Reviews Archive for August, 2011

The DVD Wrapup: In a Better World, The Complete Jean Vigo, If …, Orpheus, Cell 211, Phantom Pain, Skateland, Wrecked, True Adolescents …

In a Better World: Blu-ray The winner of the 2011 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film poses several interesting challenges for its characters and audiences. First, it tests the convictions of modern-day Christians to live up to lessons taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Beyond that, by setting “In a Better World”…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Picks of the Week, Classic: Cul-de-sac, An Affair to Remember. New: Police, Adjective

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC Cul-de-sac (Four Stars) U.K.: Roman Polanski, 1966 (Criterion) Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac — one of the great English-language films of the ‘60s, a classic of neo-noir and of ’60s dark British comedy — begins with a long, still shot of a car on a road in a nearly empty landscape. The…

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Wilmington on Movies: Colombiana

  Colombiana (Two Stars) U.S.: Olivier Megaton, 2011 She’s young. She’s tough. She’s agile. She’s half-naked. And  she’s definitely deadlier than the male — at least in this movie. Zoë Saldana, who was kind of blue in James Cameron‘s Avatar, plays producer-writer Luc Besson‘s notion of a rock ‘em sock ‘em action heroine in Colombiana…

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Wilmington on Movies: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Three Stars) U.S.: Troy Nixey, 2011    What’s that noise over there? What’s that knocking in the walls? Those ashes stirring in the fireplace? Ah, it’s nothing, it’s nothing. Don’t worry. Even though you’re all alone and I know you’re anxious…that there may be something…wrong. Or something unreal. Or…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic and Box Set. The Killing/Killer’s Kiss

The Killing (Two Discs) (Four Stars)  U. S.: Stanley Kubrick, 1956 (Criterion Collection)    At exactly 3:45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last weekend of September, Marvin Unger was perhaps the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill at the running of the fifth race… The Narrator…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Win Win, Poetry

Win Win (Three Stars) U.S.: Tom McCarthy, 2011 (20th Century Fox) Paul Giamatti has that look — you know the one — that exasperated, slightly fed-up look…That hangdog pall we saw on his gloomy mug when he played the frustrated writer/vinomaniac in Sideways, or that scruffy comic artist in American Splendor: the look of a…

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The DVD Wrapup: The Beaver, Win Win, NEDS, Secret Sunshine, Breath, Road to Nowhere, To Die Like a Man …

The Beaver: Blu-ray Even it were possible to ignore all the baggage Mel Gibson brings with him to any new project, “The Beaver” would still be a movie that defied audiences to like it. There are three things that come immediately to mind when I see the word “beaver,” and none of them is a…

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Wilmington on Movies: One Day

One Day (Two and a Half Stars)    U.K.: Lone Scherfig, 2011 Few things in life can haunt or obsess us more than the romances that could have happened but didn’t, or depress us more than the romances that did happen and somehow didn‘t work out. SPOILER ALERT, DAMMIT One Day, a romantic British film…

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The DVD Wrapup: Something Borrowed, Jane Eyre, Cul-de-Sac, Queen to Play, Meet Monica Velour, Big Lebowski …

Something Borrowed: Blu-ray There’s a very good chance I misinterpreted the publicity material that preceded the release of “Something Borrowed.”Am I the only one who expected it to be a romantic comedy? Given a cast that includes Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski and a way too handsome Colin Egglesfield, Luke Greenfield’s adaptation of Emily…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski (Four Stars) U.S.: Joel & Ethan Coen, 1998 (Universal) The Big Lebowski, that goofball masterpiece by the Coen Brothers — once damned by some as a shiftless, bone lazy movie that went nowhere slow, now hailed (rightly) as one of the great cult or un-cult movies of the ‘90s, the ‘80s the…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. The Conspirator; Jane Eyre

(Three Stars) U.S.: Robert Redford, 2010, Roadside Attractions The late Sidney Lumet, I think, would have liked Robert Redford‘s new movie, The Conspirator. It’s a film that, like Lumet’s courtroom masterpieces 12 Angry Men and The Verdict, deals dramatically and memorably with the vagaries of the law, and with the wars between justice and injustice,…

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Wilmington on Movies: 30 Minutes or Less

30 Minutes or Less (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Ruben Fleischer, 2011 The first 30 minutes of 30 Minutes or Less — a darkish heist comedy from the director (Ruben Fleischer) and co-star (Jesse Eisenberg) of Zombieland — are actually pretty funny. Two sets of smart, funny actors (Eisenberg & Aziz Ansari and Danny…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Help

  “The Help” (Three Stars) U.S.: Tate Taylor, 2011 Like smooth Kentucky Bourbon or hot cornbread and jambalaya, or like Ray Charles’ great bluesy versions of “Georgia on my Mind” and “America the Beautiful,” The Help is old-fashioned, flavorsome stuff — old-fashioned in many good ways, and a few not-so-good ones. Set in Jackson, Mississippi…

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Wilmington on Movies: Final Destination 5

(Two Stars) U.S.: Steven Quale, 2011 In Final Destination 5, as in the other Final Destinations, blood is the money shot, the actors, or at least their characters, are expendable , and a guy named Bludworth, or his boss Destiny, is breaking up that old gang of mine (again).   For only the price of a…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest. Paul, Mars Needs Moms, Despair

Paul (Two and a Half Stars) U. S.: Greg Mottola, 2011  (Universal) Suppose you were to rethink E. T. as a combination 70s road movie and Three Days of the Condor-style paranoid anti-C.I.A. thriller, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of Shaun of the Dead as a couple of RV-riding, geek-slacker Brits named Graeme Willy…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. Leaving Las Vegas, And Now Miguel

    “Leaving Las Vegas” (Three and a Half Stars) U. S.: Mike Figgis, 1995 (MGM/20th Century Fox) “Try to think that love’s not around. Still, it’s uncomfortably near…” Frank Sinatra, in “Angel Eyes” Nicolas Cage’s Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas as an alcoholic Hollywood agent named Ben Sanderson — who loses his last…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Your Highness; Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

  “Your Highness” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: David Gordon Green, 2011 (Universal) What price silliness? What price prurience? What price sheer knuckleheaded balderdash? Whatever the price, Your Highness – a sword and sorcery movie which sometimes seems geared as lowbrow comedy for frat boy idiots — pays it. This movie was so badly reviewed one…

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The DVD Wrapup: Mars Needs Moms, The Final Destination 3D, The Clinic, Super, Jumping the Broom, Battle of Algiers …

Mars Needs Moms: Blu-ray Judging simply from the negative press generated after the release of “Mars Needs Moms,” you’d have thought Disney was attempting to sell out-of-date produce to needy children, instead of a very decent family picture. The fact it underperformed so badly at the box office prompted more than one pundit to predict…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Change-Up

      “The Change-Up” (Two Stars) U.S.: David Dobkin, 2011 The Change-Up, a big star body-swap comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, is a movie that begins with baby poop jokes and climaxes with its two “heroes” urinating together in a public fountain, before an audience. And you can almost hear the moviemakers yelling…

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Wilmington on Movies: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes very much — even though it’s obviously better directed (and acted) than it is written. The best of Rise is so damned wonderful, and the worst of it so damned silly, that it’s sometimes hard to believe, as you watch it, that you’re in the same movie you were in ten minutes or so ago.

Still, the very best scenes — usually ones involving Caesar the lead ape (as acted by Andy Serkis), with his piercing dark eyes and sometimes poignant, sometimes chilling quietude, a leader of the revolt that we know will eventually take over the planet — are among the best scenes in any blockbuster this summer, or for several summers.

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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

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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas