Reviews Archive for June, 2011

Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. Kiss Me Deadly

  “Kiss Me Deadly” (Four Stars) U.S.: Robert Aldrich, 1955 (Criterion Collection) Something went dark and sour and more than a little crazy in American culture in the post-World War 2 era. And more than a little of it comes bubbling up like hell-froth in Robert Aldrich‘s and A. I. Bezzerides’ hard-boiled, high-style masterpiece Kiss Me…

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The DVD Wrapup: Barney’s Version, Season of the Witch, Sucker Punch, Erasing David, Tetsuo, The Warrior’s Way, Camille 2000 …

Barney’s Version: Blu-ray Although few things are certain in life, it’s safe to say any movie in which Paul Giamatti appears is going to save some aspiring actor, somewhere, the cost of attending a master class in acting. If there’s nothing else to like in the picture – an unlikely proposition, considering his many fine…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Sucker Punch, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle

      Sucker Punch (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Zack Snyder, 2011  (Warner Bros.) Great visual effects. Lousy script. That seems to be a consensus on Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, even among some people who like it. And I guess I’d agree. Sort of. The movie is too incoherent and confusing to be…

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Wilmington on Movies: Transformers Dark of the Moon; Bad Teacher

  Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Three Stars) U.S.: Michael Bay, 2010 Mindless, soulless, heartless, mechanical, and shamelessly mercenary as it might be, director Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon — the latest in the often obnoxious movie series, starring Shia LaBeouf and a lot of Hasbro toys — is still one of the…

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Wilmington on Movies: Cars 2

 Cars 2 (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: John Lasseter (co-director Brad Lewis), 2011 Cars 2 is another Pixar feature cartoon for kids, adults, old people and everyone in between — especially if they have a crush on post-‘50s car culture. I don’t, but I could feel the curious, obsessive auto-loving fever pouring out of…

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Review: Bad Teacher

Of course, “Bad Teacher” itself is just a snappy pitch with no follow through, the sort of skin-deep idea that can get development executives (and audiences) interested without exerting itself unduly. “Cameron Diaz plays a drunk whore of a high school teacher, and Justin Timberlake is her goody-two-shoes love interest? Where do we sign?”

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Rest. The Adjustment Bureau, Unknown, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Insignificance, The Long Riders, The Brass Legend

  The Adjustment Bureau (Also Blu-ray) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: George Nolfi, 2011 (Universal) A rising young liberal congressman named David Norris (Matt Damon), running for the U.S. Senate and on a fast track to the White House, blows his chances when The New York Post publishes photos of his butt-bearing college high…

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The DVD Wrapup: The Island, Unknown, Cedar Rapids, Poison, Women in Cages, Andrei Arsenevitch …

The Island There’s no way to adequately synopsize Michael Bay’s latest sci-fi/action/thriller without adding a half-dozen spoiler alerts, and that’s not something I enjoy doing. What I can say about “The Island” is that it involves cloning, evil corporations and humans playing God; it’s chock full of exciting stunt work and chases, most accomplished without…

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Wilmington on DVD’s, Co-Picks of the Week: Classics. Zazie dans le Metro, Pale Flower.

CO-PICK: “Zazie dans le Metro” (Three and a Half Stars) France: Louis Malle, 1960 (Criterion) An impish little girl named Zazie, with pre-Beatle bangs, an unusually profane vocabulary and a seemingly endless sense of adventure, travels to Paris on the train with her mother (Odette Piquet). As soon as they hit Paris, her maman departs with…

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Wilmington on DVDs, Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S./U.K.: David Lean, 1957 (Columbia/Sony) Moviemaker David Lean was a master of the epic (Lawrence of Arabia) and a master of the intimate (Brief Encounter), and his greatest films often straddle some strange, sublime borderland between the two. The Bridge on the River Kwai, based…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. The Eagle, The Concert

The Eagle (Three Stars) U.S.-U.K.: Kevin Macdonald, 2011 The Eagle is one of the more enjoyable adventure movies I‘ve seen recently. Set in the wilds of Old Britain in the second century , it’s an old-fashioned, well-crafted, eiting movie, adapted by director Kevin Macdonald and writer Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s famous young adult novel…

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Wilmington on Movies: Green Lantern

