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Archive for May, 2019

By J.D. Lafrance

After the success of the Academy Award-winning Terms of Endearment (1983), writer/director James L. Brooks spent a few years researching and writing what is possibly his most personal film to date: Broadcast News (1987). Drawing from his years in television, including a stint at CBS News, he took a spot-on look at the ethics of journalism and filtered it through a love triangle between people who work at a network affiliate T.V. station. In short, Brooks’ film is the Bull Durham (1988) of journalism films – smart, funny, insightful and even poignant in the way it looks at the people who deliver us the news on our T.V. screens every night. In some ways, Broadcast News anticipated the dumbing down of televised news so that now there is a whole generation of people who prefer The Daily Show, satirizing today’s top stories, over watching the real thing on the major networks or CNN.

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(From L-R): Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney, Patrick Gibson and Nicholas Hoult in the film TOLKIEN

by Sam Juliano

Mid-May and warm weather would seem to be synonymous but in the New York City and northeast New Jersey area is has been unseasonably cool and rainy.  Our family are still morning the loss of our Labrador retriever Morgan who passed on Wednesday from a fast moving cancer at 12 years and 8 months old.  We acquired Morgan in late September of 2007 in one of the unlikeliest of scenarios. Lucille and I were heading in to see an opera at the Metropolitan at Lincoln Center and we passed an Animal Rescue trailer, where we stopped briefly. We ended up paying the small fee for a female white/yellow lab puppy named Morgan and the rest is history as they say. Needless to say we gave up our opera that night.  We lost our other (black) lab Joanie three years back. She lived one year less than Morgan. We have a blind pug, a second small dog, three cats, a turtle, an Amazon parrot, a guinea pig, a tortoise and even a chicken but the beloved veteran Morgan will be in our hearts forever.

This week our previous participants will be sent via e mail instructions on the upcoming Allan Fish Online Film Festival which will commence on Tuesday, May 28th (Allan’s 46th birthday).  Jamie Uhler and I will speak on the final specs over the next few days.

This past week I again served as a chaperone for our school district’s annual Washington D.C. school trip which ran from Wednesday morning till late Friday night.  We visited museums, and the many memorials and partook in the extended Capitol and Pentagon tours.  On the way down to D.C. we also stopped briefly in Philadelphia where the kids got to see the Liberty Bell and the First Continental Hall. (more…)

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By J.D. Lafrance

A great hangout movie is hard to do well. You have to have a cast of memorable characters brought vividly to life by actors with quotable dialogue. All of these elements are crucial because they often distract from the fact that most hangout movies are about nothing and by that I mean they are largely plotless. The godfather of the genre is George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973), which followed a bunch of teenagers driving around in cars and goofing off. It featured a cast of then unknown actors, some of whom would go on to be big-time movie stars (Harrison Ford). It also had a fantastic soundtrack of vintage 1950s rock ‘n’ roll music. This film established a template that many others would follow – most notably Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993) and Superbad (2007).

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by Sam Juliano

I am honored beyond words to learn this week that a short film which features me as the central character and host of my annual Oscar party at the Tiger Hose Firehouse has been selected to screen in the prestigious BAM Brooklyn Academy of Music Film Festival in June. The short is titled BEST PICTURE, and is directed by the brilliant award-winning Jay Giampietro. I’m still dazed. Friends and film writers Adam Ferenz and John Grant are also featured in the film.  Having a cherished annual event permanently ensconced and shown on the big screen to a packed audience is a dream event and mid June will be a festive time in these parts.

This past week our great scholarly film essayist James Clark has published another brilliant piece, this time on Claire Denis’ The Intruder.  The superb film reviewer J.D. Lafrance also published an a terrific piece, on Monte Hellman’s 1971 Two Lane Backdrop.

Lucille and I completed eleven torrid days at the Tribeca Film Festival.  My latest reports here at on the seven days of this present week after the first report on the previous MMD.  They are as follows: (more…)

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 © 2019 by James Clark

  One of the only things I don’t like about the endeavor of Ingmar Bergman, is his hatred of the work of Michelangelo Antonioni. On starting upon fathoming Claire Denis’ film, The Intruder (2005), I was more than pleased to realize that we’re both on the same page concerning this important matter.

It wouldn’t be Denis, if the launch-pad were not brimming with explosives of Bergman’s incendiary theatrical dialogue. But, in our film today, easily 95% of the action proceeds wordlessly. The wiring of Bergman’s film, The Seventh Seal (1957), has been expertly switched on. But, instead of honeys of dramatic sophistication, we end up with wilderness and a ticket to ride. Bergman, himself, was well aware that his disclosures would never reach the terminal decadence of normal respectability. This left him with a paradox which his sensibility would not ignite (on the order of rejecting, repeatedly, an exotic organ—a fully operating heart, for instance). Clearly seeing that problematic, Denis essays, in this production, to liberate the vehicles of acrobatics and juggling (stemming from The Seventh Seal) in a bid, endlessly demanding, to find in her art some life on earth which surfaces more than a few forgettable seconds.

Though it might, were such a thing possible, have him spinning in his grave, our adventure today—in full dedication to Bergman—invokes Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960). You’ll recall, that The Seventh Seal reveals a medieval Swedish knight, Antonius Block, obsessed with reaching certitude about his eternal soul. As such, he stages a series of chess board events imagined to be opposing him in the form of a black-garbed, pasty-faced personification of death, who has seemingly promised him to open heaven itself if he can defeat the apparition. Thus distracted, Block falls short of cogent animation. True to form, our protagonist, Louis Trebor, a man of our century with great wealth and a track record of distant travels (Block having come to bear as just returned from one of the crusades), has become obsessed with the technology and accessibility of heart transplants. (more…)

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