MCN Originals Archive for February, 2012

DVD Wrapup: Myth of American Sleepover, Hugo … More

David Robert Mitchell’s debut feature easily qualifies as one of the most criminally under-screened and neglected movies of the young century. While Hollywood continues to search in vain for the new John Hughes and independents hope to capture the same lightning in a bottle as “American Pie,” “The Myth of the American Sleepover” was there all along. Even in DVD, it succeeds at almost every level in capturing the joys, angst and insanity of being a teenager in middle-class America.

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The Weekend Report, February 26, 2012

Oscar went bump in the night as the mockuventure Act of Valor ascended to the top of the weekend ticket charts with an estimated $24.7 million. Runnerup was another freshman _ Good News from Tyler Perry _ with $15.6 million. Further done the list the comedic Wanderlust bowed to a disappointing $6.6 million and the thriller Gone went missing with $4.8 million.

In the niches the hockey antics of Goon grossed a solid $1.1 million in Canada while a trio of Indian imports failed to shake up that sector of domestic box office. Exclusive starter were largely inert save for the controversial Albanian drama The Forgiveness of Blood that opened to $29,700 at three venues.

This weekend’s projection is up 23% from last year.

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GROSS BEHAVIOR

Now, let’s consider a film financed, written and developed in France that stars two French actors and was shot, edited and scored by French folk. It’s called The Artist and on Friday was named best French film of the year at the Cesars in Paris. And, believe it or not, on Saturday was cited as the quintessence of American independent cinema by the Spirit Awards.

What makes The Artist soooo American?

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DP/30: The Artist, actors Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo

We spoke to Jean & Berenice back in November, the afternoon after their AFI opening night went into the wee hours. The conversation was as much about the language barrier as it was about the movie itself.

There’s a lot of info about making the movie, but there’s an awful lot of laughter and lulls coming out of not quite understanding one another all the time. But a couple of months later, it feels like an amusing landmark on the way to The Oscars. Hope you enjoy.

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Wilmington on Movies: Act of Valor

With its cast of real-life Navy Seals playing characters based on themselves, in a script partly drawn from real life, in scenes that the Seals actors helped design and choreograph, Act of Valor should really be the last word in Seals combat realism.

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3 Days To Oscar: Pissing on The Artist

Here is the question I ask people when they make a face after they ask, “What’s going to win?” and I say, “The Artist” (as I have since September). “We all now there are some excellent films that are nominated. Is there any one of the nine this year that you feel desperately needs to win… should win Best Picture?”

In almost every case, I get a blank stare and some mumbling.

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Gurus o’ Gold: The Last Gasp

The Gurus make their final calls this week in two ways. First, there is a chart of categories that are the most likely to end up in Oscar night upsets.

And then, specific changes in specific races by specific Gurus. Some made as many as four changes, some made none. Many of the changes brought outlying picks into conformity with the rest of the group. A few went against the grain. But all of the categories in which changes have been made are listed.

Here is the full list of the Final Gurus Predictions

Here are last week’s final charts for your perusal as well.

Have a great Oscar night. The Gurus know you will.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Tower Heist

Tower Heist. Wheww! That was one hell of a movie. Hell of a movie! Brett Ratner: Rush Hour! Rush Hour 2!!. Rush Hour 3!!! He‘s one moviemaker who can really make a movie move. Didn’t ya think?

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DVD Geek: Design for Living

Made before the Production Code cleaned up his innuendos and flagrant sexual metaphors, Lubitsch constantly teases the viewer with his balancing act of sharing and hiding what the characters are thinking and doing. Almost as an afterthought, each man’s fortunes rise because of his association with Hopkins’ character, and yet, for each, it is a downward trajectory of spirit when she turns her attentions elsewhere.

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The DVD Wrapup: J. Edgar, Puss in Boots, On the Bowery, more

It’s the rare documentarian whose sympathizes don’t lie with common men and women, especially those dealt a weak hand at birth. Compassion isn’t something that can be taught at film school, like cinematography, history and theory. It pretty much has to be bred in the bone.

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Wilmington on DVDs. J. Edgar

This is a movie you should see both for its storytelling skills and the intense interest of the story it tells. So the hell what if it’s not constructed like the usual movie. Who wants it to be?

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6 Days To Oscar: You Might Be An Asshole If…

YOU MIGHT BE AN OSCAR ASSHOLE IF… you write about how this filmmaker or that filmmaker was too busy chasing Oscar to make the movie they should have made.

As someone who actually has fairly lengthy conversations with almost every filmmaker who has made an Oscar nominated picture in the last five years or more, I am particularly conscious how stupid and self-serving this notion is.

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Wilmington on Movies: Ghost Rider

No screenings for critics here on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — for reasons that become quickly apparent when you watch it — so I decided to fork over coin of the realm anyway and catch it at a multiplex. After all, I thought, how bad could it be? I mean really: How bad?

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The Weekend Report: Feb 17-19, 2012

Weekend box office pushed to about $160 million and a 12% slippage for the three-day portion of the holiday frame. It was however 9% improved from the comparable 2011 session when newcomers Unknown and I Am Number Four ranked one and three in the lineup with $21.8 million and $19.4 million.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance had been tipped to top the charts by pundits with estimates in the low to mid $30 million range. While hardly a review driven title, the picture received withering response and diminished the crowd composed 61% male and 52% aged 25 years older plus. According to studio sources just 352 playdates were 3D engagements and accounted for 72% of box office … but those details seem highly questionable.

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Friday Estimates: February 18, 2012

The Vow continues to hold the lead, keeping the return of Ghost Rider in the 2 spot. And Safe House, in #3, holds off This Is War.

In holdovers, The Woman in Black has become CBS Films’ highest domestic grosser. And Star Wars: Episode 1’s 3D re-release has to be seen as a bit of a bust.

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9 Days to Oscar: In Memoriam

Voting closes Tuesday… but the die is pretty much cast at this point.

In the 9 days to come, there will be plenty of conversation about the nominees and who should or should not win. But at this moment in the season, I find myself thinking about the ones that got left behind.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Secret World of Arrietty

Who, I pondered, were the craftsmen who made all the wonderful furniture and clothes and hand-crafted-looking household items that graced the Clocks’ house? Did these objects come from dollhouses? Are Pod and Homily master artisans as well as brilliant borrowers? As I said, I thought about it, but not much.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Mozart’s Sister

The movie begins lyrically, with a scene that recalls the openings of both Bergman’s The Magician and Max Ophuls’ Lola Montes: the Mozart family traveling to an engagement in a nearly broken down coach through the woods. When it does break down, we’re made painfully aware of how vulnerable their existence really is, the dilemma of many artists.

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The DVD Wrapup: Take Shelter, Tiny Furniture, More …

You’ll either buy into Aura and her world or you’ll find Tiny Furniture excruciatingly pretentious and boring.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn; A Fish Called Wanda

The movie, despite its hollow dialogue and sometimes punishing slow pace, does look sort of good. But it seems odd at times that this movie was directed by a man who made a movie about the Kinsey Report.

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MCN Originals

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“Most of these women were in their early twenties. Most of them refused to go any further with him, but a few went to dinner, or to some sort of casting situation, or to someplace private… if the stories were just about some crazed sex addict who approaches thousands of women on the street trying to get laid, I wouldn’t be posting this now. I don’t want to be attacking every Hollywood douchebag who hits on countless women. That type of behavior isn’t cool, but I think it’s important to separate douchebaggery from any kind of sexual coercion. But the women I talked to who DID go someplace private with Toback, told stories that were worse than the women only accosted on the street… So I did what I could do in my impotent state – for over twenty years now, I’ve been bringing up James Toback every chance I could in groups of people. I couldn’t stop him, but I could warn people about him… I’ve been hoping the Weinstein/O’Reilly stuff would bring this vampire into the light (him and a couple others, frankly). So I was happy today to wake up to this story in the L. A. Times.”
~ James Gunn

“BATTLE OF THE SEXES: Politics and queerness as spectacle/spectacle as politics and queerness. Pretty delightful, lovely, erotic. A-

“Not since EASY A and CABARET have I seen Emma Stone give a real sense of her range. Here, she has pathos and interiority and desire. I love the cinematography and the ways in which the images of the tennis icons are refracted and manipulated via various surfaces/mediators. Also, wild how a haircut is one of the most erotic scenes in cinema this year. Spine tinglingly tactile that feels refreshing. Proof that *cough* you don’t need to be ~graphic/explicit~ to be erotic *cough*. Also, it made me want to get into tennis. Watching it, at least.

“There are interesting touches and intimations as to the cinematic nature of sports, & unpacking the formal approach of broadcasting sports.Also, I was here for Sarah Silverman smoking. And also, hi Mickey Sumner!! It’s a really interesting film about the ways in which public spectacle is never apolitical, and how spectacle is prone to assignation.

“There’s this one other scene from BATTLE OF THE SEXES that I love, and it’s the one in the bar. You see Billie looking after Marilyn as she dances. Through a crowd. There’s a paradoxical closeness and distance between them. In the purple light, and the kitschy decor, everything is distorted. But Billie catches a glance and you can feel the nervous swell inside.”
~ Kyle Turner