by Sam Juliano
A Wonders in the Dark salute to all the fathers out there who were treated to dinners by family members and all of whom were on the receiving end of the traditional “Happy Father’s Day” greeting. Weather in the northeast was exceptional after a what must have been the longest sustained period of rain showers in a very long time. Many thanks once again to our dear friend Dee Dee for adorning the sidebar with the holiday banner.
This past Saturday marked the first installment of what is planned to be a long running series on television anthology episodes from some of the best series of their kind ever aired. The western polling continues, with about six more weeks left for voters to cast ballots. This far, eight have been submitted.
Lucille and I attended three films at the Ozu Festival, including a Father’s Day doubleheader of films I have seen many times over the years. We also took in two new releases, one of which I am tempted to sue the filmmakers for stealing two hours of my life. Ha!
Berberian Sound Studio ** (Saturday night) IFC Film Center
This is the End 0 stars (Friday afternoon) Edgewater multiplex
Walk Cheerfully *** 1/2 (Wednesday) Film Forum
There Was A Father ***** (Sunday) Film Forum
Record of a Tenement Gentleman **** 1/2 (Sunday) Film Forum
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO has received solid reviews and the seal of approval from some at WitD, so I will make my dissenting opinion very brief. And I am humble enough to say that the problem may be me and not the film. First off, I am a long-time giallo and Dario Argento fan, and Mario Bava is one of my all-time favorite directors, so I went into this film with much optimism. The director, Peter Strickland eschews drama for sensory overload and stylistics that accentuates sound design, but for me it’s redundant. Still I have not seen all the films that are part of this homage, so perhaps my opinion is compromised. Admittedly there are a few sequences that capture the mood and atmosphere of the film’s Italian subjects.
THIS IS THE END is a perfect war cry for those who walk out disillusioned with one of silliest and forgettable films I’ve seen in years. Yet, as sophomoric and lame as the film is, it’s clear enough that in ways it’s a self-parody. But how many times can one laugh at the same raunchy joke, if indeed that same joke ever spurred on belly laughs in the first place. Some teenagers in the audiences were overcome with hysteria, but I had to ask myself why I would ever enter a theater to watch a film that starred James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Sera, Emma Watson, Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd. The joke’s on me, though two of my kids asked to see it after we realized we couldn’t make “Man of Steel.” This comic sub-genre has really wore out it’s welcome though I was never on board from the start.
I managed three films in the Ozu Festival, including a Father’s Day double feature, one of which (THERE WAS A FATHER) is one of the master director’s irrefutable masterpieces. It’s a tour de force that slowly builds to a shattering denouement, and the lead performance by Ozu’s favorite male actor, Chishu Ryu is one of the screen’s most unforgettable. The endearing and melancholic RECORD OF A TENEMENT GENTLEMAN, a masterful work in it’s own right -it features a young boy and his temporary guardian, a cynical old widow who eventually is won over and whose life is changed by the unexpected experience -was in mood and emotional undercurrent a perfect match for THERE WAS A FATHER. (Lucille, Sammy and I saw the film in the early afternoon with lifelong friend Tony Lucibello and then joined him, his wife and the other members of his family -including his 83 year-old father- who drove over to meet us at the Peking Duck House for a very fine holiday dinner in Chinatown. I have never eaten duck in my life and am frankly repulsed by the idea. I had some excellent hot and sour soup, pan fried noodles and chicken with broccoli, which Lucille had the soup and a pork and vegetable dish; Sammy had breaded flounder).
The engaging silent WALK CHEERFULLY was enhanced by Steve Sterner’s live piano score on Wednesday. Although I have seen all of these films (FATHER about a dozen times and RECORD maybe half that) it’s impossible not to spend time at an Ozu Festival, wherever or whenever it is shown. I have been attending in moderation because I have seen nearly every film in the festival multiple times and because I only two years ago attended another Ozu Festival at the IFC in force, but this coming week with be well-attended in good measure because of some of the titles, and because my friend wants to see several.
Some Links have been updated:
Tony d’Ambra has penned one of his great pieces on 1952’s The Thief at FilmsNoirnet: http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-thief-1952-silence-is-golden.html
Jon Warner has written a superlative piece on the British IRA classic Odd Man Out at Films Worth Watching: http://filmsworthwatching.blogspot.com/2013/06/odd-man-out-1947-directed-by-carol-reed.html
Joel Bocko offers up a link to his already-published, sensational essay on Lawrence of Arabia (which may be his favorite film of all-time) at The Dancing Image: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2009/08/lawrence-of-arabia.html
John Greco has posted a superlative essay on Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments at Twenty Four Frames: http://twentyfourframes.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/everlasting-moments-2008-jan-troell/
Shubhajit Lahiri has posted a superlative review of John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon at Cinemascope: http://cliched-monologues.blogspot.com/2013/06/she-wore-yellow-ribbon-1949.html
Marilyn Ferdinand has penned an extraordinary and important essay on the rare sound print of the British 1929 High Treason at Ferdy-on-Films: http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/2013/high-treason-1929/18717/
Weeping Sam offers up his Top Ten favorite Beatles songs at The Listening Ear in an irresistible post by the rock specialist: http://listeningear.blogspot.com/2013/06/beatles-top-ten.html
Dee Dee’s ‘Ning’ is currently featuring a lead post on the 1947 noir classic “Nightmare Alley”: http://filmnoire.ning.com/video/nightmare-alley-1947-parte-1
Laurie Buchanan leads up with a most engaging post with a hook for a response titled “Six Word Stories: at Speaking From The Heart: http://tuesdayswithlaurie.com/2013/06/11/six-word-stories/
Murderous Ink at Vermillion and One Nights leads up with a fabulous new post on “Conversion to Talkies: Japanese Studios”: http://vermillionandonenights.blogspot.com/2013/06/conversion-to-talkies-japanese-studios.html
Judy Geater leads up at Movie Classics with a terrific review of Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night”: http://movieclassics.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/it-happened-one-night-1934/
At “Scribbles and Ramblings” Sachin Gandhi has issued some spectacular praise for “Neighboring Sounds”: http://likhna.blogspot.com/2013/06/neighbouring-sounds.html
Jaimie Grijalba has written an excellent essay on the 2012 Chilean film “Carne de Perro” at Overlook’s Corridor: http://overlookhotelfilm.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/chilean-cinema-2013-14-carne-de-perro-2012/
Craig Kennedy has posted a terrific (and favorable) review of Berberian Sound Studio at Living in Cinema: http://livingincinema.com/2013/06/14/berberian-sound-studio-2013/
At the ever-ravishing Creativepotager’s blog Terrill Welch treats her readers to more ravishments in the name of roses: http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/sunday-roses-in-june-at-la-casa-de-inspiracion/
Jeffrey Goodman celebrates the Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light” is a terrific musical post at The Last Lullaby: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2013/06/remain-in-light-talking-heads-1980.html
David Schleicher has penned an excellent essay on the new Superman movie at The Schleicher Spin: http://theschleicherspin.com/2013/06/15/tea-party-wish-fulfillment-messianic-fetishism-and-the-american-way-in-man-of-steel/
The best in Indian film, politics and culture is on display at Kaleem Hasan’s incomparable Satyamshot: http://satyamshot.wordpress.com/
Patricia Hamilton’s latest post at Patricia’s Wisdom is a fabulous review of the novel “The Lemon Tree”: http://patriciaswisdom.com/2013/06/the-lemon-tree-an-arab-a-jew-and-the-heart-of-the-middle-east-sandy-tolan/
Drew McIntosh presents a fascinating point of contact between two films at The Blue Vial: http://thebluevial.blogspot.com/2013/06/points-of-contact-61313_13.html
Felix Gonzalez Jr. has written a terrific capsule assessment of the underrated “Return to Oz” at Film Fantomes: http://filmfantomes.wordpress.com/
Dean Treadway has a fantastic display of 70 double-feature movie posters up at Filmicability: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-love-double-feature-movie-posters.html
Michael Harford’s latest post at the revived Coffee Messiah blogsite is another poetic collaboration with Paul Hawkins: http://coffeemessiah.blogspot.com/2013/06/week-6-38.html
J.D. LaFrance at Radiator Heaven has penned a typically great and comprehensive review on Josh Wheadon’s “Serenity” at Radiator Heaven: http://rheaven.blogspot.com/2013/06/serenity.html
The exceptional writer Andrew Katsis has a terrific essay on “Casablanca””’ up at Dee Dee’s place Darkness Into Light: http://noirishcity.blogspot.com/2013/04/heres-looking-at-you-kidas-my-writer.html
One of the best writers out there, the incomparable Ed Howard is still working at an impressive pace at Only The Cinema, with his latest post on the silent classic “Golem”: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-golem-1920.html
Jason Bellamy tackles Malick’s To the Wonder in typically spectacular form at The Cooler: http://coolercinema.blogspot.com/2013/04/penrose-stairs-to-wonder.html
Paddy Mullholland has penned a largely favorable, well-written capsule on “Man of Steel” at Screen on Screen: http://screenonscreen.blogspot.com/2013/06/review-man-of-steel.html