by Sam Juliano
The comedy countdown draws nearer, with an opening salvo scheduled for Monday, August 6th courtesy of Sydney native Tony d’Ambra, who also provided the fantastic sidebar banner. Other site friends and visitors are urged to insert the banner at their own sites, if such a procedure is manageable. It would of course be greatly appreciated. The first week (Nos. 100 through 96) will also feature essays from “J.D.” of Radiator Heaven, Shubhajit Laheri of Cinemascope, and both Allan and I. The second week, commencing on August 13th with Nos. 95 through 91, will feature two essays from our Chilean college student wunderkind Jaimie Grijalba, one from veteran Treadway, one from our own Jamie Uhler, and another by Allan.
The events in Colorado are sickening beyond words, and some of us have shared our feelings by e mail. As movie-goers we can further connect with the utter senselessness and depravity of such barbaric acts, planned and hatched in one of our prime cultural havens. The families must now undergo unconscionable grief and agony. While temperatures have fallen to tolerable levels in the northeast, and some much-needed precipitation has consorted to cool things off further, reports from the mid-west continue to confirm some oppressive heed in some areas.
I have finally begun to take a look at some recent American television shows that have won the highest praise from the “inner circle” and have moved to acquire blu-ray sets of Deadwood, Breaking Bad and Rome, as well as DVD sets of Carnival and The Wire. I have now watched the first half of the first season of The Wire, and will have much more to say on future Diarys. I plan on watching the entire run before the summer is out, and will tackle some of the others purchased. The one other show I will be moving to acquire (one that a number of people at the site have praised on Diary threads is Mad Men.
The Film Forum’s four-week “Universal 100th Anniversary” Festival continue in full force, and Lucille and I and several of the kids were in attendance for three sessions during the seven-day span of the Diary. We saw only one new release, which all things considered is the one most of America has now seen: The Dark Night Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan.
The Dark Night Rises *** 1/2 (Friday afternoon) Secaucus multiplex
Criss Cross ***** (Thursday night) Universal at Film Forum
The Killers **** 1/2 (Thursday night) Universal at Film Forum
Magnificent Obsession (Stahl) *** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Univ. at Film Forum
Imitation of Life (Stahl) **** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Univ. at Film Forum
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein**** 1/2 (Sunday) Univ. at Film Forum
The Bank Dick **** (Sunday) Universal at Film Forum
THE DARK NIGHT RISES was slow to get untracked and after about an hour I was figuring the same old, same old, but director Christopher Nolan suffused the progressively tense superhero film with compelling does of gloom and angst and some arresting set pieces that brought the final chapter in the trilogy to a worthy enough conclusion, one that properly focused on the Batman Christian Bale character. Not quite the equal of THE DARK KNIGHT, but within a half star. Still I doubt a few weeks from now if much of this will resonate. The film will always bring the gruesome memories of the tragedy in Colorado for nearly everyone, I’m sure.
I am finally convinced that the noir masterwork CRISS CROSS is Robert Siodmak’s masterpiece (Lancaster and DeCarlo are extraordinary, and the stunning black and white expressionistic photography rates among the best of it’s kind) but this is a dark and fatalist film in the Lang tradition that gives a new meaning to the term “double cross.” Based on Hemingway’s THE KILLERS, the film of the same name isn’t always easy to follow, but it again features the team of Siodmak and Lancaster, in a film about the irreversible underpinnings of fate in an existential brew negotiated by a labyrinthine plot that superbly utilizes the flashback. Acting and writing are of teh top-rank, and the film straddles the masterpiece level.
John Stahl’s IMITATION OF LIFE is better than the Sirk re-make that will be screening on Wednesday night, but Stahl’s MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION falls short of the later Sirk version screening sometime next week at this same festival. Both ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and W.C. Fields’ THE BANK DICK never fail to entertain no matter how many times one has seen them.
I managed to update a good number of links:
Tony d’Ambra has penned a superlative essay on 1953’s “The Bigamist”, a film for which he applies the term ‘shades of grey’ at FilmsNoir.net: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-bigamist-1953-shades-of-grey.html
Judy Geater has penned a terrific review on Hitchcock’s ‘The Ring’ and the BFI’s retrospective on the master director at Movie Classics: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/the-ring-alfred-hitchcock-1927-and-the-bfis-hitchcock-retrospective/
The always fecund Jon Warner has penned another exceptional essay on the work of pioneer D.W. Griffith at Films Worth Watching with his leading piece on “Way Down East”(1920): http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/07/way-down-east-1920-directed-by-dw.html
John Greco has penned a fantastic essay on the renowned noir classic “Touch of Evil” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/touch-of-evil-1958-orson-welles/
As always, the gifted social leader Laurie Buchanan offers up a telling post on anger management at Speaking From The Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/removing-self-from-the-anger-equation/
Samuel Wilson has again raised the bar with his spectacular essay on “The Dark Knight Rises” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/07/on-big-screen-dark-knight-rises-2012.html
Marilyn Ferdinand has penned a fascinating and superlatively written essay on film preservation, digital projection and the Chicago Film Society at Ferdy-on-Films that well deserves a look-see: http://wp.me/p16NRb-3Yj.
Murderous Ink at Vermilion and One Nights announces the passing at age 95 of the great Japanese actress Isuzu Yamada: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/07/isuzu-yamada-1917-2012.html
Shubhajit Laheri has posted one of his brilliantly-written capsules reviews at Cinemascope on “The Manchurian Candidate”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/07/manchurian-candidate-1962.html
Terrill Welch talks about the significance of blog writing and reading at the Creativepotager’s blog, where she again features another magnificent painting she completed: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/does-anyone-read-blogs-and-does-it-matter-that-you-write/
Jaimie Grijalba has posted the ninth film in his stupendous series of Chilean cinema at Exodus: 8:2: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/07/cine-chileno-del-2012-9-las-mujeres-del.html
Joel Bocko’s latest post is a superlatively-penned essay on Spade and Marlowe, private eyes at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/06/spade-marlowe-private-eyes-maltese.html
Shubhajit Laheri has written another splendid capsule at Cinemascope, leading the way with his piece on “The Manchurian Candidate”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/07/manchurian-candidate-1962.html
Ed Howard has written a master class review on Francois Truffaut’s beautiful “Two English Girls” at Only The Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/07/two-english-girls.html
Sachin Gandhi’s ‘Euro 2012’ has wound down, with some noted cinematic vehicles crossing the finish line at Scribbles and Ramblings: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2012/06/euro-2012-final.html
At The Movie Projector the incomparable R.D. Finch, who just completed stewardship of one of the net’s greatest-ever projects on William Wyler, the Maestro has written a stupendous piece on two vital Wyler wartime documentaries: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/06/complete-reality-war-documentaries-of.htm
Murderous Ink at Vermilion and One Nights takes a probing look at Hiroshima and the great director Kaneto Shindo, who passed on at age 100 a weeks back: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/07/sakura-tai-chiru-1988.html
Roderick Heath has posted a terrific new review on “Chronicle” at This Island Rod: http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2012/07/chronicle-2012.html
David Schleicher features ‘Trailer Park Art in the Master” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/07/21/trailer-park-art-in-the-master/
At Patricia’s Wisdom, our very good friend has penned a fascinating review of a book focusing on the ‘feminist mystique’ in the 1960’s: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/07/a-strange-stirring-the-feminine-mystique-and-american-women-at-the-the-dawn-of-the-1960s-stephanie-coontz/
J. D. at Radiator Heaven takes a meaningful look at “Good Morning Vietnam”: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2012/07/good-morning-vietnam.html
Jaime Grijalba takes a penetrating look at the Chilean film “Efectos Especiales” at Exodus 8:2, which he considers a flat-out masterpiece. Grijalba writes here with much passion: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/06/cine-chileno-del-2012-7-efectos.html
Adam Zanzie has crafted a passionate defense of Oliver Stone’s “Savages” at Icebox Movies: http://www.iceboxmovies.blogspot.com/2012/07/oliver-stones-savages-is-powerfully.html
Jason Marshall has written a buffo piece on Claude Rains, his #1 choice for Best Supporting Actor in “Casablanca” at Movies Over Matter: http://moviesovermatter.com/2012/07/12/apparently-youre-the-only-one-in-casablanca-with-less-scruples-than-i-claude-rains-best-supporting-actor-of-1942/
Craig Kennedy reviews the new blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the critically-praised but mutilated “Margaret” at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2012/07/10/margaret-directors-cut-lands-on-dvd/
Peter Lenihan has posted an arresting screen cap display of Murnau’s “Phantom” at The Long Voyage Home: http://thelongvoyagehome.blogspot.com/
At Doodad Kind of Town Pat Perry’s splendid contribution to the For the Love of Film Preservation blogothon is on Hitch’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/05/hitch-does-rom-com-for-love-of-film.html
Just Another Film Buff has penned a terrific capsule on Satoshi Kon’s 1997 “Perfect Blue” at The Seventh Art: http://theseventhart.info/2012/05/19/ellipsis-61/
At The Blue Vial Drew McIntosh leads up with “off the Wall” which brings “Silver Load” and the great John Alton into focus: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2012/06/off-wall.html
At The Last Lullaby, the ever delightful filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman takes a look at part sixteen of his long running quartet series: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2012/04/favorite-four-part-sixteen.html
Stephen Russell-Gebbett at Checking on my Sausages again offers up a briiliantly creative feature, using the upcoming Olympics to survey films revolving around a number of sports covered in the games: http://checkingonmysausages.blogspot.com/2012/07/film-olympics-archery-to-judo.html
Tony Dayoub takes a look at the summer’s Barnes and Boble 50% off sale for Criterion collectots at Cinema Viewfinder: http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2012/07/criterion-summer.html
Greg Ferrara at Cinema Styles talks about the Colorado shootings in a moving feature: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-dark-knight-shooting-in-colorado.html
A notable artistic collaboration leads the way at Michael Harford’s heartening Coffee Messiah’s blog: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2012/05/collaborations.html
Jeopardy Girl talks about social changes of movie watching in her latest posting at The Continuing Saga of Jeopardy Girl: http://jeopardygirl.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/social/
Hokahey has penned a terrific takedown of “Battleship” at Little Worlds: http://hokahey-littleworlds.blogspot.com/2012/05/boom.html
At The Cooler Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss two-time Cannes winner Michael Haneke for the latest phenomenal ‘Conversations’ dialogue: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2012/05/conversations-michael-haneke.html
Dave Van Poppel has a tremendous batch of short reviews up at Visions of Non Fiction on the Toronto Film Festival: http://visionsofnonfiction.blogspot.com