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Archive for March 5th, 2012

Header at Stephen Russell-Gebbett's 'Checking on my Sausages' blogsite

Note:  This is the twelfth entry in an ongoing series that honors creative bloggers who have really made a difference, raising the bar for quality and productivity on the cultural front.

by Sam Juliano

He’s no fan of Pixar animation. He has questioned the long-held adoration for Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, and once wrote a scathing dismissal of Citizen Kane, saying the cinema landmark was actually a “bad” film. His placement of Sucker Punch as the best film of it’s year raised eyebrows, and his personal taste remains as autonomous and scrutinizing as any writer committed to culture ad the arts. Yet, one who approaches the often-infuriating prose of Briton Stephen Russell-Gebbett is in for a veritable lesson in how to approach art from a perspective long held as alienating. Russell-Gebbett’s spirited, opinionated and descriptive prose asks readers to think through long-protected views tainted by nostalgia and volumes of scholarly study by critics and historians that have served to maintain an acknowledged position by consensus building. Whether one ultimately agrees with Russell-Gebbett, one can never deny his compelling arguments and the confidence that enables him to demonstrate by the evidence that he’s far more than a contrarian looking for attention. His taste is rarely tempered by sentiment and the ’emotional underpinning’ and he frankly admits “I have always thought that art appreciation can only really be subjective because nothing is not filtered through an individual person’s senses. A by-product of this is a feeling of freedom in not being squashed by the stamp of popular approval. Art is personal in the making and in the watching. Also, isn’t it so much better to share something with someone by saying “I love it” rather than just the abstract “it’s a great film”? “It’s a great film because I love it”. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Reporting on the soccer scene, Maurizio Roca relates:  “With Clint Dempsey’s goal in the 55th minute of this past Wednesday’s friendly against Italy, the United States emerged victorious against the European soccer superpower for the first time ever in 78 years by winning 1-0. They also did it in the Italians own backyard of Genoa which is no easy feat by any standard. It was a historic win for the American squad that will hopefully continue to improve under the new tutelage of Jurgen Klinsmann. While just an exhibition, such a victory bodes well for the national team moving forward and ultimately preparing them for the next World Cup in Brazil 2014.”

March is in like a lamb sustaining a mild period in weather that seems like a gift from Mother Nature after the fierce Winter of 2010 and the freak but damaging snowstorm of this past Halloween.  With the movie awards now part of the history, fans are looking forward to the new crop and hoping the artistic impasse will be ending soon.

After one of the most grueling three weeks in memory, the comprehensive 40 film William Wellman Festival at the Film Forum ended on Thursday with a double feature of Gallant Journey and the director’s finally film, Lafayette Escadrille, the latter released in 1959, and featuring William Wellman Jr., playing his father.  While auspicious venues on Anthony Mann, Fritz Lang, Pre-Code Cinema, Brit-Noir, MGM silents, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, William Castle and Robert Bresson were attended in full-force, the Wellman program did not allow for a single day off over the 21 day period.  I will be posting a full report on the festival and the 39 films of the 40 that I attended.  Lucille watched 26, while young Sammy took in 19 in what was a glorious crash course on pre-code cinema’s key director.  We saw the final eight films over the past week, in addition to two 2012 releases, one of which was a 2011 overlap. (more…)

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