Reviews Archive for September, 2011

Wilmington on Movies: 50/50

50/50 (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Jonathan Levine, 2011   Your best friend looks you in the face and tells you that he’s dying. Wait a minue, it’s not quite like that…He tells you that he has a rare form of spinal cancer and that his chances of survival, according to the doctors, are 50/50….

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic, Blu-ray. Strike

     PICK OF THE WEEK: Classic/Blu-ray Strike (Stachka) (Four Stars) U.S.S.R./Russia: Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 (Kino Classics) 1. Eisenstein  In 1925, Sergei Eisenstein, a rich architect’s son who had become a passionate convert to Communism during the Russian Revolution and afterward a brilliant theatrical director with the Proletkult Theatre of Moscow, directed two silent films…

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The DVD Wrapup: Transformers, Angel of Evil, Dumbo, Viva Riva!, Phantom Carriage, The Stool Pigeon, Hung, Kojak …

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Blu-ray The third installment in the “Transformers” franchise, “Dark of the Moon,” locates the decisive battle for the preservation of mankind in downtown Chicago. The Windy City residents have experienced seen more than their fair share of disasters since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lantern that triggered the Great…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Transformers Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Also Blu-ray) (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…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Carlos

  Carlos (Three and a Half Stars) France: Olivier Assayas, 2010 (Criterion Collection) In his excellent political thriller/biographical drama Carlos, Olivier Assayas makes an epic of 20th century revolution, an incendiary subject, but a film hot at heart yet cool on the surface, out of the ugly, exciting  story of the terrorist “Carlos,” a would-be political idealist who became a killer…

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Wilmington on Movies: Love Crime

  Love Crime (Three Stars) France: Alain Corneau, 2010 Movie murder mysteries can sometimes get too tricky and convoluted for their own good, and that’s pretty much what happens in Love Crime (Crime d’Amour),  a fine, itelligent, neatly made little French film neo-noir that would have been even better if it didn’t try so hard to outsmart us…

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Wilmington on Movies: Moneyball

   (Four Stars) U. S.: Bennett Miller  It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you read the spreadsheet.     For many Americans, baseball is a great American game, and a great American sports myth as well — and it’s also, at times, a business, a gamble, a crud-boatload of media hype, and, last…

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Wilmington on Movies: Killer Elite

  (Two Stars) U.S.: Gary McKendry, 2011 There are lots of reasons to get irritated with Killer Elite — a big-bucks, big-star, mucho-macho, heavy-duty actioner that throws up several hours of murkily photographed violence, preachy dialogue and byzantine plot twists, while wasting three good actors — Jason Statham, Clive Owen and, sadly enough, Robert De…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Captain America: The First Avenger, Dziga and His Brothers, The Killer is Loose, The Song of Songs,This is the Night

“Captain America: The First Avenger” (Two 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 the more amazing special effects…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Box Set/Blu-ray. Visions of Europe

 (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.; Roy A. Hammond (aerial director/executive producer), Sam Toperoff (producer/editor/writer), 2001-9 (Acorn Media) One of the most visually stunning travelogue series ever, the “Visions” sets from WLIW in New York offer spectacular aerial tours of the great sights of Europe, shot in gorgeous high definition cinematography, accompanied by fairly typical…

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The DVD Wrapup: HitRECord, The Tempest, Bride Flight, Inspector General, The Caller, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Claude Chabrol, Mike Hammer …

HitRECord Recollection, Volume 1 The entertainment industry has been trying to mine gold from the Internet for almost two decades now, desperately searching for ways to distribute movies, music and other formats safely and economically. Some have succeeded, while most others have simply failed or disappeared without a digital footprint left behind. The wiseguys say…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic/Box Set. The Complete Jean Vigo

