Reviews Archive for October, 2010

MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Three Stars) Sweden; Daniel Alfredson, 2009 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third of the Steig Larsson “Girl” movie adaptations — about a leftist Swedish investigative reporter named Mikael Blomkvist, a dragon-tattooed Lesbian computer hacker/investigator named Lisbeth Salander, and the rat’s nest of government corruption, private…

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The DVD Wrap: Sex and the City 2, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Kisses, Alien Anthology, Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy

Sex and the City 2: Blu-ray After scoring a direct financial hit with the first feature-length adaptation of HBO’s Sex and the City, its producers naturally elected to push their luck with this sequel, which adds yet another 150 minutes to the saga. What, on television, could easily be digested in tidy 30-minute portions, now…

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Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Fans of surprise horror hit Paranormal Activity will find much to like in Paranormal Activity 2. This second round of things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-vision-cameras retains the slow-building, repetitive pace of the first film, while still delivering (for the most part) plenty of scares to keep you on the edge of your seat.

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MW on Movies: Hereafter

Eastwood is 80. Most of the evidence is in. Frankly, if he were as bad as his blasters seem to think, some perhaps still taking their cues from the late, renowned and brilliant Eastwood-hater Pauline Kael, he would probably have gone the way of all old macho-hunk stars and be costarring this year in The Expendables.

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MW on DVDs: Disneynature Oceans, The Maltese Falcon, The Exorcist, Visions of Europe, Predators … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW DisneyNature: Oceans (Blu-ray & DVD) (Four Stars) France-U.S.; Jacques Perrin/Jacques Cluzaud, 2009 A real gem, from France, where they love to watch the world through a camera eye. Made by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, the two directors of the magnificent birds-in-flight documentary Winged Migration, here’s an equally magnificent view…

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The DVD Wrap: Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Limited Edition, Troll 2, Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition … and more

Psycho: 50th Anniversary Edition: Blu-ray The Psycho Legacy The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Limited Edition Night of the Demon Assault of the Sasquatch Troll 2: Blu-ray Tales From the Darkside: Final Season Lest we forget, Halloween draws nigh. Psycho is one of those films that require absolutely no introduction. Anyone who considers him or herself…

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DVDs 10/19: UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, PLEASE GIVE, FORBIDDEN LIE$, OCTOBER COUNTRY and HOLY ROLLERS

Hal Hartley’s first feature hits its unbelievable twentieth anniversary, and he’s self-releasing a new DVD edition.  “The Unbelievable Truth was first released in North America by Miramax Films in 1990 following its highly successful screenings at the Toronto and Sundance film festivals,” reads the press release. “It was a popular release worldwide and came to represent…

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Indie Screener Grab Bag: Repeaters

Now that we have a flatscreen and DVD player installed in our bedroom, I can actually watch screeners at home with something approximating a semi-theatrical experience, which is better for most films than watching them on my portable mini-DVD player. So, catching up with some screeners I’ve been watching of late … Henceforth, I’ll be…

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TIFF Review: Hereafter

After a pretty spectacular opening scene, I was hopeful that Clint Eastwood‘s highly anticipated film, Hereafter, with a script by Peter Morgan, was going to be something special. Then it became evident that the setup is a triptych, which is really hard to weave together into a coherant story without it feeling enormously contrived. Unfortunately,…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Chicago International Film Festival, Red, Conviction … and more

And listen, if I have to read one more review about how this is a movie especially for AARP members, or the geriatric set, or card-carrying Medicare moviegoers, or old folks, I think I’ll throw my walker at them. Give me a break. What do these clowns want, a life spent perusing nothing but Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera, or Hannah Montana movies?

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Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more …

The opening, for me at least, would have been better with something quieter before the storm — however virtuosic that dragon-storm, however riveting that warfare. The movie could have used a lot more initial contrast between the dreamy predispositions of Hiccup, and those bloody dragon assaults that come blasting at us right from the start.

