MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

Dretzka By Gary DretzkaDretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrapup: In a Better World, The Complete Jean Vigo, If …, Orpheus, Cell 211, Phantom Pain, Skateland, Wrecked, True Adolescents …

In a Better World: Blu-ray The winner of the 2011 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film poses several interesting challenges for its characters and audiences. First, it tests the convictions of modern-day Christians to live up to lessons taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Beyond that, by setting “In a Better World”…

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The DVD Wrapup: The Beaver, Win Win, NEDS, Secret Sunshine, Breath, Road to Nowhere, To Die Like a Man …

The Beaver: Blu-ray Even it were possible to ignore all the baggage Mel Gibson brings with him to any new project, “The Beaver” would still be a movie that defied audiences to like it. There are three things that come immediately to mind when I see the word “beaver,” and none of them is a…

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The DVD Wrapup: Something Borrowed, Jane Eyre, Cul-de-Sac, Queen to Play, Meet Monica Velour, Big Lebowski …

Something Borrowed: Blu-ray There’s a very good chance I misinterpreted the publicity material that preceded the release of “Something Borrowed.”Am I the only one who expected it to be a romantic comedy? Given a cast that includes Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski and a way too handsome Colin Egglesfield, Luke Greenfield’s adaptation of Emily…

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The DVD Wrapup: Mars Needs Moms, The Final Destination 3D, The Clinic, Super, Jumping the Broom, Battle of Algiers …

Mars Needs Moms: Blu-ray Judging simply from the negative press generated after the release of “Mars Needs Moms,” you’d have thought Disney was attempting to sell out-of-date produce to needy children, instead of a very decent family picture. The fact it underperformed so badly at the box office prompted more than one pundit to predict…

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The DVD Wrapup: Rio, Exporting Raymond, Outside the Law, Streetwalkin’, The Perfect Game, Stake Land, John Pinette …

Rio: Blu-ray It’s been nearly 70 years since Walt Disney and a team of animators toured South America, looking for new ideas and acting as cultural ambassadors to a continent our State Department felt was ripe for exploitation by Adolph Hitler. Among the souvenirs they brought home was an anthropomorphized cartoon parrot, Jose Carioca, who…

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Dretzka

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook