Tag Archives: Ben Affleck

THE CRISIS OF UNFORTUNATE TITLING

14 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 43.0 Total/$ 153.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 35.1 Total/$ 94.0
3. Arrival/Paramount Wknd/$ 24.0 Total/$ 24.0
4. Almost Christmas/Universal Wknd/$ 15.6 Total/$ 15.6
5. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 10.8 Total/$ 32.3
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 77.7
7. Shut In/EC Wknd/$ 3.7 Total/$ 3.7
8. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 70.4
9. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 54.6
10. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 31.6

WHEN YOUR WORST CHOICE IS STILL GOOD, YOUR CASTING DIRECTOR DESERVES A RAISE
Doctor Strange holds at number one making sure any doubts of Marvel’s dominance were laid squarely to rest. Yet another comic book hero 90% of the populace has never heard of has been a ridiculous success (it’s almost made budget in a week and made more than twice this overseas). It also validates the casting choice of Benedict Cumberbatch, whom they delayed this movie to get. What’s funny and a little sad is that he’s the least interesting actor in this cast. I like him well enough, but pretty much everyone else cast would have been better than him. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton would have been more entertaining as Doctor Strange. Especially the latter two. There’s nothing about the character Doctor Strange that dictates it be a white male. Only that the character be a brilliant surgeon who is humbled and becomes a sorcerer. That’s any race, any gender (unlike say, Batman whose family has been prominent in Gotham since the pilgrim days which rules out anyone of color). Even costar Rachel McAdams would have been a welcome change from the so-safe-it’s-generic path they chose. There’s controversy about the casting because while they changed the Sorcerer Supreme from being Asian (Tibetan to be specific) to being White to avoid “stereotypes” (and offending the Chinese government so they could get those Chinese moviegoers). Yeah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that was another quarter mile laid down because while the “mystic Asian master” may be a stereotype it’s one that gives an Asian actor who might not otherwise have found work a job. Also crucial is the world “master.” He may be a stereotype, but the one who is the baddest muthafucka in the room. Simply put: the most powerful character in the story went from being a minority to being white. Yes, you can argue the most powerful character went from being a man to a woman (which is what Marvel tried to do) but it’s still a White woman as opposed an Asian one. Faced with this, Marvel again tried to wash over their sin by changing Wong from being Doctor Strange’s manservant to being another sorcerer equal to Strange, but one step forward plus one step back means you’re just standing still. That being said, Tilda Swinton is always a joy to watch, but she’d have been better as the doctor. She’s also more age-appropriate as the character not supposed to be young either, but someone older than Cumberbatch.

MAYBE SOME SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK EPISODES WOULD HAVE HELPED
Trolls holds at number two, followed by Arrival at number three and this is “grown up” science fiction, meaning it’s not about space battles and sexy robots, but about thoughts and concepts, in this case the science of communication, language in particular. How would you teach or learn an alien language? And do it before the world destroys itself in fear? My normal complaint about this type of movie is that it could have been told in 45 minutes on an old episode of The Outer Limits, but this actually needs its time to delve into what makes a language? How to communicate with no common basis, no Rosetta Stone? Amy Adams is basically the best linguist in America who is recruited by the government when one of 12 giant spaceships on Earth lands in Montana. Every 18 hours they open the door and try to communicate us, but until Amy Adams shows up apparently it never occurred to none of the hundreds of people on Earth trying to communicate (every country with a ship has team ) to a) use written symbols or b) not show up dressed like you’re landing on the moon when it’s clear they’ve made an effort to give you a breathable atmosphere. Seriously, they bring a bird in to make sure the air is safe and given nothing happens to the bird not one single scientist of the hundreds around the world thinks they can take that damn hazmat suit off!?! There’s a bit of a twist which is old hat if you’re a science fiction fan (seriously, this is basically a combination of a Deep Space Nine episode and a Next Generation episode) so once you’ve figured it out it drags a bit and honestly I’d have given that up for more delving into how they figured out the language of the aliens, but all in all it’s some solid thinkin’ man’s science fiction.

ALMOST ROLLING IN MONEY
Almost Christmas opens at number four and whoever decided on a pre-Thanksgiving release date needs to be fired. Seriously. In one more week you’d have a four-fucking-day weekend to bring in the bucks. I mean, it only cost $17M and already made $15M, but it could have, should have been so much more. Pretty sure no one going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was going to have to decide between the two films.

THOUGH HE DID DATE HIS LEADING LADY AND BREAK UP WITH HER…JUST LIKE TOBEY
Hacksaw Ridge is down to number five and the star of this is former Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield trying to show life beyond the tights. Yeah, Tobey Maguire should have been a cautionary tale. But Garfield is a better actor and his defacto look isn’t “creepy loner” so hopefully he’ll do better.

SHE CAN’T PITCH PERFECT FOREVER
The Accountant is still around and color me shocked. This also works for Anna Kendrick as it’s a successful film out of her wheelhouse. Granted she’s “the girl who needs to be saved” but there’s no such thing as a bad hit.

ANOTHER JOB THAT SHOULD BE OPEN
Shut In opens at number seven and just as Almost Christmas opens a week too soon, this comes over a week too late. Returning to the genre that was the source of her only starring role success (The Ring) this should have been an easy win with at $10M budget for Naomi Watts. Seriously, somebody should lose a job over this as it was money just left on the table. Especially if that idiot used the term “counter-programming.”

WE ONLY HAVE OURSELVES TO BLAME
Boo! A Madea Halloween has made $70M off a $20M budget. See, this is why we can’t have nice things.

STARS OF THE LATE 20TH CENTURY FINALLY BEGIN TO FADE…
Finally the Toms close out the top ten with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number nine and Inferno at number ten.

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WHOA, HO, HO IT’S MAGIC!

7 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 45.6 Total/$ 45.6
3. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 14.8 Total/$ 14.8
4. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 7.8 Total/$ 65.0
5. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 26.0
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 6.0 Total/$ 70.9
7. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 49.2
8. Ouija: Origin of Evil/Universal Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 31.4
9. The Girl on the Train/Universal Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 70.7
10. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox Wknd/$ 2.1 Total/$ 83.3

TRY TO UNDERSTAND HE’S A MAGIC MAN
Doctor Strange opens unsurprisingly at number one as the latest installment of the Marvel films. And while it’s enjoyable I find myself oddly disappointed in just how hard Marvel is sticking to this formula. Granted, they’ve got literally a billion rea$on$ as to why, but I find myself saddened just how much like all the others this is because Doctor Strange has always been a character that I’ve liked and he’s not like other comic book heroes. Yes, the plot device is one of the oldest in the history of creation—the humbled prince who becomes a better person as a result and we’ve seen it twice here alone with Thor and Iron Man—but they do absolutely nothing to put a new spin on it. In fact they watered it down. In the comics Stephen Strange starts as a flat out callous asshole of a surgeon who just might let you die if you can’t meet his fees, but here he’s just a bit of an arrogant prick and doing what is basically a Robert Downey Jr-lite take on the character as he was also not a joke cracking wiseass like he is here. In fact, you really only know he’s an arrogant jerk because people keep telling you he is, not really because of any arrogant jerk things that he does. When it happens it’s a big moment, not like the genuine arrogance of Tony Stark in the first half hour of Iron Man as he casually rumbles over everyone, friend and stranger alike because he only cares about himself. Also missing is Strange’s growth from this minor asshole to almost painfully benevolent. It’s a near two-hour movie. You should have the time to show the passage of time but apparently it wasn’t worth sacrificing a gigantic psychedelic action sequence. You don’t go from callous asshole to caring for an entire plane of existence in a few days or weeks, but it feels like it’s barely a month of so for the character here when it should have been years. There’s no definitive “humbling moment” where enlightenment occurs. This goes hand-in-hand with his “instant magic skills” something a depiction of an extended period of time would have helped with immensely. There’s an 80 minute animated version from a few years ago that actually does better at showing this, which should embarrass everyone here. The quality of the acting goes without saying, but literally every major actor present would have made a better Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. Every. Single. One.

IT’S A BAD MOVIE HOUSEHOLD
Trolls opens at number two and you can garner the quality of a children’s movie by whether or not kids shut up when the trailer comes up. Over the last few months, this trailer didn’t shut up any kids. ‘Nuff said. Besides, has Justin Timberlake ever starred in a good movie? He’s been a supporting actor in exactly one. Again, ‘nuff said.

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY HE HAD A BRAVE HEART
Hacksaw Ridge opens at number two and Mel Gibson finally realized no one was going to see a movie of his if they had to see his face so here he’s just directing. This feels like the kind of war movie they would have made in the 40’s when they weren’t borderline propaganda: they were flat-out propaganda. Except Gibson takes great pains to show war as horrifically bloody as humanly possible which isn’t really going to inspire anyone to take up arms. I know this is based on a true story about a pacifist soldier who refused to take lives and would only save them, but honestly that doesn’t make it any more interesting to me. It takes something truly exceptional to make me want to sit through a war movie and this ain’t it.

TAKING A STAND
Boo! A Madea Halloween is down to number for and the answer is still “No.”

NETFLIX. THE NEXT ONE WILL BE ON NETFLIX. STARRING HIS SON.
Inferno is down to number five and so much for this franchise. At least as big budget superstar movies. They could very well make a nice living doing them as TV movies like Tom Selleck did for that one character, but this is clearly going to tie up in a nice little trilogy for you to buy for your parents at future Christmases because they read the books.

SEX AND THE SINGLE SUPER SOLDIER
The Accountant is down to number six, followed by Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number seven and while one franchise may have just been born, another may be seeing its premature end. Yes, this means that Ben Affleck just had more success as an action hero this year (remember Batman v Superman: Mad Stupid Cash Grab) than Tom Cruise. You can bet pre-production on the next Mission Impossible just kicked into high gear. What’s funny is that neither character gets to have sex with their female lead, which are Anna Kendrick and Cobie Smulders respectively. Not that we wanted to see it (ew!), but Ben Affleck’s character basically cannot with Kendrick because his autism leaves him socially impaired. And we don’t necessarily want to see it with Tom Cruise either (serious ew!), but there’s an odd kind of sexual tension that is present because Cobie Smulders and Cruise spend time half-undressed together in a very casual way that is oddly appealing. Honestly, it’s very adult that two people on the run from killers would have other things to worry about than whether or not someone sees them naked. And at the same time, knowing this night could be your last night on earth why the hell wouldn’t you hook up? Especially in the case of Jack Reacher, given his character has come to DC for the specific purpose of possibly sleeping with Cobie Smulders. I’m not kidding. They even discuss it in one of the oddly appealing scenes. It’s actually odd that they do not. Odd for the characters. For Tom Cruise, not so much.

STUDIO ACCOUNTANTS SAYS “OUCH! THAT’S SOME SHARP CHEDDAR!”
Ouija: Origin of Evil is down to number nine and you know who’s in this!?! Eliot himself, Henry Thomas. Good for him. Get that work, son! Yeah, it’s a low-budget horror movie, but it’s made 3x its cost, unlike the movie of the Toms (Hanks and Cruise) in this top ten. It also means you’ve had one more hit this year than Spielberg. Yeah, I said it!

BET YOU THOUGHT BEING PRETTY WAS GONNA CARRY YOU…MORE THAN IT ALREADY HAS I MEAN
The Girl on the Train is down to number nine at $70M off a $45M budget ($140M total worldwide) this is a minor success. Good for you, Glenn Cocco! I want Emily Blunt to do well (she had Sicario last year). I like The Devil Wears Prada that much. I want almost everyone who was in it or associated with it to do well. Yeah, that stops at you, Adrian Grenier. Entourage has tainted you forever. Being a pretty muthafucka don’t help.

A LONG OVERDUE DEATH
Finally, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aka, Tim Burton’s X-Men closes out the top ten at number ten and mercifully I think we’re nearing the twilight of studios giving Burton millions of dollars for these CGI fests. It didn’t even make budget domestically and while it doubled its domestic take overseas that’s not the money that matters most. You can tell stories of eccentric characters without a lot of CGI, Timmy, but the operative word there is “stories” and you aren’t big on those, much less characters.

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EVERYBODY GETS A BUTT-KICKING FRANCHISE

24 Oct

jon

 

1. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF          Wknd/$ 27.6     Total/$ 27.6

2. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/          Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0

3. Ouija: Origin of Evil/Universal           Wknd/$ 14.1    Total/$ 14.1

4. The Accountant/WB                             Wknd/$ 14.0    Total/$ 47.9

5. The Girl on the Train/Universal        Wknd/$ 6.0       Total/$ 58.9

6. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox            Wknd/$ 6.0      Total/$ 74.4

7. Keeping Up With The Joneses/Fox   Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 5.6

8. Kevin Hart: What Now?                      Wknd/$ 4.1       Total/$ 18.9

9. Storks/WB                                              Wknd/$ 4.1       Total/$ 64.7

10. Deepwater Horizon/Lions Gate       Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 55.3

YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS SHIT

Boo! A Madea Halloween opens at number one and…no. Just…no.

NEVER GO BACK…UNLESS IT’S FOR MORE MONEY

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens at number two and I actually enjoyed the first film. Granted, I’m not one of the fans of the books where Jack Reacher is 6’3” so I don’t have a problem with Tom Cruise intimidating people and whooping ass all over the place like a man twice his size. I accept it for the cheap thrills sheer vanity production it is (one of the first things you see onscreen is “A Tom Cruise Production”). It exists to show you that the star is just the bestest thing ever! And while Cruise was never a great actor he is however a great movie star so this works. It’d work better for a young Clint Eastwood, but it works for Cruise too. This is a bit of an improvement on the the first because that one was centered around a horrific loss of innocent life along with horrible moments of the sheer “crap we do to our fellow human beings” variety. The only way it was better was that it had one of funniest fight scenes ever and we got to watch Jai Courtney get beaten to death. Hell, the latter alone is worth the entire film’s production. This one is a simple “wrongly accused heroes fight to clear their names” and we get to watch Tom Cruise get his Jason Bourne on. And don’t kid yourself: this was his attempt to have a Jason Bourne franchise the way every actor from Liam Neeson to Kevin Costner to Sean Penn has seemingly tried to get his own with varying degrees of success over the last 14 years (Cruise was originally supposed to be Salt which was obviously gender swapped to Angelina). Yeah, he’s got Mission Impossible, but a) you can never have too many franchises, especially when you’re officially an aging actor and b) that was actually famous before he was and has expanded to include other known actors. This is about him and him alone beating the shit out of people in that military martial arts style that even James Bond had to adapt as the result of Bourne’s success. It’s not an intellectual exercise by any stretch of the imagination, but for so cheap and easy fun (these movies cost about $60M each and literally a third of that probably went to Cruise alone) they are not a bad way to spend two hours and will be great on cable in the coming years where you can just tune out the improbable plot and just look up from what you’re doing to watch Cruise beat the shit out of people. Hey, I think Jai Courtney is about to die right now. Be back in a minute…

IT’S A SUCCESSFUL PLAN, STAN

Quija: Origin of Evil opens at number three and this is how you make money. Take a low budget horror movie and open it close to Halloween, the second most profitable holiday in America. The first Ouija came out on October 24th last year and made $50M from a $5M budget so they knew what they’d be doing the following year. This is basically the new “Saw” which milked this same marketing plan for years. The producers put a little more money into this one (it’s a whopping $9M this time), but have probably already started pre-production on the third given it’s already made that back and then some in one weekend. I think it goes without saying that I have not, nor will I ever see any of these.

DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

The Accountant is down to number four and also in this is Anna Kendrick, expanding her audience to dudebros who’d never see Pitch Perfect but bringing her trademark humor along with her which honestly is one of the reasons this succeeds: it knows when to be funny. After all, you can’t have a killing machine accountant and expect people to keep a straight face. You cannot. Granted, Kendrick is basically “the girl” who needs to be saved and doesn’t even have a moment where she contributes to beating the bad guys, but small steps. At least when they come for her she manages to put a hurt on them and doesn’t just scream and run.

AN ALL ALMOST-STAR CAST

The Girl on the Train is down to number five and this movie is filled with actors you know but none with enough star power to overcome Emily Blunt, which is shrewd if planned, but probably because a movie with a female lead didn’t have the budget to hire other A-list actors (you know it’s true!). You’ve got the would-be girl-of-the-moment Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux aka Mr. Jennifer Anniston, Luke Evans aka That Guy That Looks Like If Orlando Bloom Was A Man, Laura Prepon aka The Redhead From That 70’s Show, Allison Janney aka Always A Solid Supporting Actor But Never A Lead and Lisa Kudrow aka That Friends Money Means You Should Never Feel Sorry For Me.

THEY BELIEVE IN FLYING MEN AND GHOSTS…SO LONG AS THEY’RE WHITE

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is down to number six and there was some small amount of controversy about the lack of diversity in the movie, and while it would have been nice I honestly I don’t expect a lot in a movie set in Europe during WWII. But there’s something to be said that the only people of color in a Burton film before this were covered by make up as monkeys and the only one here is the freaking villain. If you doubted Burton’s geek cred this should back it up. They tend to like their fantasy worlds monochromatic.

SUCH A HANDSOME MAN

Keeping Up With the Joneses opens at number seven and Zach Galifinakis is running out of chances to prove he can sell a comedy. His last flop before this was only a few weeks ago with Masterminds. What that has in common with this movie is that they share a name with a previous movie that failed, which usually drives the people in suits crazy prompting an instant change. It’s nothing against Jon Hamm given this clearly isn’t his movie, but it’s not helping either. It’s great he doesn’t have an ego and needs to be the star, but you’re not a kid, dude and need to have something successful post-Mad Men under your belt. It’s ironic he’s here with the new Wonder Woman given he looks more like a superhero than basically everyone currently playing one. Hamm is a perfect Superman. Hamm is a perfect Batman. Hamm is a perfect Iron Man. Hamm would have been a perfect Doctor Strange as well. He’s been approached but balked at the decade long contracts they have to sign. Don’t expect to see him in a wannabe Jason Bourne movie either.

THE REST

Kevin Hart: What Now is down to number eight, followed by Storks at number nine with Deepwater Horizon closing out the top ten at number ten.

