Archive for March, 2013


by Allan Fish

Best Picture Amadeus: director’s cut, US (5 votes)

Best Director Milos Forman, Amadeus: director’s cut & Jim Jarmusch, Stranger Than Paradise (3 votes each, TIE!)

Best Actor F.Murray Abraham, Amadeus: director’s cut (6 votes)

Best Actress Mia Farrow, Broadway Danny Rose (7 votes)

Best Supp Actor Christopher Guest, This is Spinal Tap, Haing S.Ngor, The Killing Fields & M.Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple (3 votes apiece, TIE!)

Best Supp Actress Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India (6 votes)

Best Cinematography Chris Menges, The Killing Fields (4 votes)

Best Score Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in America (5 votes)

Best Short Frankenweenie, US, Tim Burton (4 votes) (more…)


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By Bob Clark

It’s almost peculiar to see just how much emotional investment there is paid to a franchise of cartoons, comics and now movies that have, for all intents and purposes, been based on a line of cheap action-figures from the 1980’s, but there you have it. To be sure there’s no shortage of big blockbusters for film and television that capitalize on the merchandizing potential of their stories and characters as a way of boosting sales– Star Wars, My Neighbor Totoro and Neon Genesis Evangelion might not’ve existed on public awareness if it weren’t for how “toyetic” they could become (the last one having heavily sexualized fetish-objects branded in its image that nearly wound up driving the series’ creator nuts). It’s not even terribly surprising nowadays to see the tail start wagging the dog and see the toys and merchandise be created before the multi-media franchising– in truth it’s something we’ve seen happen at least since the 80’s, with the Transformers line and other Japanese-imports. But there’s something even more bizarre with the myriad of creative turns that some franchises have taken over the decades,  primarily for how they sometimes exceed the boundaries of mere generational nostalgia. What stands out about GI Joe, for instance, is just how seriously it can be taken.


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by Allan Fish

the next in the series of small screen masterworks

(UK 1954 107m) not on DVD

Aka. Nineteen Eighty-Four

This has been a Ministry of Truth broadcast

p/d  Rudolph Cartier  w  Nigel Kneale  novel  George Orwell  m  John Hotchkis  art  Barry Learoyd

Peter Cushing (Winston Smith), André Morell (O’Brien), Yvonne Mitchell (Julia Dixon), Donald Pleasence (Syme), Arnold Diamond (Emmanuel Goldstein), Campbell Gray (Parsons), Hilda Fenemore (Mrs Parsons), Pamela Grant, Keith Davis, Wilfrid Brambell, Leonard Sachs, Nigel Kneale (voice from telescreen), Richard Williams (narrator),

Ask anyone who saw Michael Radford’s perfectly passable version of George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare whether it was the first version to be made, and a few dissenters might have recalled Michael Anderson’s inferior 1955 film version, but very few – and certainly next to none outside of the UK – would have remembered this 1954 telecast.  Yet it is one of the milestones of British television drama.  It was originally shown as one of the BBC Sunday Night Theatre dramas, but was so successful – it was said that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh most enjoyed it – they had to repeat it, but this meant actually doing a fresh live performance and it was in this guise it was repeated and was a massive success.  It was adapted by none other than Nigel Kneale, the man behind Quatermass, which was then still in its prime; the auspices, it has to be said were good.  There is therefore a truly bitter irony in the fact that the film went unseen for years due to the rights being bought out for the film of 1984 in the self same year.  It was as if, come the year 1984, even this piece of art would be obsolete.  Or, as Philip Purser observed, “in Orwellian speak, one of TV’s great landmarks now unexisted.” (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.


File #3 – Henrik Galeen

This Austrian-born and German-working filmmaker is one of the most important figures of the birth of what’s been wrongly called german expressionism, and while he did work in some actual expressionism features (like the first Golem film) his shadow casts longer in films that are more akin to what I was talking about last time: german romanticism, since he was also a screenwriter of the epitome of that style in the horror genre: ‘Nosferatu’ (1922), as well as working in the direction of other two horror films that are strongly tied to that style. Hence, he is one of the most important masters of horror even though he didn’t direct more than 3 films inside the genre (one of them lost except for a few fragments), he is a capital figure and has been named so by many sources and scholars, so I couldn’t just ignore him. In a sense we are skipping ahead in years a bit, just because I wanted to tackle this particular filmmaker first. Why? Because we named him in the last week’s installment of the series, on the great actor/director Paul Wegener, and since we were on some sort of ‘german expressionism or not’ conundrum, I guessed that it was better to get this over with, even though he practically doesn’t make the full criteria (at least 4 horror films directed, with at least 3 watchable in some form, and at least Galeen has that last one checked). But hey, let’s just count ‘Nosferatu’ (1922) and the rest of the Golem features (in which he worked as a screenwriter as well) and call it a day, shall we? He surely had a vision of what horror looked like and how it must feel to the audience, let’s give him the credit he deserves, let’s see some of his films! (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Unless we count some relinquished worldwide possessions, it would be difficult to find a proper British desert island for the hermetic movie fan to indulge in the most cherished of all moving pictures made within the shores of the “other Eden.”  Indeed the closest in temperament if not geographical kinship would be the British Crown Territory known as the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina, inhabited by a scant 3,100 or so kelpers, who recently voted overwhelmingly to maintain Queen Elizabeth as their monarch of choice.  The mountainous archipelago includes two larger islands, West Falkland and East Falkland, with the latter the home of the capital, Stanley.  British movie fans will be  boated in from Stanley to one of the smallest islands in the chain, Sea Lion Island, which measures 5 by 1.5 miles, and is presently home to only seven residents all year round.  The relatively harsh Winter runs from late April to early October, and it is during this time that sequestered British movie fans will be staying in separate screening rooms at the Sea Lion Lodge for an entire Winter, watching the same twenty-five films repeatedly, with sharing expressly forbidden.  Before flying in to Stanley from the USA, UK and a few other countries fans must submit their choices of the twenty-five films that they will be watching over and over during the time they will be spending at the lodge, exclusive of some outdoor breathers and the time needed for dining and rest.  Indeed, it will also be the responsibility of the traveler movie buff to bring DVD or blu-ray copies of the films he or she has chose.  Rules are simple enough: any film made in the U.K exclusively or in co-production is eligible to be chosen.  The question that needed to be correctly answered in settling on a choice is simple if it is a personal favorite  not necessarily a film that would be identified as what is generally regarded as great.  A good part of the time a favorite is also ‘great’ and vice-versa, but the final criteria to come to a fair compromise within own’s own tastes and perceptions is to ask oneself: is this the kind of film I can honestly watch repeatedly.  Usually the answer will come down to what dozen British films are that viewer’s personal favorites. (more…)

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15. Blackadder


by Allan Fish

Another effort to move Field Marshal Haig’s drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.

(UK 1983-1989 815m) DVD1/2

I have a cunning plan

p  John Lloyd  d  Martin Sharlow, Mandie Fletcher  w  Richard Curtis, Rowan Atkinson, Ben Elton  m  Howard Goodall

Rowan Atkinson (Generations of Edmund Blackadder), Tony Robinson (Generations of Baldrick), Tim McInnerny (Percy/Captain Darling), Stephen Fry (Lord Melchett/ General Melchett), Miranda Richardson (Elizabeth I), Brian Blessed (Richard IV), Elspet Gray, Patsy Byrne, Robert East, Frank Finlay, Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent,

For a series that began life on BBC2 to only lukewarm original praise, the change of co-writer to Ben Elton and move to BBC1 paid unprecedented dividends.  Even those who do not rate the efforts of Curtis and Elton elsewhere have to bite their tongue when ‘the Adder‘ is mentioned, because without them it wouldn’t have existed at all.  Here’s a comedy that lasted four series (and three varying specials) simply because on each occasion it literally reinvented itself by moving forward in time.  The first series, set during the Wars of the Roses, was undoubtedly the weakest, but had numerous cherishable moments.  Then its star took time off from writing duties, a new director was found, and Elton entered the fray.  The second series had been intended to run in autumn 1985, but was held back for release in the new year, and even now I have misty recollections of watching that first episode as a twelve year old schoolboy.  This truly is the all-time peak of British TV comedy in terms of writing and ensemble playing.  (more…)

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Screen cap from Australian charmer “The Sapphires” about Down Under soul-singing quartet

by Sam Juliano

March of last year boasted some lovely Spring weather, as 19 of the first 22 days of the month yielded to temperatures of 60 degrees and higher in the metropolitan area.  This year the number of days that have gone 60 degrees or higher is zero.  With snow, and numbers in the low 30’s we’ve seen a raw extension of the Winter season, and can only hope that April will finally reverse the dogged course.  A late weather report today is revealing that we will have several inches of snow today, starting in the morning.

The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival will be launching in Manhattan on Thursday April 18th, and will run until Sunday April 28th.  If everything goes as expected I will be attending quite a few films with Lucille during the ten day period on passes that are likely to be sent my way.  As was the case like last year, I will be exhaustively covering the festival at WitD.

The U.S. congress has once again showed it’s cowardice, bowing to the powerful NRA gun lobby by killing the assault weapon ban that has been so vigorously proposed after the Newtown tragedy back in December.  When anyone looks at the terrible events that defined that incomparable calamity, it’s clear that mental health issues are to be considered as strongly as the matter of gun control.  But regardless, weapons of war have no place on the streets, and congress have proven themselves unwitting enablers of future disasters. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Best Picture The King of Comedy, US (5 votes)

Best Director Robert Bresson, L’Argent  (5 votes)

Best Actor Robert Duvall, Tender Mercies (5 votes)

Best Actress Jane Alexander, Testament & Sandrine Bonnaire, A Nos Amours (4 votes each, TIE!)

Best Supp Actor  Jerry Lewis, The King of Comedy & Jack Nicholson, Terms of Endearment (7 votes each, TIE!)

Best Supp Actress Sandra Bernhard, The King of Comedy (5 votes)

Best Cinematography Gordon Willis, Zelig (8 votes)

Best Score Giorgio Moroder, Scarface (5 votes)

Best Short Thriller, US (5 votes) initially left off results, fixed as of 10/6


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By Bob Clark

This weekend marks the closing of this New York International Children’s Film Festival, which has been one of his highest profile years yet, with releases in multiple theaters throughout the city, from the IFC Center all the way to Lincoln Center. Over the past several years the festival has become one of the best, if not only places to check out recent releases of international animation in Manhattan on a regular basis, with new works from Europe sharing ample screentime with established anime voices like Mamoru Hosada, Makoto Shinkai and the storied house of Studio Ghibli. And though it can be more than a little disheartening to mull over the fact that even in the art-house circuit the only animated works that receive any real attention or release are bound to be ones targeting the youngest of viewers (it’s an uphill climb to even get a teen-oriented movie like Evangelion a stateside release), the contrast that can be seen here between the lush, mature work from around the glob and the crass, polished-plastic output of Pixar and the like in the United States couldn’t be clearer. Between this and the other myriad retrospectives and new releases gracing New York screens I was only able to check out three of the films, but they stand out as easy contenders for some of the best animation to reach our shores this year, though not without a few points to clarify.


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shooting 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 1999 182m) DVD1/2

The Gadarene Club

p  John Chapman  d/w  Stephen Poliakoff  ph  Bruno de Keyser, Ernie Vincze  ed  Paul Tothill  m  Adrian Johnston  art  John-Paul Kelly  cos  Susannah Buxton

Lindsay Duncan (Marilyn Truman), Timothy Spall (Oswald Bates), Liam Cunningham (Christopher Anderson), Emilia Fox (Spig), Billie Whitelaw (Veronica), Arj Barker (Garnett), Blake Ritson (Nick), Andy Serkis (Styeman), Sheila Dunn, Jean Channon,

It’s time for a personal favourite here, one of the great achievements of either screen in the last decade, but also typical of the way television is overlooked for its bigger brother.  And yet look at films such as Dekalog, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Heimat, Das Boot and Fanny and Alexander.  All are works that are listed in film guides and yet were originally made for the small screen.  Of writers at their peak around the time of the millennium, surely the best would have to be Stephen Poliakoff, whose delights have ranged from the enigmatic Friends and Crododiles to the affecting Gideon’s Daughter, from the intricate Perfect Strangers and the less successful but still memorable The Lost Prince.  All of which leads one to beg the question, why go for this? (more…)

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