Archive for January 25th, 2010

by Sam Juliano

Despite some lingering discomfort from a tooth extraction, I can say I felt so much better in general this past week, and was able to immerse myself in two theatrical productions and two films in theatres.  I want to thank all those last week for their wonderful words of concern and support.  Jets fans received a wake-up call this afternoon in Indianapolis, where they were eliminated from the football playoffs in the AFC title game.  At the time of this writing the Vikings hold a 14-7 lead over New Orleans in the first quarter of the NFL championship game.  (OK, the Saints have won in OT, so sorry Dan.) The Screen Actors Guild Awards – last night – went to Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Monique, Christoph Waltz and the cast of Inglourious Basterds. At Wonders in the Dark, Allan’s fabulous countdown is now well into the 60’s, and after it reaches the half-way point the quality-control will no doubt bring on soem glorious discourse.  Dave Hicks’s noir countdown is well underway at Goodfellas, and of course Tony d’Ambra is busy with his promised bevy of noir reviews at FimsNoir.net.

 On Thursday evening, Lucille, Broadway Bob and I treked over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to see the widely-praised new entry in Sam Mendes’ “The Bridge Project”, Shakespeare’s As You Like It with Juliet Rylance and Christian Carmargo in fantastic form as Rosalind and Orando, and composer Mark Burnett a force of nature here with an unforgettable score.  Beautiful scenery and lighting and a joyous final scene, varied sets and contemporary garb all bring this comedic masterpiece to life with a performance that won’t soon be forgotten.  I can’t wait for the same company’s The Tempest back here at the Harvey Theatre in April.

On Friday, Brooklyn was again our destination, for an alternate part of a two play cycle running at a rather seedy little location on Metropolitan Avenue in the Greenpoint section called The Brick Theatre.  A Brief History of Murder, written by Richard Lovejoy, is divided into two plays, “Victims” and “Detectives.”  Lucille, Bob and I managed the former, which was a rather bizarre confection, a theatrical approximation of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”  “Detectives” follows an intrpid private investigator and her colleagues as they try to track down the killer.  The play reveals of the town of Sentinel, Oklahoma – where a series of grisly killings have occured – as its colorful inhabitants become tangles in horrific events beyond their control.  This is occasionally lively, but quite an uneven and sometimes stomach-turning experience.  As an experiment, it is often striking.

I saw two films theatrically this past week:

Fish Tank  ****  (Saturday night, Montclair Claridge Cinemas)
The Book of Eli   ***  (Monday night; Edgewater multiplex
FISH TANK is a bucolic, angry woman’s kitchen drama recalling British cinema in the 60’s, but its social realism does recall, if it’s not outright derivative of Ken Loach, the British director who launched this kind of work, and who crafted one sure masterpiece and several others that push close to that designation.  FISH TANK also has some striking similarities to the work of the Dardennes, with the use of a magnifying glass to examine what is in this instance coming of age in a rather raw and hostile environment.  The non-professional young star, Katie Jarvis extraordinary evokes love, anger, resilience, perspective and spunk in this winning formula, engineered by Andrea Arnold, a major force today in british cinema.
THE BOOK OF ELI, from the Hughes Brothers is a reasonably entertaining apocalyptic action drama, that embraces the Western shoot-em up, seek em out formula, and the results aren’t exactly arresting, but it’s a bit better than the generally-hostile reaction the film seems to have attracted, perhaps as a result of the film going in a direction too many others have done before.  Some decent plot turns, and a nice deceit, not known until the end, as implausible as it may be.  Impressively-shot.
A comprehensive survey of the blogosphere is offered:

Read Full Post »

by Allan Fish

(USA 1928 101m) not on DVD

Judge and jury

p  Jesse L.Lasky, Adolph Zukor  d  William A.Wellman  w  Benjamin Glazer,  Jim Tully  novel  “Apache Rising” by Julian Johnson  ph  Henry Gerrard  ed  Alyson Schafter  m  Karl Hajos

Richard Arlen (Jim), Wallace Beery (Oklahoma Red), Louise Brooks (Nancy), Edgar Blue Washington (Black Mose), Roscoe Karns (Lame Hoppy), Robert Perry (The Arkansas Snake), Guinn Williams (driver),

Remember those epiphanal moments on screen, the moments where you see someone for the first time, or at least notice them for the first time, and a glow permeates the screen; the moment when you just find yourself murmuring inwardly “who is that?”  Audiences must have felt it since the early days, but as we’re dealing with an actress here, let’s take in the female examples; Ingrid Bergman in the Swedish Intermezzo say, or Simone Simon in Lac aux Dames, Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro, Brigitte Bardot in The Light Across the Street or Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.  Or among the child/adolescent moppets you know have that ‘it’ factor in spades, whether talent, looks, or just plain camera love; like when you saw Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, Natalie Portman in Leon, or Scarlett Johansson in The Horse Whisperer.  They leap out at you, and thus it seems unfathomable why one such moment wasn’t seen, or at least noticed.  (more…)

Read Full Post »