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THE AFFLECK IDENTITY

17 Oct

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1. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 24.7 Total/$ 24.7
2. Kevin Hart: What Now? Wknd/$ 12.0 Total/$ 12.0
3. The Girl on the Train/Universal Wknd/$ 12.0 Total/$ 46.6
4. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox Wknd/$ 8.9 Total/$ 65.8
5. Deepwater Horizon/Lions Gate Wknd/$ 6.4 Total/$ 49.3
6. Storks/WB Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 59.1
7. The Magnificent Seven/Sony Wknd/$ 5.2 Total/$ 84.8
8. Middle School/LGF Wknd/$ 4.3 Total/$ 13.8
9. Sully/WB Wknd/$ 3.0 Total/$ 118.4
10. The Birth of a Nation/FoxSearch Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 12.2

NEXT UP: THE TAX ATTORNEY
The Accountant opens at number one and Ben Affleck needed this like he needs air. It’s clear that despite universal praise and an Academy Awards, he still wants to be a superstar in front of the camera like Matt Damon and will do most anything to get there. In case Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t made clear this attempt to create a Jason Bourne like franchise for himself will remove all doubt. As The Accountant of the title, Affleck is playing the go-to moneyman for the richest bad guys in the world and somehow in this world of near constant surveillance, not a single person has noticed or gotten a picture of him until a treasury agent is put on his tail. You know that’s kinda impossible but you let it go. Then the treasury agent investigating him is the only person who’s notices the similarity between his faux names and that’s when you realize it’s time to turn off your brain and just enjoy the violence. And we haven’t even gotten to him being a merciless trained killer from childhood…as a way to deal with his autism. No, I’m not kidding. And unlike the Bourne films it does take the time to throw a little humor into the mix. But the dumber this movie gets (and it gets dumb) the more fun it becomes. It was enjoyable enough on the big screen, but it’s going to be a choice late-night, rainy afternoon piece of cable viewing in the future. Probably back-to-back with a Bourne movie.

HOW CAN WE MISS YOU IF YOU WON’T GO AWAY? PT 89
Kevin Hart knew you missed the few weeks he wasn’t in the movie theaters so he sent you this concert film, Kevin Hart: What Now? to tide you over until his next mainstream movie where he’s partnered with yet another star that has come to realize they also cannot carry a movie on their own. You’re welcome.

IN CASE LIKE ME YOU WERE WONDERING WHY SHE WAS HOSTING SNL
The Girl on the Train is down to number three and this is one of those books that “everyone” has read and has been cautiously looking forward to which is how it opened at number one last week.. This year’s Gone Girl for lack of a better term. Unfortunately, it’s not in the hands of a craftsman like David Fincher who was wise enough to employ the book’s actual writer to aid in the screen translation keeping it as substantive as it was stylish. Not that Tate Taylor is without a solid history, but aside from his debut film, Winter’s Bone which proved Jennifer Lawrence could act, he’s made generic safe films like The Help and the James Brown bio, Get On Up. I never read the book so my interest in this film could only be generated by what it looked like and it never rose above mild and there’s been no word-of-mouth to help it get above that. Honestly, the most appealing thing about it for me is Emily Blunt. Shame her post The Devil Wears Prada career hasn’t gone as well as hoped. If only she’d been able to be The Black Widow in the Marvel movies as rumored. I’d soooo much prefer her to ScarJo.

APPARENTLY WEIRD PEOPLE DON’T LIKE SOLID STORIES EITHER
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aka Tim Burton’s X-Men is down to number four and this seems tailor made for Tim Burton whose entire career has been based upon him making movies about “odd people” since he considered himself one of them. Well, he may have been but his habit of dating actresses and models pretty much secures him in “Just Another Dude” territory for me I don’t care how much black he wears or how much he listens to The Cure. And honestly, how much of an outsider can someone who only makes big-budget special effects films for major studios truly be? Both he and his frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp need to let this go or try and find a new take on it. While this looked interesting, the mere fact Tim Burton’s name was on it meant that whatever the story may have been it was going to be an afterthought for him and I just can’t waste anymore if my time on his visually stunning yet ultimately boring and uninteresting films.

OUR GUILT OUTWEIGHS OUR CONCERN
Deepwater Horizon is down to number five and watching Kate Hudson be slowly confined to playing wives and girlfriends of older leading men is just becoming sad. And no one was more annoyed than I when she was omnipresent in generic mainstream films as the lead. Here she’s the waiting wife to Mark Walberg as he fights to survive and save his crew on the offshore oil rig that created the worst oil spill in US History. It’s probably the latter that has contributed to this film’s lack of success despite mostly positive reviews. People really don’t feel sympathetic to a disaster that poisoned the Gulf of Mexico. It probably should have stressed more the culpability of BP in the disaster, but instead chose to ignore that and go straight for the human drama and is paying the price. We like our disaster movies global and leaning more towards science fiction more those that are all too real with real life consequences.

ONLY ONE AT THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN
Storks is down to number six followed by The Magnificent Seven at number seven and playing that woman you’re understandably confused to learn was not Bryce Dallas Howard is Haley Bennett, who is also in The Girl on the Train making her a would-be “It Girl” of the moment, meaning she would be if these films did a little better. This hasn’t even made budget yet after a month, which is odd given Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are supposed to be big stars. This is more Pratt’s problem than Denzel’s as Pratt hasn’t had much success after his one-two punch of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World two years ago, whereas Denzel launched his own franchise last year with The Equalizer…which also costarred Haley Bennett, thus bringing us full circle.

PROBABLY TALKS ABOUT HOW TEST PAPERS SMELLED FRESHLY MIMEOGRAPHED
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is down to number eight and exactly who thinks actually seeing authors in ads will increase sales of anything. Especially when they look like James Patterson. I don’t see this working for his adult mystery novels, much less when it’s an old man talking about a book set in grade school.

HE DIDN’T POLLUTE THE HUDSON FOR ONE
Sully is down to number nine and this is a success both Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks sorely needed. Unlike Deepwater Horizon, there’s no conflict here because the ending was straight up happy.

THOUGH I’M SURE SCORSESE DOESN’T CARE
The Birth of a Nation is down to number ten and I want to see this and will probably eventually see it, but I’m honestly not going to do anything that will contribute to Nate Parker’s career. Sometimes you just can’t separate the dancer from the dance.

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CAPTAIN UNREASONABLE: CIVIL BORE

9 May

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1. Captain America: Civil War/BV Wknd/$ 181.8 Total/$ 181.8
2. The Jungle Book/Disney Wknd/$ 21.9 Total/$ 285.0
3. Mother’s Day/ORF Wknd/$ 9.0 Total/$ 20.7
4. The Huntsman: Winter’s War/Uni Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 40.4
5. Keanu/WB Wknd/$ 3.1 Total/$ 15.1
6. Barbershop: The Next Cut/WB Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 48.4
7. Zootopia/Disney Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 327.6
8. The Boss/Universal Wknd/$ 1.8 Total/$ 59.1
9. Ratchet & Clank/Focus Wknd/$ 1.5 Total/$ 1.5
10. Batman v Superman/WB Wknd/$ 1.0 Total/$ 327.3

ALL THAT’S MISSING IS A “MARTHA” MOMENT
Captain America: Civil War opens at number one and I hate to say but this disappointed the shit out of me. Or rather, it was disappointing like I feared it would be. Civil War was a very bad comic book event from a few years ago that shameless exploited the cheapest money making convention of superhero comics: hero vs. hero. This started with the first kid who liked Superman arguing with his best friend who liked Batman, but didn’t become a part of comics until Marvel in the 60’s, which was all about heroes mistakenly fighting each other before teaming up. DC soon followed suit and eventually it became a self-referential joke in comics that every team-up was preceded by a fight. Then Marvel decided something that was once only part of a story should become the story itself and created Civil War, a story that basically required every hero to go utterly against 50 years of characterization so they could fight one another. But while comics’ fans complained bitterly they still bought the damn thing (like geeks always fucking do) so it paid off. So handsomely in fact that Marvel keeps doing it, much in the way Batman Vs. Superman paid off in the comics in the 80’s and they’ve been doing that ever since. And like Batman Vs. Superman it of course had to be incorporated into its cinematic universe. Now, initially the hope was that Civil War would be “in name only” like Age of Ultron, which was another horrible Marvel Comics event that became a completely different (yet mediocre) movie. This keeps the central point of conflict that superheroes need to register with the governments of the world or retire, but has the same basic flaw: one of our heroes has to act like a complete idiot to guarantee a fight. And in this case it’s actually the titular hero. Captain America must consistently choose the most antagonistic path possible to guarantee the one thing they’re selling: hero vs. hero fighting. The idea that The Avengers operate under some kind of global supervision isn’t unreasonable, yet our hero—and mine in particular—must act like the most unreasonable idiot in the world to make sure we get basically even single Marvel hero ever in a movie trying to punch the lights out of ever other Marvel hero in a movie, including its most profitable, Spider-Man. Spider-Man is to this movie what Wonder Woman was to Batman v Superman: a refreshing breath of air. Even Ant-Man comes off better. I’m having a bad superhero year. My three favorite superheroes are Superman, Captain America and Dick Grayson and so far this year I’ve seen movies where two of them have been made utterly disappointing to me. I’m oddly happy Dick Grayson may never see the light of day in a movie because at least then they can’t ruin him. The only difference between this and Batman v Superman is that I never expected that to be any good. I expected better from the Russo Brothers after The Winter Soldier and they let me down. While there are many enjoyable moments, they can’t overcome the basic flaw of the story, which is that heroes don’t fight each other and they never present a genuine reason why they would. At least not until the last five minutes and that reason is so awful you wish they didn’t because it honestly makes any team ups in the future impossible if you have any respect for character. But they clearly don’t so I guess I’ll see you at the next Avengers movie.

HAPPY’S REVENGE
Speaking of Marvel movies, the man who helped launch them was Jon Favreau, who, no matter what he says, departed under contentious circumstances, one of which was thinking he was going to direct the Avengers movie and that he had Tomorrowland. Neither happened, but the disappointing Cowboys & Aliens did. But then he had the awesome Chef (which was very clearly a commentary on that time), which was nothing short of an artistic comeback. That has resulted in the incredible success of Jungle Book, which on paper looks like a guaranteed failure. Artistically and financially it’s been anything but and not only is it great for Favreau, but he did it for Disney which owns Marvel, so the thought of him returning to the fold isn’t as unlikely as it was just a few months ago. The movie? Hell, I have no interest in the original animated version and even less in this, no matter what anyone says. But I’m happy for him.

NO YOU DON’T GET A PASS ‘CAUSE EVERYONE LOVES THEIR MOM.
Mother’s Day is down to number three even on Mother’s Day, which tells you how awful this latest entry in Gary Marshall’s series of “bad movies based on holidays” really is. And it’s almost two fucking hours on top of it! I realize Julia Roberts basically has to do this given she owes him her entire career and Kate Hudson is looking for an easy comeback to being a box office commodity and Jennifer Anniston is just lucky to have a career after “friends” to begin with. (same for fucking Jason Sudekis after SNL). But this is awful and they all need to understand it’s better to rule in the hell of a really good cable TV show than serve in the heaven of big studio releases. I’m talking to you most of all, Jennifer Anniston. The seemingly permanent erect nipples you sported in the 90’s won’t carry you forever. Or will they? The young men who were your fans in then are probably making the casting decisions now and hoping in vain for that one movie where you’ll finally drop your top.

‘CAUSE HONESTLY, HER’S IS BIGGER
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is down to number four and is yet another blow to the idea of Chris Hemsworth as a leading man even though he’s doing exactly what he should be doing and supporting strong female actors. What it is however is another reason to respect Kristen Stewart, as she’s the only thing missing from the marginal success of the first. Has it occurred to you fuckers that she’s the reason why this prequel didn’t work? Not to mention outside of Twilight she’s had at least one financial success with Snow White & The Huntsman and critical success with Still Alice and Clouds of Sil Maria. Robert Patterson has neither so how about you all get up off her dick!?!

BETRAYER OF MY PEOPLE
Keanu is down to number five and I was briefly interested in this when I found out that Keanu Reeves was doing the voice of the kitty. He initially refused—or at least his management did—but when his sister saw the trailer and told him about it, he called them to be a part of it. But I never really watched Key & Peele either, so not seeing it is par the course for me. Sorry, fellas. Yeah, it only cost $15M, but it’s only made that made much, which means it hasn’t even paid for marketing yet. Maybe it’ll be a home viewing success, because that’s the only place I plan on seeing it.

I WANT THE NEXT ONE TO BE BARBER SHOP: GOOD HAIR
Barbershop: The Next Cut is down to number six and between this, NWA and Ride Along, Ice Cube has reemerged as box office force to be reckoned with mainly because he’s not pretending to be catering to White people at all. He’s making Black movies for Black people and not giving a fuck and it’s working for him. I didn’t see the first barbershop because while I understand its place in the community, I’ve been shaving my own head since the 90’s so it’s not really a part of my existence any longer. Plus, I can’t take anything seriously that takes Common seriously as an actor. He. Just. Sucks. Why are we pretending he doesn’t?

DO NOT AS WE DO, LADIES. BUT AS WE SAY.
Zootopia is down to number six follow by The Boss at number eight and honestly I feel the best jokes were in the trailer so why bother? But I’m happy for Melissa McCarthy. Fuck the haters, baby.

THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE SUCCESSES
Ratchet & Clank is down to number nine and it’s yet another movie based on a video game. Apparently this will never die no matter how many of these movies fail. All it takes is one success to make people forget the other nine failures.

ZACK SNYDER SUCKS. THERE’S JUST NO OTHER WAY I CAN PUT IT.
Finally, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice closes out the top ten at number ten and honestly, $326M domestic from a $250M budget isn’t that great even though it has made $865M worldwide. Twice your budget is break even and no matter that they tell you about international gross, the studio gets 40% or less that than so domestic is what matters most and this has made less than Deadpool. Let me say it again, a PG-13 movie with the three most famous superheroes of all time has has made less than an R-rated movie about a character 99% of the general populace has never heard off. Why? Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because Superman is a miserable narcissist who, while being a party to thousands of deaths, doesn’t speak to people yet still wonders why some hate him. Maybe it’s because Batman’s a raving psychotic who quotes Dick fucking Cheney in his justification as to why he has to cut Superman’s head off. Maybe it’s a story that makes no fucking sense and seems to take place completely in the dark even in the day. Maybe it’s because the director’s idea of fun is to have Jimmy Olsen shot in the head in the first five minutes (no, I’m not kidding). Maybe it’s because the only bright spot of the movie, Wonder Woman, is only in it for ten minutes. Maybe it’s because no matter what sells in the comics NORMAL PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SEE HEROES FIGHT EACH OTHER! Actually it’s a perfect fucking storm of failure and why every day you hear about a director leaving (the director of The Flash bailed, but it’s not like he was some great talent either) and learn that Ben Affleck is taking more control over the Justice League movie.

GONNA PUT SOMETHING IN MY BUTT
HBO was supposed to give me a free weekend a few weeks ago, but because Time Warner is a bag of dicks (and tiny ones at that), they didn’t pass it on to us. Fortunately, HBO seriously wants my money, which is why it was offering one free month of HBO Now. Now the catch is, unlike HBO Go, you can only watch Now on a device, so I had to watch Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures on my iPad. The first legit use I’ve had for it. The title comes from Senator Jesse Helms’ speech about defunding the NEA over their exhibit of Mapplethorpe’s work, which he found obscene and pornographic. Well, it kinda is, but the difference is Mapplethorpe wasn’t trying to titillate or arouse, which is the goal of porn. Also he was looking to push buttons, to make you acknowledge a world that existed. Watching the doc made me realize my first interest in photography wasn’t a few years ago, but back in high school when I first saw his pictures of Lisa Lyon and actually bought the book. It also reminded me of a photographer I met back in college who’d was not a fan of Mapplethorpe’s work. He was Black and Mapplethorpe had a well-known fetish for Black men to the point he slept with them exclusively. They’d met in a gay bar and Mapplethorpe actually dropped the “Do you know who I am?” line and my friend replied that he knew in a way that showed he was not thrilled at being fetishized and Mapplethorpe moved on. But it wouldn’t have worked. As the documentary showed like most fetishizers he only cared for his stereotypical fantasy of Black men as somewhat thuggish (makes one wonder if he ever crossed paths with Madonna who indulging a similar fetish at the same time in NYC) and not a reality of intelligent, college-educated like my friend or even his most photographed model, Ken Moody, who was not his lover. The documentary oddly contains no interview with Patti Smith who was his lover and best friend for a very formative period in his life (his most famous work may actually be her album cover). The creators insist it wasn’t needed because her book, Just Kids, more than covers that period, but that’s just bullshit. No way you don’t have her input on a comprehensive doc the way this is. Clearly she disagreed with them on something crucial. In her absence the primary source is Mapplethorpe’s kid brother, Edward, who initially idolized him and later became his assistant and photographer in his own right. Mapplethorpe is yet another photographer who wasn’t formally trained (his father was ironically a hobbyist photographer) and also yet another artist who wanted fame and fortune from day one and made no bones about it (yet another comparison with Madonna). His first patron was his rich lover whom he fully admits he would not have been with without the money. He promoted his shows like a professional ad campaign and towards the end when he was dying of AIDs his concerns were increasing his fame and whether or not he’d die with more money than Andy Warhol. Even his foundation was more about accumulating both after his death. He certainly didn’t leave his work for his family. Edward Mapplethorpe also became a photographer and Robert made him change his name so as not to “cash in” on Robert’s growing fame. And even though Edward took care of Robert in his last days, there was never any moment where Robert expressed gratitude or love and Edward is still openly pained about it. It’s the kind of honesty that makes this documentary so good. Shame about Patti, though.

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IT’D BE A WONDER, WONDER WOMAN

11 Apr

wwomen
1. The Boss/Universal Wknd/$ 23.5 Total/$ 23.5
2. Batman v Superman/WB Wknd/$ 23.4 Total/$ 296.7
3. Zootopia/Disney Wknd/$ 14.0 Total/$ 296.0
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni Wknd/$ 6.4 Total/$ 46.8
5. Hardcore Henry/STX Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 5.1
6. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar Wknd/$ 4.8 Total/$ 53.9
7. God’s Not Dead 2/PFR Wknd/$ 4.3 Total/$ 14.1
8. Divergent: Allegiant/LG Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 61.8
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount Wknd/$ 3.0 Total/$ 68.0
10. Eye in the Sky/BST Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 10.4

IT’S A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVING ONE THING AND HATING SOMETHING ELSE
The Boss opens at number one and more power to Melissa McCarthy and her husband for riding this train until the wheels come off. While I personally feel all jokes I needed to see about this were in the “R” rated trailer, I’m glad others felt different, because I like to see women succeed and I especially like when women succeed doing the same shit men do: crude anti-hero comedies. Basically she’s getting that Adam Sandler dollar and I’d much rather she have it than him (though I’m not giving her mine either). At least her trailers make me laugh. He can’t even do that. Next I want her to take the next step and have a Hemsworth brother hot for her, the same way we’ve had to buy Sandler as some kind of pussy magnet. God, I hate him…

IT’D BE A WONDER
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is down to number two and as you may have heard (probably from me) Wonder Woman is the best thing about this. I will give credit to Snyder for this: he has her show up, say very little and be badass (even her music is great). The time-honored prescription to making a pretty actor with discernible personality or skills become successful. Action movies are the perfect vehicle for people like Gal Gadot. It’s no surprise her big break was in The Fast & The Furious franchise. If the director of Wonder Woman can follow this example and ignore literally everything else Snyder does it might not be half bad. Gal Gadot is the former Miss Israel, which takes on a new level when you realize Lynda Carter the Wonder Woman most people know was Miss World USA.

YOU ONLY THINK IT’S NEW BECAUSE YOU’RE YOUNG…AND STUPID
Zootopia is down to number three, followed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 at number four and Hardcore Henry opening at number five and while some make think this is an interesting idea to shoot a film strictly from the first person, it’s actually already been done. The Lady in The Lake was a shot purely in the first person in 1947 and honestly isn’t every “found footage” film just that? And this particular case isn’t so much emulating that experiment as much as it is just continuing to the sad evolution of action films into video games. London Has Fallen basically turns into that one point and the comparison I most heard from gamers is how much Batman’s big scene in Batman v Superman was like a video game. This is not a good thing people, from defeating the purpose of cinematic storytelling to the fact that all this would mean to me is two hours puking from motion sickness.

WHAT WOULD JESUS WATCH? THE BOSS, PROBABLY.
Christian propaganda takes the number six and seven spots with Miracles From Heaven followed by God’s Not Dead 2 and given this probably cost nothing even with its low return of $14M you can rest assure God will continue to not be dead and inspire his people to fight the imaginary tyranny of atheists in God’s Not Dead 3.

STUPID PEOPLE CANNOT LEARN BY DEFINITION
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number six they’re probably regretting splitting this into two parts already, given that every entry of this series is lower than the previous one and this one may not even break $100M. Considering given it cost $110M to make that’s not good. I’d say this should be a lesson to others as the last chapter of The Hunger Games (also stupidly split in two) also came in below expectations, but I think we know they won’t and nonetheless expect to reap the same rewards as Harry Potter and Twilight.

THE END
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number nine and Eye in the Sky closes out the top ten at number ten.

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ZACK SNYDER V COMPETENT FILMMAKING

28 Mar

Morena-Baccarin-Photoshoot-by-Robert-Ascroft-2013-morena-baccarin-35411576-748-1000

1. Batman v Superman/WB                 Wknd/$170.1   Total/$ 170.1
2. Zootopia/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 23.1    Total/$ 240.5
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni  Wknd/$ 18.1    Total/$ 18.1
4. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar       Wknd/$ 9.5      Total/$ 34.1
5. Divergent: Allegiant/LG                    Wknd/$ 9.5     Total/$ 46.6
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount      Wknd/$ 6.0    Total/$ 56.0
7. Deadpool/Paramount                         Wknd/$ 5.0    Total/$ 349.5
8. London Has Fallen/Focus                 Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 55.6
9. Hello, My Name is Doris/RA             Wknd/$ 1.7    Total/$ 3.3
10. Eye in the Sky/BST                            Wknd/$ 1.0    Total/$ 1.7

GREED V CHARACTERS: DAWN OF A FRANCHISE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens at number one to no one’s surprise. Also not surprising? It’s goddamned awful that way that only a CGI heavy muddle by a hack director like Snyder can be. The movie exists for one reason only: to make Superman and Batman fight, so they wrote it ass backwards trying to come up with reasons to make this happen and they do a horrible job of it. The movie is strongly inspired by the best-selling Batman comics ever: The Dark Knight Returns, which is set in a future where Batman is little more than a psychotic thug and Superman is a government stooge and at its climax Batman beats a weakened Superman who is honestly trying not to hurt him. I have to give the book credit for brilliantly tapping into the not-so-secret longstanding resentment of many for Superman. Simply put, he’s the status quo, the establishment. He’s everything that makes your angry teen-self feel powerless. Your parents, your teachers, the cops…etc. While Batman is literally powerless (unless you count money which makes him the most powerful superhero). Having the “powerless” character defeat the all-powerful character resonated so strongly, the status quo of DC Comics was forever changed and Superman & Batman were no longer best friends, but antagonistic. Frenemies at best. Also, the book sold millions, which never happens, so DC followed the money, which means for the better part of the last 30 years aside from continually making them fight, Batman has also been a near psychotic. Most of these stories are godawful, but all of those stories are better than this one, which involves Lex Luthor (played as “autistic evil” by Jesse Eiesenberg) hating Superman for no real reason and wanting him both disgraced and dead. Meanwhile, Superman has been doing good deeds since accidentally bringing the Kryptonian Civil War to Earth and causing the deaths of thousands. But apparently he has never once spoken to the people he’s protecting as he continues to be a miserable bastard tormented by the fact that some people still don’t like him. If only he knew someone in the media that he could convey what he was all about. Oh, right HE’S A FUCKING REPORTER! HE COULD DO IT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO! Meanwhile, in Gotham city—which in this film is located across the bay from Metropolis basically making it the Oakland to Metropolis’ San Francisco—Batman has apparently been around for 20 years and in that time Wayne Manor has been destroyed, a Robin has been killed and Batman now has no problem literally branding people when he’s not flat out shooting them down with the machine guns in his Batmobile and Batplane. If the reasons why Luthor hates Superman make no sense, neither does the seeming obsession of Clark Kent with Batman. Thousands are dead, half the world hates him, the government is holding hearings about him, but he’s concerned about the civil liberties being trampled in Gotham City. At least Batman’s resentment of Superman is somewhat legit. Some of thousands of people are dead were employees of Wayne Enterprises and in one of the few effective sequences we see the final moments from Man of Steel from the perspective of Bruce Wayne on the ground. And while his resent of Superman is valid, his psychotic need to cut his head off (which he literally tries to do in the battle that takes far too long to happen) does not. Very little of this film does. And it commits the worst sin imaginable: it’s dull. But again, most of Snyder’s films are, though supposedly action films. Man of Steel was dull. Sucker Punch was dull. Because he thinks he’s a real filmmaker he tries to have scenes were people do things besides fight, only they make no sense. And with the exception of Wonder Woman’s five-minute appearance (which is as badass as it is great) even the fights are dull and if that’s the case, this film has no reason to exist whatsoever. But again, it’s not really a movie is it? It’s just a launching platform for other movies and while Marvel/Disney is equally guilty of sacrificing a film to set up for others (both Thors, half of Captain America and even part of Avengers Age of Ultron) at least they are still capable of making a half-decent movie around it. DC/WB clearly are not.

IT’S CALLED STICKING WITH A BIT
Zootopia is down to number two and outside of the race & gender allegory it’s creating, there are still honest and funny jokes in the film and none so much as the now famous sloth one. That sloths run the DMV is near brilliant in its obvious simplicity, but what makes the joke work it is that they stick with it. At no point do they create some excuse that can make the sloths go faster. No, the audience has to wait alongside the characters and it is hysterical. And while he’s great as the straight man usually, Jason Bateman has a smarm to him as well that works perfectly as the voice of the fox and he clearly enjoys playing the other side of the fence for once.

MY BIG FAT GREEK DESPERATION
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens at number three and clearly God hates everyone to have both this and Batman v Superman opening in the same week. No matter what movie you choose, it’s going to be crap made by the incompetent. The first Big Fat Greek Wedding was like Batman v Superman: godawful, stupid and incredibly successful (I’m stunned to realize it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay when it was only one of those things). Based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and trailers, this is going to get at least two of those down solid. Nia Vardalos has been trying for years to follow that up with a failed TV series (My Big Fat Greek Life) a reteaming with John Corbett (I Hate Valentine’s Day) and revisiting the Greek thing (My Life in Ruins). I hate to knock anyone’s hustle, but girlfriend, it’s time to move the fuck on. I’m sorry Tom Hanks and his wife got all the money the first time around, but you had your moment, you took your shot and you failed. Accept you’re someone’s sidekick and Move. On.

SHE NEEDED SOME JESUS
Miracles from Heaven is down to number four and if you’re wondering why these Christian movies are getting more mainstream Hollywood people in them you need to look at who they’re getting. They’re not getting Ben Affleck who’s winning Oscars and starring in attempted billion dollar franchises. They’re getting his soon-t0-be ex-wife who does credit card commercials and needed the comfort of the lord something fierce this past year. She said she started taking the kids to church after making this movie but let’s not kid ourselves. We know what make you look for meaning in all this and it wasn’t some dumb Christian propaganda movie. It was your husband banging the honestly less-attractive nanny. And the whole world knowing it.

SAY IT WITH ME: THE WORLD IS MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK SELF-AWARENESS
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number five and I’m as surprised to see this still going on as you are because I confused it with The Hunger Games like everyone else. What’s funny is that star Shailene Woodley tries to act like we’re being strange to connect her to Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and you’re not a tall, attractive 20-something blonde who has drawn raves in small indie films while headlining a Young Adult franchise based on a dystopian future where you’re the chosen on who leads a rebellion? No, honey. The difference is Jennifer Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win. You have a one Golden Globe nomination…that you didn’t win.

SERIOUSLY, I HATE YOU ALL
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number six and this has been successful so I guess we’re going to get more of this Cloverfield shit. I hate you all for making it possible.

TALENT, SCHMALENT. SHE’S SO PURTY.
Deadpool is down to number seven and also in this is Morena Baccarin who is like Ryan Reynolds in that she’s a really pretty person that everyone seems to know whose success in Hollywood should be a foregone conclusion, but like him this is actually her biggest success happening a decade after you thought it would. That she should have been Maria Hill in The Avengers movies must be a little easier to bear now.

MADRID HAS FALLEN…OH, IT’S JUST SIESTA. NEVER MIND.
London Has Fallen is down to number eight and all you need to know about this movie is that at one point it turns into a video game. Seriously. It turns into a first person shooter as you are Gerard Butler and follow his POV into the action and like a video game, no bullets or shrapnel ever seem to hit him. Thankfully, it hasn’t even made budget yet so no other capitals will fall in the future. What? Were you really looking forward to Paris Has Fallen? Rome Has Fallen? Tokyo Has Fallen? Actually they could do it, just with different characters in each location. Come to think of it, this film would have been infinitely better with no connection with Olympus Has Fallen and just been about a James Bond-like agent dealing with similar circumstances in London. Butler almost does it as his Scottish accent becomes more and more apparent as the film drags on.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY IS REAL, YO
Hello My Name Is Doris actually rises to number nine and I’m happy for Sally Field getting this at this stage of the game. But we know that if the genders were reversed and it was a 60-something dude longing for a 30-something female he’d actually get to bang her and he’d rock her world. Or am I the only person who remembers how charming so many critics found Burt Lancaster lusting after Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City? Or most of Michael Douglas’ casting decisions, period?

I MEAN IT, FUCK THAT MOVIE
Finally, Eye In The Sky rises to number ten to remind you that every day we kill innocent people every time we try to kill a terrorist with a drone strike, which reminds me again of the end of London Has Fallen where such a strike is the cause of all the trouble and also the climax you’re supposed to cheer. Seriously, fuck that movie.

PA KENT: THE MOVIE
Midnight Special isn’t in the top ten but it’s basically Superman from the point of view of The Kents. It’s about 10-year-old boy in Texas who has special powers and his father trying to protect him from the government who wants him badly. Okay, it’s not as nice as The Kents in the comics as the father here (played by Michael Shannon who was ironically Zod in Man of Steel) actually is willing to shoot a state trooper simply because he’s in their way because his on is “More important.” In that way he’s closer the horrible Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who is willing to let a bus filled with children die, but when it comes down to it, he can’t kill someone who might (and actually does) give them away. Also, the mother and father here (mom is Kirsten Dunst) were part of some kind of religious cult run by Sam Shepard that became centered around the boy when his powers began to manifest (Shepard actually took the boy to raise for two years as his own), so they’re a little darker than The Kents. What they do share is a clear an unconditional love for their “special” son with absolutely no fear of him and will do whatever they need to do in order to protect him, even though he clearly possesses amazing powers (at one point the boy downs a military satellite). And if you don’t think it’s not intentional, know that at one point the boy is reading a Superman comic. It could be a little tighter given it’s essentially a chase film (thy aren’t just running from the authorities but the armed cultists who what the boy back as they think Judgment Day is coming) in the era of drones and satellites and amber alerts where running unnoticed is seriously difficult but a satisfying little film nonetheless.

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LULLABY OF BIRDMAN

7 Dec

article-0-1A13D612000005DC-162_634x1098
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1        Wknd/$ 21.6   Total/$ 257.7
2. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                     Wknd/$ 11.1    Total/$ 49.6
3. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                                 Wknd/$ 8.6     Total/$ 36.1
4. Big Hero 6/Disney                                        Wknd/$ 8.1     Total/$ 177.5
5. Interstellar/Paramount                               Wknd/$ 8.0     Total/$ 158.7
6. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal             Wknd/$ 4.2     Total/$ 78.1
7. The Theory of Everything/Focus               Wknd/$ 2.7     Total/$ 13.6
8. Gone Girl/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 1.5     Total/$ 162.9
9. The Pyramid/Fox                                          Wknd/$ 1.4     Total/$ 1.4
10. Birdman/FoxS                                             Wknd/$ 1.2     Total/$ 18.9

WHY BOTHER READING WHEN IT WILL BE ONSCREEN NEXT WEEK?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 holds at number one and the continuing success of these Young Adult novel adaptations in pretty much every category (drama, romance, science fiction) has resulted in the odd bit of rational response as the numerous failures are treated as individuals rather than a sign the entire genre is a running down. This isn’t how corporate execs normally think. When their vampire or superhero film fails they immediately think that the whole genre is coming to a close rather than accept they just screwed the property up. Percy Jackson, Eragon, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Ender’s Game, I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy, Blood & Chocolate Milk, Inkheart, The Host, The Mortal Bones, etc, just blew it, period, because the audience is still clearly very much here.

LEARNING IS FOR SUCKERS
Penguins of Madagascar holds at number two which on one hand is good because it’s a decent movie and deserves success and this hopefully will inspire Dreamworks not to suck so much. On the other hand it’s bad because they never learn and this will inadvertently result in another awful Madagascar film. You’d think watching Disney make money and win awards constantly would give them motivation to do better, but you’d be wrong. And don’t even get me started on the no-talents that make the Ice Age movies.

WILLIAM SHATNER IS STILL FUNNIER THOUGH
Horrible Bosses 2 actually rises to number three which means that grownups desperately wanted something light to watch. All that’s out there right now are Oscar bait dramas and movies for kids and teenagers. Not to mention TV is going into reruns until the new year. They simply had no choice but see this weak sauce. Also in this is Chris Pine making smart moves to build a career outside of the lackluster Star Trek reboot. With something like this he gets to show range beyond being just a pretty boy leading man and the weight of the film doesn’t rest on him. It’s a win-win. But it felt familiar to me having just seen him in Stretch were he plays another horrible boss in the form of a psychotic fare of desperate limo driver who needs one of the fare’s legendary tips to payoff a gambling debt. Pine actually punches himself there as he does here. Now that’s a weird coincidence. At least here you don’t see his (or possibly the stuntman’s) scrotum the way you do in Stretch, which I could have lived without.

YEAH, MORE SPOILERS FOR INTERSTELLAR
Big Hero 6 is down to number four, followed by Interstellar at number five and also in this as Matthew McConughey’s adult son is Casey Affleck which means both Affleck brothers have been in the top ten for the last month in Oscar bait films. Sadly the more successful, more talented brother got the good one. The other brother got Chris Nolan and a story wherein all mention of his character is missing at the end. Matthew McConughey gets to meet his daughter who’s been waiting in hypersleep for two years to see her father once more before she dies. But never once is her older brother mentioned by either her or McConughey. I understand that being older he would have naturally died first, but for McConughey’s character not to even ask about his son’s is as bad as him apparently having no interest in his grandchildren. Bear in mind part of the reason Affleck’s character loses faith in his dad is that his first child dies as the result of deteriorating conditions on earth and his sister actually has to start a fire as a distraction to save the second. It’s in this same scene she discovers mankind’s salvation? That kinda means he has to show up, right? Nope.

A GOOD MOVIE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY STILL STUNS ME
Dumb and Dumber To is down to number six followed by The Theory of Everything at number seven and at number eight with the other Affleck brother, Gone Girl, still here after over two months and holding at number eight for two weeks which is good news for nominations because it means the film hasn’t faded from memory. It’s also good for the box office because this film has grossed $163M from a $63M budget domestically alone. Worldwide it’s $336M, which means more grown up best-selling novels will be adapted into films too. Maybe all those other books that had women in red coats on the cover. You know there’s someone in Hollywood dumb enough to think that way. And he’s making more money than you or me.

ALL MOVIES MUST BE MADE WITH ME IN MIND
The Pyramid opens at number nine and unfortunately the “found footage” genre is also benefitting from being seen as individual films so their failures also aren’t view as signs the whole damn genre needs to die, because it really, really does. I know that seems unfair, but I don’t care. They’re mostly garbage and they make me nauseous with all that camera movement. Not to mention they’re mostly horror films and since I don’t do the scary it’s no big loss for me. And who makes a movie about a pyramid without mummies anyway? Dummy.

IRONICALLY ROBIN WOULD BE THE PERFECT SIDEKICK FOR THIS GUY
Birdman closes out the top ten at number ten and I finally got off my ass and saw it…and it was okay. The crisis of a man trying to put on a show (or make a film) and slowly falling apart is a genre to itself and while this isn’t a bad one, it’s not exactly new either. I believe the filmmakers are aware of this which is why I think they chose a different technique to its approach as it’s done as a series of long takes, ostensibly making the film look like just one long giant shot. It’s befitting the film as it’s about Broadway, which means actors basically had to act like they would onstage, with each scene going on for 10-15 minutes straight. Michael Keaton is an actor best known for playing a superhero called Birdman, which made him a global superstar. Get it? He played Batman (which when adjusted for inflation is still #50 in the biggest films of all time, on the list that includes Gone With The Wind, Godfather, Gone With The Wind, Titanic and Star Wars). But no one really identifies him as Batman, do they? If anything Beetlejuice has stuck with him more. Christian Bale is Batman now and Affleck’s about to replace him. In any case the actor Keaton portrays has put all his money into a Broadway show he wrote directed and stars in based on a Raymond Carver novel and it’s causing him to unravel to the point where the character of Birdman is always talking to him and he hallucinates having superpowers. Not helping is the added pressure of a prima donna actor constantly pushing him and Keaton trying to bond with his daughter who’s fresh out of rehab and working as his assistant. The pretentious actor is perfectly played by Edward Norton in a clearly parody of Norton’s reputation as such. I’d give him credit for being so willing to be in on the joke if I didn’t know somewhere at this very moment he’s actually patting his own back for the same thing. Add to this a needy female lead (who is in fact the pretentious actor’s girlfriend), a co-star girlfriend who may or may not be pregnant (who hooks up with the female lead) and Broadway’s most powerful critic who doesn’t appreciate Hollywood coming to their sacred land and you’ve got a ticking time bomb of a man’s psyche and boom it does go by the end with plenty of tiny detonations along the way. The biggest irony of this is that his performance in this film may do for Michael Keaton what the show is supposed to for his character. In fact there are many levels of irony at work and I’ve no doubt that they were all intentional as the writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu hates superhero franchises and yet has as his main stars people associated with some of the biggest (Batman, Avengers, Spider-Man). This is a well put-together plan.

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STUPID MOVIEGOERS GET THE STUPID MOVIES THEY DESERVE

16 Nov

ryanpotter

1. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal     Wknd/$ 38.1    Total/$ 38.1
2. Big Hero 6/Disney                               Wknd/$ 36.0    Total/$ 111.7
3. Interstellar/Paramount                      Wknd/$ 29.2    Total/$ 97.8
4. Beyond the Lights/Relativity             Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
5. Gone Girl/Fox                                       Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 152.7
6. St. Vincent/Weinstein                         Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 33.3
7. Fury/Sony                                              Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 75.9
8. Nightcrawler/ORF                               Wknd/$ 3.0      Total/$ 25.0
9. Quija/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 3.0      Total/$ 48.1
10.Birdman/FoxS                                      Wknd/$ 2.4      Total/$ 11.6

YOU GET THE CINEMA YOU DESERVE, AMERICA
Dumb and Dumber To opens at number one and honestly who wanted this? Seriously? Who are you so I came come to your house and make sure you don’t procreate. The first one (which I admit to having seen though I’ve successfully blocked any of its details from my memory) wasn’t funny so I sincerely doubt a 20-years later sequel will somehow correct that. But how happy is Jim Carrey for this? His first hit in how many years? With him actually on the screen I mean and not just a voice. Well that would be Bruce Almighty in ’03. Since then it’s been Fun With Dick & Jane, The Number 23, Yes Man (which I actually enjoy watching at 3 am) I Love Your Phillip Morris and Mr. Poppers Penguins. And unlike Jeff Daniels he doesn’t really have a solid dramatic career to fall back on. Carrey suffers from the same affliction as Eddie Murphy in that he can only springboard from his material. If it’s good, he’ll take it to another level. If it’s shit then he’s just this guy acting painfully weird for no reason whatsoever.

NO EASY ANSWERS
Big Hero 6 is down to number two and is it good or bad that we’re making no notice of the fact that the lead in this is Asian? Granted, the fact that his aunt is Caucasian means he’s only half-Asian, but that’s like saying the president is only half-Black. That’s not how he’s seen or treated, so for all intents and purposes he’s Black and Hiro Hamada is Asian. Now, with all the attention given to Disney’s princesses rarely being other than White don’t they deserve a little credit where the credit is due? Disney even went the extra mile and had their voices also done by Asian Americans (Ryan Potter as Hiro and Daniel Henney as Tadashi and Jamie Chung as Go Go). Or does it not count because Hiro’s gift is being super-smart and building robots and we expect that from Asians? Discuss amongst yourselves.

DON’T HATE THE PLAYER HATE THE GAME
Interstellar is down to number three and word of mouth is going to kill this because the more I think about it the dumber it gets and it was pretty dumb to start with. That said, also in this is Anne Hathaway as the smart scientist daughter of smart scientist Michael Caine. Or should I say, Academy Award Winning Actress playing the daughter of an Academy Award Winning Actor? In fact there are no fewer than five Oscar-winners onscreen in this film…and not one of them recognized how dumb this script was, which proves they got their Oscars through dumb luck, not smart choices. At least Michael Caine is open about it. He’s flat out said that he’s made many of his choices based solely on the fact his character was alive at the end.

MOTHER, YOU HAD ME, BUT I NEVER HAD YOU
Beyond The Lights opens at number four and this is from the writer/director of love & basketball, Gina Prince-Bythewood and while I enjoyed that film, I felt it was derailed a little about a subplot involving the character fighting with her mother. Guess what’s a major plot point here as well? In this case it’s a domineering stage mom. While there are no new stories and it’s all in how you retell them I didn’t see anything about this that was all that new to motivate me into seeing it. I mean, another rich person being saved by the love of a working class person? Seriously? You gotta give me more.

THE STANDARD BY WHICH ALL DICKS ARE JUDGED
Gone Girl is down to number five and there have been complaints that I buried the lead of this particular movie. Actually, just one complaint from my sister that I didn’t mention there’s a shot of Ben Affleck’s dick. Sigh. I’m sorry, people, but it’s just it’s so brief it barely merits a mention. I mean it’s not a Richard Gere in American Gigolo or even Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I guess what I’m saying is it’s not really full frontal male nudity to me if there are no balls present.

IRREPLACABLE? NOT SO MUCH.
St. Vincent is down to number six and also in this is Naomi Watts, aka, Blonde Clone of Nicole Kidman and this actually means she has two films in the top ten (Birdman being the other). In fact, she’s so much like Nicole Kidman that in my memory it was Nicole Kidman in The International, not her. And they both recently played dead blonde princesses to scathing reviews. Kidman as Princess Grace and Watts as Princess Diana. Though you probably thought it was Kidman both times.

THE OTHERS
Fury is down to number seven, Nightcrawler to number eight and Quija down to number nine.

IF ONLY IT WERE BIRDMAN HE HAD ACTUALLY PLAYED
Quija is down to number nine and entering the top ten at number ten is Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which has gotten good reviews and is definitely on my radar. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t hate Michael Keaton. I just hated him as Batman. How ironic that he’s getting the best press in years for playing an actor trapped by playing a superhero. More ironic that I really want to see it. And look at his supporting cast members. Edward Norton from The Incredible Hulk and Emma Stone from The Amazing Spider-Man. And the ironic cherry on top is that writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu hates superhero movies and think they’re a danger to filmmaking.

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HATERS GONNA HATE

5 Oct

minime
1. Gone Girl/Fox                                             Wknd/$ 38.0    Total/$ 38.0
2. Annabelle/WB (NL)                                  Wknd/$ 37.2     Total/$ 37.2
3. The Equalizer/Sony                                   Wknd/$ 19.0     Total/$ 64.5
4. The Boxtrolls/Focus                                  Wknd/$ 12.4     Total/$ 32.5
5. The Maze Runner/Fox                              Wknd/$ 12.0     Total/$ 73.9
6. Left Behind/Free                                        Wknd/$ 6.9      Total/$ 6.9
7. This is Where I Leave You/WB               Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 29.0
8. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                                   Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 38.0
9. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney            Wknd/$ 3.0      Total/$ 323.4
10. No Good Deed/SGems                           Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 50.2

INTERFERING WITH MY PLANS TO HATE BY ACTUALLY BEING GOOD
Gone Girl squeaks out a victory at number one and I’m going to be honest and say I’m not a David Fincher fan. He’s part of the Ridley Scott school of style over substance. That his big breakthrough was 7even, which was a beautifully shot but epically stupid movie is no surprise and would never let you forget he cut his teeth directing music videos (“Jaime’s Got A Gun” “Freedom ‘90” “Vogue”). He’s better off when he has strong source material like a novel that needs to be adhered to lest you lose that built in audience the studio is counting on rather than an originally screenplay you just do what you want with because fuck a screenwriter amirite? Gone Girl was not only a novel, but the author herself did the screenplay, which usually is the fast track to failure, but despite a shakey beginning, it manages to find its tone. Now, I never read the book, but I did guess the mid-film twist because there’s really nothing new about this genre. So the question isn’t originality, but what you do with an old idea. They do well here in the story of a man whose wife mysteriously vanishes and while it begins with the presumption of innocence, darker secrets of their marriage pop up aided in no small part by the onscreen depiction of the missing wife’s journal. While Ben Affleck may not have any anyone’s first choice, if you want someone who can simultaneously appear to be a nice guy but also an asshole, he’s your guy. I’m one of the few who remembers how his character is described by Jason Scott Lee in Mallrats: “He looks like a date rapist.” There is something very “frat boy who smile and laughs at your joke while placing a roofie in your drink” about him which works here. After reporting his wife’s disappearance he never asks for a lawyer, but at the same time is openly hiding evidence from the police and who is he talking to on the second cell phone? I didn’t want to like Fincher’s latest, but it’s been awhile since I spent two hours in a theater that held me like this. But you know the success of this will make him blow it next time, right? Just like he followed up The Social Network with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the way he followed Zodiac with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

DOES THIS COUNT AS A FILM WITH A FEMALE LEAD
Annabelle opens at number two and I would love to see the demographics of this audience as opposed to the audience for Gone Girl, given they finished neck-and-neck and that number may actually change by the time final tally is done. Let’s not pretend we don’t have a class system, America. Though that has nothing to do with why I did not nor will I ever see this. Say it with me kids: “I don’t do the scary.” Doesn’t matter how stupid or incompetent it might be, I simply don’t do it. It doesn’t help that the very premise of this is unbelievable. No, not an evil doll. That’s horror gold. No, it’s that the doll is so freaking ugly. No one would ever own it much less leave it in their daughter’s room to begin with. Like so many other things, this was done first, better and in less time on The Twilight Zone. They understood that it’s actually scarier if the doll is attractive. You pretty much expect an ugly doll to be evil, which is why no one owns them to begin with.

