MCN Originals Archive for November, 2011

Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Friends With Benefits; 30 Minutes or Less; One Day; Island of Lost Souls

     “Friends with Benefits” (Two Stars) U. S.: Will Gluck, 2011 Falling in love is such great movie material that it’s a pity Hollywood screws it up so often, especially  these days. Friends with Benefits is  supposed to be smarter and funnier than the usual pseudo-romantic comedy of today, but it’s really ust another rommie-commie with more (and…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. Cave of Forgotten Dreams

      Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray combo) (Four Stars) Germany/France: Werner Herzog, 2011 (MPI Home Video)   Perhaps 30,000 years ago, or less, in the age of the paleoliths, a man or woman, or a group of them, stood before the walls of the cave of Chauvet, in France,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Sarah’s Key

      Sarah’s Key (Elle s’appelait Sarah) (Three Stars) France: Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2010 (Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay) Sarah‘s Key (Elle s’appelait Sarah) is a movie about public and private tragedies, based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay and filmed with much fidelity and feeling by director-screenwriter Gilles Paquet-Brenner. It’s a good movie, with one…

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Gurus o’ Gold: November 29, 2011

The Gurus start this week with three questions about the award season itself, primarily about the early awards and nominations coming out in November.

Then it’s on to Best Picture, where Hugo is the big mover, and Supporting Actress & Actor, which hasn’t changed much at the top in the last month… but for which the field keeps narrowing.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Artist

        The Artist (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.-France: Michel Hazanavicius The Artist, a movie about the Golden Age of Hollywood, is a superb silent film in black and white by the French writer-director Michel Hazanavicius. It’s an utterly wonderful show: a gloriously anachronistic little film with actors who don’t talk and pictures that…

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20W2O Special: New York First! Film Critics Circle Get Tattooed

“Real” critics groups should not be in the role of negotiating screenings or demanding anything from the studios of film producers. The idea of NYFCC being a proactive player in the awards season, positioning itself to be FIRST! and presuming that studios will follow is a business call, not a show call. And though many of us write about the business in the course of being critics – certainly too much these days… mea culpa – if there is any time that calls for a pure “show” mindset, it’s year-end awards.

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Wilmington on Movies: My Week with Marilyn

    My Week With Marilyn (Three Stars) U.K.: Simon Curtis, 2011 Marilyn Monroe: She was a dream of sex and the ultimate blonde fantasy. She was a smart girl who got rich and famous playing dumb. She was an innocent who played with fire and whose angel-wings burst into flame. And she was a…

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The Weekend Report: November 27, 2011

There was no sunset for Twilight as its fourth incarnation Breaking Dawn ascended to the top of weekend movie sales with an estimated $41.9 million for the three-day slice of the Thanksgiving holiday session.

Three new national releases – all targeted toward family viewing – failed to enliven the festive spirit that came early last weekend but didn’t sustain the merriment. The re-booted The Muppets ranked second with $29.3 million (all figures reflect three-day box office). Two other films targeted that segment with 3D offerings. The animated Arthur Christmas bowed to $12.3 million while the period adventure Hugo arrived at the station with $11.3 million.

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Friday Estimates: November 25, 2011

To no one’s surprise, Twilight continues on top of the heap. It’s followed by FOUR family films, with The Muppets dominating over the other 3, which are right on top of each other.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Descendants

  The Descendants (Four Stars) U.S.: Alexander Payne, 2011  Good things often take a while. But should they? It took director-writer Alexander Payne seven years to make a new film  after his Oscar-winning/box-office/critical triumph with Sideways in 2004.  Considering how good Sideways was, and how much it was liked, that’s a long time. (Too long)….

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Wilmington on Movies: The Muppets

  The Muppets (Three Stars) U.S.: James Bobin, 2011 It’s good to have them back. Jim Henson’s Muppets — among the most delightful puppets and most engaging fuzzy-furry fictional beasties to ever pop out of a TV or movie screen — haven’t been around much in recent years. Oh, once in a while we’ve seen them: a…

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15 Weeks To Oscar: Now There’s A Race

War Horse is for real. It’s a true epic and an instant classic.

The Artist is a real joy. Undeniable. Surprising. An epic pleasure.

It will be interesting to see how this starts to play out… and whether either of the last entries into the race can change the game, perhaps as the movie that wins on a split between two more classically styled films.

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DP/30 Holiday Cornucopia: Albert Nobbs, The Descendants, Happy Feet Two, Hugo, Melancholia, We Need To Talk About Kevin

It’s a holiday weekend. DP/30 allows you to spend some of your down time with Sir Ben Kingsley, George Miller, Glenn Close, John Logan, Tilda Swinton, Kirsten Dunst, the comedy act of Bridges/Lillard/Forster, and others…

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The DVD Wrapup: Super 8, Spy Kids 4, Devil’s Double, Sarah’s Key, Family Tree, Trigger, Helldriver …

Super 8: Blu-ray Spy Kids 4: All Time in the World As residents of the placid Ohio town of Lillian are being rounded up and bussed to an Air Force base – ostensibly to protect them from a mysterious virus – I remembered that I’d seen this movie before, dozens of times in the last…

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Thankful 2011: 15 Years Of Thanks

Being thankful in a time of turmoil is an interesting thing. I find myself more thankful on a daily basis than at any time in this career of covering film and the film industry. And yet, I find myself fearful of what it will all become.

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Gurus o’ Gold: November 22, 2011

As we head into the holiday weekend, The Gurus offer their weekly Best Picture projections.

And this week, the unlikely nominations for which each guru would be thankful. And which choice is being hoped from by 5 of the 14 Gurus? Take a look.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Box Sets: Georges Melies, The Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913); Melies Encores

  This week, happily on my birthday, November 23, a truly wonderful film is opening: Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s amazing and beautiful fiction feature about an inventive  boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a spectacular Parisian railroad station (Modeled on the Gare Montparnasse), and the bearded, embittered shopkeeper he meets there, a man who…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. 12 Angry Men (Lumet); Twelve Angry Men (Schaffner)

  DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC 12 Angry Men (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S.; Sidney Lumet, 1957 (Criterion) The court will rise…   12. Twelve men, jurors in a ’50s murder trial, gather together in the sweltering heat of a New York City afternoon, in a box-like jury room where the fans give little…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Super 8

    Super 8 (Four Stars) U.S.: J. J. Abrams, 2011, Paramount Remember what it was like when you were 12? 14? Twelve, wishing you were fourteen? Remember how magical the world was then? And how magical the movies were: the ones that you really loved and remembered and were really affected by? For me, that was 1958…

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Wilmington on Movies: Happy Feet Two

      Happy Feet Two (Three Stars) U.S.: George Miller, 2011   I’ve got to admit: The first ten minutes or so of Happy Feet Two had me worried — even though I was quite partial to the first 2006 installment of the original, George Miller’s 2006 tale of a tap-dancing penguin named Mumble…

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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