MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Extremely Loud & Incrdibly Close

        EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen Daldry, 2012 (Warner Bros.) I don’t want to come across as mean and heartless here, but, though there were parts of it I liked a lot,  the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close affected me something like a persistent urchin…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. On the Bowery

On the Bowery is Lionel Rogosin’s legendary 1956 documentary about men who drink, set in the derelict bars, flophouses and missions of New York City‘s Bowery in the ’50s. Now beautifully restored in 35 mm by Milestone Films, this black and white film chronicle of a short season in hell below the 3rd Avenue El, is an almost unbearably honest film.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Sitter, Louder Than a Bomb, Hop

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 hot-damn funny, I find myself confronted with this silly-ass comedy and harebrained Jonah Hill vehicle The Sitter, a movie that tries to stuff the white-boy car-crash raunch of The Blues Brothers and the paranoid comedy of After Hours into the kids-out-all-night plot of Adventures of Babysitting, and comes up with something just this side of Adventures in Idiocy or maybe Francis the Talking Mule Goes to a Swinger’s Club or maybe Plan 9 from a Night at the Roxbury.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Muppets

Rooney Mara is no Noomi Rapace. At least when it comes to playing superpunk, black-jacketed, neo-noir heroines with burning eyes, pierced eyelids and deadly temperaments. But she’s close.

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Wilmington on Movies: 21 Jump Street

I may have missed those laughs, but since 21 Jump Street is already a certifiable big hit — and even a certifiable critical hit — nothing I can say is likely to resonate one way or another. The fact that I found it not very funny, not very entertaining, visually scrappy, and full of dopey scenes that made little or no sense will count for little or nothing here in Box Office Mega Land.

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Wilmington on Movies: Casa de mi Padre

When good actors play bad actors giving bad performances in a bad movie, there’s a thin line — between bad and good and bad-good or good-bad. One can appreciate the subtle self-effacing skill involved in bad-as-good movie-making and acting. But aren’t these people taking away work from genuinely bad actors?

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Moment of Truth

By the end of the film, after Rosi and the audience have followed a young bullfighter, Miguel or “Miguelin,” from provincial poverty all the way to fame in Barcelona and Madrid, to the brink of massacre, and to the moment of truth, of oblivion, that every matador, every bull, every screaming member of the crowd, must feel or face in their own ways — at the end of all that, in the presence of our God and a church, we sense that we‘ve seen not just seen an exotic entertainment, but that we’ve had a life experience. It’s a terrifying film, and a wondrous one, and, as you watch it, it drains your heart and guts, as it stares fiercely into the sun, like Kurosawa.

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Wilmington on DVDs: My Week with Marilyn, Happy Feet Two, The Three Musketeers, The Geisha Boy

Then there’s Michelle Williams as Marilyn herself. I said above that nobody could catch Marilyn’s magic. No one can. But Michelle Williams comes close. She does a wonderful job, manages to get some of her body and a bit of her soul. And some of her blonde haired beauty, the kind gentlemen prefer. (Gentlemen, hah!)

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. The Adventures of Tintin

All three of them (four, counting the dauntless Snowy), are constantly hurled into perilous exploits involving galleons aflame, crashing airplanes, scorching desert sand dunes filled with camels, sheiks and villainy, plus one of the most spectacular one-take car and motorcycle chases ever (a dam bursts just as the chase gets underway), and a climactic industrial crane battle (done, like the other action scenes, in what look like super-crane shots).

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. The Descendants, Melancholia

This is a perfect Clooney role and movie, just as The Hustler or Hud or The Verdict were perfect for Paul Newman, The Sting or The Way We Were or the Sundance Kid were perfect for Robert Redford. Everything that makes Clooney attractive on screen — likeability, smarts, vulnerability, earnestness in the face of chaos, that wry sense of being at the center of things but not letting it carry him away, and the ability to kid himself — is present in the character he‘s playing here.

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Wilmington on Movies: Silent House

It’s a contemporary variation on the “Old Dark House” lady-in-distress thriller, based on the Uruguayan suspense film La Casa Muda and it stars the very pretty and convincing Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah, a sensitive and troubled young lady whose somewhat obnoxious father John and somewhat enigmatic Uncle Peter have joined her at the family’s summer home, to clean it up and prepare it for sale.

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Wilmington on Movies: John Carter

John Carter, the new live action Disney epic — based on the popular early 20th century pulp series of science fiction novels (“A Princess of Mars,“ etc.) by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs — reportedly cost all of that and more, and it still looks like as if it’s missing something. But maybe it’s missing something money can’t buy.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Anatomy of a Murder, To Catch a Thief

Why has it lasted? Improved with age? Actually, surprisingly, when the shock elements of the movie began to seem tamer, its excellence as a realistic film drama became far more apparent.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Jack and Jill, Footloose, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Among Jill’s more unfortunate traits: a habit of leaping into Jack’s bed and spooning (She calls it part of “twin time“), starting arguments at dinnertime, saying everything in a loud, squeaky Bronx screech of a voice, diarrheic reactions to chimichangas and a tendency to leave huge dark sweat stains on her bed sheets.

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Wilmington on Movies: Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

… a hellhole inhabited by more idiots and a wolf or two, including the uncredited John C. Reilly as the affably deranged halfwit Taquito, the uncredited Will Ferrell as the stomach-churning con guy Damien Weebs, the uncredited Zach Galifianakis as the rustic simpleton Jim Joe Kelly (at least I think he was a rustic simpleton), Jeff Goldblum as “Chef” Goldblum …

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Wilmington on Movies: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

It isn’t as if this show were a bomb. It’s made by intelligent guys.

They know how to shoot. They think Seuss is a toot, They love trees and they love cracking wise.

Cinco Paul, and Ken Daurio, and Chris Renau-rio, the gang from Despicable Me

Well, maybe their flick is too big and too cheery-o: a Slightly Disposable Spree.

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Wilmington on Movies: In Darkness

This picture is an extraordinary work, a glowing link to the past. You feel it in your heart and soul and senses. And the movie demonstrates something we sometimes forget: Agnieszka Holland, whose themes often involve moral struggle, can be one of the world’s finest filmmakers.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“We now have a situation where audiences very often prefer commercial trash to Bergman’s Persona or Bresson’s L’Argent. Professionals find themselves shrugging, and predicting that serious, significant works will have no success with the general public. What is the explanation? Decline of taste or impoverishment of repertoire? Neither and both. It is simply that cinema now exists, and is evolving, under new conditions. That total, enthralling impression which once overwhelmed the audiences of the 1930s was explained by the universal delight of those who were witnessing and rejoicing over the birth of a new art form, which furthermore had recently acquired sound. By the very fact of its existence this new art, which displayed a new kind of wholeness, a new kind of image, and revealed hitherto unexplored areas of reality, could not but astound its audiences and turn them into passionate enthusiasts.

Less than twenty years now separate us from the twenty-first century. In the course of its existence, through its peaks and troughs, cinema has travelled a long and tortuous path. The relationship that has grown up between artistic films and the commercial cinema is not an easy one, and the gulf between the two becomes wider every day. Nonetheless, films are being made all the time that are undoubtedly landmarks in the history of cinema. Audiences have become more discerning in their attitude to films. Cinema as such long ago ceased to amaze them as a new and original phenomenon; and at the same time it is expected to answer a far wider range of individual needs. Audiences have developed their likes and dislikes. That means that the filmmaker in turn has an audience that is constant, his own circle. Divergence of taste on the part of audiences can be extreme, and this is in no way regrettable or alarming; the fact that people have their own aesthetic criteria indicates a growth of self-awareness.

Directors are going deeper into the areas which concern them. There are faithful audiences and favorite directors, so that there is no question of thinking in terms of unqualified success with the public—that is, if one is talking about cinema not as commercial entertainment but as art. Indeed, mass popularity suggests what is known as mass culture, and not art.”
~ Andrei Tarkovsky, “Sculpting In Time”

“People seem to be watching [fewer] movies, which I think is a mistake on people’s parts, and they seem to be making more of them, which I think is okay. Some of these movies are very good. When you look at the quality of Sundance movies right now, they are a lot better than they were when I was a kid. I do think that there have been improvements artistically, but it’s tough. We’ve got a system that’s built for less movies in terms of how many curatorial standard-bearers we have in the states. It’s time for us to expand our ideas of where we find our great films in America, but that said, it’s a real hustle. I’m so happy that Factory 25 exists. If it didn’t exist, there would be so many movies that wouldn’t ever get distributed because Matt Grady is the only person who has seen the commercial potential in them. He’s preserving a very special moment in independent film history that the commercial system is not going to be preserving. He’s figuring out how to make enough money on it to save these films and get them onto people’s shelves.”
~ Homemakers‘ Colin Healey On Indie Distribution