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

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