by Sam Juliano
I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the many who extended their condolences to me over the unconscionable loss of my beloved first cousin and best friend Robert “Bobby” McCartney on January 6th. Yes life moves forward but with the heaviest of hearts. I still feel like all that has come to pass is surreal, and that I will see him again pulling up on his scooter or pick up truck to the front of my house. I want to thank my very dear friend Pat Perry for her beautiful card, one that brought on teary eyes. She knows well how grief can can take over one’s life.
I was unable to do this Monday Morning Diary earlier, because of a sudden and quite nasty bout with a stomach virus, which was brought into the house by my son Jeremy. All day yesterday I had extreme nausea, the heaves and diarrhea. (not that you really need to know that last part, ha!) It seems to be of the 24 hour variety, as this morning I am about 60% better- not great, but well enough to get back on line to complete this diary and move forward with my Caldecott Contender series reviews. Yesterday’s inability to do anything but lay down on a cot groaning also prevented me from making urgent copies of “screeners” for some friends. I plan on moving ahead with that tonight.
I posted my Top Ten of 2014 list on my facebook page last week. because of the extenuating circumstances of the past weeks and the unexpected demands of the Caldecott Medal series, I was unable to provide capsules reviews. Am I tell the readers here that I find “children’s books” more urgent than films? Not by a country mile -Wonders in the Dark is after all a film site, and for years my primary focus, and main draw on my money and time week after week -and I wrote nearly 20 exorbitant length reviews for the ‘romantic films countdown’ over the past year alone, but when I commit to a series I must complete it. I hereby post my Top Ten and honorable list again for the WitD readers:
Well, I have finally taken the plunge. Over the course of 2014 I managed to see 238 feature-length films in theaters (including the 52 I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April), most of which Lucille also attended. I saw several others on DVD and screeners, bring the grand total to over 250. Generally it was a solid year for film, though as always it were the independents and foreign language releases that brought it to prominence. As always I have a Top Ten with a 10th place tie, meaning it is a Top 11. In view of all that has come at year’s end, I am unable at this time to provide my usual capsule review of each, but will do so at a later date. For now, I offer up the list (Top 11) and the ten films that I thought were strong enough to make my Honorable Mention scroll. I did of course like a number of other films quite a bit, but I restricted the number on that second list to ten:
1. Interstellar (USA; Christopher Nolan)
2. Leviathan (Russia; Andrey Zvyagintsev)
3. Selma (USA; Ava DuVernay)
4. Force Majeure (Sweden; Ruben Ostlund)
5. Ida (Poland; Pawel Pawlikowski)
6. Boyhood (USA; Richard Linklater)
7. Winter Sleep (Turkey; Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
8. Pride (UK; Stephen Breresford)
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel (USA; Wes Anderson)
10. The Imitation Game (UK; Morten Tyldum)
Keep on Keepin On (USA; Alan Hicks) -tie-
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
Stranger by the Lake (Canada/French)
Bad Hair (Venuzuela)
Mr. Turner (UK)
Under The Skin (UK)
The Immigrant (USA)
Two Days One Night (France)
Stand Clear of Closing Doors (USA)
Into the Woods (USA) this was added to make the honorable mention list 11 choices as well.
Lucille and I saw one film in theaters this week, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR. I found this overrated. About an Iranian girl living in Brooklyn (the trendy Brooklyn ambiance was suffocating) there are some dramatic sparks, but it wears thin soon enough.
Appropriate Behavior ** 1/2 (Saturday night) IFC Film Center
While I stay home nursing my awful malady, Lucille and the kids went off to see the highly acclaimed PADDINGTON, which they all loved.