by Sam Juliano
2012 is on it’s last legs, and for many it’s a year better left to expire without looking back. Sure there were high points, artistic accomplishment and personal goals met, but tragedy intruded one time too often. We at Wonders in the Dark were deeply saddened to hear the news of Lori Moore’s passing over the holiday season. Lori, who over the past few months collaborated with Dee Dee and Barbara LaMotta on the John Garfield petition was well-regarded by her peers and referred to as one of the loveliest of persons. Our deepest condolences to Lori’s family, to Dee Dee, and to all those who were fortunate enough to be touched by Lori in their lives. I never was lucky in my life to meet Lori, but was moved to hear the testament of others.
On Saturday morning I drove Lucille and the family up to Newtown, Connecticut to leave flowers at the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dickinson Drive. Set back on a slight hill, the road leading up was barricaded off, but visitors were permitted to walk up to the school building. A wire fence now encircles the one-story structure, and many of the windows are now boarded. After we stayed for about ten minutes, a police car came, and an officer politely asked that people leave as heavy snow began falling. My kids will remember this as one of the saddest days they’ll ever experience, and though our intentions were of solidarity and grief, it was a very difficult trip to make.
It’s been a tough week too with physical maladies afflicting WitD staffers on both sides of the Atlantic. In Kendal, in northwestern England Allan Fish has been felled by a nasty stomach viris, while hear just outside of NYC in Fairview, New Jersey, Your Truly has had some intermittant stomach nausea, bloating and acid reflux to deal with. Still I did my best to function, and escorted the family to several films, including multiple viewings of the long-awaited Les Miserables.
Activity at the site has been very limited this week for all kinds of reasons, but it must be noted that the just-concluded “comedy countdown” expended quite a bit of time and energy among the site’s friends and affiliates, and to all those I again want to extend our deepest gratitude. Running from late summer until the start of winter it was a project that really required attention all through the weeks, and everyone aswered the call with remarkable resilence and passion. Thank you all! We would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hopes for a 2013 of smiles and cheers.
Congratulations to our friend Judy Geater at Movie Classics for her remarkable month-long Dickens December series that really hit the spot for the holiday season.
Lucille and I (and the kids for all except Tabu, in which we were joined by Jason):
Les Miserables ***** (Christmas Eve and two times after that) Clifton
Django Unchained ***** (Wed. afternoon) Secaucus multiplex
Tabu * (Saturday night) Film Forum
The long wait for LES MISERABLES resulted in a passionate response from the entire family. I have reserved my complete reaction for a full review, which appears right over the MMD this morning. DJANGO UNCHAINED was a marvelous surprise, though the over-the-top violence (really a send-up of spaghetti westerns) was not well-timed (to say the least) with all the heart-breaking tragedies of the past months. The film was a kind of Tarantinian homage to the famed European westerns of the 60’s, where a hero conmpletes herculean gunsmanship, in this case a pre-Civil War setting. Fueled by some terrific performances by Christophe Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s often hysterical and despite it’s nearly three-hour length one of the most entertaining films of 2012. It’s received some superlative reviews, but I still went in skeptical. One of the most mystifying cinematic perceptions of this past year is how it is possible that a movie as torturous and pretentious as the Portugese TABU has won over so many critics. Some interesting ideas are wasted in a film poorly paced and simplistically visualized. No narrative cohensiveness, labored humor, no emotional connection.
I am re-printed last week’s links, and have tried to update a few:
Judy Geater’s magnificent “Dickens December” series continues with a profile of Orson Welles as a radio “Scrooge” at Movie Classics: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/orson-welles-as-a-very-young-scrooge-on-radio/
Jon Warner has penned a fabulous review on Melville’s “Le Cercle Rouge” at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2012/12/le-cercle-rouge-1970-directed-by-jean.html
At Speaking From The Heart Laurie Buchanan offers up another marvelous post, this one on “The Key of Sea-A Music Playlist to Write By”: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/the-key-of-sea-a-music-playlist-to-write-by/
Pat Perry speaks eloquently about the ‘unspeakable tragedy’ at Doodad Kind of Town: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2012/12/this-is-not-post-i-had-planned.html
Samuel Wilson has crafted a terrific essay on Costa-Gavras’ “Z” at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2012/12/z-1969.html
At Vermillion and One Nights Murderous Ink has posted a spectacular piece on “Evangelion After Fukushima” (Part 2): http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2012/12/evangelion-after-fukushima-part-2.html
At Lost It at the Movies Movie Man Joel Bocko offers up a splendid screen capo display of “Leap of Faith”: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2012/12/leap-of-faith.html#more
Fimmaker Jeffrey Goodman has several updates at The Last Lullaby, including his latest a splendid quartet of capsules that includes “The Breaking Point,” “Senna” and “The Edge of the World”: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/12/beau-travail-1999.html
David Schleicher has written a creative essay on Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2012/12/23/evolutionary-melodrama-and-triumph-of-the-human-spirit-in-rust-and-bone/
Richard R.D. Finch is leading up with his spectacular comedy countdown essay on “Sullivan’s Travels” at The Movie Projector: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2012/12/sullivans-travels-1942.html
Shubhajit Lahiri has penned a superlative capsule piece on Claire Denis’s “Beau Travail” at Cinemascope, claiming ‘style over substance’: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2012/12/beau-travail-1999.html
John Greco has a marvelous review of 1951’s incomparable “A Christmas Carol” up at Twenty-Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/a-christmas-carol-1951-brian-desmond-hurst/
Roderick Heath’s already legendary mega-essay on “Dr. Strangelove” is presently leading up at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2012/dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-1964/17040/
Ed Howard’s magnificent review of Jean Rollin’s “Fascination” is leading up at Only the Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2012/12/fascination.html
Craig Kennedy has posted one of his greatest interviews ever at Living in Cinema, with Samantha Barks, the lovely young actress who plays Eponine in “Les Miserables”: http://livingincinema.com/2012/12/20/samantha-barks-flies-the-flag-for-eponine-in-les-miserables/
Tony d’Ambra leads the way at Films Noir.net for a terrific piece on the little-exposed Italian noir ‘La Bionda’: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/la-bionda-the-blonde-italy-1992.html
At Overlook’s Corridor Jaimie Grijalba continues his intricate study of Chilean cinema: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/chilean-cinema-2012-16-stefan-vs-kramer-2012/
A moving post at the Creativepotager’s blog celebrates the three years since Terrill and David were marries at a quaint little church on Mayne Island in the Pacific northwest: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/celebrating-the-day-we-eloped/
Weeping Sam’s “Fall Film Round-Up No. 3” at The Listening Ear includes superb capsules reviews of “Killing Them Softly,” “Holy Motors” and “Cloud Atlas.”: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2012/12/fall-film-round-up-3.html
At The Blue Vial Drew McIntosh is leading up with a superb screen cap presentation of Otto Preminger’s “Whirlpool”: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2012/12/whirlpool.html
At Patricia’s Wisdom the ever-spirited proprietor offers up “10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place-My Gift to You”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2012/12/10-steps-to-finding-your-happy-place-my-gift-to-you/
Dean Treadway’s new post “Cinema Gallery: 30 Scenes of Loneliness” is essential for all passionate film lovers. It’s over at Filmicability: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post_6.html