Archive for January, 2013


by Allan Fish

(UK 1969-1974 1,479m) DVD1/2


p  John Howard Davies  d  Ian McNaughton  w  Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin  animation  Terry Gilliam  m  “Liberty Bell” by John Philip Sousa

Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth,

Can it be nearly forty years since Python first burst onto our screens?  And when I say burst, I mean just that, because it really was like an explosion.  What is perhaps ironic is that Python was rather one of the hybrids of various creative mixtures from a few years before.  Palin, Idle and Jones came from Do Not Adjust Your Set, Cleese and Chapman from At Last the 1948 Show (the latter immortalised for the original ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch), and with the animations of Gilliam and the spirit of The Goons and Beyond the Fringe, a legend was born.  Whether introduced by Palin as a Ben Gunn-like shipwreckee or a tuxedoed Cleese from behind an old-fashioned BBC news desk, Python and its Sousa signature theme came to embody a whole comic generation.  It remains the granddaddy of all sketch shows, still peerless to this day.  It was a sketch show of the most difficult kind, in that it consisted of sketches with nearly exclusively new characters, as compared say to The Fast Show or plat du jour Little Britain, which took the easier way out of getting laughs out of recurring characters in different situations, relatively easy laughs once you’ve invented the characters.  There’s no doubt which type of show is the most ingenious, and Python still stands head and shoulders above everything that has followed. (more…)


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Sign posted in front windows of all businesses on Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook village of Newtown


by Sam Juliano

A dry cold underlined the winter sun on bucolic Church Hill Road in the picturesque  Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut on a community-sponsored Saturday event aimed at business revitalization.  Adorned with green and white ribbons and defiant window placards that declare “We Are Sandy Hook.  We Choose Love,” the  I (Heart) Sandy Hook weekend project, held just a block and a half down the road from Dickenson Drive and Sandy Hook Elementary School was a way for the town to spur on economic renewal for businesses that were frozen during the media surge of last month, when news crews clogged roads, and residents in response stayed home.  Then there was the inevitable silence when everyone and everything cleared out, leaving stores to operate during a down time when many locals opted to stay home and negotiate their own emotional recovery the the unspeakable tragedy of mid-December.  Said one merchant: “People weren’t coming in that live around the area for haircuts and shopping because either they couldn’t get here, or because they couldn’t be in the town…they were hurt.”  Another asserted that the mass who converged on Newtown were understandably uninterested in shopping, and arrived to leave flowers or teddy bears at the memorial.  As a result the Christmas rush, which usually gets store owners through a good part of the year, was non-existent because of the tragedy.  Promoting positive energy and a sense of normalcy in a town whose history has been re-written, was the noble intent of community officials who want to build on the recovery effort. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Best Picture Barry Lyndon, UK/US (11 votes)

Best Director Stanley Kubrick, Barry Lyndon (10 votes)

Best Actor Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon (12 votes)

Best Actress Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adèle H. (8 votes)

Best Supp Actor John Cazale, Dog Day Afternoon (10 votes)

Best Supp Actress Ronée Blakely, Nashville (9 votes)

Best Cinematography John Alcott, Barry Lyndon (16 votes)

Best Score John Williams, Jaws (13 votes)

Best Short Hedgehog in the Fog, USSR, Yuri Norshteyn (4 votes)


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by Allan Fish

(UK 1980-1984/1986-1988 1,147m) DVD1/2

Creative inertia

p/d  Peter Whitmore, Sydney Lotterby  w  Antony Jay, Jonathan Lynn  m  Ronnie Hazelhurst  titles  Gerald Scarfe

Paul Eddington (Jim Hacker), Nigel Hawthorne (Sir Humphrey Appleby), Derek Fowlds (Bernard Woolley), Diana Hoddinott (Annie Hacker), John Nettleton (Sir Arnold Robinson), Neil Fitzwilliam (Frank Weisel), John Savident (Sir Frederick ‘Jumbo’ Stewart), Peter Jeffrey, Philip Stone, Graeme Garden, Robert East, Nigel Stock,

In the history of television, can there be a more suitable fitting of actor to part as Nigel Hawthorne to Sir Humphrey Appleby, the real hero of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s comedy, often perfectly described as a “Whitehall waltz”?  It won him three BAFTA awards as best comedy actor and many other accolades, too.  His very first scene, in the opening episode, demonstrated the superciliousness of the character in a nutshell, detailing the full list of employees under the disposal of his new minister, and baffling him in the process.  It was the first of many Sir Humphreyisms.

Jim Hacker is a former press editor turned MP living in the Midlands, who is appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs in the new government.  He arrives to find that the position is somewhat of a political graveyard, with occupants barely getting chance to get their seat warm before leaving office.  His two principal allies/jousting partners, are his Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, a dyed-in-the-wool Oxford old boy who’s been in the Civil Service for decades, and the Minister’s Private Secretary, the tactful diplomatist, Bernard Woolley, who gets himself caught between the two.  Several years on, Hacker found himself, almost inadvertently, becoming Prime Minister, with Sir Humphrey as his cabinet secretary, still trying to stop him rocking the boat and stymieing his every radical reform move.  (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Steve Carlson made me do this.

Troma is a production company that has been made famous for his independent approach to filmmaking as well as always going for the most outrageous and controversial material out there, lead by Lloyd Kaufman you can always expect that a Troma product won’t leave you indiferent, it will shake something inside of you, if it’s for better or worse, well it depends on your taste on how many heads crushed by moving cars you want to see in your daily life. One of the branches of Troma is the one of Troma Video Production, where the company seeks out for independent movies that seem to have no chance of being released and it releases them on video, this is different to movies that were wither produced or directed by Lloy Kaufman (if his name it’s not in the credits, it’s not a true true Troma picture). This movie that we have here today is the perfect example of how a movie could’ve just gathered dust in someone’s closet forever if it wasn’t for the kind release of Troma Video Production. Now, would we all be happier if this movie was left alone to begin with? I don’t know, I just know that I watched it, I don’t regret it, but I’d never tell someone to watch it. So, what made me watch this particular piece of filmmaking in the first place? Well, you’d be surprised, but it was thanks to Twitter. (more…)

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© 2013 by James Clark

For a filmmaker whom virtually no one knows nowadays, nor cares to know, Robert Bresson elicits remarkable agitation in print. His elegant cinematography does, of course, gain the respect of those for whom such elegance matters; but that cannot account for the worshipful tributes sent his way. As with Heidegger, the welter of theological cues emanating from his work assures an ardent and erudite quorum sensing that work’s importance in general but slipping over the matter of the specifics of the accomplishment. Moreover, though Bresson produced very few films, those that did surface unfailingly brought into play protagonists fascinating (albeit sometimes creepily) in the dire straits to which they were exposed. With the exception of Balthazar and Mouchette (representing a period of reflection upon innocents in a world of vicious corruption), the figures to the fore exhibit self-imposed enslavement to, if not unviable, alarmingly unbalanced courses of action. Hosannas, therefore, directed toward the eponymous hero of A Man Escaped (1956)—accounting for a goodly percentage of the raptures brought forth to burnish an obscure career—have to be unplugged in any appreciation of that truly magnificent (but far from simplistic) film, very much, as it happens, in the vein of fathoming protagonistic imbalance. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1973 651m) DVD1/2

A mosaic of animal and angel

p  Dick Gilling, Adrian Malone  d  Mick Jackson, David John Kennard, Dick Gilling, Adrian Malone  w  Jacob Bronowski  ph  Nat Crosby, John Else, John McGlashan  ed  Paul Carter, Roy Fry, Jim Latham  m  Sheldon Hendler

presented by  Jacob Bronowski  (with Joss Ackland, Roy Dotrice)

Man is a singular creature.  He has a set of gifts that make him unique among the animals.  Unlike them, he is not a figure in the landscape, he is the shaper of the landscape.”  The opening words to Jacob Bronowski’s mammoth undertaking set in motion what has been long-regarded as the pinnacle of the BBC’s factual programming history.  Upon the release and critical acclaim given to Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, it was none other than David Attenborough who helped persuade Bronowski to finish the story.  For in truth, Clark told one half of the story in his series, concentrating on man’s advance in art, be it painting, architecture, music, literature, philosophy or sculpture; the aesthetic viewpoint.  Bronowski would take the opposite tack, that of man’s development through science and intellectual ideas, concentrating on the various special needs that drove man on in his ascent to a higher plain.  One might call it the head to Clark’s heart, one unable to exist without the other, and just occasionally, the passion of one meets the analysis of the former, like circles in a Venn Diagram, thus allowing us a depth of appreciation that is even now quite sublime. (more…)

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Screen cap from Bruno Dumont’s minimalist ‘Hors Satan’

by Sam Juliano

January 2013 has offered up some surprisingly mild weather to this point, though this revelation could well jinx the spirit of friendship now shared with Mother Nature. I speak of course of the northeast only, and know well the mid-west has received more than their share of the white stuff and chilling temperatures. Today is Martin Luther King Day, and some schools and banks are closed down stateside. There are tentative plans to move forward this coming week with the Oscar discussion video with Dennis at a local restaurant, with Jason Giampietro as always behind the camera.  The  gathering will be downloaded and then posted at the site something in the  very near future on a date to firmed up.

Joel Bocko’s fabulous new film short , Class of 2002, is complete and is presently posted at I Lost It at the Movies.  This often arresting photo memoir boasts some brilliant editing and an alluring narrative voice.  WitD wishes Joel great success with his new work, and encourages all site readers to access it on the very first link under the MMD proper. Joel states in his lead in:  “Class of 2002 is subtitled “a photo-memoir” because it takes the form of a documentary fusing snapshots, home movies, found footage and voiceover to recall the tragic lives of five young people the narrator knew in high school. This is, of course, a work of fiction and through its anecdotes, illustrations, and asides I hope to tell an overarching story. The narrator focuses on his five classmates, whom we discover through his descriptions and recollections, but eventually we learn more about his own life, and how it connects to the people and places we’ve encountered.”

A candle remains lit for Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, the new school in Monroe, and for the valiant principal Dawn Hochsprung, her courageous staff colleagues and the 20 angels who left us on that fateful Friday in mid-December.  Selfless first grade schoolteacher Victoria Leigh Soto has now had a new building named after her in her home town of Stamford.  A beautiful gesture by local officials, and an insurance policy on the continued memory of this great, beloved young woman.   (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1925 160m (orig.369m)) not on DVD

A great imagist with words

p  Louis Nalpas, Jean Sapene, Henri Fescourt  d  Henri Fescourt  w  Arthur Bernède, Henri Fescourt  novel  Victor Hugo  ph  Raoul Aubourdier, Léon Donnot, George Lafont, Karémine Mérobian  ed  Jean-Louis Bouquet  art  Mme Castiaux, Louis Nalpas  cos  Mme Castiaux

Gabriel Gabrio (Jean Valjean), Jean Toulout (Javért), Paul Jorge (Monsigneur Myriel), Sandra Milovanoff (Fantine/Cosette), Andrée Rolane (Cosette as a child), Georges Saillard (Thénardier), Charles Badiole (Gavroche), François Rozet (Marius), Suzanne Nivette (Éponine), Henri Maillard (Gillenormand), Clara Darcey-Roche (Mlle.Baptistine), Paul Guide (Enjolras), Renée Carl (Mme.Thénardier), Victor Dujeu (Fauchelevent), Jeanne Marie-Laurent (Mme.Magloire), Luc Dartagnan (Pontmercy), Émilien Richard (Barnatabois),

It wasn’t the earliest version of Victor Hugo’s tale.  There had been a 1912 version by Alberto Cappellani which, despite only being two hours long and little more than a series of tableaux, was feted in its time.  But it’s Fescourt’s version which was adopted as the benchmark by French film historians.  Georges Sadoul was one of many who compared it favourably with the Raymond Bernard masterpiece on the succeeding page.  There was just one problem; it has never been released for home viewing even in its native France, and the only version circulating on the internet, and thus the only one I have seen as I write in January 2013, is a 160m version prepared for American audiences.  Originally, it ran for over six hours and was in four parts.  One may be forgiven for thinking of it with the same sense of loss as one thinks of certain films by Von Stroheim and Welles, but Fescourt’s full film isn’t lost.  The Forum des Images in Paris has a copy, and for several years there have been rumours that Pathé (the original makers of the film) and Gaumont were teaming up to restore the film for DVD.  We’re still waiting, but even in this mutilated state, it’s still an hour longer than the best Hollywood version from 1935. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Best Picture The Godfather Part Two, US (13 votes)

Best Director Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part Two (10 votes)

Best Actor Gene Hackman, The Conversation (8 votes)

Best Actress Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence (10 votes)

Best Supp Actor Robert de Niro, The Godfather Part Two (9 votes)

Best Supp Actress Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles (8 votes)

Best Cinematography Gordon Willis, The Godfather Part Two (6 votes)

Best Score Jerry Goldsmith, Chinatown (7 votes)

Best Short Closed Mondays, US (2 votes)


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