Reviews Archive for December, 2010

MW on DVDs: The American, Cronos, I am Love … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW The American (Three Stars) U.S.; Anton Corbijn, 2010 (Universal) I like George Clooney. No off-color psychological speculations, please. What I like about him is the easy-going “good guy” way he plays the Hollywood game. I like his politics, his philanthropy, his unpretentious smarts, his good-natured jock style, his taste in…

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The DVD Wrap: Elsewhere, And Soon the Darkness, Twelve, The Jesus Guy … and more

Elsewhere Oddly enough, the best line of dialogue I’ve heard in a long time comes in Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s amazing documentary, Elsewhere. After shooting a large seal with a harpoon gun, an Inuit hunter quips, “I hope I didn’t hit the white people.” The “white people” were sitting directly behind the man, chronicling the first hunt…

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MW on Movies: True Grit

True Grit (Four Stars) U.S.: Ethan and Joel Coen (The Coen Brothers), 2010 Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old heroine of the new Coen Brothers movie, True Grit, — the Coens’ remake of the 1969 classic with John Wayne — is the kind of spunky, indomitable little kid we’d have all liked to have known, or to…

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MW on DVDs: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Romeo and Juliet, Salt, Easy A … and more

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps returns us to one of Stone’s great subjects of the 1980s: the glamour and corruption of the American financial markets. A sequel to Stone‘s 1987 Wall Street, this show plunges us back into the seductions and pitfalls of the casino mentality on the trading floors and the stock market, of inside guys making huge, quick profits and the dangerous games and ruinous consequences of playing with other people‘s money, other people‘s lives — and not giving a damn about it.

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The DVD Wrap: Salt, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Step Up 3, Soul Kitchen … and more

Salt: Deluxe Unrated Edition Angelina Jolie has proven time and again that she’s the only established actress — outside China, anyway – who not only can open an action film, but also carry it to the finish line at the box office, no matter how unfathomable the premise. If I had to boil her appeal…

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MW on Movies: The King’s Speech and Yogi Bear

The King’s Speech (Four Stars) U. K.: Tom Hooper, 2010 The King’s Speech — which tells the story of King George VI’s chronic speech impediment, and of how he overcame it with the help of a boisterous Australian actor/therapist just in time to help Britain win World War II — is being touted as this…

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The DVD Wrap: Despicable Me, The Town, Cyrus,The A-Team, Micmacs, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work … and more

Despicable Me: Blu-ray 3D Legend of the Guardians: Owls of Ga’hoole: Blu-ray 3D Anyone old enough to remember such ancient cartoon evil-doers as Snidely Wipelash, Boris Badenov, Dishonest John and Crabby Appleton probably will enjoy Despicable Me as much as their kids and grandkids. For Boomers, especially, it will recall a time when villains didn’t…

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MW on DVDs: The Town, Mother and Child, Despicable Me, The Other Guys, Nanny McPhee Returns … and more

The Boston, Massachusetts, of Ben Affleck‘s new movie The Town – and of The Departed, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and other recent thrillers, Dennis Lehane-derived or not — is decades away from the morally bent city of that great under-seen 1973 neo-noir The Friends of Eddie Coyle. But it has a similarly chilly temperature, the same clipped sense of smart-ass New England doom and Kennedy-accented cynicism welling up from the mean, sullen streets.

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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite of the Narnia books, so when Disney announced they were ditching the franchise after Prince Caspian, I was a bit miffed. I could do without the prequel, The Magician’s Nephew, being made into a film. I don’t care for Eustace Scrubb enough to be invested in…

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MW on Movies: The Tourist, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Fighter

This is a city we’d probably all like to visit, and it’s shot here by director-co-writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and cinematographer John Seale, with all the color and the luster they can, uh, muster. (Without fluster). A huge advantage, that.

Which The Tourist then sort of squanders.

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Review – True Grit (2010) (Spoiler-Free)

True Grit is a movie about bold lions who are sometimes righteous, sometimes not. They pay for their self-righteousness in tangible ways that, perhaps, are not so comfortable for audiences. They leave aside their righteousness when it suits. They step beyond animal boldness, reactive and immediate, and sometimes decide to play God.

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MW on DVDs: Restrepo, Inception, The Grapes of Wrath, Shrek Forever After … and more

PICK OF THE WEEK: BLU-RAY Restrepo (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Sebastian Junger/Tim Hetherington, 2010 (Virgil) Restrepo is a documentary about the war in Afghanistan that’s beautifully shot and terrifyingly convincing. The color photography is crisp and clear. The subjects, a platoon of American soldiers in the mountains, are amazingly candid. The directors —…

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The DVD Wrap: Inception, Restrepo, Videodrome, Cronos, Strictly Ballroom … and more

Inception: Blu-ray Normally, I wouldn’t recommend watching a background featurette before checking out the main attraction first. The summer smash, Inception, demands a bit more work on the part of the viewer than most movies, though, and to fully enjoy the experience, some preparation is advised. This isn’t to imply the only people capable of…

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Review: Black Swan

You wouldn’t know it from its Rotten Tomatoes rating, but Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Black Swan, was probably the most divisive film at Toronto. Perhaps it was because in the days leading up to the fest we kept hearing such different things about it: Some rumors said it was a callback to the visually compelling,…

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MW on Movies: Black Swan and I Love You Phillip Morris

Black Swan
Who makes crazier art movies — about more agonized characters, trapped in more nightmarish fixes — than Darren Aronofsky? David Lynch, Bong Joon-ho and Roman Polanski, maybe — but precious few others. A specialist in tales of the brilliantly sick and the sickishly brilliant, Aronofsky has spun, with disorienting intensity, barmy movie stories…

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Reviews

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas