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Screen grab from superb and exhilarating Italian documentary “Palio”

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Capture from excellent American youth drama about bullying, KING JACK.

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Capture from extraordinary Japanese documentary “The Birth of Sake”

by Sam Juliano

The 2015 installment of the Tribeca Film Festival has been moved in good measure downtown to the Regal Battery Park Cinemas directly across West Street from the majestic new Freedom Tower on the World Trade Center grounds in order to conform to the original specifications of the event’s founders.  Yet, the old reliable 23rd Street Bow-Tie Cinemas and the School of Visual Arts Theater on 23rd Street are still hosting about 35 to 40% of the screenings, and it is at that location Lucille and I have done the lion’s share of our viewings.  The downtown Regal is a beautiful place for sure, but for matters of parking, dining variety, accessibility and general convenience it cannot remotely compare to the 23rd Street theaters.   The walking at Regal is prohibitive, and I am nursing what appears to be a slight misiscus tear on my left knee.  Lucille and I managed ten (10) feature films in the first four days of the fest -Thursday night through Sunday- and my report is generally a most favorable one.  But more on that and my star ratings in a bit.  The rest of the festival (including tonight) will come down to eighteen (18) more films over the next seven days, as well as an acquired screener of the Tribeca film Good Kills, and a theatrical viewing at the IFC Film center on the day after of the festival ends of the Kurt Cobain documentary, which will bring the grand total to thirty (30).  Last year I saw around 51, but I really wanted to get through this year’s festival without collapsing from exhaustion, so we set up a manageable itinerary.  As it is I have made sure to include all the perceived ‘must-sees’ according to many in the know.  There could well be a few last minute changes with the schedule as well. (more…)

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Neil Oliver of “The History of Scotland”

by Sam Juliano

The 2015 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival will be staged at three Manhattan locations from Thursday, April 15 to Sunday, the 26.  For the fourth consecutive year, Wonders in the Dark will be covering the event, armed with the usual pair of press badges, that will get us into to any and all of the screenings.  Lucille and I will be in overdrive, though I really don’t envision anything like last year, when I somehow managed 52 films in eleven (11) days.  I see a more relaxed pace this time around.  In addition to the normal Bow-Tie Cinemas and SVA Theatres on 23rd Street, the venue will for the first time include the Regal Cinemas complex near the World Trade Center.  In fact, that location will be hosting the majority of the showings.  I am just now trying to put all the pieces together, but no doubt I won’t know for sureuntil Wednesday afternoon.  I plan on covering the event on the next two weekly MMD’s.

Due to e mail requests from a few of the regulars, the Greatest Childhood Films countdown will be starting a few weeks later than originally planned.  Ballots should now be sent in from May 15th till May 25th, with a June 1st launching of the countdown, after the results are tabulated by Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr.

Lucille  and I saw one film in the theater this week, though at-home viewings occupied us for many hours as I will note below: (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

A most appreciable honor was bestowed on Wonders in the Dark this past week when our very good friends and distinguished film scholars Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath of Ferdy-on-Films and This Island Rod enlisted the participation of Allan Fish, Jim Clark and Yours Truly in conjunction with our nearly seven-year-old site to join them in hosting the 4th edition of the wildly popular For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon.  Previously uniting the FoF duo with the renowned New York Post film critic, novelist and Criterion liner note specialist Farren Smith Nehme (“the Self-Styled Siren”), the blogathon has proved to be a success both financially and in promoting film preservation awareness, while bring deserved attention to the selected subjects.  Just the idea of walking in the footsteps of Ms. Nehme is mind-boggling enough without even broaching the proposition of working with our very good friends at FoF on this worthiest of cinematic ventures.  As we get closer to the actual May date of this five day blogathon, I will bring out more details and specifics, but suffice to say now it will be launched in mid-May (13-17), and will be hosted by Ms. Ferdinand for two days, Mr. Heath for two at This Island Rod, and Wonders in the Dark for one.

The film chosen to restore is the 1918 one-reeler Cupid in Quarantine, a Strand comedy with a science theme that Ms. Ferdinand encapsulates as “the story of a young couple conspiring to stay together by staging a smallpox outbreak.”  Ms. Ferdinand goes much further in her splendid description and validation:

Following on the heels of successful repatriation projects with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and the New Zealand Film Archive—which brought back and preserved nearly 200 American silent-era films that no longer survived in U.S. archives—the National Film Preservation Foundation is now partnering with the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam to return and preserve more lost treasures. As part of the preservation process, the Dutch-language intertitles will be translated back into English. After work is completed, the American archives participating in the project—the Academy Film Archive, Library of Congress, National Museum of American History, and Oregon Historical Society—will take custody of the new digital scans, 35mm masters, prints, and access copies. EYE will also receive new prints and digital copies, thus ensuring that the titles are available for screening and research on both continents. (more…)

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Mark Rylance as Cromwell in masterful WOLF ALL.

by Sam Juliano

Spring is here, but the temperatures have still yet to comply with this fact of nature.  As we move closer to April, we can only anticipate comfortable weather, but we shall see what we shall see.  Otherwise the baseball season will start later this week, and Easter Sunday is coming up next weekend.

