Martha Hunt, Claire Trevor and Dennis O’Keefe in “Raw Deal”
by Sam Juliano
Scorching heat has greeted the official opening of summer here in the Northeast, though I’m sure the opposite scenario is unfolding down in Sydney, where Tony d’Ambra and his family are facing the onset of winter. On a personal note, I was thrilled (and teary-eyed) to watch my eldest daughter Melanie graduate from the eighth grade, while the strains of the school song “Oh Lincoln, Dear Lincoln” and Elgar’s traditional ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ were played by the school’s music teacher, Mr. Fred Fochesato.
Soccer fans are understandably down in the dumps after the USA elemination to Ghana, and similarly the loss by the defending champions Team Italy was an unexpected development. As of this writing England is still in the hunt, with a game against Germany set for later today. (well, England is now officially gone after losing 4-1).
Here at Wonders in the Dark, we are winding down with Allan’s 2000’s countdown, with a scant three weeks to go. Anyone still planning to cast a ballot should do so on the tab over the site header, though an extra week will be added after the #1 pick is revealed. (as per custom)
It’s been a very busy week on the cultural scene once again, with an off-Broadway show managed on Monday (Control) and four films in the Anthony Mann Festival at the Film Forum watched on Friday and Sunday (two double features). In addition, a few other new theatrical releases were part of the mix. Control was an unfocused mess of a theatrical staging which was basically reliant on profanity for shock effect as it featured some psychological role-playing.
Dogtooth * 1/2 (Saturday night) Cinema Village
The A Team * (Thursday night) Edgewater Multiplex
The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann Festival) Friday *****
Winchester 73 (Anthony Mann Festival) Friday *****
Raw Deal (Anthony Mann Festival) Sunday *****
T Men (Anthony Mann Festival) Sunday ****
The Greek DOGTOOTH is one of the more disturbing films of recent years, and it doesn’t have the exquisite artistry that Von Trier imparted to Antichrist. It’s a minimalist black comedy with irrational jolts and a disjointed narrative, and in the end it adds up to very little. Some laughs, but far more tedium and stomach-churning violence. Thanks, but no thanks.
THE A TEAM is a strong candidate for the year’s worst film. No plot, no meaning, nothing but gun fire and noice, and pedestrian choreography. As unoriginal as any multiplex film, and just about as brainless.
Then there’s the glorious Anthony Mann. Two double features over the weekend yielded two of the best Mann/Stewart collaborations with THE NAKED SPUR and WINCHESTER 73, are prime examples of the ‘psychological western’ while Mann’s arguably best film noir entries, RAW DEAL and T MEN were paired in a program of haunting narrations, expressionistic camerwork by John Alton and superb performances by Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt, et al. Three of the films are masterpieces, while the forth is solid.
The blogosphere boasts some pretty great stuff:
Ed Howard at Only the Cinema has penned a tremendous review of the 1956 science-fiction classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and his comment section under the review is equally fantastic: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2010/06/invasion-of-body-snatchers.html
Australian Roderick Heath (what a great name to boot!) is one of the internet’s best writers, (no surprise, as he’s an author) whether he’s considering film or literature, and two of his most recent essays bear this out. At his English literature blog, he is featuring an extraordinary piece on the Victorian era masterpiece, Middlemarch, by George Eliot: http://englishoneoworst.blogspot.com/2010/05/aspiration-and-actuality-george-eliots.html and his latest in a long run of film review masterpieces considers the John Lennon “bio-pic”, Nowhere Boy: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=5197
Dave Hicks’s ‘director’s series’ is one of the blogosphere’s biggest hits, and his latest impeccable post considers the man with the “touch” Ernst Lubitsch: http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2010/06/18-brian-de-palma.html
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