Archive for July 20th, 2009

nyc parks 004

by Sam Juliano

     The lovely weather continued in the Metropolitan area over the past week, with only a few imperfections to spoil the fun.  Things at Wonders in the Dark couldn’t be hotter though, as the site experienced it’s biggest week ever in total comments, and it’s second biggest ever in “hits” only behind the week months back when the site was listed on the IMDB’s ‘hit’ list.  The thread under the review of The Return of the King nabbed a staggering 214 comments, a figure that seems close to impossible to ever attain.  The usual suspects were in their best form ever, and kudos go to Movie Man, Ed Howard, Kevin J. Olson, Jon Lanthier, Kaleem Hasan, Goodfella Dave, Frank Gallo, Pierre de Plume, Jamie, Joe, Dee Dee, David Noack, Dennis, Frederic, John Greco, Jenny, Bill Riley, Bobby J., Peter, Maria, R. D. Finch, Craig, Daniel, John R., Ricky and our own Allan Fish and Tony D’Ambra.  Many of the comments were thesis length, and all kinds of subjects were broached.  It’s a keeper thread for all-time, and it will always be here to re-examine.  Needless to say it shattered records here, and probably won’t be equaled numerically again.  But this week we also had banner responses to Allan’s reviews of  Chinatown, The Obscure Object of Desire and Two English Girls, all of which had excellent numbers by way of comments and hits.  Above all, the comments were of a very high quality all week.  Thanks to everyone for making WitD the fascinating forum it has become.

     Lucille and the kids spent two evenings with me “under the stars” on Thursday and Friday evenings in the Bronx and Manhattan, listening to the New York Philharmonic performed Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, Mahler’s First and Seventh, and some Copland pieces.  Rain came down in the middle of the after-intermission Mahler symphony, during the second night in Central Park, forced a stampeding exit, but the first night in Van Cortland Park was perfect.  I hope to have a review here at some point.

     I saw three films theatrically:

     Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince   ***  (Wednesday afternoon; local)

     Somers Town  ****      (Saturday night; Film Forum)

     500 Days To Summer   *** 1/2  (Sunday night; Union Square)

     The Harry Potter film, which the five kids were split on (2 liked it a lot; the other 3 were indifferent) were the same old, same old again with only a poignant climax managing to elevate it.  The British film, SOMERS TOWN,  by Shane Meadows, who directed This is England a few years back, is a funny and perceptive black and white film about a cross-cultural friendship between a young Brit and a the son of a Polish immigrant.  I plan on having a review of this up perhaps as early as Tuesday morning.  As far as 500 DAYS TO SUMMER, the two leads, Zooey Deschanel and J. Gordon-Lewitt were enchanting, and the film did make some truthful statements about the nature of young love, but the film was also somewhat cloying and exhaustive, and both the voice-over narration and the calendar roll-out were major annoyances.  Nice final scene, though.

    The official Wonders in the Dark reaction to 500 DAYS was given by Phillip Johnson back in April, here:


     Anyway, what did YOU see?  Hear?  Read?  Dine at?  How was YOUR week?

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god II

by Allan Fish

(USA 1974 200m) DVD1/2

Another offer we can’t refuse

p/d  Francis Ford Coppola  w  Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo  novel  Mario Puzo  ph  Gordon Willis  ed  Peter Zinner, Barry Malkin, Richard Marks  m  Carmine Coppola, Nino Rota  art  Dean Tavoularis, Angelo Graham  cos  Theodora Van Runkle

Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Diane Keaton (Kay Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagan), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone), Robert DeNiro (Vito Andolini-Corleone), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), Michael V.Gazzo (Frank Pentangeli), G.D.Spradlin (Senator Pat Geary), Richard Bright (Al Neri), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Danny Aiello (Toni Rosato), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Leopoldo Trieste (Signor Roberto), John Aprea (young Tessio), Marianna Hill (Deanna Corleone), Joe Spinnell (Willi Cicci), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), Harry Dean Stanton (FBI man), Bruno Kirby (Clemenza), Gaston Moschin (Fanucci), James Caan (Sonny Corleone),

There are not many cases of a sequel that match or surpass its classic original (The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, The Two Towers, all contenders), but Coppola’s 1974 masterpiece is undoubtedly one of them.  Put quite simply, The Godfather Part Two is a richer, more complex and morally corrupt film than its predecessor and one of the greatest films of the seventies. 

            Rather than just tell Michael’s story, the sequel parallels the story of his father, who loses his father, mother and brother before leaving Sicily for America (reminiscent of Kazan’s America, America) via Ellis Island in 1901.  We see how Vito takes over the New York gangland of the feared Don Fanucci, builds up an olive oil business and becomes Godfather.  In the present, Michael’s ideas of expansion and going legit are forever halted by the machinations of Jewish bigwig Hyman Roth, and it leads to Michael’s having to testify against accusations from the Supreme Court.  (more…)

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