Reviews Archive for November, 2011

Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Friends With Benefits; 30 Minutes or Less; One Day; Island of Lost Souls

     “Friends with Benefits” (Two Stars) U. S.: Will Gluck, 2011 Falling in love is such great movie material that it’s a pity Hollywood screws it up so often, especially  these days. Friends with Benefits is  supposed to be smarter and funnier than the usual pseudo-romantic comedy of today, but it’s really ust another rommie-commie with more (and…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. Cave of Forgotten Dreams

      Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray combo) (Four Stars) Germany/France: Werner Herzog, 2011 (MPI Home Video)   Perhaps 30,000 years ago, or less, in the age of the paleoliths, a man or woman, or a group of them, stood before the walls of the cave of Chauvet, in France,…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Sarah’s Key

      Sarah’s Key (Elle s’appelait Sarah) (Three Stars) France: Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2010 (Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay) Sarah‘s Key (Elle s’appelait Sarah) is a movie about public and private tragedies, based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay and filmed with much fidelity and feeling by director-screenwriter Gilles Paquet-Brenner. It’s a good movie, with one…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Artist

        The Artist (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.-France: Michel Hazanavicius The Artist, a movie about the Golden Age of Hollywood, is a superb silent film in black and white by the French writer-director Michel Hazanavicius. It’s an utterly wonderful show: a gloriously anachronistic little film with actors who don’t talk and pictures that…

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Wilmington on Movies: My Week with Marilyn

    My Week With Marilyn (Three Stars) U.K.: Simon Curtis, 2011 Marilyn Monroe: She was a dream of sex and the ultimate blonde fantasy. She was a smart girl who got rich and famous playing dumb. She was an innocent who played with fire and whose angel-wings burst into flame. And she was a…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Descendants

  The Descendants (Four Stars) U.S.: Alexander Payne, 2011  Good things often take a while. But should they? It took director-writer Alexander Payne seven years to make a new film  after his Oscar-winning/box-office/critical triumph with Sideways in 2004.  Considering how good Sideways was, and how much it was liked, that’s a long time. (Too long)….

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Wilmington on Movies: The Muppets

  The Muppets (Three Stars) U.S.: James Bobin, 2011 It’s good to have them back. Jim Henson’s Muppets — among the most delightful puppets and most engaging fuzzy-furry fictional beasties to ever pop out of a TV or movie screen — haven’t been around much in recent years. Oh, once in a while we’ve seen them: a…

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The DVD Wrapup: Super 8, Spy Kids 4, Devil’s Double, Sarah’s Key, Family Tree, Trigger, Helldriver …

Super 8: Blu-ray Spy Kids 4: All Time in the World As residents of the placid Ohio town of Lillian are being rounded up and bussed to an Air Force base – ostensibly to protect them from a mysterious virus – I remembered that I’d seen this movie before, dozens of times in the last…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Box Sets: Georges Melies, The Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913); Melies Encores

  This week, happily on my birthday, November 23, a truly wonderful film is opening: Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s amazing and beautiful fiction feature about an inventive  boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a spectacular Parisian railroad station (Modeled on the Gare Montparnasse), and the bearded, embittered shopkeeper he meets there, a man who…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. 12 Angry Men (Lumet); Twelve Angry Men (Schaffner)

  DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC 12 Angry Men (Two Discs) (Four Stars) U.S.; Sidney Lumet, 1957 (Criterion) The court will rise…   12. Twelve men, jurors in a ’50s murder trial, gather together in the sweltering heat of a New York City afternoon, in a box-like jury room where the fans give little…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Super 8

    Super 8 (Four Stars) U.S.: J. J. Abrams, 2011, Paramount Remember what it was like when you were 12? 14? Twelve, wishing you were fourteen? Remember how magical the world was then? And how magical the movies were: the ones that you really loved and remembered and were really affected by? For me, that was 1958…

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Wilmington on Movies: Happy Feet Two

      Happy Feet Two (Three Stars) U.S.: George Miller, 2011   I’ve got to admit: The first ten minutes or so of Happy Feet Two had me worried — even though I was quite partial to the first 2006 installment of the original, George Miller’s 2006 tale of a tap-dancing penguin named Mumble…

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Wilmington on Movies: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part One

  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part One (Two Stars) U.S.: Bill Condon, 2011 You would have thought that the eagerly awaited marriage of Bella Swan (as played by Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (as played by Robert Pattinson) of the Twilight movie saga would solve that series’ ongoing sex and repression issues.  But…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classics. The Phantom Carriage, The Outlaw and His Wife, A Man There Was, Ingeborg Holm

The Phantom Carriage (Four Stars) Sweden: Victor Sjostrom, 1921 (Criterion Collection)   I. The Swedes Victor Sjostrom, a Viking of a 20th century Swedish artist, a great actor-director with sad, somber eyes, infallible instincts and a granite chin, is best known for his masterful performance, at 78, as the dying, memory-tormented professor Isak Borg in Ingmar…

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: Larry Crowne, Bellflower, The Trip, Despair, Phaedra

              “Larry Crowne” (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Tom Hanks, 2011 In Larry Crowne — a romantic comedy with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts that should have been a timely, funny show, but isn’t — Hanks plays the title character, an up-from-working-class managerial guy suddenly cut adrift from his life, and forced to…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: Blu-ray. Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides; The Big Lebowski

 Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides (Blu & DVD Combos) (Three Stars) U.S.: Rob Marshall, 2011 (Disney) Johnny Depp isn’t acting at full pressure in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — the fourth in the lucrative comedy pirate adventure movie series inspired by the great Disneyland theme park ride. But then, how…

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. The Rolling Stones Some Girls Live in Texas — 1978

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas  1978 (Also Blu-ray and DVD/CD Combo) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S. (Eagle Rock Entertainment) 1978-2011          It was 1964, the summer after my senior year in high school, and the song blasting out of the juke box at the Arctic Circle, a frozen custard drive-in and…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Melancholia.

What can you say about a film which begins and ends with the end of the world — and imagines that end in the most extravagantly arty 19th century way, with a musical lament from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” Prelude, falling birds and images of star Kirsten Dunst (who plays the movie’s depressive heroine Justine, von Trier’s emotional stand-in) floats by in the water like Millais’ Ophelia, while images of apocalypse resound like Wagnerian chords, or the prelude of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, restaged for some lunatic Festival of Armageddon? It better be beautiful — or von Trier will look like a fool. It better be striking; it better be memorable. It is.

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Wilmington on Movies: J. Edgar

 J. J. Edgar (Also 2 or 3 Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Three and a Half Stars) U.S.: Clint Eastwood, 2011 (Warner Bros.) J. Edgar isn’t the movie I expected, but I liked it. Clint Eastwood’s noirish, moody bio-drama on the repressed life and powerful career of the FBI’s longtime founder-director, J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio…

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Wilmington on Movies. Jack and Jill

In comedy, shamelessness is sometime a virtue, sometimes a vice — and Adam Sandler hits both those keys in Jack and Jill. It’s his drag comedy movie. Sandler plays identical male and female twins, Jack and Jill Sadelstein, who live on opposite coasts (and, in many ways, in different worlds), but are getting together for Thanksgiving, with a possibility, as it turns out, of a stay through Hanukah and beyond. They have, to put it mildly, a complicated relationship. It’s a complicated movie too — funnier than most recent Sandlers, but also sometimes violently obnoxious.

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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook