MCN Originals Archive for July, 2013

The DVD Wrapup

Cloudburst, G.I. Joe, Bronte Sisters, Dahmer, Di Leo, The Fog, Whistleblowers, Shameless, Demented… and so much more.

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The Weekend Report

It was clear sailing for The Wolverine as he clawed to the top of weekend moviegoing with an estimated $54.3 million. With but a single new national release the field was wide open for niche players to get a toehold in the marketplace. Coming-of-ager The To Do List ticked off $1.5 million in a limited wide opening. Blue Jasmine received “money” reviews and that translated into gold for the bespectacled filmmakers’ spin on “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The vet has emerged as the surprise summer alternative hit -aker and with some careful massaging his new effort could well emerge as one of his highest-grossing efforts.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Wolverine slices off a big opening, though after a lot of hype, the number is going to be between The Great Gatsby and World War Z, in the “successful but not mega-opening” category. Two limited releases had strong launches. The To Do List will gross about $1.5m on 591 screens. And the new Woody, Blue Jasmine, is looking in the $80k+ range on just 6 screens. But perhaps the most impressive number, on the edge of wide release, is Fruitvale Station, which is over $3.5 million and will end the weekend over $5 million, expanding to 1064 screens.

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Only Nic Forgives: Gilchrist Talks Style And The Future With Refn

We sat down with Refn at the recent Los Angeles press day for Only God Forgives to get a snapshot of the budding auteur’s creative process. In addition to talking about his ongoing collaboration with fellow on-the-riser Ryan Gosling, he reveals the intuitive process by which he combines personal experiences, psychological themes and conventional stories to create something entirely unique—and often provocative—but always interesting.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Wolverine

The Wolverine was directed by the almost bizarrely versatile James Mangold and the script is credited to a gifted threesome that includes Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank—and their show pours on the action and the production values. But it also ladles out the personality, and emotion that these kinds of movies often skimp on—and even throws in some humor. It’s a good show, full of zip and style—maybe not as good as I may be making it seem. But you can’t say this film doesn’t do what it’s meant to do, or that it doesn’t joyously exceed some of the usual parameters. Man of Steel, eat your heart out.

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Wilmington on Movies: The To Do List

The movie is cute and so is Aubrey Plaza—though, with her pouty, sexy, full-lipped looks, I don’t know if she ‘s the right actress to play an all-time valedictorian, or a virgin. (An Ellen Page type might have been better.) On the other hand, if Plaza had played the bad sister Amber, she probably would have stolen the movie, as Bilson almost does.

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DVD Geek: The Killing

More and more, movies seem like short stories and TV shows seem like novels. It took two ‘seasons’ (actually, each is a half-length season) for the murder mystery program, “The Killing,” to reach its highly satisfying conclusion. Set in Washington State, it is stocked with more red herrings than Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market, and there are rumors of fans having to buy new shoes and new televisions each week for having tossed the one into the other at the end of each episode.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The File on Thelma Jordon; Adua and her Friends; Bullet to the Head

Recent birthday girl Barbara Stanwyck, one of the smartest and toughest of all the classic Hollywood femme fatales, was terrific at playing earthy babes who knew their way around a bedroom—and sometimes a courtroom or an insurance claims office as well,

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Wilmington on DVDs: Band of Outsiders (Bande à part)

Avec

Pulp.

Poetry.

Politics (Peut-etre).

Two Guys, A Girl and a Gun.

Robbery

Murder

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Wilmington on DVDs: Gate of Hell

There were two great gateways to the international movie houses of the post-war world for 1950s Japanese cinema. The first was Rashomon. The second was Gate of HellMost of us remember the former—Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 period masterpiece about four conflicting views of a rape and murder in the woods—and we can recall easily, intensely, rightfully. The latter, the much lesser known writer-director Teinosuke Kinugasa, is another period film, gorgeous almost beyond belief, and once widely hailed as the most beautiful color film of all time.

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The DVD Wrapup

Beyond the Pines, Silence, Vanishing Waves, Twixt, Trance, Babette’s Feast, Starbuck, New World … and so much more.

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The Weekend Report

Spooky The Conjuring became the weekend favorite with an estimated $41.4 million debut. Three other new films vied for eyes, including the animated Turbo, which bowed to $21.5 million; the aging spies of RED 2 grossed $18.1 million; and the men in long coats of R.I.P.D. took up the rear with $12.8 million. There was no paucity of exclusive newcomers with only the nonfiction entries Blackfish and The Act of Killing showing signs of ongoing life. The former grossed $58,500 at four tanks while the latter had a $31,400 count from three initial recreations.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Conjuring

The Conjuring is supposedly based on the true story of a haunted house, possessed by demons or otherworldly spirits, as investigated by honest-to God “paranormal researchers”: the real-life combo of Lorraine and Ed Warren, played in the movie by the brilliantly sensitive Vera Farmiga and the convincingly more prosaic Patrick Wilson.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

There will be only one happy new movie on a weekend of 4 new wide releases. The Conjuring got some nice notices and now it’s doing some nice box office, though given the genre, the weekend total may juts be in the mid-30s. Less happy is Turbo, which will probably go in the opposite direction as the horror film for the weekend, but still is not getting out of the 20s. Red 2isn’t going to equal the original’s opening weekend, but it could be just as leggy and the real hope will be for a sequel bump internationally. And almost as though they were partying away their sorrows, Universal gave a raunchy bash for Kick-Ass 2 at ComicCon last night, putting RIPD behind them even before it had been open for a full day.

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The Gronvall Report: Coogler & Jordan On FRUITVALE STATION

As vast a country as the United States is, and as diverse as its regions are, all too often there’s one news report that resonates from coast to coast.

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Review: RIPD

It’s not vanilla… because vanilla can be great. It was more like a movie made of tofu, sitting there, waiting to suck up flavor from something else in the pot. But nothing that was put in the pot had enough flavor to add much of anything.

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33 Weeks To Oscar: The Season Without A Frontrunner

In this whole group of films that are generally considered legit contenders, there is nothing with that sense of inevitability that, for instance, last season had with Lincoln or Les Miserables or Life of Pi or Zero Dark Thirty. Everything seems to have question marks around it.

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The DVD Wrapup

Jackie Robinson, Venus & Serena, Bullet to the Head, Wild Bill, White Frog, Damages, Jaglom, Street Trash, Downloaded… and so much more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Our Man in Havana; Evil Dead (2013); The Evil Dead

Like The Third Man, the plot plunges a naïve but imaginative amateur into a political game that turns deadly serious in a city that is dark and corrupt and filled with criminals and deceptions.

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Wilmington on DVDs: 42

These Dodgers were among the elite units in baseball, but they were also cursed with their own share of prejudice (Walker was among the players who circulated a petition against Jackie), yet also blessed with tolerance and anti-bigotry 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