MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: The Adventures of Tintin

    The Adventures of Tintin (Three Stars) U.S.: Steven Spielberg, 2011 The Adventures of Tintin — Steven Spielberg‘s second new film in release this season (the other was War Horse, and both of them came out last week) — shows us again to what extent he‘s still a kid at heart and maybe always will…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: Classic. Tokyo Drifter

   Tokyo Drifter (Three and a Half Stars) Japan: Seijun Suzuki, 1966 (Criterion Collection) Off the wall and over the edge from its first scene to its last, Tokyo Drifter is one of the outrageous crime melodramas and outlandish neo-noirs made in the ‘60s for Nikkatsu Studio by super-cult Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. It’s a classic…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Final Destination 5; A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy

Final Destination 5 (Also Blu-ray/DVD/ 3D/ UV Combo) (Two Stars) U.S.: Steven Quale, 2011 (Warner Bros.) In Final Destination 5, as in the other Final Destinations, blood is the money shot. The actors, or their characters, are expendable (again), and a guy named Bludworth, or his boss Destiny, is breaking up that old gang of mine…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: New. Love Crime

  Love Crime (Three Stars) France: Alain Corneau, 2010 (MPI Home Video)   Movie murder mysteries can sometimes get too tricky and convoluted for their own good, and that’s pretty much what happens in Love Crime — a cool, nifty, well-constructed and very well-acted French film that would have been even better if it didn’t so hard to…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: New. Brighton Rock (Joffe); Brighton Rock (Boulting)

Brighton Rock 2010 (Three Stars) U.K.: Rowan Joffe, 2010 (IFC) Brighton Rock 1947 (Three and a Half Stars) U.K.: John Boulting, 1947 (Amazon Instant Video)     Some books and some cities were born to be filmed.  Some men were born to kill. Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock is an example of the former: one of the greatest…

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Wilmington on Movies: War Horse

   War Horse (Four Stars) U.S.: Steven Spielberg, 2011   Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is the kind of open-hearted, expensively made, somewhat predictable movie that critic-cynics like to make fun of :  “a noble steed!“ sneered one of my wittier colleagues as we rode an elevator down after the screening. But I’ve got to confess…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. A Christmas Carol

        A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.K.: Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951 (VCI Entertainment)   Almost everyone’s favorite nominee for best of all the many film adaptations of Charles Dickens‘ Yuletide evergreen A Christmas Carol, is this 1951 cinematic gem, sometimes called Scrooge, sometimes called A Christmas Carol, directed by the  underrated…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher)

A handful of critics and commentators have complained that Fincher and his screenwriter Zaillian, haven’t changed the story enough, this time around. But it should be obvious by now that most of the vast world audiences for these stories don‘t want them changed, and that number definitely includes most of the people who’ve already read the books or seen the Swedish movies. Hewing to the original as much as possible: That was super-producer David O. Selznick’s rule on adapting beloved bestsellers and classics to the screen — from “David Copperfield” to “Gone with the Wind” to “Rebecca.” And Selznick was usually proven right.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set. Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (Millennium Trilogy)

Steig Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (A.K.A. “The Millennium Trilogy”) (Four Discs) (Three and a Half Stars) Also: Blu-ray, Extended Edition  Sweden: Niels Arden Oplev & Daniel Alfredson, 2009-2010 (Music Box) Noomi For all of you who want to catch up for the release this week of David Fincher’s American remake of Stieg Larsson’s  The Girl With the…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Dolphin Tale, Warrior, Straw Dogs (Lurie), Colombiana

  Dolphin Tale (Blu-ray/DVD Combo with Digital Combo; also movie only) (Three Discs) (Three Stars) U.S.: Charles Martin Smith, 2011 (Warner Bros.) Winter, the dolphin star of Dolphin Tale — an inspirational if sometimes far-fetched animal movie surprisingly based on fact — is a truly inspirational figure in a sometimes inspirational and often entertaining movie. Caught and crippled in a…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Midnight in Paris (Four Stars)

Midnight in Paris (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) U.S.-France; Woody Allen, 2011 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) 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…

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Wilmington on Movies. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

      Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol U.S.: Brad Bird, 2011   If you have even a little fear of heights — and I have a lot myself — there’s a scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, that should leave you, maybe literally, breathless. It’s the scene, already famous, where producer-star Tom Cruise, playing the Mission…

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Wilmington on Movies. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Two and a Half Stars)

                Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (Two and a Half Stars) U.K.-U.S.: Guy Ritchie, 2011 There’s a level of sheer frantic busy-ness and glibly manufactured chaos in director Guy Ritchie’s and star Robert Downey, Jr. second Sherlock Holmes movie — Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows –that makes…

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Wilmington on Movies: Carnage (Three and a Half Stars)

    Carnage (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.-France: Roman Polanski, 2011 1. Last Exit to Brooklyn In Carnage, which was adopted by the French writer Yasmina Reza from her hit play “God of Carnage“ , director Roman Polanski once again demonstrates his mastery of the claustrophobia of anxiety (and vice versa) — even though…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Rest. Kung Fu Panda 2; The Expendables; Buck

    Kung Fu Panda 2 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two or Three Discs) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 2011 (DreamWorks Animated)  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…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Three Stars)

 The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Three Stars) U.S.: Rupert Wyatt, 2011 (20th Century Fox) 1. The Rise  Rise of the Planet of the Apes, latest chapter in an old franchise, shows us a story we too easily forget, or maybe one that we never really knew… …How it all began, how an imprisoned, persecuted and…

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Wilmington on Movies: Young Adult (Two and a Half Stars)

       Young Adult (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Jason Reitman, 2011 High School haunts us. It’s the great mystery we try futilely to solve afterwards, the great romance that often never happened, the paradise we imagine we lost but might regain, the great redemption that we dupe ourselves into believing can be earned…

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Wilmington on Movies: New Year’s Eve (One and a Half Stars)

  New Year’s Eve (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Garry Marshall, 2011   New Year’s Eve may be the punishment audiences get for making director Garry Marshall and writer Katherine Fugate’s Valentine‘s Day such a big movie hit last year. That schmaltzy, heart-up-your-sleeve, all-star show, you’ll remember, strung together a lot of clichéd romantic comedy…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Sitter

  The Sitter (One and a Half Stars) U.S.; David Gordon Green, 2011 Well, I’ve had it. After defending David Gordon Green for making Pineapple Express, a controversially violent stoner comedy that I think is well-acted, well-directed and funny, and after sparing some kind words for Green’s and buddy Danny McBride’s medieval four-letter-fest Your Highness,…

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Wilmington on Movies: In Darkness

    In Darkness (Four Stars) Poland: Agnieszka Holland, 2011 Sometimes we let the horrors of the past recede into a comforting mist of melancholy and remembrance and well-meaning cliché. We shouldn’t. History is always with us. Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness, one of the best films of the year, is a drama of the Holocaust,…

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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