IF THEY’VE WON A VIDEO MUSIC AWARD, LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
The Equalizer is down to number three and this reunites Denzel Washington with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, who is somewhat competent action director who also comes from music videos and like David Fincher has problems with story and this is no exception. But if you’ve seen what is for the most part immensely watchable schlock like The Replacement Killers, Bait, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter and Olympus Has Fallen (also skipable) like I have, you know exactly what you’re walking into when you see his name on the poster and you’re not even remotely surprised he manages to create a typical climatic showdown in the rain even though we’re inside a Home Depot. Even Training Day suddenly loses its footing in the final 10 minutes. I’m thinking too many music videos taught both him and Fincher that making sense really doesn’t matter as much as making it look good.

THE WANT OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL BAD FILMS
The Boxtrolls is down to number four followed by The Maze Runner at number five and Left Behind opening at number six and normally I’d say this nonstop dreck from Nicholas Cage (look him up on Netflix and you’ll see a dozen films you never heard of all released in the last two years) was just because he was paying off a debt he owed to the IRS, but he was making lots of crap even before the government showed up with a bill. In fact, it was taking all those big money paydays that lead him to not just making Christian fundamentalist films, but remaking them as this was done first by none other than Kirk Cameron. When you’re swimming in Kirk Cameron you seriously need to look into a TV show. A paycheck every week TV show. You can pay your debts, rehabilitate your stardom and for god’s sake, save your dignity.

YEAH, THIS IS TRASH BAD DIRECTORS DAY. GET OVER IT.
This Is Where I Leave You is down to number seven and also if you need a reason as to why this sucks so much just look at the director: Shawn Levy. At best he’s underwhelming you with Real Steel, Date Night and Night at The Museum and at worst he’s dropping turds like The Pink Panther, Night At the Museum 2 (and 3 which is coming and looks to be the worst yet) and this. It’s takes negative amount of talent to drain people like Steve Martin, Ben Stiller, Jason Bateman, Robin William and Tina Fey of it and that he does so frequently and well shows you what a creative black hole this man truly is.

CLEARLY WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE MATTERS MORE THAN WHAT HE SOUNDS LIKE
Dolphin Tale 2 is down to number eight, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy at number nine and No Good Deed closing out the top ten at number ten having made almost 4x its budget domestically alone. Domestically, because the big excuse for not having films with minority leads is that they don’t perform internationally. Know where it’s been released overseas? Africa, period. Bear in mind Idris Elba is fucking English and has a successful TV show there.

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Yes! The new Fall TV Season. Because I loves me some TV I do try to give every show at least one shot unless it is clearly just ridiculously awful like Scorpion or Stalkers or NCIS New Orleans or The McCarthys (are you surprised that the network of Two and A Half Men has more shit than most?). I mean life is just too short. Let’s get started, shall we?

Gotham
This was a no brainer for a comic book geek like me. Basically, it’s the story of Young Commissioner Gordon in Gotham City almost 20 years before Batman. We know this because the first episode is about the murder of The Waynes. Now this would make an interesting one-off movie or even a mini-series, but as an open-ended series makes no sense whatsoever. First of all, they insist on trying to shoehorn Bruce Wayne into the show. Bruce Wayne simply has no stories to tell between his parents’ death and the arrival of Batman. It’s not like Clark Kent who did have his powers as a boy so could do Superman-like things. Bruce Wayne has to be an adult after years of training himself to be Batman. Nonetheless Jim Gordon is being given excuse after excuse to drive out to Wayne Manor were we get to see Bruce Wayne getting progressively darker. Then there’s the need to include young versions of Batman’s villains. Now, while The Penguin as a young flunky for a mobster and The Riddler as your typical CSI tech both work it doesn’t change the fact that it means Batman’s gonna be punching out couple of old dudes when he finally shows up. Not that the alternative of showing them as kid is much better, as witnessed by a 10-year old Poison Ivy (her name needlessly and stupidly changed from Pamela Isley to Ivy Pepper because the people running this show want to show they’re “creative” when they clearly are no) and the a pre-naturally beautiful 13-year-old Catwoman who’s already running around the rooftops as a thief. In fact she looks just like Dina Meyer who played Batgirl on the awful Birds of Prey show so maybe they’ll give her a job as the mom she insists is still alive. If the biggest flaw is that they keep trying to shove elements of the Batman mythos without Batman (you know, ignoring the very premise of the show), the second biggest is young Jim Gordon as a good cop in a dirty town. Rather than show his compromises as he tries to eek out some measure of justice, they’re just having him be annoyingly self-righteous every week. If you know the mayor’s lazy, you don’t call him lazy to his face. You play him to get what you want but this Jim Gordon is too full of his own morality to do that. That more than anything will drive me away from this show.

A to Z
Now, I was prepared to hate this because the previews made it look like he stalked her and she rewarded him with a date, but it’s not. It’s actually about an 8-month relationship between two people who almost met previously due to friends and job proximity, but don’t actually do so until she comes into his office to complain about being listed as a lesbian on her dating profile (he works at an internet dating service) and he actually approaches her like a normal human. They go on a normal date, but when he realizes she was the girl he saw years ago that he thought could be “the one” she freaks out because her parents were starry-eyed hippies and she has no patience for that. Of course in the end she decides to give it a try and we have our show. But now we have the same question as Gotham. How can this be an open ended show about an 8-month relationship? How many years can they drag out 8 months? While it was better than I expected (which isn’t saying much) the premise doesn’t really grab me, but they get points for trying to be a little different (amidst a ton of clichés like straight laced lawyer dates free spirit and they both have wacky best friends). Oh, and it had a great Back to The Future joke which makes at least watching the pilot worthwhile.

The Mysteries of Laura
I love Debra Messing. I love her so much I’ve watched every crap show she’s been on since Will & Grace even though each got progressively worse. Just as Smash was worse than Starter Wife, this is worse than Smash. We get it, Debra. You’re willing to let yourself be shown as pathetically as possible for a joke. Only it’s not funny. Not even a little. Especially when every “humiliation” is followed by a “whoa, she’s really hot” scene. She’s a detective in NYC who’s dealing with her ex-husband as her boss and being a mom to two hellions. I can’t tell you how awful and lazy this show is. As flat as the jokes fall the attempts at drama are even worse. I really hate saying because they actually made the effort to film in NYC. It would really do them better to just go full sitcom with this like the much superior Bad Judge.

Bad Judge
This looked initially like The Mysteries of Laura (only she’s a judge not a cop) all the way down her working with a black guy who sees her in a state of undress and exclaims “Dayum!” But the execution is night and day. First of all they know they’re doing a sitcom, meaning it’s only 30 minutes and the goal is humor and even the small nods to drama are punctuated by humor. And while Kate Walsh plays the same ego-free card of willing to look bad on camera it’s not nearly as desperate as Debra Messing’s performance. But it helps when Will Farrell is one of your executive producers. It was co-created by Anne Heche who’s also a producer and that’s gotta mean some odd-as hell production meetings, but they clearly work.

Manhattan Love Story
Another sitcom that’s better than the commercials would have you believe thanks to the inclusion of some actual wit (his family runs a trophy-making business and America’s willingness to celebrate mediocrity has made their business better than ever) and I’m always a sucker to shows that film in NYC, but in the end the two leads are just too vanilla to hold my interest. I mean when you think “Manhattan Love Story” do you think the WASPiest people on earth? I mean at the very least make the native- New York some kind of ethnicity (the way the other members of his family clearly look).

Blackish
As much as I love Debra Messing, I hate Anthony Andrews who has always been the “black Tom Arnold” to me and that says it all. Nonetheless Lawrence Fishburne is here so I gave it a chance and it just didn’t make it. Granted I was told the second episode wasn’t as dependent on the whole “fear of assimilation” angle that the pilot episode was based upon, but I’m really not going to make an effort to see Anthony Andrews. Like I said, I hate him.

Forever
Pete Hamill is a longtime New York City journalist who wrote a novel called Forever about a man who is basically immortal and has been living in Manhattan since the Revolutionary War. This is not based on that and I cannot believe he hasn’t sued them. Then again he didn’t sue New Amsterdam about a cop with a similar affliction. This is about a medical examiner who as been alive for two hundred years only not consistently. He can die, but is reborn in water. Basically, you shoot him in Central Park, he wakes up naked in the East River and is picked up by his senior citizen adopted son played by Judd Hirsch. He uses his extensive experience in dying to solve mysteries and between this and CSI I’m thinking Jack Klugman as Quincy was the only unattractive television M.E. ever. It’s entertaining if not exceptional and it also preys upon my weakness by actually being shot in NYC, but not something I’m going to make an effort for. Basically, if you like Castle you’ll like this and I tired of Castle long ago.

How To Get Away With Murder
In all honesty, I barely watched it (god bless fast-forward) but what I did watch didn’t interest me in the slightest. But I’m not its audience. I don’t watch Scandal either.

Selfie
Yes, an entire TV series based on My Fair Lady. Her name is actually Eliza Dooley and John Cho plays “Henry.” This is where you eye roll. There are the barest glimmers of wit as they work at marketing firm where he succeeded in re-branding a drug that had been condemned by the FDA and basically he thinks he can “re-brand” her. Unfortunately there isn’t nearly enough of that wit and the whole show is burdened with a title that’s already dated and will only become moreso as time passes. It doesn’t help they don’t have the courage of their convictions as deep down inside she’s a former unattractive, unpopular girl who blossomed into a beauty and has used popularity to fill the hole inside her. Yawn. Give me someone genuinely shallow who finds their humanity while merely pretending to seek depth. That way we can laugh at her without feeling bad because we know it’s just a mask to hide her pain. Not that there are a lot of laughs here. Too bad. I want John Cho to succeed.

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