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by Sam Juliano

I can’t thank everyone enough for their kinds and concerned words about Lucille in private messages on social media, in e mails and here at the site on the prior MMD.  The latest news is absolutely fantastic.  After consultations, we were told by a neurosurgeon at Columbia-Presbyterian that her now confirmed benign tumor can be effectively eliminated through the far less invasive “radio surgery” which means they won’t need to cut her skull to operate.  To say that this news is significant would be the understatement of understatements, and we are both ebullient and relieved, if still vigilant on the entire situation.  The doctor wants to do this procedure sometime in November of December.

On the political front my brother, Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano endorsed NJ native Cory Booker for President at a meeting between the two men at Patsy’s Italian restaurant in Fairview this past week as reported by the New Jersey Globe:

Juliano backs Booker for president

Lucille and I attended the Burt Lancaster Festival again on Thursday the Film Forum, taking in three (3) film’s in that day’s marathon: Continue Reading »

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By J.D. Lafrance

In the early 1980s, Disney struggled to become relevant and in the process decided to gamble on several live-action films that weren’t the kinds of projects the Mouse House were known for making, chief among them Tex (1982), Tron (1982), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). Tex was an adaptation of the popular S.E. Hinton novel of the same name. Her first four Young Adult novels (The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and That Was Then This Now were the others) were all set in and around Tulsa and struck a chord with young people as they refused to talk down to their intended audience. They also dealt with the class conflict between rich and poor kids in a way that not many other authors were doing at the time.

Her novels featured worlds inhabited mostly by teenagers with an emphasis on the intense friendships between them as well as the friction between siblings in an unflinchingly honest way. At first, Disney picking up the option for Tex seemed like an odd move as the book took a frank look at two brothers trying to stay together with very little money and each one heading off in different directions. However, it did fit in with the current regime’s desire to think outside the box and the end result was a smartly written, well-acted slice-of-life tale of regular folks just trying to get by.

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by Sam Juliano

Full speed ahead.  We are already approaching the half-way point of August, with temperatures in general far more comfortable than there have been over the past month or so.  Vacationers are taking stock of the time left before returning to work and for those in school-related positions the 2019-2020 year is only a stone’s throw away.  Those at the site would like to congratulate Brooklynite Maurizio Roca and his wife Yolanda on the birth of their first child, a son named Julian.  Happy times for the entire family and wishing them the very best.  Soon some of our site writers will be focusing in on the horror genre, normally the routine here as we near late August in the window leading up to Halloween.  Jim Clark has penned a superlative essay on Sawdust and Tinsel as part of his brilliant ongoing Ingmar Bergman series, and J.D. Lafrance an excellent piece on Pump Up the Volume this past week at the site.

There is no alarm as everything seems to be in order, but Lucille’s grape-sized benign tumor in her skull has necessitated observation.  This is almost never a life-threatening situation as opposed to malignant tumors, but her menengioma may eventually have to be removed at some point.  Consultation with a most excellent neurosurgeon will be happening around the 25th when said practitioner returns from his vacation.  I know some family members over the years who lived with these tumors their entire lives.  Each situation depends on the person.  Famed celebrities like Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Taylor had similar mengiomas removed without any problems.  Yes I am seriously concerned but most optimistic after talking to many on the matter. Continue Reading »

 © 2019 by James Clark

      Back in 2011, when (at Wonders in the Dark) I foolishly assumed that Ingmar Bergman was one of a small horde of filmmakers (including, Billy Wilder) after something very new, I was years away from comprehending what he had in store. Over the past year or so, I’ve wakened up a bit, to appreciate the momentousness of the range of his concerns, a range, despite good-will, leaving no impact where it really matters.

A constellation of conundrums of intent began to dawn upon me; and putting in place their dynamic has been quite a ride. But the elusiveness of the innovation has proven to be only slightly recognizable. Therefore, it’s time again to return to Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), which provides remarkable immediacy to those staying the course.

