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Archive for December 29th, 2019

by Sam Juliano

I’ll be spending the morning of New Year’s Eve (Tuesday) in a rather unusual place, as a result of lamentable scheduling that I was foolish not to contest.  Alas I will be drinking those deplorable laxatives on Monday night in preparation for a combined colonoscopy-endoscopy procedure which isn’t being done for any other reason other than it has been eight years since I last had one (colonoscopy) and maybe six since I had an endoscopy.  The latter is common for anyone like myself who is maligned with acid reflux (Gerd).  No big deal of course but definitely a bizarre bit of scheduling.

Jim Clark again posted his inspiring essay for the holiday season “Dylan Thomas, James Herriot and the Spirit of Christmas” at the site on Thursday.

Lucille, the boys and I spent Saturday evening taking in a splendid doo wop presentation by our friend’s group “Four Man Trio” at the Lakeside Restaurant in Wayne, and on Friday we drove down to Asbury Park for a pinball session at the waterfront Silverball Museum.

Two of the very best films of the year opened on Christmas Day and Lucille, the gang and I caught one of the greatest war films ever made (#2 WW I film behind “All Quiet on the Western Front”) at 9:20 on Xmas evening and by far the finest and most achingly sublime adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic novel “Little Women” yet from the renowned Greta Gerwig, chock full of spirited performances and writing on Thursday afternoon.

1917, directed by Sam Mendes based on a story told to him from his paternal grandfather is technically as adroit as “Dunkirk” but the film goes so much further in character development and narrative, and the final fifteen minutes are altogether shattering. The lead actor who plays Lance Corp. Schonfield (George MacKay) delivers a powerful, awards worthy turn, Roger Deakins’ searing cinematography is first-rate as is Thomas Newman’s haunting score, and the film’s single take gimmick is surprisingly successful. A gut wrenching experience with a well-earned tour de force of an ending.

Little Women represents a watermark in Gerwig’s career and for adaptations of the novel a new poll position placement. The lovely Saoirse Ronan aces her beguiling performance as “Jo” and the entire cast delivers such as Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern and Timothee Chalamet. Alexander Desplat’s score is lovely and a perfect fit for the material and the cinematography, production design and costumes conspire to fuel this engrossing screenplay (also by Gerwig) with ravishing period flavor. In my opinion this film is even better than the director’s previous “Ladybird” and her best work to date. Both films rate 5/5. I also thought the Boston Film Critics nailed it giving Ronan their Best Actress prize!

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