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 »

“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies

How do you make a Top Ten list? For tax and organizational purposes, I keep a log of every movie I see (Title, year, director, exhibition format, and location the film was viewed in). Anything with an asterisk to the left of its title means it’s a 2014 release (or something I saw at a festival which is somehow in play for the year). If there’s a performance, or sequence, or line of dialogue, even, that strikes me in a certain way, I’ll make a note of it. So when year end consideration time (that is, the month and change out of the year where I feel valued) rolls around, it’s a little easier to go through and pull some contenders for categories. For 2014, I’m voting in three polls: Indiewire, SEFCA (my critics’ guild), and the Muriels. Since Indiewire was first, it required the most consternation. There were lots of films that I simply never had a chance to see, so I just went with my gut. SEFCA requires a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to be strategic, even though there’s none of the in-person skullduggery that I hear of from folk whose critics’ guild is all in the same city. The Muriels is the most fun to contribute to because it’s after the meat market phase of awards season. Also, because it’s at the beginning of next year, I’ll generally have been able to see everything I wanted to by then. I love making hierarchical lists, partially because they are so subjective and mercurial. Every critical proclamation is based on who you are at that moment and what experiences you’ve had up until that point. So they change, and that’s okay. It’s all a weird game of timing and emotional waveforms, and I’m sure a scientist could do an in-depth dissection of the process that leads to the discovery of shocking trends in collective evaluation. But I love the year end awards crush, because I feel somewhat respected and because I have a wild-and-wooly work schedule that has me bouncing around the city to screenings, or power viewing the screeners I get sent.
Jason Shawhan of Nashville Scene Answers CriticWire