THE SLIGHTLY LETHAL COMMONPLACE

26 Sep

 

1. The Lion King 3D/Disney                        Wknd/$  22.3            Total/$  61.7

 2. Moneyball/Sony                                         Wknd/$  20.6            Total/$  20.6

 3. Dolphin Tale/Warners                              Wknd/$  20.3            Total/$  20.3

 4. Abduction/Lions Gate                               Wknd/$   11.2            Total/$   11.2

 5. Killer Elite/                                                  Wknd/$    9.5            Total/$     9.5

 6. Contagion/Warner                                     Wknd/$    8.6            Total/$   57.1

 7. Drive/Film District                                     Wknd/$    5.8            Total/$   21.4

 8. The Help/Touchstone                                Wknd/$    4.4            Total/$154.4

 9. Straw Dogs/Screen Gems                          Wknd/$    2.1             Total/$    8.9

10.I Don’t Know How She Does It                 Wknd/$    2.1             Total/$    8.0

 

CAN YOU FEEL THE STOCK PRICE RISE?

The Lion King 3D holds at number one and sure enough, this is little more than a very, very profitable commercial for the upcoming release of The Lion King on blu-ray  Basically, Disney is printing money right now.  At this rate they’re probably going to make another $100M theatrically on a 16-year-old movie.  And you know they didn’t think it would do this well, otherwise the blu-ray wouldn’t be coming out in a week, cutting into all this free money.

 

CALL IT THE CALISTA FLOCKHART EFFECT

Moneyball opens at number two and my thoughts on baseball are well known: it’s fucking boring unless you’re watching it live and even that is more about just hanging with your friends.  Needless to say a baseball movie about the behind-the-scenes activity sounds like a night in hell to me and when said friend couldn’t make it there was no chance in hell I was going to see it.  Not to mention, as even I know, this only worked so much. It’s not like the A’s won the World Series so his great scheme was only kinda good.  All that’s left here in terms of interest is what Brad Pitt did to poor Jonah Hill.  Being around a man so pretty on a daily basis pretty much destroyed Hill’s self-esteem to the point where he lost a million pounds.  He doesn’t even look like Jonah Hill any longer.  He looks like his skinny uncle out there doing his press tour for him.  He traded being young and fat for being old and thin.  In neither form is he good looking.

 

THAT SORT OF THING NEVER HAPPENED TO FLIPPER

Dolphin Tale opens at number three and this is a true heart-warming story about an injured dolphin that gets outfitted with a new tail.  In fact, that actual dolphin plays herself in the film…and I still don’t care.

 

I WAS A TEENAGED JASON BOURNE

Abduction opens at number four and in a weird way I was pulling for this because “young action hero” is practically a contradiction in terms.  Rain tanked in Ninja Assassin and Conan just failed. There’s a dearth of guys who are actually capable of doing the things you see without half a dozen stuntmen and don’t look look creepy making out with the must-be-20-something female lead.  Even Matt Damon’s fucking 40.  I mean, I wasn’t pulling for it enough to actually see it because I know that the intended audience for this was teenage girls, thereby denying me the level of ruthless violence I personally need for an action movie.  Also there’d be far too much puppy lose as opposed the ruthless waxing of ass that I also need in my action movies.

 

TIME FOR TRANSPORTER 4

Speaking of ruthless violence, there’s plenty of it in The Killer Elite opening at number five, but this is far from the typical Statham vehicle. Instead it’s a 1970’s type movie about the corruption and compromise of government with some violence thrown in (not a remake of the Sam Peckinpah film).  Because it’s inspired by a true story your opportunity for over-the-top action scenes are limited and that’s the problem.  No one goes to see Jason Statham for anything but that.  Here he’s a retired mercenary drawn back into the game because his mentor is being held captive by a dying sheik who wants the British SAS forces who killed his sons in the Oman War killed so his son can return to rule his tribe.  And he wants it to look like accidents.  And he wants taped confessions.  And here’s your problem: no matter how much they try to shade the soldiers at having crossed the line, they aren’t necessarily “bad guys” and Statham is hardly a good guy assassinating them for as he admits in the beginning “doing their jobs.”  Not to mention he’s killing three men to save the life of one.  Oh, he feels bad, but it’s not really enough. It’s Clive Owen who comes closest to being a good guy as retired SAS whose job it is to protect former SAS for a secret non-government organization (who is so secret they have fucking business cards).  So you don’t have good guys or bad guys. Just sociopathic protagonists and antagonists.  What’s really dumb is the British Government actually doesn’t mind these SAS guys being killed if it gets them in good with the sheik’s son because thar’s oil in that thar desert.  So this begs the question of rather than sacrifice loyal soldiers, why doesn’t the British Government just fake the deaths of the soldiers until the sheik dies and the son takes power?  Or just kill the fucking sheik and deal with his assimilated son?  These both finally occur to someone in last half hour—in a film that’s a half hour too long and has two endings—after numerous deaths beyond the intended targets.  Apparently never think through a problem if you can just shoot through it.

 

DON’T PISS OFF NEMO’S DAD

Contagion is down to number six, followed by Drive at number seven and despite being little more than an overly-stylized turd, this is actually doing well, thanks to legions of men and women hot for Ryan Gosling.  My favorite quote so far: “Ryan Gosling slapping around Christina Hendricks while wearing driving gloves. I may never stop masturbating.”  Also it only cost $15M to make so at $21M it’s on its way to being moderately successful.  Another problem with this is the music, which like the title graphics are painfully 80’s.  Sadly, I actually recognized the work as Cliff Martinez who did the much superior and time frame appropriate music for sex, lies & videotape.  Much like Andie McDowell and Lara San Giacomo, that was apparently his peak.  What is actually good about this and borderline great is Albert Brooks as a mob boss.  Gravelly voice and jewfro he’s the rational side of the partnership with Ron Pearlman, but when things get ugly, you see he also the most ruthless and brutal.

 

THE GRUDGE

The Help is down to number eight and I’m trying to look on the bright side of this that a movie about women has made $154M from a $25M budget, but I’m black so I’m still pissed.

 

IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, THEN IT IS

Straw Dogs is down to number nine and Rod Lurie is one of those guys who says he’s about making movies to give women better roles, but his two biggest films to date are The Contender wherein the first female VP endures a rumor that she got gang banged as part of a sorority initiation and this, where the wife flirts with her ex, emasculates her husband, gets raped by her ex for her trouble and a 15-year-old girl flirts with and mocks an mentally challenged man and gets murdered for it.  Granted, he didn’t write the book it’s based upon, but he chose to undertake the project (and did write the screenplay).  He was also behind the first female president TV series, Commander In Chief with Geena Davis, which had no murder unless you count what it did to Geena Davis’s already floundering career.

 

THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER GREAT RACK GETTING OFF THE BUS

I Don’t Know How She Does It is down to number ten and here’s a thought when adapting these bestselling chick-lit books: let a woman direct them.  It’s not like they could fail worse.  Christina Hendricks is also in this giving her two not very good movies in the top ten.  Be careful with that Mad Men, cred, honey. It’ll be gone before you know it.

 

ANYBODY CAN READ BOOKS.

