MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

Wilmington By Mike WilmingtonWilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington on DVDs: RIP Elmore Leonard; 3:10 TO YUMA

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Wilmington on Movies: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

The Butler is a stretch, and a sentimental exaggeration of course.

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Wilmington on Movies: Kick-Ass 2; Kick-Ass (DVD)

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Wilmington on DVDs: To the Wonder

To the Wonder is one of those pictures that either knocks you out or irritates you—or maybe does a little of both.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ran; Kagemusha

Akira Kurosawa’s lavish and violent epic Ran, inspired by “King Lear,” is one of the most famous and admired of all Shakespearean films. Most aficionados rank it at or near the top of the Bard’s film canon, even though Ran dispenses with the main element that makes Shakespeare so great and imperishable, jettisoning all of the bard’s British poetry (substituting a spare Japanese translation), along with a good deal of the play’s brilliant plot and unforgettable characters.

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Wilmington on Movies: Elysium

We are shown a future world where things have gone to hell and are about to get worse (maybe), due to the devastating consequences of greed, violence, brutality, authoritarian government, social and racial prejudice, and the insane selfishness of that era‘s one-percenters. It’s our world, of course, taken to extremes, Philip K. Dick or Robert Heinlein style.

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Wilmington on Movies: We’re the Millers

The disrobing of the legendary Rachel isn’t the epic sex fantasy scene one might imagine, but just another misjudged scene in a somewhat daring but basically lousy movie comedy—a forced, crude, often senseless show about a group of misfits or outsiders (played by Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter), pretending to be a typical American suburban bourgeois family (called the Millers), while smuggling dope across the border from Mexico,

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Wilmington on Movies: Planes

In movies, especially movies intended for kids, originality isn’t everything. Adults are sometimes another story.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Guys and Dolls

If there was ever a part Frank Sinatra was born to play—and sing—it was Sky Masterson, the lady-killing, dice-rolling, high-living gambler who is the main man and big shooter of the classic New York-Broadway musical (and the Hollywood movie made from it) Guys and Dolls.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Oblivion

Dunes out of Lawrence of Arabia, those cloud castles out of Up, those moody dreamy interiors out of Solaris: The way Oblivion looks is one of its main attractions.

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Wilmington on Movies: Heaven’s Gate (Director’s Cut)

The restored director’s cut of Heaven’s Gate has been released theatrically in the U.K.

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Wilmington on Movies: Blue Jasmine

Perhaps that’s because the performance is a kind of culmination of Allen’s attitudes toward the moneyed white culture Jasmine represents. Jasmine lives what seems a charmed life as a member of the Manhattan financial social elite whose vagaries Allen loves to have fun with — but then finds herself hurled into the chaos of the 2008 financial collapse, and turning into Woody’s version of Blanche DuBois, Tennessee Williams’ lady on the edge, wandering, desperate, talking to herself, at the end of the line.

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Wilmington on Movies: 2 Guns

It’s at the service of one of those stories that begins to crumble and fall apart when you start thinking about it. That’s okay if you‘re up for the ride. You can turn off your brain for most of the show, and have a fairly good time—even if, when you walk out afterwards, the story has gone up in flames.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Tristana; Mamma Mia! The Movie; Trance

Tristana is a masterpiece, but it’s also a grimmer, sadder, more psychologically wounding film than Belle de Jour, which was regarded as a great art film turn-on of the 1960s, during the somewhat frenzied romps of Sexual Revolution. But, if audiences thrilled to the whorehouse fear, desire and wayward beauty of Belle de Jour, what were they to make of Tristana, in which the most memorable erotic encounter occurs when a one-legged woman exposes herself to the lustful deaf-mute son of her guardian-husband’s house servant?

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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