic rock from a talented veteran trio who grew up in your own back yard?  The Nemesys and their erstwhile leader, bass guitarist Cliff Bernunzio rocked the rustic night club-restaurant The Recovery Room for over three hours on a frigid Saturday night in the quaint town of Westwood, New Jersey.  Bernunzio, 63, and his his esteemed colleagues, Tony Cavallo on lead guitar and Chris Carnavale on drums gave the classic catalog quite the work out with three sets, that totaled 36 songs by the greatest bands in rock history: The Beatles, The Stones, The Doors, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, The Yardbirds, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Queen, Steppenwolf, The Ramones, The Kinks, Simon & Garfunkle, The Zombies, John Lennon and the Steve Miller Band.  As performed by the Nemesys, several of the covers were electrifying – “Magic Carpet Ride,” “I Want You,” “Brown Sugar” and “Green River” among others.  All three band members alternated and/or converged on the vocals, with Carnavale assuming much of the duty in dynamic form.  Bernunzio, of Little Ferry, has upcoming venues in Bayonne, in Maywood and back in Westwood in the coming months, with one devoted exclusively to Doo Wop, that will focus on Classic 45s. (more…)

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One of the greatest honors ever for Wonders in the Dark was bestowed upon the site and Yours Truly this past week, when author Peter Danish used a quote praising his book from me that is included with five others from some of the biggest names in opera.  The quote will also appear on the book’s back cover.  The novel, which I read months ago is stupendous, and a full review will be posted sometime after it is officially released in ten days.

The book’s trailer is offered here with the incredible inclusion of Wonders in the Dark.  When trailer appears, simply click on play and wait for the five quotes, including the one for WitD, which appears at the 2:02 mark.

-S. J.

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A video by Melanie Juliano

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by Sam Juliano

A dull cold kept the NYC area on chill mode for most of the past week, with one day off good behavior.  That day was of course Super Bowl Sunday, traditionally one of the most celebratory occasions on the American calender.  The Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos by a whopping 49-8 score at nearby Giants Stadium on the mildest weather day of the week, just hours before yet another substantial snowfall  is set to start in the NYC area.  In any case congratulations are in order for our very good friend Patricia Hamilton of Washington State, who no doubt was over the moon after the home team Seahawks took apart the vaunted Broncos in one of the most lob-sided Super Bowls ever. (more…)

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