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.
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
Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Tony Dayoub has attended ‘opening night’ at the 48th Annual New York Film Festival, showcasing a stellar essay on the widely-anticipated The Social Network by David Fincher at Cinema Viewfinder: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2010/09/nyff10-openingmovie-review.html–night-
Over at Movie Classics, Judy Geater continues her gloriously relentless pursuit of all things Wellman, the latest an intriguing unearthing of a little-seen pre-coder, Looking For Trouble: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/looking-for-trouble-1934/
Stephen Russell-Gebbett has crafted a short film in praise of Godard. As always, Stepehn’s creativity is astounding: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2010/09/in-praise-of-godard-short-film.html
John Greco continues his amazing pace with a superlative essay up at Twenty Four Frames on Underworld U.S.A.: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/underworld-u-s-a-1961-sam-fuller/
At Cinemascope Shubhajit welcomes Ms. Camiele White, who has penned a superlative essay on the cinema of Guillermo Del Toro: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2010/09/cinema-art-film-tapestry-of-guillermo.html
Jaime Grijalba has announced a listing of his top five favorite Chilean songs of all-time, and has included you tubes of these being performed live at Exodus 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2010/09/finalizando-la-blogathon-bicentenario.html
Michael Harford (a.k.a. the Coffee Messiah) talks about meeting friends met on the net and of common interests and philosophies in a beautifully themed post with lovely art work: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2010/09/art-of-blogging.html
One of the great series of this past year has been penned by our friend in Tokyo, “Murderous Links,” who is presently on part 3 of a 4 essay consideration of a bomb-ravaged Tokyo during the war, and the emotional power of Ozu’s defining masterpiece, Tokyo Story: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2010/09/then-and-now-and-in-between-part-3.html
Tony d’Ambra’s exquisite ‘Cinematic Cities’ series at FilmsNoir.net takes us back to New York City circa 1953 with The Glass Wall, directed by Maxwell Shane: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/cinematic-cities-new-york-1953-2.html
Samuel Wilson, (in the spirit of the recent Horrormania) has penned a superlative review at Mondo 70 of Mario Bava’s Hatchet For the Honeymoon (Il Rosso Segno della Follia-1970): http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2010/09/hatchet-for-honeymoon-il-rosso-segno.html
Craig Kennedy’s enduring Watercooler thread is always a place for cineastes to share their insights and weekly reports: http://livingincinema.com/2010/09/26/the-watercooler-never-sleeps/
Once again that proponent of unheralded cinema, the fecund JAFB, has again brought a director into focus that is known by few: Darezhan Omirbaev, a Russian, who has helmed four memorable works thus far, including the lastest one, structured in vignettes: http://theseventhart.info/2010/09/19/ellipsis-12/
Ed Howard is back after a brief hiatus, and his new essay is a trenchant examination of Michelangelo Antonioni’s seminal Blow-Up: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2010/09/blow-up.html
At Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies Kevin Olson has posted a fascinating piece on the new sensation Boardwalk Empire (complete with a spirited comments section) right after his dazzling Oliver Stone series: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/boardwalk-empirethe-best-film-of-year.html
On the theatre beat, Longman Oz is most impressed with an Emerald City production of Euripedes’ Medea at the Samuel Beckett Theatre: http://noordinaryfool.com/2010/09/23/medea_samuelbecketttheatre/ The tireless Irishman has also posted reviews of the Chilean The Maid and new animated Chomet film at No Ordinary Fool.
