Archive for March 1st, 2010

Lucille Juliano and Bob Eagleson with transgender "Prodigal Sons" director Kimberly Reed at Cinema Village in Manhattan on Saturday evening, February 27th (photo by Sam)

by Sam Juliano

     Paul McKerrow was the Helena, Montana high school football team’s golden boy quarterback back in 1985, and graduated class valedictorian.  He was voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ by his classmates, and was the pride and joy of his popular physician father and school teacher mom.  After attending school in San Francisco and experimenting with transgenderism, Paul decided to transition to full womanhood, and she returned years later as ‘Kimberly Reed’ to her hometown to attend her class reunion, where family members, friends and classmates got their first look at the post-op woman.  While this is the central ‘event’ in the moving and intermittantly provocative new documentary, Prodigal Sons, directed by Ms. Reed, the film’s most fascinating thread is the difficult relationship Reed endures with her older adopted brother Marc, who is prone to violent outbursts after a serious injury, that necessitated removal of a small section of his brain.  While Reed sought acceptance in her new identity, Marc had a hard time coping with his brother’s new persona, especially after becoming more unstable.

     Ironically,  Reed’s school mates were surprisingly fine with her transition, and most had known beforehand that ‘he’ had become a ‘she’ a few years before, after Reed’s mother hosted a tea gathering at her home to make the formal announcement.  Kimberly’s father, a successful ophthalmologist, had also known of the change before his own passing, though the conception of this film occured afterwards. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

A heartbreaking loss to Canada in the Men’s hockey ice hockey gold medal game put a bit of a damper on the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, but USA fans can at least take solace in the fact that the Americans won the medal race quite handily.  What I was able to watch of these games I enjoyed, but at some point I’d like to hear what our resident Olympics expert, Dan Getahun has to say in summarizing the games.

Allan’s silent film countdown is reaching it’s most interesting phase, with virtually every day sure to unveil the latest masterpieces.  Similarly at ‘Good Fellas’ Dave Hicks marches on to the noir beat as it approaches the exact middle of his Top 100.  His comment threads have been outstanding.  Many thanks again to Dee Dee for all her work on the Oscar category posts, and to Tony for the sidebar polls.  The time spent here was amazing, and we all all deeply grateful.  Filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman also is moving forward with his excellent annual countdown, and his site has attracted a number of informed movie goers, fueling a terrific comments section.  At ‘FilmsNoir.net’  Tony d’Ambra continues to raise the bar with posts that provide some fascinating overlaps.

In any case, with a monstrous blizzard crippling the northeast on Thursday into Friday, that has many still digging out, it’s been tough getting around.  Still, with a little persistence, I managed three trips to the theatres to see a premiering documentary and two sets of Oscar-nominated shorts, that I saw for the first time in a movie theatre, rather than settling for you-tubes.

Prodigal Sons  ****  (Saturday night)   Cinema Village
Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts   (Sunday afternoon)  Montclair
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts     (Friday Night)  Montclair

PRODIGAL SONS, a documentary premiering at the Cinema Village,  is moving and fascinating, and it’s big surprise is the stuff of fiction.  My review appears over the Monday Morning Diary.  It concerns a transgendered former football player and class valedictorian, (who is the filmmaker) and the familial disconnection that plays out in with some dysfunctional twists.  An enlightening Q & A with Ms. Reed, her mother, and one of her producers

The Oscar nominated shorts in both categories showcased a wide assortment of styles, but the results were a rather mixed bag.  My favorite of the animated titles are the Wallace & Gromit like A Matter of Loaf and Death and a wildly creative Logorama.  Of the Live Action shorts, I really liked The Door, Miracle Fish and The New Tenants.

     I plan on seeing Audiard’s The Prophet this week, as I was unable due to circumstances beyond my control, to manage it over the past week. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Germany 1924 90m) DVD1/2

Aka. Der Letzte Mann

Do you know what you will be tomorrow?

p  Erich Pommer  d  Friedrich W.Murnau  w  Carl Meyer  ph  Karl Freund  ed  Friedrich W.Murnau  m  Giuseppe Becce  art  Robert Herlth, Walter Röhrig

Emil Jannings (the doorman), Max Hiller (the bridegroom), Maly Delschaft (doorman’s niece), Hans Unterkirchen (hotelier), Emilie Kurtz (aunt),

If ever a film summed up German cinema and its ambition in the twenties, this was it.  Just one look at that list of credits tells you that much, reading as it does as a who’s who of German cinema of the period.  All the names in question played their part in what is still, after eighty intervening years, both the perfect representation of German expressionism and its antithesis.  By which I mean that, though it may also be very much a film about the distortion of the psyche, it contains few of the encircling, distorted sets and camera angles that mark out the expressionist films of the era.  The Last Laugh shows the distortions of the mind through the camera’s eye, whereas expressionistic films seem to show the camera through the mind’s eye.

            The story such as it is follows an ageing portly doorman at the Atlantic hotel who loses his job on account of his frailty (ageism, as we would now call it) and is reduced to being a washroom attendant.  Yet his beloved niece is about to get married and his position as doorman was seen as respectable, so he endeavours to try and keep up the pretence of his former job and disguise his new, humbler employment.  Needless to say, he doesn’t and he thus reaches a new low, only for the title to be given meaning when a twist of fate sees him the beneficiary of a remarkable stroke of luck. (more…)

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