Archive for February, 2011

Filmmaker and blogger Jeffrey Goodman

by Sam Juliano

     Bayou filmmaker and arts lover Jeffrey Goodman is one of those rare people whose very name describe their essence.  In the blogging community he stands alone in his astonishing humility, tireless energy and a deep, almost profound reverence for his fellow writers.  Despite the experience of a lifetime in Paris, where the New Orleans native attended screenings of some of the cinema’s most beloved classics, Goodman is always seeking out the perceptions and opinions of those he feels have earned their keep in the cinematic circles.

      The founder of a red carpet site called The Last Lullaby, (named after his maiden foray into filmmaking) Goodman is a master statesman, an eternally effervescent blogger, who makes all who visit his home feel like a member of his own family.  Indeed, in citing the various influences that convinced him to launch his own blogsite, Goodman acknowledges: “I felt like I was sharing energy with a few friends in different places, and with the blogosphere it was like I discovered a whole new set of friends and cinematic inspiration.”  Debuting in January 0f 2009, the personable Goodman uses The Last Lullaby to report on his weekly film viewings, and to platform the latest developments in the planning of his sophomore film effort, Peril, a film that will feature Tom Sizemore, tentatively set to shoot in northern Louisina in early 2012.  Goodman’s most impressive turn as a blogger was a three-month project in the middle of last year surveying the cinema from 1926 to 2008, a tenacious daily recall of the best film of each year and the runners-up that figured in the summary judgement.  Many fello wbloggers responded to Goodman’s irresistible posterings, and gave their own views which often conformed with those of The Last Lullaby’s proctor.  During the venture Goodman expessed a marked preference for the works of Renoir, Bresson, Godard, Truffaut, Pialat, Ozu, Kitano, Kiarostami, Wenders, Dreyer, Rossellini, Anthony and Michael Mann, Lynch, Jarmusch, Penn, Altman, Ashby, Peckinpah, Hawks, Cukor, Walsh, Gordon Green, Bujalski and the Dardennes, and a professed ‘obsession’ with the French New Wave, though he has quite a bit of personal passion left for Italian neo-realism and the American New Wave, confessing that he strives for a combination of realism and minimalism in his own work. (more…)


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Director: Charles Vidor

Producer: Virginia Van Upp

Screenwriters: Jo Eisinger and Marion Parsonnet

Cinematographer: Rudolph Mate

Music: Hugo Friedhofer

Studio: Columbia 1946

Main Acting: Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford

As a young boy of 12, I accompanied my father on an overnight fishing trip that set out from Sheepshead Bay Harbor. Located in Brooklyn on an inlet in Rockaway, it boasts a 40-boat shipping fleet (along with a slew of restaurants) that allows eager customers the opportunity to charter the surrounding waters and take in as much marine life as possible. And for us, it was about trying to catch fluke and flounder which happens to be in abundance in the coastal areas of the east coast. But that night, I spent much of my time fighting the elements, unable to shake a severe case of sea sickness. Still at one point, I forced myself to leave the cabin area after a long spell glued to one of the seats withering in discomfort, and headed for the ship’s rail so that I wouldn’t waste my fathers hard earned money. I struggled to just barely cast a line for less than half of the 6-to-8 hour trip. As luck would have it, I ended up catching the biggest fluke on the ship and collected a hundred dollar prize for my troubles. (My parents still have that photo of me holding the fish somewhere). I thanked the sea captain for my bounty and never again bothered to set foot on another fishing vessel.

I quickly used this reward money to buy a cheap Cort electric guitar and my generous father threw in extra cash so I could purchase an amplifier. Being young and stupid, I got the most obnoxious, heavy metal-looking instrument you will ever see anywhere (it was star shaped with four points). Three friends and I were all in love with Guns n’ Roses, and, of course, desperate to start a band. I had become the nominal guitar player, while one of them had acquired a bass two months earlier and his brother a drumkit. The fourth friend also wanted to be a drummer. Hence, we had the unorthodox lineup of two percussionists on one set of drums and no vocalist. The problem was that none of us knew how to play and we were all pretty lazy. Band practice consisted of  playing for about ten minutes before stopping to conceptualize what our group was all about. We even had homework assignments which included writing song lyrics on paper and reciting it to the rest of the members. I actively partook in this endeavor and concocted all sorts of paens to things I was too young to know or understand. One of my literary masterpieces went by the title, “My Pistol.” (more…)

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Screen cap from Xavier Beauvais' "Of Gods and Men," a beautiful and meditative masterpieces on the strength of faith

by Sam Juliano

As I write the newest installment in the Monday Morning Diary guests are arriving at our 7 Spruce Street abode for this evening’s Academy Awards festivities.   As a result I will limit the scope of the post, as I will be spending several hours and watching the show and intermingling with the Oscar watchers.  Jason Giampietro has his video camera in action, and I’m sure this year’s presentation will be a hoot.

I would like to thank our dear friend Dee Dee for the tireless work she has done for this site on the sidebar through the entire Oscar campaign, and for embellishing all the posts with polls, you tube clips all kinds of Oscar-related tidbits.  A simple thank you is not enough of course is insufficient, and the work she has done here goes beyond the call of duty by a long distance.  You are a beautiful person my friend.  Many thanks to Pierre de Plume and Jaime Grijalba for their exceptional Oscar pieces posted at the site.  I would also like to thank Dee Dee for her recent generous package, and the same goes out to Bobby Josson in the UK for his gift of the first season of Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers DVD set sent to me from amazon.uk at his expense and behest.  Finally, to that amazing gentleman in Karnataka, Srikanth Srinivasan, thanks for your package and continuing kindness and enthusiasm.  You are a class act my friend. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2010 130m) DVD1/2

Allotment blues

p  Georgina Lowe  d/w  Mike Leigh  ph  Dick Pope  ed  Jon Gregory  m  Gary Yershon  art  Simon Beresford

Jim Broadbent (Tom), Ruth Sheen (Gerri), Lesley Manville (Mary), Oliver Maltman (Joe), Peter Wight (Ken), Phil Davis (Jack), Imelda Staunton (Janet), Martin Savage (Carl), David Bradley (Ronnie), Karina Fernandez (Katie), Ralph Ineson, Edna Doré,

There’s much to be read into that title; another year, same old same old.  Seasons come and go, nothing changes.  There’s always been a sense of that to Mike Leigh’s world, his own little microcosm of middle class suburbia.  Another year, another film.  In some ways it was a brave new world for Leigh, after the premature death of his long-time producer collaborator Simon Channing-Williams and it was his first in ‘Scope format.  In all other respects, it’s Leigh as we know and love him, but as he grows older, we grow older with him, and as I do so one is left as disappointed as his characters. 

            These characters are familiar, the husband and wife happy with each other but not with those around them; he works studying clay around the world, she as a counsellor at a local practice.  Their son Joe is a solicitor and keeps himself to himself, but finally brings round his girlfriend Katie.  Gerri’s work colleague Mary, increasingly clingy, upsets the apple cart when it becomes clear that, despite her being old enough to be his mother, she has a ridiculous attachment to Joe.  Then there’s Tom’s brother, Ronnie, who’s stricken with grief after the death of his wife, and Ken, an overweight single man who, lonely himself, won’t retire because it’s all he has in life. (more…)

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By Bob Clark

When Masamune Shirow first produced the manga Mobile Armored Riot Police in 1989, it must have seemed at least somewhat familiar to several of his prior comics works and anime adaptations thereof. Like Dominion: Tank Police, it followed an expert unit of paramilitary officers maintaining law and order in a future Japan with dystopian overtones. Like Appleseed, it explored relations between human, cyborg and robotic intelligences, and the ways in which new advances in technology continue to shape civilization’s progress. Finally, like both of those works, and pretty much everything he’s done since, it also managed to include enough T&A to damn near qualify itself as pornography, especially when it came to portraying the lesbian tendencies of his heroine military officer, who just happened to find herself disrobed on a regular basis as a part of her espionage-related duties. But if you’ve never heard of this manga and find yourself all but salivating at the prospect of a work which could easily double as lofty action-adventure science fiction and softcore hentai smut, then allow me to burst your dotcom bubble. Because in all likelihood you’re probably at least nominally aware of Mobile Armored Riot Police, though that’s not the name you know it by. Odds are you know it as Ghost in the Shell, and as directed in its animated adaptations by Mamoru Oshii may know it best as some of the most widely seen and respected anime works of the past twenty years. But if that’s all you know, then you still haven’t availed yourself a decent view of the full scope of the franchise’s awesome potential.


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Director: Alfred Werker and Anthony Mann

Producer: Bryan Foy and Robert Kane

Screenwriter: John C. Higgins and Crane Wilbur

Cinematographer: John C. Alton

Music: Leonid Raab

Studio: Eagle Lion 1948

Main Acting: Richard Basehart and Roy Roberts

I’m not the biggest fan of narrated police procedural semidocumentary pictures that were very popular in the mid to late 40s. Besides the stale aroma of governmental propaganda, I always found those booming voices to be hopelessly quaint and annoying. Both The Naked City and T-Men are generally talked about with reverence, yet neither is remotely great in my eyes. I consider both to be okay movies but have a hard time swallowing the intrusive rigmarole that those explanatory antiquated chronicler’s recount. Even He Walked By Night, which has always been my favorite of this ilk can still grate at times. I swear Ed Wood used the same guy in Glen Or Glenda to harp on about “satin undies”. Still, discounting this one flaw, Alfred Werker/Anthony Mann’s film really works in almost every other way and comes only a few inches from being pitch perfect.

Anthony Mann, while uncredited, is said to have actually directed most of He Walked By Night. Along with the great John Alton handling the cinematography, it’s not hard to see the visual and thematic similarities this picture shares with other Mann/Alton joint ventures like T-Men and Raw Deal (the cinematography of He Walked By Night is Alton’s peak achievement in my opinion). While Alfred Werker was considered a solid craftsmen and dependable journeymen who helmed the entertaining The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1939), he was not known for creating gritty film noirs throughout his career. I would say it’s safe to wager that Mann was the one who made this 1948 Eagle Lion picture worth watching. When Alton’s shadows take center stage, the result is tough, dark, and full of enough grime to get every noirist’s heart aflutter. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1958 122m) DVD2/5 (France/Russia only)

Aka. Love is my Profession

She’s impulsive and loves sex

Raoul Lévy  d  Claude Autant-Lara  w  Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost  novel  Georges Simenon  ph  Jacques Natteau  ed  Madeleine Gug  m  René Clourec  art  Max Douy

Jean Gabin (André Gobillot), Edwige Feuillère (Viviane Gobillot), Brigitte Bardot (Yvette Maudet), Franco Interlenghi (Mazzetti), Nicole Berger (Jeanine), Madeleine Barbulée (Bordenave), Julien Bertheau (Inspector), Mathilde Casededus (Anna), Jacques Clancy, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Annick Allières, Claude Magnier, Albert Rémy,

When it comes to entries like this, I know I must put my hands up and acknowledge that very few critics or commentators would find it so worthy.  Essentially, it’s merely a well- packaged melodrama of its day, which drew people to it on account of its cast, especially that 5’7” of perfection that was Brigitte Bardot.

            Then let’s cut forward over forty years to another film of the same Simenon tale, En Plein Coeur, starring one of the French starlets du jour, Virginie Ledoyen.  It was lifeless, and Ledoyen, who the camera does love, just didn’t cut the ice.  You can stick around and hope, but there will never ever be another Bardot.  The cinema has given us many icons who rate a ‘10’ on the feminine perfection scale, but Bardot is the only one who would satisfy Nigel Tufnel and go up to ‘11’.  Hot, sexy, alluring, pouting, you’re still doing her scant justice: Aphrodite herself would be green with envy. (more…)

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Director: Andre De Toth

Producer: Samuel Bischoff

Screenwriter: Karl Kamb, Andre De Toth, and William Bowers

Cinematographer: Harry J. Wild

Studio: United Artists 1948

Main Acting: Dick Powell and Lizabeth Scott

It’s past midnight and I was getting ready to post George Cukor’s Gaslight as my number 43 on the film noir countdown. As I write below, I have serious reservations about including this movie on the list. At this late hour, I decided to place Pitfall here as a last minute replacement. I regret not being able to write in detail about De Toth’s wonderful 1948 picture starring Dick Powell. Similar to I Walk Alone, Pitfall deserves a legit DVD/Blu Ray release and is a great noir that screams out for more recognition. I will allow my initial pick to be read as I explicitly describe why I feel strongly to have it removed from consideration. After some deliberation, Gaslight is simply not film noir in my eyes. To be honest, Pitfall is probably the overall better film anyway.

Dave Hicks included Pitfall in his own noir countdown almost a year ago. He had the De Toth film coming in at #13. The movie deals with John Forbes (played by Dick Powell), an insurance agent trying to find some excitement in his boring middle class life. He sparks a romance with model Mona Stevens (played by Lizabeth Scott) who happens to be the girlfriend of a imprisoned criminal that Forbes has been assigned the task of repossessing various expensive items from. Forbes ends up lying on his reports, falsifying what Mona has in her ownership (primarily a speedboat) and gets involved in a relationship that sends his envious private investigator colleague MacDonald (Raymond Burr) into a jealous frenzy. The couple is increasingly stalked and threatened by MacDonald. Forbes must now wade his way through various entanglements that could cost him not only his marriage but even his life. (more…)

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Director and Producer: Otto Preminger

Screenwriters: Ben Hecht, Robert E. Kent, Frank P. Rosenberg and Victor Trivas

Cinematographer: Joseph LaShelle

Music: Cyril J. Mockridge

Studio: 20th Century Fox 1950

Main Acting: Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney

This is Otto Preminger’s second appearance on this countdown. Where The Sidewalk Ends has many admirers that would proclaim this 1950 film a noir masterpiece. Here, Preminger, Dana Andrews, and Gene Tierney all reunite from their respective success in Laura a few years earlier. Aside from the familiar acting and directing talent, cinematographer Joseph LaShelle also reappears, bringing with him more prominence to the shadowy images following Sgt Mark Dixon’s descent into deceit and corruption. (more…)

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