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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“I was 15 when I first watched Sally Hardesty escape into the back of a pickup truck, covered in blood and cackling like a goddamn witch. All of her friends were dead. She had been kidnapped, tortured and even forced to feed her own blood to her cannibalistic captors’ impossibly shriveled patriarch. Being new to the horror genre, I was sure she was going to die. It had been a few months since I survived a violent sexual assault, where I subsequently ran from my assailant, tripped, fell and fought like hell. I crawled home with bloody knees, makeup-stained cheeks and a new void in both my mind and heart. My sense of safety, my ability to trust others, my willingness to form new relationships and my love of spending time with people I cared about were all taken from me. It wasn’t until I found the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that something clicked. It was Sally’s strength, and her resilience. It was watching her survive blows to the head from a hammer. It was watching her break free from her bonds and burst through a glass window. It was watching her get back up after she’d been stabbed. It was watching her crawl into the back of a truck, laughing as it drove away from Leatherface. She was the last one to confront the killer, and live. I remember sitting in front of the TV and thinking, There I am. That’s me.”
~ Lauren Milici On “The Final Girl”

“‘Thriller’ enforced its own reality principle; it was there, part of the every commute, a serenade to every errand, a referent to every purchase, a fact of every life. You didn’t have to like it, you only had to acknowledge it. By July 6, 1984, when the Jacksons played the first show of their ‘Victory’ tour, in Kansas City, Missouri, Jacksonism had produced a system of commodification so complete that whatever and whoever was admitted to it instantly became a new commodity. People were no longer comsuming commodities as such things are conventionally understood (records, videos, posters, books, magazines, key rings, earrings necklaces pins buttons wigs voice-altering devices Pepsis t-shirts underwear hats scarves gloves jackets – and why were there no jeans called Bille Jeans?); they were consuming their own gestures of consumption. That is, they were consuming not a Tayloristic Michael Jackson, or any licensed facsimile, but themselves. Riding a Mobius strip of pure capitalism, that was the transubstantiation.”
~ Greil Marcus On Michael Jackson