lupo 1

by Allan Fish

(Italy 1949 77m) DVD2 (Italy only, no English subs)

Aka. Il Lupo della Sila: The Wolf of the Sila

A tale of two crosses

p Dino de Laurentiis d Duilio Coletti w Duilio Coletti, Steno, Mario Monicelli, Carlo Musso, Ivo Perilli, Vincenzo Talarico ph Aldo Tonti ed Adriana Novelli m Enzo Masetti, Osvaldo Minervini art Ivo Perilli

Silvana Mangano (Rosaria Campolo), Amedeo Nazzari (Rocco Barra), Jacques Sernas (Salvatore Barra), Luisa Rossi (Orsolo Barra), Vittorio Gassman (Pietro Campolo), Olga Solbelli (Signora Campolo), Dante Maggio (Gennaro), Laura Cortese (little Rosaria), Michele Cappezzuoli (little Salvatore),

One hesitates to call director Duilio Coletti forgotten because it’s unlikely he was even known in the English speaking world in the first place. More surprising is that The Lure of the Sila isn’t better known; or at least, until recently. For too long, perceptions of post-war Italian cinema were that there was nothing but neo-realism and, indeed, little but Visconti, de Sica, Fellini and Rossellini. There were other neo-realist directors and films, of course, and it was one of these, Giuseppe de Santis’ Riso Amaro, that gave neo-realism its poster girl, Silvana Mangano.

What has until recently been overlooked is that Italian film c.1945-1955 was also home to many historical spectaculars and melodramas. The Lure of the Sila is one of these, and yet it seems to owe its ancestry not to Italy at all. It rather recalls the great Scandinavian melodramas of the silent era which Mauritz Stiller, Victor Sjöstrom used to turn out in Sweden and which were still then being made by Teuvo Tulio in Finland and other directors in Denmark and Norway. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

Nymphomaniac a

by Allan Fish

(Denmark 2013 241m) DVD1/2

Mea vulva, mea vulva, mea maxima vulva

p  Louise Vesth  d/w  Lars Von Trier  ph  Manuel Alberto Claro  ed  Morten Hojbjerg, Molly Marlene Stensgard  art  Simone Grau

Charlotte Gainsbourg (older Joe), Stacy Martin (young Joe), Stellan Skarsgard (Seligman), Shia LaBeouf (Jerome), Christian Slater (Joe’s father), Connie Nielsen (Joe’s mother), Jamie Bell (K), Willem Dafoe (L), Sophie Kennedy Clark (B), Hugo Speer (Mr H), Uma Thurman (Mrs H), Felicity Gilbert (Liz), Jesper Christensen (Jerome’s uncle), Saskia Reeves (nurse), Kate Ashfield (therapist), Mia Goth (P), Michael Pas (old Jerome), Jean-Marc Barr (debtor), Udo Kier (waiter), Laura Christensen (babysitter),

Agent provocateur, enfant terrible, just plain naughty boy, call him what you like, any Lars Von Trier film is an event.  In the case of Nymphomaniac it was anticipated more than perhaps any other.  Those expecting something sexually arousing, however, may find themselves disappointed.  After all, don’t forget that this is the concluding part of his trilogy about depression, and when I say that it’s more depressing than either Antichrist or Melancholia, you should take pause.

It follows Joe, the sex addict of the title, who is found in an alley by intellectual Seligman, who takes her back to his flat to recuperate when she refuses to have the police called.  There he presses her about why she didn’t want the emergency services to come, and she tells him it’s a long story.  He’s happy to listen, so she tells him the story of her life and why she is, in her own words, an awful human being.  She goes back to her childhood with a kindly doctor father and an ice-cold mother, and takes in the loss of her virginity and her various friendships and lovers over the years. Continue Reading »


by Allan Fish

(Brazil 1964 93m) not on DVD

Aka. The Empty Nigh

One night in Rio

p Nelson Gaspari, Walter Hugo Khouri d/w Walter Hugo Khouri ph Rudolf Icsey ed Mauro Alice m Rogerio Duprat art Pierino Massenzi

Norma Bengell (Mara), Odete Lara (Regina), Mario Benvenuti (Luisinho), Gabriele Tinti (Nelson), Lisa Negri (Nelson’s lover), Marisa Woodward (girl in club), Célia Watanabe (Japanese waitress),

Though considered one of the key films in the cinema novo moment in its native Brazil, Noite Vazia has never been accorded the same status on an international level. There are probably other reasons and yet is it a coincidence that, of the seminal works of that same movement which made Glauber Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Ruy Guerra and Anselmo Duarte figures on the world stage, Walter Hugo Khouri’s film seems very much the odd one out. The cinema novo movement owed its debts to Italian neo-realism and the art-house cinema of the past. Khouri’s film seems indebted not to the past but to the Italian cinema of the early 1960s, the intellectual masterpieces of Fellini, Zurlini, Visconti and, especially, Antonioni. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »


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:


h95 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 1970 6m) not on DVD

Defeating boredom and its vicissitudes

p/d Bob Godfrey w Stan Hayward m John Hawksworth

voices by Bob Godfrey, Monika Ringwald

Whenever I think of Bob Godfrey’s little gem I am reminded of my favourite Terry Gilliam animation from Python. The one with the middle-aged, nagged man sat in front of the gogglebox, out of which bashers, scrubbers and suckers emerge to try and pull his eyes out of his sockets. After surviving this attempted involuntary eyectomy, we hear a shout from the kitchen; “Henry, turn that television off, you know it’s bad for your eyes.”

The name Henry might have something to do with it, but in truth Godfrey was, along with Borowczyk and Lenica, surely one of the antecedents of Gilliam’s anarchic animation style. Just watch Godfrey’s The Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit, a near classic in itself, which not only uses similar techniques nearly a decade earlier, but even had faint echoes of Python’s famous ‘Blackmail’ sketch. Continue Reading »


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