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MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button plus reviews of Valkyrie, Bedtime Stories, and The Spirit

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U. S.; David Fincher What a refreshingly “uncommercial” big-budget project! And what a surprisingly enjoyable movie.

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The Wrestler plus reviews of Seven Pounds, Yes Man, Frost/Nixon, Amarcord and Moscow, Belgium

The Wrestler (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U.S.; Darren Aronofsky So the French were crazy for liking Mickey Rourke, huh?

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Wilmington on Movies: Gran Torino plus reviews of Doubt, Nothing Like the Holidays, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Dark Streets

Gran Torino (Four Stars) U.S.; Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood plays a Dirty Harry grown old in his latest movie Gran Torino. And he makes us feel lucky … to be watching him simmer and explode on screen again.

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Wilmington on Movies: Cadillac Records plus reviews of Nobel Son and Punisher: War Zone

Cadillac Records (Three Stars) U.S.; Darnell Martin The renaissance of the movie musical — at least since 2001 and Moulin Rouge! — has been one real cause for joy in the last several cinematic years, and Darnell Martin‘s Cadillac Records is another shining example. A rockin’ dandy one too.

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Wilmington

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INTERVIEWER
Do you think this anxiety of yours has something to do with being a woman? Do you have to work harder than a male writer, just to create work that isn’t dismissed as being “for women”? Is there a difference between male and female writing?

FERRANTE
I’ll answer with my own story. As a girl—twelve, thirteen years old—I was absolutely certain that a good book had to have a man as its hero, and that depressed me. That phase ended after a couple of years. At fifteen I began to write stories about brave girls who were in serious trouble. But the idea remained—indeed, it grew stronger—that the greatest narrators were men and that one had to learn to narrate like them. I devoured books at that age, and there’s no getting around it, my models were masculine. So even when I wrote stories about girls, I wanted to give the heroine a wealth of experiences, a freedom, a determination that I tried to imitate from the great novels written by men. I didn’t want to write like Madame de La Fayette or Jane Austen or the Brontës—at the time I knew very little about contemporary literature—but like Defoe or Fielding or Flaubert or Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky or even Hugo. While the models offered by women novelists were few and seemed to me for the most part thin, those of male novelists were numerous and almost always dazzling. That phase lasted a long time, until I was in my early twenties, and it left profound effects.
~ Elena Ferrante, Paris Review Art Of Fiction No. 228

“The evening’s curious vanity and irrelevance stay with me, if only because those qualities characterize so many of Hollywood’s best intentions. Social problems present themselves to many of these people in terms of a scenario, in which, once certain key scenes are licked (the confrontation on the courthouse steps, the revelation that the opposition leader has an anti-Semitic past, the presentation of the bill of participants to the President, a Henry Fonda cameo), the plot will proceed inexorably to an upbeat fade. Marlon Brando does not, in a well-plotted motion picture, picket San Quentin in vain: what we are talking about here is faith in a dramatic convention. Things “happen” in motion pictures. There is always a resolution, always a strong cause-effect dramatic line, and to perceive the world in those terms is to assume an ending for every social scenario… If the poor people march on Washington and camp out, there to receive bundles of clothes gathered on the Fox lot by Barbra Streisand, then some good must come of it (the script here has a great many dramatic staples, not the least of them in a sentimental notion of Washington as an open forum, cf. Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington), and doubts have no place in the story.”
~ Joan Didion On Hw’d In 1970

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