MCN Originals Archive for January, 2014

Sundance 2014 Last Call

As a documentarian, Balmès shows more than tells; his work tends to curate moments that strike him as meaningful into a largely abstract tapestry and let you make of them what you will. Consequently, Happiness is not a neatly delineated picture of narrative storytelling, nor is it quite traditionally structured documentary. True to form, the director’s work here tends toward the languid and fluid; we float gently along the placid life rhythm of this small village on a faraway mountaintop as the camera captures the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – shifts in the cultural and social landscape wrought by the march of technological progress.

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The DVD Wrapup: Long Day Closes, Downton 4, Cloudy 2, Bad Grandpa

Apart from the Beatles, no artist is as associated with Liverpool as director-writer Terence Davies, whose autobiographical dramas and documentaries go well beyond the impact of the Cavern Club on world culture. Even so, it would be difficult to confuse the Liverpool into which Davies was born and the one in which the Fab Four were raised.

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The Gronvall Report: Joyce Maynard On LABOR DAY

Real love stories, where the exhilaration of two people falling headlong for each other is also laced with the dangers such plummets can bring are an endangered species. Real love, however sensual and joyful, is seldom without darkness, risk, and sorrow.

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20W2O: 10 Best Picture Nominees – Part 2, Call & Response

This column was inspired by some smart people arguing that, somehow, the expansion to as many as 10 Best Picture nominees is a failure and worse, is dragging down the entire Oscar franchise. I disagree.

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20W2O: 10 Best Picture Nominees – Part 1, Why It’s Good

Was there something to complain about here? Did we all want to see Winter’s Bone kicked to the curb? Was Inception not worthy? The Kids Are All Right? If 500,000 more people see Philomena, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her, or Nebraska because they were Best Picture nominees, viva la system! These are terrific films that are not easy to market. I just don’t see how it’s not a win for everyone.

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The Weekend Report

A very quiet box office weekend with only one new wide release, I, Frankenstein, which pieced together a near-dead $8.1 million opening. Re-expansions of Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years A Slave, and Gravity all did $1.9m-$2m over the weekend. Ride Along is well on its way to being the first $100m domestic grosser for both Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as leads.

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Sundance 2014 Review: The Better Angels

A film created to be seen on a big screen, where the gorgeous cinematography can fill your soul. Dialogue is sparse, used only to augment the narration and visuals, with the result that in many ways feels almost like watching a silent film with narration over it. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, it’s like immersing yourself into a black-and-white landscape of stunning beauty, where there happens to be this story happening around you. Edwards’ time spent as a cameraman on Malick’s films is evident here in the framing of shots, the extensive use of nature in storytelling, and his willingness to let his tale breathe in quiet spaces.

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Sundance 2014 Review: Listen Up Philip

Here’s a truism about men like Philip: smart women who tell themselves they would never put up with his particular brand of bullshit no matter what nonetheless can and do fall prey to the allure of the reclusive, temperamental, misunderstood genius, and will keep coming back for more. Men like Philip present a challenge to overcome, a puzzle to solve – until the women in their lives finally have enough and say “no more.” And then those men end up alone, feeling misused and mistreated, looking everywhere save within themselves for the answer to the riddle of their loneliness and isolation.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Universal continues to sit on top of the chart with 2 genre hits while I, Frankenstein is the only newcomer, not being chased out of town with pitchforks and torches, but not exactly getting the key to the city either. The “Oscar bump” remains soft, with Hustle and Wolf getting the best of it and August: Osage County continuing its mediocre run.

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Sundance 2014 Review: What We Do In The Shadows

This is one of the festival’s most pleasant surprises because it’s gotten to the point where certain horror tropes are dead or dying: recent zombie movies have been more shambling than exciting; vampires in general have become anemic and fangless (shout-out to the Twilight series, driving nails into the rhetorical coffin).

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Sundance 2014 Review: War Story

The death of Lee’s friend has perhaps made her see the wages of war as a price higher than she ever thought she’d pay to be in the thick of it. She’s captured so many losses, so many tragedies, through the lens of her camera, but she has no idea how to capture and cope with her own. The film’s final moments elegantly underscore the truth about the death of those we love and how we grieve the impact of losing them: It hurts, it will always hurt, when you lose someone you love, and even more so when you feel yourself responsible. But life moves on, wars continue to happen, the world spins around its axis just like it did before you lost this person you cared about.

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Gurus o’ Gold: A Week Since Nominations (1 of 2)

One week after nominations, the Gurus go through all the categories (except for shorts) again. And while most of the changes are shifts among the runners up, the big shake-up is at the top of the Best Picture chart, as 12 Years A Slave retakes the top slot and American Hustle falls all the way to…

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Picturing Sundance 2014: 21 Images

Sleep is good. Seeing movies is better. Writing solid, thoughtful reviews instead of instant reactions longer than a well-wrought tweet: even better. A few quick descriptions and some more glimpses of 10 days at Sundance.

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Sundance 2014 Review: Imperial Dreams

Bambi’s story is something we in our cozy middle class lives maybe prefer not to think about too hard when we ponder the abstract idea of projects and prison terms. The real plight of poverty is the disparity of opportunity, and the way in which we blame those born into an urban war zone for growing up in a way that enables them to survive in it. It’s nature versus nurture: How do we expect a kid with the potential to do something amazing with his life to navigate his way there with no support system save for the friends and relatives who have him working the corner and holding a gun in his hand from childhood?

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Wilmington on Movies: The Wolf of Wall Street

    THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Four Stars) U.S.: Martin Scorsese, 2013   “An idea came to me. The thing to do was to skip the heroes and heroines, to write a movie containing only villains and bawds. I would not have to tell any lies then.” —Ben Hecht, describing the genesis of his…

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Picturing Sundance 2014 x 13 (Plus 140-Character Grasps For Instantaneous Truth)

If you go to parties, you miss movies. If you go to movie after movie after movie, you don’t have time to write, let alone think. But! Thank the Movie Godz for Twitter and for photographs.

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Sundance 2014 Review: Obvious Child

I laughed a lot while watching Obvious Child. Not everyone will, to be honest. If fart jokes and sex jokes, abundant cursing, peeing in public and pooping in front of your best friend while awaiting the results of a pregnancy test are things that you can’t handle, this might not be the film for you. If you can get past those things to the core of this film, though, you might just find the places where the story resonates for you, too. It certainly did for me.

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Sundance 2014 Review: Boyhood

A little after 1 AM on Monday, January 20, 2014, in a 1,296-seat high school auditorium in Park City, Utah, a piece of cinema history was made: the lights came up on the world premiere of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, a film in production for more than a decade.

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The Weekend Report

Buddy comedy Ride Along breezed into the top slot on the Martin Luther King holiday session with an estimated $41.2 million debut (all figures reflect 3-day portion of the weekend). Three other films made national bows with the family animated The Nut Job displaying unexpected strength of $20.5 million and the rebooted Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit submerged below expectations with $16.9 million. The chiller Devil’s Due was further down the list with a spooky $8.5 million.

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Sundance 2014 Review: I Origins

Cahill’s fully-realized premise comes into view as Ian and Karen discover something astonishing about the nature of the human iris. There are some really interesting grand narrative implications here, suggesting a life of rigorous science is blind to some of the more arcane secrets of the universe.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff

From AMPAS president John Bailey:

Dear Fellow Academy Members,

Danish director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is not only one of the visual landmarks of the silent era, but is a deeply disturbing portrait of a young woman’s persecution in the face of the male judges and priests of the ruling order. The actress Maria Falconetti gave one of the most profoundly affecting performances in the history of cinema as the Maid of Orleans.

Since the decision of the Academy’s Board of Governors on Saturday October 14 to expel producer Harvey Weinstein from its membership, I have been haunted not only by the recurring image of Falconetti and the sad arc of her career (dying in Argentina in 1946, reputedly from a crash diet) but of Joan’s refusal to submit to an auto de fe recantation of her beliefs.

Recent public testimonies by some of filmdom’s most recognized women regarding sexual intimidation, predation, and physical force is, clearly, a turning point in the film industry—and hopefully in our country, where what happens in the world of movies becomes a marker of societal Zeitgeist. Their decision to stand up against a powerful, abusive male not only parallels the cinema courage of Falconetti’s Joan but gives all women courage to speak up.

After Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Academy issued a passionately worded statement, expressing not only our concern about harassment in the film industry, but our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago. It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.

Yours,
John