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Archive for February, 2015

nwf 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 75m) DVD2

I peered into hell

p  Sally Angel, Brett Ratner, Stephen Frears  d  Andre Singer  w  Lynette Singer  ph  Arik Leibovich, Stephen Miller  m  Nicholas Singer  narrated by  Helena Bonham Carter

On showing Andre Singer’ potent documentary on Channel 4 the broadcaster made the decision to show the film without interruption from commercials.  It was a deference to the subject and there had been a precedent; the Holocaust episode of The World at War was also shown without breaks.  Breaks in 1974 would have just been one break of four minutes with less offensive adverts.  In 2015, we we’d cut from the emotional heartbreak of a survivor’s interview to cut to an old Scottish man with bad sight shearing his sheepdog to demonstrate he should have gone to Specsavers.  In the seventy years since the events depicted the survivors still cannot forget.  In the forty years since The World at War, the world millions fought and died for has sold its soul to crass commercialism. (more…)

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john grant

With our terrific friend, the talented author John Grant (Paul Barnett) and his wife Pam at Joey’s in Hewitt

 

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HOPE AND GLORY director John Boorman at Film Forum on Wednesday night for a Q & A of his fabulous new film QUUEN AND COUNTRY

 

by Sam Juliano

Allan Fish is back, and this is cause for celebration for all of us here at Wonders in The Dark!  Physically he is rebounding wonderfully, and he is back on the movie trail.  The very best news in a very long time, and a time to give thanks!!

The Oscar show was a mixed bag.  Birdman is a very good film for sure, but definitely not more deserving than Boyhood nor Selma, and the results of the entire marathon presentation were so predictable.  I managed to win my own Oscar pool at our annual party attended by over 30, with 21 of 24 correct predictions, but the year wasn’t very challenging.  The best aspects of the show were the speeches by Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore and the screenwriter of The Imitation Game, and Lady Gaga’s buffo rendition of the songs from The Sound of Music.

It was great to connect with my great friend, site regular and author John Grant (Paul Barnett) and his lovely wife Pam at Joey’s in Hewitt, New Jersey on Friday night for a chat at the musical show performed by singer and guitarist Gene Focarelli.  Just a wonderful time with dear friends, with all but Melanie in attendance.  the food was fine, and the music -song standards from the 60’s and 70’s- excellent.

We all got to see renowned film director John Boorman at the screening of his new film Queen and Country on Wednesday night.  The 82 year-old director, offered up some fabulous deadpan humor during his introduction and Q & A after the showing.  We had seen his masterpiece Hope and Glory two nights earlier on Monday.  On Saturday night we saw a double feature in the Charles Laughton Film Festival, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables:   (more…)

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iaros 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 1947 92m) DVD2

A score of roller-skates 

p  Henry Cornelius  d  Robert Hamer  w  Angus MacPhail, Henry Cornelius, Robert Hamer  novel  Arthur la Bern  ph  Douglas Slocombe  ed  Michael Truman  m  Georges Auric  art  Hal Mason, Duncan Sutherland

Googie Withers (Rose Sandigate), John McAllum (Tommy Swann), Jack Warner (Det. Sgt.Fothergill), Edward Chapman (John Sandigate), Jimmy Hanley (Whitey), Sidney Tafler (Morry Hyams), Susan Shaw (Vi Sandigate), Patricia Plunkett (Doris Sandigate), Betty Ann Davies (Sadie Hyams), John Slater (Lou Hyams), Alfie Bass (Dicey Perkins), Vida Hope (Mrs Wallis), Hermione Baddeley (Doss house keeper), Edie Martin (Mrs Watson), Michael Howard (Slopey Collins), Meier Tzelniker (Sollie Hyams),

Welcome to the battered, bombed-out remnants of London (Bethnal Green to be precise) in the aftermath of the war; a time when the party of VE Day was giving way to the decade long hangover of further rationing, organised crime and poverty not worthy of so-called victors.  It’s also a time when Britain was going the way of Hollywood and entering the world of noir; 1947 also brought They Made me a Fugitive, an underrated little film in its own right, and the immortal Brighton Rock.  For years, Sunday was dismissed as dated, like an extended EastEnders for the 1940s; indeed, one can imagine old stalwarts like Lou Beale, Ethel Skinner and Dot Cotton growing up in environs just like these here.  It should not have been so easily dismissed. (more…)

