MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: Defiance, Hotel For Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop

DEFIANCE (Three Stars)
U.S.; Ed Zwick

Ed Zwick’s Defiance, based on a true-life story about Jewish partisans — who carve out a community-in-hiding in a Belorussian forest during World War 2 — is fairly unique among World War 2 movies, in presenting Holocaust-era Jews not as tragic victims and survivors, but as heroes and heroines who fight back and persevere against Nazis and anti-Semites.It’s well-made, in much the same vein as Zwick’s Civil War epic Glory and I enjoyed it. [SPOILER ALERT] I especially enjoyed seeing Liev Schreiber, in his intensely macho performance as Zus, one of the Bielski brothers, roar to the rescue, at one point, of leader/brother Tuvia (Daniel Craig). Schreiber and Craig, both excellent here, are playing the kind of full-bore movie hero parts that, in a different kind of movie decades ago, might have gone to Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper — and I don’t mean that in a mocking way. (Nor am I talking about Vera Cruz.) Believable heroism and self-sacrifice — even believable stubbornness, in Tuvia’s case — can be thrilling things in a movie like this, and Defiance gives both stars good roles and a strong arena, as it also does for Jamie Bell, playing Asael, the youngest brother.

Defiance has received mixed reviews. Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who is usually right on the money, compared it unfavorably to the superb Belorussian sagas of Russian directors Larisa Shepitko (The Ascent) and Elem Klimov (Come and See). But that seems a little unfair. The Ascent and Come and See are two of the greatest, and most unjustly neglected, war films in movie history. Should you knock a good new newspaper movie by comparing it to Citizen Kane? Defiance is a good, and unusual, World War 2 movie, and it deserves its audience.


U.S.; Thor Freudenthal

Marley, eat your heart out. Scads of incredibly cute and amazingly gifted dogs, all strays or rescued from the dogcatchers, find a home of their own in an abandoned hotel discovered by two astonishing kids (Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin) — orphans who have been fostered out to live with a pair off cretin rockers, the Scudders (Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon), but can now escape into a wonderful world of Rube Goldberg toy contraptions and feeding machines and doggies galore. (And no pooper-scoopers.) Don Cheadle is around to confer a little false credibility as a kindly social worker who really likes kids and dogs. There’s a big canine chase at the end, almost worthy of the Bone Ultimatum. (Sorry.)

This one would have been better, and cheaper, as a Max Fleischer Grampy cartoon. I like dogs too, and I’ve even loved one or two, but this is getting ridiculous. Arf, already.


U.S.; Steve Carr

Devotees of shopping malls, bad jokes and movie catastrophes might find some amusement in Kevin James’ mind-boggling new star vehicle Paul Blart: Mall Cop. But the movie lost me somewhere between Blart’s drunken barf-fest at the mall employee’s karaoke party and the chubby mall cop’s heroic battle with a bad-ass gang of nasty free runners, vicious BMX bike riders, and brutal skateboarders: speedy hooligans who take over Blart’s mall ( a real one, in Birmingham, Mass.), drive out all the customers for a heist, led by Kier O’Donnell as the evil, wisecracking Veck. (What, no Dawn of the Dead zombies?)

But all these in-disgustingly-good-shape bad guys prove no match for ton-of-fun hero Blart who — inspired by his love for comely Amy (Jayma Mays), who is being held hostage. along with a rancid pen salesman Casanova (Stephen Rannazzisi), by the Veck mob — races to the rescue on his PT (Personal Transporter), braving everything, to get a date. As Blart goes from a polyester Fatty Arbuckle to a kill-the-creeps Arnold Schwarzenegger type, the movie easily cops the I Lost My Heart at Taco Bell prize, trouncing Mall Rats, Scenes from a Mall and that Dawn of the Dead remake to become the worst shopping mall movie in living memory.

James is a pretty funny actor and he even gives Blart some schmaltz. But this movie is beyond resuscitation. I wonder if anyone suggested to James that he might have had a much better show by forgetting that siege, concentrating on character gags and letting Blart chase around the skateboard-BMX-free running crew and best the Casanova, without everything escalating into a Hard Boiled style action movie wingding fiasco? Just asking.

– Michael Wilmington
January 16, 2009

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

“We don’t have any idea what the universe is. Wise people have always told us that this is proof you shouldn’t think, because thinking leads you nowhere. You just build over this huge construction of misunderstanding, which is culture. The history of culture is the history of the misunderstandings of great thinkers. So we always have to go back to zero and begin differently. And maybe in that way you have a chance not to understand but at least not to have further misunderstandings. Because this is the other side of this question—Am I really so brave to cancel all human culture? To stop admiring the beauty in human production? It’s very difficult to say no.”
~ László Krasznahorkai

“I have a license to carry in New York. Can you believe that? Nobody knows that, [Applause] somebody attacks, somebody attacks me, oh, they’re gonna be shot. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh, it is Trump, he’s easy pickings what do you say? Right? Oh, boy. What was the famous movie? No. Remember, no remember where he went around and he sort of after his wife was hurt so badly and kill. What?  I — Honestly, Yeah, right, it’s true, but you have many of them. Famous movie. Somebody. You have many of them. Charles Bronson right the late great Charles Bronson name of the movie come on.  , remember that? Ah, we’re gonna cut you up, sir, we’re gonna cut you up, uh-huh.


One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
~ Donald Trump