    Whereas oracular figures—in Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Winter Light (1963) and The Magician (1958)—would afford the thrill of seeing fit to trip up facile enforcement, the balance of power in the narratives remains so weighted against extreme change that understanding would almost absolutely trickle away. Similarly, the mea culpa, in Fanny and Alexander (1982), being brought to bear in terms of “the little world” (and its nagging spoiler, “the big world”), tends to be submerged by the Niagara of sturdy foibles. Then there is the perhaps too vague volcano of acrobatics and juggling, stemming from, The Seventh Seal (1957), and flashing over many subsequent entanglements the dark potency of which being lost on most viewers. The recherche dialogue between Eva and her muse, in Autumn Sonata (1978)—though a crucial clearing—becomes a victim of that protagonist’s hysterical self-importance. The action of silence (most salient in Persona [1966] but also on the move in, The Silence [1963] and Cries and Whispers [1972]), tends to be upstaged by the strong suit of survival. A mystical consummation, like that seen in, Wild Strawberries (1957), tends to maintain the status quo even more rigorously. Therefore, our second attention to this visceral production must be intent upon illuminating, as never before, the sensual structures and energies of players who live or die upon a cosmic scale. Continue Reading »

By J.D. Lafrance

Allan Moyle and John Hughes both make escapist teen movies that feature fantasy stories populated by easily relatable characters that exist in an idealized world. The teenagers that inhabit their respective films are ones that are beautiful, funny and smart – in other words, what teens would like to be and not always what they really are. The crucial difference between the two filmmakers is that the characters in Moyle’s films are more flawed and fucked-up. There’s Nicky and Pamela – two runaways from a mental hospital in Times Square (1980); there’s the socially awkward and painfully shy Mark in Pump Up the Volume (1990); and finally, the suicidal Deb in Empire Records (1995). It is these last two films that are Moyle’s most well-known thanks to the casts of young, soon-to-be-successful actors and soundtracks featuring amazing collections of alternative rock music that were popular at the time.

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Screen cap from “The Farewell”

by Sam Juliano

And now August.  The summer’s most emblematic month could last an eternity or wiz by, depending on your mindset.  It is defined by excessive heat, seashore reprieves, back-to-school preparation, and for movie fans gleeful anticipation for the best quarter of the year on that front.  Sobering for me personally is that I will be turning 65 years old as the dog days of summer month winds down.  This past week J.D. Lafrance published a splendid and well-received essay on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s new epic film. Jim Clark’s upcoming filmic investigation is upcoming.  Horror film fans will soon be directing their attention to the pre-Halloween lead-in with annual lists and reviews.  But perhaps I am getting ahead here.  We must try and enjoy the month while we can.

The Film Forum is currently staged a three-week Burt Lancaster Film Festival.  Though I (and some members of my family) have seen just about every film in this expansive program, I took the opportunity to watch two classic Lancasters at the Houston Street theater this past week, and have one or two more lined up for the present seven day span.  Lancaster of course is one of our premium actors. Continue Reading »

By J.D. Lafrance

Ever since his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs (1992), Quentin Tarantino has made a point of casting actors that were successful but whose marketability has waned over time only to be marginalized by Hollywood. Once leading men, they became character actors or starred in B-movies. He doesn’t care about what’s trendy and has sought out these forgotten actors with the belief that they can be great again if given the right material – think of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994) or Robert Forster in Jackie Brown (1997) or David Carradine in the Kill Bill films. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) is the culmination of Tarantino’s fascination with these kinds of actors as its two protagonists are an actor and his stunt double who have been pushed to the margins with one trying to get back into Hollywood’s good graces while the other has made peace with his lot in life. The irony is that Tarantino has cast two of the biggest movie stars in the world in these roles – Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. The relationship between these two characters lies at the heart of the film – a sprawling, yet intimate epic set in Los Angeles at the end of the 1960s with multiple storylines whose end result is a love letter to that time and place.

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