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Archive for February 10th, 2020

Alas, last night’s Oscar party has yielded a tragic aftermath. For several years the author John Grant (Paul Barnett) and his wife Pamela have traveled all the way down from Hewitt (near Greenwood Lakes, NJ) to attend our annual party despite it being over an hour’s drive one way. He and Pam became very dear friends to Lucille and I and when they didn’t show up last night despite e mail assurances they were excited to attend again Lucille and I were deeply concerned. I sent on an email and it was answered by Pam who informed me she had sent me a correspondence from another address that he suffered a fatal heart attack last week. As per his wishes he was cremated. Since 2013 when we first met in a Montclair bookstore we hit it off in every sense and he was for the past seven years the most regular and and passionate commenter at WONDERS IN THE DARK, using the title “realthog.” He was a great writer and film noir expert. To say he will be missed understates our bond. I can’t imagine the world without Paul whose pen name was John Grant. A prince of a guy with a fabulous sardonic wit he was born in Scotland and is one of the most prolific writers and voracious readers of all-time. Paul was 70 years old.  We were so privileged to know you. Your legacy is deeply pronounced, but your friendship was special beyond words. (first photo of John in Montclair in 2013; second at last year’s Oscar party with Adam Ferenz in the background)  I was first introduced to Paul via my good Australian friend Tony d’Ambra who was a treasured film noir compatriot in an online connection that developed into actual meetings.

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by Sam Juliano

Yes Parasite won big last night. No it was NOT my favorite film of the year, heck it didn’t even finish in my Top 10. (#16 in my Top 25) I like the film well enough but here’s the rub: I am a lifelong International film fanatic, but this past year I have SIX (6) foreign-language films ahead of “Parasite” on the aforementioned list. It is NOT the Second Coming of cinematic works, and by its very essence it is mostly emotionally distancing if deliberately so. Hence, here is my conclusion in a night that was totally predictable until we reached Best Director and Best Picture – it was great that the long maintained taboo against foreign films was broken, even if the choice was not the absolute tour de force I would have liked to break the snide. Yesterday morning I predicted 1917 to win but in parenthesis I added Parasite is gaining fast!” There are some very good trusted cinephiles who are celebrating and to them and all lovers of this good- if – not -absolutely-great-for-me film I hold up my glass for a toast.  In any event 51 people crowded into the back room of the Tiger Hose Firehouse in Fairview last night for our 43rd annual Oscar party. As always it was a soulfully ingratiating affair, one where some get to see others for the first time in a calendar year and re-institute their friendship vows. It was quite a treat to have my beloved Cliffside Park High School English teacher Patrick J. Shelley (P.J.) and his lovely fiance Patty attend after a drive down from northern Connecticut. They are pictured above with my lifelong friend Tony Lucibello and Yours Truly. What a fabulous night!

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