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Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs. Picks of the Week, Classic: Cul-de-sac, An Affair to Remember. New: Police, Adjective

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC Cul-de-sac (Four Stars) U.K.: Roman Polanski, 1966 (Criterion) Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac — one of the great English-language films of the ‘60s, a classic of neo-noir and of ’60s dark British comedy — begins with a long, still shot of a car on a road in a nearly empty landscape. The…

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Wilmington on Movies: Colombiana

  Colombiana (Two Stars) U.S.: Olivier Megaton, 2011 She’s young. She’s tough. She’s agile. She’s half-naked. And  she’s definitely deadlier than the male — at least in this movie. Zoë Saldana, who was kind of blue in James Cameron‘s Avatar, plays producer-writer Luc Besson‘s notion of a rock ‘em sock ‘em action heroine in Colombiana…

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Wilmington on Movies: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Three Stars) U.S.: Troy Nixey, 2011    What’s that noise over there? What’s that knocking in the walls? Those ashes stirring in the fireplace? Ah, it’s nothing, it’s nothing. Don’t worry. Even though you’re all alone and I know you’re anxious…that there may be something…wrong. Or something unreal. Or…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic and Box Set. The Killing/Killer’s Kiss

The Killing (Two Discs) (Four Stars)  U. S.: Stanley Kubrick, 1956 (Criterion Collection)    At exactly 3:45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last weekend of September, Marvin Unger was perhaps the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill at the running of the fifth race… The Narrator…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Win Win, Poetry

Win Win (Three Stars) U.S.: Tom McCarthy, 2011 (20th Century Fox) Paul Giamatti has that look — you know the one — that exasperated, slightly fed-up look…That hangdog pall we saw on his gloomy mug when he played the frustrated writer/vinomaniac in Sideways, or that scruffy comic artist in American Splendor: the look of a…

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Wilmington on Movies: One Day

One Day (Two and a Half Stars)    U.K.: Lone Scherfig, 2011 Few things in life can haunt or obsess us more than the romances that could have happened but didn’t, or depress us more than the romances that did happen and somehow didn‘t work out. SPOILER ALERT, DAMMIT One Day, a romantic British film…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski (Four Stars) U.S.: Joel & Ethan Coen, 1998 (Universal) The Big Lebowski, that goofball masterpiece by the Coen Brothers — once damned by some as a shiftless, bone lazy movie that went nowhere slow, now hailed (rightly) as one of the great cult or un-cult movies of the ‘90s, the ‘80s the…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. The Conspirator; Jane Eyre

(Three Stars) U.S.: Robert Redford, 2010, Roadside Attractions The late Sidney Lumet, I think, would have liked Robert Redford‘s new movie, The Conspirator. It’s a film that, like Lumet’s courtroom masterpieces 12 Angry Men and The Verdict, deals dramatically and memorably with the vagaries of the law, and with the wars between justice and injustice,…

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Wilmington on Movies: 30 Minutes or Less

30 Minutes or Less (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Ruben Fleischer, 2011 The first 30 minutes of 30 Minutes or Less — a darkish heist comedy from the director (Ruben Fleischer) and co-star (Jesse Eisenberg) of Zombieland — are actually pretty funny. Two sets of smart, funny actors (Eisenberg & Aziz Ansari and Danny…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Help

  “The Help” (Three Stars) U.S.: Tate Taylor, 2011 Like smooth Kentucky Bourbon or hot cornbread and jambalaya, or like Ray Charles’ great bluesy versions of “Georgia on my Mind” and “America the Beautiful,” The Help is old-fashioned, flavorsome stuff — old-fashioned in many good ways, and a few not-so-good ones. Set in Jackson, Mississippi…

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Wilmington on Movies: Final Destination 5

(Two Stars) U.S.: Steven Quale, 2011 In Final Destination 5, as in the other Final Destinations, blood is the money shot, the actors, or at least their characters, are expendable , and a guy named Bludworth, or his boss Destiny, is breaking up that old gang of mine (again).   For only the price of a…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest. Paul, Mars Needs Moms, Despair

Paul (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Greg Mottola, 2011  (Universal) Suppose you were to rethink E. T. as a combination 70s road movie and Three Days of the Condor-style paranoid anti-C.I.A. thriller, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of Shaun of the Dead as a couple of RV-riding, geek-slacker Brits named Graeme Willy…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. Leaving Las Vegas, And Now Miguel

    “Leaving Las Vegas” (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: Mike Figgis, 1995 (MGM/20th Century Fox) “Try to think that love’s not around. Still, it’s uncomfortably near…” Frank Sinatra, in “Angel Eyes” Nicolas Cage’s Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas as an alcoholic Hollywood agent named Ben Sanderson — who loses his last…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Your Highness; Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

  “Your Highness” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: David Gordon Green, 2011 (Universal) What price silliness? What price prurience? What price sheer knuckleheaded balderdash? Whatever the price, Your Highness – a sword and sorcery movie which sometimes seems geared as lowbrow comedy for frat boy idiots — pays it. This movie was so badly reviewed one…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Change-Up

      “The Change-Up” (Two Stars) U.S.: David Dobkin, 2011 The Change-Up, a big star body-swap comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, is a movie that begins with baby poop jokes and climaxes with its two “heroes” urinating together in a public fountain, before an audience. And you can almost hear the moviemakers yelling…

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Wilmington on Movies: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes very much — even though it’s obviously better directed (and acted) than it is written. The best of Rise is so damned wonderful, and the worst of it so damned silly, that it’s sometimes hard to believe, as you watch it, that you’re in the same movie you were in ten minutes or so ago.

Still, the very best scenes — usually ones involving Caesar the lead ape (as acted by Andy Serkis), with his piercing dark eyes and sometimes poignant, sometimes chilling quietude, a leader of the revolt that we know will eventually take over the planet — are among the best scenes in any blockbuster this summer, or for several summers.

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Wilmington on Movies: Bellflower

“Bellflower” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Evan Glodell, 2011 Bellflower — a Sundance sensation reportedly shot for only $17,000 by first time writer-director-costar-co-editor Evan Glodell — introduces us to a couple of dudes, Woodrow from Wisconsin (first-timer Glodell) and Aiden from the neighborhood (first-timer Tyler Dawson) who live north of L. A. and are obsessed…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest. The Perfect Game, The Goods, Coming to America/Trading Places, The Dirty Harry Collection

  “The Perfect Game” (Three Stars) U.S.; William Dear, 2010 (Image)         I admit it. I’m a sucker for inspirational sports movies. And this account of the historic 1957 Little League champions from Monterey, Mexico — a warm-hearted picture directed by William Dear (Harry and the Hendersons), written by the book’s author W. William Winokur,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: Box or Multiple Sets. The Godfather/The Godfather 2; Braveheart/Gladiator;

CO-PICK: “The Godfather”/”The Godfather 2″ (Four Stars) U.S.; Francis Coppola, 1972  (Paramount)      Francis Coppola’s restored versions of the first two parts of one of the greatest of gangster sagas and American movies. An offer we can’t refuse, with a cast that can’t be topped: Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, Al Pacino, James Caan and John…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic and Blu-ray. The Manchurian Candidate

      (Blu-ray) (Four Stars) U.S.; John Frankenheimer, 1962 (MGM/20th Century Fox)            I. Manchuria It’s one of the most brilliantly scary scenes in any American movie. It’s a shocker, a mind-bender. Bewildering. Exhilarating. And, in the end, as icily terrifying as a bullet aimed at your brain. Ka-pow! “Korea, 1952,”…

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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