Archive for July 13th, 2009


by Sam Juliano

     As we inch closer to the dog days of summer, those of us in the NYC area can be thankful for the 70 degree weather we have enjoyed now for weeks, intersperced with some rain.  Here at WitD, the 70’s countdown moves closer to the top 10 of Allan’s listing, and one of the post this week expectantly led all others with most hits and more significantly the highest number of comments, 53.  That post of course was The Godfather, and it inspired an enthralling thread.  The review in the ‘Forsaken 70’s Cinema’ series on John Waters’s Female Trouble, was next up with a whopping 44 comments. (The totals for the popular ‘Monday Morning Diary’ are not included).

     Lucille and I attended a fabulous concert at Avery Fisher Hall on the last day (Friday, July 10) of the ‘Summertime Classics’ series, performed by the New York Philharmonic and a guest conductor, who this night also served as host: Bramwell Tovey.  The classical venue, titled “Bolero and Other French Delights” included a fantastic performance of the Ravel masterpiece (a work that seems to be known by everyone, regardless of whether they are music fans) as well as selections from Bizet’s Carmen (including “March of the Toreodors” and the “Habanera”) and from Saint-Saens’s Samson and Dalila, including of course the work’s most sublime passage, one of opera’s greatest arias, “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix.”  Also included were Berlioz’s “La Corsaire Overture” and three encores of works by Cilea and Massenet.  The soprano Denys Graves brought the house down with her singing, and the Philharmonic were in top form.  A review will definitely appear at WitD later this week.

     On the theatrical movie scene I saw the following:

      The Hurt Locker  **** 1/2     (Saturday night; Montclair Cinemas)

      Bruno  **           (Sunday afternoon; Edgewater multiplex)

      Soul Power  ***  (Sunday night; Landmark Cinemas)

     THE HURT LOCKER by Kathryn Bigelow is one of the best war films in years and it deserves the spectacular reviews it has received.  It’s set in Iraq, and it chronicles the daily life within a bomb disposal unit, identifying improvised explosive devices.  They either deactivate them or blow them up.  The film is riveting, provocative and imbued with a human quality to the characters.   Bigelow makes no political judgement here, just a consideration of war, which is in tune with the slew of anti-war films over the years, but this one is unique.

     BRUNO starring Sacha Baron Cohen domonstrates that this humor has now worn out its welcome.  Some scenes, like the appearance of Presidential candidate Ron Paul in a hotel room, and the improvising of a “blow job” as well as the final scene in a wrestling ring are very funny, but so much of the longish 90 minute running time is occupied by lazy humor, over the top insults, and some anal gadgetry that left one shaking their head.  To say it’s insulting in one manner or another is to miss the whole point of the focus, but by and large it just isn’t very funny, and that’s the bottom line.

      SOUL POWER is a documentary about “Zaire 74” the music festival combined with the landmark boxing event “Rumble in the Jungle” which is basically an encore of When We Were Kings.  This film was basically comprised of stock footage, and had little by way of filmmaking inspiration.  The Ali bits were more of a hinderance than any kind of a worthwhile embellishment. 

           I watched two DVDs this week from Allan’s backlog, and both were excellent:  Rossellini’s ravishing THE AGE OF THE MEDICI from the Eclipse set, and a French satire with black humor from the 50’s titled THE RED INN.

          So, what have YOU seen?  Listened to?  Attended?  Experienced?

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