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Archive for June, 2017

Our longtime friend and site contributor Peter Lenihan’s superlative appreciation of John Ford’s Wagonmaster is up on You Tube:

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 © 2017 by James Clark

      Although Song to Song (2015/ 2017) adopts the design priority of a pell-mell rout by an army of short-lived wild things being long-term softies, there does emerge, for our sense of counter-attacking against the nearly non-stop jumpiness, a pair of visitations from sagas less spasmodic. The first is the silent, black and white, white-hot film melodrama of massacre, ripping into the midst of a palatial, ultra-modern household owned by an Austin music producer, Cook, besotted by the capacity to marshal hookers to his bed and thus drive his wife, Rhonda, to suicide. Along that so-called life to the fullest, he tells himself, “I can’t take this life straight.” He goes on to ask his former-waitress, former-Kindergarten teacher wife, part of an unstable harem, “What’s your fantasy? What are you afraid of?” She tells herself and whatever else could read her thoughts, “When I was a girl I loved everything. You killed my life…” [in the course of a marriage which delivered a nice house to her destitute mother]. That wild premonition including axe-murder and flowing blood reminds us of a jaded screenwriter, Rick, in Malick’s Knight of Cups (2015), who disregards a video in the foyer of a chic office tower, a decorative production in black and white whereby several women blend into each other from their long, jet-black hair, apparel, make-up and eyes. Rick’s sidelined, spent force may not be going anywhere, but the surreal artwork along his retreat becomes part of a rescue mission which speaks to the defunct Rhonda’s once loving everything, to no avail. (The two marital casualties meet when she is his server in a diner. “I have a condition,” he quips. “I can’t be left alone…” [“Help Me, Rhonda”]. The distance between Song to Song’s death-spiral and Knight of Cups’ going swimmingly in an infinity pool (like the one Rhonda OD’d in) gives us to understand that a very different consideration has become necessary. (more…)

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all for one - friendship rituals in Husbands

By J.D. Lafrance

Many films have been made about men experiencing a midlife crisis, from the good (About a Boy) to the painfully awful (Wild Hogs). With Husbands (1970), John Cassavetes made what is arguably the greatest film, not just about men going through a midlife crisis, but what it means to be a man – something that seems to be missing from a lot of contemporary male-centric movies. Husbands was a labor of love for Cassavetes and his two co-stars – Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk – both of whom enjoyed working with the filmmaker so much that they appeared in more of his films. At times, Husbands is a mess of a film with scenes that go on too long and acting that sometimes comes off as indulgent, but it is also brilliant and fearless as it transcends the men behaving badly cliché (see The Hangover movies) to show how men really behave around each other and how they communicate (or don’t) with each other. It’s a film that can test your patience, but also features some of the best acting ever put on celluloid.
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by Sam Juliano

Ballots for the Top 60 Television countdown, which is set to launch at the site on Saturday, July 1st are due in this coming Thursday, June 15th at 11:00 P.M.  Results will be sent out a few days later to the participating e mail chain after tabulation by Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr.  Anyone who hasn’t yet handed in a ballot therefore can still do so over the coming days.

Our entire brood and Broadway Bob treked out to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania over the weekend as per annual tradition and we experienced a paranormal event of sorts, which a cell phone photo taken by Bob resulted in a ghostly photo over the right shoulder of Jeremy on the battlefield.  I have received all kinds of responses on social media, and can only say at this point that I am unaware of any manipulation or tampering, and believe this to be a legitimate occurrence.  That said I am not a person to fall for this sort of this remotely.  In any event, aside from some scorching weather, this was a memorable trip highlighted by an intensive battlefield excursion and the terrific late night orphanage tour.  We stayed at the “haunted” Gettysburg Inn on the famed hill off Steinwar Avenue.  Returning from Gettysburg Sunday morning we stopped briefly in the Amish country -again as per our normal routine- to have our lunch at the “Good and Plenty,” a popular family style eatery in the heart of Lancaster.

In another unspeakably busy week, I attended (some with Lucille and Sammy and some alone) eight (8) screenings at the Quad this past week of 70’s films as part of two festivals -the end of the Frank Perry retrospective and the “Shadow Cinema of the American 70’s.”  While some of the films are of course on DVD and/or blu ray, several have not been released either way and it is always a special thrill to watch films in the magnificent Quad on the big screen, providing my pocket can sustain such indulgence.  Anyway we saw: (more…)

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The Hustler

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By J.D. Lafrance

The Hustler (1961) is a crucial film in Paul Newman’s career. It launched him into the Hollywood stratosphere and marked the beginning of an incredible run in the 1960s, with movies like Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Newman became a movie star but acted like a character actor, creating one memorable character after another. Arguably, The Hustler is where he really came into his own, delivering a powerful performance as small-time pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson. The film takes place in dingy pool halls, lonely bus terminals and low-rent apartments. It’s a world populated by confident grifters, streetwise bartenders and small-time gamblers. In other words, The Hustler is about people living on the margins, refusing to live the humdrum, 9-to-5 lives that most of us lead.
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Carrie Snodgress gives an extraordinary Oscar nominated performance in the tragically underrated/forgotten 1971 masterpiece “Diary of a Mad Housewife” by Frank Perry

by Sam Juliano

Ballots continue to be turned in for the Top 60 Television Show/Program countdown that remains set to launch on July 1st.  The last day for ballot submission draws closer, on Thursday, June 15th.  Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. has announced that we have reached around 30 handed in to this point.

Lucille and I attended several feature films in the Frank and Eleanor Perry Film Festival held this past week at the newly refurbished Quad Cinemas in Manhattan.  On second though we engaged in a weekend marathon actually.  The Festival continues over the next few days, and we will again be in attendance for three more features.  The Perrys made some provocative works in the 60’s and 70’s, several of which remain high on any list of underrated works ripe for reassessment.

We saw:

Diary of a Mad Housewife (1971)   *****         Quad Cinemas/Saturday

Compromising Positions  (1985)    *** 1/2      Quad Cinemas/Sunday

The Swimmer (1968)                        **** 1/2     Quad Cinemas/Sunday

Last Summer (1969)                         **** 1/2      Quad Cinemas/Sunday

Mommie Dearest (1981)                  ***                Quad Cinemas/Sunday

Churchill                                              ***                Edgewater/Friday (more…)

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