MCN Originals Archive for September, 2011

Wilmington on Movies: 50/50

50/50 (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jonathan Levine, 2011   Your best friend looks you in the face and tells you that he’s dying. Wait a minue, it’s not quite like that…He tells you that he has a rare form of spinal cancer and that his chances of survival, according to the doctors, are 50/50….

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DP/30: Melancholia, actors Alexander Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is rolling on to the NY Film Festival in the next week. We chatted with two of the stars, Alexander Skarsgard and Kiefer Sutherland, about working with Lars, pushing the envelope as actors, and the film’s amazing cast.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic, Blu-ray. Strike

     PICK OF THE WEEK: Classic/Blu-ray Strike (Stachka) (Four Stars) U.S.S.R./Russia: Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 (Kino Classics) 1. Eisenstein  In 1925, Sergei Eisenstein, a rich architect’s son who had become a passionate convert to Communism during the Russian Revolution and afterward a brilliant theatrical director with the Proletkult Theatre of Moscow, directed two silent films…

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DP/30 @ TIFF 2011: Take Shelter, wr/dir Jeff Nichols, actors MIchael Shannon, Jessica Chastain

Jeff Nichols’ second feature, like his first, Shotgun Stories, is thrilling and challenging audiences. By his side again is Michael Shannon, who has risen from obscurity to awards bait actor. And by Mike’s side, Jessica Chastain, who has risen from obscurity to ubiquitous awards bait just this year. Meet the trio.

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The DVD Wrapup: Transformers, Angel of Evil, Dumbo, Viva Riva!, Phantom Carriage, The Stool Pigeon, Hung, Kojak …

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Blu-ray The third installment in the “Transformers” franchise, “Dark of the Moon,” locates the decisive battle for the preservation of mankind in downtown Chicago. The Windy City residents have experienced seen more than their fair share of disasters since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern that triggered the Great…

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DP/30 Short End: The Ides of March, actor Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti is the bad guy in George Clooney’s new film, The Ides of Match… or is he? Here’s an easy going chat with one of the great actors/characters of this generation.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Transformers Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Also Blu-ray) (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…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Carlos

  Carlos (Three and a Half Stars) France: Olivier Assayas, 2010 (Criterion Collection) In his excellent political thriller/biographical drama Carlos, Olivier Assayas makes an epic of 20th century revolution, an incendiary subject, but a film hot at heart yet cool on the surface, out of the ugly, exciting  story of the terrorist “Carlos,” a would-be political idealist who became a killer…

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Gurus o Gold – Post-TIFF 2011

The Gurus are back again for an early season sneak peak after the Toronto International Film Festival. Moneyball and The Help are the big risers, Ides of March is the dropper.

And in Best Actor, the chart is led by 4 very familiar leading men… and a Frenchman, while in Best Actress, 3 serious make-up performances by previous nominees meets the deep South and the deep South African.

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Wilmington on Movies: Love Crime

  Love Crime (Three Stars) France: Alain Corneau, 2010 Movie murder mysteries can sometimes get too tricky and convoluted for their own good, and that’s pretty much what happens in Love Crime (Crime d’Amour),  a fine, itelligent, neatly made little French film neo-noir that would have been even better if it didn’t try so hard to outsmart us…

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Wilmington on Movies: Moneyball

   (Four Stars) U. S.: Bennett Miller  It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you read the spreadsheet.     For many Americans, baseball is a great American game, and a great American sports myth as well — and it’s also, at times, a business, a gamble, a crud-boatload of media hype, and, last…

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The Weekend Report: September 25, 2011

The Lion King continued to roar with an estimated $22.1 million gross that placed it at the top of weekend viewing charts. Four debuting films ranked right behind. The critically acclaimed baseball opus Moneyball bowed to $20.4 million and the family targeted Dolphin Tale opened with $19.9 million. Movie goers were less enthusiastic for premiering action fare with Abduction garnering $11 million and Killer Elite trailing on a $9.4 million box office.

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Friday Estimates: September 23, 2011

Brad Pitt launches on top of the weekend box office with strong reviews for Moneyball, but Klady’s estimates suggest that The Lion King 3D could come from behind for the weekend win. Suffering for the success of the Lion relaunch is WB’s Dolphin Tale, which opened to a respectable estimate of $5.1m. In 4th and 5th, two action movies that are also pulling off the same demographic at their own peril.

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Wilmington on Movies: Killer Elite

  (Two Stars) U.S.: Gary McKendry, 2011 There are lots of reasons to get irritated with Killer Elite — a big-bucks, big-star, mucho-macho, heavy-duty actioner that throws up several hours of murkily photographed violence, preachy dialogue and byzantine plot twists, while wasting three good actors — Jason Statham, Clive Owen and, sadly enough, Robert De…

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Mini-Review: Moneyball

Moneyball is a giant movie star giving what would seem to be a giant movie star performance that isn’t really a giant movie star performance at all in a movie that is really made for the arthouse.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Captain America: The First Avenger, Dziga and His Brothers, The Killer is Loose, The Song of Songs,This is the Night

“Captain America: The First Avenger” (Two Stars) U.S.: Joe Johnston, 2011 I don’t mean to be a grouch, but Captain America — stalwart crime and monster-buster of  the  new Marvel epic Captain America: The First Avenger — struck me as one of the duller superheroes I’ve seen recently. That’s despite one of the more amazing special effects…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set/Blu-ray. Visions of Europe

 (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Roy A. Hammond (aerial director/executive producer), Sam Toperoff (producer/editor/writer), 2001-9 (Acorn Media) One of the most visually stunning travelogue series ever, the “Visions” sets from WLIW in New York offer spectacular aerial tours of the great sights of Europe, shot in gorgeous high definition cinematography, accompanied by fairly typical…

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DVD Geek: Source Code

There is a romantic component to the story, naturally, and more than one life affirming, love affirming conclusion, leaving a viewer feeling both happy and satisfied, several times, after a stimulating and exciting ride. Jake Gyllenhaal stars, with Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright. In that the film also evokes aspects of Quantum Leap, there is a cleverly chosen cameo appearance by Scott Bakula.

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The DVD Wrapup: HitRECord, The Tempest, Bride Flight, Inspector General, The Caller, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Claude Chabrol, Mike Hammer …

HitRECord Recollection, Volume 1 The entertainment industry has been trying to mine gold from the Internet for almost two decades now, desperately searching for ways to distribute movies, music and other formats safely and economically. Some have succeeded, while most others have simply failed or disappeared without a digital footprint left behind. The wiseguys say…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic/Box Set. The Complete Jean Vigo

  (Two Discs) (Four Stars) France: Jean Vigo, 1930-34 (Criterion Collection)   I. Jean Vigo, The Rebel  He died at 29: Jean Vigo, in many ways, the spirit of youth, of art, of cinematic rebellion, of France between the wars. He was the sacred enfant terrible and the laughing rebel and grand martyr of French…

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MCN Originals

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin