11 Apr

1. Hop/Universal                                            Wknd/$ 21.7               Total/$  68.2

2. Arthur/Warners                                         Wknd/$ 12.6               Total/$  12.6

3. Hanna/Focus                                              Wknd/$ 12.3               Total/$  12.3

4. Soul Surfer/TriStar                                    Wknd/$  11.1               Total/$   11.1

5. Insidious/                                                     Wknd/$   9.7               Total/$  27.1

6. Your Highness/Universal                         Wknd/$   9.5               Total/$    9.5

7. Source Code/                                                Wknd/$   9.1               Total/$  28.6

8. Limitless/Relativity                                    Wknd/$   5.7               Total/$  64.3

9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2/Fox                     Wknd/$   4.9              Total/$  45.5

10. The Lincoln Lawyer/LGF                        Wknd/$   4.6               Total/$  46.5


Hop holds at number one and James Marsden isn’t the only one collecting an easy paycheck here.  Russell Brand is the voice of the Easter Bunny, which gives us Russell Brand two films in the top ten as he’s also in the remake of Arthur, which opens at number two.  I loved the first Arthur film with Dudley Moore, but this looks forced and joyless.  And contrast the changes in thirty years.  The fact that Arthur was a joyful drunk is utterly missing.  He may booze in the movie, but they sure as hell won’t put it in the ad campaign whereas originally it was all about his staggering around giggling.  Also, I don’t remember Arthur actually having to get a job and the plot change also doesn’t look any funnier.  Even Helen Mirren in the role that won Sir John Gielguld an Oscar is missing the acerbic dry wit in favor of cheap pop culture references.  But the real question is: do they put that damn Christopher Cross song in the movie and who’s the desperate for cash artist to remake it?


Hanna opens at number three and this is being called by some the “Anti-Sucker Punch” because it’s our second film in three weeks about an ass-kicking girl.  The only difference is this really is a girl and it’s good.  It’s not perfect. Don’t think for a second that it is.  It’s got the same problems that any action film has in terms of feats of skill that seem almost superhuman and logic being dismissed when need arises, but just as you forgive Indiana Jones riding on the outside of a sub because otherwise the movie is great, you forgive this.  Also, coming from the man who brought you Atonement, you have to know pacing is a problem.  This movie could have been shorter, but I’ll allow it when it focuses on character to justify the action.  Hanna has spent the last 14 years of her life being raised below the arctic circle by her father who has essentially turned her into a killing machine, but the time has come to set her loose on the person who drove them there to begin with: Cate Blanchett, dragging her southern accent out of the closet for the sake of evil.  Like Sucker Punch, Hanna is very nice to look at but unlike Sucker Punch it serves a purpose and isn’t just some geek run wild with an $80M budget and CGI.  There’s a subtext of Grimm’s Fairy tales present and by the end they’re beating you over the head with it when Cate Blanchett walks out of the mouth of the Big Bad Wolf in a Grimm’s Fairy Tales amusement park in Berlin, but it still looks nice (and this abandoned park is real) and serves the purpose of the story.  Still not sure why the girls in Sucker Punch had to be whores in one reality and fighting in schoolgirl outfits in another.


It’s girl power week, but this one has the virtue of being real as Soul Surfer opens at number four.  Based on the true story of a teenaged surfer whose arm was bitten off by shark, but she relearned to surf (balance is the core of surfing and it’s based on two arms, not to mention the basic paddling out) and returned to compete.  That said I’ll never see this.  It’s another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that escaped from the TV onto movie screens.  Don’t watch ‘em for free. Ain’t gonna pay to see them.


Insidious is down to number five, followed by Your Highness opening at number six and this is what you get when two guys watch Monty Python & The Holy Grail stoned and think, “Hey, we could do that.”  No, no you can’t, Cheech & Chong.  The sole basis of this comedy seems to be scatological humor and jokes about getting high (get it? your high-ness?).  It takes more than that.  The funniest scene in the movie is actually the opening credits which is nothing but a series of illustrations and sound effects. That alone should tell you something.  In Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Lancelot’s bloody rampage is the source of some truly great jokes.  Here, the slow realization that Natalie Portman enjoys killing bad guys a little too much is poorly handled.  Danny McBride’s shtick of being an incompetent, foul-mouth boob works in small doses.  Be it a half-hour TV show or in the sidekick role (he was the funniest thing about Pineapple Express).  But here, front and center it’s grating and worst of all, dull.  The non-stop jokes about him being a lecherous, lazy coward are handled without wit or subtly and James Franco is wasted as a straight man.  Zooey Deschanel is just wasted, period.  One clever joke about the fact a girl who’s been a prisoner in a castle her whole life would probably have no social skills is never followed up on.  Clearly this movie was made for people who watch them high, because everything is funny when you’re high.  Though this might change that.


Source Code is down to number seven and also in this is Michelle Monaghan and she looks a lot better paired with Jake Gyllenhaal than she was with Robert Downey Jr or Patrick Dempsey.  Sorry, put I like pretty people of the same age paired up.  She’s just “the girl” here while Vera Farmiga gets the meatier role of the Air Force officer working with Jake Gyllenhaal and honestly there’s probably more chemistry as a result, while the relationship with Monaghan is mostly eye-candy…not that there’s anything wrong with it.


Limitless is down to number eight, followed by Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules at nine and closing out the top ten at number ten is The Lincoln Lawyer and this was actually an all-star B-C List movie.  In addition to Matthew McConughey and Marisa Tomei, there’s Josh Lucas, Ryan Philippe, William H. Macy, Bryan Cranston, Frances Fisher, John Leguizamo and Michael Pena.  Almost makes me want to see it…one day at 1:00 am on cable.


I’ve long since given up pretending I don’t watch reality shows because they’re simply unavoidable.  No matter who you are, there’s one that will appeal to you.  However, there’s precious little for me now that Brett Michaels has stopped fucking strippers on VH1, but I’m giving The Dance Scene a try because while I like dancers, competition shows with dancers just bores me.  Besides, I wanted to see the woman whose idea of choreography involved telling Kerri Hilson to “pussy pop” (rapid pelvic thrusts) for five minutes straight.  Granted, you’re limited with non-dancer performers, but shouldn’t you strive for a little more than stripper moves?  Laurie Ann Gibsom is the Robin Givens lookalike who got the reality show that Tina Landon (Janet’s choreographer after Paula) never did.  But I’m sorry, listing The Dixie Chicks and The Jonas Brothers on your resume isn’t all that impressive because they really don’t dance. That goes double for Puff Daddy who does so poorly.  And watching the auditions you have to wonder shouldn’t they all be in the same type of shoe, because I’m thinking sneakers are going to serve you better than heels and if the job requires heels, hiring your based on sneaker performance is a mistake.  Though I forget to care watching leaned, perfectly toned flesh move on my TV screen. Damn, I’m missing college right about now. I knew lots of dancers then.


Sidney Lumet has passed and a great era of gritty, NYC filmmaking has gone with him.  Maybe next year the Oscars will let his Oscar-nominated screenwriter daughter speak the way they didn’t let her speak about her grandmother Lena Horne.


So I gave myself a project this year to help cure the listless feeling I’ve pretty much had since my brain went boom.  Yeah, part of it is I’m just fucking lazy, but once I still attempted to do more than just read comics, watch TV and whack off.  Now, it’s pretty much common knowledge that I have a weakness for movies and TV shows actually shot in NYC that make the city look good. It feeds into the idealization if not idolatry of the city that brought me here 25 years ago (fuck me, I’m old).  I get a thrill out of either seeing places I know or going by places that I’ve seen.  Because of this I decided I was going to go around and take pictures of my favorite NYC movie spots.    Then I realized that without proper context it was just a brownstone stoop or restaurant or storefront with no meaning. I then to put someone in there, preferably a pretty girl in some type of pose that reflected the movie.  Now, that’s easier said that done, ‘cause pretty bitches be busy and aren’t taking the day off from work to go around the city with you and take pictures (you can’t prove I asked for nudity).  Besides it’s about me so why shouldn’t it be me?  Solution: tripod.  $13 to B&H Photography and I was off to the Upper West Side to do The Warriors.  Then the Upper East Side to do Breakfast At Tiffany’s instead of the cliché of actually using Tiffany’s.  Then off to Brooklyn and Queens for other shots.  And it’s only movies that I like, so no When Harry Met Sally shots because it was a piece of shit that sucked my ass.  It’s not as easy as you think because the city changes, layouts are altered and buildings flat-out disappear which is why I couldn’t do anything for the original Fame movie.  The school they actually used is gone.  The irony is, the remake used the new location, which is blocks from my house but I don’t care.  Other times you just don’t want to be cliché, like Rockefeller Center for My Favorite Year or the Chelsea Hotel for a dozen others.  Sometimes it’s just hard to choose a definitive scene, like On The Town, which had actual shots from everywhere in the city.  And still other movies simply don’t have that definitive exterior shot, like Desperately Seeking Susan or High Art or Hi Life or Mr. Jealousy or Married To The Mob all of which I love beyond measure.  Also, you might have heard the city is a little busy and it’s hard to take a picture with millions of people walking by.  But those people are also a great part about it as a Chinese guy stuffing his face with his lunch not only pointed out to me I was in front of the wrong building for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but told me another building nearby was used for King Kong.  Shit. I should have taken a picture of him.  He’s the city too.  But instrumental in this were the book New York: The Movie Lover’s Guide and onthesetofnewyork.com.  The latter is my new porn.  And this is clearly an open-ended project because every day there’s a new movie to love and there’s always TV…

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