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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

“By the time the sounds of the Von Trapp children warbling ‘Silent Night’ drift through The Giver, you may find yourself wondering what fresh movie hell this is. In truth, the enervating hash of dystopian dread, vague religiosity and commercial advertising-style uplift is nothing if not stale. Adapted from Lois Lowry’s book for young readers, the story involves an isolated society that, with its cubistic dwellings, mindless smiles, monochromatic environs and nebulous communitarianism, seem modeled on a Scandinavian country or an old Mentos commercial.”
~ Manohla Dargis’ Deadly Lede For Review Of The Giver

“It’s possible that in the coming days or, God forbid, weeks, the president could have something more specific to say about the freighted decades-long history of political imbalance at work, in this case between a mostly black working-class town and its majority white government and police force. But this is a black man who must choose his words about race, governance, and law enforcement even more carefully than a white politician would. And this is the third summer in which, as president, he would have to do so…

“Until this point in the turmoil, the absence of the crucial second face in the incident seemed to heighten the distance between police and the people they serve. It grants them both an anonymity and autonomy that matches the bizarre transformation, in Ferguson and elsewhere, of police into troops. The riot gear turns 2014 into a dot on a Jim Crow–era timeline. Since the officer’s name wasn’t made public more immediately, it should have seemed urgent for the police to lose the riot attire and take steps to minimize distrust, to dispel the contagious assumption that silence equates racism…

“What is so affecting isn’t just that 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed when he was barely a man. It’s other things as well. One was how many reports of the incident that first day mentioned that he was about to start college. That’s a rite that’s universally emotional. But for a black male from a poor family, the first day of college is a freighted day that usually requires the sacrifice of more than one person. Black people know the odds of getting to and graduating from college, and that they’re low. That Brown seemed to be on the right path compounded the parental, local, and national outrage over his being wiped from it.”

~ Wesley Morris On Let’s Be Cops, The Shooting In Ferguson, Obama…