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Archive for May 5th, 2014

Prodigy Justin Kauflin, 91 year-old jazz legend Clark Terry and “Keep on Keepin On” director Alan Hicks pose at Tribeca Film Festival press conference.

by Sam Juliano

You know the routine.  Every ‘ten best’ list I have ever compiled, whether it be for a year, a decade or a special event like the Tribeca Film Festival always has a caveat.  My tenth place slot is regularly occupied by two films that means to accentuate the eternal difficulty in culling down a list of films to just a tenspot, but beyond that it allows me to sneak in an extra film to better frame the quality of a particular group of films or event.  Tribeca 2014 was without any question the finest since Jane Rosenthal and Robert DeNiro founded the hugely-successful venture in response to the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center towers.  The festival launched in 2002, evolving from its initial base in the Tribeca section downtown to its present base in Chelsea, and the programming has steadily gained in prestige.  Tribeca is one of the most comprehensive festivals for documentary fare, and some of its features are premiered here.  Other films arrive from Cannes, Sundance and Toronto, and more and more each year are winning distribution a short time after there first appearance at Tribeca.  As per my usual manner of preference I concentrated solely on the features that comprise better than 90% of the offerings, leaving the shorts go completely.  This year’s event was mainly staged at the Bow-Tie Cinemas and SVA Theater on 23rd Street and am the AMC Loews Village 7 on Third Avenue and 11th Street.  It was a challenge to criss cross Manhattan mostly by car, but in some instances by cab and subway when time was really tight.  When three online viewings and two Tribeca films I watched at the Montclair Festival are factored in, the total number of films seen is 54, and it is from that vast poll that I choose my Ten Best list and honorable mention list.  Like every year there are duds and some other films that fail to live up to expectations, and the frustration that accompanies a wrong decision in opting for one film over another when they run at the same time.  And when its over there is frustration that a few films were inexplicably missed completely.  2014 represents the first time I am confident I managed to see nearly every must film, hence my ‘Best of’ list is presently with a degree of satisfaction.  I find it hard to imagine that each and every film in my ten best will not be receiving distribution in the coming months.  Though we saw nearly every single “essential” film screened (we caught two that I did miss this past week at the Montclair Film Festival) there are a few that did escape our grasp: Slaying the Badger, This Time Next Year, This is Illmatic, The Newburgh Sting, Just Before I Go, I Won’t Come Back and Night Moves.  The latter opens wide in two weeks. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Mid 70’s degree weather and one sound drenching have ushered in May with at least a parting salute to April in the long-anticipated weather transition in the northeast and midwest.  Speaking of transitions, the WitD hierarchy would like to extend our very best wishes to Laurie and Len Buchanan, who have recently relocated from Crystal Lake, Illinois (outside of Chicago) to their new beautiful home in Boise, Idaho.  After twenty years paying their dues in one of the toughest winter zones in the US, I’d say it’s high time our good friends have moved on to more hospitable environs, at least in terms of more benign atmospherics.  May is normally a fabulous month for those who love gardening and the outdoors, and the preparations are on for proms, graduations, and closing exams in college classes.  In the Juliano household, it has always been amusing to note that four of our five kids have May birthdays (Sammy on the 15th, Danny on the 17th, Jeremy on the 27th and Melanie on the 30th).  Always tough when you want to stage parties, and yes I have played those numbers repeatedly with little success.  Only our dear Jillian who turns 14 in December is the odd one in this scenario.  I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my very best wishes to my friend Craig Kennedy of Living in Cinema who will be attending the Cannes Film Festival for the second year in a row.  I hope he has a great time, sees some extraordinary films, and enjoys the acclaimed food and weather in the beautiful French resort.

Our very dear friend Pat Perry is heading over to Germany this week, while other dear friends, the artist Terrill Welch and her husband David are touring Europe in the vacation of a lifetime.  The very best to them all.  I am greatly looking ahead to pictures. (more…)

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