Tag Archives: Emily Blunt

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

vs

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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THE CHANCES OF ANYTHING COMING FROM MARS ARE A MILLION TO ONE…

5 Oct

L-interview-beau-gosse-de-Chace-Crawford_visuel_article21. The Martian/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 55.0    Total/$ 55.0
2. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                         Wknd/$ 33.0    Total/$ 90.5
3. Sicario/Lions Gate                                        Wknd/$ 12.1     Total/$ 15.1
4. The Intern/WB                                              Wknd/$ 11.6     Total/$ 36.5
5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials/Fox       Wknd/$ 7.7       Total/$ 63.2
6. Black Mass/WB                                             Wknd/$ 5.9       Total/$ 52.5
7. Everest/Universal                                          Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 33.2
8. The Visit/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 56.9
9. War Room/TriStar                                        Wknd/$ 2.8      Total/$ 60.5
10. The Perfect Guy/SGem                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 48.9

YES, THEY PLAY BOWIE. HOW COULD THEY NOT?
The Martian opens at number one and I like to think of this as “Matt Damon’s Personal Apology for Interstellar.” Seriously, everything Interstellar wasn’t this is. And by “everything” I mean “not written by an idiot.” Based on a novel with the same name, this chronicles the attempts of an astronaut left behind for dead on Mars along with the efforts to save him on earth, given nothing can get there for years. How he survives is through flat out science. Not “The Force” or “The power of love” which is basically what Interstellar wound up telling us, but zeroes and ones. Hard freaking science. I’ve rarely felt so stupid in a movie theater because everything Matt Damon’s character successfully does to survive is based in numbers. Everything NASA does to save him is based in numbers and people from the head of the agency on down effortlessly throw off numbers from the tops of their heads. When I was a kid, I once took money out of my savings account to buy a VCR then was surprised months later by not having as much money as I thought I did. It didn’t register to me at all. I’m not much better as an adult. I’m just grateful there’s no longer such a thing as debtor’s prison. Needless to say, this is what killed my desire to be an astronaut. I still like science. I just suck at it, which means I would have been dead in a week if it were me. While the film feels a little long at times, it’s not exactly unwarranted in a film about someone struggling to survive over almost two years. I think it adds something to make the audience as tired as your hero must be. This is a major save for Damon who’s recently embarrassed the shit out of himself with comments on homosexuals and minorities in the movie industry, revealing a sad lack of self-awareness and overwhelming straight white male privilege. Not to mention, this is the first film he’s successfully carried since being Bourne. All the other hits since then were with him as part of an ensemble. Yes, fucking Interstellar was a hit.

HATE THE GAME
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number two and it shocks and saddens me that this came from Genndy Tartakovsky, the man who brought you Samurai Jack and then used those skills to produce the infinitely-better-than-the-movies Star Wars Clone Wars shorts. Clearly this is his deal with the devil to allow the freedom of producing more interesting work and feeding his family. Don’t hate the player…

HOW MUCH HE MUST LOVE HIS ROLE AT MARVEL
Sicario jumps up to number three and while he’s always good in what he does, Benicio Del Toro must be getting tired of movies about the drug wars. He won his Oscar as cop fighting them in Traffic (when he should have won it for Usual Suspects), he was a criminal in Oliver Stone’s Savages (where he rapes and kills women he didn’t rape and kill in the book, so you know it’s an Oliver Stone movie) and here he’s a mysterious badass working with CIA…fighting the drug wars. Hell, he was even part of the drug trade when he was in a Bond movie. No, I’m not kidding. He’s in License to Kill as one of the bad guy’s flunkies.

BETTE DAVIS WOULD BE IN THE HUNGER GAMES, WHILE CRAWFORD WOULD HAVE DONE DIVERGENT
The Intern is down to number four, followed by Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials at number five and it’s a little amusing that none of the male lead sci-fi/fantasy YA Novel adaptations get the same attention of the female led ones. Hell, even the The Fault In Our Stars did better than Paper Towns. It’s an odd throwback to the 30’s and 40’s where female leads weren’t just seen as a liability, but in fact a virtue.

STRONGER THAN FICTION
Black Mass is down to number six and reading the comments of the real gangsters about this makes me want to see it even less as their problems with it sound much more interesting than what’s on screen. Apparently, Whitey Bulger didn’t curse like he had Tourette’s even while murdering people. And least of all at one of his psychopath henchmen who would have killed him in a second if he had. That sounds like a much more interesting movie that this, which sounds like it’s trying to compete with The Departed.

BUT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOOOO MUCH BETTER
Everest is our second based-on-real-events movie down to number seven and second movie in the top ten with Josh Brolin (who’s also in Sicario) who was apparently approached to play the older Bruce Wayne for Batman v. Superman, but chose to be the bad guy over in the Marvel films. I think that tells you all you need to know.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
The Visit is down to number eight, followed by War Room at number nine with The Perfect Guy closing out the top ten at number ten. Also in this is Morris Chestnut, who is the “good guy” to Michael Ealy’s “bad guy” and I don’t envy the filmmakers on this choice because they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This way continues the trend in Black films for a light-skinned Black man to be evil (while women are desired) and a dark skinned Black men to be good, but if it’s reversed, it’s the Hollywood trend of lighter-skinned Black people in general to be better than their darker skinned brethren, which tends to bother Black people…the same Black people who have no problem applying this to women in both arenas. Sigh.

THE JOY CONTINUES

The new Fall season continues so here we go…

Blood & Oil: I loves me some Don Johnson and this did not disappoint me. It has officially replaced Nashville as my bad regional accent cheesefest (Rayna & Deacon, Scarlett & Gunner…I just don’t care anymore). Pretty boy Chace Crawford (seriously, he was the best looking cast member on Gossip Girl, even over the women) and his bride arrive in the new American oil boom of Nebraska to open a Laundromat, but because he can’t keep his eyes on the road and wrecks, they parlay overheard information and sheer balls into staking claim on the only entrance to some potentially oil rich land and are millionaires by the end of the first episode. It’s nothing but fun and the perfect thing to watch on a Sunday night before the start of the work week.

Quantico: Man is this stupid. It’s basically a soap opera pretending to be some kind of suspenseful action drama, but a beauty queen being the best agent in FBI training should have been your first clue. Twin Arab Muslims pretending to be one agent trainee was your second. That it’s revealed in the second episodes to be FBI sanctioned doesn’t make it any smarter. Not even a little bit. And while I’m not one to view 9/11 as some sacred day, the depictions of terrorist attacks in NYC are just handled much too lightly in these TV shows. You have no idea how freaked out this city is even after 14 years. A bomb taking out Grand Central Station would lock this city down like Escape From New York. No one anywhere would be doing anything, especially the way Beauty Queen FBI Agent who’s being framed for the blast is doing. But like I said, this is an utterly stupid soap opera pretending to be something else. Let me give you a piece of actual dialogue to make it clear: “Which is she to you: the FBI trainee you fell in love with or the terrorist who rejected you!?!” This is shouted by one high-ranking FBI Agent to another in the middle of a room filled with every possible type of law enforcement. After which we get a Hot Brown Chick fight. Latina vs. East Asian Indian. The only good thing I can say is that unlike supposedly more serious depictions, at least they had their hair tied back like female law enforcement officers actually would…which is why it wasn’t as much fun to masturbate to as it should have been.

