Archive for October 15th, 2012

By Marilyn Ferdinand

Those of us who love the silent clowns of cinema—Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd, and many others—have a very affectionate place in our hearts for their kindred spirit, Jacques Tati. From his short films to his greatest masterpiece, Play Time (1967), and beyond, Tati created and honed his clown persona, Monsieur Hulot, and pitted his innocence and simplicity against a pretentious bourgeois world in love with progress. For me, Mon Oncle represents two aspects of the French character—infatuation with the avant garde and accommodation to the antiquated infrastructure with which most of Europe is saddled—as seen through the satirical eye of a man with (as Dennis Potter used to say) a tender contempt for both.

Hulot lives in old France, in a home that requires some careful maneuvering through other people’s homes to get to one’s own front door, with dogs and children running free, shopkeepers to greet, and crumbling walls and roads to negotiate. Hulot is well adapted to this world, where his occasional bumbling and ineptitude fit in with the lively sense of disorder that nostalgic French citizens and the outside world find so charming.

Hulot’s problems start when he goes to visit his sister in her ultramodern suburban home. Or should I say house, a place positively hostile to the human touch. The furniture is uncomfortable, with one cone-shaped chair a Venus flytrap for the unsuspecting human who might want to take a load off. The automated kitchen is so complicated that you might just have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out; heaven forfend picking up a spatula and flipping your pancake by hand. The slapstick comedy of Hulot trying to negotiate the world of modern conveniences is precise, quietly understated, and gut-bustingly funny; it is certainly a brilliant homage to Chaplin’s Modern Times. (more…)

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Screen cap from moving and pulsating thriller “Argo” one of the best American films of 2012

by Sam Juliano

You know the drill, right?  Frost on the car windshields.  A big pumpkin sitting on the porch.  That scary ghost like figure from Scream hanging out on the railing.  World Series fever.  Gridiron madness.  Movie award discussion, and some exciting new trailers at the multiplexes.   There’s some world-class singing to be heard at Lincoln Center, competing with the orchestra playing the classics at Avery Fischer Hall.  On top of that is Election fever.  ‘Smilin’ Joe Biden of vice presidential fame had quite a go at his Wisconsin foe on Thursday, adding to the already turbulent political season when most people can’t be count the times they are being called on the phone by one party or another.  Above all it’s a time when Mother Nature wears her prettiest dress, saving her most resplendent appearances in New England and the Pacific northwest.

I’d like to again bring attention to the ongoing project by Dee Dee, Lori Moore and Barbara LaMotta, one focused on gathering online signatures calling on the powers that be to release a blu ray/DVD box set of the most celebrated films of acting icon John Garfield.  The results so far are most impressive, and an extension seems imminent.  Meanwhile, our Chilean soul-mate Jaimie Grijalba, fresh off his trip south to the Valdivia International Film Festival, is relentlessly continuing his horror countdown at Exodus 8:2.  The Major League baseball playoffs continue with the Fall Classic finalists close at hand.  Looks like Yankee fans won’t be doing any celebrating this year after dropping the first two ALCS games at the House That Ruth Built in anemic fashion.  But Tiger fans are no doubt on cloud nine. (more…)

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