Archive for March, 2009


by Sam Juliano

When the curtain rises on August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Seth is complaining to his wife Bertha about Bynum, a tenant in their Pittsburgh boardinghouse who kills pigeons for his African rituals.  Seth and Bertha also commiserate about Seth’s night position at the steel mill, and his third job as a tinsmith, fabricating items sold to him by the white peddler, Rutherford Selig.  Seth would actually go into the tinsmithing business himself, but cannot get approved for a loan unless he forfeits the boardinghouse, which he refuses to do.  Selig stops by for his weekly Saturday business visit, buys some pots from Seth and puts in an order for some dustpans.  Bynum asks Selig about the shiny man that he paid Selig–a people finder–to find for him.    

Thus begins the third of Wilson’s “Century Cycle” set in 1911, of ten plays, which comprises his complete artistic output, and which chronicles ten decades of life in Pittsburgh’s “Hill District” among African-Americans that is mythic in its compelling transcription of the black experience.  The title of the play basically symbolizes the American socialized system of oppression, whereby “Joe Turner” is “incarceration”, (Turner is actually a notorious Tennessee plantation owner who illegally enslaved African-Americans to work for him.) and Herald Loomis at the outset is simultaneously searching for his wife and daughter and his inner-self.      (more…)


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by Allan Fish

(UK 2003 350m) DVD2 

A missing silver briefcase

p  Hilary Bevan Jones  d  David Yates  w  Paul Abbott  ph  Chris Seager  ed  Mark Day  m  Nicholas Hooper  art  Donal Woods

David Morrissey (Stephen Collins), John Simm (Cal McCaffrey), Kelly MacDonald (Della Smith), Bill Nighy (Cameron Foster), Polly Walker (Anne Collins), Amelia Bullmore (Helen Preger), James McAvoy (Dan Foster), Philip Glenister (DCI William Bell), Marc Warren (Dominic Foy), Michael Feast (Andrew Wilson), Benedict Wong (Pete Cheng), Geraldine James (Yvonne Shaps), Sean Gilder (Sgt. “Chewy” Cheweski), Tom Burke (Syd), Shauna McDonald (Sonia Baker), David Ryall,

Just watching State of Play again reminds one of just how incestuous British television drama is.  Never mind the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, they should rename that game the Two Degrees of John Simm.  Just one look through the cast – Simm, Morrissey, Nighy, McDonald, Glenister, Warren, it’s like a who’s who of contemporary drama.  Only Jodhi May, David Tennant, Sarah Parish and David Bradley are missing, but all of the above are very much part of the merry-go-round.  Take Morrissey, who following this had arguably his best role as Ripley Holden in Blackpool, opposite David Tennant, whose adversary as Doctor Who, The Master, was reincarnated as John Simm, who appeared with David Morrissey…  Arthur Schnitzler would give off a wry smile.

            State of Play follows the ramification of the seemingly unconnected deaths of a 15 year old black youth and a twenty-something parliamentary research assistant on the same London morning.  It transpires that up and coming cabinet tipped MP Stephen Collins was having an affair with the deceased woman, and at this time he renews acquaintance with Cal McCaffrey, an old friend and campaign manager now working as a journalist for famous editor Cameron Foster.  The problem is that a phone call took place twixt the two seemingly unconnected victims on the fateful morning in question, and it becomes a race to see whether the police or Fleet Street get to the truth first. (more…)

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Film Noir fans at Wonders in the Dark are urged to check out R. D. Finch’s round-up of four noir or neo-noir films at his Movie Projector site.  Mr. Finch has again done a fantastic job in taking an in-depth look at the components of these seminal, and he makes a strong case for them falling within the “noir” parameters.  Here’s the link:


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by Allan Fish

(UK 2009 306m) DVD2

Aka. 1974, 1980 & 1983

Twinkle, twinkle, little star…

p  Wendy Brazington, Anita Overland  d  Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker  w  Tony Grisoni  novels  David Peace  ph  Rob Hardy  m  Adrian Johnston, Barrington Pheloung  art  Christina Casali

Andrew Garfield (Eddie Dunford), Warren Clarke (Bill Molloy), David Morrissey (Maurice Jobson), Sean Bean (John Dawson), Paddy Considine (Peter Hunter), Eddie Marsan (Jack Whitehead), Rebecca Hall (Paula Garland), Maxine Peake (Helen Marshall), Sean Harris (Bob Craven), Mark Addy (John Piggott), Peter Mullan (Martin Laws), Jim Carter (Harold Angus), Robert Sheehan (BJ), Anthony Flanagan (Barry Gannon), Kelly Freemantle (Clare Strachan), Shaun Dooley (Dick Alderman), Gerald Kearns (Leonard Cole), Saskia Reeves (Mandy Wymer), Lesley Sharp (Joan Hunter), Cathryn Bradshaw (Marjorie Dawson), Daniel Mays (Michael Myshkin), Joseph Mawle (Peter Sutcliffe),

Settling down on the 5th March 2009 to watch the first instalment on Channel 4 one was immediately struck by the look of Red Riding.  It’s bathed in a distinct golden veneer.  No nostalgic glow this, more like yesterday’s stale beer, or dried up piss.  Appropriate really, for this is a horrible place, West Yorkshire (Riding as it was back in the days) in the seventies and eighties, a county terrorised by two evils, a child kidnapper and killer with a passion for turning the children into posthumous angels by attaching swan’s wings to their backs and, infamously, the Yorkshire Ripper.  (more…)

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Jon takes up the baton with this one, answers on a comment as usual…


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by Allan Fish

(UK 2005 358m) DVD1/2

Looking for Ambrose Chapel

p  Sanne Wohlenberg  d  Dearbhla Walsh, Susan Tully, Brian Kirk  w  Simon Ashdown, Jeremy Dyson  ph  Lukas Strebel  ed  Emer Reynolds, Tony Cranstoun

Kris Marshall (Dudley Sutton), Ian Puleston Davies (Shirley Woolf), Daniel Mays (Carter Krantz), Roy Barraclough (Onan Van Kneck), Judy Parfitt (Mercy Woolf), Frances Barber (Connie), Sarah Smart (Lola Sutton), Emily Aston (Ruby Woolf), Philip Jackson (Leo Finch), Beth Cordingly (Vienna), Mark Gatiss (Ambrose Chapfel), Ron Cook,

It all begins with a man in a gorilla suit climbing up Blackpool Tower.  We see him fall.  We don’t see why or who he is.  Could be a she for all we know.  We are then told it’s several days earlier.  Each episode will begin the same way with the same gorilla-suited man plummeting to the pavement on the Golden Mile, and each time the clock ticks down.  This in essence is Funland‘s Laura Palmer.  I evoke the comparison with David Lynch’s ubercult quite deliberately, for there’s more than a touch of Lynch about this sleeper hit for the then fledgling BBC3. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

     The six week duration of the 1950’s film poll will be ended at 11:00 P.M. on Sunday evening, March 29th.  About 35 ballots have been submitted under the “Movies of the 50’s” link under the site’s header, making it the most successful of any decade poll thus far.  The reviews the poll inspired have given Wonders in the dark it’s most enriching discourse yet, as well.

     Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. will have results ready for mid-week, and they will be sent out to an affiliated e mail network, and then on the site on Saturday.  Anyone still holding back is urged to sumbit their Top 25 in numerical order before the deadline.  Wonders in the Dark thanks everyone for their considerable time investment in compiling this challenging and painstaking listing.  It appears that the results will be definitive.

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For correctly guessing the first one set by Tony, Alexander gets lumbered with the choice for today’s question, and in true cryptic fashion, it’s a real (expletive deleted).



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by Sam Juliano

Pianist Vladimir Feltsman bolted out onto the stage six times after Monday night’s all-Prokofiev venue at Avery Fisher Hall to acknowledge a cheering sold-out throng, who were wildly enthusiastic over his work on the”Piano Concerto No. 2.”  The rhapsodic and galvanizing  virtuoso turn dazzled concert goers with it’s breathtaking perpetual motion and march-like intensity in a work that is probably three times as difficult to negotiate as Sergei Rachmaninoff’s beloved “Second Piano Concerto,” a perennial concert favorite.  Feltsman, who left Russia in 1987, and became an American citizen in 1987, beamed as he was handed a bouquet of flowers, while being flanked by London Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra conductor Valery Gergiev, the world’s foremost Prokofiev interpreter.  It is purportedly a rule that any pianist who successfully negotiates this (one of most difficult of all piano concertos) is entitled to win delirious applause.      (more…)

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Two Lovers


by Jennifer Boulden

Like good jazz, the rhythms of Two Lovers are all a little off. And like good jazz, this makes for a more engaging experience with the audience-we are never quite sure what to expect next as it lilts and hops forward in playful dissonance and broken harmonies. Yet Two Lovers’ rhythms, we come to realize in the course of director James Gray’s small film, feel off not because they are so dissimilar from what we expect in life, but because they are so dissimilar from what we expect to find in film.

The people of Two Lovers feel real, full of ambiguities and complexities. These are far from stock characters, even as they fill stock roles. They are fully realized individuals that we can tell have had lives before they appear on screen and lives that will continue long after the theater lights are all dark.  It is a tiny slice of life film that feels much more European than American. American romances, however convoluted, rarely approach this level of subtle sophistication and insight. (more…)

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