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Archive for September 27th, 2010

Inner-city student in documentary "Waiting For Superman"

by Sam Juliano

     The Wonders in the Dark horror poll has yielded some all-time classics, and this past week has featured some of the best reviews of the countdown.   Allan’s run of Japanese cinema has been eye-opening, and Joel’s latest review (on the Dardennes’ The Son) in his ‘Best of the 21st Century’ series has matched his best work.

     Meanwhile, Marilyn Ferdinand and Tony Dayoub have reported at their sites from the Chicago and New York Film Festivals respectively with some fascinating appraisals.  Ed Howard is back in action at Only the Cinema, and Troy Olson has archived his outstanding work for the horror poll at his Elusive as Robert Denby: The Life and Times of Troy blogsite.

     After a quiet week, I rallied for a very busy weekend in the movie theatres, after spending some time at home with my classic television sets of One Step Beyond and Thriller.   I resisted the temptation to see Gaspar Noe’s controversial Enter the Void at the IFC Film Center with a special appearance by the nihilist director and the lead star, in favor of a double feature of Buried and Woody Allen’s latest.  I wasn’t in a mood to be depressed.

I saw:

Waiting For Superman  ****  (Saturday night)  Landmark Cinemas

Buried   ****     (Sunday night)  Angelika Film Center

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger   *** 1/2     (Sunday night)  Angelika

Tokyo Twilight   *****    (Sunday morning)  IFC Film Center

The documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN’s main focus was on ineffectual teachers and the “antiquated” system that awards incompetants for years of service, and neglects those educators with special gifts.  Dazzling animated sequences and some telling interviews with district superintendents makes for a riveting work, but little attention is paid to sub-standard salaries and the startling neglect of some parents in inner-city districts, who often are to blame for low test scores, and the lagging behind of America’s scholastic infra-structure in global ratings.

BURIED is an oppressively claustrophobic film shot entirely in a “coffin” that holds an American prisoner in Iraq, who is armed only with a cell phone and a lighter.  The tense interchanges with officials, and the terrifying imprisonment makes for a breathless and riveting watch, even with the bungled conclusion.  The lead star, Ryan Reynolds is mesmerizing in this low-budget Spanish-Australian inde, that provides an interesting deviation on the horrifying The Vanishing from years back.

There’s nothing terribly new in Woody Allen’s YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, but it’s a reasonably engaging and plesantly set drama about marital meltdowns with a high octane cast.  And it makes good use of “When You Wish Upon A Star” and features an affecting seance sequence.

TOKYO TWILIGHT of course is an Ozu masterpiece and one of his darkest films.  I’ll have a full report of it in my massive round-up post in November.

There are great things going on in the blogosphere:

Ace horror scribe Troy Olson has been penning one fantastic review after another for the Wonders in the Dark polling, and the lot is archived at his own site, Elusive as Robert Denby: The Life and Times of Troy, with the terrifying British entry The Descent sitting on top: http://troyolson.blogspot.com/2010/09/descent.html

Checking back from the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF), Marilyn Ferdinand has authored an impassioned piece on the Hungarian film The Last Report on Anna at Ferdy-on-Films:                http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=6258

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