thm 1

by Allan Fish

(Mexico 1973 112m) DVD1

Aka. La Montana Sagrada

The master seeks the disciple

p  Roberto Viskin, Alejandro Jodorowsky  d  Alejandro Jodorowsky  w  Alejandro Jodorowsky  ph  Rafael Corkidi  ed  Federico Landeros  m  Don Cherry, Ronald Frangipane, Alejandro Jodorowsky  art  Alejandro Jodorowsky

Horacio Salinas (thief), Alejandro Jodorowsky (alchemist), Zamira Saunders (written woman), Juan Ferrara (Fon), Adriana Page (Isla), Nicky Nichols (Berg), Bert Kleiner (Klen), Valerie Jodorowsky (Sel), Leticia Robles (bald woman #1), Ana de Sade (prostitute), Connie de la Mora (bald woman #2),

It was said to be John Lennon’s favourite film.  It’s arguably Alejandro Jodorowsky’s purest vision and will always come into discussions about the greatest surrealist films.  Jodorowsky’s surrealism was as far from Luis Buñuel’s as could be offered; indeed, only Fernando Arrabal perhaps came within hailing distance.  Jodorowsky’s surrealism is not playful, but it’s so layered and so, top use that overused paradox, deeply meaningless as to still leave one awe-struck.  This is surrealism as history lesson, as faith, as legend, as superstition, as social commentary; surrealism as a holy relic and as Excalibur rising from the sea. Continue Reading »



by Sam Juliano

Things at Wonders in the Dark have been looking up, what with Allan Fish’s long-awaited return to the ranks, the continued high-quality work of Jim Clark on every other Wednesday, and the imminent staging of the Top 50 Greatest Childhood Films polling and countdown planned for late May.  This week the first e mail will be sent out to the e mail network.

There does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the unrelenting frigid weather and snow we been regaled with over months, sustaining for one the worst February any of us can remember.  On another note I want to thank our very dear friend Dee Dee for her lovely greetings for Allan’s return posted on the sidebar, and as always for her always cherished concern for the site and those who post here.  Great too, that Tony d’Ambra is back in print as per his blu ray review of Ride the Pink Horse at Films Noir.et this past week.  The Tribeca Film Festival inches closer, and is roughly one month away.  To say we will be busy for those 11 days would be a classic understatement, as we manged 51 feature length films during last year’s event.

Lucille and I were very busy this past week with home repairs, assisting the man who administered them, and as a result I was on-line far less than I have been in a very long time.  We did get to see two films in theaters: Continue Reading »

humanite 2

by Allan Fish

(France 1999 148m) DVD1/2

Life is really sick

p  Rachid Bouchareb, Jean Bréhat  d/w  Bruno Dumont  ph  Yves Cape  ed  Guy Lecorne  m  Richard Cuviller

Emmanuel Schotté (Pharaon de Winter), Séverine Caneele (Domino), Philippe Tullier (Joseph), Ghislain Ghesquère, Ginette Allegré, Darius, Arnaud Brejon de la Lavergnee, Daniel Petillon

An extreme long shot, a horizon in either the first light of dawn or at dusk.  A man emerges from trees to the left and is seen to run along the horizon.  We follow him over a wall and across some barren, unforgiving landscape that wouldn’t be out of place in a Brontë film.  He then falls to the earth, on his stomach, head turned to the left vaguely towards the camera.  His eye is wide open in a way not dissimilar to the dead Janet Leigh in Psycho.  He remains motionless, and for a few seconds we wonder whether he, too, is dead.  Then he moves.  We don’t know whether he was running from or to something. Continue Reading »


 © 2015 by James Clark

 You might say that Anton Corbijn was remarkably positioned to do justice to the brief and lugubrious life of British rocker, Ian Curtis, the writing and vocal dimension of a short-lived sensation in the late 1970s called Joy Division. In his earlier career as a photographer—following in the footsteps, you might say, of Stanley Kubrick—he became involved with the band in the capacity of producing publicity stills, a coverage entailing extensive contact with Curtis, and also his wife, Debbie, whose book Touching from a Distance (1995) formed the backbone of the 2007 film. (She was also an associate producer of Corbijn’s project, his first entry into directorial duties.)

Be that as it may, there are, I think, even more important factors behind his long-after-the-fact, stunning illumination of the protagonist’s plunge toward suicide. They pertain to evidence of a deep appreciation of the film work of that renowned but unknown as such precursor, Kubrick, whose life had come to an end quite a while before our guide here commenced his new career. So it is that in his debut, Corbijn sends us from out of his forte, visual design, a Kubrick moment zooming in on the nub of the crisis of Ian Curtis and myriad others. It occurs at the time when Curtis’ band was clawing toward television exposure on a local (Manchester) bellwether of the best of recent rock. Having produced a demo and put it into the hands of the show’s supercilious guru, the lads are nonplussed that all they received for their trouble was, as the star-maker was signing off, a quick mention of the disc as promising. Later that night the musicians catch up with that lax responder to their talent (“He’s gotta put us on!”), in a bar and Ian is designated to go over to his table and straighten him out. He comes to the celebrity’s table, leans over to him and blows smoke into his face, bringing to rude Manchester the rude and lost Redmond Barry showing his contempt for a woman who was far more remarkable than the dubious object of Ian’s resentment. Unlike the passenger in Barry Lyndon, the attacker goes on to complain, “You’re a bastard!” and receives the assurance, “You’ll be the next band.” Continue Reading »

wh 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 2015 350m) DVD1/2

Attempting a three card trick

p  Mark Pybus  d  Peter Kosminsky  w  Peter Straughan  novels  Hilary Mantel  ph  Gavin Finney  ed  David Blackmore, Josh Cunliffe  m  Debbie Wiseman  art  Frederic Evard, Pat Campbell  cos  Joanna Eatwell

Mark Rylance (Thomas Cromwell), Damian Lewis (Henry VIII), Bernard Hill (Norfolk), Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn), Anton Lesser (Thomas More), Jonathan Pryce (Wolsey), Mark Gatiss (Gardiner), Jessica Raine (Lady Rochford), Mathieu Amalric (Chapuys), Joanne Whalley (Katharine of Aragon), Natasha Little (Liz), Monica Dolan (Alice More), Charity Wakefield (Mary Boleyn), Bryan Dick (Richard Rich), David Robb (Thomas Boleyn), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Rafe), Harry Lloyd (Harry Percy), Saskia Reeves (Johane), Richard Dillane (Suffolk), Will Kane (Cranmer), Kate Phillips (Jane Seymour), Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Elizabeth Barton),

We’d be forgiven for thinking we’d had enough of Henry VIII.  How many have there been?  Charles Laughton, Robert Shaw, Richard Burton and Keith Michell (four times!!!), we all know them, they were memorable.  Not forgetting The Tudors, but we’ll leave the final apologies to cover what was wrong with that; what Wolf Hall gave us was the antidote to The Tudors; no sex or bodice ripping here, no time for that nonsense. Continue Reading »


Brilliant and electrifying British film, 71, set in Belfast during IRA-British army violence


by Sam Juliano

Still no reprieve from snow, ice and the coldest winter in many a year, though as I’ve noted before we on the East coast have nothing on the much maligned Bostonians and mid-westerners, who have been chosen as the prime targets in this ultimate demonstration of arctic rage.  Some in the know are predicting a very cold March as well.

As mentioned on last week’s Monday Morning Diary, Allan Fish has returned after a lengthy health related absence, but he’s as good as new, and his latest writings have confirmed he has lost even a tenth of a stride.

For the very first time I am announcing the earliest stages of the ‘Best Films About Childhood’ project that we are projecting will commence sometime in May.  Specific rules and propositions will be send out to the film blogger e mail network in the coming weeks, and each participant will be asked to choose their own Top 50 in numerical order.  As was the case with all our previous countdowns, tabulation will be followed by review assignments.  We are presently thinking that the countdown will be a 50 film affair, running ten weeks.  But no firm decisions have yet been made. Continue Reading »

nwf 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 75m) DVD2

I peered into hell

p  Sally Angel, Brett Ratner, Stephen Frears  d  Andre Singer  w  Lynette Singer  ph  Arik Leibovich, Stephen Miller  m  Nicholas Singer  narrated by  Helena Bonham Carter

On showing Andre Singer’ potent documentary on Channel 4 the broadcaster made the decision to show the film without interruption from commercials.  It was a deference to the subject and there had been a precedent; the Holocaust episode of The World at War was also shown without breaks.  Breaks in 1974 would have just been one break of four minutes with less offensive adverts.  In 2015, we we’d cut from the emotional heartbreak of a survivor’s interview to cut to an old Scottish man with bad sight shearing his sheepdog to demonstrate he should have gone to Specsavers.  In the seventy years since the events depicted the survivors still cannot forget.  In the forty years since The World at War, the world millions fought and died for has sold its soul to crass commercialism. Continue Reading »


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