  (Two Discs) (Four Stars) France: Jean Vigo, 1930-34 (Criterion Collection)   I. Jean Vigo, The Rebel  He died at 29: Jean Vigo, in many ways, the spirit of youth, of art, of cinematic rebellion, of France between the wars. He was the sacred enfant terrible and the laughing rebel and grand martyr of French…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Picks of the Week: New. Bridesmaids, Le Quattro Volte

  Bridesmaids (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Paul Feig, 2011 (Universal) Kristen Wiig is one funny lady, and Bridesmaids — in which she is both star and co-writer — is one funny movie.  That’s hardly news. “Bridesmaids” is one of the best reviewed, best liked Hollywood comedies of the year. By current consensus, it’s…

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Wilmington on Movies and DVD; Straw Dogs (Peckinpah and Lurie)

  Film: Straw Dogs (Two Stars) U. S.: Rod Lurie, 2011 DVD: Straw Dogs (Blu-ray) (Three and a half Stars) U.S.: Sam Peckinpah, 1971 (MGM) I. Bloody Sam Straw Dogs, Rod Lurie‘s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 classic — with Dustin Hoffman as a Vietnam era intellectual forced to face the beast in himself and…

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Wilmington on Movies: I Don’t Know How She Does It

    U.S.: Douglas McGrath, 2010 (Two Stars)   I Don’t Know How They Do It     Summary You think you’ve got problems? Let me tell you, you don’t know what “problems” mean until you’ve had a peep at the Perils of Parker in the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It, Sarah Jessica’s…

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Wilmington on Movies: Drive

  Drive (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011  Drive is an L. A. action movie that can really tighten your throat and twist your guts. Story-wise, it’s lean, mean and stripped to the bone, but it’s also drenched with visual style. Directed by Nicolas Winding-Refn, the flashy Dane of The “Pusher”…

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The DVD Wrapup: Thor, Citizen Kane, Just Peck, Meek’s Cutoff, Leading Ladies, Bill Cunningham New York, Spartacus …

Thor: Blu-ray 3D Marvel Knights: Thor & Loki Blood Brothers You know things are bad on Earth, when superheroes from other universes are stripped of their powers and sent here as punishment, instead of refuge and a “chance for life,” as was Superman. Albania, maybe, but not the good ol’ U.S. of A. That’s exactly…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: X-Men The First Class, Thor, The Colossus of New York, Monkey Business

  X-Men: The First Class (Also Blu) (Two Discs) (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Matthew Vaughn, 2011 Maybe I’m getting tired of super-heroes and super-heroines. Or maybe X-Men: First Class just has too many of them. In any case, the latest Marvel movie, by my reckoning, puts a first-rate cast into a third-rate story,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. Meek’s Cutoff, Secret Sunshine

  Meek’s Cutoff (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Kelly Reichardt, 2011 Meek’s Cutoff, like the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, is an art film Western for a contemporary audience, and an unusually good one — made by a director and writer (Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond), who show a real feeling for what it must have been…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  CO-PICK OF THE WEEK: BLU-RAY   O Brother,  Where Art Thou?  (Four Stars) U.S.: Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000 (Touchstone/Disney)      O Brother, Where Art Thou? — for whose title alone Joel and Ethan Coen deserve a medal — is an outrageously entertaining and inventive movie that still hasn’t gotten its due. The Coen…

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Reviews

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

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“Any time a movie causes a country to threaten nuclear retaliation, the higher-ups wanna get in a room with you… In terms of getting the word out about the movie, it’s not bad. If they actually make good on it, it would be bad for the world—but luckily that doesn’t seem like their style… We’ll make a movie that maybe for two seconds will make some 18-year-old think about North Korea in a way he never would have otherwise. Or who knows? We were told one of the reasons they’re so against the movie is that they’re afraid it’ll actually get into North Korea. They do have bootlegs and stuff. Maybe the tapes will make their way to North Korea and cause a fucking revolution. At best, it will cause a country to be free, and at worst, it will cause a nuclear war. Big margin with this movie.”
~ Seth Rogen In Rolling Stone 1224

“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies