The Snapshot Chronicles: 7/05/16

Posted: July 5th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Ruminations, Snapshot Chronicles | No Comments »

chron“If You Ask Me” Libby Gelman Waxner. Those of you who have been coming here for awhile know that I’m an aficionado of cinema, and podcast my film reviews, forty or so already this year. Given that stature as a card carrying film critic, I’m often asked, “c d, who is your favorite film critic?”

The simple answer is Libby Gelman-Waxner, whose reviews for Premier magazine, may it rest in peace, set the gold standard. Also an assistant buyer in juniors activewear, daughter of the very wise Sondra Krell-Gelman, married to Josh Waxner D.D.S., an orthodontist on the upper east side, many of whose patients are the children of lawyers of famous people, with two lovely children and a dearest friend, Stacy Schiff, “a gifted marketing analyst still unattached,” she set a standard in the 80s and 90s that not only surpassed Pauline Kael, but became an exemplar no critic has come close to matching since.

Here’s just one example of Gelman-Waxner’s incisive and knowing film criticism: “I must confess: I know I’m not supposed to, but I enjoy the Rambo pictures, and for a simple reason — I like to watch people getting blown to bits. It’s silly, but when Sylvester Stallone hangs a hand grenade around someone’s neck and pull the pin out, I always think, Why can’t Sly do that to my dry cleaner, who always loses a button or a matching belt? In Rambo III, Sly is fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, but in my mind, he’s taking on my husband’s entire family. Josh, my husband, says his mother has allergies, and that’s why she spit out my lemon quiches — Sly, get the flamethrower, and while you’re at it, use the crossbow with the detonating arrows on Cousin Leslie, with the adorable two-year old who chews my slipcovers.”

“If You Ask Me,” a compilation of Gelman-Waxner’s columns is still available at amazon.com, even though it was published over a score of years ago. Other reviews are posted for your edification at Libby’s blog site.

So, yeah, there’s some other film critics, whom I admire — Stephanie Zacharek, Bilge Ebiri — but Libby Gelman-Waxner is far and away the best, if you ask me.

“Stand By Me” Tracy Chapman. Less is more.

Commercials at the Movie House. I believe I have some understanding of the economics of the cineplex. Movie studios take a big cut of the gross income of their movies, almost all at the front end of film’s showings, leaving the movie houses to fend for themselves. That’s why we pay $5 bucks for 12 cents worth of popcorn, and $3 bucks for a nickel’s worth of diet cola.

And why we’re now inundated with commercials before the trailers, which come before the movie we’ve come to see. I accept it, it’s the nature of the beast. Damn it.

But . . . my experience the other day at Carmike Stonybrook 20, which I hadn’t been to for awhile, was absurd. And that’s without mentioning how strangely dark and foreboding the lobby was in the middle of sunny afternoon.

The commercials went on — and on and on and on — for 15 minutes after the published starting time for the flick. Then the screen froze with the Chevy logo1 on it for three minutes. Then, after several trailers, which we love of course but which are really commercials themselves, there were ten more minutes of commercials.

The film finally began 31 minutes after it was supposed to.

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuughhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Aaron Neville “Live @ Darryl’s House.” Time has taken its toll on the sweetest singer extant. A shadow of his former self, literally and figuratively, it was hard to listen as his doo wop vocalese, his signature swirls and whirls, were brittle, cut short.

His rendition of “Yellow Moon,” made me sad. Nothing like this:

“Muhammed Ali Tribute” Charles Pierce. My favorite writer’s tribute about Ali, whose stature seems to be growing daily, can be read here.

“Weegee’s World” Of the photographers through the decades, who have been most influential, the one least recognized is probably Arthur Fellig, known as Weegee.

weeimagesHe started as an ambulance, cop car chaser in New York, and developed a high contrast black and white style, that became his signature.

Recently, I came across this documentary about the making of one of the greatest movies ever, Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.” Weegee was a visual consultant for the movie, and responsible for its very effective high contrast black and white look.

Over the weekend, I was at some friend’s house for dinner and they had a coffee table book, featuring Weegee’s great photos. Which they lent me.

You should check him out.

— c d kaplan



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