Archive for January 13th, 2014

The Ten Best Films of 2012

by Sam Juliano

Including the Tribeca Film Festival, where Lucille and I watched 38 films in 10 days, and several revival venues at the Film Forum and elsewhere, we watched just under 300 films in theaters for 2013.  This represented a modest increase over the previous year, though there was a comparable decrease in the number of operas, plays and musical events that were negotiated in 2012.  Still we were sufficiently busy on all fronts, and experienced the most extensive year of travel in our lives.  How good a year in film was 2013?  All things considered, I’d say it was definitely above average and pretty much on par with the previous year.  If I had to impart some specific observations, I’d conclude that 2013 was weaker than most years in the overall quality and incidence of foreign-language cinema.  Moreover, multiplex fare was especially trite, and there was a marked dearth of memorable animated features.  On the other hand the Tribeca Film Festival was the strongest on record, with more features than ever before getting theatrical release just weeks or months later.  My rules for inclusion are consistent with the manner I have presented year-end lists dating back for decades: if the film opened theatrically on USA screens during the year in consideration it is eligible.  I have added to this qualification pool the Tribeca Film festival in its entirety, especially since most of the best films shown there have been gaining US release just a short time afterward.  The only film on either of my two lists (the main and honorable mention) to make it without an official opening is the Tribeca documentary Kiss the Water.  This exceptional work ran four times during the festival and the publicity for the film includes a most flattering quote from yours truly and WitD:


In keeping with long held tradition my ten-best list includes a tenth-place two-way tie.  Hence there are eleven films for the ten spots.  Methinks that’s a modest alteration, especially when one considers the difficulty in finalizing a short list from such a plethora of choices.  While in the past my honorable mention list has more than tripled the total in my “Top Ten” this year I have limited it to twenty-six (26) choices, which basically are the films that challenged for the premium list.  Sure I had generally positive feelings for other films like Renoir, Saving Mr. Banks, Frozen, Dallas Buyers Club among others but I felt they fell behind the titles that were invariably more memorable for me during this calender year.  I have dispensed with the inclusions of best performances, directors and the various crafts, as I felt such discussions would be more appropriate for the usual Oscar report (s) of later this month.  I never had any use for “worst of” lists as I found them snooty in spirit and counter-productive, but have included what I see as a much more polite of expressing disparity: “A Dozen Films Others Like But I Never Did.” (more…)

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George Washington Bridge: Scene of the crime

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Artist, photographer and musician Ninetta Nappi jams at Hoboken cafe with partner Barry at Friday night art exhibition

by Sam Juliano

Yes, the Fort Lee, New Jersey making the headlines this past week is the same Fort Lee, New Jersey located about seven or eight minutes by car from my Fairview home.  And the George Washington Bridge at the center of a political intimidation controversy engineered by the Republican governor’s office is the same George Washington Bridge that I have crossed thousands of times in my life, most recently during repeated trips to NYC movie theaters, and to book stores, shows and opera houses.  And the Governor we are speaking of is the Honorable Chris Christie, the same elected official whose war against teacher’s unions cost us slashed pensions, increased health care payments and “raises” that in effect that kept salaries the same for three years now.   We lament the breech of public trust his administration has committed on unsuspecting motorists in my neighboring town.   As far as Governor Christie is concerned, let’s try and spare the WitD readers of political discussions right now.

Lucille and I took two of of the boys to an exquisite display of some beautiful art at a trendy Hoboken cafe and sandwich shop on the famed Willow Avenue on Friday night.  The painter of a lot of magnificent tapestries is a longtime friend and former teaching colleague named Ninetta Nappi, who is a former Fairview resident.  My own favorite of the paintings was the award-winning “Eye of Venice” which Nappi created during her long stay in Italy over the past few years.  Nappi and her erstwhile partner Barry treated the gathering at the shop to a musical program (Nappi on guitar and Barry playing the violin) of soft rock and folk songs, including one spirited number composed by Nappi herself at the outset.  Two other talented musicians -a lovely and friendly young woman and a local man from a few blocks away also participated, playing guitars and singing.  Ms. Nappi is a multi-talented young women, whose diverse attention has fluctuated from painting to photography to music, and we all had a great time meeting up with an old friend this past week. (more…)

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