99 year-old ‘Saboteur’ actor Norman Lloyd speaking to Film Forum audience via Skype from Los Angeles
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. Continue Reading »
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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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by Sachin Gandhi
2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival, a festival that has been the launching pad for many exciting cinematic voices over the years. The festival’s importance in discovering new directors was nicely highlighted by the trailer shown before all the films which gave a glimpse of some of the stellar titles that played at the festival. The first Sundance was held in 1985 but it is acknowledged that the festival shot into the limelight in 1989 with Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotapes which changed the perception of the festival. Besides being the launching pad for Soderbergh, Sundance ushered the discovery of many other American directors including Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, 1992), Kevin Smith (Clerks, 1994), Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass, 1994), Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, 1996) and Darren Aronofsky (Pi, 1998). All of these directors, plus many more, have made the jump from Independent to Commercial cinema thanks to their discovery at Sundance. Even James Wan’s Saw premiered at Sundance before it transformed into a multiplex franchise.
The success of certain Sundance films or genre means the media attention seems to gravitate towards a similar subset of the festival’s output. One hears plenty about how a certain work is a “Sundance film”, words which paint the festival in a single light. In recent years, that term has been associated with Little Miss Sunshine or Sunshine Cleaning, two films that seem to embody the kind of films that Sundance loves. But these films are not representative of the entire body of carefully programmed films that make up the Sundance film festival. Over the years, documentaries and a growing list of foreign films have premiered at the festival. Although, one would not know that from the media coverage. As this year showed, the films at Sundance represented a multi-tiered global outlook, not only in terms of the foreign film selections but the topics covered in many American films as well. Even though many films were American productions, they were shot in foreign locations or featured topics that were universal in theme. And as it turned out, through a series of intriguing choices, I ended up with many films which were tied together despite coming from different parts of the world. The 13 films I saw can be grouped together in the following 5 categories. Continue Reading »
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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. Continue Reading »
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