Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


by Sam Juliano

Columbus Day.  If you’re lucky you’ll get a day off from work.  Otherwise it is business as usual, though it seems the weather is mighty fine all over, and the fall season has set in.  Once the leaves start turning colors then we are really in business.  Yankees fans are crying in their beer, though Mets and Cubs fans are presently singing a more upbeat tune.  The football season is taking shape too, and New York-based teams are performing pretty well at this point.  The movie season still hasn’t arrived at crunch time, but some promising releases are upcoming now that the New York Film Festival has concluded.

We are down to the final three days of the long-running Greatest Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown which began all the way back in mid-June.  When all is said and done, we will have had a total of 83 films featured in full reviews by a host of writers.  It has been quite a time-consuming project, and one that suffered a lag in the middle stages.  But it has picked up wonderfully in the past weeks, and there isn’t a single complaint against the consistent and high quality of the reviews.  After Wednesday’s Number 1 post is revealed, I will prepare a wrap-up, and a fun statistical rundown of the Top 10 ‘longest’ reviews in order, as well as the Top 10 reviews with the most comments and the Top 10 most viewed.  Ultimately meaningless for all sorts of reason, but still a way to look back at some of the posts that did receive a lot of attention.  Our very good friend John Grant has recommended we consider reviews of some films that didn’t make the cut but were most worthy.  We certainly will see if we can get that underway if there is interest. (more…)

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WitD Beehive 01

by Duane Porter

“Once upon a time, somewhere on the Castilian plain, around 1940,” a truck rolls past the signpost for Hoyuelos. Excited children gather around it as it pulls to a stop. “The movie’s coming! The movie’s coming!” Film cans and a projector are unloaded and carried into the town hall. A woman blows on a small horn and announces ticket prices for a showing of Frankenstein (the 1931 film directed by James Whale) to be held at five o’clock that evening.

Inside the makeshift theater, the people gather before a big movie screen hung on the wall opposite the door. Everyone carries in their own chair, the children hurrying to place theirs closest to the screen. The lights go out and the film begins with a friendly word of caution for those of delicate sensibilities. Beware, this movie will be about man’s transgression into God’s domain, the creation of life and its inevitable death. Everyone listens intently, the children wide-eyed, one man lights a cigarette. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Autumn has been knocking at the door and the person inside has finally responded.  Mind you there is still some resistance, what with a few more days in the 70s promised for this coming week.  But chilly temperatures, rain and rawness were all evident over the past weekend.  Most of us are thoroughly delighted with the change, and know now some wonderfully culturally related events and releases are upcoming.  Baseball and football fans are in their glory, and though my beloved New York Yankees practically backed into the playoffs with a terrible final run, I know well anything can happen now.  Area fans are no doubt thrilled the Giants evened their record at 2-2 with a win over the Buffalo Bills, and the Jets are now 3-1 with a win over the Miami Dolphins in England.  The New York Film Festival is underway and this coming week my kids will be attended Comic Con at the Javits Center, in what has now become an annual endeavor.  Nice seeing Halloween decorations and the horror film madness that frames this time of the year too.

Alas, our long running Greatest Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown is winding down to the finish line, as we have begun the Top 10 with this past week’s reviews of Au Revoir Les Enfants and The Last Picture Show.  The countdown will run this entire week and then three days next week, with the Number 1 post set to publish on Wednesday.   After a lag in the middle stages the countdown has come back with a vengeance by way of comments and page views.  I want to thank everyone for the barrage of comments under my own review of The Last Picture Show, which may well be my personal favorite film of all-time.  Soon I want to offer up a desert island post to include all the films ever made.

Jim Clark continues with his tremendous work every other week on Wednesdays -this past week it was Roman Polanski’s Repulsion – and two very hot posts by Allan Fish, one on Steven Spielberg and the other on his upcoming book has attracted amazing response, especially the former with a whopping 111 comments to date.  The site has certainly been making quite a comeback.  My Caldecott Contender series will be starting soon, but it will run normally, not like last year’s torrid pace.

