19 Mar

1. 21 Jump Street/Sony                                    Wknd/$  35.0            Total/$  35.0

2. The Lorax/Universal                                    Wknd/$  22.8            Total/$ 158.4

3. John Carter/Disney                                      Wknd/$  13.5            Total/$   53.2

4. Project X/Warners                                        Wknd/$    4.6            Total/$   48.1

5. A Thousand Words/Paramount                 Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$   12.1

6. Act of Valor/Relativity                                 Wknd/$    3.7            Total/$   62.4

7. Safe House/Universal                                   Wknd/$    2.8            Total/$  120.2

8.Journey 2: Mysterious Island/WB              Wknd/$    2.5            Total/$    95.1

9. Casa De Mi Padre/LionsGate                      Wknd/$    2.2            Total/$      2.2

10. This Means war/Fox                                    Wknd/$    2.1            Total/$    50.5


21 Jump Street opens at number 1 and I was a big fan of the show that first made Johnny Depp a star, so I was mildly interested in this as a movie—until I saw the casting. Sorry, but I can’t think of two people who interest me less than Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Not even the good reviews and cameos by Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson were enough. Sad too, given how few good comedies there are about something that even remotely piques my interest.  Now we get this with leads determined to keep me out of the theater.  Heavy sigh.


The Lorax is down to number two followed by John Carter at number three and as it turns out it was actually director Andrew Stanton who fucked up the marketing for this movie.  All you see was his dumb idea, which is actually worse because now some dumbass with a degree in marketing has validation for it and his job (“Now, if he’d just listened to me…”).  I think working so long at Pixar has made him unable to function in the real world, because unlike animated family films, there’s no guaranteed audience for something like this.  You’d think there would be, given it’s a science fiction action movie, but when your bright ideas basically hide the fact that it is a science fiction action movie, you kinda kill that off.  And it’s a waste of a Rome mini-reunion as Caesar (Ciaran Hinds), Mark Anthony (James Purefoy) and Atia (Polly Walker) are all here.  They, along with William Dafoe, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong, Dominic West and oddly Bryan Cranston deserved a better movie for the strong effort put forth.


Project X is down to number four and now there’s a rash of teenagers trying to imitate this party, which was based on a real teenager’s party that apparently didn’t inspire anyone.  One person is already dead because in real life you can’t keep gun-toting assholes from coming to your party. What’s really, really sad is the utter lack of imagination. Not so much that they’re all trying to do it, but that they all call it a “Project X” party (the irony being it was just a temporary title assigned the movie but it stuck because they couldn’t think of anything better).  Aside from the utter lack of originality, it’s pretty much letting law enforcement know to come get your dumb-ass and shut it down before it even starts.  Even better is the idiot who put up a youtube invitation. One of the rare times I hope they beat his ass in custody for simply being dumb.


A Thousand Words actually rises to number five and if you want to know why this sucks so badly you only need to see the words “Executive Producer Brian Robbins.” The elderly among you will have the barest glimmer of recognition of him as the “tough kid” on Head of the Class with Howard Hessman and yes, Robin Givens.  We know he was tough because he wore a leather jacket.  Oooooh. Since then, he’s been associated with producing utter crap. I should know. He was the executive producer of Smallville. He’s down as “creator” but what that means is that they paid someone else to do it, stole it, got sued then had to add the real creator to credits as “creative consultant.”  So the best thing he ever did, he didn’t even do. In fact, he’s responsible for some of the worst work of Eddie Murphy, which is saying something. Meet Dave and Norbit also came from him.  What’s really funny is he gets pissed when people point out he makes crap and tries to defend it by citing financial returns.  When Wild Hogs came out and deservedly was trashed he whined, “Well, it made a lot of money. So there!”


Act of Valor is down to number six, followed by Safe House at number seven with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island down to number eight.


Casa di Mi Padre opens at number nine and this is clearly a five-minute sketch that somehow escaped and became a feature film.  Honestly, once you get beyond the joke of Will Ferrell speaking bad Spanish and playing a Mexican, what do you have?  Whatever it is, I’m sure it can’t last 90 minutes.


