MCN Originals Archive for May, 2012

The DVD Wrapup: Talk About Kevin, more

Plus Aggression Scale, Maverick, Coriolanus, Harry Belafonte, Ernie Kovacs: The ABC Specials
, New York Stories and Highlights of the 2012 Masters Tournament.

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Review: Snow White & The Huntsman (Conceptual Spoilers Only)

Swimming through the thick subtext, Snow White is, really, what evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) could have been… had she had the opportunity to remain unsullied… beauty and kindness and toughness. Ravenna is not only trying to kill Snow for her direct benefit, but she is trying to kill the representation, in flesh, of what she might have been.

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Suddenly, the great Swedish cop Wallander is everywhere …

If one were to judge the crime rate in Sweden strictly by the number of mysteries, you’d think it was a haven for sociopaths, drug runners and gangbangers.

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Review: Prometheus (Spoiler-Free)

The thing about Prometheus is that it is the first true Science Fiction movie from a major studio in years. i know that a lot of movies are positioned as sci-fi. But watching Prometheus, I felt like science and fiction were pushing me, as an audience member, to think about the ideas being presented in a fairly complex way. This was not, as Alien itself was, a genre film of a different sort with sci-fi elements superimposed on top of it (brilliantly, in that case). This film is about ideas. This film is about whether there is a greater meaning in the tradition of the first Planet of the Apes, early Trek, Soylent Green, Serling, Matheson, Bradbury, and others.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Man on a Ledge; Kill Bill, Volumes One and Two; Run for Cover; The Lawless

Quentin Tarantino’s forte is probably his mastery of tough guy dialogue; in movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (and, courtesy of Elmore Leonard, in Jackie Brown), he reaches heights of wise guy film noir grandeur.

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Wilmington on DVDs: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Certainly Kevin is at his cutest when he finally listens to Eva, as she reads him the tale of Robin Hood, champion Saxon archer — and his father, whom Kevin plays like a bassoon, later buys him a bow and arrow, and he becomes a crackerjack archer, who can always hit his target.

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CANNES 65: A Wrap

The question was never “if” Michael Haneke was going to win something—the question was always “what.”

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The Weekend Report: May 27, 2012 (3 Day)

Men in Black III did little to slow down The Avengers juggernaut but nonetheless won the box office crown for the Memorial holiday weekend with a three-day estimate of $54.9 million. The Avengers added $36.8 million and raised its cume to more than $500 million – the fourth film to reach such heights.

The sessions only other national debut was the horror cheapie Chernobyl Diaries that entered the fray with $8 million in position five.

Regional newcomers were dullish but a pair of exclusive entries displayed brio and gusto. French powerhouse Intouchables ($355 million internationally) opened in the U.S. with close to $100,000 (all figures reflect three-day box office) from a quartet of screens following a $2 million-plus tally in Québec. The dynamic bow was overshadowed by a jaw dropping $517,000 bow (also at four sites) for Cannes curtain-raiser Moonrise Kingdom.

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Wilmington on Movies: Men in Black III

A good sequel can increase our pleasure, sweeten our memories. “Men in Black III” is third in the series that started back in 1997 and has now produced one bad sequel (“Men in Black II”) and one good one (“Men in Black III”). Win a few, lose a few, as Agent K might say.

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Friday Estimates, May 25, 2012

The “Men in Black” start the Memorial Day Weekend with a 41% lead on “The Avengers.” It should hold up, but one never knows, do one?

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Wilmington on Movies: Chernobyl Diaries

“Chernobyl Diaries” is an awful picture, but it has, I swear, a great setting and premise for a horror movie. It takes place in the abandoned city of Pripyat: grey, desolate, strange, the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor Plant disaster — a meltdown that sent the populace fleeing from the immediate area, and closed down the plant for good. I repeat: great location — and part of this movie was reportedly even shot in the real place.

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Cannes Competition review: Cosmopolis

Packer travels by stretch limousine, an inconvenient method of transportation in a busy metropolis like Manhattan, but it symbolizes power and importance in a way no other vehicle can. It’s a status thing. When his day is upended by riots in a city filled with economic unrest, the rest of his adventure becomes an odyssey that is better left seen than described.

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The DVD Wrapup: Newlyweds, Certified Copy, Arrietty, Route 66, Sherlock … More

The careers of few indie filmmakers have begun in as auspicious a fashion as Ed Burns.

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DVD Geek: Camelot

One can speak derisively of Blu-rays for their operational legthargy, but there are amazing things that the format can accomplish, and a very good example is that they can turn bad movies into good movies. Musicals have always played by different rules than other movies, and that is what is at work here. Rather than dwelling on the film’s failures, the BD enables one to embrace what does succeed in the film, and allows those glories to reign.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Red Tails; This Means War; Pony Express

  RED TAILS (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U. S.: Anthony Hemingway, 2012 (2oth Century Fox)       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…

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Cannes Reviews: The Hunt, Room 237

“The Hunt” is narratively similar to “Festen” in its theme of child molestation. Whereas “Festen”’s was all too real, “The Hunt”’s pedophilia is entirely fabricated: the child abuse is a lie propagated by 5-year-old Klara, who doesn’t understand the power of her words. … “Room 237″’s main theme is authorial intent, because the film is informed by people (read: fans) who have read into Stanley Kubrick’s directorial mind to see what they want to see in “The Shining.”

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Wilmington on DVDs: A Night to Remember

It‘s a masterly historical reconstruction — and despite its typically British, somewhat staid cinematics, an absolutely thrilling film. As gripping and excitingly visual as Cameron‘s movie may have been, this picture, even more, is the movie Titanic to remember.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Secret World of Arrietty

The everyday beauty and transcendent charm of The Secret World of Arrietty — the latest feature cartoon import from Japan’s master animator/writer/director Hayao Miyazaki ) — is a balm to the restless spirit, a tonic for the troubled heart.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Woman in Black

“The Woman in Black” is an old-style British horror movie with some new-style violence, a film that takes advantage of the new screen freedoms and technology, but that also employs, often pretty effectively, a lot of the familiar archetypes and tropes of British literary and movie horror, particularly the ones for the haunted house sub-genre.

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The Gronvall Files: Interview with Tanya Wexler, Director of Hysteria

Unlike most of the starched, corseted, and repressed female characters that populate her new comedy Hysteria, filmmaker Tanya Wexler is comfortable in her own skin.

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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