MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: Now You See Me

This new cinematic magic show—in which four professional magicians join for a Las Vegas-style super-act that may also be a super-crime—is a movie so self-consciously clever, so intent on surprising the hell out of us, and so utterly, shamelessly, mind-numbingly preposterous that you may walk out of it feeling that your mental pockets have been picked.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Free Radicals, Side Effects

I’m not very find of abstract painting (which obviously helped inspire experimental filmmaking), so I can’t really explain my fondness for the movie avant-grade, ranging from the non-abstract surrealists Bunuel and Dali to largely non-narrative people like Hollis Frampton. to a splatter guy like Norman McLaren. Maybe I think, probably a superficial notion, that it’s too easy to fake an abstract painting, but to make an abstract film, even a bad one, you have to have at least some technical skill. Actually, you can fake a film too, or a film review. Maybe I‘m just still mad that my mother Edna, who was a brilliant realist artist, was treated like crap by the pretentious abstract artist/educators of her college and day.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Hangover Part III

Movies, like people, can sometimes display disastrous judgment. But hey, it’s a movie. Who gives a shit?

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Wilmington on Movies: Fast and Furious 6

If you’re looking for a slam-bang movie full of spectacular car chases and mindbending action, Fast & Furious 6—the latest installment in the tire-burning, dumbfounding Fast & Furious series—is obviously your pedal-to-the-metal hot ticket. It‘s the kind of movie where the only logical (or illogical) response from longtime fans may be ‘”Wowie,“ “yowie“ or “zowie.” But if you’re looking for a movie that makes a lick of sense, or has a line of dialogue worth repeating, or a character or situation that isn’t either a howling cliché or a howling absurdity—take your pick—you’ve come to the wrong pit stop.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Jubal, 3:10 to Yuma, Safe Haven, Parker

    Jubal (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U.S.: Delmer Daves, 1956 (Criterion Collection) My grandma Marie Tulane, who was born in Sweden and died in Wisconsin, often said she liked Westerns because the scenery was so beautiful. I think she would have liked Delmer Daves’ 1956 Jubal, starring Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine and Rod Steiger…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver will probably never again look as good, or as inspiring, as it did in 1942, when it helped solidify the Anglo-American wartime bond. It’s a typically polished Wyler production, with pristine-looking black-and white cinematography by ace Joseph Ruttenberg.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Iceman

I tell you, Michael Shannon looks at you, or he looks at the camera, whatever, and the cold sweat just shoots right through you. I bet it spooks you almost as much as if you saw the real-life Iceman guy, the real Richie, ready to ice somebody

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Wilmington on Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness

In many ways, it’s a relief watching this picture. After a decade of Patrick Stewart and company, and then more than a decade of franchise silence, 2009’s Star Trek ingeniously brought the original seven Enterprise crew members back together—in the process, demonstrating a flair for matching the new younger actors playing the old characters with our memories of the original crew—and, as it turns out here, some others memories as well.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

There are three Deborah Kerrs in Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger’s strange and wonderful British war epic, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, and like many young male moviegoers, I fell in love with all of them the first time I saw the movie.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Starlet; Cloud Atlas

CO-PICKS OF THE WEEK: NEW — STARLET  (Three Stars) U.S.: Sean Baker, 2013 (Music Box) There’s ’at least one redeeming thing about the movies. Sometimes, they don’t really need hundreds of millions of dollars worth of superstars and special affects and expensive stuff to engage and move us.  Sometimes pretty much all they have to…

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Wilmington on Movies: Sightseers

Maybe I’m getting cranky, but I found very little to laugh at in the alleged black British comedy, Sightseers — a terminally nasty love-on-the-run thriller in which a couple of strangely ordinary-looking British misfits named Chris and Tina take a caravan trip though the North, a vacation that eventually turns into a murder spree.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Great Gatsby

Ignore the bashers. Baz Luhrmann’s often dazzling, sometimes excessive, frequently fascinating film of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age masterpiece, The Great Gatsby—a movie that has been trashed by a number of critics—is not only not a disaster. It’s one of the best movies of the still-young year.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Strictly Ballroom; Cloak and Dagger; The Guilt Trip; Mama

Strictly Ballroom, Cloak and Dagger, The Guilt Trip and Mama.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is the strange name for what seems a sort of semi-screwball comedy for the new millennium: a smart and amusing movie felicitously co-starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, Julia Stiles, and Chris Tucker in roles meatier than we expect and played probably as well as they could be, with great big dollops of joyous spontaneity, live-wire energy, bristling wit and just a touch of darkness.

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Wilmington on Movies: Pain and Gain

Pain & Gain is Michael Bay’s new picture, and, for him it‘s a departure. It’s a big, bright, violent movie, but it’s derived from fact this time, (or at least from allegedly factual newspaper articles).

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Wilmington on Movies: Iron Man Three

Iron Man Three may well be the last of the Iron Man series, but frankly, I was getting tired of those robo-duds by the end of the second (worst) one.

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Wilmington on Movies: The TCM Classic Film Festival

If you love movies… For just a moment or two, the TCM Classic Film Festival can turn you into a 12-year-old again. A 12-year-old on movie day.

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Wilmington

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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott