MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained—his most entertaining movie since Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown and a movie of almost inspired tastelessness—pulls us into a movie land that movie buff Tarantino knows well: the world of mid-to-late ’60s-early ’70s Italian spaghetti Westerns—a roost ruled by director Sergio Leone and star Clint Eastwood with their “Man With No Name” Trilogy, but also home to a variety of trashy offshoots by men with lesser names.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Jean Gremillon During the Occupation

Jean Gremillon, a forgotten giant of French cinema, a genius as neglected in America as he is idolized in France, gets a long-overdue DVD revival in this superb package from Eclipse, Criterion’s budget-label-for-the-cognoscenti. The three films inside the box—Remorques (1941), Lumiere d’ete (1943) and Le Ciel est a Vous (1944)—may be little known to most of us, but they’re among the genuine French film classics of the Occupation years. And, if Gremillon is among the very best, so were the people with whom he worked.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

I don’t want to come across like an uptight philistine or a bourgeois simpleton, but the one thing this movie didn’t convince me about was the stature of Ai Weiwei’s art—which may be either my fault, or the film’s, or possibly Ai Weiwei‘s.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Words

    THE WORDS (Three Stars) U.S.: Directed & written by Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal, 2012 (Sony) I have a confession to make. I didn’t write this review. As a youngster, I adored books and the words that made them up, loved the very feel of the pages on my fingers. Some of that…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Arbitrage; Ten Years

  ARBITRAGE (Three Stars) U.S.: Nicholas Jarecki, 2012 (Lions Gate) Arbitrage is a movie about big money and big crime in America, so naturally it’s set on Wall Street, a district and subculture awash in both. It’s also a picture that demonstrates how we tend to accept  people who do bad things s long as…

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Wilmington on DVDs: It’s a Wonderful Life

  PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC It’s a Wonderful Life (Also Blu-ray) (2 Disc Collector‘s Set) Four Stars U.S.; Frank Capra, 1946 (Paramount)  It’s a Wonderful Life is Frank Capra’s Yuletide masterpiece about George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a small-town guy on the edge of self-destruction, who is shown by a  pixilated guardian angel named Clarence (Henry…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Guilt Trip; Monsters Inc. 3D

Barbra Streisand plays a nice Jewish mother named Joyce Brewster, and Seth Rogen plays her not-so-nice Jewish, or at least half-Jewish, son Andy — and for this movie I have just one word: Meshuggener! No, that’s not nice. The movie tried. It really did.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Trouble With the Curve

Trouble With the Curve is Eastwood’s first onscreen role since the valedictory-seeming tough guy-retiree part of Walt Kowalski in 2008’s Gran Torino. It’s a good role, and, for the most part, a good movie, even though it’s, at times, corny and predictable and full of clichés and a shameless star vehicle and yadda-yadda-yadda. Clichés don’t damage a movie as much as most people think though; what matters is how you play them. But if anyone can liven up a gunfight or a bar-fight or a car-chase or a put-down, it’s Eastwood.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Baron Blood

The director is the legendary Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath), a visual movie-making genius who gives us something fascinating or interesting to look at in almost every shot, including a long homage to the Vincent Price-Andre de Toth 3D horror classic House of Wax, and more twisting staircases, somber towers, shadowy torture chambers, gargoyles, well-used Iron Maidens and impaled victims than you could imagine outside of Transylvania on a dark and windy night.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Pitch Perfect; Total Recall; Tell No One

  PITCH PERFECT (Two Disc Combo Pack: DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy) (Two and a Half  Stars) U.S.: Jason Moore, 2012 (Universal) In the mood for a teen-oriented movie musical comedy about college boys and girls’ A cappella groups? Want to watch (and hear) a bunch of enthusiastic unaccompanied singers slugging it out in the ICCA (International Championship of…

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Willmington on DVDs: Following

A black-and-white British neo-noir shot on the cheap, with unknown actors, by a then-unknown co-writer-director (Christopher Nolan), Following is the often fascinating tale of a thief and a voyeur playing dangerous games. Nolan likes games and tricks, and the Wellesian magicians who play them, and the whole movie is something of a conjuring act. Though obviously the work of gifted youngsters and amateurs or semi-amateurs, done with scant resources and slender means, it’s a show that grabs you and keeps you guessing and rewards your attention and casts its own little spell. It‘s a real underground movie from a moviemaker just about to make his break into the mainstream — with another, more expensive, and even trickier film called Memento.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ted

    TED  (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Seth MacFarlane, 2012 (Universal)   Ted is a vulgar, irreverent, dirty-mouthed comedy about a vulgar, irreverent, dirty mouthed teddy bear named, of course, Ted — a fuzzy horny little stoner who is the best friend of a sweet, somewhat Peter-Pannish…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Bourne Legacy; Ice Age: Continental Drift

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 movies, based on Robert Ludlum’s books. That series, you’ll recall, initially starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, super-spy on the run, and now, with Damon gone (after three outings), stars Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, another super-spy on the run. Cross, however, is not in any way related or connected to Jason Bourne, or to any other Bourne, beyond the fact that they were both involved in top secret “skill enhancement” programs that the government has now discontinued, and wants forgotten, along with Jason Bourne and anyone like him.

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Wilmington on Movies: Rise of the Guardians

      RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Terry Ramsey, 2012 Movies just get curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might say, after striking another exclusive deal with The March Hare and Tim Burton. In the new DreamWorks animated lollapalooza, Rise of the Guardians (one of the more peculiar new super-hero…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Step Up Revolution; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle; Dead Ringer

    STEP UP REVOLUTION (Also Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo) (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Scott Speer, 2012 (Summit Entertainment)   You don’t have to be a nincompoop to want to see something like Step Up Revolution, but it probably helps. The fourth in the “Step Up” series, which gave the world Channing Tatum…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Rio Grande

Among Ford buffs and aficionados, this has walways been the least admired of the three cavalry films—perhaps because it was shot quickly as a favor to Republic Pictures so Ford could go to Ireland and make his longtime pet project, The Quiet Man—but also because the script, by studio vet James Kevin McGuiness (who died in 1950, the year Rio Grande was released), isn’t as good as the ones Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings wrote for the other two. (All three movies are based on stories by James Warner Bellah, who wrote the screenplay for Ford’s masterpiece, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance).

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Wilmington on DVDs: Purple Noon

When the murder comes, it’s so swift, so unexpected, yet so oddly inevitable, that it’s hard to believe we’ve seen what we’ve seen. Whoosh! A knife thrust. A scream. “Marge!“ cries the victim, the knife stuck in his chest. He falls, dies, while his killer looks on, for a moment with seeming horror, as if he were witness to something awful, unimaginable — something that somehow doesn‘t even involve him. Did it really happen? Was it a dream? A fantasy? A lie? A movie? Yes, of course, we’re watching (and talking about) a movie: an exceptionally riveting and beautiful one about desire and cruelty and murder and malice and a game of make-believe by a psychopath/killer who is also an actor and an artist. A classic thriller called Plein Soleil, or Purple Noon, a movie shot in the adult playgrounds and mature pleasure spots of Italy and directed by a French filmmaker-artist, Rene Clement (who knew and understood sailing and the area well), from a classic novel-thriller by Patricia Highsmith, a brilliant American novelist who lived in France, and understood criminals well, if only in her imagination.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Dark Knight Rises

  CO-PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Christopher Nolan, 2012. 1.  The Rise   A visual marvel and a hellaciously exciting action movie, a show also full of doom, gloom, violence and unexpected poetry and emotion — and very little humor of any kind — The Dark…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Finding Nemo 3D, Up

Finding Nemo, the first one, was that epic 2003 Pixar computer-animated cartoon adventure about a boy clownfish named Nemo and his nervous father Marlin, and how they were separated on Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef, and how, they tried to find each other again, in an ocean world chockful of danger and delight. It’s one of the most popular movies ever made, and the second Finding Nemo, the new 3D version, doesn’t do anything to dampen that crowd-pleasing or diminish that delight.

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Wilmington on Movies: Hitchcock

The movie is a tribute to Hitchcock and his art; in some ways it treats the creation of Psycho almost in the reverent way Carol Reed and Charlton Heston treated Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But it’s a deconstruction of Hitchcock (and Psycho) as well, following the example of tell-all books like Rebello‘s and like Donald Spoto’s “The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock“ and even of the last revision of “Hitchcock/Truffaut“” Francois Truffaut‘s classic interview/celebration with/of one of his favorite directors.

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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 »

“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

A Spirited Exchange

“In some ways Christopher Nolan has become our Stanley Kubrick,” reads the first sentence of David Bordwell’s latest blog post–none of which I want or intend to read after that desperate opening sentence. If he’d written “my” or “some people’s” instead of “our”, I might have read further. Instead, I can only surmise that in some ways David Bordwell may have become our Lars von Trier.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum On Facebook

“Jonathan has written a despicable thing in comparing me to Trump. He’s free to read or not read what I write, and even to judge arguments without reading them. It’s not what you’d expect from a sensible critic, but it’s what Jonathan has chosen to do, for reasons of a private nature he has confided to me in an email What I request from him is an apology for comparing my ideas to Trump’s.”
~ David Bordwell Replies

“Yes, I do apologize, sincerely, for such a ridiculous and quite unwarranted comparison. The private nature of my grievance with David probably fueled my post, but it didn’t dictate it, even though I’m willing to concede that I overreacted. Part of what spurred me to post something in the first place is actually related to a positive development in David’s work–an improvement in his prose style ever since he wrote (and wrote very well) about such elegant prose stylists as James Agee and Manny Farber. But this also brought a journalistic edge to his prose, including a dramatic flair for journalistic ‘hooks’ and attention-grabbers, that is part of what I was responding to. Although I realize now that David justifies his opening sentence with what follows, and far less egregiously than I implied he might have, I was responding to the drum roll of that opening sentence as a provocation, which it certainly was and is.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum Replies