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Archive for April, 2022

by Sam Juliano

We are fast-approaching May, and seasonal weather has been announcing this development almost daily.  The situation in Ukraine remains almost apocalyptic, though inspired resistance insures this horror will continue for several months, short of an unexpected truce.

Our French film poll is attracting a remarkable number of ballots (well over 50 at this point) and it will continue for one more week, with the deadline set for 5:00 P.M. on May 1st.  Those still wishing to cast a ballot can do so at the thread proper here at Wonders in the Dark.  For those interested in what the following poll will be, I can reveal it will be The Best Films of Spain and Portugal and will be a 20 film ballot.

Two more Paradise Atop the Hudson events are scheduled at local libraries, with the first this coming Saturday at Ridgefield Park for Arbor Day.  I will be sure to report back with photos and an assessment next week.  Meanwhile, I have resumed adding to Irish Jesus in Fairview, and yesterday surpassed 55,000 words.  I am pleased how things are going, and with some new ideas that have come to light.  Paradise has now sold 850 copies at Amazon, the vast majority paperbacks, and another 27 hardcovers at Barnes & Nobel for a grand total of 877.

Lucille and I will be visiting the Ridgefield Park multiplex tonight to watch the well-reviewed The Northman.  I will post a rating on it first thing in the morning.

The Northman  **** 1/2   )Ridgefield Park multiplex)   Sunday night

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by Sam Juliano

Wishing all our Jewish friends a Happy Passover and hoping those celebrating Easter had a happy and soulful Sunday.  Lucille and I attended the 10:30 mass at Our Lady of Grace Church in Fairview.

After two years of cancellations brought on by COVID concerns, my school system will again running the 8th grade Washington trip from May 4th to the 6th.  I will again be attending as a chaperone, and am wondering how many of the usual landmarks will be open and will be permitting tourists.  In any case, the outdoor memorials are always fair game.

I would have liked to write more during the present extended break, but I found myself diverted and needed to spend some time obtaining facts from some of those living people who are being represented in the narrative.  Still I made some modest progress and will resume in the coming days.

Many thanks to all who have submitted a ballot for the French Film Polling.  About 55 ballots have been submitted, and the project will run until early May. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

This past week, Wonders in the Dark essayist extraordinaire Jim Clark published another fabulous entry in his ongoing Federico Fellini series, on the 1983 And the Ship Sails On.  Jim’s scholarship continues to be a guiding light here at this fourteen-year-old film and arts on-line depot.

Barbarism in Ukraine, perpetrated by war crime engineer Vladimir Putin continues to repulse many of us, and we can only wonder how much longer can the world accept such morally repugnant behavior without more decisive intervention.  My own interest in films, music and literature has taken a back seat over the past several weeks, as I have tuned in to all the events surrounding this unspeakable horror.

Still, life moves forward, and our Greatest Films of France polling has been getting a ton of attention, what with 44 ballots having already been cast in this 30 film polling bonanza.  But as France challenges the USA as the greatest cinema of all, I can’t say this level of enthusiasm has been any kind of a surprise.

Classes are on spring break through Monday, April 18th (the day after Easter), and will resume on Tuesday, the 19th.  I have been taking advantage of this down time to write more chapters in Irish Jesus in Fairview, though I won’t get a clearer picture of where I stand with it until the aforementioned Tuesday, the 19th.  I just yesterday reached 50,000 words.

Wishing all our friends and readers who celebrate, a Happy and soulful Easter Sunday, and the Holy Week that begins today! (more…)

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by James Clark 2022

      As with the scatter gun presentation I’ve been using for the films, when it came into the little clutch of “Fellini” films (driven by film writer, Tonino Guerra), I once again shuffled the deck. The order would be: Amarcord  (1973); And the Ship Sails On (1983); and Ginger and Fred (1985). All three were marvels. But our film today, And the Ship Sails On, needed special attention. Here was a saga of both molten commitment to art and molten commitment to politics. What kind of magic will be in the offing?

The era is the instance of early filmmaking, silent and intensely impressive. Its dynamics seems to be driven by a slightly different world. Into this organic stance the players have to attempt to discover if they are frightened or delighted, lucid or lost. They convene at a luxurious ocean liner, in order to play a part in the last rites of a won-of-a-kind soprano. The presentation would involve placing the ashes, on the sea, at an island whom she had found to be apt. Though the clientele is dressed in great finery and taste, there are moments before embarking which cause a pause. A burly tenor, noticing a frigid soprano, gestures as if passing gas. These are paragons of sensibility, but despite the solemness of the moment, there has, at least in his case, a mismanagement of equilibrium, a failure of authority. Many penniless souls had been attracted to such heights. Perhaps two young boys there, in the industrial miasma, teach “authority.” The bigger boy twists the little one over his back, and then they both happily run away. That swift twist had casually upstaged the fancy-pants. Many currents will complicate this voyage. The ship is called, Gloria N. (Perhaps meaning, Nothing.) But withal, there is a steady input of enigma. The cherished few enter the ship by a long ladder, in view of the envious. It could be a sign of the important. But it is also similar of mounting the gallows. Closing out this scene, someone close to the steel wall and its tight ribbits patterns, asks, “They tell me: ‘Does the news tell what happens?’ And who the hell knows what happens?” A journalist, covering the august event, plays with his hat. He’s, our protagonist. (more…)

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The Greatest Films of France Polling!!!

Choosing only thirty (30) films for one of the greatest cinemas in the world is a Herculeon task, and to have left off Clair, Clement, Guitry, Eustache, Pagnol, Feyder, Chabrol, Rohmer, Dassin, Godard (not his biggest fan but a few great ones, yes), and so many other masterpieces, is unconscionable. It is killing me to leave off La Promesse; Rosetta; Le Trou; Une Vie; Port of Shadows; Lola Montes; A Sunday in the Country; Pickpocket; Mouchette; La Roue; Boudu Saved from Drowning; Two English Girls; Breathless; Weekend; The Discreet of the Bourgeiosie; Les Enfants Terribles; Coup de Torchon; Panique; Blanche; Celeine and Julie Go Boating; Le Jour se Leve; Army of Shadows; Orpheus; The Mother and the Whore; An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge; Lacombe Lucien; Wages of Fear; Hiroshima Mon Amour; La Jetee; Sorrow and the Pity; Shoah; The Green Room and tons of others. But here we are. My thirty favorite French masterpieces in alphabetical order: (Deadline for voting will be 5:00 on May 1st; all determinations on voting eligibility will be made by Bill Kamberger).

The 400 Blows ‘Les Quatre Cents Coups’ (Truffaut; 1959)
The Artist (Hazananavicius; 2011)
L’ Atalante (Vigo; 1934)
Au Hasard Balthazar (Bresson; 1966)
Au Revoir Les Enfants (Malle; 1987)
Belle de Jour (Bunuel; 1967)
La Belle et la Bete (Cocteau; 1945)
La Belle Noiseuse (Rivette; 1991)
The Chorus (Barratier; 2004)
Diaboliques (Clouzot; 1955)
The Earrings of Madame de (Ophuls; 1953)
Les Enfants du Paradis (Carne; 1945)
La Grande Illusion (Renoir; 1937)
Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources (Berri; 1987-1988)
La Fin du Jour (Duvivier; 1939)
Le Journal un Cure de Campagne (Bresson; 1950)
Jules and Jim (Truffaut; 1962)
A Man Escaped (Bresson; 1958)
Les Miserables (Bernard; 1933-4)
Napoleon (Gance; 1928)
Night and Fog ‘Nuit et brouillard’ (Resnais; 1956)
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Demy; 1964)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer; 1928)
Playtime (Tati; 1967)
The Red Balloon, ‘Le ballon rouge’ (Lamorisse; 1956)
Rules of the Game ‘Le regle du Jeu’ (Renoir; 1939)
La Silence de la Mer (Melville; 1946)
Son Frere (Chereau; 2004)
Three Colors Trilogy (Kieslowki; 1993-4)
Wild Reeds ‘Les Roseaux sauvages’ (Techine; 1994)

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by Sam Juliano

The Indian film Top 100 has been tabulated and posted, and I have included this remarkable listing of masterpieces on this very post.  After some extensions, the final results are most impressive, if not reference quality.  Many thanks to those who contributed a ballot to the project!  21 ballots were submitted. We have moved forward to launch the Top 100 French polling, and as expected the action has been torrid right out of the gate.  From the very start when we conceived of this marathon project we knew France would be quite special, and for most the challenger for the USA for top honors.  I will post the French thread mid-afternoon on Monday, the date of this MMD.

My daughter Melanie created a fantastic 16 minute video of my library book signing event of this past week (Wednesday, March 30), and I have included it here.  Obviously it is an abridged work, as the actual presentation ran over an hour.

“Pather Panchali”; “The World of Apu”; “The Cloud-Capped Star”; “Aparajito”; “Charulata”; and “Pyassa” lead Indian Top 100 according to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Bill Kamberger!
1. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) – 292
2. The World of Apu / Apu Sansar (Satyajit Ray, 1959) – 245
3. The Cloud-Capped Star / Meghe Dhaka Tara (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) – 238
4. Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956) – 234
5. Charulata / The Lonely Wife (Satyajit Ray, 1964) – 195.5
6. Pyaasa / Thirst (Guru Dutt, 1957) – 194.5
7. Sholay (Ramesh Sippy, 1975) – 156
8. Devi / The Goddess (Satyajit Ray, 1960) – 154
9. The Music Room / Jalsaghar (Satyajit Ray, 1958) – 149.5
10. Mother India (Mehboob Khan, 1957 – 145
11. The Big City / Mahanagar (Satyajit Ray, 1963) – 117.5
12. Awaara / The Tramp (Raj Kapoor, 1951) – 105.5
13. A River Called Titas / Titas Ekti Nodir Naam (Ritwik Ghatak, 1973) – 91
14. Days and Nights in the Forest / Aranyer Din Ratri (Satyajit Ray, 1970) – 85
15. The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013) – 74
16. Ankur: The Seedling (Shyam Benegal, 1974) – 67.5
17. Paper Flowers / Kaagaz Ke Phool (Guru Dutt, 1959) – 56
18. Two Acres of Land / Do Bigha Zamin (Bimal Roy, 1953) – 54.5
19. Distant Thunder / Ashani Sanket (Satyajit Ray, 1973) – 54
20. Our Daily Bread / Uski Roti (Mani Kaul, 1970) – 50.5
21. Anand (Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 1971) – 46.5
22. Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair, 1988) – 46.5
23. The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane, 2020) – 46
24. Boot Polish (Prakash Arora, 1954) – 45
25. The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani, 2021) – 42.5
26. Shakespeare-Wallah (James Ivory, 1965) – 41.5
27. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001) – 38.5
28. Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001) – 38
29. A Peck on the Cheek / Kannathil Muthamittal (Mani Ratnam, 2002) – 37
30. The Namesake (Mira Nair, 2006) – 36
31. Omkara (Vishal Bhardwaj, 2006) – 35.5
32. Black Friday (Anurag Kashyap, 2004) – 35.5
33. And Quiet Rolls the Dawn / Ek Din Pratidin (Mrinal Sen, 1979) – 33.5
34. Chaudhvin Ka Chand / The Moon of the Fourteenth Day / Full Moon (M. Sadiq, 1960) – 32
35. Rat-Trap / Elippathayam (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 1982) – 30.5
36. The Terrorist (Santosh Sivan, 1998) – 28.5
37. Baiju Bawra (Vijay Bhatt, 1952) – 25.5
38. Evening Shadows (Sridhar Rangayan, 2018) – 25.5
39. The Chess Players / Shantraj Ke Khilari (Satyajit Ray, 1977) – 24
40. Subarnarekha / The Golden Thread (Ritwik Ghatak, 1965) – 24
41. Guide (Vijay Anand, 1965) – 23
42. Amar Akbar Anthony (Manmohan Desai, 1977) – 21
43. In Search of Famine / Akaler Sandhane (Mrinal Sen, 1981) – 21
44. Shree 420 (Raj Kapoor, 1955) – 19.5
45. Report to Mother / Amma Ariyan (John Abraham, 1986) – 18
46. Bombay (Mani Ratnam, 1995) – 17.5
47. A Throw of Dice (Franz Osten, 1929) – 17.5
48. Bandini (Bimal Roy, 1963) – 16.5
49. Dil Se… / From the Heart (Mani Ratnam, 1998) – 16.5
50. Pakeezah (Kamal Amrohi, 1972) – 16.5

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