Reviews Archive for February, 2012

DVD Wrapup: Myth of American Sleepover, Hugo … More

David Robert Mitchell’s debut feature easily qualifies as one of the most criminally under-screened and neglected movies of the young century. While Hollywood continues to search in vain for the new John Hughes and independents hope to capture the same lightning in a bottle as “American Pie,” “The Myth of the American Sleepover” was there all along. Even in DVD, it succeeds at almost every level in capturing the joys, angst and insanity of being a teenager in middle-class America.

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Wilmington on Movies: Act of Valor

With its cast of real-life Navy Seals playing characters based on themselves, in a script partly drawn from real life, in scenes that the Seals actors helped design and choreograph, Act of Valor should really be the last word in Seals combat realism.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. The Conformist

The Conformist (Four Stars) Italian: Bernado Bertolucci, 1970 (Arrow Video) Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1970 The Conformist is an art film classic regarded by many cinematographers as the most beautifully photographed movie of its era. Vittorio Storaro, at his best, did the brilliant cinematography and the film’s main visual/stylistic influences include the American romantic/cynic Josef von Sternberg…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Tower Heist

Tower Heist. Wheww! That was one hell of a movie. Hell of a movie! Brett Ratner: Rush Hour! Rush Hour 2!!. Rush Hour 3!!! He‘s one moviemaker who can really make a movie move. Didn’t ya think?

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The DVD Wrapup: J. Edgar, Puss in Boots, On the Bowery, more

It’s the rare documentarian whose sympathizes don’t lie with common men and women, especially those dealt a weak hand at birth. Compassion isn’t something that can be taught at film school, like cinematography, history and theory. It pretty much has to be bred in the bone.

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Wilmington on DVDs. J. Edgar

This is a movie you should see both for its storytelling skills and the intense interest of the story it tells. So the hell what if it’s not constructed like the usual movie. Who wants it to be?

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Wilmington on Movies: Ghost Rider

No screenings for critics here on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — for reasons that become quickly apparent when you watch it — so I decided to fork over coin of the realm anyway and catch it at a multiplex. After all, I thought, how bad could it be? I mean really: How bad?

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Wilmington on Movies: The Secret World of Arrietty

Who, I pondered, were the craftsmen who made all the wonderful furniture and clothes and hand-crafted-looking household items that graced the Clocks’ house? Did these objects come from dollhouses? Are Pod and Homily master artisans as well as brilliant borrowers? As I said, I thought about it, but not much.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Mozart’s Sister

The movie begins lyrically, with a scene that recalls the openings of both Bergman’s The Magician and Max Ophuls’ Lola Montes: the Mozart family traveling to an engagement in a nearly broken down coach through the woods. When it does break down, we’re made painfully aware of how vulnerable their existence really is, the dilemma of many artists.

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The DVD Wrapup: Take Shelter, Tiny Furniture, More …

You’ll either buy into Aura and her world or you’ll find Tiny Furniture excruciatingly pretentious and boring.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn; A Fish Called Wanda

The movie, despite its hollow dialogue and sometimes punishing slow pace, does look sort of good. But it seems odd at times that this movie was directed by a man who made a movie about the Kinsey Report.

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Wilmington on Movies: Safe House

I didn’t dislike it. But I didn’t like it much (except for Washington), and I kept feeling that I should like it — that there was so much fuss being taken over Safe House, and so much obvious talent involved, that I was being somehow ungrateful in remaining unmoved — or in wishing that two or three of the action or chase set-pieces (say, the soccer stadium scene) had been replaced with a few more scenes devoted to character and dialogue and human interaction.

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Wilmington on Movies. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Along the way to the credits, The Artist Formerly Known as the Rock treats us to a performance of the Louis Armstrong favorite “What a Wonderful World,” with his own ukulele accompaniment; advises Sean on his love life, smiles constantly, and tops it off by bouncing berries off his popping pectorals, making for an unprecedented 3D experience.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Rest: The Rum Diary, Harold & Kumar Christmas

This sort-of cinematic roman a clef, changed by writer-director Bruce Robinson—considerably, but that’s all right—is a good nasty show pulsing and snapping and exploding with the witty chaos, counter-culture venom and inspired invective that were the Good Doctor’s mock-shock-and-awe stock in trade. Second-hand Gonzo, it’s true, but even diluted Thompson packs a wallop, since the raw unfiltered original blows the back of your head off.

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My DVD Wrapup: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, Lady and the Tramp, Downton Abbey, more…

If I were younger and had been far more stoned than I’ve been in years, I probably would have enjoyed “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas” quite a bit more than I did. Apparently, too, if I were rich enough to afford a Blu-ray 3D television, the experience would have been enhanced exponentially. Nothing freaks out stoners faster than images flying off a screen and landing in their laps.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Project Nim

Oh Nim. Humans sorry. Forgive us.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Woman in Black: Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens

So, at least we can go to a horror movie where we don’t have to watch more mock home movie or surveillance camera photography of monstrous stuff, or kibitz on teen/20 actors being slaughtered in another artificial holocaust for sale.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Big Year; Winged Migration; Life of Birds, Transformers and more

Bay and his crew (and a lot of the actors and voice actors) are still able to pump enough wild invention, heavy film technique, weirdo energy and Wowie-Kazowie-Blam-Blam-Blam-Kaboom-Vavoom-Wacka-Wacka-Wacka-Kerboom!!!!!!! into the show to impress the hell out of you at times.

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Wilmington on DVD. Pick of the Week: New. Drive

Neo-noir is this picture’s middle name, and its forebears are The Driver (of course) and John Boorman’s Point Blank, with Lee Marvin, and Peter Yates’ Bullitt, with Steve McQueen, and William Friedkin’s The French Connection and Michael Mann‘s outlaw movies Thief and Heat—and even perhaps Jean-Pierre Melville‘s Le Samourai, which has a hero hit man (played by Alain Delon) who’s just as cool, just as silent, murderous and secretly romantic as Gosling’s Driver is here.

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The DVD Wrapup: Transformers 3D, In Time, Dead Hooker In A Trunk…

“Dead Hooker in a Trunk” is the title of a do-it-yourself horror flick by Jen and Sylvia Soska, who not only co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred, but also are credited as co-producers, set decorators and assistants to the editor and cinematographer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made PB&J sandwiches for the cast and crew, as well. Unlike the great headlines and titles that point to lousy stories and movies, however, “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” is both a madly inventive parody of slasher flicks and a deliciously dark comedy.

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Reviews

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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 »

“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

A Spirited Exchange

“In some ways Christopher Nolan has become our Stanley Kubrick,” reads the first sentence of David Bordwell’s latest blog post–none of which I want or intend to read after that desperate opening sentence. If he’d written “my” or “some people’s” instead of “our”, I might have read further. Instead, I can only surmise that in some ways David Bordwell may have become our Lars von Trier.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum On Facebook

“Jonathan has written a despicable thing in comparing me to Trump. He’s free to read or not read what I write, and even to judge arguments without reading them. It’s not what you’d expect from a sensible critic, but it’s what Jonathan has chosen to do, for reasons of a private nature he has confided to me in an email What I request from him is an apology for comparing my ideas to Trump’s.”
~ David Bordwell Replies

“Yes, I do apologize, sincerely, for such a ridiculous and quite unwarranted comparison. The private nature of my grievance with David probably fueled my post, but it didn’t dictate it, even though I’m willing to concede that I overreacted. Part of what spurred me to post something in the first place is actually related to a positive development in David’s work–an improvement in his prose style ever since he wrote (and wrote very well) about such elegant prose stylists as James Agee and Manny Farber. But this also brought a journalistic edge to his prose, including a dramatic flair for journalistic ‘hooks’ and attention-grabbers, that is part of what I was responding to. Although I realize now that David justifies his opening sentence with what follows, and far less egregiously than I implied he might have, I was responding to the drum roll of that opening sentence as a provocation, which it certainly was and is.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum Replies