Archive for May 26th, 2019

screen cap from Rudolf Nuryev biopic “The White Crow”


by Sam Juliano

The Third Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival will launch this week on Tuesday, May 28th (on what would have been Allan’s 46th birthday) with an opening salvo by project founder Jamie Uhler.  It will continue for the coming week with seven consecutive submissions.  Wonders in the Dark is again quite proud to stage such a noble venture in honor of our beloved friend and mentor.  Thanks to all for your anticipated attention and to the writers for their selfless positive insights and creative energy.  The Cannes Festival’s Palme d’Or was won by a South Korean film, Parasite.  Monday is Memorial Day stateside.  We are wishing all our friends and readers a relaxing day.

Raunchy high school comedy “Booksmart”

The reviews have been wildly superlative, but I am not seeing this film as deserving of such glowing accolades. Yes it is refreshingly candid, emotionally honest and audaciously irreverent, nut the narrative eventually becomes tiresome and a few days after I watched the film I am finding very little of it memorable. I received a note from my revered 76 year-old former high school English teacher who reported to me that “If I were 15, 16 or 17 years old I might appreciate this film, but I am many decades removed and just couldn’t connect on any front.” While I can only stand with that criticism partially, I was only ably to muster limited applause for the presentation and most of that was for the wonderful actresses Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever and the irresistible Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter). A noteworthy debut for director Olivia Wilde and certainly an entertaining work, but I am not experiencing any staying power. (3.5 of 5) Seen Friday in Secaucus.

Shakespeare, Tolkien, Nuryev

William Shakespeare is my absolute favorite writer of all-time, J.R.R. Tolkien is a literary figure I greatly admire and Rudolf Nuryev is a fascinating cultural figure and spectacularly talented dancer but of the films recently made about them (“All is True”, “Tolkien”, “The White Crow”) only the latter on the volatile Russian dancer can be described as successful, though it too has some issues. Kenneth Branagh, the most dedicated and passionate Bard promoter of our time on film takes full advantage of dramatic license to re-imagine the final years of Shakespeare’s life, especially focusing in on his relationship with his daughter and his sustained grief over the childhood death of his only son, Hamnet, the twin of Judith with whom the Bard sustained domestic quarrels with. Speculation runs high but the film is dramatically cumbersome, Judi Dench is way too old for her role as Anne Hathaway and there is an odd lack of immediacy in the screenplay. Only Zac Nicholson’s autumnal cinematography hits the mark, though Branagh is an admirable Will, far more “in the skin” than his lamentable Hercule Poirot. (more…)

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