MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Lawless

Directed and written by the team of John Hillcoat and rocker-scenarist Nick Cave (who also joined forces on the nerve-jangling 2006 Aussie western The Proposition), Lawless is also a very arty film about a rustic underworld — and it’s arty in both good and grating ways.

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Wilmington on DVDs: A Separation

  DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW A SEPARATION (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) (Four Stars) Iran: Asghar Farhadi, 2011 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) Movies can open up a whole world for audiences, revealing even the most remote people and places. That’s especially true of movues like A Separation, last year’s much-praised, much-awarded foreign language Oscar-winner…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Darling Companion; Headhunters; Down by Law… more

The movie has its flaws — an outlandishly implausible ending chiefly among them — but compared to most of the un-naturalistic, unfunny, unserious, totally phony and sometimes obnoxiously ageist and condescendingly smart-ass gloppy stuff that often passes for American movie comedy-drama these days (and that sometimes gets a pass from the same people who pile on movies like Darling Companion), it’s a movie that deserves some encouragement.

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Wilmington on DVDs: High Noon, 60th Anniversary Edition

High Noon became one of the most influential of all movie Westerns, exerting lasting effects even on films and filmmakers you wouldn’t expect it to, like Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (four men, like the Miller gang, walking alone at the end, instead of one), Clint Eastwood‘s hip, dark High Plains Drifter (which might have been the last vengeful nightmare of a dying Will Kane) and Sergio Leone‘s operatic Once Upon a Time in the West.

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Wilmington on Movies: Samsara

One of the tasks of art is to create beauty. (I’ll call it a sacred task, since I lived most of my life with an artist and treasure her memory, and it‘s what she would have said.) Another is to reveal the truth, or to give us both, together. I wouldn’t be so pretentious as to say that Samsara achieves all or any of these. But it tries. Honor to it then, and praise to all cinema that reveals a world to us — worlds upon worlds, the wheels of death and the Wheel of Life as well.

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Wilmington on Movies: Hit and Run

Part of Hit and Run — a hell-on-wheels car-chase comedy-actioner from actor-writer-co-director Dax Shepard — is playful, funny and even sweet-tempered. And part of it is hard and raunchy and a little mean. The two parts don’t always jibe or mix well, but at least they provide a little variety and at least some entertainment — more than most shows of this kind do.

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Wilmington on Movies: Premium Rush

It’s a smart movie that sometimes goes off the track. Writer-director David Koepp has scripted some of the biggest grossing action or adventure films ever, including “Jurassic Park” and the first “Spider-Man,” and he has a definite flair for rapid-fire clichés D.D.F. (done damned fast). His own directorial efforts haven’t been as good. But “Premium Rush” is probably the best of them.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Dictator; The War Room; Simba: The King of Beasts

Sacha Baron Cohen is no Charlie Chaplin, and he probably never will be. But at least he‘s willing to give his comedy a shot of social and political consciousness, like Charlie did

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Wilmington on Movies: Sparkle

I think we’re wrong when we say the story doesn’t matter in shows like this, because the audience just comes for the music. (People say the same kind of thing about action and horror movies, and they‘re wrong there, too.) The story does matter, always, and when we start getting more great musicals again — and I hope we will — it’ll be because all of the movie will click and not just a part of it.

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Wilmington on Movies: ParaNorman

I liked it a lot more than any of the “Paranormal Activity” movies — which I suppose isn’t saying much, because I dislike the “Paranormal Activity” series in toto. But ParaNorman activity, you know: that can be cool — as long as those undead guys don’t litter too many body parts on the sidewalks, when they‘re running away from the solid citizens.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Battleship, Tonight You’re Mine

Battleship? Why? The idea of spending of two hundred million dollars and change to try to adapt a Hasbro board or video game (called “Battleship,” natch) into a huge would-be blockbuster war-action movie (likewise Battleship)’ toplining TV star Taylor Kitsch (“Friday Night Lights,” John Carter), and swimsuit model and would-be movie star Brooklyn Decker (What to Expect When You‘re Expecting), struck me as a waste of time, sight unseen.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Bourne Legacy

I miss Jason Bourne already — missed him, in fact, even before I saw “The Bourne Legacy”, fourth in the multi-million dollar grossing Bourne spy movie series, based on Robert Ludlum’s books.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Campaign

Are politicians whores? Are movie comedies whorehouses? Are whores and poets and comedians the great unacknowleged legislators of mankind — and East Canarsie? Then why don’t they all get together and count votes more often?

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Wilmington on DVDs: Shallow Grave

This seems a typical set-up for Boyle, whose propensity for cautionry break-the-bank films might well earn him the nickname “Get Rick Quick” Danny Boyle. But here’s where I stop the synopsis. Believe me, you don’t want me to go any further, and not out of skittishness or fear, but because you likely and sensibly don’t want to miss the deliciously macabre surprises and ingenious suspense set-pieces Boyle and Hodge keep detonating throughout the movie.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

A long time ago, back in ’71, In a season of tumult and fear,
The good Dr. Seuss, with his pens sharp and loose, Wrote a book called “The Lorax,” we hear.
It was all about greed , about Oncelers and thneeds, About chopping down Truffula trees…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Le Havre

That’s an awful lot of allusions or maybe-allusions and I probably don’t even have them all. (Thanks to Jim Hoberman and the Criterion booklet’s Michael Sicinski for some of them.) Le Havre, a great favorite at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, has a dimension of reality but it also exists in its own private world of cinephilia and Kaurismakiana. It’s simply not intended as a believably realistic film — and even its seeming realism (the straight-on slow camera style, the drab locations, the terse dialogue), is, in its way, yet another filmic allusion, this time to Italian neo-realism or to Robert Bresson.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Babymakers

I think it’s safe to say though that Jay Chandrasekhar will never win the Nobel Prize for Physics, or even for sperm preservation research, though he might well open up his own bank, if his customers have good shoes and a Farrellyesque sense of humor.

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Wilmington on Movies: Total Recall

Another Philip K. Dick movie. Another terrific opportunity wasted. It bewilders me. Why are so many of the current makers of the super-action-movies so seemingly uninterested in writing good or clever dialogue or in devising original plots or in creating interesting characters?

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Wilmington on DVDs: Marilyn Monroe

She was blonde and beautiful and often late. She grew up poor and unhappy. Her life changed. She became a starlet and a notorious nude calendar model and finally she became a movie star to the world, and the dream girl of many people, and many cultures. She played dumb in a lot of her pictures –but she was actually very smart and very talented and well-read and the friend or favorite star of major writers and artists, and even of one great French philosopher.

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Wilmington on DVDs: La Grande Illusion

  PICK OF THE WEEK: Classic GRAND ILLUSION (“La Grande Illusion”) (Also Blu-ray) Four Stars France: Jean Renoir, 1937 (Lions Gate) 1. A Grand Illusion: The Great War That Can Be Stopped Few films about war and the men who fight them have the beauty and power and resonance of Jean Renoir’s 1937 Grand Illusion — based…

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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas