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Archive for May, 2022

BRIEF THOUGHTS ON OZU’S FIRST COLOR FILM, AND A HUMBLE ODE TO ALLAN’S HAIKU-LIKE ESSAY STRUCTURE

by Robert Hornak

After absorbing most of his prodigious catalog before it, Ozu’s first color film becomes my own Dylan-goes-electric moment. The first scene, Hirayama (Shin Saburi) giving a speech at the wedding of a friend’s daughter, feels like Ozu trying out his new toy on that unsuspecting ceremony. Coming directly off so many black-and-white masterpieces, the color here feels delicately correct, but a bit too careful, even dare I say unsure. Like a master baker putting finishing touches on the top tier of a five-decker cake, wherein mastery is still subject to gravity. One can sense, not quite excitement, but tension created by the color that is counter to the reflective soul of his previous movies. This color has the power to make me nostalgic for that feeling. But this is a luxury more than a legitimate regret, and more my problem than that of the great director. For the color’s power is just what Ozu seems to be reaching for, tempering. A shot of a clutch of flowers in a vase near the beginning of the film, or the arrestingly bright redness of his ubiquitous, ever-obliging teapot, is a dare exacted upon the shot, an admonishment to our expectations, perhaps a challenge to us, to test our own ability to still find the simple, unassuming beauty in something so vibrantly attention-getting. There is also something about the color that makes the editing more noticeable, so the story feels less fluid – when we’ve been trained by him over dozens of films to find stability, even meaning, in only, say, graphic rhymes or mathematical geography, then any cut to audacious color demands notice, and these edits supply a jolt. 

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by Bobby Jopsson
Tired of the everyday work hassle? Lost in the usual grind of arguing with the boss? Jaded having discovered every classic from the halcyon era of Hollywood’s Golden Age of the ’40? Nothing to left to discover in the widescreen ’50s? Come with me on a tour of the murkier corners of the Allan Fish Festival. Mind your step, you may trip over those nitrate canisters.
Here is exhibit one, for those who’ve longed for something of the outré, since sinister forces from the incomprehensible Planet Nielsen extinguished Mr. Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. It’s a little masterpiece that gets lost among its lengthier cinematic siblings of 1943. Helmed by French maestro Julien Duvivier, on a forced sojourn away from his beloved country. Based upon Oscar Wilde’s 19th century novella, a hypnotic and breathless trip into the shadowy world where German Expressionism meets the darkest of noir sensibilities, it’s a rich but short (30 minutes) tour de force on the theme of predestination. The shimmering camera-work is the forgotten work of Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons, Night of the Hunter). The supporting cast is rich and ripe of English vintage, headlined by Americans Mr. Edward G. Robinson and Mr. Thomas Mitchell. Sit down and just spool forward to the 26 minute mark:
Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime
Ahhh, that was refreshing. Prepare a martini whilst I spool by the next offering.
Well, here we are, ready of an offering worthy of Mr. Karloff’s long gone Thriller. It’s a small tale, based upon a BBC radio play with yet another master of lighting, Mr. Georges Périnal. It’s a supernatural yarn with a unique sensibility, a musical diction worthy of Powell and Pressburger. Directed by Wendy Toye, possibly the first great female director, it’s a fitting follow-up to her classic short film “The Stranger Left No Card”, with the same leading man. In its own quiet way, it’s sensationally good, such as the journey into the picture, saying more would spoil the dark enchantment.
Into the Picture

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by Sam Juliano

An unspeakable school event in Uvalde, Texas has brought back the gun control issue in a big way -as well it should- but again the unconscionable horror has people all around the world shaking their heads about how and why this kind of thing only happens in America.

Memorial Day is upon us and with it an unofficial start of the summer.  Wishing all a safe and thought-provoking Monday.

The Sixth Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival is underway and so far we have been given two absolutely stupendous pieces by project founder Jamie Uhler and by our longtime friend and co-writer Joel Bocko.  Nine (9) more submissions lie ahead.  Thanks to all for following this always-enthralling enterprise in horror of our sorely-missed friend and colleague.

