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Screencap from Jamie Uhler’s poll position John Carpenter film

by Sam Juliano

Prayers continue for 29 year-old Michael Russo, who is fighting for his life at University Hospital in Newark with liver and kidney issues, as well as inflammation and infections.  We are calling on God to spare this wonderful young man.

I continue to receive inquiries by e mail and at FB on the situation with my two novels, Paradise Atop the Hudson and Irish Jesus in Fairview.  A long delay by the first book’s artist (far longer than planned) is presently holding up publication on Amazon.  When the art is submitted the book will be listed.  The editing was completed back in July.  The second novel is well on its way to completion, though I have slowed down due to other commitments.  No problem at all though as I know exactly what I need to do, and since I cannot publish it right on the heels of book #1, I have plenty of time to wind it up.  I envision that book publishing in early January.

The Australian balloting continues on FB and here at Wonders in the Dark.  I do believe we have received over forty ballots now, a few were sent physically and a few other relayed to me by phone or fax.  Thanks to all for your passion, knowledge and exceptional taste.

Jamie Uhler’s much-anticipated annual HORROR FEST has officially launched and beginning today his reviews will be an integral part of the MMD well into November.  The first submission, including his list of top John carpenter films is as follows:

Final Destination (J. Wong… 2000) slasher/supernatural
Final Destination 2 (D. R. Ellis… 2003) slasher/supernatural
Final Destination 3 (J. Wong… 2006) slasher/supernatural
The Final Destination (Final Destination 4) (E. Press… 2009) slasher/supernatural
Final Destination 5 (S. Quale… 2011) slasher/supernatural

A franchise I’d started with two friends last November led to more or less instant full on fandom (by the three of us no less!). Running a pretty decent level of quality, at least as entertainment, I was astounded by such a remarkably rare feat in franchise films, especially in the Horror genre. Starting on a high concept idea where a single person foresees a coming cataclysmic event that horrifically murders many people at once and then panics and pulls themself, and then others, out of the chain of events immediately altering what should have happened, and who should have died. The rewriting of fate then ensnares them all in single, outrageous deaths since they were suppose to be part of the earlier, larger one, the films then counteract the metaphysics by adhering to the expectations of the genre and its fans they belong to. Meaning, you get a bunch of grindhouse-like kills, the films judged by how creative, intricate and grisly they are, and how outrageous and chuckle inducing the original mass death sequence was. The first sports a plane crash, the second a mass highway car pileup (truly bonkers), the third a roller coaster mishap, the forth an audience bloodbath at a stock car race, and the fifth a girder bridge catastrophe. In an era where conceptual ideas or locations became the centerpiece to Horror franchises over singular beings like in the 1980s and 1990’s (Jason, Michael Myers, Freddy, Chucky, Pinhead, et al) most immediately became stale and boorish (SawHuman Centipede[REC]Paranormal ActivityHostel, etc) this one somehow remained always at least entertaining, if not outright hilarious. I’d rank the films: 3, 5, 1 (5 and 1 tied more or less for second place), 2 and then 4, but think all are pretty exquisite beer and pizza entertainment for Horror hounds.

The First Power (R. Resnikoff… 1990) Neo-noir/horror thriller
The First Power is, for the most part, a pretty stock collection of early 1990’s B-movie cliches. First there is a serial killer angle, a murderer known as the Pentagram Killer is butchering the cities residents as a sacrifice to Satan, a plot angle that anyone who rented bad VHS flicks during the decade can guess will then feature the next addition, a buddy cop pairing where one cop is the cool, no nonsense desperado who lives solely for the justice and completion of solving grisly crimes (while, of course, confusingly wearing a dark desperado overcoat in the squelching LA heat and shiny steel tipped cowboy boots), the other a relatively regular ol’ lifer who, upon first sight is unwittingly beginning a ticking clock on when his life will end during the films run time (here it’s in reel two when an out of control horse knocks him down and then proceeds to stomp his chest to a bloody pulp). Given the (perhaps purely psychological) religious underpinnings, we also get a female psychic, a necessary cliche to help puzzle the pieces together and develop a relationship with the tough cop who’d previously sworn off the stuff. Oh, a Nun is also necessary, the symbol of the sole person of the parish willing to help end such a devastating and deadly epidemic (and be the defecto religious symbolism in an age of doubt). You see, the killer was caught before the first reel ended, but his Satantic hokum is potentially real, and when given the death penalty, he can now move as a spirit from one body to the next and continue his reign of terror.

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Desert Island Voting: Next Stop: Australia and New Zealand!
We have naturally combined Australia and New Zealand, though for all intents and purposes the world’s largest island and the home of the kangeroo, an Aborigine population, the Sydney Opera House, great Olympic swimmers, extraordinary film essayists Roderick Heath and Tony d’Ambra (both of New South Wales) will command the lion’s share of the balloting. Bill Kamberger has ruled everyone’s ballot should not go beyond fifteen (15) films as his reasoning points to the previous Japanese polling didn’t go higher than that number. Australia’s film history isn’t anywhere in a league with Japan’s remotely, but for those who may at first think there will be slim pickings, they will find upon closer inspection is in a truly underrated cinema. I happen to think it is a fantastic cinema, and the Australian New Wave a major influence on some filmmakers around the world.
Nonetheless I mourn losing five spots and had this balloting allowed twenty films, I’d be mulling over which five to pick from this group: “Wake in Fright,” “Whale Rider,” “Gallipoli,” “The Year of Living Dangerously,” “A Cry in the Dark,” “”Rabbit-Proof Fence,” “Sons of Matthew (1949),” “Strictly Ballroom,” “Wolf Creek,” “Shine,” “Muriel’s Wedding,” “An Angel at My Table,” “Once Were Warriors,” “The Last Wave,” “Dead Calm,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” and “The Babadook.” I count every one in this group exceptional and also feel a few of Taika Waititi’s films, though hardly masterpieces are notable. If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to pick a single favorite Australian film of all time, I’d stumble and think of “Picnic at Hanging Rock” “The Return of the King,” and “The Year My Voice Broke” but would finally settle on “Careful He Might Hear You.” Still, the fifteen masterpieces I hereby list below are roughly equal and I am going again with an alphabetical presentation. Several rank among the greatest films ever made from any country. Bill Kamberger has ruled that the three LORD OF THE RINGS films from New Zealand count as a single entry. This was a decision I applauded.
Balloting will go for two weeks. This should give some voters time enough to explore this most undervalued of all world cinemas. The deadline will be 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, September 28th.
My fifteen masterpieces alphabetically:
Babe (Chris Noonan; 1995)
Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford; 1980)
Careful He Might Hear You (Carl Schultz; 1983)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi; 1978)
The Devil’s Playground (Fred Schepisi; 1976)
Holding the Man (Neil Armfield; 2015)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson; 2001-2003)
My Brilliant Career (Gillian Armstrong; 1979)
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (Vincent Ward; 1988)
The Piano (Jane Campion; 1993)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir; 1975)
Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse; 1991)
Storm Boy (Henri Safran; 1976)
Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg; 1971)
The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan; 1987)

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“The Battleship Potemkin,” “Andrei Rublev,” “Come and See,” “Man with a Movie Camera” and “The Cranes Are Flying” lead Top 100 (105) Russian/Soviet Film polling results. This is as definitive a list of Russian cinema (including the fabulous order) one could hope to find anywhere! Thank you so much to the forty (40) voters who cast complete or partial ballots and of course to Voting Tabulator Bill Kamberger, whose tireless daily work was crucial to this enterprise. For film fans, this Russian film list will provide a reference for many years to come:
1. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925) – 289
2. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966) – 280
3. Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985) – 252
4. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) – 235.5
5. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957) – 202.5
6. Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975) – 198
7. War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1966 – 1967) – 192.5
8. Ivan the Terrible, Parts I & II (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944 & 1958) – 191
9. Earth (Aleksandr Dovzhenko, 1930) – 187.5
10. Ivan’s Childhood / My Name Is Ivan (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962) – 182
11. The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov, 1969) – 164.5
12. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) – 160.5
13. Ballad of a Soldier (Grigoriy Chukhray, 1959) – 155.5
14. Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) – 151.5
15. Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eisenstein & Dmitriy Vasilev, 1938) – 150
16. The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko, 1977) – 147.5
17. Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975) – 146.5
18. Mother (Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926) – 142.5
19. I Am Cuba / Soy Cuba (Mikahil Kalatozov, 1964) – 127.5
20. The Maxim Gorky Trilogy (Mark Donskoy, 1938 – 1940) – 123.5
21. Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002) – 120
22. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Parajanov, 1965) – 102.5
23. Hard to Be a God (Aleksey German, 2013) – 98
24. October / Ten Days That Shook the World (Sergei Eisenstein & Grigoriy Aleksandrov, 1927) – 93
25. The Old Man and the Sea (Aleksandr Petrov, 1999) – 90
26. Hedgehog in the Fog (Yuri Norstein, 1975) – 89.5
27. Leviathan (Andrey Zvysagintsev, 2014) – 87.5
28. Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925) – 86
29. The Lady with the Little Dog (Iosif Kheifits, 1960) – 85
30. Tale of Tales (Yuri Norstein, 1979) – 82
31. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003) – 81.5
32. Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, 2019) – 77
33. Prisoner of the Mountains (Sergei Bodrov, 1996) – 75.5
34. Siberiade (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 1979) – 73.5
35. Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997) – 72.5
36. My Love (Aleksandr Petrov, 2006) – 65
37. By the Bluest of Seas (Boris Barnet, 1936) – 62
38. Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994) – 50.5
39. The House on Trubnaya Square (Boris Barnet, 1928) – 49.5
40. My Friend Ivan Lapshin (Aleksey German, 1985) – 47
41. Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017) – 45.5
42. Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1983) – 45.5
43. The Forty-First (Grigoriy Chukhray, 1956) – 43
44. Arsenal (Aleksandr Dovzhenko, 1929) – 41.5
45. The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1912) – 39
46. By the Law (Lev Kuleshov, 1926) – 38
47. The Cow (Aleksandr Petrov, 1989) – 38
48. The New Babylon (Grigoriy Kozintsev & Leonid Trauberg, 1929) – 37.5
49. The Island (Pavel Lungin, 2006) – 37
50. Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1980) – 37

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by Sam Juliano

On Saturday evening at 6:00 P.M. Fairview held a 20th Anniversary 9-11 ceremony outside the bank on Fairview Avenue.  Hearing public officials, clerics, firemen, policemen, service organization veterans and relatives of 9-11 victims talk about the fateful days twenty years ago that changed life as they knew it, made many of us proud to live in Fairview, a town that always went the extra yard in honoring its residents past and present. Patriotic and emotional songs, several from ace singer Bob Bannon, were interspersed with wrenching speeches from family members of several Fairview and Cliffside Park residents who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks, and representatives from the elected body, some of whom related their own stories of that terrible day.

Past Fairview Fire Chief Michael Mesisca, an excellent speaker for decades in his numerous community leadership positions, delivered powerful oratory, surely the most masterful of the ceremony by wide agreement, in describing how his close friend, beloved Little League coach Cliff Russell died of cancer after contacting the illness after helping others at ground zero. Two siblings of victims Diane Lipari and Daniel Correa spoke of how their lives were changed and how time has failed to diminish the grief they feel every single day of their existence. Another relative, the grandson of window washer Roko Camaj’s sister, spoke of his fearless performance atop the towers and how his loss made the world so much poorer.
9-11 Chairman Al DeMuro pulled off an event that will surely go down in the Fairview Hall of Fame, with able assistance from Board of Education member Ken Schmidt, and DPW Commissioner Paul Juliano. Board member Angelo D’Arminio and Councilman Russell Martin also served on that committee. Mayor Bellucci and Our Lady of Grace Church Pastor Peter Sticco delivered speeches and Fireman Eugene Nappi concluded the program, reading a poem.
The community spirit and fellowship of this day are proof parcel the old magic has never really left our beloved town.
Jim Clark published a stupendous essay on Antonioni’s masterpiece L’Avventura this past Tuesday at the site.
Nothing has yet changed with my own upcoming publication of Paradise Atop the Hudson.  I wrote a bit more of the second novel Irish Jesus in Fairview, but I have deliberately slowed up so I can space both books by a  few months.  I am speculating early October for the first and early January for the second.
Jamie Uhler will be back again this year with his fascinating HorrorFest reviews.  He usually starts in early September and runs the capsule review series until early November.  For horror fans this is a major annual treat!
The Russian/Soviet film polling ends today (Monday, September 13th) at 5:00 P.M.  Incredibly, 40 ballots were cast to this point.  I will have the results tomorrow (Tuesday) and will published them next week.  We will next be tackling the Greatest films from Australia/New Zealand and I expect next week’s diary will tempt some to make their own list of fifteen (15).

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By Adam Ferenz

It has been quite some time since I posted on this site. As some of you may recall, I was last working on an enormous project-helped in its infancy by the late, great, Alan Fish-to determine my choices for the top 300 tv programs from around the world. This list will include ongoing series, miniseries, movies, specials and documentaries. Pretty much every genre is covered in the larger list. What follows is the current top 100. I think Alan would have enjoyed seeing the progress. It is posted here, today, for enjoyment and discussion.

# 1. The Wire (June 2, 2002-March 9, 2008, HBO)

 # 2. The Sopranos (January 10, 1999-June 10, 2007, HBO)

# 3. Breaking Bad (January 20, 2008-September 29, 2013, AMC)

# 4. Mad Men (July 19, 2007-May 17, 2015, AMC)

# 5. The Twilight Zone (October 2, 1959-June 19, 1964, CBS)

# 6. Fanny & Alexander (1983, Swedish)

# 7. Heimat (1984, 1993, 2004, German)

# 8. Berlin Alexanderplatz (October 12-December 29, 1980, WDR)

# 9. Dekalog (1989, SFB/TVP)

# 10. Seinfeld (July 5, 1989-May 14, 1998, NBC)

# 11. Twin Peaks (April 8, 1990-June 10, 1991 & May 21-September 3, 2017, ABC & Showtime)

# 12. Homicide: Life on the Street (January 21, 1993-May 31, 1999/February 13, 2000, NBC)

# 13. G.B.H. (June 6-July 18, 1991, ITV)

# 14. Deadwood (March 21, 2004-August 22, 2006, HBO)

 # 15. Yes Minister/Yes, Prime Minister (February 25, 1980-December 23, 1982, and December 17, 84 and January 9, 1986-January 28, 1988, BBC)

