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by Allan Fish

(Germany 1927/2010 150m) DVD1/2

I’ve just met two girls named Maria

p  Erich Pommer  d  Fritz Lang  w  Thea Von Harbou  ph  Karl Freund, Günther Rittau  Gottfried Huppertz   art  Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht spc  Eugene Schüfftan

Brigitte Helm (Maria), Alfred Abel (John Fredersen), Güstav Fröhlich (Freder Fredersen), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Prof.Rotwang), Fritz Rasp (Slim), Theodore Loos (Josephat), Erwin Biswanger (11811), Heinrich George (Grot), Olaf Storm (Jan),

Fritz Lang’s supreme folly and the most ambitious silent film ever made, UFA’s flagship sci-fi fantasy has it all.  It has influenced more films directly than almost any other (take Things to Come, Frankenstein, Modern Times, The Fifth Element, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner to name but half a dozen), nearly ruined its studio financially but now stands out as arguably their greatest achievement.  Some may decry the somewhat naïve politics and religious symbolism, and the finale is certainly quite laughable, but its message rings clear.

Metropolis is a giant city circa 2000 A.D.  Its workers live underground in an ant-commune like city whilst the children of the rich, with its Club of the Sons, play idly above ground in their mansions and stadiums.  Almost unconscious of their totalitarian power, the young rich only have their eyes opened when a young woman, Maria, comes to the Eternal Gardens with a group of slum children.  Freder, son of the master of the city, is fascinated by her and follows her underground and sees for himself the poverty.  But when his father persuades a professor, Rotwang, to create a model Maria to replace the real one and stamp out any revolutionary tendencies, things take a turn for the worse. (more…)

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The Film Preservation blogathon is in full throttle, and after two gloriously successful days at Ferdy on Films has moved over to Roderick Heath’s This Island Rod for today and tomorrow.  Wonders in the Dark will be hosting on Sunday.  I again call on all reader/bloggers to consider posting a review of any science film and to link it up with the donation icon, and I will acknowledge it on Sunday’s blogathon thread.  Both Allan Fish and I will be presented re-boots of previously published reviews, and some others have promised some of their own work.  Everyone is encouraged to pay a visit today to Mr. Heath and This Island Rod!

 

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with Jillian on eighth grade Washington D.C. trip

by Sam Juliano

     The Film Preservation Blogathon commences on Wednesday at Ferdy-on-Films, and will continue until Sunday, May 17, the day when Wonders in the Dark will be playing host.  This exceedingly noble venture is aimed at securing support for the restoration of the 1918 silent film Cupid in Quarantine.  The target figure has been set at ten thousand.  The theme of the blogathon is science fiction, and reviews of any sort within that genre are strongly welcomed and encouraged.  Anyone planning a review at their blog or at Wonders in the Dark are asked to have their piece ready for the 17th, where they will be properly linked.  Following the early days at Ferdy will make everything much easier.  Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath have been running this blogathon for a number of years.

    For the third consecutive year (though I did attend six other times over the years) I served as a chaperon on the eighth grade Philadelphia and Washington D.C. trip held over three days from the 6th through the 8th.  Traditional visits to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery -where designated Lincoln School kids offered up a wreath- to the various Memorials (Lincoln, Jefferson, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean, Martin Luther King, FDR, Air Force, Washington Monument, Iwo Jima,  and World War II; three Smithsonian Museums, a tour through the Pentagon and the Washington Zoo, was negotiated with what was documented by my colleague Broadway Bob as around 18 miles walked.  For me with a torn miniscus, this was a daunting endeavor, and at times accompanied by pain.  But with my daughter Jillian on the trip it was mainly a fun time, though a scorching sun made the temperatures feel close to 90 degrees. (more…)

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Note: Here are six fabulous screen caps from the 1918 film ‘Cupid in Quarantine’, which were sent on to me on Tuesday from Marilyn Ferdinand.  The silent, is the subject of this year’s Film Preservation Blogathon, being run at Ferdy-on-Films, This Island Rod and Wonders in the Dark on May 17-17th.  The theme of the blogathon is ‘science-fiction.’  hence all those planning to participate are urged to prepare their review son a chosen sci-fi film imminently as the time ticks down to the 13th.

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Eric Lampmann, saxophone (3)

Rutgers University’s principal saxophonist Eric Lampmann

by Sam Juliano

The lovely spring weather that has graced the Metropolitan area for the last two weeks seems to have finally marked its turf, with winter vanquished after a long and arduous haul.  On a personal note this couldn’t be more timely what with the three-day 8th Grade Washington D.C. slated for this coming Wednesday through Friday.  I will once again be on that venture, as will me daughter Jillian, whose year this is.  With the prohibitive walking involved, I have scheduled a cortisone shot for later today to enable me to proceed in view of my left knee torn miniscus.  I will have arthroscopic surgery for that later this month.  But I know the drill, as I had it done on the other knee nine years ago.  The worst part is actually the one month (three days a week) one-hour therapy sessions.

As we inch closer to two major events here at Wonders in the Dark, I want to offer up reminders to all.  The first -as advertised on the side-bar- in the Film Preservation Blogothon, being hosted by Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath at Ferdy on Films and This Island Rod respectively.  For the first time ever, WitD will be joining in as an honored guest with one day serving as the home base, during this honored May 13 through 17 endeavor.  All are urged to write a review on a science-fiction film and/or make a modest contribution to the cause.  When the blogothon concludes we will then focus our passions on the Best  Films About Childhood Countdown, which will commence with ballot submissions by all participants, starting at May 18th.  The actual countdown (Top 60) will begin on June 1st, after the ballots are received and tabulated by Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. during that two week window.

Lucille and I had a lively week for sure, taking in two marvelous musical venues on the college and high school level, and then following that up with a viewing of a new release and two unseen Tribeca films, which rolled over to the nearby up-and-coming Montclair Film Festival, where we will be tonight and tomorrow night as well.  At Rutgers University in New Brunswick on Saturday night we listened to the gifted young Eric Lampmann (Lucille’s sister’s youngest son) dazzle his audience with a saxophone and viola (piano accompaniment) recital that covered some famed classical composers including Bach.  This young man has quite a musical career ahead of him, this much is certain.  Meanwhile, earlier in the week on Thursday we attended the Paramus High School ‘Spring Concert’ to witness another young man with talent–the son of Lucille’s graduate school buddy Frank LaRose (Joshua) exercise his vocal talent with a splendid rendition of “La Donna e Mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto.  Some other high school seniors did a fine job, as did the jazz ensemble.   To boot on Sunday afternoon we attended a rousing First Holy Communion gala for my brother’s daughter Gianna at the Fiesta Restaurant in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey. (more…)

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Virgin-Mountain

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by Sam Juliano

Eleven days of glorious Tribeca madness, and the 2015 installment of this exceedingly popular Big Apple venue has concluded.  Lucille and I did have a whale of a time, even though our stamina took a major hit.  We watched a total of thirty-six (36) feature length films with this final weekend of five-six-five proving the most frantic sequence of all.  But in reality the festival is not quite over, when you consider that four or five of the Tribeca films I had wanted to see but couldn’t quite work them into an already wall to wall schedule  engineered around my full time teaching position, are now playing at the nearby Montclair Film Festival that is set to launch this coming Friday.  I have every intention of seeing the likes of Jackrabbit, Slow West, Dream/Killer, (T) error, and perhaps The Armour of Light and Kurt Cobain: the Montage of Heck over the first several days of the festival.  I will then be able to complete my “Best Films of Tribeca” post by next Monday.  With a doctor’s confirmation that I have a torn miniscus in my left knee, I know now the source of all my discomfort and pain over the last few months.  This issue will require orthroscopic surgery, but not until sometime in mid-May,m as I have a three-day Washington D.C. trip with the school set to go on May 6th.  I will resquire a shot of cortisone for the trip.

The Tribeca Festival included many highlights, but none more thrilling than meeting and shaking hands with Monty Python icon John Cleese and the rest of the troupe after a screening of The Life of Brian and before the presentation of the splendid documentary Monty Python: The Meaning of Live.  To futher the celebrity glee, we sat on the next table to the troupe at a Chealsea Restaurant.  This year’s Festival was a most impressive one artistically, and the star ratings and subsequent ‘Best Of’ post will reflect this happy re-cap.

The Festival for the most part was staged in three places: the sprawling Regal Cinemas near the World Trade Center, the Bow-Tie Cinemas on 23rd Street, and the SVA Theatre down the block from the Bow-Tie.  For a number of reasons the 23rd Street location were vastly preferred, but still we took in several vital films at the Regal, which does boast excellent screens and seating. (more…)

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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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