Archive for April, 2014

by Sam Juliano

It has taken a far longer time than we could ever have imagined, but I could now say with the utmost confidence that winter has been vanquished at last, and won’t be seen again, even in compromised form until a good seven or eight months from now.  Pollen allergies, the baseball season, short-sleeve shirts, sneakers, and the approaching Tribeca Film Festival, not to mention some April showers and a fast-approaching Easter Sunday have all converged to paint a picture of Spring and some glorious 70 degree temperatures.  Speaking of the Tribeca Film Festival, Lucille and I will again be armed with two press passes for the entire event, and I am presently attempting to put together an exhaustive schedule for the 11 days that comprise the April 17 to April 27 window.  Opening Day (the 16th) is not covered by the passes, but in effect it is a day of special events rather than the schedule proper anyway.  The preliminary (tentative) plans are now to see 37 films over the eleven days.  Yes, I know that is “certifiable” but I did see 38 last year.  There is no cost for the films, just for the toll getting over to the city, and maybe one or two tickets that will allow my daughter Melanie to come over for the Bjork documentary and teenage horror film that follows it.  Lucille, as usual will be my companion for most of the days, though for a few she will stay back to rest, allowing Broadway Bob Eagleson to fill in as he did last year.

The Romantic Films countdown is set to launch on Monday, May 12th, with the posting of the No. 101 choice, and will continue every Monday through Friday well into September.  The full results were sent out to the voters and writers shortly after being announced by Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr, and will only be known by voters as they unspool in essays that have been reserved and assigned to an incredible 27 writers: Marilyn Ferdinand, Tony d’Ambra, Brandie Ashe, Jon Warner, Sachin Gandhi, Jaimie Grijalba, Duane Porter, Joel Bocko, Pat Perry, Judy Geater, John Greco, Maurizio Roca, Shubhajit Lahiri, Dean Treadway, Lucille Juliano, Allan Fish, Pedro Camolas, Stephen Mullen, Mike Norton, John Grant, Pierre de Plume, Jim Clark, J.D. Lafrance, Ed Howard, Sam Juliano, and possibly Peter Lenihan.  One surprise writer is also aboard for one essay.  As is the case with all the past genre countdowns, we are hoping for active comment threads under the reviews. (more…)

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Nymphomaniac a

by Allan Fish

(Denmark 2013 241m) DVD1/2

Mea vulva, mea vulva, mea maxima vulva

p  Louise Vesth  d/w  Lars Von Trier  ph  Manuel Alberto Claro  ed  Morten Hojbjerg, Molly Marlene Stensgard  art  Simone Grau

Charlotte Gainsbourg (older Joe), Stacy Martin (young Joe), Stellan Skarsgard (Seligman), Shia LaBeouf (Jerome), Christian Slater (Joe’s father), Connie Nielsen (Joe’s mother), Jamie Bell (K), Willem Dafoe (L), Sophie Kennedy Clark (B), Hugo Speer (Mr H), Uma Thurman (Mrs H), Felicity Gilbert (Liz), Jesper Christensen (Jerome’s uncle), Saskia Reeves (nurse), Kate Ashfield (therapist), Mia Goth (P), Michael Pas (old Jerome), Jean-Marc Barr (debtor), Udo Kier (waiter), Laura Christensen (babysitter),

Agent provocateur, enfant terrible, just plain naughty boy, call him what you like, any Lars Von Trier film is an event.  In the case of Nymphomaniac it was anticipated more than perhaps any other.  Those expecting something sexually arousing, however, may find themselves disappointed.  After all, don’t forget that this is the concluding part of his trilogy about depression, and when I say that it’s more depressing than either Antichrist or Melancholia, you should take pause.

It follows Joe, the sex addict of the title, who is found in an alley by intellectual Seligman, who takes her back to his flat to recuperate when she refuses to have the police called.  There he presses her about why she didn’t want the emergency services to come, and she tells him it’s a long story.  He’s happy to listen, so she tells him the story of her life and why she is, in her own words, an awful human being.  She goes back to her childhood with a kindly doctor father and an ice-cold mother, and takes in the loss of her virginity and her various friendships and lovers over the years. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Brazil 1964 93m) not on DVD

Aka. The Empty Nigh

One night in Rio

p Nelson Gaspari, Walter Hugo Khouri d/w Walter Hugo Khouri ph Rudolf Icsey ed Mauro Alice m Rogerio Duprat art Pierino Massenzi

Norma Bengell (Mara), Odete Lara (Regina), Mario Benvenuti (Luisinho), Gabriele Tinti (Nelson), Lisa Negri (Nelson’s lover), Marisa Woodward (girl in club), Célia Watanabe (Japanese waitress),

Though considered one of the key films in the cinema novo moment in its native Brazil, Noite Vazia has never been accorded the same status on an international level. There are probably other reasons and yet is it a coincidence that, of the seminal works of that same movement which made Glauber Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Ruy Guerra and Anselmo Duarte figures on the world stage, Walter Hugo Khouri’s film seems very much the odd one out. The cinema novo movement owed its debts to Italian neo-realism and the art-house cinema of the past. Khouri’s film seems indebted not to the past but to the Italian cinema of the early 1960s, the intellectual masterpieces of Fellini, Zurlini, Visconti and, especially, Antonioni. (more…)

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1968’s musical treasure ‘Oliver!’ screened on Sunday at Film Forum

by Sam Juliano

I just now, before publishing read a very sad e mail sent on to me by Tony d’Ambra.  The beloved actor and American institution Mickey Rooney has passed on at age 93.  His life and legacy will hopefully be included and/or well represented in today’s comment section.

The erstwhile adage April showers brings May flowers could not have been any more apt than the manner it has been applied for the first week of the month when Spring will first make its official appearance.  Several days of some serious drenching has linked up with the first days of the pollen season and the result for some of us has been sore throats, itchy eyes, incessant coughing and various other allergy-related discomfort.

The romantic countdown polling stage is now complete, with the Tuesday, April 1st deadline long gone, and final results will soon be released to the e mail chain of voters and prospective writers.  WitD readers of course will see the countdown unfold in reverse order starting on Thursday, May 7th, and running well into September.  This will mark the first non-autumn roll-out for one of our genre festivals, but it was done purposely to wed Spring and Summer with the romantic theme.  Between 20 and 25 films have been “reserved” by eager writers, but even if those claims were to stand (some probably won’t for a number of reasons) that would still leave 75 to 80 essays to be covered, so we will definitely need a lot of help.  A lot.  But all that bartering will be done behind close doors.  Ha!  I do anticipate sending out the results later tonight, as I have spoken at length with Angelo.  One thing that is certain is that we have decided to do a full Top 101 for the countdown, much as we did for the comedy countdown (100), largely because we received a whopping 30 ballots, and because Angelo tabulated the full hundred.  This is obviously one of the most popular pollings, and we should at least match the comedy countdown.  Somehow, 101 is a distinguished number that stands apart from an ordinary 100, and because of a tabulation error Angelo has tabulated 101, so 101 it will be. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Take 2 Publishing has released its first project on Kindle, and this comprehensive labor of love is now available on kindle through Amazon at a price of $9.99.  The project is the brainchild of John Pruzanski, who worked feverishly over many months to assemble reviews on director Steven Spielberg’s films from both the professional and blogger ranks.  Such Spielberg supporters like Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joseph McBride , Matt Stoller Seitz and James Bernardinelli are featured in multiple reviews, while stellar work from my colleagues John Greco, Joel Bocko, Ed Howard, Roderick Heath and several others have been published right alongside them.

Two reviews that I wrote for Wonders in the Dark (War Horse on January 2, 2012 and A.I. Artificial Intelligence on May 13, 2009) were included in this definitive collection that has greatly enhanced the Spielberg literature.  John Greco’s superlative review on Jaws in there as are several by the brilliant Joel Bocko including essays on Jaws, E.T., Duel and Schindler’s List.  And what with the Spielberg archives at Only the Cinema holding a whopping ten reviews on the director, Pruzanski and his enthusiastic editor Adam Zanzie of Icebox Movies has performed some glorious plundering there to bring Howard’s incomparable scholarship to a wider fan base.  Writer Extraordinaire Roderick Heath is also well represented with his own stupendous comprehensive coverage of the director with essays that were originally published at Ferdy on Films and This Island Rod.

Congratulations to all connected with this remarkable project.  Pruzanski has plans to move forward on other directors, and has tentatively named Woody Allen as his next subject.

Here is the amazon link to the Kindle guide:


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h95 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 1970 6m) not on DVD

Defeating boredom and its vicissitudes

p/d Bob Godfrey w Stan Hayward m John Hawksworth

voices by Bob Godfrey, Monika Ringwald

Whenever I think of Bob Godfrey’s little gem I am reminded of my favourite Terry Gilliam animation from Python. The one with the middle-aged, nagged man sat in front of the gogglebox, out of which bashers, scrubbers and suckers emerge to try and pull his eyes out of his sockets. After surviving this attempted involuntary eyectomy, we hear a shout from the kitchen; “Henry, turn that television off, you know it’s bad for your eyes.”

The name Henry might have something to do with it, but in truth Godfrey was, along with Borowczyk and Lenica, surely one of the antecedents of Gilliam’s anarchic animation style. Just watch Godfrey’s The Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit, a near classic in itself, which not only uses similar techniques nearly a decade earlier, but even had faint echoes of Python’s famous ‘Blackmail’ sketch. (more…)

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© 2014 by James Clark

    Pasolini’s angry bid to undo not only modernist cinema but modernist culture may be an annoyance; but it’s also a golden opportunity. A special aspect of this windfall is Giulietta Masina, coming to us along those sightlines as the Antipode of the lumpen amateurs Pasolini would favor (not quite getting what Bresson was up to with that angle). Pasolini’s rather systematic but flamboyant notion of gender unwittingly shines a spotlight upon the supposed more natural and efficacious sense of integrity a quorum of female historical players possesses (to be supplemented by the coercive efficacy of the few teachable males on the planet). His sincerely longing for interpersonal decency, while happily installing mass regimes of bestial indifference, redirects our view to those of his filmmaker contemporaries who pursued their muse in resisting being sideswiped by traditional rationalism, including Italian neorealism. As such our examination of the case of Pasolini’s film output—a probe looking for signs of the wherewithal to counter being mired in half-measures—takes on a very welcome complement, namely, the films of Federico Fellini, which bring us to his muse and wife, Giulietta Masina. (more…)

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Miracle find in basement of this Liverpool fish n chips shop in the U.K.


The unthinkable has happened, and film fans around the world are in frenzied celebration.  The owner of a Liverpool fish n chips store, Edward Fotheringham came forward late last night with news that has rocked the earth on it’s axis.  Once owned by a collector who dealt with underground acquisitions during the war, but who subsequently vanished, mint condition complete prints of the two most hoped for mutilated films were housed in a safe that Fotheringham said was found during basement excavation.  The print for GREED runs nine hours, while THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS runs close to four.

Film historians and authorities are estimating the find to yield Fotheringham tens of millions at auction later this month at Southbys, and early reports indicate Queen Elizabeth will be active in the bidding.

The winner will no doubt be besieged by film fans to commission a theatrical run and corresponding blu ray release.  The great grand daughter of Greed’s venerated director Erich von Stroheim told The Daily Mail that her famous ancestor is celebrating in heaven, while descendants of Welles are envisioning the iconic director lighting up the biggest Cuban cigar after the incredible news.

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morning a

by Allan Fish

(Yugoslavia 1967 75m) not on DVD

Aka. Jutro

Freedom starts in the morning

d/w Mladomir Djordjevic ph Mihajlo Popovic ed Mirjana Mitic m Miodrag Ilic-Beli

Ljubisa Samardzic (Mali), Neda Arneric (girl), Milena Dravic (Slobodanka), Mija Aleksic (Capt.Straja), Ljuba Tadic (Gen.Milan Prekic), Neda Spasojevic (Marklena), Jelena Jovanovic (Ruza), Olga Jancevecka (Stana),

When it comes to Yugoslavian cinema, the west remains fairly ignorant. Essentially, it’s based around two figures; Makavejev in the sixties and Kusturica either side of the war that would tear the country into six or seven pieces. Yet Makavejev was only one of many directors at work in the sixties, and there are many whose work is worthy of some attention; Branko Bauer, Velkjo Bulajic, France Stiglic, Alexander Petrovic, Zvonimir Berkovic, Vojislav Rakonjac, Bostjan Hladnik, Ante Babaja or Zivojin Pavlovic, whose The Awakening of the Rats and When I am Dead and White came to embody the ‘black wave’ of Yugoslavian film of the period.

Only one or two of those directors have work represented here, but this is quite possibly a defect on my part, for Yugoslavian film has always been the odd one out amongst the old eastern bloc cinemas. We know Polish film, we know Czech, we know Hungarian. Yugoslavian was different. The people were different, the Romany DNA and the close proximity to Italy lent itself to exaggerated passions and structureless anarchy. Like Czech film, Yugoslavian film was subversive, but Czech film was gentler; its films seemed to ring the doorbell of authority and run. Yugoslav films rather seemed to put a Molotov cocktail through authority’s letterbox. (more…)

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