MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

MW on DVDs: The Killer Inside Me, The Law (La Loi), Palermo or Wolfsburg, Get Him to the Greek … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW The Killer Inside Me (Three Stars) U.S.; Michael Winterbottom, 2010 All these years, ever since it first appeared as a paperback original novel in 1952, a possible movie of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me — the first-person deep-noir tale of a smooth-talking small-town Southern deputy sheriff and murdering bastard…

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Wilmington on Movies: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and Our Hitler

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Oliver Stone, 2010 Oliver Stone’s new movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps returns us to one of Stone’s great subjects of the 1980s: the glamour and corruption of the American financial markets. A sequel to Stone‘s 1987 Wall Street, this show plunges us back…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Robin Hood, Charade, Playing for Time, Forbidden Planet, The Secret Behind Their Eyes … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Robin Hood (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Ridley Scott, 2010 “To live outside the law, you must be honest,“ Bob Dylan once sang (in “”Absolutely Sweet Marie,“ from “Blonde on Blonde“). And that’s the credo that permeates most of the many, many screen incarnations of Robin Hood of Sherwood…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Town, Easy A, Never Let Me Go, Mademoiselle Chambon, and Catfish

There’s not a role here that could have been played better, not an actor, including the much-dissed Ms. Lively, who could have been cast better (though, for old time’s sake, we might have liked to see Matt Damon as Jem). I think both this movie and the withering Gone, Baby, Gone (from Lehane) prove director Affleck loves his actors and tries to do his best by them. He’s also pretty damned smart about local color and atmosphere.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Casino Jack, My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done?, Breathless, Crumb and more …

Alex Gibney‘s Casino Jack and the United States of Money is the amazing, genuinely scary and totally sobering story of Jack Abramoff, the supreme Republican lobbyist/dealmaker/moneyman, and also the poster child for a decade crazed by greed and contemptuous of rules, regulations and the problems of the common man and woman.

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Wilmington on Movies: I’m Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

Okay. Here’s my opinion. I think they had us on. Obviously. Totally. To me (and to lots of others) this looks like a Borat-style mix of a fake central character (Phoenix travestying himself) and a fake premise with some (maybe quite a few) real reactions from the real world around him. (How many, who can tell?)

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Wilmington on DVDs: Solitary Man, Crumb, THX-1138, Macgruber and Caravaggio

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Solitary Man (Three Stars) U.S.;  Brian Koppleman & David Levien, 2010 The thing that fascinates people about a serial seducer like Ben Kalmen (magnificently played by Michael Douglas in A Solitary Man) is his speed of conquest. What could take the average man, even in our liberated society, several months…

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MW on Movies: The American, Machete, Going the Distance, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 and Lebanon

The American (Three Stars) U.S.; Anton Corbijn, 2010 I like George Clooney. No off-color psychological speculations, please. What I like about him is the easy-going “good guy” way he plays the Hollywood game. I like his politics, his philanthropy, his unpretentious smarts, his good-natured jock style, his taste in movie scripts, his daring as a…

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Wilmington

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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

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin