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Archive for February, 2013

by Allan Fish

(UK 1960 150m) DVD2

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p/d  Alan Tarrant  w  Sid Green, Dick Hills  m  Max Harris

Anthony Newley (Gurney Slade), Una Stubbs, Bernie Winters, Douglas Wilmer, Charles Lloyd Pack, Moyra Fraser, Dilys Laye, Anneke Wills, James Villiers, Geoffrey Palmer,

Was there ever a TV series more completely out of its time and place?  If the Timelord from Gallifrey had landed his Tardis in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park – imagine Tom Baker’s scarf as he legs it from a T-Rex – he would have been more in his comfort zone.  For fifty years it was whispered of as something of myth, a cult before the term was even invented.  Did it really happen?  Was there really such a show?  One would have been forgiven for thinking it a dream.

It all came about at old ATV in the glory days of ITV when they actually had ambition to make decent programmes.  The BBC had Hancock and dominated the world of TV sitcoms, while American imports from Bilko to Lucy were still going strong on re-runs.  Gurney Slade was never meant to be a long runner, however.  It was like a comet flashing past TV screens only to disappear as quickly as it came. (more…)

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Master class rock documentary “Sound City”

by Sam Juliano

Having reached the mid-way point of February 2013, those of us in the northern hemisphere ‘snow zone’ have our fingers crossed that the white stuff has run it’s course until next year, but our experiences tell us now to hold our breath.  In any case the NYC area did enjoy two days of mild temperatures this past week,  and one can at least hope that March comes in like a lamb rather than the other way around.  One can never feel as if they are safe from Mother Nature’s prospective wrath until April is upon us, and even then a few are still unconvinced.  (Note: Again I spoke too soon.  Bone-chilling temperatures here in the NYC area on Sunday night are keeping people inside.)

Devout or passive Catholics (I fall into the latter category) might be most interested in the coming papal conclave that is set to convene at the Vatican in early March after the unexpected resignation of His Holiness, Benedict XVI, also known as former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a Bavarian who cited advancing age and dissipating energy after eight years as Pope.  On future MMD’s we’ll take a look at the candidates who appear to be most likely to ascend to the throne of St. Peter.  While the Italian voting bloc is the biggest in the 117 strong contingent who will elect the next pope (one-quarter in fact) indications are that the cardinals may again be looking outside of Italy, as they did with the previous Polish and German choices.  The general perception is that the church’s future is tied to the strength of the religion in South America and Africa, with even a serious look at North America.  Still, some Italians reportedly want one of their own to re-take the papacy, and there are several Italian cardinals who are considered among the favorites.  Three candidates are being touted now as the absolute leaders: Peter Turkson of Ghana, Marc Ouelet of Canada and Francis Arinze of Nigeria.  Arinze, however, is 80, and is probably passed the point of feasibility.  He was leaked to have finished a distant second to Ratzinger in the 2005 voting.  Even lapsed and non-Catholics ate usually interested in the historic and dramatic aspects of the papal voting.  Both Nino Moretti’s Habemus Papam and Michael Anderson’s The Shoes of the Fisherman play well to the recent matters at hand.  Moretti’s film concerns a final refusal of the chosen candidate, while Anderson’s movie based on Morris West’s acclaimed best-selling novel looks at an unexpected radical choice that defied tradition. (more…)

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1978

by Allan Fish

Best Picture The Deer Hunter, US (5 votes)

Best Director Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven (8 votes)

Best Actor Robert de Niro, The Deer Hunter (5 votes)

Best Actress Ingrid Bergman, Autumn Sonata (8 votes)

Best Supp Actor Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter (9 votes)

Best Supp Actress Linda Manz Days of Heaven, Maureen Stapleton, Interiors & Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter (3 votes each, TIE)

Best Cinematography Nestor Almendros & Haskell Wexler, Days of Heaven (12 votes)

Best Score John Carpenter, Halloween (5 votes)

Best Short The Metamorphosis of Dr Samsa, Caroline Leaf (5 votes) (more…)

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By Bob Clark

At the request of regular contributor Jaime Grijalba-Gomez, I’ve taken this week to expand upon my thoughts on last year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild and drum up a full piece for his Oscar series over at Overlook’s Corridor, where it’ll be going up Saturday night. Since I’ve been spending my time here recently writing my thoughts on what it means to see movies in theatrical venues, here’s an excerpt from the review that deals explicitly with my experience with the film on the big-screen.

When I went to see the film during its initial release in the middle of last year, I was first struck by the immense amount of attention it was receiving from older audiences. There were one or two pairs of parents standing on line who had kids in tow, a not together unusual sight for art-house theaters, but for the most part the crowd the movie had assembled was one of adults, and not just the usual mass of twenty/thirty-somethings that habitually seek out art-films either. Many of the attending filmgoers I found myself surrounded with were well past retirement age, and as such well past the ages that receive most of the attention in the film’s running time. And furthermore there was such a crowd, the likes of which I haven’t encountered before in years of seeing movies at small suburban art-houses like this, that it was only by the skin of my teeth that I was able to purchase a ticket and cram myself into the theater, right up by the front of the screen, the lines and seats so teeming with patrons that you’d think the screen would be filled to fire-department regulation capacity.
 

