Reviews Archive for July, 2011

Wilmington on Movies: Cowboys & Aliens

“Cowboys & Aliens” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jon Favreau, 2011 Movie Westerns usually take place in a primitive land of the American past (somewhere in the 19th century) full of horses and trains and showdowns and an occasional cattle drive, where the men spend an inordinate amount of time in saloons, and sudden…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Mao’s Last Dancer, Heartbeats, Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Crack in the World

   “Mao‘s Last Dancer“ (Blu-ray) (Three Stars) U. S.; Bruce Beresford, 2010 (20th Century Fox) Ballet, that grand art of music and the body married together, is a natural subject for the movies — a potential wonder, as The Red Shoes is there to prove again and again. Director Bruce Beresford‘s fact-based drama Mao’s Last…

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DVD Wrapup: Source Code, Winter in Wartime, Leon Morin: Priest, Jackboots on Whitehall, The Matrimony, Life During Wartime, Monamour …

Source Code: Blu-ray While it would be misleading to describe the existential sci-fi thriller “Source Code” as “‘Groundhog Day’ on a train loaded with explosives,” it’s close enough for government work. In the Bill Murray role here is an American helicopter pilot recently returned from Afghanistan, sufficiently incapacitated to have been in a coma for…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. Leon Morin, Priest; The Double Life of Veronique

Leon Morin, Priest (Leon Morin, Pretre) (Four Stars) France; Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961 (Criterion)       Jean-Pierre Melville is mostly known these days as a French master of film noir, neo-noir and World War 2 Resistance dramas. But Leon Morin, Priest, which won a Venice Grand Prize in 1961, shows another side of Melville: the highly polished…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic and Blu-ray. A Clockwork Orange

 “A Clockwork Orange” (Blu-ray) (Two discs) (Four Stars) U.S.-U.K.: Stanley Kubrick, 1971 (Warner Home Video) 1. When I was in college in the 1960s, Stanley Kubrick was one of my cinematic heroes. I thought  his movies were amazing: smart, funny, exciting, meaningful, beautifully crafted, brilliant, the best. I loved them. Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001:A Space Odyssey….

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Source Code

   (Four Stars) U.S.: Duncan Jones, 2011 (Summit Entertainment) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — George Santayana “Time is on my side.” — The Rolling Stones 1. We’re on a commuter train, racing toward Chicago. Something is wrong. It’s a nightmare. We’re also at the start of the first…

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Wilmington on Movies: Winnie the Pooh

  “Winnie the Pooh” (Three Stars) U.S.: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall; 2011 Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin… A. A. Milne He was one of the boon companions of my childhood: Winnie-the-Pooh or Edward Bear or Winnie-ther-Pooh, as he was variously called…

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Wilmington on Movies: Friends with Benefits

  “Friends with Benefits” (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Will Gluck, 2011 Falling in love is such great movie material that it’s a pity Hollywood these days gets it right (or funny) so rarely. Friends with Benefits is a movie that’s supposed to be smarter and funnier than the usual pseudo-romantic comedy (or…

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Wilmington on Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger

  “Captain America: The First Avenger” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Joe Johnston, 2011 I don’t mean to be a grouch, but Captain America — stalwart crime and monster-buster of  the  new Marvel epic Captain America: The First Avenger — struck me as one of the duller superheroes I’ve seen recently. That’s despite one of…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. The Horse Soldiers

  PICK OF THE WEEK: BLU-RAY “The Horse Soldiers” (Blu-ray) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: John Ford, 1959 (MGM/20th Century Fox) John Ford, America’s greatest director of Western movies — and maybe our greatest director, period — was also an aficionado of Civil War history. Yet Ford’s actual films about the Civil War and its…

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MW on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. Some Like It Hot, Naked.

 “Some Like It Hot” (Blu-ray) (Four Stars) U.S.: Billy Wilder, 1959 (MGM/20th Century Fox) The place is Chicago. Windy City. Downtown. The color: a film noirish black and white. The caliber: 45. The proof: 90. The time: 1929, The Capone Era and the Roaring Twenties — roaring their loudest.  We’re watching Some Like It Hot,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest. Take Me Home Tonight, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Amelie, Skidoo

Take Me Home Tonight (Also Blu-ray) (Two Discs) (Two Stars) U.S.; Michael Dowse, 2011 (20th Century Fox) Hyphenates of the world, arise! Topher Grace has just executive produced a movie, directed by Michael Dowse (FUBAR) from a story Topher Grace co-wrote, in which Topher Grace plays Matt Franklin, a 1984 L. A. underachiever who works…

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The DVD Wrapup: Take Me Home Tonight, Limitless, Potiche, The Music Room, Beauty and the Beast, Small Town Murder Songs …

Take Me Home Tonight Nearly 40 years after the release of “American Graffiti” – as close to perfect a movie as one is going to download anytime soon – filmmakers are still attempting to extract pay dirt from George Lucas’ gold mine, even if the vein played out after “Dazed and Confused.” “Take Me Home…

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WILMINGTON ON DVDs: Co-Picks of the Week: New. Potiche, Limitless

  CO-PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW   Potiche (Three Stars) France, Francois Ozon, 2010 (Music Box) A few words about Potiche: Catherine Deneuve is still beautiful at 67. Gerard Depardieu, still tremendous at 62, has grown as immense as Brando (in girth as well as talent.) Both still hold the screen casually and with real…

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Wilmington on Movies: Project Nim

  “Project Nim” (Four Stars) U.S.-U.K.: James Marsh, 2011 I. Let’s Play. — Nim He was a gnarled, hairy old chimpanzee, who spent most of his time in a large cage with two chimp companions and an occasional human visitor or keeper. He moved slowly and a bit painfully and he had a strange, sad,…

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Wilmington on Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two” (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; David Yates, 2010 Part I. All fine things must come to an end, and so finally has the Harry Potter series: the books first of all, and now the movies, climaxing at last in a final explosion, a last spell, that…

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Rest. Arthur, The Lincoln Lawyer, Promised Lands, Vera Cruz.

Arthur (One and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jason Winer, 2011 Rarely has the time seemed less right for a movie than it does for the Russell Brand remake of Arthur — that 1981 comedy semi-classic starring Dudley Moore in his career peak, as the drunken Manhattan heir to millions.  The Moore Arthur was a fancy swiller…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set. The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy.

“The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” (Four Stars) U.S.-New Zealand: Peter Jackson, 2001-2003 (New Line).  Picks of the Week may come and go, but here is my choice as Pick of the Decade. My selection, for all of the 2000s: Peter Jackson’s staggering adaptation of author J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. Araya

        Araya (Four Stars) Venezuela/France: Margot Benacerraf, 1959 (Milestone Film & Video) Art can be exhilarating, life can be disappointing. The uncommonly beautiful Venezuelan movie, Araya — a big critical success and major award winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959 — has been neglected in America for most of the…

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The DVD Wrapup: The Lincoln Lawyer, Rango, Arthur, Waking Madison, Damnation Alley, The Third Wave, Miral, Insidious …

The Lincoln Lawyer: Blu-ray The last time a movie was adapted from a crime novel by Michael Connelly, it left such a bad taste in the mouth of longtime fans they prayed he wouldn’t sell another of his books to Hollywood, especially those associated with LAPD detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. Even with the estimable talents…

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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