The Player: More stupidity. This one is about a former FBI Agent who now works private security in Las Vegas. When his wife is killed by the men trying to kill one of his clients because he [the former agent] got in their way, he’s initially blamed for her death because apparently CSI only works scenes on their show. Anyone investigating that crime scene would have found evidence of the clear struggle he had with the man who killed his wife. I won’t even get into not one security camera or cell phone catching him chasing the guy down the strip (The Fugitive movie was this stupid too, but it was well made). Well, at least not until it’s needed to clear him in the end. But the show is actually about a group of “super gamblers” who can predict crime and make bets on it being foiled by an agent in their employ, who is now the former FBI agent (the show opened with Wesley Snipes standing over the body of presumably the last guy to have the job). They try to insinuate some connection between the organization and the dead wife, not to mention the former agent used to assassinate terrorists he was only supposed to find (and enjoyed it), but it’s just too stupid to make me care and not even a fun stupid.

Grandfathered: John Stamos is basically working out his own issues about growing older and alone, playing a 50-year-old bachelor who finds out he has a 20-somethng son who has a daughter. I was so impressed he’s actually openly playing a character his age (yeah, Clooney, I’m looking at you…and Cruise) I was pulling for this and wasn’t disappointed. He’s more than willing to let his character take shots, which is essential for a good comedy. It also didn’t just end happily with him and his new family but showed his anxiety at what he’d just gotten into. Hopefully, there will be growth but not in an overnight sitcom way.

Scream Queens: I’ve oddly become a fan of the second generation of Roberts in Hollywood (Emma is the daughter of Eric and niece of Julia) so I gave this a shot and the most interesting thing about it was the online debate between gay men over how they seem to love and adore women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another and emulate it in their own lives. Actually only some love it while others hate it. This comes from Ryan Murphy who brought you Glee which was filled with women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another so I think you know which side of that debate he falls under. Me, I’ve got a low tolerance for that without a palate-cleansing hero to pull for and the one given here was just too pretty-girl-bland. Not to mention, I’m not really that amused by watching girls ruthlessly slaughtered every week, even when I know it’s supposed to be a joke.

The Muppets: I’m torn here as I did enjoy The Muppets being updated to Larry David behind-the scenes type talk show sitcom, where Kermit is the show runner and Miss Piggy is the diva host with all The Muppets in various roles. But I can understand how some are dismayed by the show being a little too adult oriented. Make no mistake, The Muppets have always worked on two levels: one for the kids who followed them from Sesame Street and another for the adults who got the running joke that Gonzo was committing unnatural acts with those chickens, but sometimes it’s a little too dark and adult, like Fozzie’s relationship with a human being acknowledged inter-species and looked down upon as result and Kermit acknowledging a pig fetish. Then again, I laughed when Animal says he can’t go out on the road any longer because of “Too many women.” We’ll have to see if it can find a healthy balance.

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THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR…FOR SHUT INS

28 Sep

sanaa-barefoot
1. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                       Wknd/$ 47.5    Total/$ 47.5
2. The Intern/WB                                           Wknd/$ 18.2    Total/$ 18.2
3. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials/Fox    Wknd/$ 14.0    Total/$ 51.7
4. Everest/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 13.1    Total/$ 23.1
5. Black Mass/WB                                           Wknd/$ 11.5    Total/$ 42.6
6. The Visit/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 6.8     Total/$ 52.3
7. The Perfect Guy/SGem                              Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 48.9
8. War Room/TriStar                                     Wknd/$ 4.3      Total/$ 56.0
9. The Green Inferno/HTR                            Wknd/$ 3.5     Total/$ 3.5
10. Sicario/Lions Gate                                    Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 2.4

HEY, ZUKO! WHERE YOU AT?
Okay, I’ve been absent because I decided I wouldn’t write unless I’d seen at least one film in the top ten, which was a little difficult in those final dog days of summer and the “Oh, We’re Serious Now So No More Fun” opening weeks of September. But things worth seeing are actually opening so here we go…

SECOND VERSE, WORSE THAN THE FIRST
Hotel Transylvania 2 opens at number one, wisely making the most of the utter absence of any kids-oriented films and if you thought you were rid of Adam Sandler after the massive failure of Pixels, think again. Maybe we won’t just have to look at him any longer, which is half the battle. I wish him all the success in the world so long as his ugly, fucking face is off the screen, punishing whatever attractive young actress cast as his love interest, because for it’s either that or porn.

