Reviews Archive for March, 2012

The DVD Wrapup: Dangerous Method, Broken Tower, Delta… More

The way Mátyás Erdély’s camera lingers on natural phenomena recalls the haunting imagery that distinguishes the Terrence Malick, Bela Tarr and Andrei Tarkovski. In Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s “Delta,” depictions of the area’s natural beauty run contrary to the ugliness of the local male population, whose only mission in life appears to be diminishing the potential for happiness in others.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Extremely Loud & Incrdibly Close

        EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE (Two and a Half Stars) U.S.: Stephen Daldry, 2012 (Warner Bros.) I don’t want to come across as mean and heartless here, but, though there were parts of it I liked a lot,  the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close affected me something like a persistent urchin…

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The DVD Wrapup: Carnage, Louder Than a Bomb, Dragon Tattoo, Gainsbourg… More

Say what you will about Roman Polanski, the man can still direct movies.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Classic. On the Bowery

On the Bowery is Lionel Rogosin’s legendary 1956 documentary about men who drink, set in the derelict bars, flophouses and missions of New York City‘s Bowery in the ’50s. Now beautifully restored in 35 mm by Milestone Films, this black and white film chronicle of a short season in hell below the 3rd Avenue El, is an almost unbearably honest film.

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Wilmington on DVDs. The Sitter, Louder Than a Bomb, Hop

Well, I’ve had it. After defending David Gordon Green for making Pineapple Express, a controversially violent stoner comedy that I think is well-acted, well-directed and hot-damn funny, I find myself confronted with this silly-ass comedy and harebrained Jonah Hill vehicle The Sitter, a movie that tries to stuff the white-boy car-crash raunch of The Blues Brothers and the paranoid comedy of After Hours into the kids-out-all-night plot of Adventures of Babysitting, and comes up with something just this side of Adventures in Idiocy or maybe Francis the Talking Mule Goes to a Swinger’s Club or maybe Plan 9 from a Night at the Roxbury.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: New. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Muppets

Rooney Mara is no Noomi Rapace. At least when it comes to playing superpunk, black-jacketed, neo-noir heroines with burning eyes, pierced eyelids and deadly temperaments. But she’s close.

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Wilmington on Movies: 21 Jump Street

I may have missed those laughs, but since 21 Jump Street is already a certifiable big hit — and even a certifiable critical hit — nothing I can say is likely to resonate one way or another. The fact that I found it not very funny, not very entertaining, visually scrappy, and full of dopey scenes that made little or no sense will count for little or nothing here in Box Office Mega Land.

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Wilmington on Movies: Casa de mi Padre

When good actors play bad actors giving bad performances in a bad movie, there’s a thin line — between bad and good and bad-good or good-bad. One can appreciate the subtle self-effacing skill involved in bad-as-good movie-making and acting. But aren’t these people taking away work from genuinely bad actors?

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Moment of Truth

By the end of the film, after Rosi and the audience have followed a young bullfighter, Miguel or “Miguelin,” from provincial poverty all the way to fame in Barcelona and Madrid, to the brink of massacre, and to the moment of truth, of oblivion, that every matador, every bull, every screaming member of the crowd, must feel or face in their own ways — at the end of all that, in the presence of our God and a church, we sense that we‘ve seen not just seen an exotic entertainment, but that we’ve had a life experience. It’s a terrifying film, and a wondrous one, and, as you watch it, it drains your heart and guts, as it stares fiercely into the sun, like Kurosawa.

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The DVD Wrapup: Descendants, Marilyn, Young Adult, Bellissima, More

“Bellissima” features a tour de force performance by Anna Magnani as a fame-obsessed stage mother, whose only moderately talented daughter becomes a pawn in a game designed to impress studio executives looking for the next big child star. Magnani’s Maddalena Ciccone is so self-centered and determined to win the contest that she fails to notice how much pain she’s causing little Maria and her husband, Spartaco, whose dreams of building a house for them diminishes with every dollar Maddalena spends on photographs, costumes and bribes.

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Wilmington on DVDs: My Week with Marilyn, Happy Feet Two, The Three Musketeers, The Geisha Boy

Then there’s Michelle Williams as Marilyn herself. I said above that nobody could catch Marilyn’s magic. No one can. But Michelle Williams comes close. She does a wonderful job, manages to get some of her body and a bit of her soul. And some of her blonde haired beauty, the kind gentlemen prefer. (Gentlemen, hah!)

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Wilmington on DVDs. Pick of the Week: Blu-ray. The Adventures of Tintin

All three of them (four, counting the dauntless Snowy), are constantly hurled into perilous exploits involving galleons aflame, crashing airplanes, scorching desert sand dunes filled with camels, sheiks and villainy, plus one of the most spectacular one-take car and motorcycle chases ever (a dam bursts just as the chase gets underway), and a climactic industrial crane battle (done, like the other action scenes, in what look like super-crane shots).

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Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Picks of the Week: New. The Descendants, Melancholia

This is a perfect Clooney role and movie, just as The Hustler or Hud or The Verdict were perfect for Paul Newman, The Sting or The Way We Were or the Sundance Kid were perfect for Robert Redford. Everything that makes Clooney attractive on screen — likeability, smarts, vulnerability, earnestness in the face of chaos, that wry sense of being at the center of things but not letting it carry him away, and the ability to kid himself — is present in the character he‘s playing here.

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Wilmington on Movies: Silent House

It’s a contemporary variation on the “Old Dark House” lady-in-distress thriller, based on the Uruguayan suspense film La Casa Muda and it stars the very pretty and convincing Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah, a sensitive and troubled young lady whose somewhat obnoxious father John and somewhat enigmatic Uncle Peter have joined her at the family’s summer home, to clean it up and prepare it for sale.

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Wilmington on Movies: John Carter

John Carter, the new live action Disney epic — based on the popular early 20th century pulp series of science fiction novels (“A Princess of Mars,“ etc.) by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs — reportedly cost all of that and more, and it still looks like as if it’s missing something. But maybe it’s missing something money can’t buy.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Anatomy of a Murder, To Catch a Thief

Why has it lasted? Improved with age? Actually, surprisingly, when the shock elements of the movie began to seem tamer, its excellence as a realistic film drama became far more apparent.

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The DVD Wrapup: Footloose, 54, Vanya on 42nd Street… More

What’s missing from the Blu-ray edition of “54” is the 45 minutes of deleted material, compiled by Christopher and shown at New York’s Outfest in 2008. It expands on the promiscuity and cocaine-fueled depravity that made Studio 54 the attraction it was, while amplifying on Phillippe’s bisexuality, which was only alluded to in finished product.

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Wilmington on DVDs. Jack and Jill, Footloose, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Among Jill’s more unfortunate traits: a habit of leaping into Jack’s bed and spooning (She calls it part of “twin time“), starting arguments at dinnertime, saying everything in a loud, squeaky Bronx screech of a voice, diarrheic reactions to chimichangas and a tendency to leave huge dark sweat stains on her bed sheets.

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Wilmington on Movies: Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

… a hellhole inhabited by more idiots and a wolf or two, including the uncredited John C. Reilly as the affably deranged halfwit Taquito, the uncredited Will Ferrell as the stomach-churning con guy Damien Weebs, the uncredited Zach Galifianakis as the rustic simpleton Jim Joe Kelly (at least I think he was a rustic simpleton), Jeff Goldblum as “Chef” Goldblum …

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Wilmington on Movies: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

It isn’t as if this show were a bomb. It’s made by intelligent guys.

They know how to shoot. They think Seuss is a toot, They love trees and they love cracking wise.

Cinco Paul, and Ken Daurio, and Chris Renau-rio, the gang from Despicable Me

Well, maybe their flick is too big and too cheery-o: a Slightly Disposable Spree.

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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