“Viridiana,” “Spirit of the Beehive,” “Talk to Her,” “Chimes at Midnight,” “Death of a Cyclist” and “Mysteries of Lisbon” Lead Top 106 in Spain/Portugal film polling according to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Bill Kamberger!
1. Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961, Spain) – 271
2. The Spirit of the Beehive / El espíritu de la colmena (Victor Erice, 1973, Spain) – 236
3. Talk to Her / Habla con ella (Pedro Almodóvar, 2002, Spain) – 158
4. Chimes at Midnight / Campanadas a medianoche (Orson Welles, 1965, Spain) – 146
5. Death of a Cyclist / Muerte de un ciclista (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1955, Spain) – 132
6. Mysteries of Lisbon / Mistérios de Lisboa (Raúl Ruiz, 2010, Portugal) – 129
7. All About My Mother / Todo sobre mi madre (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999, Spain) – 120
8. Cría Cuervos / Raise Ravens (Carlos Saura, 1976, Spain) – 116
9. El Verdugo / The Executioner (Luis García Berlanga, 1963, Spain) – 111
10. Tristana (Luis Buñuel, 1970; Spain) – 86
11. That Obscure Object of Desire / Cet obscur objet du désir (Luis Buñuel, 1977; Spain) – 82
12. The Hunt / La caza (Carlos Saura, 1966; Spain) – 68
13. The Devil’s Backbone / El espinazo del diablo (Guillermo del Toro, 2001, Spain) – 62
14. El Sur / The South (Victor Erice, 1983, Spain) – 50
15. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown / Mujeres al borde de un ataque de “nervios” (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988, Spain) – 50
16. Blood / O Sangue (Pedro Costa, 1989, Portugal) – 49
17. La Morte Rouge / Soliloquio (Victor Erice, 2006, Spain) – 49
18. Carmen (Carlos Saura, 1983, Spain) – 46
19. In Vanda’s Room / No Quarto da Vanda (Pedro Costa, 2000, Portugal) – 46
20. Plácido (Luis García Berlanga, 1961, Spain) – 40
21. Aniki Bóbó (Manoel de Oliveira, 1942, Portugal) – 39
22. Bad Education (Pedro Almodóvar, 2004, Spain) – 37
23. The Impossible / Lo imposible (J. A. Bayona, 2012, Spain) – 36
24. The Death of Louis XIV / La mort de Louis XIV (Albert Serra, 2016, Spain) – 33
25. Belle Epoque (Fernando Trueba, 1992, Spain) – 32
26. Biutiful (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2010, Spain) – 31
27. The Others / Los otros (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001, Spain) – 31
28. The Skin I Live In / La piel que habito (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011, Spain) – 31
29. To Begin Again / Begin the Beguine / Volver a empazar (José Luis Garci, 1982, Spain) – 29
30. Pain and Glory / Dolor y gloria (Pedro Almodóvar, 2019, Spain) – 28
31. Strange Voyage / El extraño viaje (Fernando Fernán Gómez, 1964, Spain) – 28
32. Volver / To Return (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006, Spain) – 27
33. The Holy Innocents / Los santos inocentes (Mario Camus, 1984, Spain) – 25
34. Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall! / Welcome, Mr. Marshall! (Luis García Berlanga, 1953, Spain) – 24
35. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012, Portugal) – 24
36. El Amor Brujo / The Love Wizard (Carlos Saura, 1986, Spain) – 23
37. Law of Desire / La ley del deseo (Pedro Almodóvar, 1987, Spain) – 23
38. Abraham’s Valley / Vale Abraão (Manoel de Oliveira, 1993, Portugal) – 22
39. Colossal Youth / Juventude em Marcha (Pedro Costa, 2006, Portugal) – 22
40. Lovers of the Arctic Circle / Los amantes del Círculo Polar (Julio Medem, 1998, Spain) – 22
41. The Quince Tree Sun / Dream of Light / El sol del membrillo (Victor Erice, 1992, Spain) – 22
42. Blood Wedding / Bodas de sangre (Carlos Saura, 1981, Spain) – 21
43. The Sea Inside / Mar adentro (Alejandro Amenábar, 2004, Spain) – 21
44. Sex and Lucía / Lucía y el sexo (Julio Medem, 2001, Spain) – 21
45. Blancanieves / Snow White (Pablo Berger, 2012, Spain) – 20
46. The Orphanage / El orfanato (J. A. Bayona, 2007, Spain) – 19
47. The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks / La torre de los siete jorobados (Edgar Neville, 1944, Spain) – 18
48. Cuadecuc, Vampir (Pere Portabella, 1971, Spain) – 16
49. The Grandfather / El abuelo (José Luis Garci, 1998, Spain) – 16
50. A Talking Picture / Um Filme Falado (Manoel de Oliveira, 2003, Portugal) – 16
51. Benilde, or the Virgin Mother (Manoel de Oliveira, 1975, Portugal) – 15
52. The Flower of My Secret / La flor de mi secreto (Pedro Almodóvar, 1995, Spain) – 15
53. Land Without Bread / Las Hurdes (Luis Buñuel, 1933, Spain) – 15
54. Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, 2019, Portugal) – 15
55. De profundis / From the Sea (Miguelanxo Prado, 2007, Spain) – 14
56. Os Verdes Anos / The Green Years (Paulo Rocha, 1963, Portugal) – 14
57. Amor de Perdição / Doomed Love (Manoel de Oliveira, 1979, Portugal) – 13
58. Parallel Mothers / Madres paralelas (Pedro Almodóvar, 2021, Spain) – 13
59. Change of Life / Mudar de Vida (Paulo Rocha, 1966, Portugal) – 12
60. The Invisible Guest / Contratiempo (Oriol Paulo, 2016, Spain) – 12
61. In the City of Sylvia / Dans la ville de Sylvia (José Luis Guerín, 2007, Spain) – 12
62. Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom / Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras xhicas del montón (Pedro Almodóvar, 1980, Spain) – 12
63. The Electric Hotel / El hotel eléctrico (Segundo de Chomón, 1908, Spain) – 11
64. Francisca (Manoel de Oliveira, 1981, Portugal) – 11
65. Minetras duermes / Sleep Tight (Jaume Balagueró, 2011, Spain) – 11
66. The Day of the Beast / El día de la bestia (Álex de la Iglesia, 1995, Spain) – 10
67. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam, 2018, Spain) – 10
68. The Strange Case of Angelica / O Estranho Caso de Angélica (Manoel de Oliveira, 2010, Portugal) – 10
69. El viaje a ninguna parte / Voyage to Nowhere (Fernando Fernán Gómez, 1986, Spain) – 10
70. The Garden of Delights / El jardín de las delicias (Carlos Saura, 1970, Spain) – 9
71. Ala-Arriba! (José Leitão de Barros, 1942, Portugal) – 8
72. Solas / Alone (Benito Zambrano, 1999, Spain) – 8
73. Anna and the Wolves / Ana y los lobos (Carlos Saura, 1973, Spain) – 8
74. Arabian Nights / As Mil e Uma Noites (Miguel Gomes, 2015, Portugal) – 8
75. Butterfly / La lengua de las mariposas (José Luis Cuerda, 1999, Spain) – 8
76. Calle Mayor / Main Street (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1956, Spain) – 8
77. Chico & Rita (Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba, 2010, Spain) – 8
78. Cousin Angelica / La prima Angélica (Carlos Saura, 1974, Spain) – 8
79. El diputado / Confessions of a Congressman (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1978, Spain) – 8
80. The Enchanted Forest / El bosque animado (José Luis Cuerda, 1987, Spain) – 8
81. Even the Rain / También la lluvia (Icíar Bollaín, 2010, Spain) – 8
82. Eyes Leave Traces / Los ojos dejan huellas (José Luis Sáenz de Heredia, 1952, Spain) – 8
83. Surcos / Furrows (José Antonio Nieves Conde, 1951, Spain) – 8
84. God’s Comedy / A Comédia de Deus (João César Monteiro, 1995, Portugal) – 8
85. The Letter / La letter (Manoel de Oliveira, 1999, Portugal) – 8
86. O Leão da Estrela / The Lion of the Star (Arthur Duarte, 1947, Portugal) – 8
87. Live Flesh / Carne trémula (Pedro Almodóvar, 1997, Spain) – 8
88. Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed / Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados (David Trueba, 2013, Spain) – 8
89. Manoel on the Island of Wonders / Manoel dans l’île des merveilles (Raúl Ruiz, 1984, Portugal) – 8
90. Matador (Pedro Almodóvar, 1986, Spain) – 8
91. The Night of the Sunflowers / La noche de los girasoles (Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo, 2006, Spain) – 8
92. O Fantasma / Phantom (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2000, Portugal) – 8
93. Open Your Eyes / Abre los ojos (Alejandro Amenábar, 1997, Spain) – 8
94. Orgullo / Pride (Manuel Mur Oti, 1955, Spain) – 8
95. The Ornithologist / O Ornitólogo (João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016, Portugal) – 8
96. Ossos / Bones (Pedro Costa, 1997, Portugal) – 8
97. Pepperminth Frappé (Carlos Saura, 1967, Spain) – 8
98. A Perfect Day / Un día perfecto (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2015, Spain) – 8
99. Recollections of the Yellow House / Recordações da Casa Amarela (João César Monteiro, 1989, Portugal) – 8
100. The Satin Slipper / Le soulier de satin (Manoel de Oliveira, 1985, Portugal) – 8
101. Summer 1993 Estiu 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017, Spain) – 8
102. Thesis / Tesis (Alejandro Amenábar, 1996, Spain) – 8
103. Aunt Tula / La tía Tula (Miguel Picazo, 1964, Spain) – 8
104. La venganza / Vengeance (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1958, Spain) – 8
105. Who Can Kill a Child? / ¿Quién puede matar a un niño? (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1976, Spain) – 8
106. The Year of Discovery / El año del descubrimiento (Luis López Carrasco, 2020, Spain) – 8

African and Middle Eastern Polling Launch!

Israel, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Iraq, Syria and all other countries from continental Africa and the Middle Eastern proper are eligible! Each voter gets twenty (20) choices, to presented in any manner they wish. All eligibility decisions will be made by Voting Tabulator Bill Kamberger. The poll will run until Wednesday, June 22nd at 5:00 P.M. Here are my own Top 20 presented alphabetically. If I had only one choice it would be the shattering Iranian classic by Forough Farokhzad. But happily I have 20:
Bashu, the Little Stranger (Iran; Bahram Beizai) 1989
Cairo Station (Egypt; Yousseff Chahine) 1958
Capernaum (Lebanon; Nadin Labaki) 2018
Close-Up (Iran; Abbas Kiarostami) 1990
The Band’s Visit (Israel; Erin Kolering) 2007
Distant (Turkey; Nuri Bilge Ceylan ) 2007
Foxtrot (Israel; Samuel Maoz) 2017
The Gods Must Be Crazy (South Africa; Jamie Uys) 1980
Honey (Turkey; Semih Kaplanoglu) 2011
The House is Black (Iran; Forough Farokhzad) 1963
Moolaade (Burkina Faso; Ouseme Sembene) 2004
A Separation (Iran; Aghar Farhadi) 2011
A Taste of Cherry (Iran; Abbas Kiarostami) 2007
Theeb (Jordan; Naji Abu Nowar) 2014
Tilai (Bukina Faso; Idrissa Ouedraogo) 1990
Touki Bouki (Senegal; Djibril Diop) 1973
Tsotsi (South Africa; Gavin Hood) 2005
The White Balloon (Iran; Jafar Panahi) 1996
Winter Sleep (Turkey; Nuri Bilge Ceylan) 2014
Youssi & Jagger (Isreal; Eytan Fox) 2002
To be sure I am very fond of many other films from this region, including Isreal’s “Footnote,” and films like “Black Girl,” “The Cakemaker,  “The Wild Pear Tree,” “Children of Heaven,” “The Wind Will Carry Us,” “Yeelan,” “The Color of Paradise,” “Yole,” “Camp di Thiaroye,” and others, but 20 is 20.

 

 

 

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by Joel Bocko

This review was originally written in 2016 for a series on my favorite films.

