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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Reviews

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Eighth Grade, No. 1 Fan, Jeannette, Moe Berg, 12th Man, La Familia, Molly, Sarno, Making a Killing, All Styles … More

David Pearce on: The DVD Wrapup: Eighth Grade, No. 1 Fan, Jeannette, Moe Berg, 12th Man, La Familia, Molly, Sarno, Making a Killing, All Styles … More

Trevor T. Trujillo on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Steven DeGennaro on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Steven DeGennaro on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Andre on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Steven DeGennaro on: The DVD Wrapup: Hereditary, Ghost Stories, Found Footage 3D, Beast, Venus, This Is Our Land, The Big Take, Brothers, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, Sid Caesar, Good Karma Hospital … More

Roy Atkinson on: DVD Wrapup: Commuter, Oscar, A Taxi Driver, Humor Me, Prince, Doris Day, Shakespeare Wallah, Pomegranates and more

The DVD Wrapup: Owl’s Legacy, Good Manners, Childrens Act, Juliet Naked, Unnamable, Little Italy, Gas Food Lodging, SWF, Detective Dee, Windtalkers … More

The DVD Wrapup: Incredibles 2, Superman, Midaq Alley, La Boyita, 7th Day, Longing, Breaking Brooklyn, Mara, Capra Goes to War, Sleepwalkers, The Circus, Native America … More

The DVD Wrapup: Spy Who Dumped Me, Elena Ferrante, Sun at Midnight, Elephant’s Journey, Retro Afrika, Never Goin’ Back, Believer, Dragnet, Valley Girl, Black Sails … More

The DVD Gift Guide I: Uni Monsters, Body Snatchers, Twilight 4K, Evil Dead, Trauma, Creepshow, Haunted Hill, Dude 4K, Saved by Bell, 3 Stooges … More

The DVD Wrap: Ant-Man/Wasp, Whitney, Boundaries, BuyBust, Down a Dark Hall, Reprisal, Gen Wealth, 8 Hours Don’t Make a Day … More

The DVD Wrapup: Prayer Before Dawn, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far, Angels Wear White, Rodin, Schiele, Witch Files, 3rd Night, Official Story, Iron Mask … More

The DVD Wrapup: Eighth Grade, No. 1 Fan, Jeannette, Moe Berg, 12th Man, La Familia, Molly, Sarno, Making a Killing, All Styles … More

The DVD Wrapup: Solo, Izzy, Mountain, Uncle Drew, Gotti, The Row, Sumer Nights, Seagull, Mountain, American Psycho, Day of Jackal, The Baby, Freaky Friday, Human Body … More

The DVD Wrapup: Damsel, Hired Hand, Siberia, Toybox, Guardians, Cold Water, Lost Child, Rock HofF, Pyjama Girl, Miniaturist … More

The DVD Wrapup: Goldstone, Westwood, That Summer, Irish Surf, Wyeth, Barbershop, Jess Franco, Mambo Cool, Watcher, Rolling Stone at 50 … More

Quote Unquotesee all »

“We’re all going to die so it makes it very easy. I haven’t always thought that way but I’ve realized it’s the truth. I think age gets you there, questioning your mortality… When you realize that, it’s so liberating, it’s so free, you can fly! There’s no need to hold on to anything. Like, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you; it’s probably happened to 500 million people as well. Who gives a shit!”
~ Steve McQueen

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children.”
~ Stan Lee, 1965