MCN Originals Archive for May, 2013

Wilmington on Movies: Now You See Me

This new cinematic magic show—in which four professional magicians join for a Las Vegas-style super-act that may also be a super-crime—is a movie so self-consciously clever, so intent on surprising the hell out of us, and so utterly, shamelessly, mind-numbingly preposterous that you may walk out of it feeling that your mental pockets have been picked.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Free Radicals, Side Effects

I’m not very find of abstract painting (which obviously helped inspire experimental filmmaking), so I can’t really explain my fondness for the movie avant-grade, ranging from the non-abstract surrealists Bunuel and Dali to largely non-narrative people like Hollis Frampton. to a splatter guy like Norman McLaren. Maybe I think, probably a superficial notion, that it’s too easy to fake an abstract painting, but to make an abstract film, even a bad one, you have to have at least some technical skill. Actually, you can fake a film too, or a film review. Maybe I‘m just still mad that my mother Edna, who was a brilliant realist artist, was treated like crap by the pretentious abstract artist/educators of her college and day.

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The DVD Wrapup

Beetlejuice, Lore, Shoot First, Dark Skies, Dorfman in Love, As Goes Janesville, Robert Mitchum Is Dead, Totoro, Longmire … and so much more.

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Routing Cannes 66: A Wrap

In an unprecedented move, the Steven Spielberg-led jury awarded the Palme d’Or to one film and three individuals: Blue is the Warmest Color, by director Abdellatif Kechiche with actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Hangover Part III

Movies, like people, can sometimes display disastrous judgment. But hey, it’s a movie. Who gives a shit?

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The Weekend Report: Memorial Day Wknd 3-Days

Fast & Furious 6 left the competition choking in the dust as it charged to an estimated $98.4 million for the three-day portion of the Memorial holiday frame. That proved to be bad news for the launch of The Hangover Part III that slotted second with $42.1 million during the record-breaking session. The third new wide release was the futuristic animated Epic that performed to expectations with a $33.8 million telling.

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Palme d’Or Winner Review: La Vie d’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Color)

Blue is the Warmest Color is a staggering motion picture, so big and so important and so full of life. It represents a milestone in on-screen sexuality, putting another nail in the coffin of old-world ignorance and prudishness, but it’s also a cinematic achievement in acting. In short, it’s a true opus.

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Wilmington on Movies: Fast and Furious 6

If you’re looking for a slam-bang movie full of spectacular car chases and mindbending action, Fast & Furious 6—the latest installment in the tire-burning, dumbfounding Fast & Furious series—is obviously your pedal-to-the-metal hot ticket. It‘s the kind of movie where the only logical (or illogical) response from longtime fans may be ‘”Wowie,“ “yowie“ or “zowie.” But if you’re looking for a movie that makes a lick of sense, or has a line of dialogue worth repeating, or a character or situation that isn’t either a howling cliché or a howling absurdity—take your pick—you’ve come to the wrong pit stop.

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Cannes Out-Of-Competition Review: All Is Lost

All is Lost is less concerned with what this story is “about” and more with how it all goes down (to be sure, the picture could be summarized in a single sentence). Rather, the actions and subsequent emotions are the narrative here; the expressions on Redford’s face speaking volumes despite the film’s outright lack of dialogue.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Jubal, 3:10 to Yuma, Safe Haven, Parker

    Jubal (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U.S.: Delmer Daves, 1956 (Criterion Collection) My grandma Marie Tulane, who was born in Sweden and died in Wisconsin, often said she liked Westerns because the scenery was so beautiful. I think she would have liked Delmer Daves’ 1956 Jubal, starring Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine and Rod Steiger…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver will probably never again look as good, or as inspiring, as it did in 1942, when it helped solidify the Anglo-American wartime bond. It’s a typically polished Wyler production, with pristine-looking black-and white cinematography by ace Joseph Ruttenberg.

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Cannes ’13: What Is This Thing Called Love?

One of the other great decisions—which I wondered about while watching the film—was that it doesn’t linger on the unaccepting voices in Adèle’s life. Nor are they dismissed. The character, it turns out, doesn’t sweat the small stuff. But when things matter to her, they matter quite deeply… no commitment-phobe she.

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Cannes Competition Review: Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives is essentially the nastiest highlights of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” wrapped around a revenge dance tête-à-tête, an equation that could have been more than the gratuitous, hyper-violent indulgence on show.

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Cannes Competition Review: Behind The Candelabra

Resembling the face of Liberace himself, Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra is a dazzling albeit saggy film, made competently and with sincere respect to its topic despite losing steam in its second hour.

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The DVD Wrapup

Beautiful Creatures, Cloud Atlas, Nightfall, Common Man, Love Sick Love, Rolling Thunder, Bad-Ass Girl, Ecstacyand so much more

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The Weekend Report

Star Trek: Into Darkness zapped the competition as it launched an estimated $68.2 million in its maiden theatrical voyage. The Enterprise was the sole new wide national release.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Iceman

I tell you, Michael Shannon looks at you, or he looks at the camera, whatever, and the cold sweat just shoots right through you. I bet it spooks you almost as much as if you saw the real-life Iceman guy, the real Richie, ready to ice somebody

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Cannes Competition Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

The frosted, muted backdrops are captured by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (“Amélie,” “Dark Shadows”), who steeps the film in faded bloom. It’s a gorgeous, misty visualization sure to instill nostalgia for those too young to have haunted locales like the Caffe Reggio or the Gaslight Café. As for Oscar Isaac’s performance, it’s hard not to simply babble superlatives.

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Friday Estimates

Star Trek: Into Darkness goes mildly into space; Iron Man Three drops 52%; The Great Gatsby keeps its eye on the green light.

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Wilmington on Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness

In many ways, it’s a relief watching this picture. After a decade of Patrick Stewart and company, and then more than a decade of franchise silence, 2009’s Star Trek ingeniously brought the original seven Enterprise crew members back together—in the process, demonstrating a flair for matching the new younger actors playing the old characters with our memories of the original crew—and, as it turns out here, some others memories as well.

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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