23 Sep

1. End of Watch/ORF                                    Wknd/$  13.0            Total/$  13.0

 2. House at the End of the Street                Wknd/$  13.0            Total/$  13.0

 3. Trouble with the Curve/Warners           Wknd/$  12.7             Total/$  12.7

 4. Finding Nemo 3D/Disney                        Wknd/$     9.4            Total/$  30.0

 5. Resident Evil Retribution/SG                  Wknd/$     6.7            Total/$  33.5

 6. Dredd/LGF                                                  Wknd/$     6.3            Total/$    6.3

 7. The Master/Weinstein                              Wknd/$     5.0            Total/$    6.1

 8. The Possession/LGF                                 Wknd/$     2.6            Total/$  45.7

 9. Lawless/Weinstein                                    Wknd/$     2.3            Total/$  34.5

10. ParaNorman/Focus                                  Wknd/$     2.3            Total/$  52.6



End of Watch and House at the End of the Street both grossed $13M this weekend but End of Watch gets the nod for number one because it opened in fewer theaters and still grossed as much as H.A.T.E.S.—hey, that’s not my idea. That’s what the marketing, aka MWTTC (Morons Who Think They’re Clever) calls House At The End of the Street because only someone with a degree in Marketing thinks that’s how acronyms work.  End of Watch was written and directed by David Ayers who apparently wants to be to LA cops what John Ford was to westerns and what Martin Scorsese is to gangsters as this is the sixth film he’s written about the subject (Fast & The Furious, Training Day, Dark Blue, S.W.A.T, Harsh Times) and the third he’s directed (Harsh Times, Street Kings). Hey, you should do what you know as apparently that’s where he used to run around when he was a teenager.  But he’s originally from the Midwest, which is why the cops are clearly his “cowboys” and everyone else is an “indian” and like American Indians why they’re doing what they’re doing doesn’t matter, only the “cowboys.”  But I’ve enjoyed what he’s done for the most part. SWAT is a guilty pleasure I watch whenever it’s on cable; Street Kings (based on a novel of LA noir king himself, James Ellroy) wasn’t bad and Training Day was actually good except for a ham-fisted ending (so people could see evil was punished!).  The only problem I have with his work is the same problem I have with this: casting. Tell me the problem with this sentence: “Ethan Hawke is a tough LA Cop.”  And this one: “Kurt Russell is a tough LA cop.” Here’s another: “KEANU REEVES is a tough LA cop.”  Here’s a twofer: “Colin Farrell is an ex-NAVY SEAL now a tough LA cop.”  And now we have Jake Gyllenhaal is a tough LA cop (also an ex-marine so I guess you can watch this back-to-back with Jarhead). Now, I know compromises have to be made in casting to get a film made. Studios aren’t coughing up millions to have a nobody in the lead no matter how talented, but there’s compromise and there’s give me a fucking break. Shaving his head and hitting the gym doesn’t make Jake Gyllenhaal look tough. It makes him look like an insecure guy who wants to seem tough.  It doesn’t help that the trailer shows them next to guys who are actually big and tough which only makes them seem like kids dressed up for Halloween.



House at The End of The Street (which actually is HATEOTS because you don’t get to pick and choose which “the” you use) opens at number two and we all know my rule: I don’t do the scary.  No matter how lame or stupid, I simply do not pay to be scared in a world where Mother Nature and my fellow humans and the occasional squirrel are willing to do it for free. Seriously. Have you ever run across one of those city squirrels that not only doesn’t run from you but stares at you with those cold, black eyes? Nuh-uh. Not paying for the privilege.  Nor am I paying to be reminded how damn old I am with the new Hot Young Thing, Jennifer Lawrence, playing Elizabeth Shue’s daughter.  She’s the daughter of the babysitter from Adventures in Babysitting!  And this just helps to secure her place as a new star.  She already had straight-up acting and indie film cred with an Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone.  Then she got mainstream blockbuster cred with X-Men: First Class and of course Hunger Games.  Now here’s a genre film to show her solid earning capability in just about anything.  Soon she too will inappropriately cast as something because it was the only way the film could be made.  See pretty much anything the cast members of Twilight or Harry Potter have made as examples of this.  Robert Pattinson is not an 19th century gigolo.



Trouble With The Curve opens at number three, proving that Clint Eastwood’s giant publicity stunt to promote it at the Republican convention didn’t work out as well as he planned. Oh, come on.  Don’t tell me you didn’t find it somewhat coincidental that he did just before he had a film coming out? You probably also think it’s a coincidence that the Twilight kids had a scandal just as he had an art film coming out that no one would even remotely have heard of otherwise. And look, they just “coincidentally” got back together in time to push the last Twilight film. Come on, people. Get with the program! There are no coincidences!  That said, this looks like another one of those films that escaped from either Hallmark or Lifetime to the big screen and gobbled up an A-list along the way, so utterly clichéd it is with daddy issues and baseball as a metaphor for life.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Look for it to run back-to-back with Field of Dreams on cable in the near future.  My problem is that it’s come out too late in the year.  This probably would have had me and a few other people were it not in competition with football season and the race to the playoffs of actual baseball (not that I’m watching baseball any place than in a movie).



Finding Nemo 3D is down to number four followed by Resident Evil Retribution at number five and do you know how bad a movie has to be to make seeing beautiful people fighting and blowing shit up seem unappealing?  Mila Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Boris Jodjoe and Oded Fehr wouldn’t look out of place in a fashion ad and honestly that’s all I want from my stupid action film casting.  Hire real actors to play the bad guys.  But Paul W.S. Anderson is so inept not even the idea of seeing Michelle Rodriguez playing not one but two roles (one good, one evil) is appealing to me and I loves me some Michelle Rodriquez.  Still waiting on her to get her own action movie and stop dying in everyone else’s (Fast & The Furious, Resident Evil, Avatar).



Dredd 3D—seriously, that’s what it’s called letting you know what they consider important—opens at number six and this is the second attempt to create a Judge Dredd franchise, the first being the Sylvester Stallone misfire, Judge Dredd where they violated the single basic rule of the character: Dredd never takes his helmet off.  Ever.  It’s the equivalent of making a Superman movie and not having him fly.  Ever.  But of course that concept wasn’t flying in Hollywood where you have to see your star.  Why the hell else do you think Spider-man’s mask keeps getting torn off in the final act of his movies, even though you see Peter Parker constantly?  Hollywood morons are convinced you’re going to have a problem not seeing a face you just saw five seconds ago.  Now as bad a misfire as that was, one thing they did get right was a sense of humor because is Judge Dredd is a SATIRICAL CHARACTER!  Aside from being about a completely fascist society where your hero kills supporters of democracy, in the comics there are actual violent wars between Burger King and McDonalds and even the Jolly Green Giant shows up to face off against Dredd.  So guess what this film leaves out?  It’s fine as a straight-ahead action movie and yes, Judge Dredd is never seen without his helmet, but that’s all it is.  It’s actually as generic an action film as you can get.  Tough veteran cop (every cop movie) gets rookie partner who happens to be idealistic (every other movie) and is female (every third cop movie) who faces a trial by fire (every other cop movie) when they walk into a remake of Die Hard. Seriously.  They’re trapped in a building and besieged by gangs of…well, gangs.  Not to mention Karl Urban is doing an impression of Clint Eastwood the whole time.  There’s nothing really to set it apart which is sad because god knows it’s still better than any of the Resident Evil movies.



The Master enters the top ten at number seven and this is NOT about creator of Scientology as writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson will tell you. It’s just a lot like him and his life.  That way you don’t get sued and have Tom Cruise and John Travolta throwing eggs at your house.  Paul Thomas Anderson—the actually talented “Paul Anderson” in Hollywood and in this top ten—tends to make films that you either appreciate for their brilliance or spend your time checking your watch for when you’ll leave this pretentious misery. Though everyone seems to have enjoyed Boogie Nights, some would sooner die than sit through Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia and even There Will Be Blood again.  I tend to lean more towards the pretentious misery side, which is why I haven’t seen this yet.  Also, I really don’t like Joaquin Phoenix.  No reason.  I mean no valid reason.  Finding someone fugly is simply not a valid reason to dislike them as an actor, right?  I mean, he’s not playing a model or superhero or lead in a romantic comedy where you’d want someone exceptionally attractive.  Okay, I find him utterly lacking in any type of charm as well.  I mean, Mark Walberg’s ugly too but he has charm and sex appeal.  Joaquin Phoenix is just a boring ugly guy and that’s a hard road to haul for me.  Especially for two hours and seventeen minutes.



The Possession is down to number eight and as we’ve discussed before how genre films are an easy way to bolster one’s resume because they have a built in audience.  Like family films this is where you find the up and coming (like Jennifer Lawrence earlier) and those who are older and need a bump, which is why Jeffery Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick here.  Jeffery Dean Morgan leapt up from obscurity thanks to the Denny Duquette storyline back when Grey’s Anatomy was the hottest show on TV.  One day no one knows who he is, the next day he’s starring in movies like The Losers and The Watchmen (both based on comic books, but only the former is any good because Zack Snyder couldn’t direct traffic on a one way street).  Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed which is why he’s now on a pay cable series and here.  Likewise, after years on a successful TV show Kyra Sedgwick is dipping her toe in the cinematic waters again and what better way than in a genre film where she doesn’t have to do any of the heavy lifting?  And it was good for them both as this has made $45M off a $15M budget, meaning it’s an uncontested hit and whoever survived to the end might have a sequel to look forward to.



Lawless is down to number nine bringing us one step closer to a world without Shia Lebouf as some kind of star. I mean Steven Spielberg’s will can only extend so far, right?  Years ago when indie movies where the thing there was something called Project Greenlight where you entered a contest and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck picked your script to produce and they filmed making of it.  The first one was a movie where Shia Lebouf was cast as the lead and even then he was an obnoxious little shit.  And he was more than enabled by his delusional agent, who while bargaining insisted they’d need Shia Lebouf free for Oscar season.  For what film you ask?  Holes.  No, I’m not kidding.  On the show you could see Amy Smart could barely stand him and on this Mia Wasikowska has openly said she wanted to leave because of him.  So when you see him acting like a jerk in movies, he’s not acting.



Finally ParaNorman closes out the top ten at number ten and I still insist it was stupid to release this so far in advance of Halloween.



The most wonderful time of the year continues as the new fall season rolls out. I try to give most everything at least one shot and this week that brings us to Mob Doctor, which if nothing else wins for “title most stating the obvious.”  Next week I look forward to “Tough Honest Cop” followed by “A Group of Funny White People In An Urban Setting.”   This show stars Jordan Spiro, last seen in the underrated My Boys and by most casting directors as that girl you call when Kate Hudson in unavailable (though Kate Hudson herself is to be found on freaking Glee).  She plays the title character as a young medical resident in debt to a local mob boss over her brother’s dealings with him.  This is based on an Italian TV show and I hope they do it a bit better because this suffers from the malady that plagues most shows, which is what I call “dwarfism.”  All other characters have to be made smaller to make your lead seem greater.  No one else can care more about the shot 11-year-old boy that she does.  No one else can care about the working class girl who winds up pregnant than she does. No one.  This is what made that horrible show Fairly Legal so unbearable.  They toy with her breaking the rules, but it’s always for the right reasons. When the shot 11-year-old boy dies, she extorts the chief of surgery to get the surgeon who blew it disciplined.  To protect the teen girl she pushes her boyfriend to lie to the father about the pregnancy to get permission for surgery, which is illegal.  She clearly has no problem breaking rules or laws or flat out manipulating people but she’s still supposed to be the pure hero of our story of a good person in a bad situation.  Even when they hamfistedly have someone point out to her “You like being in power,” it’s toward a situation where it doesn’t apply as opposed to the obvious situation where it does.  This is the difference between cable shows like Mad Men and mainstream shows. There, the characters own their darkness.  On cable she’d probably be in this situation because of her own doing (borrowed money from the mob for med school) and clearly shown not to be so much a victim of the mob as more like them than she cared to admit.  You can only consistently do so many bad things and still be a “good” person.  Now, shows can grow enormously from their pilots (see the Seinfeld pilot for an example of this), but I don’t have much faith in this to consistently present her as any more than a good person in a bad situation rather than a person trying to rise above the darkness that is clearly very much part of her so I won’t be back.


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