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

Quote Unquotesee all »

MB Cool. I was really interested in the aerial photography from Enter the Void and how one could understand that conceptually as a POV, while in fact it’s more of an objective view of the city where the story takes place. So it’s an objective and subjective camera at the same time. I know that you’re interested in Kubrick. We’ve talked about that in the past because it’s something that you and I have in common—

GN You’re obsessed with Kubrick, too.

MB Does he still occupy your mind or was he more of an early influence?

GN He was more of an early influence. Kubrick has been my idol my whole life, my own “god.” I was six or seven years old when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I never felt such cinematic ecstasy. Maybe that’s what brought me to direct movies, to try to compete with that “wizard of Oz” behind the film. So then, years later, I tried to do something in that direction, like many other directors tried to do their own, you know, homage or remake or parody or whatever of 2001. I don’t know if you ever had that movie in mind for your own projects. But in my case, I don’t think about 2001 anymore now. That film was my first “trip” ever. And then I tried my best to reproduce on screen what some drug trips are like. But it’s very hard. For sure, moving images are a better medium than words, but it’s still very far from the real experience. I read that Kubrick said about Lynch’s Eraserhead, that he wished he had made that movie because it was the film he had seen that came closest to the language of nightmares.

Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé

A Haunted House 2 is not a movie. It is a nervous breakdown. Directed by Michael Tiddes but largely the handiwork of star, producer, and co-writer Marlon Wayans, the film is being billed as yet another Wayans-ized spoof of the horror movie genre, à la the first Haunted House movie and the wildly successful Scary Movie series. (Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brothers were responsible for the first two Scary Movie films; they have since left that franchise, which may explain why a new one was needed.) And there are some familiar digs at recent horror flicks: This time, the creepy doll and the closet from The Conjuring, the family-murdering demon from Sinister, and the dybbuk box from The Possession all make appearances. But this new film is mostly an excuse for star Marlon Wayans to have extended freak-outs in response to the horrors visited upon him—shrieking, screaming, crying, cowering, and occasionally hate-fucking for minutes on end. Yes, you read that last bit right. A Haunted House 2 puts the satyriasis back in satire.”
Ebiri On A Haunted House 2