MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs: The Red Menace; Jack Reacher; Gangster Squad

Is The Red Menace really “The Reefer Madness of anti-Communist movies? Or is that flattering it? Too earnest to be funny, too serious to be camp, too boring to be effective propaganda, this Herbert Yates-produced doozy from Republic (for which it stands) is probably one of the worst of the post-war anti-Commie thrillers, entertainment-wise. It isn’t even dumb enough be dumb fun, since writers Albert Demond and Gerald Geraghty know something about their subject. They have dialogue about Hegel, and a Red temptress has a bookcase full of tomes by Marx and Engels.

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Wilmington on Movies: To the Wonder

A strange, poetic, puzzling. stunningly visualized, and defiantly personal piece of spiritual autobiography on celluloid, an ambitious, pictorially stunning creation by an artist who makes movies as it the art form had just been invented, and he was free to do anything, try anything, but also by a man who’s hip to cinema technology and aware of other arts and literature as well—and finally, by a man who sees the world (in his films) with something like the newly opened eyes of a child (as a gorgeous, enrapturing place) and comprehends it with a child’s relatively fresh, unspoiled heart and soul. All of these seemingly contradictory artists are Malick, who, like Walt Whitman (another naïve and sophisticated earthy giant of a poet) is large and contains multitudes and loves the way the sun pours down on leaves of grass.

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Wilmington on Movies: Oblivion

There aren‘t many movies around as beautiful to look at as the first part of Oblivion, and since pieces of that beauty survive into the more conventional slam-bang second part, it‘s worth a look — though I would definitely suggest that you see Oblivion not on a normal screen, but in IMAX. Kosinski displayed a strong visual imagination in the critically-bashed Tron LegacyBut this is his show — adapted from a story and graphic novel he wrote, to try to sell (successfully) this movie, and it’s clear he has more emotion invested in it.

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Wilmington on DVDs: My Son John; The Woman on Pier 13 (I Married a Communist); Promised Land.

My Son John; The Woman on Pier 13; Promised Land

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Kid with a Bike

The setting is, once again the industrial, largely working class city of Seraing in Belgium: the Dardenne Brothers’ home city and the location for most of their films since La Promesse.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Django Unchained

Waltz is a good guy this time, Django’s mentor, but there’s some high-grade screen villainy by Leonardo Di Caprio and Samuel L. Jackson, both of whom would have stolen the movie if Waltz didn’t already have it stuffed in his back pocket.

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Wilmington on Movies: 42

I would have been happy as a hot dog and a Coke in old Ebbets Field to follow the Jackie Robinson story—excuse me, the Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey story—as it unfolded in 1945-47 and as it’s told here.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ruthless; Despicable Me; Battleship; Lawless

Who is Edgar G. Ulmer and what is he doing in any pantheon, or semi-pantheon of world classical filmmakers? It’s been a classic nagging anti-auteurist question ever since Andrew Sarris introduced him.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The African Queen; Casablanca

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC The African Queen/ Casablanca (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) U.S.: John Huston/ Michael Curtiz (Warner Bros.) Here, of course, are two of Humphrey Bogart’s best—and two of the most wonderful shows that American Movies in their celebrated Golden Age, ever concocted. If you don’t have these pictures in some format, or (worse) if you haven’t even seen them at all,…

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Wilmington on Movies: Evil Dead

In what I guess you can safely call the now-legendary original Evil Dead, there was a furious satiric energy that hurled you along and repeatedly zinged up the movie, which was, after all, a show begat by other movies, especially 1969‘s trail-blazing zombie nightmare Night of the Living Dead and 1974’s gruesome body-parts shocker The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

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Wilmington on Movies: Trance

Trance, a new erotic thriller from Danny Boyle, is a fast and fancy dance over a whirl of a dance floor of crime, suspense and sex.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d’un Ete)

We watch those people from long ago, and the fact that, in the movie images, they’re still young (or still middle-aged) and that they have still (in the film) not yet met the problems and wars and tragedies and reversals that we know are coming, gives them a privileged position, an immortality conferred by hand-held camera. It’s a more casual immortality, not endowed with any of the painstaking ardor and expense routinely spent in preserving a movie superstar for the ages, or even of a cover girl for a shoot at Cannes. These are people talking about how they live and how to change it for the better, as we all did once, as we sometimes do now. Death is temporarily banished.

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

Who are the critics speaking to?
Nobody seems able to answer the question of how you can make theatre criticism more appealing, more clickworthy. One answer is to be a goddamn flamethrower every week, be a bombthrower, to write scorched-earth reviews. Just be completely hedonistic and ego-driven in your criticism, become a master stylist, and treat everything in front of you onstage as fodder for your most delicious and vicious language. That’s one road. And people may enjoy your writing. The thing that’s sacrificed is any sense of a larger responsibility, and any aesthetic consistency. I don’t think anyone is following that model right now—just being a complete jerk.

Well, Rex Reed is still writing.
Ah. Well, you can also be a standard bearer, and insist that work doesn’t measure up to your high standards. But I think the art makes the standards. I’m not going to sit there and say, “This is the way you do Shakespeare.” I believe that every play establishes its own standards, and our job is to just evaluate it. But everybody’s looking for the formula for how to talk about culture so that people who don’t have any time to read want to read about it. Is there something beyond thumbs-up, thumbs-down criticism? I would hope there’s a way to talk about a theatre event in real time—meaning while it’s still going on—in a way that’s engaging, funny, witty, and evaluates the elements of the thing. But it’s like if you had a friend who was like, “Gee, are you working out? You look great. But that’s a terrible haircut.” Nobody wants that person around.
~ Time Out’s 17-Year Theatre Critic, David Cote, Upon His Exit

“Now I am awake to the world. I was asleep before. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” Bruce Miller