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By J.D. Lafrance

Jack Nicholson had one of the best runs of any actor during the 1970s and that’s saying a lot when you consider it was at a time when the likes of Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman and Al Pacino, among others, were doing some of their very best work. Nicholson actually made a big splash with his scene-stealing supporting role in Easy Rider (1969), which kickstarted a fantastic run of films, beginning with Five Easy Pieces (1970) and continuing with notable efforts like The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), The Last Detail (1973), and Chinatown (1974) – and this is before the halfway point of the decade! Perhaps his most fruitful collaborator during this period was filmmaker Bob Rafelson whom he co-wrote The Monkees movie Head (1968) with and went on to direct Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens. Five Easy Pieces is one of those complex character studies that typified some of the best American films from the ‘70s.

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by Sam Juliano

The nine hour version of the 1924 masterpiece Greed by Erich Von Stroheim has been found in a Berlin warehouse!  The Holy Grail of Holy Grails has now, miraculously become a reality.  This is that “everything stops” moment we can always hope for but never attain………..anyway, April Fools!!!!

The fourth month has arrived and with it comes rain, the allergy season, warmer weather, and for Lucille and I the annual Tribeca Film Festival, which commences late in the month this year, overlapping into May.  I am starting now to get my notes and suggestions together to put together a crammed schedule.  Lucille, who is coming along beautifully will again be my prime mate for a slew of screenings.  More about Tribeca as we get closer to the date in a few weeks.  J.D. Lafrance’s latest (and marvelous) weekly film review published this past week considers Oliver Stone’s 1987 Wall Street.  The great Jim Clark will be posting again soon following up on his stellar essay of Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician.  This past week Lucille and I saw two movies in theaters:

Hotel Mumbai based on the unspeakable terrorist attacks in Bombay and specifically at the Taj Hotel, in a multi-day operation that claimed the lives of 174 in the city, where 300 or more were wounded is a difficult film for me to recommend, and as as a lifelong friend and former English teacher stated “it can never be watched more than once”, yet it is exceedingly well-made, riveting and superbly acted (by Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, Arnie Hammer, Nazarin Boniardi and others) that I must award it a 4 of 5 rating. There are times I thought of the action flick “Die Hard” but of course the near-sadistic atrocities in that fateful event (India’s 9-11 to be sure) are only too real. The heroism, the matter of a split second determining life or death and shockingly the non-existence of the Indian military and police is mind boggling during this monstrous siege. We took in the 10:00 P.M. screening last night at the Ridgefield Park Starplex. Continue Reading »

Posting this for absolute verification!!  I am co-founder and editor of the site.

 

-Sam

by J.D. Lafrance

“The most valuable commodity I know is information.” – Gordon Gekko

These words, said in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987), are more relevant now than they were back then, especially in this increasingly digital age where information is power. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg or Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. Back when Wall Street came out it was about stock trading and getting inside information that could potentially make one a lot of money. Stone’s film examines the nature of acquiring sensitive information and then how it is used albeit filtered through a coming-of-age story.

When he made Wall Street, the filmmaker was riding high from the commercial and critical success of Platoon (1986). His father, Lou Stone, had been a stockbroker on Wall Street in New York City and this film was a son’s way of paying tribute to his father. More than thirty years later, it is one of the quintessential snapshots of the financial scene in the United States, epitomizing the essence of capitalism, greed, and materialism that was so prevalent in the 1980s and is prevalent again.

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by Sam Juliano

Lucille is home after her same-day spinal disc surgery and all is well even with some pain to negotiate through medication.  Many thanks to all who sent on their well wishes at the site and on social media.  The current plans are for her to remain home for about two weeks before returning to her Principal’s position.  This past week has been hectic in preparation and then at hospital.  This was the second time this school calendar year Lucille had surgery.  The first was a partial knee replacement, which like this week’s procedure was necessitated by arthritis.  Thanks again to all!

This past week James Clark published a stupendous essay in his ongoing Ingmar Bergman series on The Magician.  J.D. Lafrance contributed a splendid piece on Stephen Soderburgh’s Out of Sight.  

We did see two current films this past week, one in theaters and the other on netflix where it debuted.  I have the ratings, but will have more to say on both soon.  Us is a stylistically superior horror film by Justin Peale, and Girl is a Belgian film about a transgender girl who seeks SRS surgery and success as a ballerina.  Continue Reading »

 © 2019 by James Clark

      This is a film so dependent upon its sense for Bergman’s previous output, and even for Bergman’s subsequent work, that it sustains the adage, “Go full out, or forget about it entirely.” But adages can be wrong; and here we welcome one and all to a breathtaking tone poem, which we hope can benefit from a few suggestions.

On the face of it, The Magician (1958), features an intense protagonist, leading a crew so heterogeneous as to wonder how their objectives can succeed. They first come to us in the countryside, at a pause in their horse-driven coach. The vehicle is affixed with the sign, “Vogler’s Magic Health Theatre.” The black and white optics induce silhouette along a ridge, the virtual trademark of the film, The Seventh Seal (1957), where a couple, Jof and Marie ply the far-flung roads in a caravan advertising their circus musicale.Those two carniesmanage to transcend the deadliness of the ridge (the seduction of death and its happy ending), by virtue of Jof’s blessing of his baby boy, to be a great acrobat and a juggler capable ofan impossible trick.Although Jof and Marie made their breakaway in the 12th century, those traces of magic lean heavily upon Vogler, in Sweden, in the 19th century.Therefore, while far from playful banter disturbs the “Health Theatre,” the opportunity to see deeply into the nature of conflictnever flags. Continue Reading »

By J.D. Lafrance

“It’s like seeing someone for the first time. You can be passing on the street and you look at each other and for a few seconds there’s this kind of recognition. Like you both know something, and the next moment the person’s gone. And it’s too late to do anything about it. And you always remember it because it was there and you let it go. And you think to yourself, what if I stopped? What if I said something? What if?” – Jack Foley

This bit of dialogue from Out of Sight (1998) perfectly captures the essence of the relationships between the characters in this film. It is about the what ifs and the what could have beens. What the characters do and, more importantly, what they don’t do that directly determines their fate.

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