29 May


1. MIB 3/Sony                                                Wknd/$   55.0            Total/$  55.0

2. The Avengers/Disney                               Wknd/$   36.8            Total/$ 513.5

3. Battleship/Universal                                Wknd/$   10.9            Total/$  44.4

4. The Dictator/Paramount                         Wknd/$    9.3            Total/$  41.1

5. Chernobyl Diaries/Warner                      Wknd/$    7.9            Total/$    7.9

6. Dark Shadows/Warners                           Wknd/$    7.5            Total/$  62.9

7. What To Expect When…/LGF                 Wknd/$    7.1             Total/$   22.1

8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/Fox     Wknd/$    6.4            Total/$   16.6

9. The Hunger Games/LionsGate               Wknd/$    2.3            Total/$ 395.3

10. Think Like a Man/SGem                        Wknd/$    1.4             Total/$  88.3


Men In Black 3 opens at number one and the good news is it’s better than MIB2.  The bad news is it’s still a movie that didn’t need to be made.  MIB is a very good comedy that still stands up thanks to a great premise, notable supporting characters, solid pacing and a catchy theme song.  It was also a complete story, not meant to have sequels.  At least none with Tommy Lee Jones anyway.  But god forbid you try a movie with just a black guy and a woman, so Linda Fiorentino was unceremoniously dumped and the horrific MIB2 came into being whose soullessness was shown by Tommy Lee Jones who, when asked during filming if he were okay replied, “My per diem check cleared, so I’m okay.” Given his total screen time here is about ten minutes I’d say he made limited involvement a prerequisite of coming back.  The saving grace of this movie is he isn’t missed thanks to James Brolin doing a spot-on impression of a younger, much more genial Tommy Lee Jones, putting Will Smith oddly into more of a straight man role.  You even get a nice joke explaining how the 40-something Brolin is supposed to be playing a 20-something Jones.  But sadly it’s not enough.  The freshness of the premise is gone, so the fun of seeing popular celebs “outed” as aliens no longer works. It doesn’t help that the most obvious choices are made (Lady Gaga, Tim Burton, Mick Jagger).  Even the joke that all supermodels are aliens falls flat (they’re from the planet Glamour, get it?  Yawn.)  The only display of imagination is the alien who can see all probabilities of time at once and his simultaneous joy over seeing The Mets win the World Series and pain over the darker outcomes is well done.  Clearly they had no imagination left over for the plot and let me join the chorus to point out that the end makes no sense at all and pretty much serves to unravel the first film and all the motivations of Tommy Lee Jones’s character.  Will Smith said he made this because he felt the public deserved a better film than the second.  Well, keep trying, ace. Or better yet, don’t.


The Avengers is finally down to number two and as you may or may not know the reason Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury is because at the beginning of the 21st century Marvel Comics created a separate line called the “Ultimate Universe” which was modern interpretations of its classic characters.  Basically, it’s like if someone relaunched a soap opera so that it wouldn’t be burdened down with years of storylines, open to new interpretation and modernized.  Think if they instead remade Dallas, not about oil but the Ewings now run an empire like Microsoft.  Similarly, the Ultimate Spider-Man wasn’t a photographer, but a kid who helped work on The Daily Bugle’s website. Ultimate Captain America is more of hard-ass regular solider than he is a nice kid who just wanted to do the right thing and The Ultimate Red Skull is actually his son who hated that the US Government tried to turn him into his father and subsequently became a ruthless terrorist who began his career with Kennedy’s assassination. Ultimate Tony Stark not only has a brain tumor, but an older, blonde brother with the same genius.  Also in the Ultimate Universe they can kill characters off permanently.  Ultimate Cyclops, Wolverine, Daredevil, Professor X and even Peter Parker are all dead and are not coming back (the new Ultimate Spider-man is a half-black, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales).  In this universe The Avengers are called “The Ultimates” (The Avengers are a nasty, black ops version of them) and work flat out for the government unlike the classic Avengers who were either a civilian force or reported to the UN. I personally read it as satire, so when Nick Fury who had always been an Italian American was made a black guy, drawn specifically to look like Samuel L. Jackson, it was clearly part of the joke.  The characters even discuss who would play them in movies and Fury says, “Samuel L. Jackson.”  Jackson didn’t approve this so instead smartly decided that to allow Marvel to continue made the deal that when the time came to bring the character into the movies the producers went with the him, which is why Nick Fury is not played by David Hassellhoff.  But to make matters even more convoluted, in the classic, painfully mercenary regular Marvel Universe they’ve introduced Nick Fury’s black son who of course loses an eye and subsequently decides to shave his head and go by dad’s name to coincide with the film.  Aren’t you glad you decided to have sex in high school instead of reading comics?


Battleship is down to number three and one must pity poor Taylor Kitsch because moving from TV to film is a tricky business.  You want to be in good movies, but you also have to grab the big money while you can.  Unfortuntely for every Bruce Willis scoring big with Die Hard there are millions of Blind Dates and Sunsets and other big releases that totally tanked for him when he made the move in the 80’s.  And then there’s George Clooney.  Can you say Batman & Robin?  Kitsch and his management are also trying the “swing for the fences” approach but all they have to show for it are not only the  two of the biggest busts of the year, but two of the most poorly marketed films.  Now, John Carter is not the worst movie ever made, but it surely is the worst marketed.  Battleship is a horrible movie (worse than Wolverine which also had Kitsch in it) that also had horrible marketing mainly because John Carter tanked in my opinion.  Taylor Kitsch is the star, but he’s tainted now so you can’t put him in the ads, which mean you can’t put the rest of the cast in the ads.  The problem?  The rest of the cast is white fucking hot right now.  Liam Neeson had a total middle-aged action hero career resurgence.  He’s not in the poster.  Brooklyn Decker is a swimsuit model currently the background on half the computers of men in America (Kate Upton has the other half).  She’s not in the poster. Alexander Skarsgard is the background on half the computers of women in America (Ryan Gosling  has the other half).  He’s not in the poster.  And Rhianna goes without saying.  Also, not in the poster.  Not a single one of them is to be seen in any print ad for this movie, because you can’t have them without the star and you apparently can’t have the star because he’s tainted.  How dumb is this line of thinking? That four actually famous people are countered by the failings of one semi-famous guy?  Proof once again, that Marketing as an actual degree you can learn alongside science and literature is a abomination.


The Dictator is down to number four followed by Chernobyl Diaries at number five and was there any doubt I’d overlook this?  First of all it’s supposed to be scary and as we all know I don’t do the scary. Secondly it’s painfully, painfully stupid in its very premise of kids on vacation who decide not to go to Moscow but Chernobyl.  What’s more entertaining than this movie is that there was another bad movie last year about Americans in Moscow when aliens invade, so I guess you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


Dark Shadows is down to number six and is it part of their divorce agreement that Helena Bonham-Carter still has to appear in Tim Burton’s crappy films?  There was a time this woman was an art house queen and now she just wears a lot of make-up and camps it up.  Hmmm, I guess that makes her the female Johnny Depp.


What To Expect When You’re Expecting is down to number seven and what does it say that Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez combined can’t get people in to see a movie?  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. They’ve made money on crap before.  Also here is Brooklyn Decker giving her two crappy movies in the top ten.  She and Taylor Kitsch now have something to talk about.  But who really suffers the most here is Elizabeth Banks because the clock is ticking on her time to ascend from supporting player to leading actress.  What’s ironic about this is that she was Betty Brant in all three Spider-man films.  Betty was Spider-man’s first real love interest, but that story never was in the films, jumping straight to Mary Jane.  She was robbed of her “Lois Lane” moment and everything else since then save The Hunger Games has tanked (The Next Three Days, Man on a Ledge, Zack & Miri Make a Porno, Our Idiot Brother, etc) and that ain’t her movie.  She’s going to be stuck talking dirty in Apatow’s slob comedies if something doesn’t come through soon.  Taylor Kitsch and Brooklyn Decker should save her a seat.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number eight, followed by The Hunger Games at nine (bittersweet for Elizabeth Banks) and Think Like A Man closes out the top ten at ten.


So I’m trying to take advantage of the city more.  You know, go see the sights and shit, which is why I’ve been not only to The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, but this weekend headed out to Brooklyn (again) to catch the exhibit dedicated to DJ Ralph McDaniels and his seminal show Video Music Box. I guess had to be in the tri-state area to know about it, but then again, that was all that mattered in the so-called “Golden Age of Hip-Hop” from the early 80’s to the early 90’s.  But know that anytime you watch some old footage from that time on MTV or VH1 they had to pay Ralph McDaniel’s for it, because he was ground zero of exposure for hip hop in NYC.  He even started a production company for shooting videos where Hype Williams started out.  The display was at the MoCada (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), located just off Atlantic in Brooklyn and appropriately enough there was some kind of African-American themed fair going on right there when I got off.  As you can imagine, it’s not a big space and was be divided up into three rooms.  The first was the large main room upon entry where there was a wall of text explaining the importance of Ralph McDaniels and Video Music Box along with artwork, benched and two monitors, one playing videos and the other playing a short documentary about the most legendary piece of phrasing in hip-hop history (it belongs to Rakim in case you were wondering).  This was followed by two smaller spaces one of which had my favorite exhibit of all time: an interactive program displaying the use of brand name champagne shout outs in hip-hop songs from the 80’s until now.  Cristal, Dom Perignon and Moet were the three most cited and it went from literally one or two in a year in the early 80’s to hundreds in the 90’s.  Apparently there’s another coming for all brand names and I’m personally dying to know how many fucking time Alize has been dropped.  Not to mention Gucci, Prada, etc.  Nonetheless the brevity of it was a bit disappointing. Given the medium was video, I’d have preferred fewer paintings and photographs (in which McDaniels ironically rarely appears) and more footage of those years.  There were also binders with articles and interviews but shouldn’t those also have been videos?  How exactly can you not have video interview with a man who was a pioneer in using videos to expand an art form?  Afterwards I went Carroll Gardens to drink in the middle of the day where one of my geek girls was tending bar.  That’s cultural, right?

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