by Sam Juliano
Indian summer is just about upon us, though the more seasoned veterans would apply the term dog days of summer. Either way we seem headed for outdoor steam baths in our respective locations, and many of us will be taking to the roads. The 2012 summer Olympic games are officially underway in London, and many will be following the events intensely. Here at WitD, our tempered smiles will soon be exploding in bouts of laughter as the comedy poll is just one week away from launch. As stated on last week’s thread, the project will be underway with an essay on the No. 100 comedy choice on Monday, August 6th by Tony d’Ambra, and will continue well into December, up until the Number 1 placement is posted. By sheer volume, and involvement this is expected to be the most auspicious project ever staged at the site. The posts will run every Monday through Friday. Writers are asked to send reviews to me by e mail, though between August 20 through the 24th I will be out of state, and Allan will handle the postings. I will still comment from my out of state location at the site during those days.
Readers are urged to check out Jaimie Grijalba’s Top 100 ‘horror films’ countdown at Exodus 8:2. Grijalba’s short film will soon be posted for viewers to access as well.
The past week’s insanity was one of the most cinematically blistering of 2012, as Lucille and several of the kids watched a slew of Universal films as part of the long-running Festival at the Film Forum. We saw eleven (11) Universals, and one recent release, Killer Joe, on Saturday, our 17th wedding anniversary.
The Goose Woman **** (Tuesday) Universal at Film Forum
The Man Who Laughs ***** (Tuesday) Universal at Film Forum
All That Heaven Allows **** 1/2 (Wednesday) Universal at Film Forum
Imitation of Life (Sirk version) **** (Wednesday) Universal at Film Forum
Phantom Lady **** (Thursday) Universal at Film Forum
The Suspect *** 1/2 (Thursday) Universal at Film Forum
The Bride of Frankenstein ***** (Friday) Universal at Film Forum
The Black Cat **** 1/2 (Friday) Universal at Film Forum
The Wolf Man **** (Sunday) Universal at Film Forum
The Invisible Man ***** (Sunday) Universal at Film Forum
The Mummy **** 1/2 (Sunday) Universal at Film Forum
Killer Joe *** 1/2 (Saturday night) Landmark Sunshine Cinemas
Of this past week’s Universal offerings two all-time masterpieces were shown: Paul Leni’s ravishing THE MAN WHO LAUGHS and the film that many consider the best of the Universal horror films, James Whales’s THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. This is the second time I have seen the Whale on a big screen over the past few years, having previously negotiated it at the Jersey City Loew’s movie palace. melodrama genre and is based on a novel by Victor Hugo. In THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, Conrad Veidt’s performance, the makeup, art direction and Paul Leni’s expressionist point of view make for a melodrama presented as a horror film. Veidt as Gwynplaine is filled with expression and sadness -using only his eyes- that in unforgettable. Olga Baclanova nearly steals the film away from Veidt as Duchess Josiana who loves to do what she wants and has an inexplicable facination with Gwynplaine. Baclanova is captivating with sizzling sexuality dealing with an ambiguous and complex character. The Gwynplaine character of course was an inspiration for the Joker in the BATMAN comics and films, and the magnificent use of the operatic song “When Love Comes Stealing” by Walter Hirsch. in a gorgeous and poignant score is one of the cinema’s genuine glories. There are few films in my life that have affected me as deeply as THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. The Region 1 Kino DVD is a must own.
Douglas Sirk’s ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (the film that inspired Todd Haynes to write and direct FAR FROM HEAVEN and Rainer Fassbinder to create ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL) is trademark Sirk with the sumptuous visual design, ironic underpinnings, and focus on the conformity-obsessed 1950’s. As always composer Frank Skinner makes a vital contribution, as he does even more impressively in Sirk’s final American film IMITATION OF LIFE, which all things considered in less impressive than Stahl’s 1934 version (seen last week) but still bringing together some of Sirk’s impeccable craftsmanship.
Robert Siodmak’s flawed THE SUSPECT isn’t quite film noir, but still boasts another impressive turn from Charles Laughton and an intriguing story in a period costume piece; Siodmak’s PHANTOM LADY features some dazzling style and set pieces, and the rare silent THE GOOSE WOMAN by Clarence Brown deserves a DVD release. Steve Sterner’s live piano accompaniment was real nice. As far as THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN, THE INVISIBLE MAN and THE BLACK CAT, they never fail to entertain no matter how many times you see them, though of the four, for me the two that really stand out are THE INVISIBLE MAN with a brilliant Claude Rains in the lead and terrific application of humor and the art-deco Expressionistic THE BLACK CAT by Edgar Ulmer. The weakest of the four films, though still fun, is easily THE WOLF MAN. The tomb sequence in THE MUMMY is one of the best in any Universal film.
William Friedkin’s trailer trash burst of black humor and sickening violence titled KILLER JOE features a superlative performance by Matthew McConaughy as a chilling sociopath devoid of morals in a film that still manages to rivet throughout. Friedkin is anything but laid back at age 76, and his latest venture is both fascinating and repulsive at the same time. Definitely worth a look, especially if you have a strong stomach.
Even with all the frantic activity at the Film Forum I was still able to watch four more first season episodes of THE WIRE. The series continues to grip after a modest beginning, and I look forward to continuing over the coming days.
I managed to update a good number of links:
Jaimie Grijalba has launched a horror countdown at Exodus 8:2 with a terrific essay on Hammer’s “The Brides of Dracula”: http://exodus8-2.blogspot.com/2012/07/100-dias-de-terror-n5-brides-of-dracula.html
Tony d’Ambra has penned a superlative essay on on Anthony Mann’s “Strange Impersonation” at FilmsNoir.net: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/strange-impersonation-1946-dirty-science.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 a terrific review of Howard Hawks’s “Only Angels Have Wings” at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/07/only-angels-have-wings-1939-directed-by.html
John Greco has penned a terrific piece on Archie Mayo’s “Illicit” with Barbara Stanwyck at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/illicit-1931-archie-mayo/
Laurie Buchanan at her oasis of positive energy (Speaking From The Heart) talks about the ‘Safest Distance Between Two Points” and ‘taking risks’: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/the-safest-distance-between-two-points/
Samuel Wilson has penned a stupendous review in his DVD Diary series on the Stanwyck pre-coder “Shopworn” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/07/dvr-diary-shopworn-1932.html
Ed Howard has written a terrific review of Chaplin’s “The Circus” at Only The Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-circus.html
Roderick Heath has authored another one of his stupendous epic essay (on Snow White and the Huntsman) at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2012/snow-white-and-the-huntsman-2012/15337/
R.D. Finch has crafted a superlative review of Ingmar Bergman early masterwork “Summer with Monika” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/07/summer-with-monika-1953.html
Murderous Ink at Vermilion and One Nights is not overly impressed with Kaneto Shindo‘s documentary on Kenji Mizoguchi: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/07/kenji-mizoguchi-life-of-film-director.html
Shubhajit Laheri has posted one of his brilliantly-written capsules reviews at Cinemascope on Andrezej Wajda’s “Man on the Tracks”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/07/man-on-tracks-1956.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/
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
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
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 takes a fascinating look at “The Hunter” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/07/28/nature-redemption-and-tasmanian-tigers-in-the-hunter/
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
lAdam 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
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