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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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“We don’t defy the laws of physics: There are no flying men or cars in this movie. So it made sense to do it old-school: real vehicles and real human beings in the desert. We shot the movie more or less in continuity, because the cars and the characters get really banged up along the way. The biggest benefit of digital technology for me was that the cameras were smaller and much more agile, so you could put them anywhere. We also spent a huge amount of time on spatial awareness—making sure the viewer could follow the action and understand what was happening. There has to be a strong causal connection from one shot to the next, just the same way that in music, there has to be a connection from one note to the next. Otherwise it’s just noise. Too often, if you just cram a lot of stuff into the frame, you get the illusion of a fast pace. But there’s no coherence. It doesn’t flow. It comes off as headbanging music, and it can be exhausting. We storyboarded the movie before we had a script: We had 3,500 boards, which helps the cast and crew understand how everything is going to fit together. Movies are getting faster and faster. The Road Warrior had 1,200 cuts. This one has 2,700 cuts. You have to treat it like a symphony.”
~ George Miller

“I was having issues with my script for It’s All About Love, so I called Ingmar Bergman and we ended up talking about everything but the script. He said, “Well, Festen is a masterpiece, so what are you going to do now?” At that point, I had not decided if I was going to make It’s All About Love, so I answered, “Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe this, maybe that.” There was just a long pause, and then he said, “You’re fucked.” I said, “Well, how can you know?” “Well, Thomas, you always have to decide your next movie before the movie you’re doing presently opens.” And I said, “Why is that?” “Well, two things can happen. One thing is that you fail, and then you’ll feel scared and humiliated. It’ll get into your head. Second, and even worse, you have success, and then you’ll want more of it, or you’ll want to maintain it. But if you decide on your next film while you’re in the middle of editing, it becomes a very nonchalant choice. And then it’s shorter from the heart to the hand.”
~ Thomas Vinterberg

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