MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington: The Ten Best of 2010

So here’s my list of The Ten Best Movies of 2010, plus Honorable Mentions and a separate list of documentaries. I know it’s customary at this time to write about how awful a year it was, and how I had to struggle to find ten movies worthy of recognition, and how Hollywood is so bankrupt…

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MW on Movies: Little Fockers, Casino Jack, How Do You Know, and Gulliver’s Travels

This movie is not even vaguely funny. If this movie and its representatives claim they are doing anything funny, they should apologize. And if your friends disagree with me, if they insist that I‘m a pompous snob, and that you yourself will attend the local showings of Little Fockers with lots of real people convulsed with real laughter and slapping real knees, you should get them to sign notarized affidavits explaining where all the jokes are.

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MW on DVDs: The American, Cronos, I am Love … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW The American (Three Stars) U.S.; Anton Corbijn, 2010 (Universal) 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…

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MW on Movies: True Grit

True Grit (Four Stars) U.S.: Ethan and Joel Coen (The Coen Brothers), 2010 Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old heroine of the new Coen Brothers movie, True Grit, — the Coens’ remake of the 1969 classic with John Wayne — is the kind of spunky, indomitable little kid we’d have all liked to have known, or to…

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MW on DVDs: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Romeo and Juliet, Salt, Easy A … and more

Oliver Stone’s 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 into the seductions and pitfalls of the casino mentality on the trading floors and the stock market, of inside guys making huge, quick profits and the dangerous games and ruinous consequences of playing with other people‘s money, other people‘s lives — and not giving a damn about it.

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MW on Movies: The King’s Speech and Yogi Bear

The King’s Speech (Four Stars) U. K.: Tom Hooper, 2010 The King’s Speech — which tells the story of King George VI’s chronic speech impediment, and of how he overcame it with the help of a boisterous Australian actor/therapist just in time to help Britain win World War II — is being touted as this…

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The DVD Wrap: Despicable Me, The Town, Cyrus,The A-Team, Micmacs, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work … and more

Despicable Me: Blu-ray 3D Legend of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’hoole: Blu-ray 3D Anyone old enough to remember such ancient cartoon evil-doers as Snidely Wipelash, Boris Badenov, Dishonest John and Crabby Appleton probably will enjoy Despicable Me as much as their kids and grandkids. For Boomers, especially, it will recall a time when villains didn’t…

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MW on DVDs: The Town, Mother and Child, Despicable Me, The Other Guys, Nanny McPhee Returns … and more

The Boston, Massachusetts, of Ben Affleck‘s new movie The Town – and of The Departed, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and other recent thrillers, Dennis Lehane-derived or not — is decades away from the morally bent city of that great under-seen 1973 neo-noir The Friends of Eddie Coyle. But it has a similarly chilly temperature, the same clipped sense of smart-ass New England doom and Kennedy-accented cynicism welling up from the mean, sullen streets.

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MW on Movies: The Tourist, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Fighter

This is a city we’d probably all like to visit, and it’s shot here by director-co-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and cinematographer John Seale, with all the color and the luster they can, uh, muster. (Without fluster). A huge advantage, that.

Which The Tourist then sort of squanders.

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MW on DVDs: Restrepo, Inception, The Grapes of Wrath, Shrek Forever After … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: BLU-RAY Restrepo (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Sebastian Junger/Tim Hetherington, 2010 (Virgil) Restrepo is a documentary about the war in Afghanistan that’s beautifully shot and terrifyingly convincing. The color photography is crisp and clear. The subjects, a platoon of American soldiers in the mountains, are amazingly candid. The directors —…

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MW on Movies: Black Swan and I Love You Phillip Morris

Black Swan
Who makes crazier art movies — about more agonized characters, trapped in more nightmarish fixes — than Darren Aronofsky? David Lynch, Bong Joon-ho and Roman Polanski, maybe — but precious few others. A specialist in tales of the brilliantly sick and the sickishly brilliant, Aronofsky has spun, with disorienting intensity, barmy movie stories…

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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