Archive for October 13th, 2008

by “Broadway Bob” Eagleson

     As Madonna concluded her “Sticky and Sweet” tour Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, she took none-too subtle swipes at both John McCain and running goat…oops, mate, Sarah Palin.

     A video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, and U.S. Senator John McCain.  Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain’s Democratic rival Barack Obama.  The crowd roared with applause at the sight of Obama’s photograph.  When Madonna prefaced the audience participation segment, she announced that “This is the part of the show where I give out free condoms…safe sex motherf**kers, with Sarah Plain’s picture on the cover”….the audience went wild!!!  The rest of the show had the usual Madonna staples: sequins, fishnets, and bondage-style outfits. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

     For those who have come to WitD to see writings by yours truly, I am sorry to say that frantic viewings as of late of films, plays, concerts and operas have prevented me from giving them them proper attention, at least in a timely fashion anyway.  I hope to have reviews up tomorrow of both Ballast and Rachel Getting Married, both of which were most accomplished and four-out-of-five-star films.  Lucille and I spoke to and took pictures of Ballast’s youthful and endearing director, Lance Hammer after his Q & A at the Film Forum on Sunday night.  Prior to the viewing of the tough and uncompromising Mississippi Delta-set drama of troubled people, Lucille and I watched one of the great masterpieces in all of world-cinema, Max Ophuls’ Lola Montes in a ravishing new restored and remastered print from cinemascope elements.  On Saturday I watched (for the third time in my life) the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of Richard Strauss’ Salome, with an electrifying lead performance.  (review to be posted here at WitD later this week).  And I did get to see other films this week as well on the big-screen, again some of which will appear at this site in the upcoming week.  Until then I offer the following ratings for these films: (5 star rating system)

     Body of Lies    **

     Happy-Go-Lucky   ****

     Rachel Getting Married   ****

     Breakfast For Scot    ***

     Ballast     ****

     Lola Montes   *****

     I trust everyone continues to enjoy the superlative work of my Kendal colleague Allan Fish, who continues to set the bar for his profound and authoritative examination of world cinema.  His work will be a daily reminder of the site’s central concern.

     With a wife and five kids, a full time teaching position and a torrid schedule of films, and live events, not to mention DVDs at home and quality time for the kids, it shouldn’t be surprising that writing time is severely constricted.  I promise to do my best.

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Another Bit of Fun

by Allan Fish

Here we go again, guys.  You know the rules by now.  We want the connecting actor/actress and the five films in question.  An easy one today.

Played Michael O’Hara, Hank Quinlan and Edward Rochester, saidI run a couple of newspapers.  What do you do?and was shot by Joseph Cotten.

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Cranford ****½

by Allan Fish

This is the first review from my tome to be submitted here that was made for television (aside from Fassbinder’s World on Wires, published a week or so ago).  However, TV is a part of screen history and amongst the over 1,000 entries in the book, there are around 75 from the smaller screen.

(UK 2007 300m) DVD1/2

A very fine weave

p  Sue Birtwistle  d  Simon Curtis, Steve Hudson  created by  Sue Birtwistle, Susie Conklin  w  Heidi Thomas  novel  Elizabeth Gaskell  ph  Ben Smithard  ed  Frances Parker  m  Carl Davis  art  Donal Woods  cos  Jenny Beavan

Judi Dench (Miss Matty Jenkyns), Eileen Atkins (Miss Deborah Jenkyns), Michael Gambon (Thomas Holbrook), Simon Woods (Dr Frank Harrison), Imelda Staunton (Miss Pole), Philip Glenister (Mr Carter), Jim Carter (Captain Brown), Francesca Annis (Lady Ludlow), Julia Sawalha (Jessie Brown), Greg Wise (Sir Charles Maulver), Emma Fielding (Miss Galindo), Barbara Flynn (Mrs Jamieson), Lisa Dillon (Mary Smith), Selina Griffiths (Caroline Tomkinson), Lesley Manville (Mrs Rose), Julia McKenzie (Mrs Forester), Deborah Findley (Miss Tomkinson), Dean Lennox Kelly (Job Gregson), Martin Shaw (Peter Jenkyns), Finty Williams (Mrs Clara Smith), Imogen Byron (Kate), Joseph McFadden (Dr Jack Mashland), Alex Etel (Harry Gregson),

The very last words of this much loved classic adaptation – in more ways than one – could not have been more appropriate to describe the series itself, and indeed that of the Elizabeth Gaskell plots it encompasses.  They, too, like Miss Matty’s decades-late Muslin fabric, is tightly weaved and intricately detailed, and the sort of entertainment for which Sunday evenings were made for.  True, it doesn’t offer anything particularly original, and it will, of course, only appeal to a certain type of viewer, but could it honestly have been made any better? (more…)

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Inland Empire ****½

by Allan Fish

(USA 2006 180m) DVD1/2

No more blue tomorrows

p  David Lynch, Mary Sweeney  d/w  David Lynch  ph/ed  David Lynch  m  none  art  Christina Ann Wilson, Wojciech Wolniak

Laura Dern (Nikki Grace/Susan Blue), Jeremy Irons (Kingsley Stewart), Justin Theroux (Devon Berk/Billy Side), Harry Dean Stanton (Freddie Howard), Julia Ormond (Doris Side), Grace Zabriskie (Visitor #1), Diane Ladd (Marilyn Levens), Neil Dickson (producer), William H.Macy (announcer), Mary Steenburgen (Visitor #2), Emily Stofle (Lani), Jordan Ladd (Terri), Laura Harring, Nastassja Kinski, Naomi Watts (voice),

Never was an essay in this tome more like playing devil’s advocate to myself.  Here is arguably the most self-indulgent film of the entire selection.  A film which takes H.P.Lovecraft’s famous mantra, also followed by Kubrick in The Shining, “in all things mysterious, never explain” and multiplies it to the power of infinity.  It’s completely impenetrable, deliberately opaque, shatteringly perverse and throughout it all, one has a feeling that the director has played a massive trick on the viewer, by redefining audience tolerance.  Lynch is of course the crown prince of weird, as earlier masterpieces Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive showed, but this is way, way beyond the non-linear elements of those films. 

            Nikki Grace is an actress married to a powerful man with a psychotic jealous reputation, who’s auditioned for the lead in a new film to be directed by Kingsley Stewart, starring noted ladies man Devon Berk.  She receives a visit from an Eastern European accented ‘neighbour’ who tells her she’s got the part before it’s even been confirmed and who then proceeds to insult Nikki, who asks her to leave.  At that point, Nikki gets a call from her agent telling her she’s got the part.  All is well until, during a read through, she is told what the director has just found out, that the script is not actually an original, but one that was attempted years before, only to be left unfinished after the death of the two stars.  (more…)

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