MCN Originals Archive for October, 2012

The DVD Wrapup: Campaign, Americano, This Waltz, Ruby Sparks, Upstairs Downstairs … More

Trust me on this: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ modern-day fairy tale, Ruby Sparks, is the best movie almost no one has bothered to see in 2012 … so far, at least. Fixing blame, however, would require too lengthy a post-mortem than there’s space for here. The characters could hardly be any more appealing and the directors were able to prove that their first feature, Little Miss Sunshine wasn’t a fluke. Writer-star Zoe Kazan’s screenplay is smart, funny and frequently irresistible. That’s why it’s so difficult for me to see how young-adult viewers, especially those who embraced (500) Days of Summer and other similarly quirky rom-coms, missed Ruby Sparks in its limited release.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Campaign

My name is Mike Wilmington, and I approved this review. Are politicians whores? Are movie comedies whorehouses? Are whores and poets and comedians the great unacknowleged legislators of mankind—and East Canarsie? Then why don’t they all get together and count votes more often?

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The Weekend Report

A strong hold finally put Argo atop the weekend box office chart with an estimated $10.3 million in an otherwise soft marketplace distracted by presidential politicking, hurricane Sandy and pre-Halloween heebie jeebies.

A quartet of new releases bowed to disappointing results with many already pegged at a low bar. Best of the bunch was the epic adaptation of Cloud Atlas that ranked third with an estimated $9.4 million while the chill of the week, Silent Hill: Revelation, was two notches behind with $8 million. Debuting out of the top 10 were the kid-centric Fun Size with $3.9 million and the not too hip Chasing Mavericks roping in $2.2 million.

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Wilmington on Movies: Cloud Atlas

I loved it. And for once, I’m speechless. But I promise to get to it at greater length, next week. It’s a movie, after all, that can probably be watched repeatedly, and discussed endlessly. It’s divided the critics — some are fervently pro, some contemptuously con — in a way that usually only the more interesting pictures can and do. It’s long, it’s complex, and it violates about half the rules for a big-budget big-audience movie, while following (and triumphing in) about half the others.

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Friday Estimates

Paranormal‘s not-so-normal drop of 71% takes it from the top to the 4-spot, leaving the strong holding Argo on top of the pack. None of the 3 major newcomers could deliver much, with Cloud Atlas hoping for a $10m weekend, Silent Hill: Whatever praying for $9m, and Fun Size chasing $4.2m.

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The Torontonian Reviews: Skyfall

More than making up for the dog’s breakfast that was 2008’s Quantum of Solace, Skyfall–James Bond’s 23rd film adventure–sets the bar high: not only is it 2012’s best blockbuster screened thus far, but it is also one of the strongest films in Bond history. Director Sam Mendes knows what makes a great Bond movie.

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Wilmington on Movies: Chasing Mavericks

Jonny Weston has curly-frizzy blonde locks and a ripped torso and he even does most of his own surfing. But he also has amiable but vacuous pretty boy looks that suggest blonde actors like Troy Donahue or Christopher Atkins — that summon up less a great, driven surfer on a date with destiny than a male model with a date at the Santa Monica pier. I’ve seen Weston at least one other time recently, in the lousy behind-the scenes porno industry movie About Cherry, but I can barely remember what he did in it. I can and will remember him in Chasing Mavericks. But that’s mostly because of his role, and because he’s playing, at least part of the time, with those incredible waves — the awesome rolling towers of water and spray and curling doom that better men (and women) than I am, conquer or fall before.

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20W2O: 18 Weeks To Go – Surprise!

I would love to tell you that I thought there would be as big a surprise in the awards races as, say, Ben Mendelsohn in Killing Them Softly. Great, memorable performance. But that momentum is just not there. But there are some cases that I do think could upset the apple cart as we move through the next six weeks… and in terms of Oscar nominations, that’s about all that’s left, folks, thanks to the bizarre choice by The Academy to institute “early voting” and a harshly short window on all nomination voting of January 3.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Blade Runner

Blade Runner was one of the two favorite movies of a girl I loved once named Marji Sirkin, a friend with whom I laughed and played and watched movies, and whom I watched slowly die of Hodgkin’s Disease two decades ago in a much sunner, smoggier. and even sadder, Los Angeles. She looked, I thought, like Moira Shearer crossed with Tina Louise. We had fun. She watched Blade Runner and Beauty and the Beast and her other favorites over and over again. She wanted to be a film editor. She was working her way through UCLA Film, and she had won an award with one of her student films (about the dangers of cigarette smoking).Then her body’s clock began to stop and it was painful for her to walk, and her beautiful red hair fell out.

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The DVD Wrapup: Magic Mike, Blade Runner, Invisible War, Abraham Lincoln, Sunday, Kovacs, Tinker Bell, Peter Gunn … More

With the exception of the “Ocean’s” trilogy, Steven Soderbergh doesn’t seem to have made the same movie twice. He refuses to be confined by genre boundaries and never tires of surprising anyone who tries to pigeonhole his work. Neither does he limit his output to potential commercial successes.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; Quantum of Solace; Secret Beyond the Door

I didn’t read the book — and believe me, I never will — but it seems to me that the only way you could possibly make an entertaining show out of a title and a concept as dumb as this, is to do it as a five minute sketch for “Saturday Night Live,” maybe starring Will Ferrell as Lincoln, Tina Fey as Mary Todd Lincoln and Adam Sandler as Adam, the vampire. Get in and get out, fast.

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20W2O: 19 Weeks (minus 5 days) To Go – Season Of The Switcheroo

I’ve been noticing a trend this award season. There are movies – from the best to not-the-best – that suggest that you’re going to see one movie… and end up seeing something altogether unexpected.

This doesn’t mean that the audience suffers. There is something wonderful about going in one direction and then being pushed somewhere else unexpectedly. The audience has to do some work. They have to be on their toes.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of Paranormal Activity 4 led weekend movie sales with an estimated $29.9 million. The session’s other national deb, a re-boot of James Patterson’s popular detective Alex Cross, struggled to $11.7 million to rank fifth overall. Considerably more buoyant were newcomers in the niches including a pair of Indian imports. Telugu Cameraman Ganga Tho Rambabu grossed a solid $503,000 at 79 locations while Hindi Student of the Year opened to $342,000 at 106 venues. Even more dynamic was This Guy’s in Love with U Mare from the Philippines with $182,000 at a mere 15 screens.

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Friday Estimates

Paranormal Activity 4 is on top and will probably stay there for the weekend, though the opening day gross (including late Thursday showings) is off 44% from the last film in the series. Still, if this projects out to a $60m domestic gross, the dirt cheap series is still profitable enough to assure that we will see the release of PA 5 at this time next year. Argo hold yourself. Just 15% by Friday estimates. Meanwhile the $100m mark has been crossed by Hotel T and Taken 2 will be there in less than 17 days. And Lionsgate’s Alex Cross re-boot with Mr Madea looks like it will be Tyler Perry’s worst opening as an actor. On the other hand, it will be in the top half of the last 10 Lionsgate openings. Also, Searchlight’s Oscar-chaser The Sessions is looking at about $25k per on 4 screens.

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DVD Geek: This is Cinerama

Cinerama is dead. It died before our grandmothers did. To see the Cinerama format in a movie theater as a child, however, was to associate its startlingly wide image with life’s future, the grand possibilities that are spread out before one. And so to relive that experience now, on Blu-ray, is to grasp, with all the fleeting, orgiastic thrill of grasping a ghost, the hopes and dreams and safety and anticipation of childhood. By the time the helicopter was flying over Niagara, the tears were flowing from our own eyes with a fervor equal to the Falls.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Sessions

The Sessions (which was called “The Surrogate” when it played at Sundance) carries us through Mark’s determination to have a sexual life, to his decision to hire a sex surrogate — Helen Hunt as the real-life surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene — and their sessions together, in a motel room, facilitated by Mark’s caretaker Vera (Moon Bloodgood) and an inquisitive desk man (Ming Lo). Alone together in the bare-looking motel room, Cheryl tries to teach and gentle him into his heart’s desire. It’s not easy.

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Wilmington on Movies: Sinister

These home snuff movies are creepy and ragged-looking. The real-life scenes are creepy stylized horror stuff. And the professional reality makes the amateur “reality” movies look spookier. (Kudos to cinematographer Chris Norr for the way he lights both of them.) Derrickson, who also directed The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the overblown 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, works with Norr to keep everything shadowy and grim and unsettling — never more so than when we witness those murders, especially the one in the tree.

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The Torontonian Reviews: The Paperboy

t’s understood that exceptionally bad movies will attract an audience of camp enthusiasts, but Lee Daniels’ third directing credit is not a “trashterpiece” or “so bad it’s good” or “there’s nothing else on television, honey”. No, it’s just trash: garbage that has been pissed on by raccoons or crocodiles or whatever animal your locale attracts and glossed with the veneer of star power and intriguing trailers. Stay away. Let it die. Just let it shrivel up and die.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson makes pictures that are like big beautiful whimsical toys, few more than this. He and his co-writer, Roman Coppola (son of Francis) swim out into a dream and a storm, and they wave to us. The children behave like….grownups. The grownups behave like children. (I said that.)

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The DVD Wrapup: Forgiveness of Blood, Neil Young, Legendary Amazons, Excision, Last Ride, Broadway, Check It Out! … More

Say what you will about Enver Hoxha, the Communist dictator of Albania who died in 1985, but he was able to do something about the country’s tradition of blood feuds that previous leaders hadn’t been able to accomplish in many centuries. After taking control of the country after its liberation from Germany in 1944, Hoxha declared an end to quasi-legal vendettas, especially in rural areas. Although widely accepted as a way to maintain order in lawless regions, Kanun had always been something of an inexact science when it comes to adjudicating everything from trespassing to murder. Basically, though, Kanun law can be boiled down to, “Whoever kills will be killed. Blood is avenged with blood.”

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MCN Originals

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“TIFF doesn’t make attendance numbers for its Lightbox screenings publicly available, so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how many filmgoers the Lightbox is attracting (or how much money it’s bringing in). But the King Street West venue hasn’t become a significant draw for film enthusiasts. The Lightbox’s attendance has plunged – 49,000 fewer visitors last year, a drop of 27 per cent, according to figures recently reported in the Toronto Star. Its gallery space – designed to showcase the visions of cinema’s most iconic filmmakers – saw most of its exhibitions staff quietly axed this past fall. And its marketing barely escapes the Lightbox’s walls. Unless you are a TIFF member or one of the city’s most avid filmgoers, you could walk by the Lightbox and remain blissfully unaware of a single thing that goes on inside. TIFF “still has a world-class brand,” said Barry Avrich, a filmmaker and former board member, “but it’s going to take some fresh vision from retail, consumer programming and marketing experts, given how the lines have become intensely blurred when it comes to how people watch film. They will have to experiment with programming to find the right blend of function and relevance.”
~ Globe & Mail Epic On State of Toronto Int’l (paywalled)

“I’m 87 years old… I only eat so I can smoke and stay alive… The only fear I have is how long consciousness is gonna hang on after my body goes. I just hope there’s nothing. Like there was before I was born. I’m not really into religion, they’re all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

“The void, the concept of nothingness, is terrifying to most people on the planet. And I get anxiety attacks myself. I know the fear of that void. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.

“Anybody else you’ve interviewed bring these things up? Hang on, I gotta take this call… Hey, brother. That’s great, man. Yeah, I’m being interviewed… We’re talking about nothing. I’ve got him well-steeped in nothing right now. He’s stopped asking questions.”
~ Harry Dean Stanton