Okay, so the new Fall TV Season has started and I try to give everything a shot because I just fucking love TV.   There’s simply no other way to say it.  And here we go….one of two sitcoms created by Whitney Cummings, 2 Broke Girls is the better one and credit for this clearly falls to a) Michael Patrick King, the guiding hand behind much of Sex & The City and b) Whitney Cummings is not in it.  What really saved it is the blonde girl whom you expect to be the butt of all jokes is actually smart and funny in her own right, making it also 2 Smart Girls and that’s rare in prime time sitcom TV. But I’m clearly getting old. Jokes about cum-stained clothing and women getting wet still kinda shock me on regular TV…the new Two And A Half Men actually isn’t as good as the old because the only thing was one “meta” joke about the life of Charlie Sheen. This doesn’t even have that so if the original was “0” then this is in negative numbers…The Playboy Club isn’t awful. I know that’s a shock, but it isn’t. It’s just your ordinary period piece soap opera and if it would just embrace that and stop trying pretensions on being some kind of feminist piece it’d be fine.  But it is as inept as any soap you’ve ever seen. What gets the plot going is the country mouse in the big city who is the show’s center (Amber Heard, rocking that baby blue bunny costume) gets attacked by a mob boss in the back room and accidentally kills him.  Helping her is the show’s resident stud who tries to help but never once simply identifies himself or tells the guy to stop which you think he’d do GIVEN THE GUY RAISED HIM FROM CHILDHOOD AND IS ESSENTIALLY HIS FATHER something we only learn 3o minutes later, not that he displays any kind of mixed emotions about this guy’s death ever.  The best thing about it is the obvious: beautiful women in corsets and high heels.  You’d think living with a theater geek I’d know who Laura Benanti was, but no.  I won’t forget because she is smoking hot…Revenge is another soap, but at least it knows it’s a soap.  Not that this makes it less stupid.  She’s a girl who’s out for—wait for it—revenge for the wrongful imprisonment of her father who eventually died incarcerated while she herself was in juvie.  He just happened to leave her filthy rich because he invested in a dot.com and she’s recreated herself to go to The Hamptons and destroy the people who destroyed him.  All three of them. Seriously. It’s only three people and she takes out one in the first episode.  Also, the dot.com billionaire who is the reason she’s rich? He’s there and offers to help her. She refuses.  Know why? Because then the show is over.  I won’t even get into what she plans on doing when summer is over and everyone leaves The Hamptons. This is not the plot for a series. It’s a mini-series or a movie, but not an open-ended series…neither is The Ringer, which I did not watch. The idea of hiding from the mob by impersonating your dead twin sister who has troubles of her own and is actually hiding herself, is not an idea that can go for years. It’s a movie or a mini as well.  And I refused to watch it because of that…I also didn’t watch Up All Night because there’s nothing even remotely interesting about a show whose premise is the first year of parenthood being rough. So what do you have year two when the baby is actually sleeping?  Exactly.  A better idea is what it’s like for two middle-aged people dealing with parenthood when they’re frankly too old for it, which is what this should have been. That show I would have watched…any sitcom where Hank Azaria is our romantic lead also goes unwatched…one of the problems with Prime Suspect is it’s weird seeing a female detective being a problem when every other show on TV has a female detective with no problem whatsoever. I’m not saying it’s not an issue in the real world, but on TV it’s like someone having a problem with a black superior when they’re all black. And that hat is stupid.  It’s a lazy device to show how she’s “different” sparing them the actual effort of creating a character. And finally, it doesn’t so much have her be exceptionally good, but have other cops not be that smart.  Also another sign of lazy writing. What saves it is an appealing cast from Maria Bello in the lead to the always welcome Aidan Quinn as her boss…Unforgettable is about woman in a tank top who remembers every single minute of her life perfectly.  The only exception is the murder of her sister when they were children.  It’s a typical police procedural, which is the bread and butter of CBS.  Good if you like that sort of thing, but meh if you could care less. I could care less.  Unlike say, The Mentalist, she’s not exactly overflowing with personality to set this apart from others.  All this has going for it is Poppy Montgomery always in a tank top. Always. If she’s wearing a sweater over it, it’s sheer so you can see she’s in a tank top…I love The Secret Circle.  I knew I would from the first time I saw commercials for with the hysterical line readings of the resident bad girl.  Unlike other shows the idea that a young girl returns to her mother’s home town to discover that like her parents she’s a witch in a community of them with multiple generations struggling for power, this can run forever.  And hey, I loved the Craft and always wondered why it never became a TV show.  No, Charmed does not count. That show was awful…the Charlie’s Angels reboot isn’t interesting enough to be awful.  It’s more like the contestants of a beauty pageant putting on a presentation of a cop show as part of their talent competition.  The new twist is everyone is a reformed criminal.  Corrupt cop, cat burglar, cyber crime, car thief, but rather than give them the type of personality you’d have to have to be a dirty cop, they’re all nice and bland….Person of Interest actually comes off worse than Charlie’s Angels because it’s equally stupid and unbelievable, but takes itself seriously.  A billionaire genius is using our new nation of surveillance cameras to predict patterns in people where they might either do harm or come to it and has ex-special forces solider (now a homeless drunk) to deal with it.  We see their headquarters is a library abandoned due budget cuts. Well, thank god he didn’t just use his money to reopen it and help hundreds of people but instead go one at a time with his system.  It’s also not very impressive to see a mysterious billionaire, doing the office grunt work himself.  There should a staff to put layers between him and the operative and the NYC cop tracking him is just useless.  She’s never going to catch him because then there’s no show and will probably end up becoming a team member “on the inside.” I won’t know because I’ve no plans on watching this again. The action scenes were nicely done, though…like The Playboy Club, Pan Am misses the point of a period drama and only embraces the fantasy that life in the past was somehow more glamorous with only a token nod that being a stewardess wasn’t all shits and giggles.  We know it was glamorous because in the first ten minutes Christina Ricci (who is shown to know the difference between Hagel and Marx so you know they were smart too) is flown by helicopter from the top of the Pan Am building to JFK to make the maiden voyage of a jet.  Ironically, the most fantastic thing about Pan Am, that the US Government used stewardesses for surveillance is actually true, but if you’re looking for anything realistically unpleasant like say, sexism, you might want to look elsewhere.  This was actually created by a former Pan Am stewardess, so the rose-colored glasses are bolted on.….Finally Whitney wasn’t as annoying or abrasive as you might have expected and maybe it needed to be, because otherwise it’s no different from every other sitcom out there.  If she’s going to be the uncharacteristic prickly protagonist girlfriend, then let her be that. Don’t have her crying in her boyfriend’s arms at the end of the episode over how much she loves him.

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