Archive for October 5th, 2015

bicycle thieves

by Judy Geater

It seems like such a small story. Yet, through the theft of a bike, this powerful Italian neo-realist film, directed by Vittorio De Sica, shows up the struggle which was the reality of daily life for so many children and parents. It also brilliantly explores the relationship between a father and a young son put under pressure by the world around them, two figures in a crowd.

Cinematographer Carlo Montuori’s stark black-and-white photography, showing the streets of post-war Rome and endless small details of everyday life, always has something going on in the background. There’s a feeling throughout of all the other stories surrounding this one, all the other poor people who are facing their own struggles. Nobody else has time to worry about this one family’s suffering.

Most of the main cast were not professional actors, which helps to give the atmosphere of bleak realism. The little boy, Bruno, whose haunting expression is one of the images from the film which lingers in the mind, was played by Enzo Staiola, aged seven, who turned up to watch the start of shooting. His father, Antonio, was portrayed by factory worker Lamberto Maggiorani, a non-professional actor whose real-life circumstances were not so far removed from those of the character he played. The imdb tells how he was laid off from the factory after making the film, and found it hard to get further roles as an actor.

At the start of the film, Antonio, a jobless father in impoverished post-war Rome, is struggling to support his wife, young son and baby. One day, he is finally the one picked out of a crowd of hungry hopefuls to win a job putting up film posters. However, he doesn’t think he will be able to take the job, because he doesn’t have a bicycle. Or rather, he does have one, but it has been pawned and there’s no money to get it out of hock until he gets a job. So it’s a vicious circle which there seems to be no prospect of squaring. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Autumn has been knocking at the door and the person inside has finally responded.  Mind you there is still some resistance, what with a few more days in the 70s promised for this coming week.  But chilly temperatures, rain and rawness were all evident over the past weekend.  Most of us are thoroughly delighted with the change, and know now some wonderfully culturally related events and releases are upcoming.  Baseball and football fans are in their glory, and though my beloved New York Yankees practically backed into the playoffs with a terrible final run, I know well anything can happen now.  Area fans are no doubt thrilled the Giants evened their record at 2-2 with a win over the Buffalo Bills, and the Jets are now 3-1 with a win over the Miami Dolphins in England.  The New York Film Festival is underway and this coming week my kids will be attended Comic Con at the Javits Center, in what has now become an annual endeavor.  Nice seeing Halloween decorations and the horror film madness that frames this time of the year too.

Alas, our long running Greatest Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown is winding down to the finish line, as we have begun the Top 10 with this past week’s reviews of Au Revoir Les Enfants and The Last Picture Show.  The countdown will run this entire week and then three days next week, with the Number 1 post set to publish on Wednesday.   After a lag in the middle stages the countdown has come back with a vengeance by way of comments and page views.  I want to thank everyone for the barrage of comments under my own review of The Last Picture Show, which may well be my personal favorite film of all-time.  Soon I want to offer up a desert island post to include all the films ever made.

Jim Clark continues with his tremendous work every other week on Wednesdays -this past week it was Roman Polanski’s Repulsion – and two very hot posts by Allan Fish, one on Steven Spielberg and the other on his upcoming book has attracted amazing response, especially the former with a whopping 111 comments to date.  The site has certainly been making quite a comeback.  My Caldecott Contender series will be starting soon, but it will run normally, not like last year’s torrid pace.

On a raw and drizzly Saturday afternoon the annual Chappaqua Book Festival was held inside the Bell School in Downtown Chappaqua, New York, the hometown of Hillary and Bill Clinton in scenic Westchester County. I was thrilled beyond words to meet my dear friend Barbara McClintock for the first time, and also great friends Sergio Ruzzier, Carin Berger and Jerry Pinkey. So many great authors, illustrators and books in a a premium setting. The entire family was aboard, and we were met by our WitD site friend Bob Clark.  Thrilled as always to meet the lovely friend Lizzy Rockwell, a trouper of all festivals. (more…)

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