Archive for November 8th, 2010

James Franco as lead in Danny Boyle's riveting '127 Hours'

by Sam Juliano

As a last minute addition to this prepared post, I am thrilled to mention that Producer/Director Jeff Sherman (eldest son of famed Disney songwriter Robert B. Sherman) posted a comment this evening under my May 26, 2009 review of the Sherman Brothers documentary, The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story.  Having Jeff appear at WitD continues in a tradition of having filmmakers and stars weigh in with their views on our work here.  Jeff’s comment of course, appears at the end of the thread, a few in from my response to him:


Home decorators have retired their ghosts and goblins, replacing them with Thanksgiving ornamentation and ripe pumpkins, while trick or treaters can stockpile their pantries with enough of the sweet stuff for many weeks to come.  Some are already surveying the turkey sales in local supermarkets, others are still reveling in the World Series win of the San Francisco, the team’s first since the late 1950’s.  Of course the seasonal drop in temperatures means the movie season has truly reached the most interesting phase, with prestige films and the year end awards just around the corner.  Similarly the opera season has now moved into high gear, with some highly-anticipated productions due to appear on HDTV, and Broadway producers are excited about the prospects of some recent high-profile productions.

At Wonders in the Dark, Brit wonderkind Stephen Russell-Gebbett has launched his gleefully-awaited “animation countdown” with the most auspicious posts on a general overview, the 51-100 “nearlies” and the first few numerical choices that already have initiated some classic comment threads, including one with a you-tube of the three minute selection for #49.  Bob Clark’s exhaustive dissection of the duel scene in The Phantom Menace has engengered all kind of internet responses and link-ups, and the post was the centerpiece of a four day run at the site, where the numbers went over 3,000 every day.  This was the first time this has ever happened in the 26 month existence of WitD.  As always, Joel Bocko remains a vital piece of the puzzle, with typically extraordinary writing for several posts, including his latest ‘Best of the 21st Century’ review and several posts in his visual images series.  Bocko has revamped the sidebar, painstakingly compiling categories for the site’s writers and showcasing some gorgeous graphics to boot.  Jamie Uhler, who chaired the horror poll with three others, has some great features set to go at the site as well. (more…)

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(Denmark 1986 76/89 min)

Director Peter Madsen, Jeffrey James Varab; Screenplay Peter Madsen, Soren Hakansson, Henning Kure, Hans Rancke-Madsen, Niels Sondergaard, Per Vadmand; Music Ron Goodwin; Cinematography Niels Gronlykke, Jan-Erik Sandberg; Editing Lidia Sablone; Voice Acting Marie Ingerslev (Tjalfe), Laura Bro (Roskva)

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Valhalla is a cartoon loved by Danish children and loved by the adults they became. It is the kind of film that you take with you through your life like an old teddy bear. It has a buoyant, cuddly, secure feel to it and no matter how much you play it, its eyes won’t fall out and its hair won’t wear away.. The adventures of Tjalfe (voiced by a woman as so many young boys in animation are – most famously, Bart Simpson) and his younger sister Roskva take them far away from their parents but they don’t feel too scary or perilous because, from the embrace the young brother and sister share before they set off, one is reassured that each sibling’s home is with the other.

Theirs is the kind of bond that gives you the strength to tame ogres, cut giants down to size and stand toe to toe with the Great God of Thunder, Thor. Which is just as well. One night the sky splits with lightning and the fabled Norse Gods Thor and Loki come to visit the two children and their parents. It’s an honour for such a humble family, an honour bestowed every so often on the mortals who live beyond the walls of Valhalla, the enormous city of the Gods that hunkers in the shadow of Ygdrasil, the gargantuan Tree of Life.


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