MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Puss in Boots

    Puss in Boots (Four Stars) U.S.: Chris Miller, 2011 This review is dedicated to my friend Pica. Another Shrek movie, or, more accurately, a series spin-off? Another super-spectacular feature cartoon? Another big studio lollapalooza, this time from DreamWorks? In 3D yet? Didn’t sound artistically promising, even when the receipts started pouring in. But…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary (Three Stars) U.S.: Bruce Robinson, 2011   The movie The Rum Diary, which I liked, is based — loosely, but that’s all right — on the novel that Hunter S. Thompson wrote when he was 22, a young guy, before “Hell’s Angels,” before “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” before “The Great Shark…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: Classic. Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins

Two by Claude Chabrol: Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins France: Claude Chabrol, 1958/1959 (Criterion Collection) Le Beau Serge (France: Claude Chabrol, 1958) (Four Stars) With Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz, Philippe De Broca, Jacques Rivette. (In French, with English subtitles.) Les Cousins (France: Claude Chabrol, 1959) (Four Stars) With Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. City of Life and Death

  City of Life and Death (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) China: Chuan Lu, 2009 (Kino International) I. The Rape of Nanking In December, 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Nanking (now “Nanjing“), the erstwhile capital city of beleaguered China. Hell followed them. For the next few weeks, that army went on one of the worst massacres,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. Winnie the Pooh

“Winnie the Pooh” (Two disc Blu-ray/DVD; Also Three disc Blu-ray 3D/DVD/Digital) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall; 2011 (Walt Disney)   Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin… A. A. Milne   He was one of the boon…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers (Two Stars) U.S.: Paul W. S. Anderson, 2011 Tous pour un, un pour tous. Alexandre Dumas pere “The Three Musketeers” — Alexandre Dumas’ quintessential swashbuckling adventure tale of three crack swordsmen and lusty comrades (Athos, Porthos and Aramis) and the hothead/country bumpkin (D’Artganan) whom they befriend and help turn into a world-class,…

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Wilmington on DVDs, The Rest: Bad Teacher; Page One: Inside the New York Times

Bad Teacher (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jake Kasdan, 2011 (Columbia) Seen any good movies lately? Good movies? Not really. But I saw a bad movie last Wednesday. I mean, a really bad movie. This movie was  sooooo bad…. How bad was it?… So bad that they put “bad” in the actual title! Like they were…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life (Also Three Disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo) (Four Stars) U.S.: Terrence Malick, 2011 (20th Century Fox) I. The Tree In The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick, an artist/perfectionist who never rushes a movie, dares the cinematic heavens again and, as far as I’m concerned, he wins the bet. The movie, still best American film…

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Wilmington on Movies. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas

  The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.-U.K.: 1978-2011          It was 1964, the summer after my senior year in high school, and the song blasting out of the juke box at the Arctic Circle, a frozen custard drive-in and major high school hang-out in Williams Bay,…

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Wilmington on The Chicago International Film Festival 2011: The Prize-Winners

Here’s my announcement story for the awards of the 47th annual Chicago International Film Festival — brainchild and passion of festival founder and longtime artistic director Michael Kutza, who started the show back in 1965 and has headed it up ever since. This year’s, many thought, was one of the best, and there were lots of…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: New. The Princess of Montpensier

The Princess of Montpensier (Four Stars) France: Bertrand Tavernier, 2010  (MPI Home Video) The Princess of Montpensier is a splendid French historical drama, a movie in the tradition of  sumptuous, intelligent epic-makers like Jean Renoir, Luchino Visconti, or Jean-Paul Rappeneau — and of course, in the best tradition of the filmmaker who made it, the usually good,…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Green Lantern; Horrible Bosses; Zookeeper; Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

Green Lantern (Two Stars) U.S.: Martin Campbell, 2011 (Warner Bros.) Maybe I’m just getting really, really tired of Superhero movies —  but I had trouble sitting through Green Lantern. A half an hour or so into the show, I started checking my watch, and soon I was checking it every few minutes or so– even though…

