Archive for October 13th, 2009

Claire Denis’s masterpiece 35 Shots of Rum

by Sam Juliano

New York Yankee fans are in seventh heaven after the team’s first-round sweep over the Minnesota Twins, earning the Bronx Bombers an American League Championship rendez-vous with the California Angels beginning on Friday.  Wonders in the Dark Phillies fans are also hopeful their team will advance after an expected victory over Colorado after some Rocky Mountain snow delays.  Actually, the Phillies did triumph and willnow advance to the championship round.

At Wonders, while we had some very active threads, the biggest news was the wind-up of the 1980’s poll, with results due any day, courtesy of Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr.  Results  may be posted as early as Wednesday, with the 90’s polling set to launch by the end of the week.

I had another busy week on the cultural scene, though my theatrical movie total total was down from last week.  At the Metropolitan Opera I saw the new production of Puccini’s Tosca, which was later broadcast on Saturday afternoon at area movie theatres.  I decided to take the opera in a second time on HD to gain the close-up perspective.  (My review of the on-live staging appeared here on Friday of last week).  On Saturday night I attended a staging of a “vampire musical” titled The Cure on 54th Street in Manhattan, which I personally found awful in every way imaginable.

On the movie scene I saw the following:

35 Shots of Rum *****   (Film Forum; Monday night)
Paranormal Activity  **** (Sunday night; Clifton, N. J. multiplex)
An Education ****  (Friday night; Union Square Cinemas)
Good Hair  *** 1/2  (Saturday afternoon; Edgewater multiplex)
The Boys Are Back *** 1/2  (Sunday afternoon; Montclair Claridge Cinemas)

Paranormal Activity,

reportedly produced for $11,000 with a hand-held camera slowly builds tension, and the final twenty minutes is as horrifying as anything I’ve seen in ages.  An Education contains an extraordinary performance by Carey Mulligan and brilliant script of Nick Hornsby set in 60’s Britain. This variation on the coming-of-age theme is lovingly textured and felt, and it’s re-creation of period is remarkable.  Good Hair is a surprisingly effective social documentary about African-American hair, with humor and perceptive insights in black femininity.  The Boys Are Back is a passable family drama about a father thrust into the role of single-parent by tragedy, which sometimes veers precariously into melodrama.  Clive Owen delivers a moving performance.  Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum is a masterpiece.  It’s another observational, detailed expression (with few words) much in the style of Ozu that conveys the disperate feelings in a socially-changing France of loneliness, and the small gestures that define a simple existence entwined with spirituality.  In the end this is a deeply moving work of humanism.  My good friend Jason Giampietro, who attended with me, was also blown away by the film.

Around the blogosphere there is some great stuff:

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