Tag Archives: Film Forum

NYMysteries – April 13

 I saw Francesco Rosi’s 1975 film at the Film Forum. It’s four hours long. A friend warned me to eat ahead of time. The film is based on Carlo Levi’s 1945 memoir about his one year exile, Christ Stopped at Eboli. The setting is Basilicata, a region in the Italian boot tucked between Puglia, Campagna and Calabria. The title suggests that nothing – hope, prosperity, fairness – goes beyond Eboli, the last train station in Basilicata.  The film director was the esteemed Ruggero Mastroianni, brother of Marcello. The film reminded me of Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli (1950) and of Franco Brusati’s Bread and Chocolate (1975). The three films shine an unwavering light on Italian foibles.If only the U. S. A. and Israel had the Italian ability to examine their characteristics with a critical eye. 

I sat in a row in the middle of the theater. Staring at me from the  back of seat, second one from the aisle,  was a plaque dedicated to Elia Kazan. 


Elia Kazan’s plaque at the Film Forum








Ever have this happen with a friend? You’re convinced you gave her the tickets and she’s convinced you didn’t? That’s what happened  to our tickets for Joyce DiDonato’s Master Classes on Friday and Sunday. Who came to the rescue? Carnegie Hall! I called their help number and got help. I was instructed to show up at the box office with my printed-out tickets. I did. The clerk looked at my ticket. Unlike me, he could read. He pointed out very politely that I had two tickets, front to back for both Friday and Sunday. I met my friend in line. She was feeling guilty about having lost her tickets. And I was tempted. Yes, tempted to let her stew. What the hell, I told her I’d been a dope and case solved. We stood in line, jammed ourselves into a tiny elevator to the 10th floor. Raced gracefully into the enormous room decked with two funereal bunches of flowers and grabbed two perfect seats in the second row center. The magic began. Joyce DiDonato entered with four accomplished singers. She manhandled them one by one. Alexandra Nowakowski, soprano, Maya Amir, mezzo-soprano, Keymon W. Murrah, countertenor and Aaron Crouch, tenor. They trusted her. We trusted her. It was two hours of rich, professional advice coupled with affection and respect. Talk about living in the moment. I love everything about opera except opera.

Joyce DiDonato
April 12. 2019
Maya Amir
Aaron Crouch, Tenor
Keymon W. Murrah, Countertenor































Graphic Lessons: What do a thirty-four-year old, a nine-year-old and an eighteen-year-old have in common? Murder. 

Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a  dying man in the school kitchen, deals with a troubled nine-year-old and with the eighteen-year-old niece of the murdered man.

Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie. 

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek is assigned the murder case at the prestigious Windsor School. What’s bugging him? His partner being stabbed ? His hated boss, Captain Dick Holbrook, being a trustee of the Windsor School?  Losing his girlfriend to Holbrook? 

New York City Blog – May 30 – June 3

Have you seen The Fallen Idol? Film Forum is having a Carol Reed moment. Reed, the director and Graham Greene, the writer, worked on three films together: The Fallen Idol, The Third Man and Our Man in Havana. Not bad, eh? The 1948 movie is charming. It’s a literate thriller that takes place in an impossibly vast and posh mansion in post-war London. The superb cast includes Ralph Richardson, Michelle Morgan and the amazing child, Bobby Henrey. Mr. Henrey presented his elderly self at the Film Forum’s first screening of The Fallen Idol. The small movie houses are bucking up. Film Forum and IFC have Q & A’s with actors from long ago productions. Earlier in the week, Film Forum presented The Odd Man Out, an earlier Reed film. It stars the young, handsome James Mason as an Irish revolutionary who spends most of the long film bleeding to death. Afterwards, dinner at the Jane Restaurant on Houston. Lovely oysters and shrimp for me and a burger, medium please, for my pal from Michigan.

Friday night we went to the NY Philharmonic in what used to be called the Avery Fisher Hall. Frank Huang, the lead violinist, had a stellar solo debut gliding us through a Grieg quickie followed, after intermission, by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. I’m embarrassed to say that after all the time I’ve spent at Lincoln Center I had never been to the Shun Lee Cafe. What a treat. It’s tucked into west 65th Street, and a perfect pretheatre restaurant. Forget the dim sum. It’s so 1970’s. Instead, head straight for the entrées and delicious white wine. Wine? In a Chinese restaurant? That’s right. It’s 2016, folks.

New York City Blog Dec. 27 – January 3

My New Year’s Gift to You: Stream Black Books on Netflix. It’s screamingly funny. I never appreciated the so called humor of the Hollywood screwball comedies, but the Brits have created a goofy, very politically incorrect sitcom. It reminds me of Faulty Towers and I hope you enjoy it.

The Film Forum on Houston brings back memories of my Uncle Bill’s Indiana movie house, the Ritz. Like the Film Forum it seated about 500 people and had wooden seats. Unlike the Film Forum, on Tuesdays the Indiana Bachelors sang harmony before the Ritz’s main feature. Did you see The Last Picture Show? The Ritz could have been in that Italian movie, but so could the Film Forum.  Recently, I saw Ball of Fire at the Film Forum. Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper and Dana Andrews star. It’s not The Lady Eve, unfortunately. She’s great of course. Cooper is game about playing a virginal scientist and Dana Andrews tries to shed his middle class aura and talk tough guy. It’s amazing what contract players were forced to do.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective is on the Whitney’s fifth floor. It’s a big, bright powerhouse of an exhibit, the kind of show NYC museums do well. Steve Kulchek’s current girlfriend had to drag him out of the exhibit, he was enjoying it so much and threatening to make a sculpture out of one of his old cars.  Afterwards, they got into the enormous and beautiful elevator, shades of the old Whitney, and glided to the Whitney Collection on 6.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective
Frank Stella: A Retrospective
Franks Stella: A Retrospective
Franks Stella: A Retrospective

New York City Blog March 23 – March 28

The venerable Film Forum was showing the equally venerable The Tales of Hoffmann, a 1951 British film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It’s luscious, filled with brilliant Mediterranean colors. No computer art. It’s gorgeously handmade. Everybody was in it: Moira Shearer, Robert Rounseville, Robert Helpmann. I had loved it when I saw it years ago and was smitten by Robert Helpmann. So back I went in time to west Houston Street. Film Forum’s tiny theatre designated for The Tales of Hoffmann was packed with gray, white and bald heads. I still love the film and I suspect my lifelong fascination with the allure of the Mediterranean dates from The Tales of Hoffmann but it’s so long.

The New York Historical Society has a moving exhibit, Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion. Chinese immigrants were subjected to unjust laws and quotas from 1882 to 1965 and Chinese laborers were denied entrance to the U. S. A.Through documents, photos and a recreated immigration station modeled after Angel Island, a facility that operated in San Francisco Bay between 1910 and 1940, the exhibit gives glimpses into the difficult existence of many Chinese Americans.

Chinese American Exhibit: Exclusion/Inclusion
Chinese American Exhibit: Exclusion/Inclusion


We had a delicious meal in the Historical Society’s restaurant. Curiously, it’s named Storico. Storico means history in Italian and the food is sort of Italian but couldn’t the public relations have come up with an apt name for a dining area in an American institution?

 Mao and Nixon
                        Mao and Nixon

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