# 16. Our Friends in the North (January 15- March 11, 1996, BBC2)

# 17. The Singing Detective (November 16-December 21, 1986, BBC)

# 18. Community (September 17, 2009-June 2, 2015, NBC & Yahoo Screen)

# 19. Battlestar Galactica (December 8, 2003-March 20, 2009, Sci-Fi)

# 20. The Honeymooners (1951-56, October 1-September 22 (classic 39, 55-56) Dumont & CBS

# 21. Brideshead Revisited (October 12-December 22, 1981, ITV)

# 22. M.A.S.H. (September 17, 1972-February 28, 1983, CBS)

# 23. Cheers (September 20, 1982-May 20, 1993, NBC)

 # 24. The Thick of It (May 19, 2005-October 27, 2012, BBC 4 & 2)

# 25. The Prisoner (September 29, 1967-February 1, 1968, ITV)

# 26. Better Call Saul (February 8, 2015-, AMC)

# 27. Angels in America (December 7-14, 2003, HBO)

# 28. Roots & Roots the Next Generation (January 23-30, 1977 & February 18-24, 1979, ABC)

# 29. Playhouse 90 (October 4, 1956-May 18, 1960, CBS)

# 30. The West Wing (September 22, 1999-May 14, 2006, NBC)

 # 31. Hill Street Blues (January 15, 1981-May 12, 1987, NBC)

# 32. The Age of Uncertainty (1977, BBC/CBS/KCET/OCET)

 # 33.  I, Claudius (September 20-December 6, 1976, BBC)

# 34. Our Hitler: A Film From Germany (November 5, 1978, BBC)

# 35. Scenes from a Marriage (April, 1973, SR)

# 36. Babylon 5/Crusade (February 22, 1993-November 25, 1998/June 9-September 1, 1999, PTEN & TNT)

# 37. Person of Interest (September 22, 2011-June 21, 2016, CBS)

 # 38. St. Elsewhere (October 26, 1982-May 25, 1988, NBC)

# 39. Band of Brothers/The Pacific (September 9-November 4, 2001 & March 14-May 16, 2010, HBO)

# 40. Ken Burns American Trilogy: Civil War, Baseball, Jazz. (September 23-27, 1990/ September 18-28 1994 & September 28-29, 2010/ January 8-31, 2000, PBS)

# 41. Winds of War/War and Remembrance (February 6-13, 1983 & November 13-May 14, 1988-89, ABC)

# 42. Freaks and Geeks (September 25, 1999-July 8, 2000, NBC)

# 43. Rome (August 28, 2005-March 25, 2007, HBO)

# 44. And The Band Played On (September 11, 1993, HBO)

# 45. Wolf Hall (January 21-February 25, 2015, BBC2) (more…)

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Screen capture from Todd Stephens’s “Swan Song”

by Sam Juliano

Labor Day 2021.  The summer will not officially be over until a few weeks from now, but for all intents and purposes the season has passed us, and schools are opening this week.  One can only speculate how this will proceed what with the variant still gaining momentum and threatening to send everything into virtual mode once again.  Some of us may son be receiving our booster shots, while others are not anywhere close to that at the present time.

The Russian film polling will continue until Friday at 5:00 P.M. EST.  Many thanks to those who have submitted ballots so far.  Each one is fabulous in its own way.  J.D. Lafrance published a splendid review of Scattered Glass at the site this week.  Nothing has changed with my own upcoming publication of Paradise Atop the Hudson.  I wrote a bit more of the second novel Irish Jesus in Fairview, but my Caldecott review series is taking up a big chunk of my available writing time, a fact my dear friend Valerie Clark has rightly pointed out, for as much as she greatly appreciates the series.  But I am still juggling, and will manage to get both in, even with the business of the international polls and watching movies.  And now school intrudes this week.  Ha!  Speaking of the Caldecott series, what a thrill to get a glowing comment from artist and former New Jersey resident Melissa Sweet under my review of her magnificent work Unbound: The Life + Art of Judith Scott.  Similarly, it was so heartening to have the author-artists of the other three books I reviewed share them all over Facebook (Jeff Gottsfeld, Matt Tavares, Wendell and Florence Minor, Matthew Cordell).

