Friday, December 30, 2011

Movie/Play and Book Reviews

Some kind people on Facebook have suggested that I use this blog to do some reviewing. I am always tickled by the way some critics speak as if their words have been sent from the gods and that if you disagree with what they believe you are an idiot. I am not one of those people. Everyone has his or her own set of criteria for judging a work of art, be they intellectual, emotional or simply visceral. You cannot argue with these feelings. For instance, one of my favorite "pop" movies of the not so recent past was the big budget INDEPENDENCE DAY. Now I know that the film is not CITIZEN KANE, nor does it profess to be, but taken for what it is, to me it is quite enjoyable and a film I return to when the twelve year old boy in me needs the sustenance of some great special effects and seeing the invasion of aliens through the safety of a LED T.V.

But to start off this discussion, let me name my twelve all time favorite film; I couldn't find just 10. (Favorite, mind you, not greatest as I wouldn't have the presumption to make such a list).

1)ALL ABOUT EVE (probably the most literate film ever made, complete with brilliant dialogue and superb acting. The direction of Joseph Mankiewicz is perfection).

2)GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (1969) This is the Peter O' Toole/Petula Clark musical version which, as an old teacher, moves me as no other. Savaged by the critics as not being up to its 1939 predecessor this movie pulls out all the stops in tugging at the heartstrings.

3)WILD STRAWBERRIES - Ingmar Bergman's most beautiful film dealing with the subjects of religion, science, love and growing old. Magnificent.

4)BALLAD OF A SOLDIER - A Russian film that takes place during WW2. Shown through the eyes of a naive young soldier all the brutality and idiocy of war is exposed. (Tear jerker alert!)

5)THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD - Now be careful here. This is NOT the Steve Reeves version made in the fifties, but rather the brilliant Technicolor version starring Sabu, John Justin and June Duprez made in England even as Hitler's bombs were falling. Maybe the most magical film I have ever seen, with a score by Miklos Rozsa that blows me away with its beauty.

6)ON THE WATERFRONT - Here is a film where everything works. Brando, Malden, Saint, Kazan with a musical score by Leonard Bernstein that enhances and delineates the characters. This is one I watch again and again.

7)DOCTOR ZHIVAGO/LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - Two David Lean films that I love. Hard to choose between them.

8)THE LADY VANISHES/SABOTEUR/FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT - Almost any Hitchcock (except, probably TO CATCH A THIEF and FRENZY) would make my list, but these three, from the late thirties and early forties are my favorites. If I had to pick a later Hitchcock favorite I would have to go with THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH followed closely by VERTIGO.

9)LA STRADA/ AMACORD- The great Fellini at the top of his game. I defy you to watch LA STRADA and not to fall in love with Giuletta Masina as Gelsumina.

10)TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD- One of the only times a film is almost as good as the book it was taken from. Gregory Peck is Atticus and the music by Elmer Bernstein is one of the best film scores ever composed.

11) THE COLOR PURPLE - Spielberg's film was blasted by the critics, nominated for 13 Oscars from which it won none(!) and it remains as, in my opinion, one of his great masterpieces.

12) FIELD OF DREAMS- What is there to say? Heaven or Iowa, this film is simply magnificent

Okay...those are my choices Agree? Disagree? What are your choices? Please leave a comment. (Even if it's to say I should disband this blog!) Jeff

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The book has been going well and, thankfully, the comments on it are excellent. Gotta tell you, I couldn't be happier. Should you stumble upon this and you haven't read the novel, please do and let me know what you think of it.

Just back from a whirlwind vacation in San Francisco and Phoenix. Bonnie Cohen threw a wonderful dinner party for a few of those in our 6th grade class (no, she isn't old..I was her teacher.) Had a great time with her, Barbara Scheinman, Neil Cramer, Mark Horowitz and another refugee from the frozen north, Don Greif. Great company, great food...great evening.

I also spent some quality time with my nephew Dylan, his wife Anna (who could not be closer to me if she were a blood relative) and their two beautiful kids, Shane and Soren. Dylan and I took a walk up and down the hills around their home catching up for lost time.

After that, on to Phoenix with a short but very pleasant visit with my sister and then back to NYC just missing the latest storm by hours.

And that's it for now.