Archive for May 16th, 2011

Author Harper Lee in hometown courtroom setting echoing similar scenes in her beloved novel "To Kill A Mockingbird"

by Sam Juliano

One of modern literature’s greatest mysteries, is one that is unlikely to ever achieve complete closure.  In 1960, an unknown writer from Alabama named Nell Harper Lee stepped into the offices of J.B. Lippencott in Manhattan, and the twentieth century’s most celebrated American novel began it’s legendary dominance of high school literary curriculums.  But To Kill A Mockingbird was brought into the public consciousness at a time when sociological upheaval changed the nation, and gave birth to the civil rights movement  and an end to segragation in the south.  As posed by one of the narrators of the new documentary by Mary Murphy, the book didn’t attract much attention at the beginning but gained some momentum after it won the Pulitzer Prize and was picked up for film rights.  The Robert Mulligan-directed film that featured Gregory Peck as lawyer Atticus Finch is regularly referred to as the greatest novel-to-film adaptation in history, though over the years its minority detractors have derided its conventional approach.  Yet Lee patterned her characters in large measure over people who lived in her midst.  Atticus Finch was modeled after her beloved father, who stood as the most admirable person in her life.  The boy Dill is seen as author Truman Capote in his youth.  And the film’s famous small-town settings, like the courthouse where Atticus defends Tom Robinson, are modeled after real places in Maycomb, where the novel is set.  In any event, the aforementioned ‘mystery’ for literary scholars and fans centers around the how and why Harper Lee has balked at writing a second novel, and perhaps even more inexplicably, has refused requests for interviews all the way back to 1964.  It’s even been asserted that Lee sometimes summarily dismissed some of these written applications with curt dismissals, including two word refusals like “Hell, no!”  Attempts in the documentary to solve the standstill turned up fruitless, though McDonagh knew from the start that the focus of her film would instead be on the hold the novel has exerted on the literary scene for over 50 years, and how Lee herself, now 85, has stayed the course, to the exasperation of those who have both been influenced by and have had their lives changed by the book. (more…)


Read Full Post »

Depraved and trashy "A Serbian Film" earns first 0 star rating since grades were instituted at site.

by Sam Juliano

Allan Fish’s Top 3,000 films of all-time presentation has (as expected) attracted spectacular attention from the blogging community, with the lion’s share of the respondants engaging in a thorough discussion of the individual components.  It’s the kind of venture that has defined the mission of this site, though for a chosen few it has been an intimidating endeavor that instigated some harsh words.  But this labor of love will provide those willing to click on their ‘copy’ icon, an invaluable reference point for a comprehensive study of the form.  In any case, it’s a proud moment for Allan on a professional note, as it serves to introduce his soon-to-be-published book,  and showcases the unGodly time he’s spent during his 37 years watching, watching and watching more.

Elsewhere, our pal filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman has sent out a press release announcing the upcoming encore release of his film noir smash The Last Lullaby, which is expected to include a number of new extras.  Goodman is excitedly anticipating a fall 2011 release, and further envisons the film becoming available in other venues.  Wonders in the Dark is thrilled for Jeffrey and will keep watch for the official release of the revamped DVD.

Those with seasonal allergies (Yours Truly included) are doubtless having a rough time the past two weeks, but if the usual pattern hold up we are nearing the end to the chronic sneezing, watery eyes and congestion.  Otherwise, graduations, proms and summer vacations are being discussed by many, and the blistering heat will soon be making an unwelcome appearance.

Playing catch-up after the Tribeca Film Festival I managed to see five films in theatres this week, though I missed out  Sunday on seeing Kon Ichikawa’s beautiful 1963 film The Makioka Sisters, having to settle on an afternoon showing that day of the harrowing Chinese film City of Life and Death.  But luckily, Ichikawa’s film will run through Tuesday, so I am hoping to see it Monday night. (more…)

Read Full Post »