by Sam Juliano
Summer is now officially upon us, and many of us are hoping to avoid the kind of heat that baked many northern hemisphere people in 2010. Other than weather, everyone is firming up summer plans, while concluding the big June events that include graduation parties, proms, and weddings. I was proud to see my oldest son sammy graduate eighth grade this past week, as the final step to high school in September.
Here at Wonders the Fish Obscuro series and “Getting Over the Beatles” project continue, while Jim Clark treated readers to a brilliant essay on Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, and Bob Clark made a proposal for continued discussion on Jean-Luc Godard.
Again Lucille and I were (relatively) busy on the movie front, while for the first time in quite a while we didn’t manage a single stage play.
We saw the following in theatres:
Sherlock Jr. ***** (Monday evening) Buster Keaton at Film Forum
The Boat **** (Monday evening) Buster Keaton at Film Forum
Passione **** 1/2 (Saturday evening) Film Forum
Leap Year **** (Friday evening) Cinema Village
Beginners *** (Thursday evening) Montclair Claridge Cinemas
SHERLOCK JR. is one of the supreme Keaton masterpieces, in fact for many his greatest work. Suffice to say it’s one of my favorite comedies of all-time (the pool table sequence and the coordinated run near the end are among the greatets gags ever filmed) and with the short THE BOAT screening before it, it made for an unforgettable evening. Lucille and I were thrilled that our youngest son Jeremy (9) was called up to the stage by Film Forum program director Bruce Goldstein to pick the night’s five winners out of a hat that included all the correct answers of a Keaton-related question. Jeremy received a Film Forum tea-shirt for his efforts.
The week’s big surprise was the sensory PASSIONE, John Turturo’s love song to his Italian heritage and to the music of Naples. Using some re-enactment footage and archival segments of famous singers and musicians Turturo serves as the “Greek Chorus” in weaving a tapestry of the breathtaking Italian countryside and a rapturous and ravishing fusion of the past and present. I’m fully Italian-American myself (my father’s father, who died in 1985 at age 96 was from Naples in fact) but that’s certainly not going to stop me from joining the celebration! This is a must for all culture and music lovers, not just Italians! Ha!
Not even the presence of the great Christopher Plummer can elevate BEGINNERS from nagging mediocrity. It does have some revealing moments for sure, but there are chiches and a snail pacing that seems to reveal that this was really never much of a story, but a series of sketches. The ferocious sado-masochistic LEAP YEAR, a Mexican film that’s a slow boil, leads to some powerful ideas, and a telling appraisal of human sexual behavior. It’s a harrowing films of loneliness and despair, and while it’s sometimes very difficult to watch, there’s a searing aspect to the low-budget film-making and an electrifying lead performance from newcomer Monica del Carmen.
I was hoping to see the animated SUMMER WARS at the IFC Film Center on Sunday, due in large measure to Bob Clark’s promotion, but everything got in the way, sad to say.
The blogosphere has so much greatness to recommend this week in 50 links:
Judy Geater again showcases a rare pre-coder at Movie Classics, tabbing Mervyn LeRoy’s Big City Blues, starring Joan Blondell, in another superlative essay: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/bigcityblues/
Tony d’Ambra has revamped Films.Noir.net with a beautiful face-lift and some brilliant posts including his latest on “Noir Nation: International Journal of Crime Fiction”: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/noir-nation-international-journal-of-crime-fiction.html
Jaime Grijalba has announced he will be hosting a ‘Richard Kelly blogothon’ in August (from the 15th till the 20th) at Exodus 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2011/06/richard-kelly-blogathon-15-20-agosto.html
John Greco has posted a terrific essay on the John Ford masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/the-grapes-of-wrath-1941-john-ford/
Meanwhile, John’s beautiful new ‘photography’ website is up and running: http://johngrecophotography.com/
In her most recent post “Mail Delivery” Laurie Buchanan talks about the tenacity and significance of the postal service, complete with some wonderful photos of her main offices and husband Len at Speaking From The Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/special-delivery/
Samuel Wilson at Mondo 70 has penned some superlative capsules for his post “Columbia Cavalcade,” which appraises some DVDR releases in Columbia’s own version of the Warner Archives series: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2011/06/columbia-classics-cavalcade.html
David Schleicher has a most engaging new post up at The Schleicher Spin titled “The Top 30 Sports Movies of All Time”: http://theschleicherspin.com/2011/06/24/the-top-30-sports-movies-of-all-time/
Shubhajit has peened a dead-on capsule assessment of the great Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart collaboration in “The Naked Spur” at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2011/06/naked-spur-1953.html
Effervescent filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman beautifully sizes up Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us,” the musical “West Side Story” and “Bridesmaids” at The Last Lullaby: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2011/06/favorite-four-part-twelve.html
In his newest post “Split Psyches Severed Bodies” the always-brilliant Srikanth Scrivasson (Just Another Film Buff) takes on the abstract and visceral cinema of Mysskin, with some stimulating caps and you tubes to back up his scholarly analysis at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2011/06/25/split-psyches-severed-bodies/
Sachin at Scribbles and Ramblings offers up a engaging post on “Copa America 2011: Book and Film Festival”: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2011/06/copa-america-2011-book-film-festival.html
Dee Dee’s latest contest (advertised here at WitD) can be accessed and negotiated at her place, Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/
Note: The contest has ended. Congratulations to David Noack!
Terrill Welch announces her summer hiatus on Mayne Island with a lovely post titled “Poppy Opening” at the Creativepotager’s blogsite: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/poppy-opening/
Our very good friend in Tokyo, “Murderous Ink” has again penned an extraordinary essay in his ongoing series on Kurosawa, this time on one of the cinema’s most celebrated films, “Rashomon”: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2011/06/postwar-kurosawa-rashomon.html
Patricia at Patricia’s Wisdom has a new posts on her ‘Top Ten’ blogs, and she cites Wonders in the Dark in her upper etchelon. We are so very grateful!: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2011/06/the-top-ten/
Marilyn Ferdinand at Ferdy-on-Films has again penned a magnificent essay, this time on a very well-regarded 2006 BBC work, “Shoot the Messenger”: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=10372
Down Under writer extraodinaire Roderick Heath has again raised the bar (if he raises it any higher, we’ll need much more than a ladder to reach it!) at Ferdy-on-Films with one of the most spectacular film reviews I’ve ever laid eyes on (every serious cineaste must read it!) in consideration of Derek Jatman’s first film “Sebastiane.”: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=10336
And Heath has resurrected his long dormant English One-O-Worst site with a seminal essay on William Goldman’s novel “The Princess Bride”: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=10336
Stephen Russell-Gebbett again raises the bar at Checking on my Sausages with a highly original and fascinating essay titled “Humanity Through Excess”: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2011/06/humanity-through-excess.html
At Doodad Kind of Town Pat Perry has posted a superlative assessment of the new Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris”: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2011/06/midnight-in-paris.html
Longman Oz has posted a terrific theatre review of a staging at the Project Arts Center in Dublin of Euripedes’ “Iphegenia in Aulis” at SmiledYawnedNodded: http://smiledyawnednodded.com/2011/06/25/iphigeniainaulis_projectartscentre/
Matthew Lucas has posted a fascinating “halftime report” at From The Front Row, offering up his ten favorite films of 2011 so far. Be sure to check it out, especially in view of the fact that Matthew and I have similar taste year after year. Ha!: http://www.fromthefrontrow.net/2011/06/2011-halftime-report.html
At Films Worth Watching Jon has posted a terrific piece on Dusan Makavejev’s “Love Affair” or “The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2011/06/love-affair-or-case-of-missing.html
Jason Marshall’s own terrific “Weekly Movie Diary” at Movies Over Matter includes brilliantly-penned capsule assessments of “Super 8,” “13 Assassins” and others: http://moviesovermatter.com/2011/06/23/13-assassins-the-green-lantern-super-8-and-x-men-first-class-weekly-movie-diary/
Ed Howard and Jason Bellamy have once again collaborated on a spectacular discussion for their monthly “Conversations.” This time it’s a fascinating talk on Malick’s “The Tree of Life”: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2011/06/conversations-26-terrence-malick-part-2.html
At Cinema Styles Greg Ferrara has penned a magnificent essay on Louis Malle’s “Atlantic City” that is the proverbial must-read for serious movie lovers http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2011/06/unbearable-sadness-of-being-atlantic.html
At Living in Cinema Craig Kennedy continues his stellar coverage of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival: http://livingincinema.com/2011/06/24/laff-2011-review-attack-the-block-2011-12/
In preparation of a full review on “The Tree of Life” Kevin Olson offers up a few preliminary observations at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/initial-reaction-tree-of-life.html
At The Constant Viewer Paul Marassa features the great Russian anti-war masterpiece “Come and See” by Erem Klimov: http://theconstantviewer.blogspot.com/2011/06/february-8-1987-come-and-see.html
At The Long Voyage Home Peter Lenihan has posted a capsule/screen cap presentation of the work of French visionary Claire Denis: http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/
In his new post “A Psuedo Self-Portrait” Michael Harford offers up some lovely abstracts and a video tour of Descartes coffeehouse in Chicago. It’s there at the Coffee Messiah’s blogsite: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2011/06/pseudo-self-portrait.html
J.D. at Radiator Heaven appears to have penned a fascinating essay at his place entitled “Did Love Beat the Demon? Forest Gump vs. Natural Born Killers: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2011/06/did-love-beat-demon-forrest-gump-vs.html
Indian culture mavens take note! At Kaleem Hasan’s spectacularly popular home from Indian film, music and politics, the lead post, featuring a you tube of the song “Bduddah Hoga Terra Baap” has attracted almost 300 comments! But the site performed as well on many occasions. Congrats Kaleem!: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/bbuddah-hoga-terra-baap-trailers/
And Hasan himself has penned a superlative review of the Indian film Dum Maaro Dum: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/specters-of-dum-maaro-du
Troy Olson has an assortment of posts leading up at his place on live basketball blogging, a new record club and the most recent Bresson reviews: http://troyolson.blogspot.com/
Ric Burke has penned a marvelous review of “The Maid” at By Kubrick’s Beard: http://bykubricksbeard.blogspot.com/2011/06/maid.html
Jean has penned a perceptive essay on Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven at Velvety Blackness: http://velvetyblackness.blogspot.com/2011/06/days-of-heaven.html
Hokahey at Little Worlds has authored a superlative essay on Super 8, where he elucidates some serious issues with the film: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2011/06/poorly-developed-super-8.html
Drew McIntosh has posted an arresting lot of screencaps including three by Godard and one by Ferrara at The Blue Vial: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2011/06/godard-says-24-frames-minute-or-is-it.html
Jake Cole has penned a terrific review of James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News” at Not Just Movies: http://armchairc.blogspot.com/2011/06/broadcast-news-james-l-brooks-1987.html
Adam Zanzie has penned a terrific review of 1964′s Behold A Pale Horse at Icebox Movies: http://iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2011/06/behold-pale-horse-1964.html
Film Doctor has diagnosed the issues in Super 8 with his always insightful multi-step analysis: http://filmdr.blogspot.com/2011/06/monster-mash-8-notes-on-filmmaking-in.html
Ric Burke has penned a marvelous review of “The Maid” at By Kubrick’s Beard: http://bykubricksbeard.blogspot.com/2011/06/maid.html
At The Cooler Jason Bellamy links up to the incomparable new Conversations entry with a dialogue with Ed Howard on Terrence Malick’s first four films: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2011/05/conversations-terrence-malick-part-i.html
At The Movie Projector R.D. Finch has posted an extradinary review of Elia Kazan’s 1963 film “America America”: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2011/06/america-america-1963.html
Slant writer extraordinaire John Lanthier likens A Serbian Film to a “transgressive” experience, awarding it 3 out of 4 stars at Aspiring Sellout: http://livingincinema.com/2011/05/14/review-a-serbian-film-2011/
Dave Van Poppel has some great documentary capsules from the Toronto Film Festivals posting at his place: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com/2011/05/hot-docs-2011-we-were-here.html
Jeopardy Girl asks her readers “What’s Good?” at her place this week in an ever-thoughtful post: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/whats-good/