MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

Columns By Gary DretzkaDretzka@moviecitynews.com

Hurray, Independent!

Every year, in the days immediately following the Academy Awards, I rejoice in the knowledge that members of the mainstream and Internet media will get over themselves long enough to ponder something other than who’s wearing what, and by whom; which five, of the 25 equally qualified actors and directors nominated, are mortal-locks to take…

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Accepting Remakes

Over the years, as the movie industry’s fetish for remaking anything and everything has become more prevalent, there have been tons of articles written about how “remakes” are destroying the very fabric of film or some such other hyperbolic thesis. You see, for me, I’ve never been truly offended by the idea of remaking a…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Dear Zachary, Rachel Rachel, Faces, and more … plus, this week’s box set

PICKS OF THE WEEK: NEW Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U. S.; Kurt Kuenne, 2008 (Oscilloscope) 2008 was a year of remarkable documentaries. My favorites were Martin Scorsese’s sizzling Stones concert movieShine a Light and James Marsh’s extraordinary, gut-wrenchingMan on Wire, about Philippe Petit‘s high-wire walk between the…

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Mr. Hollywood and the Women

When it comes to the movies, we all know sex sells … but to what extent does Hollywood perpetuate gender stereotypes and the objectification of women? A couple of disparate things cropped up the other day that got me pondering the role the media in general and movies in particular play in perpetuating stereotypes about…

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The Check is in the Jail

Madea Goes to Jail was the overwhelming winner as it grossed an estimated $41.2 million in its debut weekend. In another record breaking session one of the few down notes came from the session’s other freshman release — the teen comedy Fired Up — that struggled to $5.9 million. Niche openers ranged from good to…

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The Oscars and Iraq

Not surprisingly, perhaps, movies about the war in Iraq have failed to capture the attention of the movie-going American public, commercially or otherwise. In the competition for Academy and Spirit awards, theatrical releases inspired by W and Dick’s Excellent Misadventure have been virtually ignored, as well. Michael Winterbottom’s Daniel Pearlbiopic, A Mighty Heart, earned three nominations from Film…

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Oscars Versus Spirits: My Likely Winners

Published under Oscar Outsider. For the past several years, I’ve enlisted my children’s help when it came time to make a guess as to who would win what Oscars, on the theory that a pack of children playing a random game with the names of nominees worked in would result in predictions more-or-less as accurate…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Changeling, I Served the King of England, Faces, Hobson’s Choice and more … plus, this week’s box set

CO-PICKS OF THE WEEK: NEW Changeling (Four Stars) U. S.; Clint Eastwood (Universal) Changeling is another very fine late-career movie from director Clint Eastwood: a scary, blood-chillingly clear look at

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Wondering About Slumdog

So the big show is coming up this weekend and I’m sensing an overall feeling of inevitability about the results on Sunday. And I don’t think that should be the case. The truth of the matter is that in most of the categories, each entrant is a worthy winner and if that’s indeed the case,…

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Craftsmanship Versus Art in Filmmaking: Why Can’t We Have Both?

Are today’s filmmakers so caught up in trying to craft “artistic” films that they’ve lost the soul and spirit of what makes art “art” in the process? And how exactly do you define art versus craftsmanship? A good starting point for this discussion started up last week over on the blog Bright Lights After Dark. In…

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Valentine Day Movieholic

The declining appeal of horror movies didn’t last long. The resurrected Friday the 13th slew the competition, debuting to an estimated $42.3 million in the first three days of the President’s holiday weekend. The session also included national bows for the romantic comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic of $15.7 million that ranked fourth and the…

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Pondering the Contenders in the Best Picture Derby

Published under Oscar Outsider. With ten days to go until Oscar, it’s time for Oscar Outsider to take a look at the Best Picture nominees. Here’s a rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Best Picture contenders as we come down to the wire … and what the Academy voters might be…

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Collector’s Choice: The Films of Michael Powell

After what has seemed like an eternity, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s outstanding 1946 wartime fantasy, A Matter of Life and Death, which played theatrically in Death-allergic America asStairway to Heaven, has been made available on home video, released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as a two-platter The Collector’s Choice DVD set, The Films of Michael Powell, accompanied by…

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Bridging the Cultural Gulf with Trouble the Water

When is a movie more than a movie? One of the things that particularly interests me about independent film is the way in which movies can both shine a light on social issues and act as agents of change in shifting the way in which those who watch a given film view the world around…

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Kate Winslet Should Not Win the Oscar this Year

In 2007, before There Will Be Blood had been released, I talked a great deal about how I felt Daniel Day-Lewis was the greatest living actor and that there really wasn’t any competition. When the film was eventually released, I felt vindicated because he had gone one step further, cementing his status as the actor who stands…

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Sweet Coraline … So Into You

The debut of rom-com He’s Just Not That Into You led the frame with an estimated $27.9 million. Three other films bowed this weekend to varying results including a sturdy start for the 3-D animated Coraline of $16.3 million that ranked third overall. There was OK response of $9.9 million for the thriller Push but…

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Wilmington on Movies: Coraline, He’s Just Not that Into You, The Pink Panther 2, Fanboys

Coraline (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U. S.; Henry Selick Other movie genres may need some more oomph. But

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Who’s the Best of the Best Director Nominees?

Here we are 17 short days from Oscar, the “Biggest Movie Event of the Year,” and over on the Gurus chart, they’ve got it nailed down to their top two picks in each category. I’ve written a lot of Oscar columns since coming on board here, covering the adapted and original screenplays, the acting categories,…

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Two Lovers

When Two Lovers premiered at Cannes last May, I was looking forward to hearing the first reviews of the film; they were fairly middle of the road. I thought it had become par for the course for director James Gray to deliver a mediocre film after he wowed me with his original and bleak debut Little Odessa, only…

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Taken .. Not Stirred

The kidnap thriller Taken topped weekend movie going with an estimated $24.5 million. While the top title’s take was upbeat, two other premiering films had below par results. The chiller The Uninvited ranked third overall with $10.5 million and the issue comedy New in Town slotted eighth with a $6.7 million gross. The session also…

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Columns

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas