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Archive for November 17th, 2019

by Sam Juliano

You wouldn’t think I would be facing a laser iridotomy for normal “narrow angles” in my left eye on Monday morning, Nov. 18th and cataract surgery on my right eye on December 13th by the way I have been running around, seeing movies and fulfilling my regular work schedule.  In any case I have completed a bunch of appointments involving a retina specialist, a measurement expert (my cataract eye was too dense for my physician Dr. Geller to ascertain as a result of my waiting too long) and my primary care physician for clearance not to mention two more visits to Geller.  It has been truly a hectic time.

An amazing time was had at the Nitehawk Cinemas in Brooklyn Tuesday night where the first of our two festival-hopping 2019 short films “Best Picture”, about our annual Oscar party at Fairview’s Tiger Hose Firehouse, was screened in front of a sold out house in the complex’s main theater. I joined the film’s director Jay Giampietro on stage for a fabulous post-film discussion. What a bunch of astounding shorts were in last night’s lineup, including one starring Ethan Hawke’s daughter (Memory Experiment). After posing with Jay, his wife Leah, cast member Bart Talamini Jr. and family members who appeared in the film, we watched the nine shorts and engaged in the aforementioned discussion where I revealed the advent of our 42 consecutive Oscar party ritual. Jay spoke of his budding involvement with the annual event, and in responding to an audience question I asserted that this coming year’s best picture Oscar will go to either “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” or “The Irishman.” Programmers and festival patrons were all over us after the event in the lobby. Temperatures may have been freezing outside but indoors we witnessed positive energy in every sense. The Nitehawk Festival, in its eighth year, is one of NYC’s premiere shorts venues.

We saw four films in theaters this past week.  Actually one of those – Ford vs. Ferrari – will be seen tonight (Sunday), so I will revisit this post in the morning to insert the grade if not also a brief assessment:

Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” one of 2019’s greatest masterpieces!

The sometimes funny, but ultimately devastating “Marriage Story” featuring Scarlett Joahansson, Adam Driver and Laura Dern in extraordinary form is a coast-to-coast divorce drama that probes deeply and depicts the complexity of incompatibility in a relationship where both warring parties still love each other. The perceptive and nuanced screenplay is one of the year’s finest and three other supporting performances by Alan Alda, Julie Hegarty and Ray Liotta also hit the mark. Rating 5/5. The film is another netflix release that will go streaming after a few weeks in theaters. I count it surely as one of the top 2 or 3 films of the year. We saw it last night at the Claridge in Montclair.

Star grades and very brief commentary on two recently-seen theatrical films – “Honey Boy” and “The Good Liar”

“Honey Boy” is a raw, intense and powerful autobiographical account of Shia LaBeouf’s childhood that is uniformly well acted and an an effective fusion of humor, dysfunction and heartbreak. I did get a big laugh at Rex Reed’s personal John Simon-like assault on LaBeouf as a “no talent” and the film as “despicable” but again such juvenile film criticism tells us much more about the person writing the review than about the subject. That said the reviews overall were excellent. 4.5 of 5 “The Good Liar” is extremely well acted by Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, and it is reasonably entertaining, but the screenplay is hopelessly convoluted 3.0 of 5.

James Clark’s new essay will be posted in the very near future.  J.D. Lafrance’s excellent review of Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money published this past week.

Jamie Uhler’s brilliant Horror Fest 2019 series continues with two new superlative capsules.  Though both are stupendous, the one he penned on the recently-released masterwork The Lighthouse is stunning!

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