Archive for September 10th, 2009


by Sam Juliano

    Note:  The above picture is of Allan Fish and the five Juliano kids on the Empire State Building during Allan’s three-week Christmas visit of December 2008, which we’ll never forget.

     As we approach the one-year anniversary of Wonders in the Dark, we ask ourselves how we made it.  What started out as a whim has blossomed into a glorious community of film and music bloggers, who have given the site some of the most spectacular threads recorded on-line.  The site has attracted the comments of some worldwide artists and scholars, and it’s become a home for a number of bloggers desiring regular interaction.  From the beginning I was determined to start anew with my own blogsite after a short stint at a fine site named Movie Zeal.  Within a week of September 4th, with the help of Living in Cinema’s Craig Kennedy and my favorite Australian and long-time colleague Tony d’Ambra, the bare essentials were in place to proceed.  As I am technologically useless, I immediately enlisted the help of my dear friend from the U.K., Allan Fish, and within a few more days the collaboration that has defined the site for twelve months was in place.  With Allan’s extraordinary backlog of film reviews, posted piece meal from his unpublished book, we had the backbone of fresh daily material ready to post along with my own reviews of recently-seen films.  The combination in those early weeks was read by only a few bloggers, mostly my personal friends and school colleagues, who posted as they still do from the work PCs.  A few loyal supporters from Mr. Kennedy’s site were the only ‘outsiders’ placing occasional comments, so the site moved forward at a snail’s pace.

     Then came an ‘event’ that was to forever alter the dynamics of the site, one that fueled the drive to reach a wider audience and to turn the site into a gathering place for ongoing dialogue, much in the tradition of Living in Cinema.  An eternally effervescent blogger with a trademark syntax visited the site for the first time in late October, and singlehandedly transformed the psychology of the writers as well as providing an impetus for others to dive in and engage in discussion.  The blogger’s name is “Dee Dee” and she manages three blogsites, including the one most familiar to most, Darkness to Light, formerly known as Noirish City.  A graphic designer, who is a private person (I know her name of course, but won’t reveal it) she resides in the midwest, and is a tireless blogger with a disarming personality and a sense of goodness that stands apart from anyone and everything she comes in contact with.  Her astonishing generosity, concern for her fellow bloggers, and good-humored approach to blogging have enriched not only the blogging community but those who were fortunate to get daily visits from her.  ‘Dee Dee’ is an ever-astute film noir fan, who has spent the last few years gathering together and watching noir titles, interviewing writers in the field, and following DVD releases and festivals nationwide.  She immediately infused the site with a sense of enthusiasm and excitement, which was frankly infectious.  Her extreme kindness  is legendary, and just recently she read where someone was looking for a film on one of our threads, and promptly bought the film for the person whom she didn’t even know.  She acquired other titles for site regulars, who e mailed me to say what an unbelievable person she is.  Dee Dee’s presence at Wonders in the Dark has been more than invaluable, it’s frankly been the heart and soul of the site.  She doesn’t write reviews, but she is actually part of the staff here, as she has done more than just support Allan and I with perky comments, but she is a personal friend, and meeting her can’t be matched by any other favorable development over the past year. Even Allan, who keeps his emotions in check, has admitted to me that she is a ‘very lovely’ person, by telephone.  Her trademark ‘smileys’ and quirky demeanor have become part of WitD’s fabric.  But going deeper, she is a bright, articulate and crafty blogger who knows what is neded to enrich the subjects, whether it be providing links, overview, biographical embelishment, or even colorful asides like the broaching of birthdays, passings or relevant tie-ins.

     After Dee Dee’s prolific presence at the site had taken hold, others began to surface.  My good friend, the stupendously-talented Kaleem Hasan of Scarsdale, N.Y., became a scholarly force at the site, and in addition to his thesis-length comments, he authored several superlative essays.  At that time, our close affiliate, Tony d’Ambra began to help the site in all sorts of ways, while still maintaining his stewardship of his own two blogs, both of which are still minimally retained in the blogosphere. D’Ambra rehauled the site, and for a long time managed the sidebar graphics, special features and upcoming events, while simultaneously logging comments an dwriting some impressive reviews and posts, including some striking poems that  were critically-praised by the entire blogging community.  Tony is still a fiercely-loyal friend, who will always be a close affiliate on both a professional and personal level. 


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hotel 1

(France 1988 267m) not on DVD

Aka. Hôtel Terminus: Klaus Barbie, sa vie et son temps

We are part of the continent

p  Marcel Ophuls  d/w  Marcel Ophuls  ph  Michael Davis, Pierre Boffety, Ruben Aaronson, Wilhelm Rosing, Lionel Legros, Daniel Chabert, Paul Gonon  ed  Albert Jurgenson, Catherine Zins  narrator  Jeanne Moreau

A problematic film in many ways, Hotel Terminus was the last of the three canonical documentaries about World War II made by Marcel Ophuls in the space of twenty crusading years, following trail-blazing resistance documentary The Sorrow and the Pity and its successor The Memory of Justice.  At the third time of asking, Ophuls won his Oscar, and if the award itself is irrelevant to true film scholars, it was long overdue.  Without Ophuls, it’s difficult to imagine the terrain of modern documentary film-making; would Shoah and Gulag, two kindred spirit works also in this selection, have been made but for Ophuls’ success?  Would debate about his subjects have intensified to such a degree without them?  The answer to both questions is surely no.  (more…)

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