Jeffrey Goodman, film director, culture maven and statesman extraordinaire has gathered together a list of ‘fifteen’ favorites films in a tempting proposition at The Last Lullaby: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2010/09/15-movies.html
Eggplant and soup lovers need to get over to Terrill Welch’s place pronto, as among other goodies and revelations she has a mouth-watering confection and a recipe all ready for you. It’s a real Creativepotager’s special: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/everything-from-soup-to-nuts/
Roderick Heath has penned an all-enveloping appraisal of an underappreciated horror film from the 70’s: The Legend of Hell House, with a screenplay by the famed Richard Matheson. It’s over at This Island Rod: http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2010/09/legend-of-hell-house-1973.html
Hot off the presses!!! The gifted Mr. Heath has just posted a stupendous review of William Castle’s campy Homicidal. This one has me smiling from ear to ear! http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2010/09/homicidal-1961.html
Pat covers a few films in her latest post at the revamped Doodad Kind of Town, including Harold and Maude, which she admits doesn’t resonate with her: http://doodadkindoftown.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/the-road-from-may-to-december/
Alternating between the Bard and William Wellman, Judy at Movie Classics has written an excellent assessment of the 1936 Romeo and Juliet: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/romeo-and-juliet-1936/
Jason Bellamy, just as superlative with sports as he is with film, has penned a masterful post discussing the airing of The House of Steinbrenner. Yankee fans, baseball fans, and indeed sports fans need to get over to The Cooler pronto: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2010/09/death-of-statesman-house-of.html
Laurie Buchanan, a lovely and talented lady, has begun to showcase the colors of the spectrum through a wide array of angles at her Speaking from the Heart blogsite. First up was red, today she features orange: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/orange-increase-your-sense-of-delight/
Over at Movies over Matter, crack Golden State writer Jason Marshall has taken a brief break from his great cinema history series, and has penned an incredible piece on Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s classic 2005 novel: http://moviesovermatter.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/never-let-me-go/
David Schleicher has embarked on another memorable trip to rural Pennsylvania, and his findings ate as always, enthralling: http://theschleicherspin.com/2010/09/22/of-canals-lambertville-and-nomad-pizza/
Jon Lanthier’s latest incomparable essay is on Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is Everbody Talkin About Him?) and for those who haven’t yet read Jon Lanthier, you haven’t read film criticism: http://aspiringsellout.com/
Dan Getahun has penned another of his trenchant 300 word reviews on I’m Still Here at Getafilm: http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2010/09/300-words-about-im-still-here.html
Drew McIntosh is back! And his newest post at The New Vial is a must for those who prefer to leave the box more often than not. It’s apparently an experimental work par excellence: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2010/09/false-aging-lewis-klahr-2008.html
Bob Clark’s magnificent essay for Tony Dayoub’s Cronenberg blogothon on Stereo and Crimes of the Future is up at Cinematic Viewfinder: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2010/09/cronenberg-blogathon-cronenberg.html
The ever-prolific Jake Cole has peeled away the gauze in his insightful consideration of Ben Affleck’s The Town, a film he likes but doesn’t love: http://armchairc.blogspot.com/2010/09/town.html
R.D. Finch, a Californian film veteran and engaging writer has penned an incisive essay on Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garret & Billy the Kid (2005 version) at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2010/09/pat-garrett-billy-kid-1973-2005-version.html
The spirit of Charles Chaplin hovers over an unforgettable title card from City Lights at Peter Lenihan’s altar of indellible images, The Shock of Glimpsing: http://www.theshockofglimpsing.blogspot.com/
J. D. at Radiator Heaven has penned an exhaustive piece on Iain Softley’s Hackers: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2010/09/hackers.html
Matt Lucas offers up an excellent review at From the Front Row on Ben Affleck’s The Town, a film he judges as mixed: http://fromthefrontrow.blogspot.com/2010/09/on-town.html
Andrew Wyatt’s three-week holiday from Gateway Cinephiles is drawing to a close, with new postings promised over the coming days. Andrew’s excellent treatment of Machete is still headlining: http://gatewaycinephiles.com/2010/09/09/vaya-con-el-diablo/
Dave Van Poppel has his outstanding review of the Joan Rivers documentary up at Visions of Non-Fiction: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com/2010/09/joan-rivers-piece-of-work.html
At the home of the ever-thoughtful “Film Doctor” a post on Manly Links is currently headlining: http://filmdr.blogspot.com/2010/09/manly-links.html
Our friend Anu is still highlighting a review of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie at The Confidential Report: http://theconfidentialreport.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/dennis-hoppers-the-last-movie/
Adam Zanzie’s towering review of Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, originally written for Tony Dayoub’s blogothon is headling at Icebox Movies: http://iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2010/09/dead-ringers-1988.html
With “A Rant from the Childless” Jeopardy Girl has again raised with candor and sensitivity the inevitable questions one must face in life: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/a-rant-from-the-childless/
At Anomalous Material, “Castor” has penned a superb review on The Town, which he awards a B + rating to: http://www.anomalousmaterial.com/movies/2010/09/movie-review-the-town-2010/
It’s been a while since our very good friend T.S. of Screen Savour has posted, but I offer up here his last post from April on a Keaton masterwork to show us all just what we have been missing: http://www.screensavour.net/2010/04/steamboat-bill-jr-1928.html
and then there’s Dee Dee, here in spirit and hovering over the management of the site, and the business at hand. Always deeply appreciated…….
So what’s up on your end my good friends? Movies? Music? Literature? Sports? Politics? Food? Theatre? Television?