MCN Originals Archive for March, 2009

Wilmington on DVDs: Slumdog Millionaire, Danton, Il Generale Della Rovere and more …

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Slumdog Millionaire (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U.K./India; Danny Boyle Slumdog Millionaire is a dancing, crackling shockwave of a movie, an incandescent

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Wilmington on DVDs: A Secret, Dodes’ka-den, L’Innocente and more … plus, this week’s box set

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW A Secret (Un Secret) (Three-and-a-Half Stars) France; Claude Miller, 2007 (Strand Releasing) The young French film critic Francois Truffaut used to snipe at the obvious craftsmanship and overt

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Wilmington on DVDs: Synecdoche, NY, Faust and more …plus, this week’s box set

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW Synecdoche, New York (Three-and-a-Half Stars) U. S.; Charlie Kaufman, 2008 (Sony) Synecdoche (def.): A figure of speech where the whole is used for

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Wilmington on DVDs: Pinocchio, Milk, Happy-Go-Lucky and more … plus, this week’s box set

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSICS Pinocchio (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S.; Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske 1940 (Walt Disney) When you wish upon a star…. A little wooden-boy puppet named Pinocchio

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Wilmington on DVDs: Australia, Beatrix Potter, and more… plus, this week’s box set

PICKS OF THE WEEK: NEW Australia (Four Stars) (A) Australia/U.K.; Baz Luhrmann, 2008 (20th Century Fox) Over the top it may be, sport, but Baz (Moulin Rouge!) Luhrmann’s visually scrumptious, rousing epic of WW2-era Australia unbound, was one of my favorite movies of 2008.

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MCN Originals

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“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook

“Billy Wilder said to me, ‘Those of us who are hyphenates deserve a couple more beats,’ and I knew what he meant. As a director, you make sure a scene is not beat-heavy. You need just enough beats in the rhythm. Billy also used to say, ‘Whatever you do, is your mark. You don’t have to go out and impress someone. Let them look at your work.’”
~ Jerry Lewis