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MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: It’s Complicated, The Lovely Bones, Nine, Police – Adjective, Did You Hear About the Morgans?

It’s Complicated (Three Stars) U.S.; Nancy Meyers, 2009 It’s Complicated tries to show that age cannot wither, nor custom stale, even in Santa Barbara, with Meryl Streep making croissants, Alec Baldwin undergoing fertility tests and some funny smoke in the air. The movie costars Streep as a happy baker who’s lived too long unmarried, Baldwin…

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Wilmington on DVDs: THE TEN BEST

Here are my choices for the ten best DVD and DVD box sets (plus a few runners-up) for 2009, last year of the first decade of the twenty-first century.

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Wilmington on Movies: Sherlock Holmes, Into Temptation

Sherlock Holmes (Three Stars) U.S.; Guy Ritchie, 2009 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fog-bound, spellbinding adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson were among the magical books of my childhood. The game’s afoot! “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The curious incident of the dog in the night-time. I even invented my own counterfeit Holmes and Watson…

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Wilmington on Movies: Avatar, Princess & the Frog, The Young Victoria

  Avatar (Four Stars) U.S.; James Cameron, 2009 Avatar, James Cameron’s planet-shaking, moon-rocking, eco-worshipping, dragon-riding new science fiction fantasy epic-and-a-half, may not be a perfect movie. But it’s sure as hell an incredible experience. It’s a genre-movie knockout, a cinematic mind-blast and a technological marvel whose feats of 3D motion-capture and CGI pyrotechnics, and the…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Inglourious Basterds, The Hangover, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 500 Days of Summer and more…

Inglourious Basterds (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.; Quentin Tarantino, 2009 (Universal) Quentin Tarantino shoots the works in Inglorious Basterds, a wild movie-movie-lover’s blend of WW2 action film pyrotechnics, subtitled art cinema romance, inside-movie allusions of every type and description, grand spaghetti-operatic Sergio Leone stylistics, and a brash Let’s-rewrite-World War 2-and make-it-a-De Palma flick…

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Wilmington on Movies: Invictus, Brothers, The Messenger

Invictus (Four Stars) U.S.; Clint Eastwood, 2009 I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. Those are the stirring last words of William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus,” the British poem from which black political prisoner and Apartheid foe Nelson Mandela took heart during his 27 years in South African prisons…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Julie and Julia, The Hangover, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 500 Days of Summer and more…

Julie and Julia (Three Stars) U. S.; Nora Ephron, 2009 (Sony) In Julie and Julia, a perky and ambitious young Manhattan writer named Julie Powell, decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s culinary bible “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in the space of a year — and write a blog about it,…

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Wilmington on Movies: Up in the Air, Everybody’s Fine and Old Dogs

Up in the Air (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U.S.; Jason Reitman, 2009 In Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, which I rather liked, George Clooney plays a prime/perfecto Clooney role: Ryan Bingham, a nice-seeming, glamorous looking guy with a highly remunerated, very nasty job. Ryan is a severance expert, a corporate gun-for-hire, who flies around the country…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Terminator Salvation, Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Tale, Night at the Museum, Paper Heart, Flame and Citron and more…

Terminator Salvation (Also Director’s Cut and Blu-Ray) (Two Stars) U. S.; McG, 2009 (Warner) Terminator Salvation — a big, roaring, burn-down-the-planet sequel to the Terminator trilogy set in the future — tries to be a new super-apocalyptic nightmare worthy of its Terminating predecessors: a cine-techno-bloodbath where man battles machine, cyborg battles mini-copter, robot battles android,…

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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