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orpheus

by Sam Juliano

Hard to believe we have moved into May, but the passage of time rarely leaves us prepared.  Here at Wonders in the Dark we are approaching the planned time frame for the long-advertised “Science Fiction film countdown” and are anticipating the start of the first phase: the forwarding of ballots.  This particular countdown has admittedly received less enthusiasm in a general sense, but I am hopeful it will still be successful.  Otherwise, political junkies are no doubt getting their fix with the spate of crucial presidential primaries that have all but anointed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as their party’s nominees.

Lucille and I had a pretty unforgettable week, one that offered diversity and quality.  Coming on the heels of the Tribeca Film Festival – where we managed 35 feature films over eleven days – it allowed us to maintain a high level of activity while straining the limits of our stamina.  I hope to post some reviews of the experiences, even while I continue by scene-specific Tribeca coverage. (more…)

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children

Beautifully filmed African (Ghana) picture “Children of the Montain” is Tribeca at its finest.

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Spirited dramedy “Little Boxes” is a splendid fusion of inde art house and commercial entertainment.

life animated

Documentary on autism, “Life Animated” is one of Tribeca’s most irresistible and heartfelt works in the festival

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Brooding and atmospheric dystopian romance “Equals” is one of the most underrated films in years.

by Sam Juliano

The eleven day Tribeca Film Festival ended yesterday, bringing final closure to a wild and exhausting ride, one that spurred Lucille and I to take in 35 feature films at three different locations.  Our prime hot spot was the Bow-Tie Cinemas on 23rd Street, but we were also at the SVA auditoriums down the block and down at the Regal Cinemas multiplex adjacent to the World Trade Center Freedom Tower.  Once again the annual fest included some outstanding documentaries and narrative works, many of which will surely secure commercial openings in the coming months.  The most difficult challenge was to piece together a schedule that would include films about subjects we were greatly interested with some others that were highly touted in advance by critics and festival insiders.  It was always tricky to schedule the screenings to coincide with the time windows that were possible to us.  Even with the high total we managed there were still films we were unable to negotiate.  We made of a list of those that we will watch for in theaters and on DVD release.  Like all other festivals of high repute there were some forgettable titles and/or films we had less interest in, but this year’s venue includes a comparatively high number of good to excellent works. (more…)

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tribeca-film-festival

Tribeca-Film-Festival (1)

by Sam Juliano

The weather has been warming up, and on the movie front Lucille and I are pounding the mat at Tribeca, having seen thirteen films over the past four days after taking in the new release Midnight Special on the Monday before the festival began.  It appears that we will be able to work in twenty-one more feature films over the next and final seven days of the festival beginning with the two for this evening.  Otherwise we are still in the preparation stage of the science-fiction countdown, which is clearly getting much less interest than the five previous genre projects.  Still, I won’t give up the ship until or unless it becomes conclusive it won’t be flying.  Group e mails have been sent out and deadlines have been set, and completed ballots are awaited.

On the political front we have the huge New York primary set for tomorrow.  Hillary Clinton appears to have a stranglehold in the pollings, though Bernie Sanders has made up some ground.  Donald Trump should win the state in a landslide, though his opponents may be able to sneak off with a few of the ninety-five up for grabs.  I will be voting in the New Jersey Democratic primary on June 7th.

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by Sam Juliano

The Tribeca Film Festival begins this coming Thursday, and Lucille and I will be busy for the eleven (day) duration of the affair, save for Wednesday the 20th, a day we have another commitment for.  I project we will somehow see around 30 to 34 films, which will come close to the 37 we saw last year, though nothing will ever match the 52 do we managed in 2014.  We are busy now piecing together a schedule for the event.  We are very proud that one of Melanie’s films will be screened this coming Tuesday at the famed Manhattan revival house, the Anthology Film Archives, and we will be there too with bells on.  I will have reports on the first part of the Tribeca Festival and Melanie’s screening on next week’s Monday Morning Diary.

The entire family (and our friend Broadway Bob) made an encore trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania over the weekend, sleeping at a Day’s Inn on Saturday night.  This was our second visit to the splendidly rustic and historical location in the past year, and I’m afraid we now addicted to this scenic and fascinating enclave.  We again completed a comprehensive tour of the battlefield, and survived a 28 degree frigid ghost tour at night, which included a stop in front of the famed Jennie Wade House, where the 20 year old woman lived and became the first civilian casualty of the coming historic three day battle.  We had a wonderful meal and Gettysburg Eddie’s on the main road, Steinwehr Avenue.  On the way back east we spend Sunday afternoon in the Amish Country, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ate at Good and Plenty’s (fantastic Pennsylvania Dutch family meal with deserts) and toured the amazing countryside where the mode of transportation is horse and buggy. (more…)

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until-21

Capture from Tadashi Imai’s 1950 “Until We Meet Again”

happiness

Capture from 1962’s “Happiness of Us Alone”

she-was-like-a-wild-chrysanthemum

Capture from Kinoshita’s 1955 “She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum”

 

by Sam Juliano

I have gone thorough a difficult week as a result of yet another visit from my perennial nemesis, the kidney stones.  Yes it is hard to believe I haven’t yet mastered a way to keep them at bay, but I can attribute this to my failure to drink enough water.  All week I suffered discomfort, but I caught a break when I passed the culprit stone on Sunday unexpectedly after some intense pain and nausea, allowing me to avert the planned Wednesday shock wave procedure.  Still, there is a stone within the kidney around the same size that I’d be smart to have blasted within the next month or so if I want to avoid a recurrence of what I just experienced.

As a result of all this discomfort, launched by my seven hour stay in a hospital emergency room, I have been unable to do much on the movie front, or on any front for that matter.  I rallied after passing the stone to take in three Japanese masterpieces on a rare online site, used often by Allan for films that have yet to see the light of day on DVD. (more…)

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my golden 1

eye in the sky

by Sam Juliano

After a week of soul-searching that originally had me concluding that various domestic responsibilities and a marathon writing project would prevent me from proceeding on with the long planned science fiction countdown (the sixth year in a row such a demanding project was being posed) I have decided to move forward with it.  I will be sending a  group e mail out later this week to the expected participants. On that correspondence I will ask that anyone not wanting to be part of this venture for whatever legitimate reason should e mail me separately so I can remove that person’s name from the master e mail.  I am projecting that all final ballots should be submitted on that chain by the first week of June.  The middle of the month should see the countdown begin, with a modest Top 50 in place.

The Tribeca Film Festival is now two and a half weeks away, and Lucille and I will again be attending many of the films being offered there in the annual event.  As always, I’ll be reporting back here at Wonders in the Dark.   The past week has been an unconscionable one on the world stage, and the American political process has gone beyond embarrassment. (more…)

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clinton-trump-comp

by Sam Juliano

Presidential election madness continues, and like so many stateside I have immersed myself into the process by way of a close eye on the evolving news cycles, the day to day analysis online and of course the actual results and post mortem.  A special treat has been offered on CNN – “the race to the White House” – which superbly examines past presidential races by way of news footage and re-enactments.  Lincoln’s first election in 1860, and JFK’s one hundred years later were especially fascinating in the manner the shows were crafted.  We history buffs have long known the contents, but still appreciate the craftsmanship and execution.  As to the current election it is clear enough that Hillary has won the nomination, but that Sanders will still pursue the contest to the convention.  On the Republican side it appears it will be Trump, but it may well go to an open convention, where the anti Trump forces are determined to undermine him.

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