MCN Originals Archive for April, 2014

The DVD Wrapup

Best Offer, Selfish Giant, Hill Street Blues, Mr. Selfridge, Devil’s Due, Dead Shadows, Bucksville and more.

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Countdown To Cannes: Bennett Miller

The third in a series of snapshots outlining the nineteen directors in the 67th Palme d’Or Competition.

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The Weekend Report

The Other Woman was the top choice at the weekend box office with a debut estimated at $24.8 million. Two other films also entered the marketplace at a lower threshold. Actioner Brick Mansions slotted fifth with an okay $9.6 million while chiller The Quiet Ones hardly nudged the thermostat with an opening gross of $3.9 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Fox counterprograms the comic books, tweener, and kids movies with the first comedy with aggressive appeal for women since Enough Said & Baggage Claim back in September 2013… and wins big. It isn’t Bad Teacher but it will be Cameron Diaz’s best start as a non-animated lead aside from that since Charlie’s Angels And it will be Leslie Mann’s biggest opening as a lead and her biggest since Knocked Up. Paul Walker’s 2nd non-F&F release in the last 7 years will open… to about half of what his other one, Takers snatched. Does anyone really know what that means? Not likely.

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (spoiler-free)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a piece of quality filmmaking with actual attention to consistent coherent (and emotionally coherent) storytelling.

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Wilmington on Movies: Bears

Three bears huddled on the snowy lopes of a vast white mountain as a raging avalanche crashes down alongside them. Fish fighting their way upstream in a glistening river, with one spunky salmon rising up from the spume and spray to nearly swat a waiting bear. A mama bear bravely standing between her two threatened cubs and a renegade clanless bear who circles and circles and wants to make a meal of them.

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Countdown To Cannes: Atom Egoyan

The second in a series of snapshots outlining the eighteen directors in the 67th Palme d’Or Competition.

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The DVD Wrapup

Bettie Page, Inspector Lavardin, Cell Block 11, Sorcerer, Pawnbroker, Tin Can Man, Junction, Billie Jean and more.

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Countdown To Cannes: Tommy Lee Jones

The first in a series of snapshots outlining the eighteen directors in the 67th Palme d’Or Competition.

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Wilmington on Movies: 2014 COLCOA Film Festival — Truffaut, Lelouch

Here’s the bill of fare. The COLCOA Film Festival, a fixture in Los Angeles for 17 years, shows new and classic French films in two American movie theaters at the Directors’ Guild complex: plush theaters named for legendary French filmmakers, François Truffaut and Jean Renoir. They mean a lot to me — the filmmakers, the films, and especially those two directors (or cineastes), Renoir and Truffaut.

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The Weekend Report

A quartet of new releases couldn’t unseat Captain America: The Winter Soldier from the lead on Easter weekend. The Marvelous super hero grossed an estimated $26.2 million, with Rio 2 not far off with $22.6 million. Among new national releases was the unexpectedly competitive true-life inspirational saga Heaven is for Real with $21.2 million and, conversely, the unexpectedly non-competitive Transcendence, which downloaded only $11.1 million. Chiller spoof A Haunted House 2 did an OK $8.9 million and nature tale Bears was off to a fair start of $4.8 million.

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Wilmington on Movies and DVDs: The TCM 2014 Classic Film Festival: How Green Was My Valley; Meet Me in St. Louis; Make Way for Tomorrow

Families, at their best, give us solace and they give us joy. At their worst, they tear us apart. Both extremes were visible on screen at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival: often the best (How Green Was My Valley) and sometimes the worst (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?), but always the crucial parts of a film to remember.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The numbers are 21% smaller, but once again we have a $100,000 lead for Rio 2 over Cap 2 on Friday. This weekend, however, we have four new films chasing the top spot – and failing to come close – instead of two. The top of the group is Heaven Is For Real, which opened on Wednesday and should be over a $25m cume by the end of the weekend. After uniformly negative reviews, WB’s big hitter, Transcendence, has technology running well behind God. The new sequel in town, A Haunted House 2, has been crowded out, but not so much as DisneyNature’s Bears.

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The DVD Wrapup

Ride Along, Labor Day, Invisible Woman, Bastards, Everyday, Ripper Street, Bletchley Circle, Black Nativity and more.

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The Torontonian Tips Cannes

In sticking with the Festival’s long-standing tradition of programming veterans in Competition, 13 of the announced 18 films are from returning auteurs. 18 is a small number for Cannes, though, so expect one, two, and possibly even three more films to be announced in the coming weeks.

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The Weekend Report

Captain America: The Winter Soldier remained at the top of the charts despite significant incoming competition from newcomer Rio 2. The Captain grossed an estimated $40.9 million to the feathered flock’s $38.5 million. The session also featured two other national openers, which fought for positions three and four on the charts. Mirror chiller Oculus bowed to $11.8 million while football-themed Draft Day touched down with $10 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes a predictable 54% drop, opening the door to Rio 2 taking the top slot with around $40m for the weekend.

Also in more modest debuts, the horror film that no one can pronounce beats Kevin Costner’s oddly-dated feel-good football comedy.

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17 Weeks Of Summer: Episode One – The Studios

There are 30 wide-release films due to be released by the 6 major studios in these 17 weeks of summer (May 2-August 24). And the majors haven’t done anything to change the popular media tune about an ongoing obsession with big, expensive movies.

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DVD Geek: 12 Years a Slave

How can the random displacement of humans being distributed as property sustain a consistent intrigue of character? How can modern actors embody any of the characters, black or white, truthfully, without going insane? McQueen oversees all of these challenges, creating a powerful, beautiful work—no more or less violent than many great films that have addressed violence—that is entertaining and exciting throughout its 134 minutes.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Hidden Fortress; Blue Jasmine; August: Osage County; Saving Mr. Banks

Like all the best Kurosawas — which encompasses most of his output — this is a beautifully crafted, tremendously exciting movie, and it features some of Kurosawa’s best action scenes, shot and cut in his characteristic vigorous three-camera set-ups. It’s better than Star Wars.

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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