The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
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Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs. Man on a Ledge; Kill Bill, Volumes One and Two; Run for Cover; The Lawless

Quentin Tarantino’s forte is probably his mastery of tough guy dialogue; in movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (and, courtesy of Elmore Leonard, in Jackie Brown), he reaches heights of wise guy film noir grandeur.

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Wilmington on DVDs: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Certainly Kevin is at his cutest when he finally listens to Eva, as she reads him the tale of Robin Hood, champion Saxon archer — and his father, whom Kevin plays like a bassoon, later buys him a bow and arrow, and he becomes a crackerjack archer, who can always hit his target.

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Wilmington on Movies: Men in Black III

A good sequel can increase our pleasure, sweeten our memories. “Men in Black III” is third in the series that started back in 1997 and has now produced one bad sequel (“Men in Black II”) and one good one (“Men in Black III”). Win a few, lose a few, as Agent K might say.

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Wilmington on Movies: Chernobyl Diaries

“Chernobyl Diaries” is an awful picture, but it has, I swear, a great setting and premise for a horror movie. It takes place in the abandoned city of Pripyat: grey, desolate, strange, the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Plant disaster — a meltdown that sent the populace fleeing from the immediate area, and closed down the plant for good. I repeat: great location — and part of this movie was reportedly even shot in the real place.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Red Tails; This Means War; Pony Express

  RED TAILS (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U. S.: Anthony Hemingway, 2012 (2oth Century Fox)       There are two ways to look at Red Tails, producer George Lucas’s long-gestating  World War II movie about the storied all-black Air Force unit, The Tuskegee Airmen.    You can see the show as a big spectacular action…

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Wilmington on DVDs: A Night to Remember

It‘s a masterly historical reconstruction — and despite its typically British, somewhat staid cinematics, an absolutely thrilling film. As gripping and excitingly visual as Cameron‘s movie may have been, this picture, even more, is the movie Titanic to remember.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Secret World of Arrietty

The everyday beauty and transcendent charm of The Secret World of Arrietty — the latest feature cartoon import from Japan’s master animator/writer/director Hayao Miyazaki ) — is a balm to the restless spirit, a tonic for the troubled heart.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Woman in Black

“The Woman in Black” is an old-style British horror movie with some new-style violence, a film that takes advantage of the new screen freedoms and technology, but that also employs, often pretty effectively, a lot of the familiar archetypes and tropes of British literary and movie horror, particularly the ones for the haunted house sub-genre.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Dictator

Of course the Marx Brothers were partial to non sequiturs too, and several crtics have compared this film to both Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup.” But in their greatest films, Groucho, Chico and Harpo made their comedy work through sheer brazenness, through adroit asides and clever playing to the audience. That kind of wacky genius isn’t really a Cohen forte.

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Wilmington on Movies: Battleship

Gallantly, Alex rushes out to get her said burrito, which he does by breaking into a nearby convenience store, tearing up the ceiling, stealing and (I presume) microwaving a chicken burrito and then resisting arrest, a feat of insane derring-do that so impresses the hottie, Samantha Shane (Decker) that she falls madly in love with Alex. Samantha, incidentally, turns out to be the daughter of Stone’s boss, Admiral Shane, the commander of the entire Pacific Fleet (played by Liam Neeson).

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Wilmington on Movies: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

The movie, which tries hard to leaven its sunny comedy and advice with a little darkness and realism, succeeds only in dredging up unwelcome memories (to me) of Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, and unpleasant thoughts of a possible “What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Musical.” Is that likely? Is that conceivable? I’m afraid to ask.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Certified Copy, The Report

The story of “Certified Copy,” according to Godfrey Cheshire’s exemplary notes, comes from a tale of two people that director Kiarostami once told to Binoche in Tehran: a story he initially claimed was true, and had actually happened to him, but which he later confessed was a fabrication.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Devil Inside; My Perestroika; Who’s Minding the Store?; Who’s Got the Action?; The Spiders

Jerry Lewis, that’s who. Without Dean. And since this Frank Tashlin-written-and-directed farce — set in a department store that Jerry, as the well-meaning but accident-prone Norman Phiffler, systematically demolishes — dates from Lewis’ biggest commercial (and even artistic) period, the early ’60s, that means we’re going to see plenty of the man doing his thing: all-out slapstick, spazzy chaos and wild mugging.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Grey

Fitting that this movie is called The Grey, because grey it certainly is—cold, and bitter, and sunless, a suspense picture full of existential terror, untamed nature, overwhelming anxiety and relentless death, always a step or two behind. And wolves. And Liam Neeson.

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Wilmington on Movies: Dark Shadows

Most interestingly the filmmakers take a lead character, Barnabas C., whom I remember as something of an epicene icon, and they let Depp (who has said that he interprets many roles with a gay slant) make Barnabas so unabashedly heterosexual with his lady loves — Eva Green in Lara Parker’s old role of witch/bitch Angelique Bouchard and Bella Heathcote as both eternal 18th century love Josette Duprez and ’70s governess Victoria Winters — that they either die or kill for love of him.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Alambrista!

“Alambrista!”– a moving and perceptive cinematic tale of a Mexican illegal immigrant and his odyssey over the border — is a movie that almost defines American film realism in the ‘70s.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Mel Brooks Collection

It’s good to be the King… But sometimes, it‘s better to be the Kaminsky.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Haywire

Steven Soderbergh is smooth, and he’s never smoother than when he’s engaged in some big crime thriller — whether it’s one of the Oceans or something brainier and more realistic, like “Traffic.” I had mixed feelings about “Haywire,” though. I liked it okay, I guess. But I should have liked it more, since it’s the same type of rock-’em-sock-’em wish-fulfiller as “The Limey.”

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

TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (Also Blu-ray/DVD Combo, with Digital Copy) (One Half Star) U.S.: Tim Heidecker-Eric Wareheim, 2012 (Magnolia) I have just one thing to say about this sorry excuse for a movie — this nauseatingly taste-challenged, almost putrefyingly preposterous goulash of scatological gags, failed nonsense, barf jokes, poop jokes, piddle jokes, and…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The movie — based by director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker on Deborah Moogach‘s novel, “These Foolish Things“ — is a nice little comedy-drama, intelligently made and beautifully designed and shot. But the acting is what makes it special. That glittering cast of British senior stars are a magnificent seven.

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“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