MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVD, The Rest: Somewhere, Gulliver’s Travels, Country Strong, Birdemic, Mirage, The World in His Arms

CURRENT AND RECENT DVD RELEASES: Somewhere (Also Blu-ray) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Sofia Coppola, 2010 (Universal) Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere, the Golden Lion winner at the last Venice Film Festival, is about a star Hollywood movie actor named Johnny Marco (played with deceptively lazy-looking grace and expertise by Stephen Dorff) who lives a pointless…

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Wilmington on Movies: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants  (Three Stars) U.S.: Francis Lawrence, 2011 Water for Elephants is an old-fashioned romantic picture done in new-fangled ways, and it‘s so good for such a long time, that it seems a shame, at the end, to feel so let down by it. But that’s how it goes… Director Francis Lawrence’s show, co-starring…

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Wilmington on Movies: African Cats

That might not be a tone some adults would prefer in their movies. They might rather have Morgan Freeman, today’s movie narrator of choice: a wonderfully mellow tale-spinner who combines wisdom, gravity, vocal resonance and warmth with earthiness and street smarts — though maybe Freeman, in our increasingly nasty and divisive, Birther-ridden post-Obama era, would have been also attacked for too much ghetto jive.

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Wilmington on DVD, Picks of the Week: The King’s Speech, Le Cercle Rouge, Legends: Bette Davis

“The movie, thanks largely to Rush and Firth and the sparks of language they strike together, becomes an ode to expression and friendship and the English language, and to the power of the human voice, in the right hands.”

“The title of Le Cercle Rouge refers to an alleged saying and story of Buddha, who supposedly draws a red circle with red chalk and explains to his students that those who are destined to cross paths, will do so within the circle, no matter what.”

“Ah, if only we had more Bettes today: actresses battling to bring more quality and beauty and fierce snap and idealism and sparkling adult intelligence and unforgettable moments to our movies: fighting to make them better, fighting to make them good, fighting to make them great, by whatever means necessary.”

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Wilmington on Movies: The Conspirator

Redford obviously made this movie with all his heart. The picture, economically shot, has a grim, dusty look, and, for me, it also looks a little too TV-historical-dramatic-ish. But the story and the actors are so good, it doesn’t matter.

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WILMINGTON ON DVD (PICKS OF THE WEEK): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, White Material, Topsy-Turvy, The Mikado, The Norman Conquests

CO-PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One U.S.; David Yates, 2010 (Warner Home Video) The beginning of the end for a very long, mostly gratifying, often magical and sometimes splendiferous cinematic journey on a constantly twisting fantastical/literary road, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One splits the last…

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Wilmington on Movies: Rio

Rio (Three Stars) U.S.: Carlos Saldanha, 2011 Rio is a big, coruscatingly colorful feature-cartoon love-letter to Rio de Janeiro from Brazilian director/writer Carlos Saldanha (director and co-director on the Ice Age movies), and it’s full of spectacular computer-cartoon images of Saldanha’s legendary city of samba, aswarm with funny animals acting wild and crazy in Carnival time….

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Wilmington on Movies: Scream 4

“I was glad they had some more adults in this one. In fact, that’s an idea: Why don’t they make the next one, Scream 5, with a lot of horny or fornicating, slaughtered adults instead of, you know, the usual horny or fornicating, slaughtered teenagers? Broaden the audience. Just an idea.”

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WILMINGTON ON DVDS: Tangled, Fair Game, Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Casino Jack, Little Fockers, Skyline, Helena from the Wedding, Safe…Not Sorry

“Tangled — for all its jokes about its cutie-pie heroine’s multi-purpose hair (used variously in the movie as manacles, whip, lash, escape-rope, mop, blanket, hideaway and erotic come-on), is cleverly written and visualized, inventive, well-acted, and mercifully devoid of cute little bunnies, and tricksy little pixies.”

“If Dawn Treader doesn’t quite succeed, it’s not for want of effort and some talent, and even a determination to stir things up.”

“Little Fockers not only didn’t make me laugh. It didn’t even make me fantasize about laughing.”

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Wilmington on Movies: Potiche

“Movies can be works of art. (This one isn’t.) But they can also be, in a way, fantasy bistros where we meet and re-meet people we love to watch.”

And – A DP/30 w/ Ozon

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Wilmington on Movies: Arthur

After the sheer lousiness or mediocrity of so many Hollywood romantic comedies, it’s depressing to see the memory of a good old one go blotto, in the hands of a lot of talented people. Why did this happen? Where is there a romantic comedy touch today anything like Lubitsch’s? Or Wilder’s? Woody Allen some time again, maybe?

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Wilmington on Movies: Hanna

“All the characters, in fact, have more fullness, personality and surprises than the action movie norm. They’re reminiscent at times of the more psychologically detailed or richly eccentric lead and secondary characters in an old style British thriller by Powell & Pressburger or Alfred Hitchcock, or a classy American or international thriller by John Huston or Orson Welles (or by the expatriate Hitch).

We haven’t had many literate thrillers lately (The “Bourne” movies excepted, of course), and it’s a non-guilty pleasure to see one here, to see filmmakers who are trying to please us on a multitude of levels and not just trying to smash us out of our seats and blow us out of the back of the theatre — filmmakers who want to give us, as they do here, explosive action, fairytale romance and grim suspense, solid character and exciting adventure, good acting and writing, exotic locales and splashy technique, and both visual beauty and visual shock.”

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Wilmington DVD Picks of the Week: Black Swan, Raging Bull, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection, Farley Granger

“Like Red Shoes, Black Swan is a movie that seems to adore art and creativity. It also seems terrified of both, scared silly of the worlds they open up.”

“The violence and the brutality and the language (are) done in Raging Bull not just to shock us or give us ugly jolts or show us how streetwise these filmmakers can be, but to reveal to us with lacerating clarity what this world and its people are really like. ”

“Rathbone and Bruce, though: Nobody beats them, as a pure team.”

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Wilmington on TV: Mildred Pierce

“If you’re a hard core movie lover, and you haven’t already sampled the curious and perverse (and sometimes classic) delights of HBO’s current mini-series adapted from James M. Cain’s novel Mildred Pierce, you probably owe it to yourself to start turning it on and gobbling up this archetypal tale of a woman who loves her daughter not wisely but too well.”

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Wilmington on Movies: Source Code

“A friendly warning: No SPOILER ALERTS here because THE WHOLE REVIEW IS A SPOILER, and so is every other review of this movie.”

“Some reviewers who don’t like Source Code, and even part of the vast majority who do, think that the movie just doesn’t make sense. Well, yeah. Of course it doesn’t make sense. Neither does a magic carpet, or a genie with his three wishes, or the Man With No Name gunning down a barroom gang, or Orpheus descending into hell to bring back Eurydice. You want sense, take the Metra Rail.”

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas