MCN Originals Archive for October, 2011

DP/30: A Dangerous Method, director David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg, once known as a genre director, has become one of the great directors for adults. His latest film follows the evolution of “The Talking Cure” as bounced between Freud & Jung and a patient who becomes much more than a patient, Sabina Spielrein. We talk about the film, the remarkable actors in it, and why his romance with film is still a work-in-progress.

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Wilmington on Movies: Puss in Boots

    Puss in Boots (Four Stars) U.S.: Chris Miller, 2011 This review is dedicated to my friend Pica. Another Shrek movie, or, more accurately, a series spin-off? Another super-spectacular feature cartoon? Another big studio lollapalooza, this time from DreamWorks? In 3D yet? Didn’t sound artistically promising, even when the receipts started pouring in. But…

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19 Weeks To Oscar (20W2O) Charts: October 23, 2011

With 19 weeks to go, the Oscar race has barely moved. The only real event of the last week was the successful release of Tintin in 19 countries overseas.

That’s all about to change. In the next 3 weeks, most of the award season will take root. All but a couple of the contenders will be exposed to the light. Talent will be filling the corridors of LA’s hotels and screening rooms at a nearly insane level. Some will rise. Some will fall.

But for now… animation.

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The Weekend Report: October 30, 2011

The Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots was initially expected to open north of $40 million but expectations were pared back to $35 million to $40 million as opening day loomed. The audience skewed 59% female and 55% were 25 years old and up according to exit polls (family stats were unavailable). Once again 3D underperformed with those engagements accounting for roughly two-thirds of the compliment and 51% of the box office while Imax dates were 7% of the total.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary (Three Stars) U.S.: Bruce Robinson, 2011   The movie The Rum Diary, which I liked, is based — loosely, but that’s all right — on the novel that Hunter S. Thompson wrote when he was 22, a young guy, before “Hell’s Angels,” before “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” before “The Great Shark…

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Friday Estimates: October 28, 2011

Puss In Boots delivers a decent off-season number for an animated film, winning the weekend, but not setting off fireworks. Modest launches for In Time and The Rum Diary. Paranormal Activity, taking an outsized hit vs last Friday’s numbers, is holding surprisingly well. And DW’s Real Steel takes a punch badly for the first time, probably at the hands of DWA’s Puss.

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DP/30 on Anonymous

Roland Emmerich takes on Shakespeare in his latest film… and Avon doesn’t even catch on fire, much less get obliterated. Hear from him, his two leading men who play one character at two ages (Rhys Ifans & Jamie Campbell Bower), and the screenwriter who worked for years to get it to the screen in 3 half-hour conversations.

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19 Weeks To Oscar: The Mean Season?

It’s a tough year for Oscar voters. Lots of great movies… but not too many that will leave them walking out of the theater with a smile on their face for the whole human race. Insanity, rape, murder, sex addiction, 9/11, and even one of the “feel goods” is about sacrificing something you love for your country. Fun Fun Fun!

(Charts to come.)

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: Classic. Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins

Two by Claude Chabrol: Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins France: Claude Chabrol, 1958/1959 (Criterion Collection) Le Beau Serge (France: Claude Chabrol, 1958) (Four Stars) With Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele Meritz, Philippe De Broca, Jacques Rivette. (In French, with English subtitles.) Les Cousins (France: Claude Chabrol, 1959) (Four Stars) With Gerard Blain, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michele…

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DP/30: Anonymous, director Roland Emmerich

You know him as a destroyer of continents, from Independence Day to The Day After Tomorrow to 2012, he’s blown stuff up real good. But in Anonymous, Roland Emmerich takes on a complex drama based on fact and delivers an incredibly entertaining movie that also makes you think real hard. He taped this DP/30 at The Toronto Film Festival.

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The DVD Wrapup:Captain America, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Aftershock, Father of Invention, Winnie the Pooh, Rare Exports, Shaolin …

Captain America: The First Avenger The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Volumes 3, 4 A couple of months ago, in reviewing the 1990 adaptation of “Captain America,” I wondered how the no-frills version would measure up to the monster-budget “The First Avenger,” which I had yet to see. Not surprisingly, the special effects in the 2011…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. City of Life and Death

  City of Life and Death (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) China: Chuan Lu, 2009 (Kino International) I. The Rape of Nanking In December, 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Nanking (now “Nanjing“), the erstwhile capital city of beleaguered China. Hell followed them. For the next few weeks, that army went on one of the worst massacres,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. Winnie the Pooh

“Winnie the Pooh” (Two disc Blu-ray/DVD; Also Three disc Blu-ray 3D/DVD/Digital) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall; 2011 (Walt Disney)   Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin… A. A. Milne   He was one of the boon…

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20 Weeks To Oscar (20W2O) Charts: October 23, 2011

We are now on the 20 week road to Oscar and here, to go with
the first column of this year’s series, are the first set of post-Toronto charts for Best Picture and the four acting categories. Six unseen movies are still major question marks in all of the races, especially Best Picture, which could have anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees this year.

(BP Chart corrected, Monday 11:30a)

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The Weekend Report, October 23, 2011

If there was ever a whiff of doubt about spooks or horror franchises, the bow of Paranormal Activity 3 exorcised skeptics with an estimated $53.5 million that dominated weekend ticket sales. The session also featured two other national newcomers. The umpteenth The Three Musketeers (in 3D!) got fenced into fourth spot with $8.7 million while Johnny English Reborn bowed to an Oh Oh $3.8 million. The latter two films have fared considerably better overseas where they’ve respectively grossed $55 million and $90 million.

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Friday Estimates, October 21, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 has become a regular activity for October fright fans, not only sure to beat its own opening record as a franchise, but looking at taking the crown as best October opener ever from Paramount’s champ from just last year, Jackass 3D. The 3D Musketeers couldn’t get to 3K on opening day. And Johnny English wasn’t reborn for long before dying at the American box office.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers (Two Stars) U.S.: Paul W. S. Anderson, 2011 Tous pour un, un pour tous. Alexandre Dumas pere “The Three Musketeers” — Alexandre Dumas’ quintessential swashbuckling adventure tale of three crack swordsmen and lusty comrades (Athos, Porthos and Aramis) and the hothead/country bumpkin (D’Artganan) whom they befriend and help turn into a world-class,…

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Line Dance

20 years of Oscar consultants, in-house and out, figuring out how to game the system, and a decade of deteriorating media standards has led to an out-of-date response mechanism at The Academy, which just wants to do what it’s been doing all these years and to protect, as best they can, their membership from being prayed upon by the vultures.

But where is the line?

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Wilmington on DVDs, The Rest: Bad Teacher; Page One: Inside the New York Times

Bad Teacher (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jake Kasdan, 2011 (Columbia) Seen any good movies lately? Good movies? Not really. But I saw a bad movie last Wednesday. I mean, a really bad movie. This movie was  sooooo bad…. How bad was it?… So bad that they put “bad” in the actual title! Like they were…

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The DVD Wrapup: Pirates of Caribbean, Willy Wonka’s 40th, Robotech, Bad Teacher, Captains, Harakiri, Salo, Names of Love, Baaria, Shock Doctrine, Leningrad Cowboys, A Better Life …

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Blu-ray Call me old-fashioned, I was far more turned on by the swashbuckling action in the first half hour of “POC4,” than the entire search for the Fountain of Youth that followed it. Outside King George’s courtroom, a crowd of blood-thirsty Brits is salivating in anticipation of Captain…

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MCN Originals

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“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