On a raw and drizzly Saturday afternoon the annual Chappaqua Book Festival was held inside the Bell School in Downtown Chappaqua, New York, the hometown of Hillary and Bill Clinton in scenic Westchester County. I was thrilled beyond words to meet my dear friend Barbara McClintock for the first time, and also great friends Sergio Ruzzier, Carin Berger and Jerry Pinkey. So many great authors, illustrators and books in a a premium setting. The entire family was aboard, and we were met by our WitD site friend Bob Clark.  Thrilled as always to meet the lovely friend Lizzy Rockwell, a trouper of all festivals. (more…)

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12. Jeux Interdits


by Allan Fish

(France 1952 86m) DVD1/2 (France only)

Aka. Forbidden Games/The Secret Games

Keep it for a hundred years

p Robert Dorfmann d René Clément w René Clément, Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost novel “Les Jeux Inconnus” by François Boyer ph Robert Juillard ed Roger Dwyre m Narciso Yepes art Paul Bertrand

Georges Poujouly (Michel Dolle), Brigitte Fossey (Paulette), Lucien Hubert (Dolle), Suzanne Courtal (Mme Dolle), Jacques Marin (Georges), Laurence Badie (Berthe), Andrew Wasley (Gouard), Amadée (Francis), Denise Pereonne (Jeanne), Louis Santeve (Priest),

Of all the films that have detailed the agonies of childhood, there have been few with as much impact as René Clément’s Venice Film Festival winning allegory. Instantly proclaimed as a masterpiece of French cinema, its reputation has dwindled a bit in the last half a century, but its originality still rings true and the fact that it is, in some ways, an anti-war film, is a fact that too many have allowed to be brushed over.

French refugees are seen fleeing across a country road as German planes drop their bombs overhead. When her dog runs away, young Paulette runs off over a bridge after it and her parents chase after them both. But in drawing attention to themselves, the machine guns of the planes above strike and kill both her dog and her parents. When a woman throws Paulette’s dead dog into the river, Paulette rushes off and retrieves it, but is persuaded to leave it behind by a young boy, Michel, who convinces her to come home with him. She is taken in by his family, though originally only to stop their hated neighbours claiming another medal for doing so. However, when young Paulette tries to bury her own dog, her young friend tries to cheer her up by offering the idea up of a pet cemetery so the dog isn’t alone. But for a cemetery, you need crosses, and to keep his beloved Paulette happy, Michel steals them from the local churchyard. (more…)

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13. Kes (1969)


by Jon Warner

Billy Casper lives with his elder brother Jud and his mother. They live in a small flat in a factory/mining town in Northern England. Both brothers share the same bed. Billy goes about each day to school wearing the same outfit, always looking rather worn and dirty. He cares not. When he’s not at school, Billy can be seen wandering around town on his paper route, stealing milk or meandering around the countryside with a stick, whacking away at brush and weeds or doing a bit of birdwatching, or getting into a fight with his brother. Though Billy seems to have a great deal of freedom to spend his time as he pleases, his existence has a predestined endpoint based upon where he lives and the family he has born into. In his world in Northern England, there is little hope for a future full of possibilities. He’s expected to learn little in school and indeed, nearly all of the adult figures in the film seem to have it in for Billy. Without fighting against the grain, Billy is likely to take a low paying job in the mines, just like his elder brother does or his father may have done. We would know more about his father if he hadn’t left the family. Billy lives in a world where nearly everyone expects the worst in him, or even goes so far as to antagonize him to keep him down, especially the school superintendent who seems determined to crush everyone’s spirits.

In the same way that some parents may try to steer their children to more practical choices when they hear that they want to pursue a career as a painter or English major instead of a lawyer or doctor. Billy also finds a most ‘impractical’ object of interest instead of prepping to pursue a more appropriate career in a factory or mine: Training a kestrel. After seeing some kestrels flying in a field, Billy pilfers a book on the subject of Falconry from a local bookshop. Determined to pursue this quest, he rather quickly becomes a master on the subject. Not only does Billy catch a kestrel, but he houses, feeds, and trains it with such a respect for craft and expertise that he begins to take on a sort of maturity of spirit through his relationship with the bird he calls Kes. As time marches on, Billy splits his time between school and his bird, with Kes being his clear favorite thing in the world. Billy finds a certain peace and power shifted to him through his passion, ingenuity, and initiative to train his bird, which in its own way is his act of social defiance as he refuses to conform to the expectations of mediocrity and humiliation set before him by parents, school principles (“Your’s is the generation that never listens!” ), coaches and employment agencies. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

It would be hard for me to imagine a richer or more active week than the one my family and I enjoyed this past week.  We only saw a single film in theaters, but movies were only a blip on the itinerary of this most memorable of seven day periods.  Lucille and I got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Pope Francis, who made a whirlwind visit through Central Park late Friday afternoon during his hectic Big Apple sojourn.  We paid our penance to realize this opportunity, made possible by a friend of many years, and stayed the course with a line of people that snaked up and around the 59th Street entrance of the park.  It took a little over five (5) hours on the line before we finally made our way through the checkpoint to join the massive crowd of over 80,000 waiting to catch a fleeting glimpse of His Holiness as his Popemobile rolled down the road  that split the crowd in half.  We parked near the corner of 18th Street and Seventh Avenue, and took a subway up to Columbus Circle, arriving at our destination at around 11:00 A.M.  Our legs took a serious hit with all that standing, but the exhilaration and goosebumps we absorbed during this Pope’s electrifying arrival will be something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.  This rock superstar of a Pope has not only moved mountains within the church, but has climbed Mount Everest for people of all faiths around the world.

Lucille, Sammy, Jeremy and I also attended the annual Warwick, New York Children’s Book Festival in the rustic town in Orange Countyon Saturday afternoon.  Renowned author illustrators like Wendell and Florence Minor, Frane Lessac, Mark Greenwood, James and Lesa Ransome, Ame Dyckman and numerous others exhibited their work on tables, where book fans visited and made purchases.  A real celebratory event!

Our entire family of seven attended the Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, New York on Sunday afternoon on the final day of the two month festival that ran for the 38th consecutive years.  Jousting matches, Shakespearean shows, castles, and medieval themes games, activities and traditions were highlighted in this most sublime of rural locations, and some remarkable talented people brought a measure of authenticity to the proceedings.  We were particularly thrilled that our son Danny was called on from the audience to play Horatio in a comedic rendition of HAMLET. (more…)

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18. Los Olvidados (1950)

olv 3

by Allan Fish

(Mexico 1950 88m) DVD2

Aka. The Young and the Damned

The lucky tooth

p Oscar Dancigars d Luis Buñuel w Luis Buñuel, Oscar Dancigars, Luis Alcoriza ph Gabriel Figueroa ed Carlos Savage m Gustavo Pitaluga

Alfonso Mejia (Pedro), Miguel Inclan (The Blind Man), Estela Inda (The Mother), Roberto Cobo (Jaibo), Jesus Navarro (The Lost Boy), Alma Fuentas (Mechte), Francisco Jambrino (The Principal), Hector Portillo, Salvador Quiros, Victor Manuel Mendoza,

Luis Buñuel became a Mexican citizen in 1949, and immediately set to work on his first major film in over a decade. Admittedly the budget was spare and it had to be wrapped up inside of three weeks, but what emerged on screen in 1950 was a revolutionary film, one which captured the essence of the 20th century’s greatest tragedy, poverty, better than virtually any other film before or since.

Pedro and Jaibo are two teens who live in Mexico City’s pestilent urban slums. Jaibo is a vicious, irredeemable creature who enjoys picking on those even less fortunate than himself, while Pedro occasionally betrays a goodness out of place and at odds with his surroundings. One of Jaibo’s favourite targets is a local blind beggar, though he also sets his sights on one of his gang’s younger sister, Mechte. (more…)

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