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Archive for October 19th, 2009


                       John Douglas Thompson as “Brutus Jones”

by Sam Juliano

      As I prepare for a quick kidney stone procedure on Wednesday morning, I have been sidelined from any frantic weekend activity, but I did manage to see two films in the theatre and a theatrical work at the Irish Repetory Theatre on 22nd Street in Manhattan.

The absolutely tremendous production of Eugene O’Neil’s THE EMPEROR JONES  on Saturday night (last night of previews) contained an extraordinary performance by John Douglas Thompson, who last year shined in an excellent off-Broadway production of OTHELLO at the Duke. The drama, which officially opens today, is about Brutus Jones, a black American convicted of murder who escapes from a chain gang and becomes the despot of a tiny Caribbean island. It portrays blacks alternately as violent, superstitious and lazy, it includes symbols of primitivism like tom-toms and a witch doctor, and is written in dialect. The staging and lighting was imaginitive and the pupetry was remarkable. Of course it did bring to mind the 1933 film with Paul Robeson and Rex Ingram, directed by Dudley Murphy, which I have on an Image DVD and need to revisit.

I only managed two films in the theatre, and am currently working on a review of one, Spike Jonze’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE,  which I saw twice at a brand new Secaucus multiplex which for one week is offering free tickets.  I was extremely disappointed by the film, and can well understand why it sharply divided critics.  None of my five kids cared for it either.  Yes, it’s “art house” but that doesn’t make it good at all as it’s ponderous and badly written, even if the young star, Max Records does give an arresting performance.  I am ashmed to admit I saw a film like THE STEPFATHER, but again, i took advantage of the free admittance, and I was overuled by Lucille.  Ha!

Where the Wild Things Are ** (Friday night; Secaucus multiplex)

The Stepfather 0 stars (Saturday afternoon; Secaucus)

I was hoping to see a critically-priased Chilean film titled THE MAID over the weekend, but perhpas next week, if I am feeling better.

The Yankees currently lead their American pennant series 2-0, while David Schleicher’s beloved Phillies are tied with the Dodgers 1-1.

     Around the blogosphere there’s some great stuff.  I’ve provided a partial listing here as I’m not 100%:

Tony d’Ambra’s latest post at FilmsNoir.net is titles “Betty Draper Found in Noir City”:

http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/betty-draper-found-in-noir-city.html

Effervescent Kevin Olson is getting ready for his week-long Italian blog-a-thon at Hugo Stigliz Makes Movies:

http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/get-pumped-were-four-days-away-from.html

At Craig Kennedy’s “Living in Cinema” there’s been a raging controversy over “Where the Wild Things Are,” which Craig loved and I did not.  Conversation did get a bit heated, but all is well.  It’s all under his popular ‘Weekend Forecast’:

http://livingincinema.com/2009/10/15/weekend-forecast-the-wild-things-are-here/

John Greco’s brand new post is a review of Kazan’s The Arrangement at “24 Frames” in his continuing coverage of the director’s works:

http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/the-arrangement-1969-elia-kazan/

Dee Dee’s “Darkness to Light” a.k.a. Noirish City, continues to be the place to be during her rollicking Halloween countdown, with a piece up on Karloff’s animated-short “The Mad Monster Party”:

http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2009/10/31-days-to-halloween-countdowncontinues_16.html

One of our favorite people, Dave Hicks, continues his exhaustive examination of every year in cinema, and he’s presently at one of the greatest of years, 1989, with his review of Kenneth Branagh’s magnificent Henry V:

http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2009/10/1989-henry-v-kenneth-branagh.html (more…)

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reservoir 1

(USA 1992 99m) DVD1/2

K-Billy’s super sounds of the 70s weekend keeps on trucking

p  Lawrence Bender  d/w  Quentin Tarantino  ph  Andrzej Sekula  ed  Sally Menks  art  David Wasco  cos  Betsy Heimann

Harvey Keitel (Mr White), Tim Roth (Mr Orange), Steve Buscemi (Mr Pink), Michael Madsen (Vic Vega, Mr Blonde), Christopher Penn (Nice Guy Eddie), Eddie Bunker (Mr Blue), Quentin Tarantino (Mr Brown), Lawrence Tierney (Joe Cabot), Randy Brooks (Holdaway), Kirk Baltz (Marvin),

Who shot Nice Guy Eddie?” ran the article in Empire magazine soon after the film’s release and we never did get an answer.  But who cares?  Though perhaps more polished debuts were made in the nineties, none had the impact and originality of Reservoir Dogs and, though much of the plot was ripped off from Ringo Lam’s City on Fire, accusations of plagiarism are harsh in the extreme as it’s so much of an improvement on the earlier film.  All great artists steal and, from its plotline of a robbery going wrong and the later congregation of the survivors in a disused warehouse to figure out why, Tarantino, as Robert McKee said, “made it into something wonderful.” (more…)

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