PARIS WHEN IT SIMMERS

6 Jun

1. X-Men: First Class/Fox                                    Wknd/$ 56.0            Total/$  56.0

 2. The Hangover Pt. II/Warners                        Wknd/$ 32.4             Total/$186.9

 3. Kung Fu Panda 2/Dreamworks                     Wknd/$ 24.3             Total/$100.4

 4. Pirates of the Caribbean 4/Touch                 Wknd/$ 18.0              Total/$190.3

 5. Bridesmaids/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 12.1               Total/$107.3

 6. Thor/Paramount                                               Wknd/$   4.2              Total/$169.1

 7. Fast Five/Universal                                           Wknd/$   3.2              Total/$202.1

 8. Midnight In Paris                                              Wknd/$   2.9               Total/$    6.9

 9. Jumping The Broom/TriStar                          Wknd/$    .9                Total/$  35.9

10. Something Borrowed/Warners            Wknd/$    .8                        Total/$  36.7

 

MAYBE THIS SHOULD HAVE COME OUT DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

X-Men: First Class opens at number one and this is a nice return to form after the clueless abomination that was X-Men: The Last Stand, courtesy of yet another one of Spielberg’s hack progeny, Brett Ratner.  Like JJ Abrams (another one) he took a franchise that always operated with a subtext—and indeed was praised for it—and made it into a dumb action movie.  Well, original X-director Bryan Singer is back this time at least for the story so the gay/Jews/race metaphor is back in full swing.  Of course it’s hard to miss when we start with the same Nazi prison camp scene from the first X-Men movie and then see Magneto as an very, very, very angry young man working as a one-man Mossad hunting down the man who tortured him and killed his mother in front of him, killing various Nazis along the way.  At the same time we see young Professor X growing up wealthy discovering a young Mystique in his home and he takes her in, forming a fraternal bond with her but at the same being completely oblivious and borderline arrogant as to her suffering as someone with a mutation that cannot be hidden. Basically, Professor X can “pass” but she can’t and doesn’t think she should have to.  Even the phrase “I’m Black and I’m proud” gets turned on its head here.  All which fits in nicely with the early 60’s time setting as the then-friendly Magneto and Professor X gather a team of mutants to face off against Kevin Bacon and his team of bad mutants looking to cause WWIII.  While the filmmakers like to say Professor X is Martin Luther King and Magneto is Malcom X, here Professor X is more like Booker T. Washington with his “hey, let’s prove how good we are to them and they’ll love us” while Magneto is more W.E.B. DuBois and having none of it.  In fact, he’s only doing it because Kevin Bacon is the man who tortured him in the prison camps and wants revenge.  What really makes all this work is again what was lacking in the third film: characterization.  The movie is at its best when James McAlvoy and Michael Fassbinder are together as Professor X and Magneto.  One seething fury, the other naïve optimism.  It’s a shame the movie had to end with the establishment of the status quo of antagonism as I’d be happy to see another movie of them bouncing off one another heading to the inevitable.

 

NO GIRLS ALLOWED IN THE SUCCESS CLUBHOUSE

The Hangover Part II is down to number two and has made almost $200M in only two weeks, so clearly the R-rated comedy is going nowhere and expect more, not the least of which will be a sequel…as somewhere Justin Bartha begs to have a larger role in this one and Heather Graham bumps into Jamie Chung (in yet another movie kissing yet another ugly white guy) at a party and lets her know the success of this movie will do nothing for her career. Nothing.

 

IT’S WHEN YOU WINK AT THE AUDIENCE, MORONS!

Kung Fu Panda is down to number three and while they take a great step forward by having Hong Kong action star Michele Yeoh with a substantial role, they take two steps back with Jackie Chan again wasted as Monkey.  Seriously, how fucking incompetent do you have to be to waste Jackie Chan in a kung fu movie?  You know who has more lines than he does this time?  Jean Claude Van Damme as an alligator.  Now that’s just a fucking insult.  I’d ask for more martial arts stars to pop up, but it’s clear that they have no idea what “stunt casting” really is.

 

THIS WHY WE RUN THE WORLD

Pirates of the Caribbean is down to number four and if you think a soft domestic performance is going to slow this down one bit think again. It’s made $600M overseas alone meaning it’s already over three quarters of a billion dollars.  So much for hopefully stopping the directing career of Rob Marshall.  Though honestly, this is such a juggernaut even I could have done it and made money.

 

CLEARLY THE UNIVERSE IS BROKEN SOMEHOW

Bridesmaids is down to number five and also in this is Rose Byrne who has two films in the top ten this week with X-Men: First Class.  A little while back I wondered about her career given her biggest role was on Damages and I’d read about everyone on the show but her.  Seems her agent knows a lot more about how to manage her career than I do.  How is that possible?

 

IT’S LIKE DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN

Thor is down to number six, followed by Fast Five at number seven and down one notch is Midnight in Paris, which probably should have been called Paris After Midnight but that title was already taken.  Wood Allen fans have accepted that he will never again reach the heights of the 70’s and the 80’s, but it seems he also won’t be revisiting the wretched depths of the 90’s either (they’re making Osama Bin Laden watch Celebrity in hell right now).  Now he’s seemingly making travelogues disguised as films. Vicky Christina Barcelona was little more than a very long tourist ad for that film and this is his second ode to Paris after Everybody Says I Love You.  This time around Luke Wilson is “The Woody” as again a writer in Hollywood who longs to be a serious novelist and idealizes Paris in the 20’s.  So basically it’s every Wood Allen character and initially I thought it was a movie based on one line from one of his movies, much in the way Match Point was just one half of Crimes & Misdemeanors made into a full film until I learned it’s actually just a rewrite of one of his short-stories, “The Kugelmass Episode” about a writer who is transported into the world of Madam Bovary.  All the other usual Allen pieces are here however.  There’s a pompous pseudo-intellectual blowhard (Michael Sheen), a favorite Woody Allen punching bag.  There’s the shallow love interest (Rachel McAdams) whose flaws will be more readily realized once he meets his true interest (Marion Cotillard), which in this case happens to be the muse/mistress (is that redundant?) to none other than Picasso as at midnight every night a car comes along and takes him back to 1920’s where he meets every one from F. Scott Fitzgerald to a hilarious one-note macho Hemmingway to Dali (Adrien Brody) to Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) to the aforementioned Picasso.  Fantasy has always been part of the Woody Allen oeuvre, from Sleeper to Purple Rose of Cairo to Alice to Everyone Says I Love You which was a musical, complete with a flying Goldie Hawn, and while this is amusing at first (he gets notes on his novel from Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein) drags on a little long even for 90 minutes.  We know what’s going to happen and pretty much when it’s going to happen which isn’t the problem so much as a lack of the level of humor needed to take us through such a familiar journey.  He seems more concerned with making sure that Owen Wilson meets every luminary of his dream Paris than anything else.  Even the epiphany we know he will achieve of everyone longing for a more romanticized time is poorly executed complete with the joke that accompanies it about the deciding factor being poor dental care in the past.  And my complaint about the wardrobe holds. It’s bad enough to make them act like you (though Wilson’s on style actually fits Wood Allen’s voice), must you make them dress like 70-year-old men in frumpy khakis and chinos? At one point Rachel McAdams says Wilson is dressed up and we wonder what the hell she’s looking at and he looks like he teaches high school English. You want to see Wood Allen using fantasy to deal with the concept of fantasy vs. reality done well, then see Purple Rose of Cairo.

 

A FITTING FATE

Jumping the Broom holds at nine while Something Borrowed closes out the top ten at number ten, actually managing to hit the break-even number before disappearing to DVD and afternoon cable back to back with How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

 

‘CAUSE IT’S HOT OUTSIDE

The official TV season has ended and the summer TV season has begun and like the movies season, it’s meant to be considerable lighter than the regular season and it doesn’t get much emptier than Single Ladies on VH1, the latest attempt to do not only Sex & The City, but a second attempt to do a black Sex & The City (the first being Girlfriends). It stars Stacey Dash who is 46 and looks fucking 30 having the mother of all deals with the Devil.  She was once a love interest to Damon Wayans he was last seen playing the father to a 30-year-old man.  Unfortunately, not aging is her only talent.  She’s not a good actress and seems in capable of even mastering an entertaining persona.  And apparently the goal was to surround her with a group of equal bad actors so that she doesn’t stand out as opposed to the usual strategy of good actors to help her out. When the best actor on your show about Black people is the token white girl, you have a problem. Not helping is the usual flaw in most every black production: an insistence on filling it with even worse acting music stars.  Chili, Common and Eve all show up to competing wooden line readings.  Worse yet is the need to try and show “glamour” in every frame.  Sex & The City only ended that way.  Fashion began only as a part of the story.  It didn’t become the story until the show was petering out.  This is starting out that way showing like all the other shows that tried to be Sex & The City and failed, they simply don’t get it.  Love Bites is actually a fall replacement show that never replaced anything and so now is being burned off over the summer and its failure can easily be summed up in one of the storylines: Jennifer Love Hewitt decides to fuck the fat guy from Felicity in an airplane bathroom. Bare in mind, she’s playing herself and he’s playing some tattoo artist she meets on the plane.  The producers had the nerve to try and call this an American TV version of Love Actually, apparently missing that Love Actually was actually funny and romantic while this is neither.  It’s detached from any semblance of reality on and off the screen given it’s a bad version of Love American Style.  They also pack the cast with recognizable actors, but none of whom have ever starred in a successful show and usually costarred in a failure.  Unfortunately I do have a weakness for shows actually shot in San Francisco so I may be watching this again.  Yeah, I know. I’m a glutton for punishment.

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