MCN Originals Archive for February, 2013

The DVD Wrapup

The Master, Holy Motors, Kid With a Bike, Loneliest Planet, Silent Souls, Chicken With Plums, How to Survive a Plague and more.

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“It Takes A Village To Make A Car Wreck” & Other Thoughts On The Oscar Show

The core of the show they put on last night is not the core of what Oscar is about. It’s about celebrating the best work of the year in movies. And it very rarely felt like that last night. More like they deigned to interrupt the mediocre but beautifully-costumed and production-designed show from the summer stock troupe now and again to give out an award.

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The Weekend Report

The revenge actioner Snitch debuted to $12.9 million but that put it in the bridesmaid slot behind returning champ Identity Thief that topped session charts with an estimated $14 million. Thief is poised to become the first 2013’s release to hit $100 million domestic. The frame’s only other incoming national release was the alien terror puzzler Dark Skies that opened to $8.6 million to rank sixth overall.

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Wilmington on Movies: Snitch

As for The Artist Formerly Known as The Rock, Johnson is unusually good here at projecting vulnerability and a good-guy likeability, qualities he didn’t necessarily need in his earlier action movies, but which were the only saving graces of comedy dreck like The Tooth Fairy—and which could now lead him to better roles.

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The Gronvall Report: Oscar-Nominated GATEKEEPERS Director Dror Moreh

Without being ponderously didactic, The Gatekeepers makes clear what’s at stake at this critical juncture for democratic Israel. It’s not a lesson that all Israelis—or their American supporters—will necessarily relish. Kudos to distributor Sony Pictures Classics for not shying away from a tough subject, and for shepherding the film to a Best Documentary nomination at the 85th Academy Awards.

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Friday Estimates

Snitch won the Friday, but will lose the weekend war to Identity Thief. The other new wide release, Dark Skies, is okay for The Weinsteins… not very good in the real world.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Argo

Though based on fact, Argo plays like a mad combo of mixed genres: Spy Games espionage stuff, Wag the Dog government trickery, Close-Up Iranian street film and The Sting, an intricate con game, except that this time the picture puts the CIA in a favorable light, instead of tapping into the usual Three Days of the Condor Company nightmare.

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Gurus o’ Gold: The Final Charts… Top 2 Only (1 of 2)

As the Gurus head off into the Dolby night, magic carpets doing their bidding, one last set of charts for you. We voted for the Top 2 in each of the 24 Oscar categories. And not a lot of surprises at this late date. But there has been some movement, so check it all out. And keep perspective. Way back on October 2, The Gurus have Argo, (and in Part 2) Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence as the frontrunners, DeNiro in the #2 slot and Anne Hathaway at #3. Sometimes, change is a bit of an illusion.

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The DVD Wrapup

Bullet Collector, Argo, Thief of Bagdad, Deadfall, Sushi Girl, Undefeated, Laura, Naked City, Bath Salt Zombies… and more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Two-Lane Blacktop

All three of these existential car dudes (they’ve got no past, they’ve got no future, and what little there is of either was probably something made up by Warren Oates), get together for an outlaw car race — the Chevy against the GTO, for the pink slips. They head out from California through Santa Fe and up to Little Rock, to Tennessee and North Carolina — by which time the race and these people have changed a little — including the hitch-hiker, who comes in, grabs a ride and messes everybody up. She’s called The Girl (Laurie Bird) and she adds sex or potential sex to the equation.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Monsters, Inc. 3D; Sinister; Top Gun; Twilight’s Last Gleaming; Grand Hotel..

    Monsters, Inc. 3D  (Five Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition or Three Disc 3D/Blu-ray Combo) (Three Stars) U.S.; Pete Docter,  2001-2012 (Disney)   More good, funny, beautifully crafted, heartfelt stuff from Pixar, set in the scream-powered factory of Monstropolis among all the most horrible or brainy toy monsters — notably big, scary Sulley (John Goodman)…

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20W2O: 5 Days To Go (aka The End Is Nigh)

Does it make you feel good about the industry? Is it likely to embarrass you in any way? These are the two key mainstreaming questions. The Academy just wasn’t ready for Brokeback Mountain for all the reasons that Brokeback was so important to many people. And honestly, it would be worse off if it came out today, as all the homophobia is still ingrained in people’s hearts, and the issue no longer rallies people (at least in the big cities) as something on the cutting edge.

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Divining Cannes 2013

Sundance and Berlin are receding into the haze of early 2013 and all eyes now look to May and the Cannes Film Festival—as well the annual guessing game as to the likely Palme d’Or challengers. History offers hints.

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Weekend Review (3-Day)

It was a good weekend for A Good Day to Die Hard as it nosed out the competition to take top spot on the holiday charts with an estimated $24.9 million (all figures represent the 3-day portion of the Presidents Day frame). In an unexpectedly competitive session the three-hanky Safe Haven slotted third with $21.5 million; a jot behind the $23.4 million holdover of Identity Thief.

Two other films made national debuts. The kidcentric anime Escape from Planet Earth slipped into the fourth slot with $15.9 million and trailing the field was the supernatural rom-com Beautiful Creatures grossing $7.4 million.

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Wilmington on Movies: Safe Haven

Safe Haven, directed by that estimable Swedish-born filmmaker Lasse Hallström and produced by the author himself, is the eighth movie to be derived from a Nicholas Sparks novel, and like the others, including Message in a Bottle (where Kevin Costner found undying love), The Notebook (where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams found undying love) it’s a romantic fantasy delivered with maximum efficiency and apparently just the right amounts of warmth, coolness, poignancy, picturesque scenery, sex appeal, niceness and (let’s face it), undying love.

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Friday Estimates

Four new releases… and only one satisfactory opening weekend, it seems. Die Five may win the weekend, but come up well short of reasonable expectations. Escape From Planet Earth will do okay by Weinstein Animation standards, but it will need some long legs to clear $50m domestic. Beautiful Creatures is a big-studio shot at the Twilight crowd that missed in spite of a ton of advertising. And Safe Haven, starring TV-level talent, will be Relativity’s #2 or #3 biggest opening ever.

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Wilmington on Movies: A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth of the Bruce Willis Die Hard movies — and it’s obviously, irretrievably, die-hardishly one too many.

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Gurus o’ Gold: 9 Days From The Big Show

This week, The Gurus picked their five most likely Best Picture winners and answered a series of questions. They were asked to pick up to two potential upsets and their two personal wishes for surprise winners, then 3 very simple questions.

Next week, we’ll be go through all the nominations one last time, just in time for your Oscar ballots.

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The DVD Wrapup

Skyfall, Bully, Wallflower, Thieves, Mimesis, Serena, Jedi Junkies, Coalition, Gossip Girl… and more.

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The DVD Geek: Searching for Sugar Man

Searching for Sugar Man doesn’t just deserve the Oscar nomination, it deserves to win. Running 87 minutes, it lulls you into believing—or perhaps even not believing—the story of a few enthusiastic South African fans that attempt to uncover the biography of an American balladeer from the early Seventies called ‘Rodriguez,’ who had a smooth, articulate voice, reminiscent of Jose Feliciano (with his dark glasses, he also looks a lot like Feliciano), and adept recording engineers that brought a detailed complexity and color to his orchestrations.

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MCN Originals

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“I had this friend who was my roommate for a while. She seemed really normal in every way except that she wouldn’t buy shampoo. She would only use my shampoo. And after a year it’s like, “When are you going to buy your own shampoo?” It was her way of digging in her heels. It was a certain sense of entitlement, or a certain anger. It was so interesting to me why she wouldn’t buy her own fucking shampoo. It was like,“I’m gonna use yours.” It was coming from a place of “You have more money than me, I just know it”—whether I did or I didn’t. Or maybe she felt, “You have a better life than me,” or “You have a better room than me in the apartment.” It was hostile. And she was a really close friend! There was never any other shampoo and I knew she was washing her hair. And clearly I have a thing about shampoo, as we see in ‘Friends with Money.’ I had some nice shampoo. So I found that psychologically so interesting how a person can function normally in every way and yet have this aberrance—it’s like a skip in the record. It was a sense of entitlement, I think. I put that in Olivia’s character, too, with her stealing someone’s face cream.”
Nicole Holofcener

“When books become a thing, they can no longer be fine.

“Literary people get mad at Knausgård the same way they get mad at Jonathan Franzen, a writer who, if I’m being honest, might be fine. I’m rarely honest about Jonathan Franzen. He’s an extremely annoying manI have only read bits and pieces of his novels, and while I’ve stopped reading many novels even though they were pretty good or great, I have always stopped reading Jonathan Franzen’s novels because I thought they were aggressively boring and dumb and smug. But why do I think this? I didn’t read him when he was a new interesting writer who wrote a couple of weird books and then hit it big with ‘The Corrections,’ a moment in which I might have picked him up with curiosity and read with an open mind; I only noticed him once, after David Foster Wallace had died, he became the heir apparent for the Great American Novelist position, once he had had that thing with Oprah and started giving interviews in which he said all manner of dumb shit; I only noticed him well after I had been told he was An Important Writer.

“So I can’t and shouldn’t pretend that I am unmoved by the lazily-satisfied gentle arrogance he projects or when he is given license to project it by the has-the-whole-world-gone-crazy development of him being constantly crowned and re-crowned as Is He The Great American Writer. What I really object to is this, and if there’s anything to his writing beyond it, I can’t see it and can’t be bothered. Others read him and tell me he’s actually a good writer—people whose critical instincts I have learned to respect—so I feel sure that he’s probably a perfectly fine, that his books are fine, and that probably even his stupid goddamned bird essays are probably also fine.

“But it’s too late. He has become a thing; he can’t be fine.”
~ Aaron Bady