Archive for January, 2012

Re-viewings of 'The Artist' have elevated it to the #2 position, from #8, where it was previously placed in Top Ten of the Year presentation from two weeks ago

by Sam Juliano

The NYC area was blanketed with several inches of snow early Saturday morning, but rising temperatures that purportedly will hit around 51 today will surely melt the ramnants of the first appearance of the white stuff since that freak and destructive Halloween storm.  Anyway, the same snow path dropped even more on our friends in and around the Windy City.

As I write this ‘Diary’ lead-in the Giants and 49ers game is still almost five hours away.  Lucille and I were invited to a friend’s home up in Montvale, New Jersey to watch the game, so I will revise thios post accordingly late tonight before publihing it with a parenthesis.  (Flash!!!!  Giants win!!!  Giants win!!!  Giants win!!!  They beat the 49ers 20-17 in overtime to land a spot in the Super Bowl!!!)  Best Wishes to our dear friend Dee Dee, who may well be headed west in the upcing days for the annual ‘Noir Festival’ at the Castro in San Francisco.  Allan Fish’s year-by-year voting countdown continued yesterday with the ‘best of 1922.’  Everyone is encouraged to participate if they have a decent knowledge of this period.

Perhaps the biggest problem with presenting a ‘finalized’ annual list of the ‘best’ films is that there is really never any finality to it at all.  I noted in my own introduction that numereical listings are subject to change of hearts in days or even hours of a ‘final’ proclamation, and re-viewings and further pondering can often have one regretting a published listing that has been usurped by re-evaluation.  Such is the case with the list I published two weeks.  One film, The Artist, which I have seen several times running now (and continue to be ravished by the soundtrack CD every day now) deserves in fact to be in a much higher placement than the #8 it was listed as in the original publishing.  I could have just let things be, and saved myself the probable grief I will now face from some who believe a change of heart for whatever reason undermines the original presentation, but I have honestly fallen head over heels over The Artist, and need to be honest with myself and my list, even if the entire idea of a Top Ten flies in the face of sanity in the first place.  Thinking about the film more and more, seeing Jim Clark’s extraordinary review, engaging in spirited e mail discussions and hearing Ludovic Bource’s score rergularly have all collaborated to make me realize that I love this film as much as I do any other this year, and though numbers within the Top 10 can be interchanged at any time, I still want to make a symbolic statement here with the change.  I was questioned by some friends about the possibility of some thinking I might want to be seen as wanting to ‘stand with the critics’ who championed this film in droves this year.  My resounding answer is that over the last five years, I have only embraced a single film of the five top critics’ film of each year, and that was a #9 placement for There Will Be Blood.  This has nothing to do with critics, it has to do with my increasing passionate fervor for this film.   I added another film to the Top 10 as well to make for a #10 tie (my regular way of doing the lists until this year) so that the wonderful Poetry can now be part of the Top 10, as it should be.  I will make the proper changes on the original post over the course of the next fews days. I also added We Need To Know About Kevin to the ‘Runners-Up’ list.  Anyway, here is the new (and yes final on pain of torture) Top Ten for 2011: (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Again, ladies and germs, straight to the poll results for 1922.  Pretty much landslides all round.

Best Picture Nosferatu, Germany (11 votes)

Best Director Friedrich W.Murnau, Nosferatu (8 votes)

Best Short Cops, Buster Keaton (5 votes)

Best Actor Max Schreck, Nosferatu (11 votes)

Best Actress Mae Busch, Foolish Wives (11 votes)


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Last week I offered up my choices for the best late releases of 2011– this week, the best films that were actually released for the first time during the full scope of last year. Or at least, the films I’d pick as my favorite releases, because that’s all any “best of” list can ever really be called, if we’re to be honest with ourselves. Forget about the choices people make to project the right image for publications or to stay in with certain crowds of popularity– on a certain level you have to just plain like a movie enough to endorse it at the end of any given 12 month cycle. Even if you just wind up regurgitating the same old countdown of autumnal art-house and award-bait releases that every major published critic tends to drum up somewhere in the span between December and January, suffering from all the same long-term memory problems that tend to hit commentators when the time comes to remember films other than the ones you’ve gotten screeners for in the past couple of weeks for your proverbial consideration, it all comes down to the question of actual enjoyment. If a film was fun enough (and we all have our own kinds of fun) for you to recommend it to a whole host of readers, up it goes, or ought to. So that’s what this is, in all honesty, and if you take a careful look at the image up above then you probably know what you’re getting yourself into before you even gander at the rest of this piece (if you hadn’t already figured it out before). There won’t be any surprises here, folks.


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by Allan Fish

(UK 1941 80m) not on DVD

A blessed…happy event

p  Paul Soskin  d  Anthony Asquith  w  Anatole de Grunwald, Terence Rattigan  play  Esther McCracken  ph  Bernard Knowles  ed  Reginald Beck  m  Nicholas Brodszky  art  Paul Sheriff

Margaret Lockwood (Janet Royd), Derek Farr (Dallas Chaytor), A.E.Matthews (Arthur Royd), Athene Seyler (Aunt Mary), Marjorie Fielding (Mildred Royd), Peggy Ashcroft (Flower Lisle), Roland Culver (Boofy Ponsonby), Margaretta Scott (Marcia), Frank Cellier (Chaytor), Jean Cadell (Aunt Florence), Bernard Miles (policeman), Sydney King (Dennis), Martita Hunt (Mme.Mirelle), David Tomlinson (John Royd), Michael Shepley (Marcia’s husband), Muriel Pavlow (Miranda), Roddy Hughes (Vicar), O.B.Clarence (1st magistrate), Margaret Rutherford (2nd magistrate), Wally Patch (3rd magistrate), Peter Bull (Tenor), Ivor Barnard (Bass), Charles Carson (Mr Johnson), Hay Petrie (railway porter),

It’s a film that I was beginning to think was lost, rather like the later Lockwood and Culver play on film Dear Octopus (if anyone has a copy of that, let someone know).  It turns out it did show on Channel 4 in the 1980s, copies started to circulate and it was a pleasure to have the positive *** Halliwell review more than borne out.  It’s a film that showcases an England that probably never was, of Monty Python’s Salad Days sans Sam Peckinpah, of characters threatening to respond to requests with “right-o” and teenage girls setting the benchmark for Sally Ann Howes with how many times they could use the word ‘thrilling’ in a sentence and mixing up suave with svelte.  (more…)

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An Article From The S.F. Gate That Features, Muller, and Dashiell Hammett Apartment…

eddie muller

1. The Noir-City Night Club…


Vodpod videos no longer available.

[On The Slide-roll The Many Faces Of Film Noir…The photograph Of author Dashiell Hammett is copyrighted@ by Mike Humbert…2005-2012]

2. Special Deal For The Noir City Attendees at The Prescott Hotel…


3. San Francisco Noir City Bus Tour…


4. David Olney Present Film Noir…


5. New To The Video Archives actress Lynne Carter


6. The Mostly, British…Film Festival

and No# 7. the “Jewel in the Crown…” Tomorrow
Noir City 10 Opens at the beautiful “Castro Theatre” as I plan to look at…

Noir City 10th Annual S.F. Film Noir Line-Up…daily.

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Copyright © 2012 by James Clark

         There is, about a silent, black and white feature movie introduced in the year 2011, something so apparently hopeless that you know it has something up its sleeve to amaze and charm us. Even granting this design frappe, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist carries a mastery of dynamics so agile, witty and daring as to leave us speechless during the final credits.

    A silent film star digs in his heels when pressured to contemplate a feature involving talk that can be heard, insisting, “I’m an artist!” [after all, and speaking, however well-considered, self-evidently kills the magic sustaining the rewards of cinema]. His aces in the hole include a devil-may-care smile, a twinkle in his eyes and easy laughter—not very unlike the pop of Gene Kelly in his prime (say, in Singin’ in the Rain)—and, the source of much of that laughter, a winsome little terrier with a repertoire of lightning-quick human responses—not very unlike that of Nick and Nora’s Asta (the talkie home field of which sends out some promising vibrations, like a restaurant pager announcing one’s table is ready). Getting in the way of a smooth, Hollywood ending, however, is his imminent exile (as suddenly unemployable) to palatial quarters not very unlike those of Norma Desmond in the sobering viscosity coming to us under the title, Sunset Boulevard. We begin with him on a night like so many he’s had, self-impressedly basking in adulation from his huge fan-base on the occasion of his newest hit. After a curtain-call spent cavorting with that irresistible pup and ignoring his blonde, klutzy co-star, he’s out on the sidewalk in front of the theatre, giving the kind of press and radio interview Gene Kelly brought off with such incandescent conviviality at the beginning of that classic about the dialectics of gloomy (rainy) times. Then one of his fans, hitherto held behind a security line, a girl with her own reservoir of devil-may-care, plunges forward to retrieve her purse, dislodged in the commotion; and he’s as delighted to see her as he is when beholding the spunk of his terrier. She is Peppy Miller, and in her will-o’-the-wisp spareness she reminds us of someone in another Gene Kelly movie (only this time Gene’s lost his mojo, he’s called Andy Miller and he meets the love of his life in helping her retrieve the contents of a somewhat larger than purse-size container, a book bag vibing a world of talk and [musical] sounds). That would be The Young Girls of Rochefort, and that would be our French filmmaker bringing his Hollywood dust-up into the more comprehensive tribulations of a Gallic precursor, Jacques Demy. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

p Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy d Steven Spielberg w Lee Hall, Richars Curtis novel Michael Morpurgo ph Janusz Kaminski ed Michael Kahn m John Williams art Rick Carter cos Joanna Johnston

Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Kross, Nils Arestrup, Celine Buckens, Robert Emms, Eddie Marsan, Liam Cunningham, Pip Torrens, Patrick Kennedy, Toby Kebbell, Matt Milne, Leonhard Carow, Hinnerck Schönermann, Rainer Bock, Philippe Nahon, Gerald McSorley, Johnny Harris, David Dencik,

Let’s start at the very beginning, as Julie Andrews once sung of on that green hill over Salzburg in The Sound of Music. A sweeping overhead helicopter shot over the Austrian Alps. Sorry, make that the west country of England; Devon, bathed in a nostalgic sunset glow the likes of which never happen in real life. But suspend your disbelief, for real life makes just one appearance here. A horse is being born. All very charming and rustic, and we see said foal gambolling around with its mother under the watchful eyes of young Albert Narracott. Albert (a very enthusiastic and occasionally touching Jeremy Irvine) lives with his dad and mum (Peter Mullan, out of place, and Emily Watson, very good but a character of cardboard) in a small house with a few fields of land and a hefty rent from the arrogant local squire (an utterly wasted David Thewlis). Mum is salt of the earth, dad likes a tipple or twenty and has a beard you could lose a badger in. And if the reference to Blackadder’s Red Beard Rum may seem irrelevant, take a look at the screenwriting credit. The temptation for a chorus of “ha-hars” must have been overwhelming. And then think of a later Blackadder, of cat’s vomit, university boating songs and Baldrick’s war poetry. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1939 97m) DVD2

A million tonnes of flood water

p  Isadore Goldsmith  d  Carol Reed  w  J.B.Williams, A.J.Cronin  novel  A.J.Cronin  ph  Max Greene  ed  Reginald Beck  m  Hans May  art  James Carter

Michael Redgrave (David Fenwick), Margaret Lockwood (Jenny Sunley), Emlyn Williams (Joe Gowlan), Edward Rigby (Robert Fenwick), Nancy Price (Martha Fenwick), Allan Jeayes (Richard Barras), Linden Travers (Laura Millington), George Carney (Slogger Gowlan), Cecil Parker (Stanley Millington), Ivor Barnard (Wept), Milton Rosmer (Harry Nugent, MP), Desmond Tester (Hughie Fenwick), Olga Lindo (Mrs Sunley),

It’s impossible not to think of John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley when thinking of Carol Reed’s drama.  It’s the light to Reed’s dark.  No question, Ford was at the peak of his film-making powers, but it’s a film I cannot stand.  It’s not just the idea of having a load of Irishmen play Welshmen because the average Hollywood audience wouldn’t know the difference (only Rhys Williams is authentically Welsh, only Donald Crisp tries to join him in preserving authenticity).  No-one can deny the beauty of Arthur Miller’s photography or the performances of Roddy McDowall and, especially, Crisp, but it leaves me not with a lump in the throat but a barely suppressed choke.  Here’s a film that almost deified mining, made it something almost otherworldly, and while Richard Llewellyn applauded the film for its sentiment – and his book was full of it – there can be no doubt that the 1975 TV version, with authentic welsh leads in Sian Phillips and a never-better Stanley Baker, then poignantly dying of cancer, is a richer achievement.  But when I think of mining, I think neither of it or Berri’s Germinal, I think of Reed’s film. 

            It probably has something to do with the location used.  The fictional town of Tynecastle in the book suggests a mythical location in Catherine Cookson country, but it was actually shot at Workington on the coast of my home county.  Add to this the fact that mining is, quite literally, in my genes.  My grandfather died of illness picked up in the mine when only in his 40s, over a decade before I was born.  Other members of my family also went “down t’pit.”  It seems a lifetime ago now, decades before Thatcher’s indiscriminate attack on an industry, the unions, and the whole industrial North.  (more…)

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Screen cap from Tan Anh Hung's lush "Norwegian Wood" adapted from wildly popular Japanese cult novel by Haruki Murakami

by Sam Juliano

Peter Lenihan’s John Ford series has launched with a terrific informative essay on the silent Just Pals, and will continue on every ‘other’ Wednesday, meaning the off week when Jim Clark isn’t writing.  Allan Fish’s challenging year-by-year consideration of the picture, director, actor and actresses also made it’s debut last week, and will be posting every Sunday until completion.  The past week saw two Top Tens by Maurizio Roca and Yours Truly, another list from Bob Clark on some highlights, a splendid review on the Iranian gem A Separation by Tony d’Ambra and another superlative installment in the “Getting Over the Beatles” project from Jamie Uhler.  Upcoming year-end lists will soon be posted by Jaime Grijalba and by Bob Clark.

The Giants beat the 15-1 Green Bay Packers in a pivotal NFC quarter-final game that has New Yorkers and New Jerseyites in a tizzy!!! This was one of the greatest games the Giants have ever played, and winning in Green Bay against such a great team will forever be in the annals. The Giants will be playing the San Francisco 49ers next week out in Frisco for the right to respresent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Go Jints!!!!!!

The Golden Globes were handed out Sunday night in Hollywood, with The Descendants, The Artist, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jean Dejardin, Michelle Williams, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer all coming out winners. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

OK, guys, straight to it.   Only a select number of votes, but this how the winners turned out from the voting.  Remember that my vote does not count toward this polling as I will be naming my own choices separately.

Best Picture The Phantom Carriage, Sweden (3 votes)

Best Director Victor Sjöstrom The Phantom Carriage & Fritz Lang Destiny (2 votes) TIE

Best Short The Playhouse Buster Keaton & Manhatta Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler (2 votes) TIE

Best Actor Jackie Coogan The Kid (3 votes)

Best Actress Lillian Gish Orphans of the Storm (3 votes)

So, two ties between the WitD alumni. Sam will be smiling.  Let’s hope as we move through later on we will get more votes to eliminate most of these occurrences.


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