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The DVD Wrap: Splice, The Magician, White on Rice, Leaves of Grass, and more …

Splice: Blu-ray If an Academy Award were given each year to the most ingenious new monster, it would be difficult to choose between the conjoined creature created by a mad surgeon in The Human Centipede and the genetic abominations in Splice. In Vincenzo Natali’s continuously inventive sci-fi/horror thriller, Splice, a pair of young scientists extends…

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Digital Nation: In Washington, No One Can Hear You Scream

Eliminate the birthers, tax-dodgers, bigots, wannabe witches, Flat Earth diehards and Palin-tologists from the Tea Party movement and you’ll find the righteously angry offspring of the just plain pissed-off Americans, who, in Network, opened their windows and shouted “We’re as mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore.”

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Review: Secretariat

Secretariat, the horse, was a big, glossy chestnut colt who won the Triple Crown and is widely regarded today as perhaps the best racehorse who ever lived. Secretariat, the movie, is big, glossy cinematic comfort food for the family in troubled times, grilled cheese and tomato soup wholesomeness to soothe the soul and take the…

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Wilmington on Movies: Secretariat, Life As We Know It, Buried, You Again, and Let Me In

Secretariat (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.; Randall Wallace, 2010 If you’ve got a great story, in life or in movies, the best thing to do is usually to let it fill your heart, tell it clearly, keep it straight and pure, and don’t load it up with agendas and tack-ons. The new movie…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Thin Red Line, Mid-August Lunch, Grindhouse, The Twilight Zone, A Nightmare on Elm Street … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC The Thin Red Line (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S.; Terrence Malick, 1998 (Criterion Collection). Let‘s talk about a really great American movie that has been somewhat underrated and neglected, and shouldn’t be any more, not after this superb new Criterion two-disc release. The movie is Terrence Malick‘s 1998 film of…

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The DVD Wrap: The Karate Kid, Beauty and the Beast, The Human Centipede, The Rig, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Slumber Party Massacre Collection … and more

The Karate Kid The concept is simplicity itself: The Karate Kid in China, with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s way-cool son, Jaden Smith, in the Ralph Macchio role and Jackie Chan in the place once reserved for Pat Morita. Instead of shooting a silver-anniversary version of Karate Kid in Vancouver or a back lot in…

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MW on Movies: The Social Network

But, in the top fillip of The Social Network’s many, many ironies, we see that maybe Mark and his fellow web movers and shakers — and the whole new social-communal wrinkle that they‘ve been chosen to dramatically represent — don’t really “need” things like empathy, sympathy, what we’d call humanity.

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Review: The Social Network

So now I’ve seen it and yes, okay, The Social Network really is all that and a bag of chips, as the kids say — for what it is. Not a “masterpiece.” Not “astounding.” Probably — almost definitely — not a film that will “literally” change your life. Maybe — dare I say it? — not even the absolute “best” film of Fincher’s oeuvre.

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TIFF Review: Let Me In

Here’s the thing with American remakes of foreign films: while I get that studios have a vested interest in making a lot of money off of taking a well-received foreign film and purging it of its, well, foreign-ness, to make it more appealing to the subtitle-averse mainstream American filmgoer, I’m also a pretty firm believer…

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Reviews

https://bestwatches.club/ on: The DVD Wrapup: Diamonds of the Night, School of Life, Red Room, Witch/Hagazussa, Tito & the Birds, Keoma, Andre’s Gospel, Noir

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

GDA on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

Larry K on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

gwehan on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Peppermint, Wild Boys, Un Traductor, Await Instructions, Lizzie, Coby, Afghan Love Story, Elizabeth Harvest, Brutal, Holiday Horror, Sound & Fury … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup & Gift Guide III: Venom 4K, The Super, Snowflake, Marie Curie, Gamechangers, Who We Are Now, 40 Guns, De Palma-De Niro,, Starman and more

aniban83 on: The DVD Wrapup & Gift Guide III: Venom 4K, The Super, Snowflake, Marie Curie, Gamechangers, Who We Are Now, 40 Guns, De Palma-De Niro,, Starman and more

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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