MCN Originals Archive for January, 2012

Wilmington on Movies: Man on a Ledge

Man on a Ledge has that slick, self-satisfied gleam movies can get when they cost too much and they’re stuffed with formula and clichés and stars, and nobody can do anything about it. It also has a plot so preposterous, motivations so inane, and an ending so bonkers that the only possible way to play them may be for laughs, if the show were good at comedy.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Grey

At its best, The Grey reminds you of such classics as Boorman’s and Dickey’s Deliverance, or Lev Kuleshov‘s London-derived Russian silent Outside the Law, or even a flawed but exciting show like Lee Tamahori’s and David Mamet’s The Edge, The Grey makes the wilderness a terrifying place. And it works, sometimes smashingly.

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The Weekend Report: Wolf at the Door

There was a lack of Lupophobia at the multiplex as The Grey ascended to the top of the weekend movie charts with an estimated $19.5 million debut. Two other national bows figured into the top five with the romantic actioner One For the Money slotted third with $11.7 million and the suspenseful Man on a Ledge two notches back at $7.9 million.

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Friday Estimates, January 27, 2012

Open Road’s first big opening comes with The Grey, which should be in the top 5 of all indie openings for the last year. Meanwhile, Lionsgate returns to HeiglLand, not breaking any records, but continuing to make an argument that Ms. Heigl can consistently open movies to 8 figures. And SummitGate’s Man On A Ledge fell off.

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DP/30: Sundance 2012 Interviews Sneak Peek

The experience of Sundance is a melange of images, ideas, personalities, and passions. And that’s before you even see the movies. Here is a quick look at some of that energy via the filmmakers.

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Gurus o’ Gold: 1st Ranking Of Oscar Nominees In All Categories (Pt 2 of 2)

As they offer 13 more Oscar categories (everything but shorts), The Gurus are predicting that The Artist will win three big prizes on Oscar night… but Hugo will dominate the evening with 5 Oscar wins. Is it likely that Best Picture, Director, and Score will stand alone?

Can The Help score Best Actress and Supporting Actress and nothing else?

These and more questions… as The Gurus turn.

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Gross Behavior: Leonard On Bingham

Bingham had a number of virtues few of us can claim. He didn’t hold many grudges and wasn’t someone prone to gotcha politics. When we talked it was a true discussion whether it was one-on-one or in a group. He wasn’t diplomatic, not that he was abusive or dogmatic. Bing simply spoke his mind and that was fine, mostly, when he was running October Films with Jeff Lipsky and problematic when he worked for others.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Real Steel, Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), Welcome to L.A.

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC
Identification of a Woman (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars)
Italy: Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982 (Criterion Collection)

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The DVD Wrapup: Real Steel, Whistleblower, 8 more

Everyone in the movie looks as if they belong there, except Jackman, whose Charlie Keaton is altogether too soft and unscarred to be a broken-down boxer and hard-drinking grease monkey. Kids who only know the Aussie actor through his “Wolverine” persona won’t mind the discrepancy.

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Gurus o’ Gold: 1st Ranking Of Oscar Nominees In All Categories (Pt 1 of 2)

The Gurus have their first group of post-nomination projections. (The other categories will be published tomorrow.) There is a tie at the top of one category, and two categories out of these 8 that are unanimous.

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The Oscar Nominations

“And to the Academy: “You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.” – tweeted Albert Brooks on his non-nomination

The full list of nominations:

Full List of Nominations
Nominations by Picture
Sidebar
Nominee Reactions

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Oscar Nod Morning

There are few real surprises in the Oscar nominations today.

1. Demian Bichir vanquished Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio to get a Best Actor nomination.

2. Albert Brooks got left out… trumped by Jonah Hill and Max von Sydow.

3. 9 nominations for Best Picture… a surprisingly wide spread.

4. Extremely Close & Incredibly Loud got nominated for Best Picture ahead of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

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Wilmington on Movies: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

          EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen Daldry, 2012   I don’t want to come across as mean and heartless here, but, though there were parts of it I liked a lot,  the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close affected me something like a persistent urchin…

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Wilmington on Movies. Red Tails

            RED TAILS (Three Stars) U. S.; Anthony Hemingway, 2012   There are two ways to look at Red Tails, producer George Lucas’s long-gestating  World War II movie about the storied all-black Air Force unit, The Tuskegee Airmen. You can see the show as a big spectacular action movie, with incredible…

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The Weekend Report: Float Like a Butterfly … Sting Like a Bee

The debut of Underworld: Awakening led weekend ticket sales with an estimated $25.2 million. Two other films bowed nationally and a fourth platformed after four weeks in Oscar-qualifying exclusives. The saga of the Second World War Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, ranked second with $19.1 million and the take no prisoners actioner Haywire kicked out with $8.9 million. Wedged in-between was the expansion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in position four with $10.4 million.

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DP/30 @ Sundance 2012: West of Memphis, director Amy Berg, producer Peter Jackson

There’s a brand new doc on the West Memphis 3 story coming to Sundance with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Lorri Davis, and Damien Echols as producers, and Oscar-nominated documentarian Amy Berg directing. After years in production, new material was being edited into the film just last weekend.

We discussed the history of the film and the case while Amy & Peter finished the film in New Zealand.

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Sundance Preview: Documentary Premieres

Yes, the Paradise Lost films followed this story for years, and you could argue that they’ve said much of what there is to say about the West Memphis Three. But Amy Berg, who previously made the outstanding, Oscar-nominated doc Deliver Us From Evil (which was on my top ten list in 2006) is sure to have a compelling take on the topic that will make West of Memphis one of the docs to catch at Sundance this year.

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The DVD Wrapup: Moneyball, Dirty Girl, Bombay Beach, Division III, The Overcoat, Belle du Jour, Mysteries of Lisbon, Cold Sweat …

Moneyball: Blu-ray The term, “inside baseball,” often is used when a conversation about anything from politics to food preparation becomes so complex that only a professional could possibly understand its complexities. While it isn’t always used in a derogatory way, the term does suggest that one participant is attempting to dazzle the other with numbers,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: New. The Ides of March

  Despite my low-to-moderate rating of The Ides Of March, I still believe it’s a movie that should be seen by all movie types. Which is why it’s a co-pick.   The Ides of March (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: George Clooney, 2011 (Sony Pictures)   Why in Hell did George Clooney make a movie…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Mysteries of Lisbon

    MYSTERIES OF LISBON (Four Stars)  Portugal: Raoul Ruiz, 2010-11 (Music Box Films) Take the book down from the shelf. Open the pages. Interesting title. “‘Mysteries of Lisbon”…    Raoul Ruiz’s mesmerizing movie Mysteries of Lisbon, which was adapted from Camilo Castelo Branco’s 19th century novel about psychological/romantic torment in the Portuguese upper classes,…

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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