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Archive for December 6th, 2016

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By J.D. Lafrance

History remembers Francis Ford Coppola’s, Rumble Fish (1983) as a film that was booed by its audience when it debuted at the New York Film Festival and in turn was viciously crucified by North American critics upon general release. It’s too bad because it is such a dreamy, atmospheric film that works on so many levels. It is also Coppola’s most personal and experimental project — on par with the likes of Apocalypse Now (1979). From the epic grandeur of The Godfather films to the excessive Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Coppola has pushed the boundaries, both on-screen and off. He has almost gone insane, contemplated suicide, and faced bankruptcy on numerous occasions, but he always bounces back with another intriguing feature that is visually stunning to watch. And yet, Rumble Fish curiously remains one of Coppola’s often overlooked films. This may be due to the fact that it refuses to conform to mainstream tastes and stubbornly challenges the Hollywood system with its moody black and white cinematography and non-narrative approach.
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by Sam Juliano

Less is More  –    Robert Browning, “Andrea del Sarto”, 1855

Of all the picture books being reviewed this year for the Caldecott Medal Contender series, there are none that aim lower than Toni Yuly’s Cat Nap.  Of course my contention isn’t remotely to disparage this third release in a wildly-popular series launched in January of 2015, but to state at the outset the age of the audience the book was written for.  It is no easy challenge to ensnare the attention of the youngest toddlers, and then to hold it for the duration, which in this case is thirty-four pages from the copyright panel to charming finale.  Even as seemingly an innocuous decision as to what color should adorn the end papers plays a vital role in this calculated effort to secure and maintain the most impressionable gathering of all.  Yuly opts for a solid fluorescent orange, a color for young children that denotes pumpkins, Halloween, their favorite fizzy drinks and ice, and generally a warm color that demands immediate attention.  From that opening splash we move into the basic conceit which is basically the psychological tug of war between an older cat and the kitten that is presumed to be her offspring.  The ink sketch of the kitten devilishly following the tail of the cat states the book’s recurring conflict in the sparest term possible, though Yuly illustratively expands the premise with her bold and minimalist digital lines and figures, which speak to the young ones without confusion or ostentation. (more…)

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