MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on Movies: The Wolverine

The Wolverine was directed by the almost bizarrely versatile James Mangold and the script is credited to a gifted threesome that includes Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank—and their show pours on the action and the production values. But it also ladles out the personality, and emotion that these kinds of movies often skimp on—and even throws in some humor. It’s a good show, full of zip and style—maybe not as good as I may be making it seem. But you can’t say this film doesn’t do what it’s meant to do, or that it doesn’t joyously exceed some of the usual parameters. Man of Steel, eat your heart out.

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Wilmington on Movies: The To Do List

The movie is cute and so is Aubrey Plaza—though, with her pouty, sexy, full-lipped looks, I don’t know if she ‘s the right actress to play an all-time valedictorian, or a virgin. (An Ellen Page type might have been better.) On the other hand, if Plaza had played the bad sister Amber, she probably would have stolen the movie, as Bilson almost does.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The File on Thelma Jordon; Adua and her Friends; Bullet to the Head

Recent birthday girl Barbara Stanwyck, one of the smartest and toughest of all the classic Hollywood femme fatales, was terrific at playing earthy babes who knew their way around a bedroom—and sometimes a courtroom or an insurance claims office as well,

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Wilmington on DVDs: Band of Outsiders (Bande à part)

Avec

Pulp.

Poetry.

Politics (Peut-etre).

Two Guys, A Girl and a Gun.

Robbery

Murder

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Wilmington on DVDs: Gate of Hell

There were two great gateways to the international movie houses of the post-war world for 1950s Japanese cinema. The first was Rashomon. The second was Gate of HellMost of us remember the former—Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 period masterpiece about four conflicting views of a rape and murder in the woods—and we can recall easily, intensely, rightfully. The latter, the much lesser known writer-director Teinosuke Kinugasa, is another period film, gorgeous almost beyond belief, and once widely hailed as the most beautiful color film of all time.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Conjuring

The Conjuring is supposedly based on the true story of a haunted house, possessed by demons or otherworldly spirits, as investigated by honest-to God “paranormal researchers”: the real-life combo of Lorraine and Ed Warren, played in the movie by the brilliantly sensitive Vera Farmiga and the convincingly more prosaic Patrick Wilson.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Our Man in Havana; Evil Dead (2013); The Evil Dead

Like The Third Man, the plot plunges a naïve but imaginative amateur into a political game that turns deadly serious in a city that is dark and corrupt and filled with criminals and deceptions.

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Wilmington on DVDs: 42

These Dodgers were among the elite units in baseball, but they were also cursed with their own share of prejudice (Walker was among the players who circulated a petition against Jackie), yet also blessed with tolerance and anti-bigotry as well.

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Wilmington on Movies: Pacific Rim

Because del Toro is an artist as well as (when he wants to be) a big-movie technician, this show sucks you in emotionally as well as arousing you viscerally. The movie is jam-packed with amusing nonsense and knock-your-eyes-out visuals, but it also actually has dollops of heart, humanity and humor, that stuff most movies like this don’t have and could really use.

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Wilmington on Movies: Grown Ups 2

Sandler’s humor is often rough, if a little Jerry Lewis-ishly sentimental by the end, but Grown Ups, which was about infantile guys reliving the past but also growing up a little, was both congenial and even a little sweet—and it mopped up at the box-office, while displeasing many critics (who don’t pay for their tickets anyway), me included. Now comes the sequel—minus Rob Schneider. (I‘m not saying this is a loss comparable to the disappearances of Richard Castellano and Robert Duvall in the sequels to The Godfather, but Schneider should have done the movie.)

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Wilmington on DVDs: Spartacus; Backdraft; Spring Breakers

Who needs school? Who needs life? Harmony Korine’s movies are outlaw pictures and weirdo comedies about people who don’t want to grow up.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Safety Last!

The sight of Jazz Age comedy icon Harold Lloyd, in Safety Last!, desperately clinging to the hands of a clock as they bend and dangle him above the street, has to be one of the imperishable images in all American movie comedy.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Lone Ranger

There are one or two good pictures buried inside Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, which stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger, and is actually long enough (149 minutes) to have several movies extracted from it.

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Wilmington on Movies: Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Standup comedians are, in some ways, the decathlon athletes of show business. They have to do it all, do it fast, do it strong.

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Wilmington on Movies: Despicable Me 2

Zippily done, but somehow less emotional and more forgettable this time around, Despicable Me 2 is our second antic cartoon look at the despicable if lovable bad guy Gru (a bald, fat, knife-nosed super-villain voiced by the ubiquitous Steve Carell) and his despicable, if lovable Minions (pop-eyed little ambulatory yellow balls voiced by the movie’s super-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud). Together, they made a wry, horrific ensemble and they‘re joined (or rejoined) this time by Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and other skillful, funny actors playing bizarre, if sometimes lovable, people and creatures.

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Wilmington

Quote Unquotesee all »

“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