CATCH A FALLING STAR. OR NOT.

26 Jan

Snapshots-21-jump-street-29407957-936-1344
1. American Sniper/Warner                     Wknd/$ 89.5    Total/$ 92.9
2. The Boy Next Door/Universal             Wknd/$ 15.0    Total/$ 15.0
3. Paddington/Weinstein                          Wknd/$ 12.4    Total/$ 40.1
4. The Wedding Ringer/SGems               Wknd/$ 11.6     Total/$ 39.7
5. Taken 3/Fox                                            Wknd/$ 7.6       Total/$ 76.1
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein          Wknd/$ 7.1       Total/$ 60.6
7. Strange Magic/Disney                           Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 5.5
8. Selma/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 39.2
9. Mortdecai/Lion’s Gate                          Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 4.1
10. Into the Woods/Disney                       Wknd/$ 3.9       Total/$ 121.5

BARBARIANS AT THE GATE
American Sniper holds at number one and I’m trying to wait for the controversy to blow over before I see it because I don’t want to be stuck in an audience of assholes seeing it for just that reason. Mainly because these assholes are usually assholes who have already made a decision about the film but don’t want to sound like the assholes they are by being forced to admit they haven’t seen it. Hurry up and see it, you assholes!

SUCCEEDING WHERE GLOBBING ONTO IGGY AZALEA FAILED
I understand Jennifer Lopez has two kids and Mark Anthony to support, but honestly? The Boy Next Door!?! Has it come to this already!?! MILF movies!?! At least you could have gotten and up and coming star. A Hemsworth brother or something instead of this nobody. What YA film adaptation has he been in? You don’t see Cameron Diaz doing this shit and she’s doing some lousy shit. Then again, the biggest hits of JLo’s career were suspense thrillers (which I maintain are the female action movie) and since Jodie Foster has shown no interest in hanging onto her throne as queen of them I guess it’s open season on the crown with any crap you can find. But it is a hit for her. It only cost $4M to make and made $15M the first weekend, so it’s all gravy from here on out. But if she were up for an Oscar this would have killed her chances the same way Eddie Murphy’s crappy film cost him a shot. I mean he wasn’t probably going to win anyway, but he probably didn’t even come close as a result of Norbit.

THAT WHITE HOUSE SITCOM IS BETTER OFF FORGOTTEN
Paddington holds at number three, followed by The Wedding Ringer at number four and how successful was Frozen? Josh Gad (who is the hapless groom here) was the voice of the snowman and he’s a B-level star now. I’ll say that again: being the unseen voice of a secondary character has elevated him more than all his other live action performances put together. Including this one.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, NAILED IT SHUT
Taken 3 is down to number five, followed by The Imitation Game at six and somewhere Derek Jacobi is rolling his eyes and sighing, “Whatever, bitchez.” See, he played this role on Broadway and later on a TV film adaptation.

TAINTING THE GREAT ELO SONG WITH THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE
Strange Magic opens at number seven and I almost feel sorry for George Lucas who clearly thinks he has more to offer the world creatively and the world clearly feels differently. Sorry, but there’s just no getting over those godawful Star Wars prequels…and all the other non-Star Wars shit. Let me put it this way: this week he revealed that his ideas for the upcoming sequels were all rejected. Oooh, you want some midichlorians for that burn?

CALL IT THE “THE REASON WHY YOUR PARENTS THINK YOU’RE UNGRATEFUL BECAUSE THEY LIVED THROUGH SOME SHIT” SERIES
Selma is down to number eight and also in this is Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King…again. Yes, she’s played this role before in Boycott, an HBO movie in 2001. You know what would have been awesome? If Denzel Washington came back to play Malcom X who also appears here. Just tie them all together.

ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Mortdecai opens at number nine and is the bullshit myth of Johnny Depp finally over? I never understood how he created this iconoclast persona when he went from a hit teenybopper TV (on Fox no less) to mainstream films and dated actresses and supermodels. His only “rebel” behavior was in that he didn’t do more traditional leading man stuff like crap romcoms, but it’s not like he was doing indie films either. I mean, what kind of “rebel” does a movie based on a Disney ride? Well, thankfully his mid-life crisis has finally served to take him down. First the end of his near 20-year relationship with Vanessa Paradis to turn around a date a model/actress half his age and now a string of stupid, money-grabbing mainstream flops (The Tourist, Dark Shadows, Lone Ranger, Transcendence) and some dumb public statements (“Critics killed The Lone Ranger”) have taken the bloom off the rose. AND his looks are finally starting to fade. You ain’t pretty no more, bitch! As for the movie, my biggest sign of what will suck is if my dad likes the commercial and he laughed out loud at this. I wasn’t going to see it anyway, but thanks dad.

BOOM! IN YOUR FACE, DEPP!
Ironically enough, Depp is also in Into The Woods closing out the top ten at number ten. He’s not a major character so he gets no boost from it, unlike say, Josh Gad.

TV
It’s been awhile, but the New Year did bring more of the most wonderful thing on earth: new TV shows to watch. Let’s get started…

State of Affairs: Now you knew this was going to be crap the moment they pushed it as being from “the director of The Blacklist” as if that’s a sign of quality. But I gave it a shot because I do like Katherine Heigl. Oh, go fuck yourselves. She didn’t say anything about Gray’s Anatomy or Knocked Up that wasn’t true. The problem is when she was in charge (she and her mother run her production company) she didn’t do anything better. This continues that trend. Making the head of the CIA a complete moron in order to make Heigl’s character look smart was just it for me. That he could be wrong was fine; making him too stupid to be in the position he was in was just too much. And having her picking up men in bars then kicking them out because she’s trying to dull the pain of losing her fiancée (who was the president’s son, no less) was just too hamfisted and she simply doesn’t sell self-loathing sex well at all (I am available for lessons). Sigh. I remember when I thought Joe Carnahan was someone to watch. Now he’s someone to be avoided.

Hindsight: Yes, we’re at the point where the 90’s are a point of nostalgia. I’ll admit I suffer from it mainly because of it was the last good decade of R&B (not to mention the existence of actual rock bands) and a large-breasted Lara Flynn Boyle lookalike co-worker that I missed out on, but that’s a story for another day. This is about a woman who is having cold feet on the day of her second wedding then passes out in the elevator and wakes up the day of her first wedding 20-years earlier, which she then runs out on to try and change her life. Now, I won’t get into how none of these people look like the 40-somethings they’re supposed to be at the beginning and barely the 20-somethings they have to be for the 90’s but it does stink of production laziness. Was a little aging make-up not in the budget? No, what turned me off instantly was the appearance of a minority dispensing sage advice as if they—gasp!—knew what was going on in the character’s mind and were some kind of guardian angel. Yes, once again we get the Magical Person of Color to see the lead White character through their time of need. Just…no. Not helping is the elephant in the room, the thing that happens once the 90’s ends: 9/11. How can she not say anything or do anything? This is like setting a romantic comedy at Pearl Harbor in the late ‘30’s. How can you enjoy it when you know what horrible event is going to happen!?! And speaking of the future, given the jokes about NY real estate going up and iPhones, how is she not investing in all this? Usually the characters in these types of stories are either only back for a specific time or purpose or “everymen” and can’t afford to, but she comes from a well-off family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is apparently staying. She can afford to buy some stock. It would be better if the Magical Black Man (who also shows up in the past and vanishes mysteriously when she’s talking to him) just flat out revealed himself to be an angel or something and given her a set of rules regarding what she could and could not do so it’s just off the table and out of our minds. Finally, the show unabashedly promotes the music played the 90’s, which is fine, but it’s only the most overplayed stuff of that decade and even Upper West Side blondes listened to hip-hop in the 90’s, but not on this show. The best part? A 30-second breakdown of 90’s fashion when she goes through her clothes: “Mock turtleneck baby-tee?”

