Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies”


Screen grab from Dennis Villeneuve’s riveting and taut mega thrilled “Sicario” starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro

by Sam Juliano

We are plowing through October like a hay ride on a whistle stop tour through a pumpkin field.  Mother Nature has finally realized that the calendar is what it is and we’ve been wearing jackets and coats the last week or so.  Yet for those in the Big Apple metropolitan area we do have a few low 70’s days predicted for this coming week.  Baseball fans in Chicago and New York are tied up with Cubs-Mets, and all fans of the sport are hoping for a great series.  And our wonderful friends Valerie and Jim Clark are still pulling for a Toronto Blu Jays comeback against those resilient Kansas City Royals.  Otherwise it’s NFL football, opera on the HD simulcasts and of course the very best time of the year for film fans.

The 2015 Caldecott Contender series will launch this coming week.  Reviews will post at various intervals all the way up until the day of the American Library Association’s awards on January 30th of 2016.  I’m not sure how many book reviews I’ll actually publish, but I am sure it won’t come anywhere close to the 51 of last year.  Still, some great books are in contention once again, and I’ll be doing my best to afford representative coverage.  Stay tuned.

The Wonders in the Dark hierarchy have decided on science fiction for the coming 2016 countdown.  The specifications/guidelines will be sent on in the coming months.  Though there is no complaint whatsoever with the great success of the last countdowns, we want to offer up a change of pace.  There also is a series tentatively planned for Saturdays, but I’ll keep that under wraps at the moment.  As always our resilient and brilliant Jim Clark is publishing his incomparable film reviews every other Wednesday and we remain eternally grateful for his stellar input.

Lucille, Jeremy,  and I attended a wonderful book reading by Rowboat Watkins on Saturday morning at the Curious Reader Bookstore in Glen Rock, New Jersey.  His wildly popular picture book Rude Cakes will be one of the first subjects in the Caldecott Contender series. (more…)

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Screen cap from Elem Klimov’s 1985 Russian masterpiece “Come and See” which was examined in a stunning 4,600 word essay by Jamie Uhler, which was the longest review of the entire countdown

The Last Picture Show

Screen cap from Peter Bogdonich’s 1971 gem “The Last Picture Show.” My own review of it attracted 79 comments, the most in the countdown.

by Sam Juliano

The latest countdown is complete and everyone involved in this long running venture can breathe easy and take a bow.  While I must cope with a behind-the-scenes position that to wind up this poll with some brief happy commentary is trite and flagrantly self-congratulatory, I am ever cognizant of how such a project could occupy one body and soul.  So if I sound a bit self-congratulatory so be it.  Heaven help all of us for feeling proud of our accomplishment.  To be sure, like practically all previous genre countdowns chaired by Yours Truly (Greatest Film Musicals, Greatest Film Comedies, Greatest Film Westerns, Greatest Film Romances) there was initial controversy as to what constitutes a proper voting entry in each respective polling.  I may be old-fashioned and free-spirited but I always thought that each voter was intelligent enough to make their own minds up as to which films conform to various genre interpretations.  The e mail chain that always precedes the site announcements was and is the place for sparring over such matters, and it was there where the film lovers voiced their own majority opinion on this recent poll.  The title Greatest Childhood/Adolescent Films Countdown speaks for itself, and pointedly asserts eligibility from ages 0 to 18.  But the main concern of this poll and the others that came before it isn’t the numerical placements nor the issue of a specific film doesn’t work for other voters who are fashioning their own ballots, but rather the reviews of the films and the comment sections under them.  A week from now nobody will remember where films ended up numerically, but there is more than a fair chance that the writing and discussion will survive well into the future.  That after all is the purpose of this and prior countdowns.  The use of “subject” is an excuse to group films together and get people to strut their stuff on the rhetorical front.  In Shakespearean lingo  “The reviews’s the thing……”

I originally intended to have a little fun and offer up a list of the ten “longest” essays, the ten essays with the most comments, and the ten with the most page views, but I have refined that after I was questioned about the worth of it all.  There is no worth whatsoever – the exercise is just to do a little re-visitation.  Some of the best reviews in this countdown were not long in the conventional sense -some in fact was rather short- but the longest ones were certainly works of splendid scholarship.  There is no greatest review or accomplishment, such a position is the domain of individual taste and judgement.  I loved many reviews in this countdown myself, and I have discussed them on e mail chains.  In any case I have refined my statistical intentions to brief mentions.  The longest review of the countdown was Jamie Uhler’s masterful piece on Klimov’s 1985 Russian work Come and See at around 4,600 words.  The runner up was the fabulous appreciation of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, penned by Dean Treadway, which ran around 3,800 words.  The review that attracted the most comments was my own essay on The Last Picture Show with 79, and the runner-up was also my own essay on Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea with 63.  Comment totals are all relative and have much to do with timing, a domino effect and the willingness of the author to mix it up.  Kudos to Jon Warner for successfully placing a comment under every single one of the 83 reviews, but to all who found the times to engage. The quality of the writing was consistently excellent, so many of the comments were thoughtful. (more…)

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fanny 8

By Dean Treadway

Just to try something a little different, I offer:

100 Things I Love About Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (in no particular order):  (more…)

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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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