MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Act of Valor

With its cast of real-life Navy Seals playing characters based on themselves, in a script partly drawn from real life, in scenes that the Seals actors helped design and choreograph, Act of Valor should really be the last word in Seals combat realism.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. The Conformist

The Conformist (Four Stars) Italian: Bernado Bertolucci, 1970 (Arrow Video) Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1970 The Conformist is an art film classic regarded by many cinematographers as the most beautifully photographed movie of its era. Vittorio Storaro, at his best, did the brilliant cinematography and the film’s main visual/stylistic influences include the American romantic/cynic Josef von Sternberg…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Tower Heist

Tower Heist. Wheww! That was one hell of a movie. Hell of a movie! Brett Ratner: Rush Hour! Rush Hour 2!!. Rush Hour 3!!! He‘s one moviemaker who can really make a movie move. Didn’t ya think?

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Wilmington on DVDs. J. Edgar

This is a movie you should see both for its storytelling skills and the intense interest of the story it tells. So the hell what if it’s not constructed like the usual movie. Who wants it to be?

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Wilmington on Movies: Ghost Rider

No screenings for critics here on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — for reasons that become quickly apparent when you watch it — so I decided to fork over coin of the realm anyway and catch it at a multiplex. After all, I thought, how bad could it be? I mean really: How bad?

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Wilmington on Movies: The Secret World of Arrietty

Who, I pondered, were the craftsmen who made all the wonderful furniture and clothes and hand-crafted-looking household items that graced the Clocks’ house? Did these objects come from dollhouses? Are Pod and Homily master artisans as well as brilliant borrowers? As I said, I thought about it, but not much.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Mozart’s Sister

The movie begins lyrically, with a scene that recalls the openings of both Bergman’s The Magician and Max Ophuls’ Lola Montes: the Mozart family traveling to an engagement in a nearly broken down coach through the woods. When it does break down, we’re made painfully aware of how vulnerable their existence really is, the dilemma of many artists.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn; A Fish Called Wanda

The movie, despite its hollow dialogue and sometimes punishing slow pace, does look sort of good. But it seems odd at times that this movie was directed by a man who made a movie about the Kinsey Report.

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Wilmington on Movies: Safe House

I didn’t dislike it. But I didn’t like it much (except for Washington), and I kept feeling that I should like it — that there was so much fuss being taken over Safe House, and so much obvious talent involved, that I was being somehow ungrateful in remaining unmoved — or in wishing that two or three of the action or chase set-pieces (say, the soccer stadium scene) had been replaced with a few more scenes devoted to character and dialogue and human interaction.

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Wilmington on Movies. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Along the way to the credits, The Artist Formerly Known as the Rock treats us to a performance of the Louis Armstrong favorite “What a Wonderful World,” with his own ukulele accompaniment; advises Sean on his love life, smiles constantly, and tops it off by bouncing berries off his popping pectorals, making for an unprecedented 3D experience.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: The Rum Diary, Harold & Kumar Christmas

This sort-of cinematic roman a clef, changed by writer-director Bruce Robinson—considerably, but that’s all right—is a good nasty show pulsing and snapping and exploding with the witty chaos, counter-culture venom and inspired invective that were the Good Doctor’s mock-shock-and-awe stock in trade. Second-hand Gonzo, it’s true, but even diluted Thompson packs a wallop, since the raw unfiltered original blows the back of your head off.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Project Nim

Oh Nim. Humans sorry. Forgive us.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Woman in Black: Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens

So, at least we can go to a horror movie where we don’t have to watch more mock home movie or surveillance camera photography of monstrous stuff, or kibitz on teen/20 actors being slaughtered in another artificial holocaust for sale.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Big Year; Winged Migration; Life of Birds, Transformers and more

Bay and his crew (and a lot of the actors and voice actors) are still able to pump enough wild invention, heavy film technique, weirdo energy and Wowie-Kazowie-Blam-Blam-Blam-Kaboom-Vavoom-Wacka-Wacka-Wacka-Kerboom!!!!!!! into the show to impress the hell out of you at times.

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Wilmington on DVD. Pick of the Week: New. Drive

Neo-noir is this picture’s middle name, and its forebears are The Driver (of course) and John Boorman’s Point Blank, with Lee Marvin, and Peter Yates’ Bullitt, with Steve McQueen, and William Friedkin’s The French Connection and Michael Mann‘s outlaw movies Thief and Heat—and even perhaps Jean-Pierre Melville‘s Le Samourai, which has a hero hit man (played by Alain Delon) who’s just as cool, just as silent, murderous and secretly romantic as Gosling’s Driver is here.

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies

How do you make a Top Ten list? For tax and organizational purposes, I keep a log of every movie I see (Title, year, director, exhibition format, and location the film was viewed in). Anything with an asterisk to the left of its title means it’s a 2014 release (or something I saw at a festival which is somehow in play for the year). If there’s a performance, or sequence, or line of dialogue, even, that strikes me in a certain way, I’ll make a note of it. So when year end consideration time (that is, the month and change out of the year where I feel valued) rolls around, it’s a little easier to go through and pull some contenders for categories. For 2014, I’m voting in three polls: Indiewire, SEFCA (my critics’ guild), and the Muriels. Since Indiewire was first, it required the most consternation. There were lots of films that I simply never had a chance to see, so I just went with my gut. SEFCA requires a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to be strategic, even though there’s none of the in-person skullduggery that I hear of from folk whose critics’ guild is all in the same city. The Muriels is the most fun to contribute to because it’s after the meat market phase of awards season. Also, because it’s at the beginning of next year, I’ll generally have been able to see everything I wanted to by then. I love making hierarchical lists, partially because they are so subjective and mercurial. Every critical proclamation is based on who you are at that moment and what experiences you’ve had up until that point. So they change, and that’s okay. It’s all a weird game of timing and emotional waveforms, and I’m sure a scientist could do an in-depth dissection of the process that leads to the discovery of shocking trends in collective evaluation. But I love the year end awards crush, because I feel somewhat respected and because I have a wild-and-wooly work schedule that has me bouncing around the city to screenings, or power viewing the screeners I get sent.
Jason Shawhan of Nashville Scene Answers CriticWire