Reviews Archive for July, 2013

The DVD Wrapup

Cloudburst, G.I. Joe, Bronte Sisters, Dahmer, Di Leo, The Fog, Whistleblowers, Shameless, Demented… and so much more.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Wolverine

The Wolverine was directed by the almost bizarrely versatile James Mangold and the script is credited to a gifted threesome that includes Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank—and their show pours on the action and the production values. But it also ladles out the personality, and emotion that these kinds of movies often skimp on—and even throws in some humor. It’s a good show, full of zip and style—maybe not as good as I may be making it seem. But you can’t say this film doesn’t do what it’s meant to do, or that it doesn’t joyously exceed some of the usual parameters. Man of Steel, eat your heart out.

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Wilmington on Movies: The To Do List

The movie is cute and so is Aubrey Plaza—though, with her pouty, sexy, full-lipped looks, I don’t know if she ‘s the right actress to play an all-time valedictorian, or a virgin. (An Ellen Page type might have been better.) On the other hand, if Plaza had played the bad sister Amber, she probably would have stolen the movie, as Bilson almost does.

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Wilmington on DVDs: The File on Thelma Jordon; Adua and her Friends; Bullet to the Head

Recent birthday girl Barbara Stanwyck, one of the smartest and toughest of all the classic Hollywood femme fatales, was terrific at playing earthy babes who knew their way around a bedroom—and sometimes a courtroom or an insurance claims office as well,

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Wilmington on DVDs: Band of Outsiders (Bande à part)

Avec

Pulp.

Poetry.

Politics (Peut-etre).

Two Guys, A Girl and a Gun.

Robbery

Murder

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Wilmington on DVDs: Gate of Hell

There were two great gateways to the international movie houses of the post-war world for 1950s Japanese cinema. The first was Rashomon. The second was Gate of HellMost of us remember the former—Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 period masterpiece about four conflicting views of a rape and murder in the woods—and we can recall easily, intensely, rightfully. The latter, the much lesser known writer-director Teinosuke Kinugasa, is another period film, gorgeous almost beyond belief, and once widely hailed as the most beautiful color film of all time.

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The DVD Wrapup

Beyond the Pines, Silence, Vanishing Waves, Twixt, Trance, Babette’s Feast, Starbuck, New World … and so much more.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Conjuring

The Conjuring is supposedly based on the true story of a haunted house, possessed by demons or otherworldly spirits, as investigated by honest-to God “paranormal researchers”: the real-life combo of Lorraine and Ed Warren, played in the movie by the brilliantly sensitive Vera Farmiga and the convincingly more prosaic Patrick Wilson.

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The DVD Wrapup

Jackie Robinson, Venus & Serena, Bullet to the Head, Wild Bill, White Frog, Damages, Jaglom, Street Trash, Downloaded… and so much more.

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Wilmington on DVDs: Our Man in Havana; Evil Dead (2013); The Evil Dead

Like The Third Man, the plot plunges a naïve but imaginative amateur into a political game that turns deadly serious in a city that is dark and corrupt and filled with criminals and deceptions.

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Wilmington on DVDs: 42

These Dodgers were among the elite units in baseball, but they were also cursed with their own share of prejudice (Walker was among the players who circulated a petition against Jackie), yet also blessed with tolerance and anti-bigotry as well.

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Wilmington on Movies: Pacific Rim

Because del Toro is an artist as well as (when he wants to be) a big-movie technician, this show sucks you in emotionally as well as arousing you viscerally. The movie is jam-packed with amusing nonsense and knock-your-eyes-out visuals, but it also actually has dollops of heart, humanity and humor, that stuff most movies like this don’t have and could really use.

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Wilmington on Movies: Grown Ups 2

Sandler’s humor is often rough, if a little Jerry Lewis-ishly sentimental by the end, but Grown Ups, which was about infantile guys reliving the past but also growing up a little, was both congenial and even a little sweet—and it mopped up at the box-office, while displeasing many critics (who don’t pay for their tickets anyway), me included. Now comes the sequel—minus Rob Schneider. (I‘m not saying this is a loss comparable to the disappearances of Richard Castellano and Robert Duvall in the sequels to The Godfather, but Schneider should have done the movie.)

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Wilmington on DVDs: Spartacus; Backdraft; Spring Breakers

Who needs school? Who needs life? Harmony Korine’s movies are outlaw pictures and weirdo comedies about people who don’t want to grow up.

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The DVD Wrapup

Spring Breakers, Host, Vixens of Kung Fu, Gatekeepers, How West Was Won, Orphan Black.. And so much more…

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Wilmington on DVDs: Safety Last!

The sight of Jazz Age comedy icon Harold Lloyd, in Safety Last!, desperately clinging to the hands of a clock as they bend and dangle him above the street, has to be one of the imperishable images in all American movie comedy.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Lone Ranger

There are one or two good pictures buried inside Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger, which stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger, and is actually long enough (149 minutes) to have several movies extracted from it.

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Wilmington on Movies: Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Standup comedians are, in some ways, the decathlon athletes of show business. They have to do it all, do it fast, do it strong.

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Wilmington on Movies: Despicable Me 2

Zippily done, but somehow less emotional and more forgettable this time around, Despicable Me 2 is our second antic cartoon look at the despicable if lovable bad guy Gru (a bald, fat, knife-nosed super-villain voiced by the ubiquitous Steve Carell) and his despicable, if lovable Minions (pop-eyed little ambulatory yellow balls voiced by the movie’s super-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud). Together, they made a wry, horrific ensemble and they‘re joined (or rejoined) this time by Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and other skillful, funny actors playing bizarre, if sometimes lovable, people and creatures.

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The DVD Wrapup

“Dobie Gillis,” The Girl, Inescapable, Into the White, Tai Chi Hero, 6 Souls, Blood for Irina, House I Live In, Burn … and so much more.

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Reviews

Woody on: The DVD Wrapup: ET, Vietnam, Big Sick, Glory, Certain Women, The Hero, Hana-Bi, By the Time It Gets Dark, The Prison, The Flesh, Moderns … More

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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

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff

From AMPAS president John Bailey:

Dear Fellow Academy Members,

Danish director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is not only one of the visual landmarks of the silent era, but is a deeply disturbing portrait of a young woman’s persecution in the face of the male judges and priests of the ruling order. The actress Maria Falconetti gave one of the most profoundly affecting performances in the history of cinema as the Maid of Orleans.

Since the decision of the Academy’s Board of Governors on Saturday October 14 to expel producer Harvey Weinstein from its membership, I have been haunted not only by the recurring image of Falconetti and the sad arc of her career (dying in Argentina in 1946, reputedly from a crash diet) but of Joan’s refusal to submit to an auto de fe recantation of her beliefs.

Recent public testimonies by some of filmdom’s most recognized women regarding sexual intimidation, predation, and physical force is, clearly, a turning point in the film industry—and hopefully in our country, where what happens in the world of movies becomes a marker of societal Zeitgeist. Their decision to stand up against a powerful, abusive male not only parallels the cinema courage of Falconetti’s Joan but gives all women courage to speak up.

After Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Academy issued a passionately worded statement, expressing not only our concern about harassment in the film industry, but our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago. It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.

Yours,
John