Marco Polo: This debuted on Netflix and is the first show of its kind that I’ve actually watched and by that I mean where the entire season is just flat out made available. No waiting. And much like my choice of King Arthur on Starz rather than Game of Thrones on HBO, I’ve made the less popular, clearly less accomplished choice. Sorry, but I simply don’t care about Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. I’m sure they’re great, but I’ve no interest in hopping on the bandwagon. In fact, I only starting watching this out of boredom while on my lunch hour at work. I had no interest to begin with and the reviews had sealed that coffin. But watching it I was and thanks to low expectations, I found it somewhat enjoyable. Yes, the lead character is boring, but that’s fine. Kublai Khan, a Mongol ruling China balanced between a culture he covets and the one he comes from should be more interesting. As well as the Prime Minister of the one city the Mongols cannot conquer. As well as the Khan’s son, raised Chinese but needing to be more Mongol to hold the throne and a half dozen other characters. For the valid criticisms of Asians who speak in stilted tones, you’re not going to find this many Asians (as well as other races) with speaking roles of with this level of complexity anywhere else (good to see you again, Joan Chen). Sad but true. The one character that does speak that way is, of course, the blind martial arts instructor, but at one point Kublai Khan himself mocks him for it and says he’s drunk. And he is! However, the martial arts instructor provides the moment that might actually justify the existence of this show, which is a definition of “gung-fu” or “kung fu.” Kung fu is not a martial art. Wushu is the name for martial arts. Kung fu is the discipline it takes to achieve excellence so a great chef is a master of kung fu the same way a great tailor is. It has nothing to do with martial arts. This of course was followed immediately by the most annoying and ridiculous part of the show: gratuitous female nudity in a scene I can only call “Mongolian Idol” wherein candidates who wanted to be in the Khan’s harem were lined up to compete. Totally naked of course. And how do courtesans compete? Why, by having sex with one another of course in front of the judges! But nowhere was this more ridiculous than in the scene where the Prime Minister tells three soldiers they could have the courtesan of the late emperor (she’s his sister, by the way). Her response is to kill them all using her martial arts skill…while totally naked. Now, I’ve got nothing against ridiculous martial arts scenes or gratuitous nudity, but if you’re going to do it, go all the way. Everyone should have been naked. After all they were wearing armor. It would have actually made some kind of sense if she convinced them to get naked first then broke out her Bruce Lee skills. Even when a princess commits suicide she disrobes first. It’s ridiculous. Yes, you get an actual penis in episode five but nly after countless nude women. It’s only 9 episodes so I’m going to stick it out to the end, but I won’t be returning for the already greenlit second season.

Agent Carter: I will have to give Marvel credit. They realized the mistakes they made with Agents of B.O.R.E.D.O.M. and started this show off right with scenes from Captain America and referencing it constantly, not to mention having Howard Stark return as a character. It sets the foundation before even trying to move on its own. After that, however, it hits the ground running. One nice aspect of the show is that despite being about secret agents and super-science it nonetheless deals with the sexism of the 40’s, especially the women who are being forced out of their job and back into the home by returning men. Clearly the freedom they fought for wasn’t for dames. More than once is Agent Carter called little more than Captain America’s whore, which she has to grin and bear despite the fact she’s twice the agent of anyone in the room. Because I’m a geek they basically had me when they introduced Edwin Jarvis. In the movies, Jarvis is the computer that runs Tony Stark’s home. In the comics he’s the flesh & blood butler. Basically the Alfred to his Batman. Here Jarvis is Howard Stark’s butler and his partnership with Agent Carter as they work to secretly clear Howard of treason charges is nothing but fun. Also, they only have 8 episodes so there’s no time to tread water. It has to move and move it does.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce: I loves me some Lisa Edelstein. She fits the “type” I only now realize I have and no, I’m not going to tell you what that entails. I only watched House to see her as the most inappropriately dressed hospital administrator ever and stopped watching when she left. Her with her own comedy drama show about being a divorcee is as welcome to me as when Sarah Jessica Parker got her own show, which is appropriate because this is honestly just another Sex & the City clone (we even learn that Edelstein’s character is originally from NYC). You’ve got your Semitic writer as the center surrounded by her extreme-behavior gentile friends. You’ve got the free-spirited promiscuous one model (played by ex-model Beau Garrett whom I’ve loved because never fixed her teeth) and you’ve got your no bullshit attorney played by Janeane Garofalo. So you’ve got your Samantha, your Miranda and your Carrie—if Carrie wasn’t such a narcissistic asshole. I loved the show but she was. No, there’s no Charlotte but is that really a loss. But hold on! In some of the most awkward writing since Suzanne Sommers left Three’s Company and Shannen Doherty was booted off 90210…and Charmed, Janeane Garofalo, the other person I was thrilled to see weekly has left the show. Totally off camera with an awkward, unbelievable bullshit expository phone call. Now, suddenly Lisa Edelstein gets a best friend she hasn’t spoken to in years, who is short and abrasive. Hmmm. Guess we can only rewrite those scripts so much. In addition, Garofalo played a lawyer and the lawyer who was her nemesis at work who was tall, thin, conventionally pretty and very girly-girly, basically everything she’s not is now the fourth member of the group. Guess they had some legal plotlines they couldn’t write out as well. The only advantage to the change is that with her being Indian the primary group is no longer all-white, though we do get another woman of color who seemingly never dates men of color. Baby steps, people. But the show won me over almost instantly when Edelstein has a scene where she got drunk and took all her clothes off to dance around the house. It’s like they wrote it just for me.

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