MCN Originals Archive for June, 2011

Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. Kiss Me Deadly

  “Kiss Me Deadly” (Four Stars) U.S.: Robert Aldrich, 1955 (Criterion Collection) Something went dark and sour and more than a little crazy in American culture in the post-World War 2 era. And more than a little of it comes bubbling up like hell-froth in Robert Aldrich‘s and A. I. Bezzerides’ hard-boiled, high-style masterpiece Kiss Me…

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The DVD Wrapup: Barney’s Version, Season of the Witch, Sucker Punch, Erasing David, Tetsuo, The Warrior’s Way, Camille 2000 …

Barney’s Version: Blu-ray Although few things are certain in life, it’s safe to say any movie in which Paul Giamatti appears is going to save some aspiring actor, somewhere, the cost of attending a master class in acting. If there’s nothing else to like in the picture – an unlikely proposition, considering his many fine…

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DVD Geek: Tracy & Hepburn The Definitive Collection

You would have to turn to the stage to find a comparable accomplishment to the films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together across a quarter of a century. The movies will always have their ‘screen couples,’ from Greta Garbo and John Gilbert to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but capturing the soul of the off screen romance and transcribing it to a consistent body of onscreen character interaction is far more difficult …

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Sucker Punch, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle

      Sucker Punch (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Zack Snyder, 2011  (Warner Bros.) Great visual effects. Lousy script. That seems to be a consensus on Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, even among some people who like it. And I guess I’d agree. Sort of. The movie is too incoherent and confusing to be…

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Review: Transformers 3: Dark Side Of The Moon (spoiler-free)

Thematically, the stakes here are simplified and amplified.  It’s a variation on ID4 and Mars Attacks, basically.  Human kind is seriously threatened and must team with technology to save itself.  They get the balance of human and bot heroism just about right.

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The Weekend Report, June 26, 2011

Cars 2 animated the box office as it fast tracked to an estimated $68.5 million and left the pack in a cloud of dust. The session’s other wide national Bad Teacher was in the bridesmaid position with $30.8 million.

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Wilmington on Movies: Transformers Dark of the Moon; Bad Teacher

  Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Three Stars) U.S.: Michael Bay, 2010 Mindless, soulless, heartless, mechanical, and shamelessly mercenary as it might be, director Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon — the latest in the often obnoxious movie series, starring Shia LaBeouf and a lot of Hasbro toys — is still one of the…

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Friday Estimates, June 25, 2011

Cars 2 is waaaay out ahead of the pack, Bad Teacher is legging it out in second, and The Green Lantern has broken one leg but is still racing in third….

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Wilmington on Movies: Cars 2

 Cars 2 (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: John Lasseter (co-director Brad Lewis), 2011 Cars 2 is another Pixar feature cartoon for kids, adults, old people and everyone in between — especially if they have a crush on post-‘50s car culture. I don’t, but I could feel the curious, obsessive auto-loving fever pouring out of…

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Review: Bad Teacher

Of course, “Bad Teacher” itself is just a snappy pitch with no follow through, the sort of skin-deep idea that can get development executives (and audiences) interested without exerting itself unduly. “Cameron Diaz plays a drunk whore of a high school teacher, and Justin Timberlake is her goody-two-shoes love interest? Where do we sign?”

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DP/30: Crime After Crime director Yoav Potash, subject Joshua Safran

This documentary tells the tale of Debbie Peagler, who spent 26 years in prison for murdering the abusive boyfriend who abused her profoundly, including forcing her into prostitution… even though her only direct involvement in the murder was to engage gang members to scare her abuser into getting out of her life. 20 years or so after the conviction, 2 lawyers took on the case and spent 6 years trying to help her find some level of justice.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Rest. The Adjustment Bureau, Unknown, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Insignificance, The Long Riders, The Brass Legend

  The Adjustment Bureau (Also Blu-ray) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: George Nolfi, 2011 (Universal) A rising young liberal congressman named David Norris (Matt Damon), running for the U.S. Senate and on a fast track to the White House, blows his chances when The New York Post publishes photos of his butt-bearing college high…

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DP/30 @LAFF: Somewhere Between, director Linda Goldstein Knowlton

Linda Goldstein Knowlton was an Exec Producer on Whale Rider and the co-director of The World According To Sesame Street. But her personal journey into the world of adoption – specifically adopting a daughter from China – brought her to her newest film, which tells the story of four girls and their families years after coming to America.

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The DVD Wrapup: The Island, Unknown, Cedar Rapids, Poison, Women in Cages, Andrei Arsenevitch …

The Island There’s no way to adequately synopsize Michael Bay’s latest sci-fi/action/thriller without adding a half-dozen spoiler alerts, and that’s not something I enjoy doing. What I can say about “The Island” is that it involves cloning, evil corporations and humans playing God; it’s chock full of exciting stunt work and chases, most accomplished without…

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DP/30: Bad Teacher, director Jake Kasdan

Jake Kasden has been on of the young filmmakers whose name grabs the attention of cinephiles for years now… and not just because his dad made Body Heat. Zero Effect, Freaks & Geeks, and even Walk Hard have string cult followings. He brings some of his unexpected ways to a fairly conventional idea in Bad Teacher.

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Wilmington on DVD’s, Co-Picks of the Week: Classics. Zazie dans le Metro, Pale Flower.

CO-PICK: “Zazie dans le Metro” (Three and a Half Stars) France: Louis Malle, 1960 (Criterion) An impish little girl named Zazie, with pre-Beatle bangs, an unusually profane vocabulary and a seemingly endless sense of adventure, travels to Paris on the train with her mother (Odette Piquet). As soon as they hit Paris, her maman departs with…

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Wilmington on DVDs, Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S./U.K.: David Lean, 1957 (Columbia/Sony) Moviemaker David Lean was a master of the epic (Lawrence of Arabia) and a master of the intimate (Brief Encounter), and his greatest films often straddle some strange, sublime borderland between the two. The Bridge on the River Kwai, based…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. The Eagle, The Concert

The Eagle (Three Stars) U.S.-U.K.: Kevin Macdonald, 2011 The Eagle is one of the more enjoyable adventure movies I‘ve seen recently. Set in the wilds of Old Britain in the second century , it’s an old-fashioned, well-crafted, eiting movie, adapted by director Kevin Macdonald and writer Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s famous young adult novel…

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DP/30 Emmywatch: Bobby Fischer vs The World, director Liz Garbus

Emmy Winner (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) and Oscar nominee Liz Garbus is back with her look at the story of Bobby Fisher, famed chess star and infamous oddball. We spoke at Sundance, where the film premiered in January. It’s now on the air on HBO.

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DP/30: Rejoice And Shout, director Don McGlynn

Don McGlynn started at USC Film School and from his first film has been known as “the music doc guy.” His latest is an assemblage of some of the least seen footage of the performers who make up the roots of gospel music, along with interviews with modern stars of the form.

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MCN Originals

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“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady

“You know how in postproduction you are supposed to color-correct the picture so everything is smooth and even? Jean-Luc wants the opposite. He wants the rupture. Color and then black and white, or different intensities of color. Or how in this film, sometimes you see the ratio of the frame change after the image begins. That happens when he records from his TV onto his old DVCAM analog machine, which is so old we can’t even find parts when it needs to be repaired. The TV takes time to recognize and adjust to the format on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Whether it’s 1:33 or 1:85. And one of the TVs he uses is slower than the other. He wants to keep all that. I could correct it, but he doesn’t want me to. See, here’s an image from War and Peace. He did the overlays of color—red, white, and blue—using an old analog video effects machine. That’s why you have the blur. When I tried to redo it in digital, I couldn’t. The edges were too sharp. And why the image jitters—I don’t know how he did that. Playing with the cable maybe. Handmade. He wants to see that. It’s a gift from his old machine.”
~ Fabrice Aragno