by Sam Juliano
And so another Christmas has passed into the annals of history. We in the northeast had a moderate day temperature-wise, and as always got together with family in a fabulous location. The downside was that Melanie, Jillian and Danny had to stay home with various flu-related illness. So far the rest of us have been spared. As per our annual tradition we got out to the movie theater, and in fact saw two of the new releases back to back. Otherwise the past week was occupied by last minute Christmas shopping, preparation and for me the grueling and time-consuming if engaging continuation of the Caldecott Medal Contender series, which will run until January 20th. (The awards will be announced on the 22nd). 2016 has been the saddest year in memory, but I will make more reference on next week’s day-after New Year’s Day Diary.
At home on 7 Spruce Street we managed all the Christmas staples – the 1951 A Christmas Carol, the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Polar Express and the musical Scrooge. Now we get to enjoys a short break before returning to our school positions on Tuesday, January 3rd. I trust everyone enjoyed the holiday and am looking forward to hearing reports on watched films or any other activities worth noting.
Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I saw:
Fences **** 1/2 (Sunday, Christmas Day) Edgewater multiplex
Lion **** 1/2 (Sunday, Christmas Day) Edgewater multiplex
Two deeply emotional dramas, the theatrical “Fences” based on August Wilson’s Tony Award winning play -the sixth installment of his 10 play Pittsburgh cycle set in the 1950’s, scripted by Wilson and starring and directed by Denzel Washington and featuring Viola Davis and “Lion” directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman -based on an autobiographical memoir about an Indian boy who accidentally went missing to later be adopted by Australian parents. Many years later he uses Google earth to search for his biological parents. While “Fences” understandably can’t quite escape its theatricality it is nonetheless a powerful, brilliantly and poetically written drama (I saw it on Broadway as I did all of Wilson’s other plays as a huge fan of his work) and the performances by the full ensemble are electrifying, especially by Washington and Davis, who deserve Oscar nods. “Lion” is all-enveloping, and leads to an unforgettable denouement. “Fences” is definitely Top 10 material, while “Lion” has a shot for that designation. Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I saw both films in Edgewater last night after our Christmas festivities in Woodcliff Lake at my brother Paul and sister-in-law Rita’s home.