My oldest daughter Melanie’s favorite film professor during the time she spent at Manhattan’s School of the Visual Arts was “Todd Stephens”. Last month she proudly informed me his new film “Swan Song” was scheduled to open in theaters and via Amazon Prime. This is not Stephens’s first film but after watching it at home last night with Lucille I feel it is his best. It is not perfect, but overall a solid work first distinguished by its irresistible irreverence and lead performance by Udo Kier as retired hairdresser (and sometimes drag queen Pat Pitsenbarger) who chain smokes Mores and disarms everyone (including a clerk at a convenience mart in a particularly memorable scene) as he attends to the hair of a female friend who died. “Swan Song” is sometimes hysterical, but its also elegiac and in tune with its subject, funereal. For me it is 4/5 and well worth seeing. Roughly the same reasonably favorable recommendation is sent on by my great pal and former English teacher, Patrick J. Shelley. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The summer has been rushing by at seemingly breakneck speed, and September begins on Wednesday.  We are in the same place now where we have been for the past several weeks.  Uncertainty, caution and booster shots are all part of the discussion and those returning to their school positions are on pins and needles, hoping closures won’t be enacted shortly after the openings.

I am still waiting on my artist to complete the cover and spine for my first novel Paradise Atop the Hudson, which hopefully will officially publish on Amazon before the end of September.  I recently resumed writing my second novel  Irish Jesus in Fairview, which is three-quarters complete, though I will wait until around Christmas or early January to publish it.  Thanks again to Valerie Clark, who has read the entire first novel and all my completed chapters for the second, and has offered up glowing commentary and unabated enthusiasm.  My planned book on Allan Fish will follow.

Many thanks to the many people who cast ballots on our Top 100 British polling.  Each was a treasure to receive. The results have been posted on FB and are duplicated on this thread.  Voting Tabulator Bill Kamberger reported a multi-film tie for the final positions, making for a Too 113.  This is great news for film lovers who were loathe to see some favorites unrepresented. Bill disclosed that the celebrated team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger placed nine (9) films in the Top 113 (the final number of films in our ultimate British list included a a bevy of movies tied for the final spot). An incredible 311 films were “nominated” and the 60s and 40s as expected were the big decades for British cinema. 67 ballots were cast!!!!  (The next poll will be on Russian/Soviet Cinema), and voters are free to cast their Top 20 when they are READY on this thread!

STATS
63 complete ballots, 4 partial
311 films nominated
113 films will make the list (thanks to a large tie at the end)
FILMS BY DECADE
1920s – 1
1930s – 5
1940s – 23
1950s – 12
1960s – 27
1970s – 11
1980s – 12
1990s – 11
2000s – 4
2010s – 7
MOST POPULAR DIRECTORS
Michael Powell – 9 (7 with Emeric Pressburger)
David Lean – 6
Mike Leigh – 6
Carol Reed – 6
James Ivory – 4
Tony Richardson – 4
Alfred Hitchcock – 3
Stanley Kubrick – 3
Alexander Mackendrick – 3
Laurence Olivier – 3
Top 113 British Films!

1.      The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) – 490

2.      Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) – 323.5

3.      2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) – 321.5

4.      Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) – 286

5.      Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945) – 275

6.      Kes (Ken Loach, 1969) – 264.5

7.      Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947) – 239

8.      The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948) – 233.5

9.      A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964) – 223.5 (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

This past week our great friend and stupendous film writer Jim Clark published another brilliant essay in his Tarkovsky series on the director’s late career Nostalgia.

I just resumed with my second novel An Irish Jesus in Fairview, though I am anticipating it won’t wrap until mid-to late September, because of the time-consuming demand of the film polling and the Caldecott Medal Contender series.  But no matter, as it is over two-thirds complete and I am not seeing any problems with doing what needs to be done.   The delay with the publication of the first novel, Paradise Atop the Hudson lies with the artist, who assures me he is a few weeks from completing his assignment.  We will see, but in any case as always there is nobody as motivational for me as my dear friend Valerie Clark, whom I can never thank enough!

