by Sam Juliano
Snow continues to complicate life for Northeasterners, with more of the white stuff predicted for mid-week, though those living in the mid-west and the south have had their share as well. It looks like Farmer’s Almanac had this one called right, even if making such a prediction these days isn’t exactly going out on a limb. While braving the cold for some is little more than traveling to work, to a supermarket or to the local multiplex, others have opted to stay warm and watch DVDs, or spend much of their time firming up their year-end best lists or blogging. For those even luckier, they’ve found refuge in cleaning, organizing, reading, painting, football and music, with perhaps even some time for cooking or eating out. In any event it’s a time for indoor activity and cultural enrichment.
Here at Wonders in the Dark in the post-Joel Bocko era, continuing sidebar tinkering by Dee Dee has given the site a decided but glorious “noirish” look, in the promtion of some much-anticipated upcoming festivals and fundraisers. And Allan’s ‘Fish Obscuro’ series continues to flourish with and examination of some Jacques Rivette features, with Jim and Bob Clark continbuting some outstanding work on Howard Hawks and game construction. We are inching closer to Maurizio Roca’s film noir countdown and Bob Clark’s science-fiction countdown.
Gang Green fans are in euphoria after their final play win yesterday over the Indianapolis Colts, though the prospect of a win up in New England seems unlikely. Besides, Joel Bocko has his horns on the Jets, and that’s a bad sign.
Best of the year lists continue to show up at a number of sites, and can be acessed on some of the links that follow below or from the sidebar. Among those post in this capacity, who hadn’t yet been heard from last week are Just Another Film Buff (JAFB) at The Seventh Art, Jon Lanthier at Aspiring Sellout, and John Greco at Twenty Four Frames. (John opted for now to go with a listing of the classic masterpieces he saw for the first time in 2010). The National Society of Film Critics have gone crazy for The Social Network like just about everybody else, but they did something wonderful. They named Giovanna Mezzogiorno the year’s Best Actress for her role as Mussolini’s mistress in Marco Bellochio’s excellent Italian language film Vincere. This is a performance I have been talking about for many months as the year’s absolute best in that category. I was thrilled to hear that announcement.
After a frenzy of year-end activity the first week in January was light on the outdoor movie scene with only one new release managed, though an off-Broadway play was negotiated on Saturday evening. Thanks to Craig Kennedy, I was finally able to see Lucy Walker’s inspiring documentary The Waste Land at home, and have added it to my Ten Best List.
Gulliver’s Travels * (Saturday afternoon) Edgewater Multiplex
Waste Land **** 1/2 (Tuesday afternoon) at home
GULLIVER’S TRAVELS is inspid, insulting and downright juvenile. This is the umteenth adapation of Swift’s masterpiece, and by far the most indept and misguided. Jack Black has been fading fast, and this is the worst project yet that he’s ever been associated with. My two youngest kids asked me to take them to our local multiplex to see it, and I went with much trepidation. Turns out my concern was well founded. Ha!
Lucy Walker’s WASTE LAND shows just how much impoverished people can do with so little. It’s kind of classical with with it’s art-from-refuse underpinning, but there so many uman interest stories, and many examples of how creativity and perseverence can bring forth finished products that would make professionals proud. It’s a story of hope and teamwork, and submerged talent. So many portraits, like the man who finds a book on Machiavelli and reads it, and the woman who makes soup in the refuse, add to a stor of lives changed by their surroundings. I still need to see MARWENCOL, but Ms. Walker’s film is the best documentary of the year.
At Theatre Row on 42nd Street in the ‘Lion Theatre’ Lucille, Broadway Bob and I took in the 62 minute production of Alan Bowne’s Beirut, a two person show about a Brooklyn man who is quarantined in the Lower East Side after being tested positive for a deadly, nameless virus. His girlfriend, who has not been infected, makes the dangerous journey across the lines to save him.” The play is thought to be inspired by the late Bowne’s experiences coping with AIDS. The play includes on stage sex and some smouldering dialogue, and the lead performances by Sammi Ritibi as Torch and Meital Dohan as ‘Blue’ are accomplished, and the minimalist staging gives heft to the apocalyptic setting. Some of the exchanges grow wearisome, but it’s the kind of play that comes to life often enough to be recommended.
End-of-the-year links have provided bloggers with potstanding posts to work through:
Just Another Film Buff (JAFB) is one of those rare internet birds who’s erudite, tasteful, humble, gracious, super-friendly and quick to issue compliments. He’s an utter joy and an inspiration as is his incomparable ‘best of the year’ list at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2011/01/01/favorite-films-of-2010/
One of Ed Howard’s most extraordinary posts at Only the Cinema is his impassioned follow-up to his first ’round’ with Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialism, which has fascinated some of the most scholarly of the bloggers to contribute some astounding discussion on the comment threads. But as always, Howard is the real star here, taking on one of the cinema’s most-challenging works, but one of it’s most venerated auteurs: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2011/01/film-socialisme-take-2.html
John Greco gives the ‘ten best’ treatment a most interesting take with his survey of classic films seen in 2010: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/24-frames-10-best-classic-films-watched-in-2010-for-the-first-time/
At Aspiring Sellout II Jon Lanthier chimes in with a ten bets list that’s brilliantly chosen and incomparably penned: http://aspiringsellout.com/2011/01/the-blurst-of-times-2010-in-review/
Jason Marshall has joined in with a magnificent post title “The Real World and my Best and Worst of 2010” over at Movies Over Matter that presents the film community with a meticulously-deliberated and chosen line-up: http://moviesovermatter.com/2011/01/09/the-real-world-and-my-best-and-worst-lists-of-2010/
Stephen Russell-Gebbett, as rapturous as ever, has authored a beautifully-written favorable assessment of Aronofsky’s Black Swan at Checking on my Sausages: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2011/01/black-swan.html
Tony d’Ambra at Films Noir.net has taken on a celebrated Japanese film classic by venerated director Akira Kurosawa, that has long been seen as driven by its noirish elements. As always the fecund d’Ambra fuels his essay with some extraordinary insights and frank observations: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/high-and-low-aka-tengoku-to-jigoku-japan-1963-kurosawa%e2%80%99s-heaven-and-hell.html
Judy Geater at Movie Classics has ushered in the New Year most appropriately with the newest essay in her amazing William Wellman series, Small Town Girl (1936) It’s magnificent writing!: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/small-town-girl-1936/
Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema has his ever-popular Watercooler thread up and getting comments. It’s an internet institution: http://livingincinema.com/2011/01/09/watercooler-embracing-the-lull/
Drew McIntosh, after a ‘Best Film of the Year” list for the ages, has again raised the bar for cinematic creativity with his discussion of the slow integration of the three primary colors into Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, with a stunning screen cap display at The Blue Vial: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2011/01/index-of-primary-colors-in-polanskis_03.html
Our beloved Dee Dee is back at Darkness Into Light with a post promoting and celebrating the Film Preservation Fundraiser being coordinated by Marilyn Ferdinand, Greg Ferrara and The Self-Styled Siren. It’s thrilling to have Dee Dee posting there again!: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2010/11/for-love-of-film-noir-for-love-of-films.html
David Schleicher, in an engaging pre-poll movie list, has posed some most interesting titles for the year’s film fare, as he ushers in 2011 at the always-creative The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2011/01/01/and-now-for-2011/
Shubhajit at Cinemascope has authored a terrific capsule on Jiri Menzel’s Larks on a String, examining an underrated work by the great Czech master: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2011/01/larks-on-string-1969.html
Marilyn Ferdinand follows up her site colleague Roderick Heath with her own creative rendition of what consititutes the ‘best’ of the year at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=7817#comments
Over at Vermillion and One Nights, our friend in Tokyo, “Murderous Ink” continues his incomparable analytical dissection of one of the greatest of all films: Ozu’s There Was A Father. There really has never been anything like this anywhere, not even from the published film scholars!: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2011/01/analysis-of-there-was-father-003000.html
Our excellent friend and site colleague Jaime Grijalba has posted a photo and brief remarks on the 1965 musical The Sound of Music at Exodus 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2011/01/sound-of-music-1965.html
Terrell Welch, artist extraordinaire, has posted a fascinating look at changing canvasas in a session she recently had with her newest work. It’s another look at art in the making at the Creativepotager’s Blog: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/a-week-painting/
Laurie Buchanan has announced the publication of a new book by her good friend Leanne Van Dyck entitled The Sweater Curse. Ever supportive, the effervescent Ms. Buchanan offers the details for the celebration at Speaking From the Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/the-sweater-curse/
If there is anyone more prolific than Samuel Wilson, I’d like to know about it. His latest gem at Mondo 70 is an essay on Phil Karlson’s The Phenix City Story: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2011/01/phenix-city-story-1955.html
Filmmaker and classic movie lover Jeffrey Goodman has posted a very “unique” Ten Best list that will bring a smile to the face of all who read it. As always the writing and perceptions are first-rate over at The Last Lullaby: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-top-10-or-so-films-for-2010.html
Kevin Olson at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies has penned a superlative review in his “Catching Up” series on Polanski’s Ghost Writer: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/catching-up-with-2010-capsule-review_05.html
Troy Olson, on the other hand is still heading up at Elusive as Robert Denby with his own thoughtful essay on Black Swan, a film he likes, but doesn’t love: http://troyolson.blogspot.com/2010/12/black-swan.html
Michael Harford, the esteemed ‘Coffee Messiah’ has posted ‘the last of four collaborations’ at his gloriously-mystifying blogsite, which is poised for another year of riches for all those who traverse it’s halls: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2011/01/last-of-4-collaborations.html
Our very good friend Pat has a brand new piece up at Doodad Kind of Town, a loving tribute to fallen director Blake Edwards: http://doodadkindoftown.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/farewell-blake-edwards/
Roderick Heath takes aim at The King’s Speech at “This Island Rod” and as always he leaves nothing undiscussed: http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2011/01/kings-speech-2010.html
At Icebox Movies Adam Zanzie has penned an excellent review of an off-the-radar film, Zero Hour (1957) that is seen as an inspiration for Airplane: http://iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2011/01/zero-hour-1957.html
Dan Getahun of Getafilm, statesman and critic extraordinaire has posted a fecund round-up of films he’s seen recently, including Black Swan, Enter Through the Gift Shop and Marwencol: http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2010/12/getafilm-gallimaufry-marwencol-black.html
Hokahey at Little Worlds is yet another in our esteemed fraternity who has penned a terrific review of Aronofsky’s Black Swan. It’s one of the most comprehensive and impassioned essays out there!: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2010/12/black-swan.html
Dave Van Poppel’s long-running post on Meek’s Cutoff, a notable work in realist cinema, should be more than tempting for those who are still trying to put together their best of the year listings. Van Poppel is hoping too to follow this up soon with a new post: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com/2010/09/meeks-cutoff.html
Jason Bellamy at The Cooler has authored an ever-thoughtful essay on The Fighter, which he has expressed some refreshing “issues” with http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2011/01/neutral-corner-fighter.html
As always Kaleem Hasan’s Satyamshot covers the Indian cultural and political scene with authority and prolific fervor: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/
“The Streets of New Haven” is a wonderful remembrance by Ryan Kelly of his days at Yale and Steven Spielber. It’s over at Medfly Quarantine: http://medflyquarantine.blogspot.com/2010/12/streets-of-new-haven.html
Jake Cole takes aim at the critically-trashed Season of the Witch, imparted hi stypical master-class erudition and thorough treatment at Not Just Movies: http://armchairc.blogspot.com/2011/01/season-of-witch.html
At Cinema Styles Greg Ferrara has offered up a magnificent review of a seminal Duke Ellington album, which also features some great responses in the comment section by Ed Howard and others: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2011/01/duke-ellington-afro-eurasian-eclipse.html
J.D. has authored a comprehensive review at Radiator Heaven on the often-neglected The Mosquito Coast: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2011/01/mosquito-coast.html
At The Movie Projector, R.D. Finch has penned his typically reliable essay, this time on Kurosawa’s Scandal: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2010/12/scandal-1950.html
Welcome to “Sachin,” a Canadien blogger, and a new visitor to WitD, and quite a film lover and scholar. He’s seen about 400 films over the past year, and hi s’Best Films of the Year’ post over at ‘Scribbles and Ramblings’ (now on our side bar) should tell you something about his exquisite taste: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2010/12/best-of-2010-film-list.html
On the other hand, the brilliant writer Andrew Wyatt has authored a convincing”pro” essay on True Grit where he cites an effective satiral underpinning. It’s over at Gateway Cinephiles: http://gatewaycinephiles.com/2011/01/02/possessing-a-sharp-tongue-and-bountiful-sand/
The esteemed Film Doctor has his weekly ‘hypermedia links’ posted up at his ‘Notes on Cinema’ site: http://filmdr.blogspot.com/2011/01/hypermedia-links.html
Anu is involved with a special film project called Metanoia, and he’s asking for some help while providing some links at The Confidential Report: http://theconfidentialreport.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/metanoia-needs-help/
Jeopardy Girl talks about post-Christmas matters including some new Hitchcock DVDs under the tree: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/quick-gift-update/