What it is • The House is Black is not a work of fiction, but the “documentary” description doesn’t quite suit it. This is a film about death, about God, about play, about loneliness. It is about the feeling that can swell up inside of you on a bright day, as if you’re lost inside a moment. It is about cold medical facts, and hard-earned hope that these facts can be applied to save lives – perhaps more importantly, to ease pain. The film is certainly about pain. And as a narrator tells us over a black screen in the opening seconds, it is about ugliness. It is about companionship in suffering and maybe above all, it is about empathy, an empathy the filmmaker feels for her subjects, and which she coaxes the viewers to feel as well. Empathy is not sympathy. Though commissioned and presented by a charity, the film does not ask us to gaze in horror or pity from afar. The first shot of the film, one of the most powerful shots I’ve ever seen, features a woman gazing at her own reflection in a mirror. We are watching her watch herself, as the camera moves closer. These camera movements are relentless, and the cutting even more so – several times a second during some rapid montages, dancing with the rhythm of the soundtrack (squeaks, chants, rumbles, repetitive noises picked up at the location). This film is important not just for its subject, but for how that subject is conveyed. Farrokhzad was a poet, and she narrates most of the film (after the stern introduction), softly reciting verses that evoke emotion through abstraction even as we are shown blunt, concrete images of faces, hands, and feet. These images are intercut with quick clippings of birds flying together, of a wheelbarrow rushing over rough turf, individual elements that make up the film. It is a film about poetry, and it is itself a poem. Most frames contain people, usually gazing into the camera lens, not as a challenge but as quiet assertion. There is not much talking, or writing, but the film takes its title from the final scene, which memorably contains both. A child, asked to offer examples of something ugly, names various body parts – a hand, a foot – and then giggles mischievously. This is a film about joy in the face of despair, joy not as mitigation but as relief, something natural that flows from day-to-day life because why wouldn’t it? And then another person is asked to write a sentence on the board containing the word “black.” He pauses, thinks for a moment, and then slowly, with difficulty, produces the following: “The house is black.” This is also a film about sorrow, underlying everything else, the joy, pain, or fear. And yes, The House is Black is about leprosy. Almost everyone we see is leprous to varying degrees, some in early stages so that their affliction appears as a slight blemish, others shockingly encased within their own skin. The film is sobering, but to call it hard to watch isn’t quite right. We, if we are fortunate enough not to already suffer from physical afflictions ourselves, quickly grow used to the sight of these people. The horror surrounds the film, in the neglect, the isolation, the maltreatment that facilitates the pain. Within the film is something else, pain yes, but also the dignity of existing, however temporarily, within a space created by an artist (Farrokhzad was so drawn to the people in the colony that she actually adopted one of the little boys when the dozen-day shoot ended, bringing him home with her). Farrokhzad, a strikingly beautiful and brilliant twenty-seven-year-old woman, a controversial, bold, and original artist celebrated at a young age for her talent with the written world, would be dead within five years, killed in a car crash in 1967. The House is Black soon became not just a memorial for those documented onscreen, but for the woman whose imagination and intelligence illuminated the film. It is twenty-two minutes, her only movie, and a masterpiece.

Why I like it •
When I saw it for the first time, The House is Black caught me by surprise. I mean that literally: the DVD menu was on when I walked out of the room and when I walked back in, the film had unexpectedly begun. So I missed the place-setting narration over black and was faced instantly with that first image, an image whose grace of expression took my breath away. Afterwards, I visited Allan Fish’s review on Wonders in the Dark to share my first impressions. “While I expected ugliness and suffering, I was unprepared for the sheer poetry of the film,” I wrote. That was seven years ago last week (the comment is dated October 25), and Allan’s wonderful review was published five months earlier. Now he too has died, another layer of poignancy surrounding the movie, whose first viewing was a gift from him and Sam Juliano that keeps on giving. The film first came to my attention a few years earlier, when I was collating greatest-of-all-time lists. It didn’t appear on too many, but made at least one or two. Allan’s review was probably what encouraged me to finally seek it out, and though it is easily available online (now and likely back then) I’m glad I watched it on a TV set rather than a computer screen (and I could only imagine it would be even more powerful in a theater). Tonight, I did the same and was struck anew by how effortlessly Farrokhzad’s perception engages us. Her style is gentle but firm, loose but decisive. I’ve seen the film several times over the years, featured images in several places (including the very front of my site’s banner), and cited it here and elsewhere as one of my top five favorites. Yet I realize tonight, slightly embarrassed, that I had never followed up my interest in the film by exploring Farrokhzad’s written poetry. Let me end, then, a few minutes after reading it for the first time, with a line from “Another Birth” (translated by A.Z. Foreman) published soon after this film premiered – a line that echoes my own journey with The House is Black through these past seven years: (more…)

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As I sit down to flick the computer on, poised to press play on a few films to start the Sixth(!) Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival (Allan Fish OFF 2022), I do so by turning the calendar, and setting, back a few decades. Assisted with my penchant of watching more genre based vehicles to relax recently, I’ve picked a few grimier New York/New Jersey centered pictures from (around) the era depicted in Sam’s debut novel, Paradise Atop the Hudson, an homage to his newfound publishing efforts. While his novel is overall bittersweet and focused, many of my picks are violent, purporting seedy underworlds and righteous killers. The first, William Lustig’s Vigilante (1982) does a multi-racial working class approximation of Death Wish, but given its sympathetic leads (Robert Forester grounds everything in near heartfelt reality) it doesn’t go as far into the right-wing fantasy of the Charles Bronson franchise. Here, a group of factory workers band together to protect their community where crime has exploded and their police force has sat idly by (how’s that for topical?). The idea of the movie supposedly came from real life, when “a group of blue collar workers in southern New Jersey had organized to fight crime in their neighborhood”, and is pretty good, Lustig regulars (Joe Spinell) abound as the nihilistic tone points the film correctly as a last ditch effort to save the tranquility that increasingly slips away. 

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by Sam Juliano

The Sixth Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival will launch this coming Saturday, May 28th, with an opening salvo by project founder Jamie Uhler.  Ten people have enlisted for the noble project, which will continue until Monday, June 6th.  The day-to-day schedule was printed on last week’s MMD, and the writers have been sending on their fabulous submissions since days prior.  Many thanks to those who will be taking a seat to follow this always-fascinating endeavor, and to Jamie, whose original idea has proven to have remarkable resilience.

My work on Irish Jesus in Fairview continued this week, and while I am not maintaining the pace I had hoped to, I am still making modest progress.  I have given myself a deadline, so that I can begin the editing process.

The Spain/Portugal Film Polling will conclude tomorrow at 5:00 P.M.  Deepest appreciation to those who have cast ballots and others who have been keen to follow all our international pollings.  Next up will be the Best Films of Africa and the Middle East, which will launch on Saturday, the same day the AFOFF begins.

Lucille and I watched two recent films this past week and both were solid.  The “making of” the 1971 film musical landmark Fiddler on the Roof revisited many associated with the work Pauline Kael called “the most powerful movie musical ever made,” especially director Norman Jewison, who was both revealing and funny.  The man who also directed In the Heat of the Night related that everyone thought he was Jewish because of his name, which implies he was “a son of a Jew.”  yet this non-Jew was a force in created the quintessential Jewish-themed musical, a film that 51 years later is as wonderful and deeply-moving as it was upon its first release.  I loved Zero Mostel, but the soulful Israeli actor Topol is the definitive Tevye, and his performance was every bit as great in its own way as the one by Gene Hackman that won the Oscar.

The German prison drama, Great Freedom was a riveting work, both disturbing and trenchant. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The schedule for the upcoming Sixth Annual Allan Fish Online Film Festival is as follows:

Saturday, May 28             Jamie Uhler  (US)
Sunday, May 29               Joel Bocko    (US)
Monday, May 30               Bobby Josson   (UK)
Tuesday, May 31              Robert Hornak   (US)
Wednesday, June 1          J. D. Lafrance   (Canada)
Thursday, June 2              Marco Tremble  (UK)
Friday, June 3                   Roderick Heath  (Australia)
Saturday, June 4              Sachin Gandhi    (Canada)
Sunday, June 5                Tony D’Ambra     (Australia)
Monday, June 6                Sam Juliano       (US)
Thanks so much to all the writers and those who will be following the festival.
Lucille, Bill Kamberger and I experienced a fabulous Broadway musical on Saturday night.  Girl from North Country is a stirring and soulful work featuring riveting staging of Bob Dylan songs.  I am not at all surprised it has garnered seven Tony Award nominations.

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by James Clark

Those of us who love serious filmmaking, know filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman, to be not only brilliant but unique. How unique? In our film today, A Ship to India (1947), the two protagonists embark in 1940-neutral Sweden, without a word about World War II! Not only that, but everyone in the large cast also seems to regard the War as nothing but a bore. What’s going on here? You can be sure that serious business is on the table. Serious and pertaining to the artful vision of the German Expressionist movement, having derived by the strangeness of the battlefields of World War I. Much of Bergman’s aesthetic zeal had been fired up by such conundrum. Where, though, could such strange creatures become a work for a film writer/ director, for a Swedish studio? (Along with his theatre work, giving scope for the sensate, the sensational.) His first film after the war would have to be below his lofty thoughts (money speaking in this game), and hard to swallow for a young fireball. But he comes across amazingly, here.

Bergman’s solution was to encrust serious work, while the supposed Hollywood endeavor could thrill the armies. Perhaps not a thing of beauty; but a unique undertaking in those dodgy precincts. As we see it in its “sexy,” “violent,” “madcap,” “charming,”way, there is, of course, the real McCoy. Here cinematography takes us to another world.

In the darkness, three men stand on a dock. One is black, the others white. Their stance bestows them an intensity, as if danger. Lightning dears the sky. They are alert, to a point. In that same darkness, one of the protagonists, Johannes, a young officer in a sailor suit, just arrived, has a cigarette whose smoke bestows a white ripple. Another craft proceeding. The waters churning. Before that, a gangway. A forest of shadows along the craft. Along a murky sidewalk, a beautiful woman rushes out of a bar. His shadows on the facades.    (Now for the wide-open saga.) The other protagonist, Sally. Her room, being a play of a modern palace. Uncanny! His shadow on the door. Johannes sleeping on the rocky beach. A place to dream. Forest around. Birds singing. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The site will again be staging the Allan Fish Online Film Festival in observance of our late master’s May 28th birthday.  Remarkably, this will be the sixth consecutive year we will be moving forward with a project tribute that has yielded some of the finest writing we’ve ever exhibited.  Founded by Chicago native and staffer Jamie Uhler in 2017 – nine months after Allan’s tragic passing – the idea was to continue as long as physically possible and as long as the site continues to exist and add new material.  Alas, we have no intentions in the immediate future to close our doors and we’d like to think our lifespan here has a ways to go, what with yeoman contributions continuing from our exceedingly talented writers, led by site Co-Editor James Clark and by his fellow Canadian veteran film writer J.D. Lafrance.  The festival will launch on Saturday, May 28th – Allan’s birthday – and will continue until the line-up is completed.  I will be sending out a group email this week to the past participants to alert them of our intentions.  Thanks to all for your anticipated cooperation.

The Best Films of Spain and Portugal polling is underway and will continue until 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 24th.  Thanks to all who voted or will be doing so in the future on the polling thread.

I attended the annual 8th Grade Washington trip as a chaperone this past week from Wednesday to Friday.  I posted many photos of the memorials and locations we managed, but unfortunately my phone broke after an unexpected tumble at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial.  This is what I posted about the mishap on FB:  “My deepest apologies for disappearing suddenly last night, and not being able to access FB again until just now back in Fairview, New Jersey. Unfortunately I took a tumble last night while attempting to snap a picture at the Jefferson Memorial in the dark. My cell phone busted, and now must be replaced, so I had no use of my phone since last night. I am presently up at the school on a desk top. My right knee and right arm remain sore, and I was up almost all night. Thanks to the ever-concerned trip coordinator Sandy DeVivo and to Steve Russo for attending to me immediately. Needless to say I have not yet seen any comments or likes that may have been posted. The Jefferson Memorial of course is one of the greats, though the sublime pink cherry blossoms are now there only in April.” (more…)

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Next stop, the Iberian peninsula! Voters are hereby asked to list their Top fifteen (15) films from Spain and/or Portugal. The deadline for submissions will be Tuesday, May 24th at 5:00 P.M. As always, Bill Kamberger will determine eligibility for any questionable titles. As always everyone can decide between a chronological, alphabetical or ranked order for their ballots! Good luck! Here are my fifteen choices, listed alphabetically:
All About My Mother (Spain, 1999) Pedro Almodovar)
Aniki Bobo (Portugal, 1942) Manoel de Oliveira
Belle Epoque (Spain, 1992) Fernando Trueba
Carmen (Spain, 1983) Carlos Saura
Chimes at Midnight (Spain,1965) Orson Welles
Death of a Cyclist (Spain, 1955) Juan Antonio Bardem
The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, 2001) G. Del Toro
The Impossible (Spain, 2012) J. A. Bayona
La Morte Rouge (Spain, 2006) Victor Erice
Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal, 2010) Raul Ruiz
Placido (Spain, 1961) Luis Garcia Berlanga
The Spirit of the Beehive (Spain, 1973) Victor Erice
Talk to Her (Spain, 2002) Pedro Almodovar
El Verdugo (Spain, 1963) Luis Garcia Berlanga
Viridiana (Spain, 1961) Luis Bunuel

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