MCN Columnists
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

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