Archive for September 14th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

      The march to the opening days of the fall season may inspire some with World Series and  NFL fervor, but those with an artistic slant are thinking more in terms of opening night at the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic’s earliest concerts, the launching of the new Broadway season and the prestige films that usually are frontrunners for year-end accolades.  It’s a time of cool evenings, colorful leaves and a re-kindling of passions that were on summer sabbatical due to meagre output.

      At Wonders in the Dark the discourse was extensive under the One-Year Anniversary thread, as was some outstanding discussion under Chuck Klusterman’s review of the new Beatles Discussion  as well as late-breaking posts on 9-11remembrances by Joel Bocko and a post on Bocko’s Beatles reviews of a few years ago paired with a link to Alexander Coleman’s extraordinary 5,300 word review on Inglourious Basterds.  Last Week’s ‘Tuesday Morning Diary’ also did quite impressively.

      With the conclusion of the Brit Noir Festival last week, I wasn’t quite as busy on the movie theatre front, but I still managed to see three films.  (The delayed Brit Noir round-up piece will be up at the site within a week)

Crude   **** (Saturday night; IFC Film Center

A Big Gay Musical  ***   (Saturday night; Chelsea Cinemas)

Nine  (9)   *** 1/2    (Sunday afternoon; Edgewater Multiplex)

     Crude by Joe Berlinger, may well be the most powerful and affecting documentary of the year to date.  It concerns Chevron’s exploitation of the Amazon rain forrests and the ongoing legal battles, but it’s a wrenching story of gross injustice.

     A Big Gay Musical covers familiar territory with the typical stereotyped characters, but it makes fair use of some modestly affecting songs and some raunchy humor.  It’s passable, no more.  (Both Lucille and Broadway Bob like it even more).

     Nine (9)  Some interesting animation of an apocalyptic scenario, but sadly the film runs out of ideas, and the narrative is bumpy.  It’s no District 9, but still woth a look-see.

From Allan’s backlog, I was extremely impressed with Duvivier’s Poil de Carotte and Rivette’s Noiret on DVDR.  I’ve been listening to a few of the Beatles remasters bought piecemeal today.

Around the blogosphere one can check-out some great reviews:

At Darkness to Light, Dee Dee continues her coverage of reviews by Andrew Katsis, the latest, The Old Mill short:


Ed Howard has been directing his magical pen on the little-known German master Alexander Kluge as of late, and his two newest reviews covering this proponent of the ‘montage’ are linked here at Only the Cinema:



My dear personal friend Kaleem Hasan’s latest piece up at Satyamshot is “Who’s the Better Actor?”:


The brilliant Qalandar has a review of BLUE (Hindi) at Qalandar:


Our very good friend Dave Hicks has reached 1980 with his resilient annual countdown, and here is his stellar review of Scorsese’s Raging Bull, which is his #1 choice:


Daniel Getahun has returned sanity to the cinematic landscape with a curt dismissal of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and a reference to The New York Times’ Mahohla Dargis’s well-publicized pan of the film.  Dan’s post ‘Getafilm Gallamaufry: Lorna, Basterds, Slumdog and Sellouts’ rounds up Dan’s thoughts on the Tarantino, the new Dardenne picture, and the Slumdog soundtrack:


One of the greatest of the greats, Jon Lanthier, has an essay up at Slant, of David Mamet’s Homicide, (recently released on DVD) which is also posted in part at “The Powerstrip”:


At The Schleicher Spin, our friend Davis has a piece up on Editing:


One of WitD’s favorite people, Floridian John Greco, continues to examine the films of Jean Arthur, the latest being the rather obscure 1936 movie, The Ex-Mrs. Bradford:


Gentleman and scholar Kevin J. Olson has two recent essays up on DVD viewings of Smart People and Married Life at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies.  As always, Olson pens superlative reviews:


http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/dvd-review-married-life.html                                                                      (more…)

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sacrifice 1

(Sweden/France 1986 146m) DVD1/2

Aka. Offret

Our father, who art in heaven…

p  Katinka Farago  d/w  Andrei Tarkovsky  ph  Sven Nykvist  ed  Andrei Tarkovsky, Michel Leszczlylowski  m  J.S.Bach  art  Ann Asp

Erland Josephson (Alexander), Susan Fleetwood (Adelaide), Valerie Mairesse (Julia), Allan Edwall (Otto), Gudrün Gisladottir (Maria), Tommy Kjellqvist (Little Man), Sven Volter (Victor), Filippa Franzen (Marta),

There’s something divine about The Sacrifice, Tarkovsky’s closing cinematic testimony.  I don’t just mean in the subject, for even listed here, thanks to the vagaries of the alphabet, it’s placed over the page from Sokurov’s Russian Ark, a director often labelled the successor to Tarkovsky as leader of cinema’s spiritual quest.  It’s a slow film, but it’s mesmeric stuff which Alexander Walker called “one of the great films of Western Europe.” 

            A late middle-aged intellectual writer/actor and all round philosopher invites several friends to spend his birthday with him and his immediate family at the remote island retreat where he spends most of his time.  During the gathering, a crackly TV broadcast is heard during which they are told that a nuclear apocalypse is imminent and that everyone should prepare for death.  Each handles it differently, and on this long night the writer offers up a prayer to God offering to sacrifice that which is held dearest to him if he will save his friends and the world in general from this imminent cataclysm.  He then wakes up the following morning and realises that his prayer has been answered, but now he must uphold his half of the bargain and make the titular sacrifice.  (more…)

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