The Childhood Films countdown venture is underway with e mails going out and many already engaged in viewing and re-viewing some of the ideal prospects.  It is expected that ballots will begin appearing in early May.  Any WitD readers not on the chain, but wanting to be just reach me at The Fountain26@aol.com, and I’ll include you.

Lucille, Broadway Bob and I attended the stage work GREAT KILLS on Saturday night.  The drama offers a good deal of laughs, and featured three actors – one of them the renowned Joe Pantoliano of Cliffside Park and Fairview upbringing.  The famed actor was the sole reason to see this decent play, and meeting him afterwards was a treat.  The huble and friendly Pantoliano graduated Cliffside Park High School, and is well-remembered for his roles in The Sopranos, Empire of the Sun, The Goonies, Midnight Run, Memento and La Bamba among others.  GREAT KILLS staged at the Theater For The New City on First Avenue.  I will run into the second week in April. (more…)

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red army

by Sam Juliano

Spring arrived without much fanfare this past week but was suddenly dispatched on Friday when five inches of snow fell on the metropolitan area, again proving that one can’t be comfortable in this season from hell.  As we know from the past, even April is unpredictable.   Baseball season inches closer for those inclined, and for Lucille and I the Tribeca Film Festival is a little more than three weeks away.  No doubt that will be quite a torrid eleven day span!

The initial group e mail for the upcoming Best Childhood Film countdown has been sent out to the voters and writers, and a spirited discussion has commenced.  Ballots will be sent in starting on May 1st and ending on the 14th, with the results to be posted shortly thereafter by Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr.  The actual countdown will begin near the end of May and will run Monday through Friday for ten weeks.  Any Wonders in the Dark readers wishing to participate, please reach me at TheFountain26@aol.com.   My latest capsule review for a Terrill Welch painting was sent on yesterday:

Terrill Welch’s arresting impressionistic oil painting “Trail Along the Bridge” showcases a domestic refuge, one that is ideal for meditation and creative inspiration.  There is a pneumatic quality to the seemingly clandestine vantage point overlooking mountains and a wooden valley that would surely give pause for sensory reflections.  The glorious blue sky, bright textures, summer shadows and joyful ambiance define the scene, yet there is a mystique in the central almost intimidating image of the Douglas Fir, which is rooted tenuously near the edge of the ridge, a sitting duck for a storm, yet evincing a look of having survived its share of atmospheric ravages.
 
Everyone can lay claim to a place and a setting they revered since childhood – and the experience is a kind of Stopping by Woods on a Lovely Day, when everything comes to a halt, and there is a fusion with nature.  Welch’s painting isn’t without a more somber context – the tree’s slant suggests that such days are in limited number, and are mainly available during late spring and summer, yet there is scenic bliss and inspiration, not only attested by the creator, but to be seen by generous brush strokes of color and a wonderfully serene landscape.  It would be hard to fathom that a hike up this trail wouldn’t stoke the happiest of memories and expectations.  This is Ms. Welch in radiant mode, and it would bring any room to life, transporting its onlookers to an idyllic hamlet in this island paradise.

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by Sam Juliano

It does appear conclusively that the icy grip of one of the worst winter seasons has been disconnected and signs of spring have begun to surface.  Sadly for those who have allergies this is a time when discomfort reigns supreme, but this matter is still a few weeks away for most.

As previously announced, preparations for the ‘Best Childhood Films’ countdown will proceed very soon.  As with our prior countdowns, the new one will be negotiated by gathering together the votes of approximately thirty film floggers who have been part of a cinema e mail network dating back to the musical countdown.

Lucille, the boys and I traveled down to the quaint village of Mount Holly, New Jersey on Saturday morning to attend the photography exhibit that largely included the superlative work of our good friend Jeff Stroud.  The entire venture translated to a great time, and Jeff’s framed captures deserve wide exposure.

Most of my movie watching this past week was at home on our new 50 inch 4X screen.  Classic television and blu-rays were watched with abandon, and I’m figuring there will much more to come in the months ahead.  We did get to see two films in theaters though:

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by Sam Juliano

Things at Wonders in the Dark have been looking up, what with Allan Fish’s long-awaited return to the ranks, the continued high-quality work of Jim Clark on every other Wednesday, and the imminent staging of the Top 50 Greatest Childhood Films polling and countdown planned for late May.  This week the first e mail will be sent out to the e mail network.

There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the unrelenting frigid weather and snow we been regaled with over months, sustaining for one the worst February any of us can remember.  On another note I want to thank our very dear friend Dee Dee for her lovely greetings for Allan’s return posted on the sidebar, and as always for her always cherished concern for the site and those who post here.  Great too, that Tony d’Ambra is back in print as per his blu ray review of Ride the Pink Horse at Films Noir.et this past week.  The Tribeca Film Festival inches closer, and is roughly one month away.  To say we will be busy for those 11 days would be a classic understatement, as we manged 51 feature length films during last year’s event.

Lucille and I were very busy this past week with home repairs, assisting the man who administered them, and as a result I was on-line far less than I have been in a very long time.  We did get to see two films in theaters: (more…)

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