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Archive for December 11th, 2016

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by Sam Juliano

Is is that time of the year again.  Everything is hectic, too much on the schedule and not enough time to negotiate all the plans.  On this end it has been school transportation, a retirement dinner and early Christmas party, home movie viewings, decorating, bookstore presentations and writing the new entries to the marathon Caldecott Medal Contender series.  (I want to thank all those who have left comments for the series, and have shown so much support)  The temperatures have been conforming to the calendar in the Northeast, with several days presently or upcoming in the mid to high 30’s.  But the white stuff hasn’t made its debut yet.  Jim Clark and J.D. Lafrance have written some fabulous film reviews to keep the cinematic focus going, and over the weekend Adam Ferenz has posted a fascinating Top 100 television list.

A fantastic Christmas-themed panel discussion and book signing was staged on Sunday afternoon at Manhattan’s BOOKS OF WONDER. Lucille, Sammy and I finally met the lovely and talented Lori Nichols, (Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree), Stephanie Graegin (The Lost Gift), Rosemary Wells, Kat Yeh,, Chuck Groenink and Brian Russo. So wonderful to again meet children’s literature luminary Joanna Marple.

There are still a few vital films for me to see (Toni Erdmann, The Silence, Paterson, Elle, Fences) but after seeing the electrifying, phantasmagorical, visceral and silhouette laden “La La Land” Saturday night at the Union Square Cinemas, I am convinced the New York Film Critics Circle got it right when they named it the Best Picture of the Year earlier this month. The usual naysayers and musical haters will no doubt be looking to take down the singing voices of Gosling and Stone, but they are most serviceable and authentic towards the film’s aims. One of the most stylishly exuberant films in years, the audition number is an exhilarating showstopper, and the film’s spirit and soaring emotions are projected with sophistication and aching melancholia. Ms. Stone gives the most unforgettable lead performance for a female, and Gosling is mighty fine. The original score is enchanting and includes several musical forms. A holiday love letter for all who negotiate their days with hope and positive energy. (more…)

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by Adam Ferenz

This post is the first in what will become an occasional series of posts as I work on a long-term project. What I am posting today is the first 100 of a list of 300 Television programs from around the world, ranked from 1-100. I have been working on this project for about a year, to date, and will continue to work on it for at least another two years. The late, great Allan Fish greatly assisted me in the months before his passing, suggesting many programs I had either not considered or even heard of. Many of those are reflected on this list-including some that are in the next two tiers. Today, what I am presenting is the one year anniversary edition of my list of the greatest programs from around the world. Currently, the essays I will eventually be providing for each entry are in rather nascent form for the most part-I do have a few of them roughly completed-but those I will hold off on presenting until later.

Why do I call it programs? Because I am not limiting myself to regular, ongoing series. I have included specials, such as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, as well as miniseries, movies and documentaries. I decided to omit news broadcasts, though ongoing documentary series like Nature and Nova are represented. You will also find no game shows or reality series.

The rules I set myself were simple: Did the material hold my interest? Did it make me think? Did I ever laugh? Did I have to think in new ways? How was the acting? The direction? Did it have good production values, or ones which managed not to embarrass themselves given budget limitations? What sort of rewatch value does it hold?

What I am looking for is feedback. Let’s discuss this, in all its facets. I would also love suggestions of programs that are not on the list, especially those from outside the United States. If there is a program you are concerned is not on the (full) list, this is for one of two very simple reasons: either I did not see it/haven’t seen enough to judge it, or I saw it and considered it unworthy of the list. So, without further ado, here is the list as it stands today. (more…)

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