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Wilmington on Movies: Dream House

  Dream House (Two Stars) U.S.: Jim Sheridan, 2011  In Dream House, an almost mystifying misfire of a would-be classy, smart horror movie, Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a New York City publishing house editor who quits his job and moves out of the city — with his angelic wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and their two…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Ides of March

The Ides of March (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: George Clooney, 2011   Why in Great Caesar’s Ghost did George Clooney make a movie like The Ides of March now? That question kept needling me as I tried to enjoy this suave but dispiriting drama about a Democratic presidential primary gone rotten. I could never really…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Scre4m (Scream 4)

    (Also 2 Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Three Stars) U.S.: Wes Craven, 2011 Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay. (Also Amazon Instant Video)   What’s your favorite scary movie? Excuse me? Who is this?   I said: What’s your favorite scary movie? Well, Psycho, of course. Though M and Vertigo and The Night of the Hunter and Nosferatu and…

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Wilmington on DVD. Pick of the Week: New. African Cats

(Four Stars) U.S.-U.K.: Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey, 2011 (Walt Disney/Buena Vista) African Cats, a wildlife documentary from Disneynature, shot in Kenya on the savanna —  with real lions and cheetahs as its main characters — strikes me as 2011’s best family movie so far. But why be limiting? Why ghettoize this film by calling it a…

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Wilmington on Movies: What’s Your Number?

  What’s Your Number? (One Star) U.S.: Mark Mylod, 2011 When an Anna Faris movie is so bad it makes you yearn for the good old days of Scary Movie 2, you know you’re in trouble. What’s Your Number?, a Faris rom-com of flabbergasting silliness and an awful smirking cheeriness that sets your teeth on…

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Wilmington on Movies: Weekend

  Weekend (Three Stars) U.K..: Andrew Haigh, 2011 Weekend, a sometimes remarkable low-budget British movie about a pickup in a Nottingham disco bar and its aftermath, starts out as a movie frankly about sex and one (or two) night stands, and winds up being closer to a classic love story. I haven’t mentioned that the…

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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

“A shot is a story. A shot on its own should be a piece of a story. Which is why I talk a lot about watching films, even the films we’re working on, with the sound off. Just to analyze how the film works, because a film should work for an audience without any sound. The biggest problem I see is that someone may have a superficial understanding of what a shot is propositionally, but they don’t have an understanding of how all of these shots are part of a family that needs to connect, and so you’ll get something that’s like a sentence arranged poorly with six nouns in a row. That surprises me, because I think that’s something that can be learned. Some things can’t be, but that can. It’s a grammar. In a classroom I could walk somebody through the difference between a sequence in which the filmmaker has a deep understanding of how images connect, and someone who doesn’t. It’s not really an intellectual process. Some people are just born with it and are just sort of savants at that deep mathematical understanding of shot construction.  I’m better than I used to be, but there are some people I’m just never going to catch. Spielberg. His staging ability. I’m never going to catch him. But when you’re trying to figure out how to get better—I’m not competitive in the sense of looking around at other filmmakers and comparing myself to them. What I do have to think about in trying to navigate myself through a career is: what can I get better at, and what do I have that I can enhance that somebody else doesn’t have?”
~ Steven Soderbergh

“It’s not going to be huge. He and I had been corresponding for a while. When I finally met him, he said, ‘We should collaborate.’ When John Ashbery says that to you, you don’t say when, you just say yes. It has not been easy to conjure this out of nothing. Sean Price Williams and I spent time with him, and it will appear on FilmStruck before the year is out…. I have figured out how to streamline things. I still have dreams of making movies with bigger budgets, and they might be considered to have more of a voice in pop culture. I don’t want to let go of that. I also realize that you grow up a lot of your life with wishful thinking and waiting. I have figured out ways to avoid doing that. I am working on a bigger movie about Nikola Tesla, set in the past, so it is not an easy film to make. I am also working on an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s ‘White Noise.’ That seems more likely to catch fire.”
Michael Almereyda Steps It Up