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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

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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