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barry-lyndon-1

© 2015 by James Clark

There is a scene, in Kubrick’s film, Barry Lyndon (1975), which offers, within the work’s encompassing an avalanche of distemper, a moment of palpable equilibrium. A British soldier in Germany during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), namely, Raymond Barry, disguised as an officer in the course of deserting (hopefully to the neutral haven of Holland), encounters a young woman living in a farm cottage nearby and left alone with her child due to her husband’s having been swept up in the chaotic warfare. Barry, still redolent of his sweet Irish ways, is accorded a meal and then a few days of love with the keeper of the home fires, a transaction in bloom with gentle recognition of the fragility of existence. “It must be hard for you to be alone.”/ “It is… It must be very danger [the discourse sharing what English and German each can provide] for you to be in the War…” Before the encounter our protagonist is shown enlivened by his escape on horseback—a voice-over, by a narrator having heard of his misadventure after the fact, declaring (with Barry’s optics to confirm the point), “The open road… he vowed never again to fall from the rank of a gentleman…” The noble tone of the couple’s first dinner together (at a table bathed in golden candlelight enshrouded by pitch darkness) is sustained by her pristine question, “Would you like to stay with me for a few days?” and the simple touching of each other’s hand. Then he asks a question—innocent enough, but loaded with the volatility being glossed over by the flourish about constantly inhabiting a lofty rank—“Is the baby a boy or a girl?” In the eighteenth century that would mean to say (flying in the face of the ready confluence between them, just revealed), “Is this person active or passive?” The young mother tells him, “He’s a boy…” And despite the presumably blissful union onstream, as they share a poignant farewell and a kiss informed by strong and true affection, the keynote of action, with all its deathtraps, comes down like a cold, thick fog on that sparkling day. (more…)

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john boorman

 

by Sam Juliano

Frigid temperatures that have dropped to below zero with the wind chill factored in have given those of us in the northern New Jersey/metropolitan area the coldest numbers in over two decades.  Snow mounds still on the ground since the past snowfalls seemed destined to hang around for quite a bit more the way things stand.  Of course, our issues are relatively minor when you compare then to what our good friends in the midwest have had to endure over the last three months.

I have been spending some time watching episodes of old classic television series as a result of some pollings we’ve conducted on Facebook over the last months.  I’ve watched some shows from The Time Tunnel, Hogan’s Heroes, F Troop, Family Affair, Leave it to Beaver and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.  They have brought back so many precious memories.  I plan next to watch some Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, while continuing with the aforementioned shows.

We’ve attended the John Boorman Festival at the Film Forum this week, taking in four films (with two more planned fro the coming week) over three days.  Boorman will be making a personal appearance on Wednesday before his new film QUEEN AND COUNTRY screens.  We have already bought our tickets.  We also watched the new release of THE KINGSMAN, though the showing is late Sunday night, and I will have to come back to this thread in the morning to revise with a rating: (more…)

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hard to be a god

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by Sam Juliano

The Caldecott Medal and Honor books were announced on Monday morning, February 2nd.   Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle took the gold, while a record-breaking six (6) honor books were named:  Lauren Castillo’s Nana in the City, Jennifer Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s The Right Word, Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre’s The Noisy Paint Box, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.  The seemingly heavily-favored The Farmer and the Clown wound up will no acknowledgement.  I was very pleased with the results, even if like everyone else some personal favorites didn’t make it.

Lucille and entire brood accompanied me to Manhattan’s Books of Wonder on Sunday afternoon for a panel discussion involving four author/illustrators.  Elizabeth Rose Stanton, the author and illustrator of Henny, Toni Yuly (Night Owl), Matt De La Pena (Last Stop on  Market Street) and Migy (And Away We Go).

We saw two films in theaters, one an Academy Award nominated feature-length documentary, and the other a nearly three hour black and white Russian film.  We saw: (more…)

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INHERENT VICE

 © 2015 by James Clark

       A likely response to Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, Inherent Vice (2014), a rendition of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, from 2009, under the same title, would be to maintain that the principals have gorged a bit on the peculiar impertinence of California—specifically, LA—style. The year is 1970 and although the whole population has not been concussed with billiard cues this is a shipment of players that gives outsiders the distinct idea that the locals have enlisted in a gigantic wave of franchising their presumably amazing stories.

But though Pynchon is a resolved and deft student of entropy, his Inherent Vice is far more than that. And Anderson’s film copiously demonstrates that he and his vehicle have bought into that more comprehensive and vastly more difficult to comprehend motive. There are features of Pynchon’s text broaching subtleties and sophistications exponentially transcending the addled dialogue of those acting out. (For example: “‘You need to find true love, Doc.’ Actually, he thought, I’ll settle for finding my way through this. His fingers, with a mind of their own, began to creep toward the plastic hedge. Maybe if he searched through it long enough, late enough into the night, he’d find something that might help—some tiny forgotten scrap of his life he didn’t even know was missing, something that would make all the difference now.”)  Anderson resorts to a voice-over in the person of Sortilege, a woman friend of the protagonist, Larry Sportello (whom everyone addresses as Doc, due to his famously finagling the partners of a medical clinic to rent out an office for his private investigation business [but perhaps also due to his willingness to provide solace]); but her discursive energies, heavily laced with astrological rubrics, do not coincide with those of Pynchon. So it is that our starter’s (namely Pynchon’s) arsenal of other pitches must carry much of the thematic load here. That includes inventively exuberant proper and surnames and a perfect wave momentousness as to veins of true gold in the repository of art predating the (by some) supposed renaissance of those self-beatified diggers of the 1960s.   (more…)

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