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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 »

“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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