Another Year . . .

Yes, this blog is a year older. I wish I could say I had something planned to celebrate. The best I can do is to eat a large pile of cheeseburgers in a salute to the news that Ronaldo -- the Brazilian one, not the skinny one at Real Madrid -- has announced his retirement.

Gluttony aside, allow me to direct your attention to my latest raft of verbiage for Jewish Week. There's the semi-annual film preview, with something old, something new and something pale blue. If that doesn't whet your interest, you should also see the list of other film events for the spring.

And you should take a gander at my piece on the Film Comment Selects series. I haven't had the time to see much of what is on offer, but the two films I covered are both worth a look.

I know I promised to say something about the Red Riding trilogy. First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed all three films and if it is possible and your mind and backside can stand it, by all means see them in a single sitting. A lot of the work's power comes from the cumulative effect, which I suspect will be severely dissipated if you spread out the experience over three or more days. Those of you who know me will understand that it is not faint praise if I say that the three films are on a par with the best of the dark British TV procedurals, things like The Vice, Wire in the Blood, Waking the Dead, Murphy's Law and Prime Suspect. Believe me, in our house that's high praise. I think Anand Tucker's contribution, the last of the trio, is the weakest, partly because of the necessity of tying up loose ends, partly because the film suffers from somebody's need to provide a redemptive ending, which Tucker positively feasts on. (Surely you didn't expect subtlety from the director of Hilary and Jackie and Leap Year?) To be absolutely fair, though, it's not a disgraceful ending to the trilogy. And the first and second films, by Julian Jarrold and James Marsh, respectively, are dark, brooding neo-noirs that seem to have a much better grip on the tone of the original noir than their American counterparts. (Don't get me started on the failures and dishonesties of the neo-noir; that's an extremely long essay for another time.) At any rate, all three films are worth seeing, especially if American re-makes are in the works. (No names attached yet, but I shudder to think who could be involved. One thing for sure: the three British films have brilliant original scores and make minimal but highly effective use of period music; you can count on the opposite being the case in any American re-make. Gotta squeeze them cash cows till their udders bleed.)