Last night Lucille and watched the Dutch war film De Oost starring an excellent Martijn Lakemeier (Winter in Wartime).  The film wasn’t “great” but still solid enough.  The Japanese Top 100 based on over 50 voters’ ballots was released by our tabulator Bill Kamberger this week, and our British poll has commenced with the vast majority of ballots being cast on FB.  A few have been cast here on the previous MMD.  The Japanese poll allow for 15 choices; the British 20. The results are as follows:

1.      Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) – 337.5

2.      Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) – 293

3.      Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954) – 285.5

4.      Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) – 197.5

5.      Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) – 179.5

6.      Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949) – 165

7.      Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964) – 153

8.      Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985) – 143

9.      Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) – 122

10.  The Burmese Harp (Kon Ichikawa, 1956) – 118

11.  My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) – 117.5

12.  Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) – 114

13.  Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957) – 104.5

14.  Hara-Kiri (Masaki Kobayashi, 1962) – 101

15.  High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) – 97

16.  Godzilla (Ishiro Honda, 1954) – 94.5

17.  Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988) – 90.5

18.  The Naked Island (Kaneto Shindo, 1960) – 81

19.  The Human Condition Trilogy (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-1961) – 79.5

20.  Twenty-Four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954) – 71.5

21.  Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961) – 69.5

22.  Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse, 1955) – 69

23.  Fires on the Plain (Kon Ichikawa, 1959) – 67.5

24.  Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) – 63

25.  An Autumn Afternoon (Yasujiro Ozu, 1962) – 62.5

26.  Onibaba (Kaneto Shindo, 1964) – 59.5

27.  After Life (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1998) – 56

28.  Eros + Massacre (Yoshishige Yoshida, 1969) – 55.5

29.  Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985) – 55.5

30.  Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu, 1951) – 53.5

31.  Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989) – 52

32.  Boy (Nagisa Oshima, 1969) – 48

33.  I Was Born, But… (Yasujiro Ozu, 1932) – 46

34.  Shoplifters (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018) – 43.5

35.  Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2004) – 39.5

36.  The Outcast (Kon Ichikawa, 1962) – 39

37.  The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1939) – 38.5

38.  Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, 2004) – 36

39.  Good Morning (Yasujiro Ozu, 1959) – 34

40.  A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926) – 33.5

41.  Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964) – 33

42.  Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki, 1966) – 32

43.  Late Autumn (Yasujiro Ozu, 1960) – 31.5

44.  Tokyo Twilight (Yasujiro Ozu, 1957) – 31.5

45.  She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1955) – 30

46.  Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986) – 29.5

47.  Porco Rosso  (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992) – 28

48.  Akitsu Springs (Yoshishige Yoshida, 1962) – 26

49.  Departures (Yojiro Takita, 2008) – 26

50.  The Ceremony (Nagisa Oshima, 1971) – 25

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by Sam Juliano

An International “Desert Island” Film project has been initiated on FB and so far, incredibly almost 50 people have handed in ballots.  The voting period ends on Monday night at 11:00 EST (the date of this MMD).  Should anyone care to participate please list your Top 15 Japanese favorites either in numerical order or alphabetically.
Here’s the scoop. This project will NOT appeal to everyone as it involves research, list-making and having to make painful decisions. Over the coming weeks/months I will ask film fans to list FIFTEEN (15) films from the country we are covering. To give you complete immunity from critiscism in the comment section I ask you to identify your FAVORITE fifteen films – the 15 you would bring to a desert island if you were stranded. Of course for ME “favorite” and “great” coincide.
Why 15? Because TEN (10) will leave us grieving over ommisions. 15 gives a bit of generous leeway. But even 15 is extremely difficult. You can make your list either alphabetically (as I will do) or if you prefer in order of preference. It works either way. What I will do is list my own 15 alphabetically and then identify my absolute favorite or as will be the case in the FIRST polling TODAY a tire for first. The first POLL will go up within a half hour, so I’ll keep you in suspense briefly as to what country is being posted as the maiden query. I am not expecting a big response for a number of reasons but for the comparatively few cineastes who are game it could be fun. The countries/regions we will cover are USA, France, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany, Russia; Spain, Australia, Sweden, India, Cental and South America; Africa; Iran; Poland/Czechoslovakia and the rest of Eastern Europe; Canada, China/Hong Kong. I will save the USA for last.
Stay tuned for the first country or region within a half hour!
Again, I know the response will be limited, but I’m sure some will be intrigued. Thank you, and have a great day!
What are your favorite fifteen (15) films ever from Japan, the land of the Rising Sun?
Why Japan as your first country to consider? Two reasons. The Olympics are running in Tokyo and Japanese cinema was film master Allan Fish’s favorite nationalist cinema in the last years of his life. My own Top 15 is fraught with guilt, painful ommisions (Woman in the Dunes, The Twenty-Four Eyes; Seven Samaurai; and several films from Allan’s beloved Yoshida and Oshima, especially “Akitsu Springs” and “Boy”) not to mention Kore-Eda, “Grave of the Fireflies” and other Mizoguchis and Ozus and the realization Japan has many more masterpieces than I can shake a stick at, but here we go. The list is alphabetical, but my all-time Number 1 is a tie between Mizoguchi’s “Sansho Dayu, a.k.a. “Sansho the Bailiff” and Ozu’s “Tokyo Story.”:
The Burmese Harp (Ichikawa; 1956)
Floating Clouds (Naruse; 1955)
Harakiri (Kobayashi; 1962)
The Human Condition (Kobayashi; 1959-61)
Ikiru (Kurosawa; 1952)
Late Spring (Ozu; 1949)
Onibaba (Shindo; 1964)
The Outcast (Ichikawa; 1962)
Ran (Kurosawa; 1985)
Rashomon (Kurosawa; 1950)
Sansho the Bailiff a.ka. Sansho Dayu (Mizoguchi; 1954)
There Was a Father (Ozu; 1942)
Tokyo Story (Ozu; 1953)
Ugetsu (Mizoguchi; 1953)
You Were Like A Wild Chrysanthemum (Kinoshita; 1955)
THIS will help mightily in jogging memories!!!!

The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect is not in a league with the documentary Amazing Grace, released three years ago, mainly because it is replete with genre cliches and an oddly episodic structure, but there can be no denying that the cast, led by an electrifying Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul gave impassioned performances, and the musical numbers, including the iconic titular song taken from Otis Redding were superbly choreographed. The film is also lesser than this year’s Summer of Soul doc, but overall it is a solid tribute and in tune with the Queen herself, who requested Hudson play her if the film materialized. Though expected, it was still a nice tough to see the clips of Franklin herself during the extended closing credit sequence. Forest Whitaker as the minister father was memorable. All in all a bit better than I expected it would be. Seen Saturday night in Teaneck.

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by Sam Juliano

Changing of the Guard events around the world have often showcased fervent nationlism and ethnic pride.  The United Kingdom’s version, staged with extravagent pomp and circumstance outside Buckingham Palace, symbolically reminds natives and tourists that the monarchy is an institution of permanence.  Fanfare abounds and ornate uniforms provide eye candy for onlookers in colorful militarist rituals, accompanied in some countries by aural bombast.  In the United States, the empahsis is on solemity and pitch-perfect execution, and the purpose is marked intimacy in holding the proverbial torch for an unknown soldier who perished during the Great War.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, set at the top of a steep hill in Arlington Cemetery in the nation’s capitol pays tribute to all unidentified soldiers who have lost their lives defending the nation in the specious bastion where war dead and celebrated Americans have been laid to rest.  Washington D.C. is memorial-laden and the center of the country’s most vital governmental buildings, yet a serene hamlet in a fastidiously manicured 639 acre memorial park is the most tear-inducing and goosebump-prompting location any visitor can encounter at any time during the year when the funereal ceremony is conducted. (more…)

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