MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Step Up Revolution

This is a ludicrous example of what you might call the “Hey Kids! Let’s put on a flash mob, and get it on You Tube!“ musical, a slick-quick-and-dumb-as-a-brick movie, shot in Miami, that has no apparent rationale except to get a bunch of buff kids, led by Guzman and McCormick, slithering and hopping and flash mobbing and dirty-dancing away to recorded music by talent like J.Lo, M.I.A., M83 and Far East Movement (all news to me).

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Wilmington on Movies: The Queen of Versailles

Of all the amusing, depressing and jaw-dropping things in “The Queen of Versailles”—Lauren Greenfield’s documentary about the construction and deconstruction of the largest one-family dwelling in the United States, a domicile modeled on both the original French Palace of Versailles and the Las Vegas Paris Hotel and built by time-share resort hotel czar David Siegel (and a film with many amusing, depressing and confounding things in it) — one of the two that bothered me most was the impression I had that in this entire massive, outlandishly ornate yet fundamentally cheesy edifice, intended as a glorious Got-rocks celebration by Siegel and his family (including wife Jackie, seven children, one niece and 19 servants), I could did not spot a single book.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Watch

I can only think of one logical explanation for this screenplay (which isn’t much interested in logical explanations itself), and that‘s that, before these three guys started writing it, monstrous aliens from outer space burst into their working rooms, took their places and wrote the script themselves — as part of a sinister conspiracy to befuddle moviegoers, and then, while everybody was wandering around flabbergasted, conquer the earth. Maybe they already have.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Brooklyn’s Finest/Stone; Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers); The Saphead

    BROOKLYN’S FINEST/STONE (Three Stars) U.S.: Antoine Fucqua/John Curran 2010 (Starz/Anchor Bay) Two-Pack Contains: BROOKLYN’S FINEST (U.S.; Antoine Fucqua, 2010.  (Three Stars) Brooklyn’s Finest, the new cop thriller from director Antoine Fucqua (Training Day), is a neo-noir with lots of punch and  swagger. Swooping along through mean streets and dingy hallways, propelled by Fucqua’s gaudy repertoire of crane and tracking shots, it‘s…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Last Days of Disco

Whit Stillman‘s best film — a portrayal of the latter days of the New York Disco scene, and of a club that looks suspiciously like Studio 54 — is a movie that manages to let us enjoy the sensuality and fun of the era, and a lot of the then-trashed but still danceable disco music, and at the same time, see why it fell and why it prompted outraged middle or working class rockers to insist “Disco sucks.”

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Wilmington on DVDs: La Haine

La Haine (or Hate) is the legendary 1995 feature debut of the young French actor turned writer-director Mathieu Kassovitz (in his 20s when it was released, as were his three leads), who based his story on the chaos and death of real shootings, and real riots, and real deaths in the early ‘90s, which he witnessed. It is a remarkable movie, with a hypnotic grip. It burns itself into your memory.

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Wilmington on Movies: To Rome With Love

I laughed more than I did at the last three or four alleged Hollywood romantic comedies (or rom-coms) I’ve seen — several of which even got good reviews, or at any event, better than a lot the reviews for “To Rome With Love.” It deserved much better.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Dark Knight Rises

This review of The Dark Knight Rises was written yesterday, before I had heard the news of the tragic shootings and twelve deaths at the movie theatre showing the film at Century 16 Theatres in Aurora, Colorado. I had intended to write several more paragraphs on the movie today, and maybe I will later. But not now.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Casa de mi Padre

  CASA DE MI PADRE (Two Stars)  U.S.-Mexico; Matt Piedmont, 2012 (Lions Gate) In Casa de mi Padre, Will Ferrell and some friends from Mexico, including those two talented fugitives from Y ti mama tambien, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal,  make fun of bad Mexican movies –  especially lurid telenovela serials about obsessive romance and…

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Wilmington on Movies. Ice Age: Continental Drift

  ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Steve Martino/Mike Thurmaier, 2012 Animated features have gotten so generally good these days, so surprisingly witty and adult , that it’s almost reassuring to run into one that’s just as poorly written, confusing and juvenile as a lot of  the live action movies for…

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Wilmington on Movies: Red Lights

The first half of this movie is pretty good — which may be a case of digging yourself a beautiful hole and then getting trapped in it. Cortes mercifully doesn’t direct like a rock-video maker and he knows how to tighten knots and turns screws. But he’s not that good yet.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Organizer (I Compagni)

The Italian title of The Organizer, I Compagni, means “The Comrades,” and Monicelli was in fact a lifelong socialist deeply committed to the Italian labor union movement, and if that seems strange — given the comical ways he portrays both Professor Sinigaglia and his great strike, we should recognize that it’s Monicelli’s blend of comedy and tragedy, realism and wit that’s responsible for this film’s remarkable depth and the complex emotions it arouses, the way it generates poignancy and humor and many shadings in between.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Silent House

SILENT HOUSE (Also Blu-ray) (Two Discs) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Chris Kentis & Laura Lau, 2011 (Universal)  Thrillers thrill us because they make us believe them — even if we probably shouldn’t. I didn’t really believe most of Silent House, even though there were reasons I wanted to. It’s a contemporary variation on…

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Wilmington on Movies: Savages

These three lead a sort of idyllic hippie-outlaw-rich-druggie existence (like young, successful moviemakers maybe), with lots of money to spend, lots of ganja to smoke, and lots of sheets to get tangled in — in paradisiacal surroundings on Laguna Beach, drenched in the blazing colors and the lush foliage of beachside life on the Pacific, as shot by cinematographer Dan Mindel. Then their dream world begins to crumble.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Amazing Spider-man

So Tobey Maguire, who apparently became obsolescent at 32 (or at least too old for playing angst-ridden teenagers), gets sent off to the Old Superheroes‘ home, to be replaced by 28-year-old brooding British cutie-pie and critic’s pet Andrew Garfield, who played Mark Zuckerberg‘s (Jesse Eisenberg’s) college chum/partner Eduardo in The Social Network — not my idea of an American teenager, but we‘ll let that pass.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Carol Channing — Larger Than Life

I never saw Carol Channing perform live, but the new documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life convinced me I missed something very, very special — a great talent and a great lady and a great good time.

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Wilmington on DVDs: American Reunion

  AMERICAN REUNION (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, 2012 (Universal)  American Reunion is indubitably the best of all the American Pie series sequels. Don’t think I don‘t know how much that last judgment is a case of damning with faint praise, or praising with faint damns, or whatever. But what…

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Wilmington on Movies: Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

Andy Griffith, who died at 86 on Tuesday, would have been celebrating his last Fourth of July today. I’m sad. But that makes me even sadder — the fact that he just missed it — because there are some people you always want to be around somewhere, somehow, and Andy Griffith was one of them: a real American guy on a real American holiday like the Fourth of July, with flags and barbecues and patriotic speeches and families gathered together in the sweltering heat — or together in the cool night air to watch the fireworks go pop-pop-pop-pop-Yaaaayyy!!!

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Wilmington on Movies: Magic Mike

The Kid’s star rises. Things get darker. There’s a lot of sex and nudity, including an orgy with a pig wandering around. (You suspect something like this once happened somewhere.)

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Wilmington on Movies: Grand Illusion

Few films about war and the men who fight them have the resonance, beauty and power of Jean Renoir’s 1937 Grand Illusion — which Renoir based on his own experiences as a fighter pilot and a Prisoner of War in World War I.

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I am just grateful I am still around. I would love to be Steven Soderbergh, but I am lucky to be Joe Swanberg. Actors want to work with me, people want to give me money, and my nightmare scenario remains: Getting in bed with a studio, spending years on a movie, and it turns out horrible, but now I’m rich.”

Actually, by Hollywood standards, you’re right, I said. That is unambitious.

“It is, and yet, if you can go to bed happy at night, doing what you want, isn’t that ambition for a lifetime?”
~ Swanberg On Swanberg By Borelli

“In retrospect, nothing of that kind surprised me about Philip, because his intuition was luminous from the instant you met him. So was his intelligence. A lot of actors act intelligent, but Philip was the real thing: a shining, artistic polymath with an intelligence that came at you like a pair of headlights and enveloped you from the moment he grabbed your hand, put a huge arm round your neck and shoved a cheek against yours; or if the mood took him, hugged you to him like a big, pudgy schoolboy, then stood and beamed at you while he took stock of the effect.”
John le Carré on Philip Seymour Hoffman