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:
At Films Noir.net, Tony d’Ambra is moving forward with a sensory piece set in Los Angeles after his recent review of a Nikkatsu Noir title from the Eclipse box, A Colt is My Passport:
Dave Hicks’s superlative Top 100 Noir Countdown is entering it’s second ten, with this excellent consideration of John Farrow’s The Big Clock:
Our dear Canadian friend, J.D. at Radiator Heaven has tosted WitD in his comprehensive and essential post on his “Favorite Blogs and Blog Posts of 2009″ which includes a great number of the faithful here. Thanks J.D. Terrific post!:
John Greco, busy as ever at “Twenty Four Frames,” has a new review that looks like a must-read on Stuart Hagman’s 1970 The Strawberry Statement:
Troy Olson has one of his best movie round-ups ever at “Elusive as Robert Denby: The Life and Times of Troy” that includes Public Enemies, Police Adjective, Tokyo Sonata, and A Serious Man:
Dee Dee is posting some silent cinema reviews at her place “Darkness Into Light” including the most current one by Andrew Katsis on a turn-of-the-century Melies classic:
“Just Another Film Buff” continues with his high-octane examination of cinema, and his most recent stellar essay is on a 2009 Kiarostami film titled Shirin, a film that sadly I have not seen, but one I’ll seek out:
Craig Kennedy’s weekly “Watercooler” commences with a discussion of Avatar’s spectacular performance at the box-office:
David Schleicher’s newest post is an excellent review of the new Jeff Bridges film, Crazy Heart, which he mostly likes, but is no fan of Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas:
Judy at “Movie Classics” has an excellent review of a Barbra Stanwyck-starring feature, directed by William Wellman up at her place:
Shubhajit has what appears to be a very fine review of an Indian title Clerk up at “Cinemascope” which I will soon access myself:
Samuel Wilson has a review up at “Mondo 70″ which is a revisit of the Al Pacino Revolution. It looks like a must-read:
Daniel Getahun is examining upcoming films in 2010, and his latest post at “Getafilm” concentrates on documentaries. I must definitely check this out!:
Marilyn Ferdinand has a truly exceptional essay up on Ray’s God’s Little Acre (1958) that I’v eread, but need to comment on:
Pat at “Doodad Kind of Town” has her long-awaited 2009 film round-up posted:
Coffee Messiah, ever resourceful with all things inspirational, has a lovely poem up by Rainer Maria Rilke and a wonderful colage at his place:
Kevin Olson has a quartet of great capsules up at “Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies” including The Limits of Control, Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Serious Man and The Hurt Locker:
Dorothy Porker has her SAG predictions up at “Inside the Gold.” Of course we now know the results:
At “The Aspect Ratio” Ari still has his colleague (and ours) Bob Clark headlining with his Best of the Decade list:
Andrew Wyatt has what appears to be a most-fascinating capsule up on his Rifftrax edition of 300 at “Gateway”:
Longman Oz, our friend from Ireland, has a terrific theatre review of a production in Dublin, at his place. I know I’ll be there soon:
One of the most prolific of bloggers, Stephen at Checking the Sausages, has a terrific animation month offering up at his place, a Japanese title, Whisper of the Heart:
Ed Howard, with a prolific week, has a superlative review up of Sergio Leone’s For A Few Dollars More at “Only the Cinema”:
T. S. at Screen Savour has a reaction piece up at his place on the Golden Globes, which is an essential access:
Jeffrey Goodman, who is a director himself, has been assembling a great series on the work of various filmmakers, and his latest post is on David Lynch:
The always-resourceful Film Doctor, a University professor of Film, defies teh majority with an excellent essay on Legion:
Jason Bellamy has some delightful biographical information up at The Cooler in a post titled, “Let’s Get Kreative”:
Qalandar is still posting the best political stuff out there, especially Indian politics:
Tony Dayoub has something completely new up at “Cinema Viewfinder”: (check it out!)
Jon Lanthier has an amazing Slant review up on Fellini’s 8 1/2 on blu-ray at his place:
Adam Zanzie has his Top 50 of the Century up and it’s definitely worth a look!!!:
At “Cinema Styles” Greg Ferrara has what appears to be a terrific piece up on Scorsese’s Alice Dosen’t Live Here Anymore:
Rick Olson has an important post up on film preservation at his place which also acknowledges Marilyn Ferdinand and Greg Ferrara, at “Coosa Creek Cinema.”:
At “Tractor Facts” Fox is back with a most-interesting post titles “DVD Big Fan”:
and finally there’s always my good friend Kaleem Hasan, whose ‘Satyamshot’ is the place to be for Indian film and culture:
So how did your week go?