Finally, This Means War ends its miserable existence in the top ten before starting its career as a permanent fixture on FX and Spike, home of homoerotic overly macho programming.


Not breaking the top ten is Detachment, the latest from director Tony Kaye and starring Adrian Brody as a, you guessed it, very detached substitute teacher.  Though clearly very good at his job and very passionate about teaching English Literature he chooses the life of a nomad in the public school system. Why?  Well, thanks to non-stop flashbacks to his childhood that are about as subtle as a punch to the face we know why.  I won’t even get into the pretty, white teen prostitute he takes in off the street which is so clichéd I half expected it to be a delusion he was having as his mind breaks down (and there’s an odd framing device of Brody apparently much later and clearly an ex-teacher that’s never explained and completely at odds with the film’s ending).  But judging from all the other burned out teachers, he really didn’t need any extenuating circumstances to be distant from his job.  We’re treated to non-stop abuse from troubled kids and even worse parents resulting in a series of characters either so unpleasant or damaged they don’t even come across as characters, but caricatures or mere ciphers for Kaye’s message.  A Parent’s Night where not even one parent shows up?  I don’t think so.  Over-the-top moments like that cheapen chilling moments like when school tests scores are tied to property values with little to no concern to actually educating the children. Moments like that hit harder than anything else because they reflect the benign nature of real evil.  It’s not a monster coming to eat your children; it’s a simply a bureaucrat who simply doesn’t care about them.  It underutilizes or flat out wastes an all star indie cast of Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson, William Petersen and Bryan Cranston. It’s like the indie equivalent of John Carter, complete with Bryan Cranston! That dude is everywhere!


Given I’m paying for it, I’m trying to watch my Netflix Instant more, but instead TV shows some actual movies I keep telling myself I’m going to watch.  At the insistence of my Former Movie Buddy I finally watched Bill Cunningham’s New York, a documentary of famed fashion photo-journalist (though he’d modestly deny this) Bill Cunningham, best known for his New York Times columns where he photographs fashion trends in the street and chronicles New York Society night life.  It’s very interesting showing the now 80 Cunningham zipping along the NYC streets on his 28th bicycle chronicling fashion in the streets and at events (still using film) while a who’s who of fashion and society (Tom Wolfe, Anna Wintour) talk about him.  You also get a crash course in fashion history from the very knowledgeable Cunningham who was a hat designer in the 50’s before being drafted in the army (while stationed in France he’d take the train to Paris to apparently go to couture shows which I’m sure raised an eyebrow in the barracks). But at the same time there’s a sadness because he represents both a New York and a fashion world that no longer exist and when he goes that will be the end of it. There’s also an almost mini-documentary on his Carnegie Hall neighbor, Editta Sherman, who is a 96-year-old photographer who’s still working (she shows a picture of Tilda Swinton) and rightfully proclaims, “I’m a legend,” and questions why they aren’t doing a film about her.  I’m asking the same thing.


Again, it’s wonderful how the TV seasons are now non-stop and there’s always a new show coming.  This week Missing started and it’s basically a TV version of Taken but with Ashley Judd instead of Liam Neeson.  You know, when I was a kid they’d have these rip-off shows the very next fall season. Now it takes two years?  Slackers. I won’t pretend it’s good and god knows Ashley Judd’s face is a little distracting, because she’s clearly aged and not entirely in the best way, but I likes me some chicks beating people up, no matter how ridiculous it is to see this 90-pound, 40-year-old woman is taking out 180-pound, 20-something men.  But once upon a something like was Ashley Judd’s bread and butter so it makes sense she’d jump on it.  Sean Bean is in it for 30 seconds as her husband who gets blown up in a car ten years ago. In the very first episode we learn the person who kidnapped her son has pictures of him from childhood.  Gee, given we didn’t actually see Bean blow up what are the chances it’s going to be him all along?  What’s funny is Sean Bean does two things in movies: be evil and die.  In this TV show he’s going to die then be evil.

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