What was it about this film that by its very reputation it was able to draw crowds large enough to sell-out at a theater which would ordinarily be lucky to fill half its seats at a time? Is it the simple power of the innocent characters up against reality’s intimidations as seen through the palpable veneer of the American dream? Is it the dense, immediate imagery of the piece, the kind that encourages you to get up as close to the screen as you can and reach out to feel it with your bare hands? Perhaps it’s that mesh of the real and the unreal, and furthermore the crossed barriers and comfort zones when dealing with dreams so intimately based upon reality, that kindles this kind of curiosity and stokes the fire of imagination.

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hancock 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 1956-1961 1,650m & 150m) DVD2

A man of his cal-eye-ber

p/d  Duncan Wood  w  Ray Galton, Alan Simpson  m  Wally Stott, Bob Sharples

Tony Hancock (Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock), Sid James (Sidney Balmoral James), Hugh Lloyd, Patrick Cargill, June Whitfield, Dick Emery, John le Mesurier, Richard Wattis, Kenneth Williams, Liz Fraser, George Coulouris, Clive Owen, Patricia Hayes, Hugh Lloyd, Hattie Jacques, Bill Fraser, Raymond Huntley, Pat Coombs, Frank Thornton,

Philip Purser once said of Tony Hancock that his appearance was “of a frog nearly, but not quite, transformed into a handsome prince by the kiss of a sub-standard princess.”  Of the hundreds of pages devoted to the life, work and persona of Britain’s most beloved radio and TV comedian of the postwar decades, I can think of no more succinct and accurate description than that.  Hancock was a genius, a comedy giant whose finest hours were probably on the radio, but who managed, in six glorious years, to give us at least a dozen of the finest half hour comedy episodes caught on camera on either side of the pond.  Like his American contemporaries, Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason, he was an egotist, and his ego would be his downfall.  In 1960 he removed his co-star Sid James, as Will Hay had once done Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt, and got one more classic series, Hancock, before finally he succumbed.  He could no longer remember the lines now, was reduced to reading from cue cards, drank heavily and his personal insecurities took him over.  Seven years after the final Hancock went out, he was found dead in an Australian hotel.  The eternal comic who made his own countrymen laugh but couldn’t do the same for himself.  (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

This is a reprint of a review done at my blog Overlook’s Corridor back in December 2012, since this movie was still playing at that time in cinemas in Chile. Right now is having a revival at chilean theaters, and it’s also getting released in select screens in the US, as well as the UK, and it’s nominated for best foreign film at the Oscars. So, I couldn’t have a better timing. The review is revised and expanded for this ocassion. Anyway, no matter what I say here, I recommend it fully to anyone who has it available this week or in the coming weeks.

(Chile, USA, Mexico 2012 115m)

p Pablo Cruz, Daniel Marc Dreifuss, Gael García Bernal, Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Diego Luna d Pablo Larraín w Pedro Peirano, Antonio Skarmeta c Sergio Armstrong ed Andrea Chignoli, Catalina Marín Duarte

a Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Alejandro Goic, Diego Muñoz, Luis Gnecco, Jaime Vadell, Néstor Cantillana, Manuela Oyarzún, Sergio Hernández, Claudia Cabezas, Pascal Montero

It’s one of the most praised films of last year made in Chile, participating in many film festivals from around the world and gaining critical acclaim from most critics and viewers from accross the board. Ever since the film premiered it has been received with certain reactions, because it’s so connected to the recent history of Chile and specially the consequences of the act portrayed are more than ever present and discussed by politicians and analysts in general. And so, quivering with fear, I approached the movie theatre accompanied by both of my parents that lived the process of the election where they chose if they wanted the murderer and dictator Augusto Pinochet to stay in power for another 8 years (could you imagine? 25 possible years with that guy at the head of the nation? what kind of country would that be?) in a simple choice between “Yes” and “No”. A few years back, there was another election regarding the state of Pinochet’s government, but that election has been put to shame by history since it was so obviously rigged and no propaganda for the “No” decision was allowed, since it was considered a choice that only communists and terrorists that didn’t want to see Chile grow would choose, so even the people who were in charge of the election comitee and the booths voiced out that you had to vote “Yes” (this was a story from my mom, her first voting chance, when she was over 20 years old, was in that plebiscite, and she was coarced to vote “Yes”, she did, but because she was a bit stupid back then, she also recons that). (more…)

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bh 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 2005 482m) DVD1/2

Shake me up!!!

p  Nigel Stafford-Clark  d  Justin Chadwick, Susanna White  w  Andrew Davies  novel  Charles Dickens  ph  Kieran McGuigan  ed  Paul Knight, Jason Krasucki  m  John Lunn  art  Simon Elliott  cos  Andrea Galer

Gillian Anderson (Lady Dedlock), Charles Dance (Tulkinghorn), Denis Lawson (John Jarndyce), Anna Maxwell Martin (Esther Summerson), Carey Mulligan (Ada Clare), Patrick Kennedy (Richard Carstone), Richard Harrington (Allan Woodcourt), Timothy West (Sir Leicester Dedlock), Phil Davis (Smallweed), Tom Georgeson (Clamb), Ian Richardson (Chancellor), Pauline Collins (Miss Flite), Sean McGinley (Snagsby), Hugo Speer (Sgt George), Johnny Vegas (Krook), Alun Armstrong (Inspector Bucket), Matthew Kelly (Mr Turveydrop), Burn Gorman (Guppy), Nathaniel Parker (Harold Skimpole), Nathalie Press (Candy Jellyby), Anne Reid (Mrs Rouncewell), Liza Tarbuck (Mrs Jellyby), Tony Haygarth (Gridley), Lilo Baur (Hortense), Warren Clarke (Boythorn), Charlie Brooks (Jenny), Richard Griffiths (Bayham Badger), Joanna David (Mrs Badger), Harry Eden (Jo), Alastair McGowan (Mr Kenge), Michael Smiley (Phil Squod), Katie Angelou (Charley Neckett), Catherine Tate (Mrs Chadband), Robert Pugh (Mr Chadband), Bryan Dick (Prince Turveydrop), Alastair Galbraith (Brownlow), Dermot Crowley (Mr Vholes), Sheila Hancock (Mrs Guppy), Kelly Hunter (Miss Barbary), John Lynch (Nemo), Emma Williams (Rosa),

Upon the release of this splendorous production at the back end of 2005, critics old enough to remember an earlier classic adaptation of the same work twenty years earlier were divided as to which was the better.  Both take very different paths; the earlier version was always interested in the big picture, so that the story flowed like it would if reading the novel.  One might call it the purist’s version.  This update was a far more radical piece, in that it took its inspiration back still further, not to the novel, but back to the serialisation of the work in the Victorian press over eighteen months from 1852-53.  Then, by their very nature, Dickens fashioned their structure so that each instalment would end on a cliffhanger or potential climax, thus making readers all the more desperate to purchase the next instalment.  The nearest one can do to this for TV is to concentrate the narrative so that, while keeping an eye on the bigger picture with its dozens of intricate plots and characters, you rather tailor it like a literary soap opera, so that mini-stories come to a close within each episode – perfectly exemplified in the sequence where Inspector Bucket solves the murder of Tulkinghorn.  It pays wonderful dividends, as the emotional wallop that the final episode packs is quite a powerful one. (more…)

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Oscar-nominated animated short “The Paperman” is a real gem.

by Sam Juliano

A powerful blizzard pelted the northeast from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning, dropping about a foot of snow on the New York City metropolitan area, and the suburbs, including Fairview, New Jersey.  Yet, you’d never think the high winds and brutal cold that had descended on the area just hours before could possibly yield to such a bright and intense sun that showed itself all day Saturday and helped to downsize all the local snow piles.  Such is usually the case with the February white stuff, whose slushy texture is only useful for the young ones focused on heaving snowballs and building snowmen.  In any case, as this was really the only serious snowstorm this winter and the first bad weather event since Hurricane Sandy, I don’t think we can complain.  Heck, our very good friends Laurie Buchanan, Jon Warner, Pat Perry, Marilyn Ferdinand, Mark Smith and perhaps even Jim Clark have suffered through one of the worst mid-west winters in a while, and have scantly even complained about it.  We did at least dodge the bullet by keeping our power the entire way through, and got to “enjoy” a half-day off from school on Friday.  Lucille, Sammy and I hit the local multiplex right after dismissal to squeeze in a showing of the new Soderbergh film just before the theater closed down as the storm began.

I met up with filmmaker and friend Jason Giampietro on Thursday night at the local Boulevard Diner on Kennedy Blvd. in North Bergen, New Jersey to engage in our annual Oscar predictions interview.  Most of the talk was a thorough discussion of the major categories and our own sizing up of the various voter swings that in recent weeks seem to have firmed up a final verdict.  For the first time, 15 year-old Sammy -who has now seen 7 of the 9 Best Picture nominees- and a lot of other films over the course of the year- was an active participant in the discussion.  The interview will be posted at the site on one of the upcoming days still to be determined. (more…)

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1977

by Allan Fish

Best Picture Annie Hall, US (7 votes)

Best Director Woody Allen, Annie Hall (6 votes)

Best Actor John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever (4 votes)

Best Actress Diane Keaton, Annie Hall (9 votes)

Best Supp Actor Peter Firth, Equus (7 votes)

Best Supp Actress Vanessa Redgrave, Julia (13 votes)

Best Cinematography Luciano Tovoli Suspiria (6 votes)

Best Score John Williams, Star Wars (10 votes)

Best Short Powers of Ten, US. Charles Eames, Ray Eames (4 votes)

on to 1978, an even more mediocre year… (more…)

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