Here comes another shot at Green Lantern again, in a big new superhero movie from Warner Bros. and D.C., and he’s got that silly little green mask again. And it strikes me as a silly green movie even though Reynolds is not bad, and even though the movie was made by Martin Campbell, who directed two of the best non-Connery James Bond movies. (I won’t mention the writers.) And even though it’s got a great villain, Sarsgaard’s Hector, who steals the whole movie, from Reynolds, from Strong, from Rush, from everyone. I bet he’d have stolen it even if they made him wear a silly little green mask too.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Art of Getting By

  The Art of Getting By (Two Stars) U.S.: Gavin Wiesen, 2011 If you’ve ever been faced with a last minute must-do study cram for a class you’ve been skipping or ignoring, you have to be moved just a little by The Art of Getting By — a movie whose hero (hero?) George Zinavoy (Freddie…

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Wilmington on Movies: Le Quattro Volte, My Perestroika

Le Quattro Volte (Three and a Half Stars) Italy/Germany/Switzerland: Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010 Movies, more than any other art form, can precisely show and beautifully render the appearance and feel and flow of reality: the look of the world, the way time passes, the way humans and animals and other life forms act on our planet. (And…

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Wilmington on Movies: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

 Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Two Stars) U.S.: Mark Waters, 2011 Well anyway, it’s not the penguins’ fault. Six of them — six handsome, lively and seemingly fearless emperor penguins — have been cast in the title roles of the new Jim Carrey movie, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. There, they share a refrigerated sound stage with the rubbery-faced, rubbery-limbed,…

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The DVD Wrapup: Red Riding Hood, Hall Pass, Jackass 3.5, Legend of the Fist, Kill the Irishman, Intolerance, The Makioka Sisters …

Red Riding Hood: Blu-ray If the word, “Little,” is conspicuously absent from the title of Catherine Hardwicke’s retelling of the venerable fairy tale, it’s probably because, 1) American lawmakers, parents and ratings boards are made queasy by the portrayal of sexual-awakening among “little” girls in the movies, and 2) there’s nothing remotely “little” about Amanda…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Rest. Battle: Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood, Hall Pass, Monogamy, Such Good Friends, Captain Newman, M. D.

Battle: Los Angeles (Also Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo) (One and a Half Stars) U. S.: Jonathan Liebesman, 2011 (Sony)  Seeing Battle: Los Angeles is like being forced to simultaneously watch, on big  TV screens covered with grit, War of the Worlds and Black Hawk Down being mashed to a pulp. Ear-splittingly loud and mind-numbingly violent, jam-packed with gung ho war…

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Wilmington on DVDs, Pick of the Week: Classic. Diabolique.

  PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC “Diabolique” (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) France: Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955 (Criterion Collection) The worst kind of fictional horror, the kind that seeps right into your psyche and stings to life your worst fears, sometimes springs from what seem to be the mundane routines of life: from the seeming world of…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Pick of the Week, New. Another Year.

 Another Year (Also Two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo) (Four Stars) U.K.: Mike Leigh, 2010. (Sony Pictures Classics) Another Year, from Mike Leigh is  another look at the Britain he‘s chronicled so powerfully and memorably since his first feature, Bleak Moments in 1971. It’s a rich humane work about people and classes, friendship and anguish, marriage and loneliness:…

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Wilmington on DVD: The Rest. Just Go With It; The Company Men; Sanctum.

Just Go With It (Two Stars) U. S.: Dennis Dugan, 2011 (Columbia) Okay, here’s Adam Sandler again. He or somebody he knows saw Cactus Flower… Cactus Flower, you say? Yeah  —  the 1969 movie comedy, from Abe Burrows’ Broadway hit about a philandering dentist (Walter Matthau), the one where Matthau cons a pretty counter-culture gal…

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Reviews

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Ray Pride on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

RAY WEIKEL on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

estes1963 on: The DVD Wrapup: Drive Angry, Once Upon a Time in the West, Adua & Her Friends, A Clockwork Orange, Undertow, The Joke, Passion Play, Kaboom, Harvest ...

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

gurley1986 on: The DVD Wrapup: Blood Simple, Cat People, Shallows, Neon Demon, Sirk X 2, Warcraft, Kamikaze '89 and more

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook