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by Sam Juliano

And the controversy has comenced over the choice of Chantel Ackerman’s Jeanne Dielman as the #`1 film in the Sight & Sound’s critics’ poll.  The project is run every decade and after the announcement, social media has been overun with opinions, some toxic.  Accusations of “woke” campaigning and rejoinders by some defending the results has led to some fascinating reading.  I am not sure what I think at this point.  For me Jeanne Dielman is NOT as great a film (by a long distance) as Tokyo Story, Vertigo, Citizen Kane, 2001 and others -I have always found it a rough slog to get through – but I DO get the voting strategy of  incorporating films directed by women and blacks, and from outlier countries.  Blindly anointing canonical choices is troubling, and yet, aren’t there some films that are simply transcendent, regardless of the gender and color of the directors who made them?  I am in neither camp at this point, but I have always admired and respected the Sight & Sound pollings. Two conflicting opinions have been voiced by two men (the latter, Todd Sherman, is a close personal friend) which I have listed here.  I have also enjoyed our regular reader and longtime friend Mark Smith’s commentary on last week’s MMD:  Anyway, here is Brian’s take:

“I was actually prepared to make peace with a radically rejiggered Sight & Sound poll, with some reservations, until reading the following: -Sight & Sound hired a consultant who vowed on Twitter to “push hard on the straight white make film canon” and “set it on fire.” In other words, he entered into it as a kamikaze mission. -Eminent, veteran critic Michael Sragow (a longtime participant in the poll) writes, “This year, the editors requested that participants fill out a form profiling our race, age, and gender, with seven categories listed for gender. So I pushed the word count allowed in ‘Comments’ to the max — I wanted to celebrate my choices according to my own personal aesthetic, not my sociological profile.” Translated: A specific outcome was desired, so they weighed the results to their liking. If true: I’m sorry, this is not charting any way forward to progress. Fierce social engineering to foster a kind of…how to put this…weirdly retrograde tokenism is, to me, more racist and sexist and homophobic than the implicitly exclusionary tactics that these measures (faux-)attempt to ameliorate. Like so much else I have seen in the last couple years, it’s a wan, doctrinaire “capital P” Progressivism that sets the fight for social progress back, because it squanders once-in-a-generation initiatives, destabilizing rather than paving real, sustainable ways forward. That’s what most upsets me. Why and how? Because it fosters the heartiest of suspicions in its wake, and appears desperate on the part of the aggregator, hereby demeaning the artists and works that have been promoted under it. Whereas before, these works might have been overlooked (perhaps unfairly), now in the wake of the above red flags sowing doubt, they will be the butt of jokes. And THAT is unfair. Jeanne Dielman, as deserving a film as I think it is (I first saw it years ago in college and it honestly took my breath away) will be pinned to every dartboard for the foreseeable future. I hate that it will become a pawn for the cynicism of others, rather than simply the masterpiece that it is. All so self-anointed crusaders can feel powerful in their bubbles, even if for the short time this list makes news. You see all these esteemed people (folks who aren’t “conservative” or “regressive”) questioning the results? Though I didn’t think so at first, I now think there’s cause. It’s not because they squirmed seeing women and disenfranchised groups finally make the list. It’s because a once-in-a-decade poll about the “greatest movies of all time” got co-opted into some elaborate experiment in hollow, performative “empowerment.” And the egg is now on the faces of those who manipulated the results toward a desired outcome, furthering a political agenda but demeaning both the exercise…and that agenda. This is the same quagmire as the Academy only allowing the nomination of sufficiently “diverse“ films, regardless of the needs of the film story or the individual production requirements. Last year, I had lunch with someone very powerful on the international film scene, and he called this type of thing “cultural Stalinism.“ He did not mince words and his candor rather shocked me. And so many are so deep down the rabbit hole of “capital P” Progressivism that they will never be able to see how they are crippling the causes they claim to be advocating. I am finishing up a book for Oxford U Press on an overlooked female director who defied the odds during her time. She was a great lady, to my mind to my mind a certified legend, very sensible, she kicked ass in her day, and I really don’t think she would have approved. I once spoke with her about this, after the release of Selma years back. We both agreed that we as a society and as an industry should be carving out opportunities for those who wouldn’t otherwise get them. What we shouldn’t be doing is putting thumbs on scales in some misbegotten effort to “burn it all down,” which is what this news both intimates and portends. Stop this train, I want to get off. I was one of those who defended the Akerman, and faced some heat for it. Now…sorry, I feel pretty stupid for doing so, knowing what I know now. This is not “progress“ – Twitter warriors pursuing brownie points does not social progress yield. I’d actually call it regression. At what point do they impede a way forward? Additional note: Just because a particular film hits the third rail of the social zeitgeist does not automatically render it worthy of inclusion on a list of the greatest films of all time. We still need to be grading these works cinematically.”

And in response we have Todd’s brilliant take on the results:

“Many have alleged that Sight & Sound pushed hard for votes for films that are not part of the Western, white-male canon, and even implied that the magazine solicited votes for these kinds of films, or rejected or somehow skewed ballot results. Let’s take a look at the 2012 vs. the 2022 in terms of the non-First World, non-straight white male canon films included:
India 2012: 1 (Pather Panchali) 2022: 1
Middle East 2012: 1 (Close-Up) 2022: 1
Africa 2012: 1 (Touki-Bouki) 2022: 2 (Black Girl added)
Latin America 2012: 0 2022: 0
China 2012: 0 2022: 0 Hong Kong/Taiwan 2012: 3 (Yi Yi, A Brighter Summer Day, In the Mood for Love)
2022: 4 (Chunking Express Added)
Japan 2012: 6 (Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story, Ugetsu, Rashomon, Sansho the Bailiff,Late Spring) 2022: 8 (Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro added)
South Korea 2012: 0 2022: 1 (Parasite added)
Thailand 2012: 0 2022: 1 (Tropical Malady added)
LGBT 2012: 3 (Beau Travail, Mulholland Drive, Jeanne Dielman) 2022: 6 (Moonlight, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Tropical Malady added)
The lists are practically identical. And the minimal additions to the 2022 are all established, widely-respected masterpieces that few could object to — except perhaps Parasite, which is obviously here because it was so popular so recently. The only significant change of any note is the three more LGBT films in the 2022, two of which could quite reasonably considered too recent, but one of which is seriously and widely regarded as a masterpiece — Tropical Malady. So — If Sight & Sound were aggressively pushing an agenda of getting votes for non-Western, non-First World, non-“white male canon”, non-straight films, and massaging or ignoring or soliciting specific votes, they did a seriously TERRIBLE job in getting to that result.”

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by James Clark 2022

The films of Claire Denis have a  penchant for disaster. Understanding her way must not be a quick take. Reaching her range involves much sophistication. In fact, we must involve the novel, Remembrance of Things Past, by novelist, Marcel Proust.

    Here I want to open the enigma with a wealth of the shock of Surrealism.

The enigma, however, involves Surrealism being old hat. That doesn’t  sound like Denis. (In the Ingmar Bergman film, Thirst [1949], there were many stunning visual presentations, by way of the cameraman, Gunner Fischer.) Why, though, this matter now, after all these years. Of course Denis must have very good reasons for us to ponder. We’ll begin with a primer, and see what can develop. Surrealist thinking was, and still does, have a hope. A small hope. We begin, however, the hope of the new. The new, but normal. Looking to the normal, in any way, could give one a horrible time.

However, we have marvelous resources in the form of novelist Marcel Proust (1871-1922). Denis engaging Proust? Yes. Watch and be thrilled! One of the protagonists of Denis’s film is a former lover (of the main actress, Sara). His name is  Francois. He gets around. Another mover, is the busy and wise servant of the protagonist to Proust, namely Francoise.

Sara and Jean are not of the same era. Sara is about twenty years younger than him. But they adhere to helping new immigrants to France. Rather peculiar, Denis opens with a tropical fling. They alone tread the wonders, and Jean  embraces her as if he were in a Hollywood flick. One with much business caressing her. “Twisting,” being in several moments in difficult films. After that, there is darkness in a subway, which turns to a station that does not allow places to step. The rooftops of Paris! Fog along the river. Fog everywhere! Mail under the door. Digging for what. (Proust was seldom a traveller. He seldom left his bedroom. His family riches allowed concentration.) Sara owned the flat. Her taste in features was incisive. Her taste in men was something else. (All these considerations require thought. Denis delivers.) Tickling, kissing, her long graceful hands and fingers. Long needs. In shadow, a sort of monster. Then on the phone. “Yes, Mom, it’s me. Yeah, it was great… Give her a kiss… Sara sends her love. We relaxed, it was nice, we took it easy…” (Taking it easy may not be the best choice.) Continue Reading »

by Sam Juliano

I trust that all our stateside readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day.  Many are now pivoting in the direction of the yuletide season.  Activities over the coming weeks will surely intensify, and I am wishing everyone good health and continued safety.

I have taken some baby steps with my third novel, Roses for Saoirse, but mainly to work on a general outline.  Still, I have reached the second chapter.  Meanwhile, Irish Jesus in Fairview is in possessions of my editors.  Our resident film essay writer extraordinaire, Jim Clark has penned another superlative piece, which will be publishing within a half-hour of this MMD’s posting.

Lucille and I saw three new releases in theaters this past week.

   Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All” Rating: 1.5 of 5.0

(Seen in Ridgefield Park on Saturday evening)

I absolutely get the metaphors and the audacious manner of exploring love in the rural American environs in the dreamy and nightmarish new film by Luca Guadagnino, titled BONES AND ALL, and found it easy to be seduced by the sublime cinematography and extraordinary musical score by a renowned twosome – and who, while watching the film could argue that Timothy Chalamee, Taylor Russell and Mark Rylance aren’t captivating in roles wildly disperate than any they have ever tackled, but the end result for me after watching the film last night, was disgust, revulsion, incredulity and downright anger. I spent over two hours largely being regaled by human depravity and ulra-violent set pieces (one in a cornfield and another in a bathtub that brought back horrifying images of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) and sickening domestic scenes right out of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST which pop up shockingly in a visual scheme patterned on Terence Malick (the film has been compared to BADLANDS by some). Yes, there is a moral compass here for sure, and the film’s fans in the critical ranks have offered up superlative argumants in support of the film’s style, explicitly choreographed passion and metaphorical underpinnings. I respect that absolutely. But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and BONES AND ALL sickened me to my core. The price to pay for the exploration of the unthinkable outweighs the vile lengths of this off-putting and tedious experience.
“The Menu” and “Devotion”
Both films rate 3.5 of 5.0 (Seen in Teaneck and Ridgefield Park on Wenesday and Friday evenings)
My guess is that regular diners and inveterate foodies will find much to satiate their taste buds in THE MENU, a film that for me is a blend of Peter Greenaway’s 1989 “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” and the multiple film adaptations of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” To be sure, this black comedy with an ongoing perverse undercurrent (that explodes into full-flavored perversity before all is said and done) showcases a markedly twisted restaurant, located on a secluded island, where tragic events and satiric happenings (a recall of Triangle of Sadness too) bring about the kind of emotion caught between laughter and revulsion. A star-studded cast sustain the affair and the ending is no-holds barred. I can’t deny the fun quotient.
Nothing in the Korean War film DEVOTION, directed by J. D. Dillard, and acted superbly by the two leads, is remarkable, and in some ways it is standard fare. Yet,, whether by design or by the safe presentation of its story of heroism and friendship, it succeeds in moving the viewer, which in these days of multiplex fodder is a substancial return on the time investment. The friendship is based on a real-life story, and it was wonderful to know the families stayed close over generations. I expected something much less that what I got.

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by Sam Juliano

Happy Thanksgiving to all our good friends and readers who will be celebrating the holiday on Thursday of this week!  Our own family will be attending our annual massively-attended event at the Butler, New Jersey home of my wife’s sister and family!

Irish Jesus in Fairview is still in the hands of my excellent first-stage editor, Rob Bignell.  I have been dabbling with ideas for the third novel, and hope to proceed over the holidays.

Lucille, Sammy IV, Jeremy and I attended a new release on Saturday night in Manhattan, and on Sunday I attended a second film in Manhattan by my lonesome.

Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical THE FABELMANS is a life-affirming work that is the furthest thing from self-indulgence and shameless self-promotion, in fact the story of a legendary filmmaker’s childhood years, growing up as part of a dysfunctional family dynamic allows for all kinds of emotional and humorous vignettes, one wrought with heartbreak, exhilaration and music-infused documentation of a time and an era, that according to the director is all too fleeting. The kaleidoscopic film is an audience charmer that is celebratory in tone, and a showcase of cinematic craftsmanship from the acting, script, cinematography, art direction and score. Spielberg rarely has gotten this personal, and as filmgoers we were treated to a two-and-a-half hour film that flew by as quickly as the coming-of-age story it chronicled. THE FABELMANS is truly one of the greatest films of Spielberg’s career. 5 of 5.

Few of us who have come to regard Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski as a major talent from decades past could have predicted that he would create one of this very best films in his mid-80s. Robert Bresson’s supreme masterpiece “Au Hasard Balthazar” from 1966 was the inspiration, but unlike Bresson’s film -which focuses on the people around the film’s animal metaphor – his new surrealist and poetic EO, an economical, minimalist work is an intimate cinematic probe of a donkey who moves on from one threat to another, after his first appearance in a circus. The story, much like the one told in Bresson’s film, isn’t tightly plotted (an understatement) and through some captivating expressionistic cinematography by Micha Dymek, the episodic work (again like Bresson’s film) establishes and develops a deep emotional bond between audience and central character, even though six donkeys (Hola, Tako, Marietta, Ettore, Rocco and Mela take turns playing the animal). I’d be hard pressed to name a film released in 2022 that is as wrenchingly moving as this Polish masterwork. 5 of 5.
The long-awaited results of the Greatest Films of All-Time polling, brilliantly tabulated by Bill Kamberger, follows:

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by Sam Juliano

Authors. University professors. Film critics. Film scholars. Filmmakers. Collectors. Impassioned cinephiles. Film fanatics who have watched upwards of 5,000 films in their lives. (Kendal College cum laude, the Briton Allan Fish, who authored a film book like no other -and whose ballot here is the only posthumous one submitted – saw double that number, easily, but this group is so prolific that associating with them is a humbling affair.) Film lovers who compile annual lists of the best they saw in years where they watched in the hundreds. Inveterate list makers. International movie denizens. Proctors of movie blog sites. And even a small sprinkling of the more modest movie watcher. They are all here for this Mother of all Pollings. (Yes, we still need to complete our Best American Films poll in our nearly-completed International balloting, but this present poll does stand alone). And for Tabulator Extraordinaire Bill Kamberger, this is truly the Mother of All Tabulations. It requires about one hour of his time to tabulate just one ballot, and we now have a grand total of eighty-five (85) ballots submitted.  The deadline passed today. This is a staggering total when you consider that the overwhelming majority of the ballots feature 100 films on them. This means the respective authors of those lists spent considerable time on crafting them.
We are not the final word on anything, not remotely. Yet, I am so proud of this group, and over the past several years have gotten to know most. This is as tasteful and as expert a group of cineastes I could ever hope to be associated with, and in behalf of Bill and myself I’d like to thank you for mustering up the energy and passion to complete this challenging task. The end results (concensus) will surely justify the time and effort that went into the project. To all those submitting ballots, thank you a million times over!
This past week was quiet on the movie front, but the coming week we plan to see a few more, including the highly-praised new Spielberg film.  I’ve been tinkering with the manuscript of Irish Jesus in Fairview, as I await the editing of the first-half of the book from my first-stage editor.  Meanwhile I have been outlining some ideas for the third novel, Roses for Saiorse. 

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by Sam Juliano

Election Day is tomorrow (Tuesday, November 8th).  I think we all know what is at stake.
The Banshees of Inisherin and Armegeddon Time at Teaneck multiplex
Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I watched two films over the weekend at the Cedar Lane Cinemas in Teaneck – on Friday and Saturday evenings. Though both films received strong reviews, we needed to see ourselves if the glowing notices were warranted. Alas they were. Both films for me get 4.5 of 5.0 and contend mightily for the end of the year honors, when I compile my “Best of 2022” list. The black comedy “Banshees”, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, is an allegorical, indeed existential meditation on loneliness which incorporates Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch and features breathtaking cinematography, shot on the sandy shores of Galway Bay, (a remote island off the coast of Ireland) and segues into a gruesome revenge fable that is brilliantly performed by Colin Ferrel, Brendan Gleason, Barry Keoghan and especially Kerry
Condon, who plays the independent-minded foil to the warring males.
James Gray’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama, “Armegeddon Time,” set in the 1980’s in Queens, during the Reagan era when Fred and Maryann Trump are dramatized making an appearance at a school – depicts an 11 year-old Jewish boy (Banks Repeta as Paul Graff) who befriends an African-American classmate, and gets into trouble after they smoke pot in the bathroom. A disciplinary scene where a belt is employed, evokes the era and underscores bad choices made by young and old, and how guilt isn’t easily overcome, as time moves forward. The film explores how race and class determine how one’s life will play out after young people are failed by the education system. Elegiac and bittersweet, the film is provocatively lensed by Darius Khondji, and the period is superbly evoked by the music and set design. Anthony Hopkins is excellent as a Holocaust survivor who warns his grandson of antisemitism, and the rest of the cast, including Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and the aforementioned Repeta are first-rate. This is the “lightest” film of Gray’s career, but overall it may well be his best. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN 4.5 of 5.0 ARMEGEDDON TIME 4.5 of 5.0

Jamie Uhler’s final entries in his stupendous 2022 Horrorfest:

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by Sam Juliano

The completed manuscript of Irish Jesus in Fairview is now in the hands of Rob Bignell, my first-stage editor.  The novel came in at around 160,000 words, which everything considered is rather astounding.  I have taken a break as far as continuing on with the third book, Roses for Saorise, as I do need to be abreast of the editing process of the second book, which also requires the art and the more painstaking second stage editing.  I am targeting late February or early March for the actual publication.  The first book, Paradise Atop the Hudson has now sold over 1,200 copies, which pleases me greatly, especially since that total was amassed over ten months.  The average number of amazon-published books during their entire lifetime is 250 copies.  This second book (Irish Jesus) will be much longer than the first, though at this point I am not sure the number of pages it will turn out to be.  Thanks to everyone for your kind words, support and enthusiasm.  As always, Valerie Clark of Toronto has been offering all kinds of support from day one.

Thanks to those who have submitted ballots for the Top 100 All-Time Greatest film project, which ends on November 9th.  Bill kamberger’s tabulation will be completed a few days afterwards, and it will predate the upcoming Sight & Sound results.

Happy Halloween to all!

“Till,” “Tar,” “Decision to Leave” and “Triangle of Sadness” seen the last two days in area multiplexes.
In an effort to play catch-up after being diverted the past weeks, I employed Friday night and my entire Saturday to see FOUR (4) new releases in the Ridgefield Park and Clifton multiplexes. My 1 to 5 star ratings are as follows: TILL 5.0 of 5.0 ; TAR 4.5 of 5.0 ; DECISION TO LEAVE 4.0 of 5.0 ; TRIANGLE OF SADNESS 3.5 of 5.0. TILL features what I consider to be the premier lead performance by an actress this year by Danielle Deadwyler , who plays the real-life mother of a 14 year-old boy who was tortured, disfigured and murdered in 1955 Mississippi by white racists, who deliberately misinterpreted the Chicago boy’s compliment of a white woman working at a general store, who recalls Mayella Ewell from “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The film’s courtroom scenes are electrifying, and again many of us are reminded why when we hear the state of Mississippi mentioned, our blood boils. The film is beautifully mounted, shot and written, and director Chinonye Chukwu is correct to accentatute the grief-stricken emotions in scenes that will leave you sobbing in your seat. (5.0 of 5.0)
If not for anything else TAR should be commended for its audacious subject of a female classical music conductor, a narcissist -Lydia Tar – who beats to her own drum, stepping on anyone who gets in her way, but she receives the required support from her adopted daughter (Petra). The film features the exploitation wrought by some powerful people in the arts field, and Tar is abusive, though writer-director Todd Field isn’t pointing fingers, he’s just documenting in his fictional account of what is hidden behind the scenes. The film is art house to its core, and I see some Kubrick and Bergman here, both in the psychological interplay and compositional choices. Blanchett delivers a towering performance, which for me is a close second to Deadwyler’s. (4.5 of 5.0)
The Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS, is irresistibly entertaining, almost in a Gilligan’s Island sense, but the satire is sometimes overwrought, and the cynicism suffocating. Like director Ruben Ostlund, “The Square” the film eventually overstays its welcome, and it was a curious choice for top film at Cannes, but I still recommend it for its acidic attack on the wealthy, even factoring in its episodic straucture. (3.5 of 5.0)
The South Korean neo-noir, romantic thriller, DECISION TO LEAVE doesn’t pose anything new or revelatory -a detective falling for dead man’s mysterious wife – heck we even saw a variation on this theme in DEEP END, with Tilda Swinton, but despite the sometimes inaccessible and convoluted plot, director Park Chan-wook’s filmmaking skills result in a film that keeps you riveted, even while you are sometimes lost in truly understanding what is really going on. Tang Wei as Seo-rae is extraordinary as the anchor of a multlayered plot, and location-alluring work. The film does cry out for a second viewing, methinks. (4.0 of 5.0)
Jamie Uhler’s stupendous Horrorfest 2022 reviews continue here:

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by Sam Juliano
The manuscript for the 153,000 word Irish Jesus in Fairview will be sent on to my first-stage editor, Rob Bignell, first thing Tuesday morning, along with my initial payment.
Jamie Uhler’s continuing October Fest Horror project, brilliantly considers ten (10) films this week.
Event Horizon (P. W. S. Anderson… 1997) sci-fi horror
A film I’d seen in the theaters, but not since, was pressed into service in an attempt to cleanse the taste in my mouth and reestablish my appreciation of Laurence Fishburne; after a run-through of the Matrix franchise to get ready for December’s release of Matrix: Resurrections, I’d felt quite fatigued. It’s a franchise that after the great first film and the 2 or 3 great set pieces in the second, more or less becomes quite a slog to get through, and while this is nothing on Fishburne’s Morpheus, or any of the principle players really, they’re just films that become quite laborious to actually sit and watch. Deep Cover, the magnificent 90’s Neo-noir also helped (for those keeping extra score at home, 2009’s somewhat entertaining Armored was also screened), but given my year long commitment to watching Horror and penning the capsule here and there to have a sufficient backlog of reviews done once fall rolled around, I figured a rewatch of Event Horizon necessary.
Much has been said of its overt similarities to the Alien aesthetic, that is to say a plot involving a space crew in deep space either happens upon or is actively searching for a lost ship to only get an alien intruder aboard that slowly works to brutalize all involved. I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence as a cinephile to point out that Alien was itself merely a link in the chain, Ridley Scott’s film borrowed on a well established sci-fi cinematic trope; It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and a 1975 Doctor Who episode (‘The Ark in Space’) chief among them. Plus, from the barest of production values, filmmakers Curtis Harrington (Queen of Blood, 1966) and Mario Bava (Planet of the Vampires, 1965) have also claimed Ridley’s film had their works on his mind during production*. But this also misses another point that Event Horizon and Alien share, how much they leap from science fiction into the world of slasher Horror, the Agatha Christie Ten Little Indians idea where characters are knocked off one by one until just one remains. Halloween then, which arrived a year before Alien, to a boatload of cash seems as important a precursor to them as any 1950’s B-sci-fi work. But then Event Horizon builds a loop, almost becoming a precursor to how Ridley Scott eventually saw the Alien franchise playing out. His human-robot character David (played with brilliant touches by Michael Fassbinder) being the real conduit to the Horror of the world is much like Sam Neill’s Doctor Weir here, who once he finds the Event Horizon, the lost spaceship he helped design to create black holes for light year interspace travel in seconds, is willing to let the dark forces of another dimension control the ship.
The films final third becomes mostly a graphic gore display that I didn’t entirely mind, but I also can’t say that it’s earlier lofty promises were delivered upon either. The story goes that the film as originally envisioned was to land between 2 hours to 2 hours and ten minutes, but the studio took over and exacted a sprinting 96 minute one. Once the film did pretty good in home DVD sales they had an about face and asked for that director’s cut, to only be thwarted given that footage was now gone or would need extensive re-shoots or digital effects overlays. In watching it last night, I liked it enough, but I wonder how much clearer and deeper the premise would be in that extended run-time. It’d allow the interesting ideas of the spinning magnetic portal to better assert itself, placing the gore stuff secondary which I’d imagine would be the proper ordering of thematic subtext. But still, as it stands, it’s not a terrible way to spend a brisk evening, it’s better than you remember.
*It’s a point so vital I thought it serious enough to write a piece on years ago. (https://attractivevariance.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/concerning-the-production-value-derived-opinion-in-the-science-fiction-film/)   

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by Sam Juliano

Jim Clark published a superlative essay on Ingmar Bergman’s Thirst, this past week at the site.  The Greatest Films of All-Time ballots continue to be submitted and will be accepted till early November.  Thanks to all who have responded!

After responding to numerous private messages over the past months, I am thrilled and proud to announce that today, October 11, 2022, I have completed my second novel, which is tentatively titled, IRISH JESUS IN FAIRVIEW. (The title could change, but perhaps it won’t; I will sort that out moving forward). The new novel continues the story of Adam Sean Furano, his wife Sarah and his family, and the trials and tribulations they face from late 1972 (when the first novel left off) up until 1980, when this lengthy work ends. IRISH JESUS IN FAIRVIEW is considerably longer than PARADISE ATOP THE HUDSON, and the final projection after the proof-reading and connecting passages are figured in is estimated to be nearly 150,000 words. (55 chapters, compared to the 41 for PARADISE)

New characters are introduced, including a major one, a militantly-devout Polish-American Catholic teenager from Wallington, New Jersey, who is met in Wildwood, New Jersey in the summer of 1974, and soon after becomes a major player in the lives of the Furano family. The boy, Andrzej Wiesnewski, shares some distinct similarities with Adam, and has sustained a tragic past. The behavioral tendencies of young people growing up in the 1970’s are showcased, including the obsession with music, movies, sports, local eateries, drinking, smoking as well as bullying, homophobia, and a trio of controlling women, who each bring varying degrees of that propensity to the men they are connected to. The book’s main character has developed a physical disability from his 1971 accident in Palisades Amusement Park, which adversely affects his self-confidence, and within the Furano family there is a power-play for favoritism that results in unspeakable corruption. The real-life priest of St. John’s, Father Charles McTague plays a major role in this story, and some of his history is woven into the fictional narrative. Also, the authentic arrival of Father Peter Sticco at OLG in 1978 is likewise documented. Once again, local establishments, real people who lived in Fairview and Cliffside Park, the area’s geography, schools, churches, and community events are incorporated in a scene-specific way, but IRISH JESUS is a deeper exploration of the themes that defined the first book, and it disavows the notion that the way one feels early in life will carry over into the future. I’d like to think this is a more polished, intricate and intense work than the first book, but those who read it will have to make that determination. There are some major surprises in this book, but I will leave it at that.
Because the first book sold way better than expected, and continues to sell copies weekly to the very present, I am planning to publish through Amazon once again. It will take two more weeks to write some “connecting” passages, and to painstakingly proofread, and then the book will be sent off to my FIRST STAGE editor. My artist already is preparing his cover work, and then my friend and final-stage editor will commence with his examination. (I have already written three chapters of the THIRD BOOK in this trilogy, tentatively titled ROSES FOR SAOIRSE, but I must now focus on IRISH JESUS before resuming with ROSES. Many thanks to all those who have offered love, support and encouragement.
Jamie Uhler has written five (5) more stupendous reviews for Horrorfest 2022:

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by James Clark 2022

The Surrealist treasures of Ingmar Bergman’s early films culminate with the film, Thirst (1949). Our approach here will not coincide with the melodramatic saga, so necessary for the young artist’s business. There will be a nucleus, taken  far from the beginning of the text; and then many ironies with their crises; and then the genius of cameraman, Gunnar Fischer.

Believe it or not, there is (and has been, for eons) a significant number of folks who live millions of miles away from their friends. Living beyond the normal, pious hopes. Our protagonist, here, being one of those who has an uncanny energy, unable to put the picture together.  (The famed Surrealists also had problems with coherence. While making serious fun, much was missed.)

We start (and end) with her. We start at the cemetery of her long-dead husband, and its moments that never reached him. Nearby, she was a part of her adolescent’s crisis at a mental hospital, whereby she had smashed a window and left much blood that day. Moreover, and more to the point, there was a multimillionaire financing  the place, who thought he was a medical wizard. (This moment, however, had, for Bergman, also its viciousness angle. Several of these near-war films had been warped in face of a fascist bias. You might argue that the losing side had something to offer. But here, we come upon a sneer for the name, Rosegreen, meant to be attacked. And yet the irony flows beyond.) Continue Reading »