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MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs: The Master

    PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW THE MASTER (Also Blu-ray) (Two Discs)  (Four Stars) U.S.: Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012 (Starz/Anchor Bay)   No, I won’t call it a masterpiece — though it’s certainly a brilliant and beautiful movie, better than any other American film I saw last year. Better than Argo. Better than Lincoln. (Not by much,…

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Wilmington on Movies: Snitch

As for The Artist Formerly Known as The Rock, Johnson is unusually good here at projecting vulnerability and a good-guy likeability, qualities he didn’t necessarily need in his earlier action movies, but which were the only saving graces of comedy dreck like The Tooth Fairy—and which could now lead him to better roles.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Argo

Though based on fact, Argo plays like a mad combo of mixed genres: Spy Games espionage stuff, Wag the Dog government trickery, Close-Up Iranian street film and The Sting, an intricate con game, except that this time the picture puts the CIA in a favorable light, instead of tapping into the usual Three Days of the Condor Company nightmare.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Two-Lane Blacktop

All three of these existential car dudes (they’ve got no past, they’ve got no future, and what little there is of either was probably something made up by Warren Oates), get together for an outlaw car race — the Chevy against the GTO, for the pink slips. They head out from California through Santa Fe and up to Little Rock, to Tennessee and North Carolina — by which time the race and these people have changed a little — including the hitch-hiker, who comes in, grabs a ride and messes everybody up. She’s called The Girl (Laurie Bird) and she adds sex or potential sex to the equation.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Monsters, Inc. 3D; Sinister; Top Gun; Twilight’s Last Gleaming; Grand Hotel..

    Monsters, Inc. 3D  (Five Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition or Three Disc 3D/Blu-ray Combo) (Three Stars) U.S.; Pete Docter,  2001-2012 (Disney)   More good, funny, beautifully crafted, heartfelt stuff from Pixar, set in the scream-powered factory of Monstropolis among all the most horrible or brainy toy monsters — notably big, scary Sulley (John Goodman)…

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Wilmington on Movies: Safe Haven

Safe Haven, directed by that estimable Swedish-born filmmaker Lasse Hallström and produced by the author himself, is the eighth movie to be derived from a Nicholas Sparks novel, and like the others, including Message in a Bottle (where Kevin Costner found undying love), The Notebook (where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams found undying love) it’s a romantic fantasy delivered with maximum efficiency and apparently just the right amounts of warmth, coolness, poignancy, picturesque scenery, sex appeal, niceness and (let’s face it), undying love.

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Wilmington on Movies: A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth of the Bruce Willis Die Hard movies — and it’s obviously, irretrievably, die-hardishly one too many.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Skyfall

    PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW SKYFALL (Also Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) (Two Discs) (Three and a Half Stars) U.K.-U.S.: Sam Mendes, 2012 (MGM) Skyfall may be a James Bond movie for both the masses and the cognoscenti, but it begins with something as old as The Perils of Pauline — a chase and a battle…

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Wilmington on Movies: Identity Thief

Up to that point, Identity Thief actually looks as if it might be a good movie, or at least a bad funny one. I was actually looking forward to it. (The more fool me.) But then, in a bewildering, mind-numbing plot twist that bewilders and mind-numbs me still…

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Wilmington on Movies: Side Effects

Mara has another role that, like her Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which paled next to the original by Noomi Rapace), may be a little too dark for her — though her Emily is enough of a cipher to let the story work.

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Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 2013

_   _ _______________________ cFor 20 years, since 1993, I’ve taken part in the voting, and sometimes the awards shows, for The Chicago Film Critics Association — and I’ll be there again for the 2013 Awards. The show, in the 1990s and  the years before I emigrated to Chicago from Los Angeles, used to be elaborate…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Flight

Flight is also a very entertaining movie, and its very mutability and changeability — the way it hops from genre to genre, mood to mood, from high action and high entertainment to high seriousness, is a large part of what makes it so compellingly enjoyable.

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Wilmington on Movies: Bullet to the Head

Stallone and Hill both came in at the end of the ‘70s, they both hit their commercial peaks in the ‘80s. But I don’t think a lot of their latter movies in that decade did them much good, however rich those shows might have made them. In Bullet to the Head which shouldn’t be confused with John Woo’s Hong Kong 1990 bone-crusher, or with the German movie Knife in the Head by Reinhard Hauff, or with “Bullet in the Schnozzola,” which I just made up), they’re both back to fantasizing.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Farewell, My Queen; Ten Best Movies, 2012

We know she is doomed. Much of the tension of the film comes from our own wonderment at when the Queen and the King and the court will realize it too. Instead they act, in the few days (July 14-17, 1789) that we and Sidonie watch them, as if only a temporary disturbance—a tempest in a pastry shop—were underway, not the end of the world.

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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

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