by Sam Juliano
My second knee meniscus tear in ten years necessitated a mid-week arthroscopy (Thursday), and temporarily had me out of commission, but I couldn’t stay back for long, what with some familial responsibilities. Later this week I will begin what will surely be a month of therapy, but I know that routine well. In any case I did manage a full week, and returned to school this morning. My deepest apologies to those who were motivated and gracious enough to comment on last week’s Monday Morning Diary. I still haven’t responded to several, but will do so today. It is not a routine I normally embrace, but this has been a maddening week.
The Childhood countdown has been all sorted out and is now officially set to launch on Monday, June 22nd with a banner opening salvo by film writer extraordinaire Ed Howard. I’ll leave the identity of the title until that date, as I don’t want to spoil anything for the non email network site readers. The vast majority of the assignments have been taken, with a few left that will certainly be sorted out by the respective publication dates. The countdown will continue until Wednesday, October 14th, the date the #1 film will be unveiled. Talk has already started on doing a Great War Films of All-Time Countdown in the spring of 2016, but we are better off taking thing s day and a week at a time. God willing we will approach that hurdle when the time comes. Right now the Childhood Films Countdown takes center stage, and writer David Schleicher may be right on when he opined by e mail that “this could be the site’s greatest countdown ever!”
The hectic week was largely fueled by the three day attendance (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) at the Governor’s Ball musical events on Randall’s Island that involved my daughters Melanie and Jillian. They got to see and hear some of their heroes like Bjork, Lana Del Rey and Florence and the Machine. A real Woodstock styled affair with pot smoke in the air, and 40,000 strong each day. Lucille and I escorted our girls to and from the location, with the late night pickups around 11:30 P.M. The bottom line of course is that the girls had a whale of a time traversing the tent covered stages set in the grassy expanses.
Lucille and I made out way around before and after my procedure with a sense of purpose. On the evening before by surgical endeavor we ventured over to the Film Forum to see a restored print of a Samuel Fuller noir classic, and met a new online friend Aaron West and his wife Andrea, chatting with the engaging couple after the screening. On Saturday we again set off for Film Forum for a showing of the new Roy Andersson film (the delightful director was on hand to introduce the film and milled around in the lobby afterwards), and then on Sunday we watched a premium feature in the Film Forum Festival devoted to the famed Golden Age Spanish/Mexican cinematographer Gabrielle Figueroa. Later on Sunday while hanging out in Manhattan to await the late night pickup of the girls, we took in a fascinating art exhibit in the West Village, that featured the work of the talented and esteemed Andrew Castrucci, who is an art professor at the School of Visual Arts, where Melanie will attend in the Fall.
Pickup on South Street (1953) ***** (Film Forum)
Maria Candelaria (1943) ***** (Film Forum)
The Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence **** 1/2 (Film Form
A remarkable trio of films – one of film noir’s final hours by Samuel Fuller in a pristine restored print (Thelma Ritter gives one of the most memorable supporting performances of all-time); a beautiful Mexican film by Emilio Fernandez that features a moving story and magnificent black-and-white photography by Gabriele Figueroa, and a brilliant work of black humor by Roy Andersson that successfully completes his famed trilogy.