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.
Local and out-of-area residents attending the ‘Cash Mob’ were asked to spend at least $20.00 in one or more of the establishments, which included The Toy Tree, Wishing Well, Kids Fun Cuts, Sandy Hook Diner, Figs, and Church Hill Restaurant. At The Toy Tree, green and white bracelets and “We are Sandy Hook” tea-shirts were sold to generate donations for the “We Are Newtown” Scholarship. The brisk business at that store made it nearly impossible to move around once you were inside. My own kids left with quite a few items, some hard to find anywhere. The lunch crowd at The Sandy Hook Diner kept the establishment filled to every last seat, and necessitated a short trip up to the road to the landmark “destination” Blue Colony Diner at the juncture where Church Hill Road meets Route 84. The food was fine enough (I see on-line reviews seem to be split) the service was very good, and the vestibule featured a moving window tribute to the tragedy with letters and e mail copies from people who have long patronized the eatery during their trips going through the area. After lunch we traveled further north on the road for a stop at a premier comic store named ‘Cave Comics’ which is located in a nifty old train depot shack. Needless to say the kids left there with more goodies and a firm request that we plan a return visit at some point. We then drove back into Sandy Hook, making a right after the stores and traveled about seven miles up a beautiful wooded road that led us to the ‘new’ Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Monroe, which was previously known as the Chalk Hill Middle School. A reminder of the terrible events of last month at the original school, was the presence of a Monroe police cruiser at a gate in front of the attractive set back building. Greeting the morning busses from Newtown is a friendly green banner on a building across the road that reads ‘Welcome Sandy Hook Elementary.’
While the ‘Cash Mob’ project’s intentions were spurred on by positive energy and practical concerns there were some inevitable comments posed at the Monroe and Newtown Patch, that asserted that the town merchants were looking to exploit the tragedy for monetary gain and publicity, and that a number Sandy Hook residents were poised to boycott. Several readers persuasively countered with the fact that it was the community and not the proprietors who came up with the idea to stage the event, and that virtually all the businesses were making sizable contributions to the tragedy. Seems like some people will complain about just about everything, much like the relentless conspiracy theorists who polluted the waters with some outrageous allegations. There was a spirit and a resilience in the air at Newtown on Saturday. The lovely New England town is on the rebound. They are hurting deeply, but are hardly down for the count.
The horrifying night club fire in southern Brazil has reportedly claimed the lives of 230 people. We at WitD express our deepest sympathies for yet another catastrophic event that has the world crying, and leaves us all speechless.
Saturday night’s PGA (Producers’ Guild) award was announced for ARGO, and many are now figuring Ben Affleck’s film may well be the film to beat for the Best Picture Oscar despite LINCOLN holding that belief over the past months. Sunday night’s unexpected SAG award for ARGO has now made Ben Affleck’s film the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
Lucille and I and the kids for some and Broadway Bob for the documentary watched the following films in theaters over the past week:
5 Broken Cameras *** 1/2 (Saturday night) Quad Cinemas
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie **** 1/2 (Thursday night) Chelsea Cinemas
The Woman in Green *** 1/2 (Friday Night) Jersey City Loews
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon *** (Friday Night) Jersey City Loews
5 BROKEN CAMERAS is ragged and uneven, yet it exerts enormous power and is universal in it’s message. Nominated for Best Documentary Feature, it chronicles the non-violent resistance of Palistinians on the West Bank over a period of time, with the unifying device of a several camera that are replaced by another after one is destroyed. THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE won Maggie Smith a well-deserved 1969 Oscar for Best Actress as a corrupting school teacher at an all-Girls school in Edinburgh, Scotland between the two world wars. While Smith is electrifying (particularly in the confrontations with the stoical headmaster, played superbly by Celia Johnson) the on-location scenery, supporting cast and enveloping adaptation from the works of Muriel Sparks, all collaborate in a first-rate entry in the schoolteacher genre. The film was hosted by the drag queen ‘Hedda Lettuce’ who largely had the audience in stitches for a half-hour before the film commenced. “lettuce’ appears every Thursday night in a series that will continue in the upcoming weeks with screenings of The Prince and the Showgirl and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Two entries in the classic 1940’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series, THE WOMAN IN GREEN and SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON was seen in incomparable splendor on the 70 foot screen of the Jersey City Landmark Loews on Friday night. Not among the best installments in the series, but still a lot of fun. A rare interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was offered up before the films were shown.
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.
I have copied last week’s links:
Our very good friend and ever-enthusiastic friend and colleague Joel Bocko (Movie Man) again shows his talent and versatility with superlative new short film Class of 2002, posting at his blogsite: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2013/01/i-made-movie.html
Samuel Wilson has penned a brilliant essay on Zero Dark Thirty at Mondo 70: http://mondo70.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-big-screen-zero-dark-thirty-2012.html
Judy Geater has crafted a terrific essay on Clarence Brown’s little-seen 1933 “Night Flight” with John and Lionel Barrymore at Movie Classics: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/night-flight-clarence-brown-1933/
Tony d’Ambra has posted a terrific new feature at FilmsNoir.net on the 1934 Raymond Bernard version of “Les Miserables”: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/jean-valjean-in-the-shadows.html
Jon Warner has penned an excellent piece on Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in New York” at Films Worth Watching”: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/01/2-days-in-new-york-2012-directed-by.html
Laurie Buchanan talks about a very special trip she took with Rod Stewart at Speaking From The Heart: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/rod-stewart-and-deja-vu/
John Greco has penned a fabulous essay on “Sorry Wrong Number” at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/sorry-wrong-number-1948-anatole-litvak/
Richard R.D. Finch astutely examines the 1966 Oscar picks at The Movie Projector as we move throught the height of this year’s awards’ season: http://themovieprojector.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-oscar-picks-1966.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
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
“Evening and the Arbutus Tree” is a magnificent new painting by Terrill Welch, and it’s incorporated in a fabulous new post at the Creativepotager’s blog: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/unraveling-the-artistic-influences-and-intentions-behind-the-painting-evening-and-the-arbutus-tree/
Marilyn Ferdinand looks at Lisa Cholodenko’s smashing feature debut “High Art” at Ferdy on Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2013/high-art-1998/17435/
Sachin Gandhi presents the Ten Best Canadian Films of 2012 in a terrific post at Scribbles and Ramblings: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2013/01/top-10-canadian-films-of-2012.html
Pat Perry is leading up with her “Final word on the best and worst of 2012” at Doodad Kind of Town: http://doodadkindoftown.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-last-word-on-2012-years-best-and.html
Capsule King Shubhajit Lahiri leads up with a superb piece on Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan” at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/01/kwaidan-kaidan-1964.html
Ed Howard has penned a magnificent essay on “The Salvation Hunters” at Living in Cinema: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-salvation-hunters.html
Dee Dee offers up a terrific Andrew Katsis essay on “It’s A Wonderful Life” connection the film with ‘noir’ at Darkness into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2012/12/my-writer-andrew-katsistakes-look-at.html
David Schleicher offers up a superlative essay on the new horror film “Mama” with Jessica Chastain at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/01/19/mama-say-mama-dont/
At Living in Cinema Craig Kennedy is leading up with a dialogue quick post on Robert Altman’s little-seen first film “The Delinquents”: http://livingincinema.com/2013/01/20/the-delinquents-1957/
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/
Weeping Sam’s latest post at The Listening Ear is a terrific combined piece comparing similar aspects in “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained”: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/01/lincoln-django-unchained.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/
At Radiator Heaven J.D. La France offers up a fantastic essay on “On the Road”: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-road.html
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