Archive for June 18th, 2010

   by Sam Juliano

Joel Bocko (a.k.a. Movie Man) is at the top-rank of blogger critics, and his work at four blogs (including his prolific contributions here at Wonders in the Dark, where his continuing ‘Best of 21st Century has raised the critical bar in every sense) has maintained a level of analytical excellence that is a godsend for serious cinephiles looking for more than conventional reviewing.  His last piece, a brilliant discussion of the baseball film Field of Dreams, within the sphere of cultural and historical parameters of its time and place, is a real trip down Memory Lane for baby boomers, and a reminder that this great film is so much more than a poignant fantasy about family bonding.  Bocko’s essay (timely as ever, now that the baseball season approaches the half-way point) examines the political inflences of the period and the prevailing mood of Americans living through this time of upheaval.   The writer superly opines that “Field of Dreams, with its attempt to synchronize America’s National Pasttime and the Age of Aquarius, its yearning to fuse  youthful dreams, old traditions, and adult responsibilities may be the quintessential film of this moment.”  The exhaustive piece should be read by lovers of American cinema, sports-film afficianados, and especially those who grew up during the cultural upheaval of of the 70’s.  It’s much more than a film review, rather it’s an enthralling discussion of American culture and of the national spirit.

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by Allan Fish

(UK/USA 2008 123m) DVD1/2

Keeping the tin box

p  Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Redmond Morris, Donna Gigliotti  d  Stephen Daldry  w  David Hare  novel  Bernhard Schlink  ph  Chris Menges, Roger Deakins  ed  Claire Simpson  m  Nico Muhly  art  Brigitte Broch

Ralph Fiennes (Michael Berg), Kate Winslet (Hanna Schmitz), David Kross (young Michael Berg), Susanne Lothar (Carla Berg), Bruno Ganz (Prof Rohl), Lena Olin (Rose Mather/Ilana Mather), Alexandra Maria Lara (young Ilana Mather), Linda Bassett (Ms Brenner),

I begin writing this in the early hours one cold winter’s night in New Jersey.  The previous night I had returned home from Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler feeling more at ease.  I knew what I thought of that film, and I enjoyed it very much.  Though one might not think it, the Aronofsky and the Daldry film have an important thing in common which lays at the heart of the respective strengths and flaws of the two films.  In The Wrestler, one plot strand sees the eponymous Randy the Ram go looking for his estranged teenage daughter to bring him closer to her.  The protagonist in The Reader sets out to do the same.  In the Aronofsky film, though well acted and shot, the subplot seems rather formulaic, and consequently less interesting.  In the Daldry film it’s given even more short shrift and yet it works so much better because it goes hand in hand with not simply the theme but the literal blood supply of Hare’s extraordinary screenplay. (more…)

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