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Archive for November 29th, 2010

Colin Firth as King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” one of the year’s best films

by Sam Juliano

With Thanksgiving Day 2010 now a footnote in history, focus is now in the direction of Christmas cards, shopping and home decorating, while those in the snow belt brace themselves for what Farmer’s Almanac has promised will be a ferocious winter.  The twelfth month of year is always the most exciting time for movie lovers, when year-end lists, award contenders and prestige releases brighten the cinematic landscape and serve as prime motivational components in the movie equation.  Likewise, football fans are now primed for playoff action, and theatre and music fans can look forward to the finest stretch of the year for performances.  In every sense, this is the time for unbridled excitement for those in event-mode.

Marilyn Ferdinand rightly referred to him as a “film critic extraordinaire” when announcing his move from San Francisco to the Windy City last week, but Jon Joseph Lanthier’s relocation has instilled some newly-rekindled spark for film criticism followers and movie and music fans as a result of the gifted writer’s commitment to “renew his cultural vows.”  Lanthier, a longtime friend of WitD, is a class act, and we all wish him and his girlfriend a long and fruitful stay in the shadows of Wrigley Field, in the general proximity of the residences of our dear friends Laurie Buchanan, Jamie Uhler, Marilyn and Pat.

Jim Clark hit a grand slam with his magisterial essay on Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and readers responded with a boat load of fantastic comments.  Jamie’s new entry in his “Getting Over the Beatles” series caught some serious late fire, while again Bob Clark has sparked the flames of controversy with another brilliantly penned marathon essay on Joss Whedon that has attracted all kinds of traffic from undiscovered country.  Joel Bocko has again authored a superlative treatment of a profound subject for his weekly Sunday afternoon series, while in the UK Stephen-Russell Gebbett continues to astound animation lovers with one great piece after another in a countdown that will forever be referenced by those looking to immerse themselves in this beloved artistic form.

The traffic response this week to the “Film Preservation Blogothon” scheduled for February (being co-chaired by Marilyn Ferdinand, Greg Ferrara and The Self-Styled Siren) has been sensational, and many thanks to ecstatic advocate Dee Dee, for her terrific sidebar promotional work.  Seeing film noir titan Eddie Muller comment at Ferdy-on-Films was quite a thrill for many movie lovers, especially genre fans.  And the exemplary action continues at Movies over Matter, where Jason Marshall’s movie survey continues on with the final choices for 1937. (more…)

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(ITALY 1976 85 min)

Director Bruno Bozzetto; Writers Bruno Bozzetto, Guido Manuli, Maurizio Nichetti; Cinematography Luciano Marzetti, Mario Masini

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Allegro Non Troppo comprises six shorts, animated to well-known classical pieces, that have little in common with each other. However, the thematic coherence of portmanteau films, in the same way as an album is expected to have an ideological, emotional or generic throughline, is an overrated trait. If one gets bored, and you won’t, the next installment will be something completely different, albeit presented with the same giddy inventiveness.

The delicacies on this platter include a minute old devil trying to recapture his youth on the vast undulating landscape of a woman’s body, a neanderthal’s hilariously frustrated attempts to keep ahead of the Joneses, a heartbreaking tale of a cat who haunts the ruined house where he used to live, a bee’s picnic preparations hampered by an amorous couple, and a sardonic twist on the tale of Adam and Eve where the serpent lives to regret eating the apple himself.

The piece de la resistance is the third movement in the program, one that betrays that Allegro Non Troppo‘s roots lie in Disney’s Fantasia (fantasia’ means “a free composition” or “a medley of familiar themes with variations and interludes”). To Ravel’s Bolero director Bruno Bozzetto leads us through a fantastical evolution, a march to progress, from the most sublimely ugly creations all the way up to the present day and the most extraordinary creature of all : humans. However, this proves an anticlimax as humanity is shown destroying the forest to replace it with a new glass and steel one made of skyscrapers.

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