Reviews Archive for April, 2013

The DVD Wrapup

Gangster Squad, Django, Pawn, In the Blood, Central Park 5, G-Dog, Mr. Selfridge, Cold Prey, Electric Button and even more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Red Menace; Jack Reacher; Gangster Squad

Is The Red Menace really “The Reefer Madness of anti-Communist movies? Or is that flattering it? Too earnest to be funny, too serious to be camp, too boring to be effective propaganda, this Herbert Yates-produced doozy from Republic (for which it stands) is probably one of the worst of the post-war anti-Commie thrillers, entertainment-wise. It isn’t even dumb enough be dumb fun, since writers Albert Demond and Gerald Geraghty know something about their subject. They have dialogue about Hegel, and a Red temptress has a bookcase full of tomes by Marx and Engels.

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Wilmington on Movies: To the Wonder

A strange, poetic, puzzling. stunningly visualized, and defiantly personal piece of spiritual autobiography on celluloid, an ambitious, pictorially stunning creation by an artist who makes movies as it the art form had just been invented, and he was free to do anything, try anything, but also by a man who’s hip to cinema technology and aware of other arts and literature as well—and finally, by a man who sees the world (in his films) with something like the newly opened eyes of a child (as a gorgeous, enrapturing place) and comprehends it with a child’s relatively fresh, unspoiled heart and soul. All of these seemingly contradictory artists are Malick, who, like Walt Whitman (another naïve and sophisticated earthy giant of a poet) is large and contains multitudes and loves the way the sun pours down on leaves of grass.

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Wilmington on Movies: Oblivion

There aren‘t many movies around as beautiful to look at as the first part of Oblivion, and since pieces of that beauty survive into the more conventional slam-bang second part, it‘s worth a look — though I would definitely suggest that you see Oblivion not on a normal screen, but in IMAX. Kosinski displayed a strong visual imagination in the critically-bashed Tron LegacyBut this is his show — adapted from a story and graphic novel he wrote, to try to sell (successfully) this movie, and it’s clear he has more emotion invested in it.

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Wilmington on DVDs: My Son John; The Woman on Pier 13 (I Married a Communist); Promised Land.

My Son John; The Woman on Pier 13; Promised Land

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Wilmington on DVDs: The Kid with a Bike

The setting is, once again the industrial, largely working class city of Seraing in Belgium: the Dardenne Brothers’ home city and the location for most of their films since La Promesse.

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The DVD Wrapup

Future Weather, Save the Date, Kobayashi, Gate of the Ghost, Ringo, Dragon, One Day on Earth… And more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Django Unchained

Waltz is a good guy this time, Django’s mentor, but there’s some high-grade screen villainy by Leonardo Di Caprio and Samuel L. Jackson, both of whom would have stolen the movie if Waltz didn’t already have it stuffed in his back pocket.

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Wilmington on Movies: 42

I would have been happy as a hot dog and a Coke in old Ebbets Field to follow the Jackie Robinson story—excuse me, the Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey story—as it unfolded in 1945-47 and as it’s told here.

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DVD Geek: Red Hook Summer

Once Spike Lee made Malcolm X, he seemed to lose all of his relevance as a filmmaker, thus reinforcing the adage about being careful what you wish for. But he really has only himself to blame. His first films were genuinely edgy, exciting, and revelatory. Other than his documentaries, his later films have all been flailing around in the dark, trying to find any kind of edge at all. His 2012 feature, Red Hook Summer, is heartbreakingly bad, because it almost isn’t.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Ruthless; Despicable Me; Battleship; Lawless

Who is Edgar G. Ulmer and what is he doing in any pantheon, or semi-pantheon of world classical filmmakers? It’s been a classic nagging anti-auteurist question ever since Andrew Sarris introduced him.

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The DVD Wrapup

Down the Shore, Into the Cold, Gate of Hell, Phantom Father, Hong Kong Confidential, We Are Egypt, Crush, Sexcula…. More

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Wilmington on DVDs: The African Queen; Casablanca

PICK OF THE WEEK: CLASSIC The African Queen/ Casablanca (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars) U.S.: John Huston/ Michael Curtiz (Warner Bros.) Here, of course, are two of Humphrey Bogart’s best—and two of the most wonderful shows that American Movies in their celebrated Golden Age, ever concocted. If you don’t have these pictures in some format, or (worse) if you haven’t even seen them at all,…

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Wilmington on Movies: Evil Dead

In what I guess you can safely call the now-legendary original Evil Dead, there was a furious satiric energy that hurled you along and repeatedly zinged up the movie, which was, after all, a show begat by other movies, especially 1969‘s trail-blazing zombie nightmare Night of the Living Dead and 1974’s gruesome body-parts shocker The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

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Wilmington on Movies: Trance

Trance, a new erotic thriller from Danny Boyle, is a fast and fancy dance over a whirl of a dance floor of crime, suspense and sex.

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The DVD Wrapup

Dolly, Lincoln, Bible, John Dies, Sweeney, LUV, Vietnam, Knuckleball, Untouchables, Phillip Roth… and more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d’un Ete)

We watch those people from long ago, and the fact that, in the movie images, they’re still young (or still middle-aged) and that they have still (in the film) not yet met the problems and wars and tragedies and reversals that we know are coming, gives them a privileged position, an immortality conferred by hand-held camera. It’s a more casual immortality, not endowed with any of the painstaking ardor and expense routinely spent in preserving a movie superstar for the ages, or even of a cover girl for a shoot at Cannes. These are people talking about how they live and how to change it for the better, as we all did once, as we sometimes do now. Death is temporarily banished.

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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 »

“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