by Sam Juliano
OVER the land is April,
Over my heart a rose;
Over the high, brown mountain
The sound of singing goes.
Say, love, do you hear me,
Hear my sonnets ring?
Over the high, brown mountain,
Love, do you hear me sing?
By highway, love, and byway
The snows succeed the rose.
Over the high, brown mountain
The wind of winter blows.
Say, love, do you hear me,
Hear my sonnets ring?
Over the high, brown mountain
I sound the song of spring,
I throw the flowers of spring.
Do you hear the song of spring?
Hear you the songs of spring?
-Robert Louis Stevenson
April Fool’s Day. Good Friday. Easter Sunday. “April showers bring May flowers.” Allergy woes. Spring break. The most eagerly anticipated transitional month for many is also a time for culture mavens to immerse themselves at film, theatre and music venues and a time when weather often allows for the beginning of outdoor events. In New York City, it’s the month of the Tribeca Film Festival, and some major action in Broadway theatres in advance of the Tony Award nominations. The opera and classical music schedules go through some of their most vital junctures as well. And it’s baseball bliss for fans with opening day of MLB action upon us.
At Wonders in the Dark the usual suspects kept the site moving along with new material each and every day. More dialogue has transpired as to the preliminary plans for the Comedy Countdown. Another idea hatched by Jamie Uhler and Allan in regards to some gems still unreleasded to DVD is also in the planning stages.
Lucille and I had a moderate week on the movie front as we prepare our proposals for the Tribeca Festival. We saw:
Jiro Dreams of Sushi **** (Thursday night) IFC Film Center
Bully *** (Friday night) Angelika Film Center
The Son’s Room **** 1/2 (Saturday night) IFC Film Center
Children of Paradise (1945) ***** (Tuesday night) Film Forum
The week’s greatest event was Tuesday night’s final screening of the three-week run of one of the most beloved films ever made – the Golden Age French masterpiece CHILDREN OF PARADISE (LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS) made in Paris during the Nazi occupation of the country by a resilient Marcel Carne, with a brilliant script by Jacques Prevert, spectacular sets by Alexander Trauner, a ravishing score by Joseph Kosma and unforgettable performances led by Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault. The film is France’s answer to GONE WITH THE WIND, the story of a beautiful courtesan and the mime artist, actor criminal and artist who love her set in the Parisian theatre scene in the 1820’s and 30’s. Centering Around stage pantomines, the film is the ideal collaboration of performers and spectators, while intimacy is fleeting and people are isolated and undergo troubled relationships. The DCP digital restoration yields what is probably the most stunning print of the film since it opened close to 70 years ago.
Lee Hirsch’s documentary BULLY wrenchingly shows the consequences of bullying in schools by chronicling a small group of students, but it never gets into the reasons for bullying, the actual acts, the social conditions that would allow the dubious practice to continue, nor a specific examination of what triggered teh suicides that are at the heart of the piece. This was an opportunity to shed some light on a vital malignancy that has devastated families and classrooms, but Hirsch (who showed up to moderate a Q & A at the Angelika Fim Center) never makes each individual case especially interesting or even affecting until his solidarity sequence at the end, by which time it is too late. Both Lucille (who taught special education and is now a Principal) and Broadway Bob, who teaches the fifth grade had similar issues with the film, and actually took their own criticisms further than I have. The film’s intentions are noble, and there are intermittant moments that do ring true, but by and large this was a missed opportunity.
About twenty minutes before the 7:30 screening of THE SON’S ROOM (winner of the 2001 Palme d’Or) the film’s celebrated Italian director Nanni Moretti emerged from a limousine that pulled up in front of the theatre, and survyed the line after signing what appeared to be some DVDs and photos for an older male admirer. He survyed the line that was gathered outside on a chilly evening and proceded to walk closer. My friend and colleague Broadway Bob then left the line momentarily (we were typically at the front) and approached Moretti, who gave him a smile and a heart handshake. Once Lucille, Broadway Bob and I got into the theatre we were surprised by site friend Bob Clark, who saw us sitting in the second row, and commenced to take up residence next to us. The ever-resilient Clark went on to tell us that he had already seen three of the Moretti offerings earlier in the day and that THE SON’S ROOM would subsequently be the fourth. After the film we all had a late dinner at our usual haunt, The Dish on 8th Avenue in Chelsea. Moretti, who directed the recent HABEMUS PAPEM (WE HAVE A POPE) is a satirist that is mainly known for the comedy CARO DIARIO and THE SON’S ROOM, the latter a change of pace that now stands for many as his masterpiece. The story of a family tragedy and the grief process, the film is unsentimental yet deeply-felt and suffused with a real maturity and nuances that make the terrible tragedy a part of life that has to be negotiated and understood. One of the best films ever made on that subject. I will be seeing CARO DIARIO tomorrow night (Monday) and at least one other Moretti (THE MASS IN ENDED) on either Wednesday or Thursday.
The Japanese documentary JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI focuses on a still-working master of cuisine who is well into his 80’s, and who is seen by many as the world’s most renowed sushi chef. Tracing his past and present, the profound influence on his sons, and his painstaking perfectionism the film paints an indellible portrait of a classic eccentric who is a model for all, especially the lucky patrons of his off the track eatery in Tokyo.
I completed the First Season of the superlative HBO series GAME OF THRONES, and by the time this Diary installment publishes I will also have seen Episode One of the Second Season, which aired for the first time at 9:00 P.M. The kids were talking about it for days. In any case, (SPOILERS ALERT!) it was sad to see the show’s most honorable character -played by Sean Bean- get beheaded in a shocking twist in Episode 9, but it’s clear enough that his executor will get in own comeuppance soon enough. Dwarf actor Peter Dinklage was great in a courtroom segment in Episode 8, where he chose a “champion” who successfully defended him, and his delivered some saucy lines. Typically the sex scenes were uncompromising. I hope to have much more to say on the series, and welcome discussion in the comments.
Some links have been updated:
Judy Geater has written another magnificent essay on the cinema of William Wellman with a fabulous and comprehensive essay on the little-seen “Men with Wings” at Movie Classics: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/men-with-wings-william-a-wellman-1938/
Tony d’Ambra has written a stupendous review of Henry Hathaway’s gritty and realistic noir “The House on 92nd Street” at FilmsNoir.net, a film that pre-dated the films of Jules Dassin: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-house-on-92nd-street-1945-real-drama-with-a-solemn-purpose.html
Jon Warner at Films Worth Watching has penned an excellent review of a Kieslowski masterwork – “The Double Life of Veronique”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/03/double-life-of-veronique-1991-directed.html
John Greco’s latest piece at Twenty Four Frames is another typically all-encompassing essay on the underrated noir thriller “Act of Violence” by Fred Zinnemann: https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/act-of-violence-1948-fred-zinnemann/
Samuel Wilson at Mondo 70 has written an epic “mixed” review of the blockbuster “The Hunger Games”: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/04/on-big-screen-hunger-games-2012.html
Laurie Buchanan at Speaking From The Heart talks about living with a “potty mouth” and the most undesirable penalty for using foul language in her amusing but pointed new post: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/i-live-with-a-potty-mouth/
Ed Howard again demonstrates why he’s one of the absolute finest online film writers with a remarkable essay taking in four Alexander Kluge short films at Only the Cinema: https://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/act-of-violence-1948-fred-zinnemann/
Roderick Heath has crafted a tremendous review of the silent masterpiece “Sunrise” by F.W. Murnau at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/?p=13663
One of the net’s most gifted writers is Tokyo’s Murderous Ink, whose latest post at Vermillion and One Nights is an intricate and descriptive essay on tomatoes and Kurosawa’s “Stray Dog”: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/03/botanical-puzzle.html
Craig Kennedy at Living in Cinema has authored a perceptive review on the new documentary “Bully” by Lee Hirsch: http://livingincinema.com/2012/03/29/bully-2012/
Jaimie Grijalba has authored a terrific review of Joseph Losey’s “The Prowler” at Exodus 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/04/prowler-1981.html
Pat Perry has penned an engaging piece on good actresses making bad films at Doodad Kind of Town that’s most assuredly food for thought: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/03/when-good-actresses-make-bad-movies.html
Sachin Gandhi has authored a stupendous essay at Scribbles and Ramblings on “Miss Bala”: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/03/miss-bala.html
Peter Lenihan has ‘A Couple a Things’ up at The Long Voyage Home: http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/2012/03/couple-things.html
David Schleicher has penned an excellent review of Tony Kaye’s “Detachment” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/03/10/detachment/
Some turbulent weather continues on Mayne Island as reported on the Creativepotager’s blog with “The Edge of the Storm: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/edge-of-the-storm/
Adam Zanzie has penned a terrific assessment of the work of director Andrew Stanton at Icebox Movies: http://iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2012/03/andrew-stantons-women.html
Stephen Russell-Gebbett’s latest post on ‘Movie Morality Debate Topics’ has yieled a terrific comment thread at Checking on my Sausages: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/03/movie-morality-debate-topics.html
R.D. Finch at The Movie Projector has penned a superlative review of Michael Powell’s “I Know Where I’m Going” (1945): http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/03/i-know-where-im-going-1945.html
Pat Perry takes a candid and insightful look at “The Iron Lady” and Meryl Streep’s performance in her new multi post at Doodad Kind of Town: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/02/on-big-screen-and-home-screen-capsule.html
“Explore the Dancing Image: Top Posts” is leading the way at Joel Bocko’s rich treasure trove at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2011/12/explore-dancing-image-top-posts.html
Shubhajit has authored a terrific review of Robert Bresson’s “L’Argent” at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/04/largent-1983.html
Writer Extraordinaire Jason Bellamy pulls no punches with a fantastic takedown of “The Hunger Games” at The Cooler: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2012/03/all-they-can-eat-hunger-games.html
Dee Dee has posted a wonderfully informative oust on the noir “Jewel in the Crown” and accompanying lobby cards at Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2012/02/holding-auction-month-jewel-in-crown.html
Patricia at Patricia’s Wisdom is leading up with a terrific review on what appears to a be an inspiring tale of four mideastern women, “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/03/the-dressmaker-of-khair-khana-gayle-tzemach-lemmon/
Filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman at The Late Lullaby has posted a stupendous round-up of the best cinematic experiences he’s enjoyed in 2011: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-top-10-or-so-films-for-2011.html
J.D. at Radiator Heaven offers up an engaging and comprehensive essay on “Re-Animator”: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2012/03/re-animator.html
Anu at The Confidential Report has checked in with a fabulous Ten Best list that fully warrants everyone’s attention: http://theconfidentialreport.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/top-ten-of-2011
Just Another Film Buff (Srikanth) has posted a spledidly written economical piece on Ichikawa’s “Tokyo Olympiad” at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2012/03/31/ellipsis-58/
Hokahey has written a very fine mostly positive assessment of “The Hunger Games” at Little Worlds”: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2012/03/down-and-out-in-district-12-hunger.html
Jason Marshall talks about the ‘Best of 2011′ at Movies Over Matter: http://moviesovermatter.com/2012/02/19/a-brief-look-at-the-best-of-2011/
Tony Dayoub has posted an excellent feature on “The Assassination of Sterling Hayden by the Auteur Francis Coppola” at Cinema Viewfinder: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2012/03/assassination-of-sterling-hayden-by.html
Michael Harford, the erstwhile ‘Coffee Messiah’ offers up an engaging video about the beverage’s worldwide popularity: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2011/11/coffee-break.html
Troy Olson announces plans to commence with his Robert Bresson project at Elusive as Robert Denby: http://troyolson.blogspot.com/2011/11/argh.html
At Petrified Fountain of Thought Stephen Morton has penned a masterful takedown of “Melancholia” http://www.petrifiedfountainofthought.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-melancholia.html
Kevin Olson has penned a truly fantastic essay on Ingmar Bergman’s “Through A Glass Darkly” at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies: http://kolson-kevinsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/through-glass-darkly.html
Dave Van Poppel is gearing for some updates at Visions of Non Fiction, but presently is still leading up with his very fine review of “Project Nim”: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com/2011/08/project-nim.html
At The Man From Porlock Craig insightfully explores “Warrior” and “The Trip”: http://themanfromporlock.blogspot.com/2012/03/oh-brother-warrior-and-trip.html
Jeopardy Girl has some great plans in 2013 with a vist to the U.K. in the cards. She talks about it at The Continuing Saga of Jeopardy Girl: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/pickmeup/