MCN Originals Archive for March, 2012

Piracy, Again? Arrrrrggggh.

When is pirating movies not stealing something you didn’t pay for out of a misguided sense of self-entitlement? According to Mike D’Angelo, it’s not stealing if he does it, at least. Or it is stealing, but he’s entitled to steal it. Or at the very least, hey, stealing’s not bad if you’re only pirating movies you really, really want to watch on Blu-ray but don’t want to buy. Or if you delete it after you watch it, if you don’t like it, or add to your wish list to purchase for when you decide you can afford it. Got it?

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Friday Box Office Estimates: March 30, 2013

“The Hunger Games” is still eating everything in sight, tracking slightly ahead of the best of the “Twilight” numbers, meaning that $300m domestic is still in view. “The Titans” were willing to go up against Katniss’ wrath, but paid a price with less than half the first remake’s opening day numbers. And “Mirror Mirror” fits nicely on Relativity’s wall of mediocre launches.

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The DVD Wrapup: Dangerous Method, Broken Tower, Delta… More

The way Mátyás Erdély’s camera lingers on natural phenomena recalls the haunting imagery that distinguishes the Terrence Malick, Bela Tarr and Andrei Tarkovski. In Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s “Delta,” depictions of the area’s natural beauty run contrary to the ugliness of the local male population, whose only mission in life appears to be diminishing the potential for happiness in others.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Extremely Loud & Incrdibly Close

        EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen Daldry, 2012 (Warner Bros.) 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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The Weekend Report: March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games set a slew of records and debuted to a jaw dropping estimated $153.6 million. Nuff said. The competition decided there was little point to even consider a counter-programmer. But in the niches Bollywood offered Agent Vinod that bowed to an OK $440,000 at 121 venues.

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“The Hunger Games” only leaves you hungrier – and that’s the point

“This is the time to show them everything. Make sure they remember you.” These words of advice given to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) right before she’s introduced to the enthusiastic fans of the upcoming televised death match, might also have been whispered to director Gary Ross, he of Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Taking on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy is certainly no small feat. Capturing the complex allegorical themes depicted in Collins’ book, portraying the anguish and ambivalence experienced by its heroine, doing justice to the impersonal elitism as well as the very personal violence and horror of this story: These would be enormous challenges for any director.

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Friday Estimates: March 23, 2012

No one’s going hungry at Lionsgate this month, as Katniss & Co take “go big or go home” to the extreme. The $66.3m is the biggest opening day of a non-sequel in history and #5 all-time without qualifiers, almost doubling the opening day of the first Twilight.

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Review: The Hunger Games

I’m not going to dissect the similarities and differences between The Hunger Games and Battle Royale, Koushun Takami’s 1999 Japanese pulp novel (adapted a year later into one of my favorite violent, equally pulpy moves of all time), which had a similar storyline about teens forced to battle to the death. Suffice it to say that yes, the general ideas and underlying themes of the two are similar, but while Battle Royale is good bloody dystopian fun, I think The Hunger Games has a better, more completely drawn story and interweaving of theme. And it has Katniss Everdeen, who’s a completely kick-ass female protagonist.

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Doc Proves Rumors Of Pentagram Singer’s Death Greatly Exaggerated

If Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ever decides to dedicate a wing specifically to those musicians who’ve lived the life and survived to tell their tales, several obvious candidates would emerge immediately: Keith Richards, Brian Wilson and Steven Tyler would be inducted on the first ballot; second-ballot entries might include Iggy, Sly, Ozzy, Bret, Gregg, Roky, Hank Jr. Stevie, Shane and the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who didn’t die in the 1977 plane crash that claimed their mates. Any participant in a 12-step program with more than two near-death experiences to their credit could also apply for consideration.

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DVD Geek: World on a Wire

Way, way before The Matrix, before Blade Runner and before umpteen Japanese anime tales, Fassbinder not only understood the epistemological paradoxes of cyberworlds, he understood how to communicate those paradoxes to viewers in an entertaining and engrossing manner.

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The DVD Wrapup: Carnage, Louder Than a Bomb, Dragon Tattoo, Gainsbourg… More

Say what you will about Roman Polanski, the man can still direct movies.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. On the Bowery

On the Bowery is Lionel Rogosin’s legendary 1956 documentary about men who drink, set in the derelict bars, flophouses and missions of New York City‘s Bowery in the ’50s. Now beautifully restored in 35 mm by Milestone Films, this black and white film chronicle of a short season in hell below the 3rd Avenue El, is an almost unbearably honest film.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Sitter, Louder Than a Bomb, Hop

Well, I’ve had it. After defending David Gordon Green for making Pineapple Express, a controversially violent stoner comedy that I think is well-acted, well-directed and hot-damn funny, I find myself confronted with this silly-ass comedy and harebrained Jonah Hill vehicle The Sitter, a movie that tries to stuff the white-boy car-crash raunch of The Blues Brothers and the paranoid comedy of After Hours into the kids-out-all-night plot of Adventures of Babysitting, and comes up with something just this side of Adventures in Idiocy or maybe Francis the Talking Mule Goes to a Swinger’s Club or maybe Plan 9 from a Night at the Roxbury.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Muppets

Rooney Mara is no Noomi Rapace. At least when it comes to playing superpunk, black-jacketed, neo-noir heroines with burning eyes, pierced eyelids and deadly temperaments. But she’s close.

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Wilmington on Movies: 21 Jump Street

I may have missed those laughs, but since 21 Jump Street is already a certifiable big hit — and even a certifiable critical hit — nothing I can say is likely to resonate one way or another. The fact that I found it not very funny, not very entertaining, visually scrappy, and full of dopey scenes that made little or no sense will count for little or nothing here in Box Office Mega Land.

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The Weekend Report: March 18, 2012

The reinvention of the bygone TV show was the sole new wide release while other freshmen aimed for niche crowds in hopes of building to bigger platforms. However, the prospects for expansion weren’t bountiful for either the comedic spin on Latin machismo in Casa de mi Padre or the sophisticated slackerisms of Jeff Who Lives at Home. The former grossed $2.2 million at 382 locations while the couch potato mashed $820,000 from 254 ovens.

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Wilmington on Movies: Casa de mi Padre

When good actors play bad actors giving bad performances in a bad movie, there’s a thin line — between bad and good and bad-good or good-bad. One can appreciate the subtle self-effacing skill involved in bad-as-good movie-making and acting. But aren’t these people taking away work from genuinely bad actors?

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Moment of Truth

By the end of the film, after Rosi and the audience have followed a young bullfighter, Miguel or “Miguelin,” from provincial poverty all the way to fame in Barcelona and Madrid, to the brink of massacre, and to the moment of truth, of oblivion, that every matador, every bull, every screaming member of the crowd, must feel or face in their own ways — at the end of all that, in the presence of our God and a church, we sense that we‘ve seen not just seen an exotic entertainment, but that we’ve had a life experience. It’s a terrifying film, and a wondrous one, and, as you watch it, it drains your heart and guts, as it stares fiercely into the sun, like Kurosawa.

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The DVD Wrapup: Descendants, Marilyn, Young Adult, Bellissima, More

“Bellissima” features a tour de force performance by Anna Magnani as a fame-obsessed stage mother, whose only moderately talented daughter becomes a pawn in a game designed to impress studio executives looking for the next big child star. Magnani’s Maddalena Ciccone is so self-centered and determined to win the contest that she fails to notice how much pain she’s causing little Maria and her husband, Spartaco, whose dreams of building a house for them diminishes with every dollar Maddalena spends on photographs, costumes and bribes.

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Wilmington on DVDs: My Week with Marilyn, Happy Feet Two, The Three Musketeers, The Geisha Boy

Then there’s Michelle Williams as Marilyn herself. I said above that nobody could catch Marilyn’s magic. No one can. But Michelle Williams comes close. She does a wonderful job, manages to get some of her body and a bit of her soul. And some of her blonde haired beauty, the kind gentlemen prefer. (Gentlemen, hah!)

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“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