Z
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.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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).

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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…

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

Z Z