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MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs: Pick of the Week, New. Biutiful

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Biutiful (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) Spain: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, 2011 (Roadside Attractions) In Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s sad and moving film Biutiful, Javier Bardem gives an extraordinary performance as a dying man named Uxbal: a small time Barcelona hustler working a variety of scams and shady deals to support his two young…

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Wilmington on Movies: Meek’s Cutoff

  Meek’s Cutoff (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: Kelly Reichardt, 2011 Meek’s Cutoff, like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, is an art film Western for a contemporary audience, and an unusually good one — made by a director and writer (Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond), who show a real feeling for what it…

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Wilmington on Movies: Kung Fu Panda 2

  Kung Fu Panda 2 (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 2011  Kung Fu Panda 2 is a cute, likable movie, done with a lot of skill and A-level talent, and with all the visual virtuosity we expect by now from big-budget cartoon features — especially from sequels to gigantic hits, like…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Hangover Part II

     The Hangover, Part II (Two Stars) U.S.: Todd Phillips, 2011 I laughed a lot at 2009’s big comedy hit, The Hangover — that tense and raunchy tale of three longtime buddies at a wedding who wake up after a night of incredible but totally forgotten debauchery and have to try to figure out…

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Wilmington on DVD: The Rest. I Am Number Four, The Roommate, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, El Topo, Hurry Sundown, Grand Prix

I Am Number Four (One a Half Stars) U.S.: D. J. Caruso 2011 (Touchstone/DreamWorks) Sometimes, you look at a movie, and you know it’s going to give you a bad time. But what can you do? I Am Number Four is a super-glossy, not very good science fiction teen thriller, produced by Michael Bay and directed…

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Wilmington on DVD, Pick of the Week: Box Set. Silent Naruse

PICK OF THE WEEK: BOX SET Silent Naruse (Three Discs) (Three and a Half Stars) Japan: Mikio Naruse, 1931-34 (Criterion/Eclipse) He was a sad-looking man who’d had an unhappy love life, early feuds with his bosses, and little beyond his career to make him feel any joy or optimism about life. He’d been raised in…

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Wilmington on DVD, Picks of the Week: Kes, Gnomeo and Juliet

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Gnomeo and Juliet (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.-U.K.: Kelly Asbury, 2011 This movie seems to have a totally crazy idea — a musical animated feature riff on William Shakespeare‘s unbeatable Romeo and Juliet, with two sets of feuding lawn ornaments (mostly gnomes, but also a green plastic frog, and…

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Wilmington on Movies: Midnight in Paris

  Midnight in Paris (Four Stars) U. S./France: Woody Allen, 2011 Midnight in Paris is a funny valentine to the City of Light, a sweet, jazzy fairy tale about the wonders of Parisian art and artist cliques in the ‘20s — a time when you could actually (if you were connected enough) go to a…

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Wilmington on Movies: Louder Than a Bomb

Louder than a Bomb (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: Greg Jacobs & Jon Siskel, 2011             Louder than a Bomb made me feel good about some of the kids of today, made me feel that they’re probably being maligned, at least in part, by most other America movies…

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Wilmington on Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The “Pirate“ series may be at its height of its production expertise here, it may look better than ever, and it may have recaptured some of the initial light, breezy touch. But, script wise, it’s clearly running out of planks to walk. Not enough to hurt the movie financially — but enough to justify at least some of the fussilade of amusing critical blasts the picture has generated. (Audiences will like the show better.)

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Wilmington on DVD, The Rest: The Mechanic, Blue Valentine, No Strings Attached, The Alien Movies

CURRENT AND RECENT DVD RELEASES The Mechanic (Two Stars) U.S.: Simon West, 2011 (Sony) Remember 1972? The great movie year of The Godfather, of Cabaret, of Deliverance, of Frenzy, and Junior Bonner, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Fellini’s Roma, Cries and Whispers, Solaris, Ulzana‘s Raid, The King of Marvin Gardens, Avanti!, Sleuth, and…

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Wilmington on Movies: Thor

THOR By Mike Wilmington   Thor (Three Stars) U.S.: Kenneth Branagh, 2011   High on the endless spires and bridges of Asgard, plunged in a vast gloom in monumental, sinister “Viking Noir” decor, besieged by Frost Giants, and always in danger of tumbling into New Mexico, dwells the Odin family.   Ah, the Odins! There…

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Wilmington on Movies: Bridesmaids

  Bridesmaids (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Paul Feig, 2011 Kristen Wiig is one funny lady, and Bridesmaids — in which she is both star and co-writer — is one funny movie.  That’s hardly news. “Bridesmaids” is one of the best reviewed, best liked Hollywood comedies of the year. By current consensus, it’s also…

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Wilmington on DVD, Picks of the Week: The Illusionist, Patton, Tracy & Hepburn: The Definitive Collection, Mon Oncle

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW The Illusionist (Four Stars) France: Sylvain Chomet, 2010 (Sony Classics) In this wonderful feature cartoon, master old-style French animator Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) takes an unproduced Jacques Tati script about an aging magician (who looks and dresses just like Tati, with trench coat, hat, lanky frame and mildly distracted air),…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Princess of Montpensier

The Princess of Montpensier (Four Stars) France: Bertrand Tavernier, 2010 The Princess of Montpensier is a splendid French historical drama, a movie in the tradition of Jean Renoir, of Luchino Visconti, of Jean-Paul Rappeneau — and of course, in the best tradition of the filmmaker who made it, the usually first-rate, sometimes magnificent Bertrand Tavernier (Coup…

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At the TCM Classic Film Festival: From An American in Paris to Fantasia

The second edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood…. It began and it ended in that most magical of all super-Hollywood movie palaces, Grauman‘s Chinese Theatre — with two great examples of the kind of things Hollywood does best: A classic Gene Kelly Hollywood Musical and a classic Walt Disney feature length cartoon: An…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Dilemma, 12 Angry Men, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Green Hornet

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW The Dilemma (Three Stars) U.S.: Ron Howard, 2011 (Universal) Vince Vaughn and Kevin James make a nice couple in The Dilemma, a buddy-comedy-drama (or maybe a drama-buddy-comedy) in which they play a couple of Chicago pals-since-college and business partners. Vaughn is fast-talking huckster Ronny Valentine and James is slower-talking design…

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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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