YEAH, WOODY. THIS IS YOUR FAULT TOO.
The Intern opens at number two and I was looking forward to seeing this despite yet another lily-white view of New York City. Nancy Meyer’s films are usually about rich white people, but they’re set firmly in that world so I really don’t expect to see a lot of bruthas in Meryl Streep’s neighborhood in Long Island. But this is set in Brooklyn so unless she’s making some kind of statement about gentrification she just whitewashed it. Still, I was willing to let this go because I loves me some Anne Hathaway and this looked like fun. Then I saw the two-hour running time. This is not a two-hour film unless it takes some kind of stupid, misstep in to trying to be some kind of drama and this premise is just wide open for that kind of bullshit. Bullshit I have no time for. Much less two hours.

AND SHE’D GO TO THE CONVENTION WITH YOU IN COSTUME
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is down to number three and this is yet another science fiction/fantasy Young Adult novel adaptation and these damn kids don’t now how good they have it. You know what I’d give to have dozens of science fiction & fantasy film thrown at me all the time when I was a kid? Not to mention it’s socially fucking acceptable so asking a girl to go see one these movies is not only normal, but also she’s probably read the book! You live in a time where knowledge of witches and dystopic futures can actually get you laid. Contrast this with the look of “What the fuck?” I got when I was 16 and invited a girl to go to a comic book convention with me. Sigh.

THIN HAIR (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Everest is down to number four and is it wrong that I couldn’t care less about this film because the leading man is unattractive? I still probably wouldn’t have seen this adaptation of the book “In Thin Air” if Josh Brolin had played the lead climber and not simply one of the group, but the follicly-challenged and aesthetic unappealing (though talented) Jason Clarke made damn sure of it. And now that I think about it, having this ugly dude play the son of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in the horrible Terminator Genysis movie this summer probably didn’t help it much either.

YES, LOOKS ALWAYS MATTER. ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU DIFFERENT IS LYING.
Black Mass is down to number five and this is supposedly Johnny Depp’s big comeback as an actor, but I’ll never know because honestly I can’t stand looking at him any longer. He’s just such a pretentious little shit and his not even pretty anymore. Besides, I don’t see this being done any better than the fictionalized version in The Departed.

HE STILL SUCKS
Speaking of comebacks, The Visit is down to number six but as we know “I don’t do the scary” and I also “don’t do M. Night Shyamalan films” so I’ll never know. But who are we kidding? He really didn’t do anything. He just hopped on the “found footage” horror bandwagon. No name directors with no stars and low budgets have this kind of success every week with this formula (can you say Unfriended?). No one should be fooled by this into giving him a big budget film.

THE DOLLAR MATTERS MORE THAN THE YEN
The Perfect Guy is down to number seven, followed by The War room at number eight and they is part of the late summer surge of wildly different films starring African Americans (Straight Out of Compton kicked it off) holding the number one spot (two of them were actually directed by African Americans, which is honestly more notable) killing the lie that minority helmed film can’t be successful. But when this happens the “But there’s no international money” excuse comes into play which is bullshit because studios see less than 50% of that money. It’s the domestic take that still matters. The Perfect Guy is the only real surprise in my opinion as one is religious themed film and those pop up regularly to make money and the other was music based. This is the “____ From Hell” formula, which was very big in the 80’s, but that it’s clearly upper middle class African Americans is the notable aspect of it. If that seems strange to you, then you clearly don’t see yourself starring in films called “The Butler” or “The Help.” I had no interest whatsoever, but I’m glad it did well, especially for Sanaa Lathan, who seemed poised to be something bigger in the early 00’s, but for whatever reasons it didn’t happen. Sistas are big on TV right now, so maybe she can be part of the same in the theaters.

DOUCHEBAG CINEMA
The Green Inferno opens at number nine and this doesn’t so much come under my “I don’t do the scary” rule as much as “I don’t do torture porn” and that’s all Eli Roth does, no matter what kind of bullshit he spews about it being a commentary of clueless little rich liberals. There’s just no reason to depicting a virgin getting a knife into the vagina. Yes, it’s horrific and these are “horror films” but there’s no skill or talent to these films…much like Roth himself.

OH, SO YOU WERE TELLING ME THE TRUTH WHEN I ASKED YOU
Sicario moves into the top ten at number ten as its release expands. This chronicles the journey of a still-idealistic kidnap specialist for the FBI into the US war on drugs where she learns it’s literally a war and the people who fight it have little interest in arrests and prosecutions, just strikes at the enemy toward a brutally cynical and debatably realistic conclusion. This is not to say it’s a talky drama. No, it’s more of a suspenseful action film where every explosion of violence is being slowly built up to. While long, mundane scenes initially seemed to have no purpose I realized the point was to lull you so you didn’t see the next detonation coming (though I thought the first literal one was obvious). Emily Blunt is the FBI agent who ironically dead-on in her first guess as to why she’s been asked to join an interagency task force after she stumbles upon a booby-trapped house full of corpses while looking for a kidnapping victim. This makes her the slow breaking of her idealism a tad odd given both she and her partner smell what’s going on almost immediately. Also, they’re both basically told the goal is to cause as much trouble as it takes to make the local drug boss get called home to his boss, so they can find him. Seems logical to me, but still Emily Blunt is forced to ask again and again what they’re really doing when all they’re doing is what they told her and why she’s there is what she guessed at the beginning. There’s also a bit of a descent into the action movie cliché of the “super-agent” towards the end. What makes the film work are the performances. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro all do solid work, but Brolin as the mysterious government agent who just seems to enjoy the hell out of his work stands out for me. Not that Blunt and Del Toro aren’t good being dramatic, but I think it’s actually more difficult to play it lighter and still be convincing, especially in a film like this.

FOR SOME OF US, IT’S BETTER THAN CHRISTMAS
Yay! The new fall season is here! And while there are now multiple seasons of TV these days as opposed to the one I had growing up, Fall is still the big one and I try to see as much as possible.

The Bastard Executioner: I am left unimpressed. Just because you can now show the brutality of the middle ages doesn’t make up for uninspired viewing. The concept of the retired warrior drawn back into the field isn’t new and they don’t do anything new with it. When you see him doting over his pregnant wife, you know she’s not long for this world. What you didn’t count on, however was seeing her disemboweled on top of a stack of corpses of women and children. This is because the retired warrior wasn’t so retired. He and his fellow villagers have been robbing the taxmen of the local cruel baron to survive. The baron tracks them down and slaughters the village while they’re away. They catch up to the baron with an army of rebels at their side and kill him. The warrior is seemingly mortally wounded but brought back by a witch who thinks he has a destiny (cliché #7). It’s why she brands his face so the can take the place of the now dead actual executioner the baron brought along. Of course the actual executioner was a horrible drunken abuser with a family, so “ironically” he gets a wife a family who adore him because a) he’s not a drunken abuser and b) they have control over him by hiding his identity. And are you ready for the final twist? When he drops off the baron’s body to the baroness, the baron’s aide has him declared the official executioner so he can’t leave. Makes you want to watch to see what happens, right!?! Me neither.

Limitless: This is not simply based on the Bradley Cooper movie; this is a flat out sequel to it. Cooper’s poster as senator is seen almost immediately, and if you remember, this was the office he was running for at the end of the movie. The loser who gets the drug this time is a 20-something musician. His best friend who left the band to become a stockbroker gives it to him. Needless to say the friend is soon murdered so the loser uses the drug to track him down, with the FBI in hot pursuit. Probably the most unbelievable part of this show is that the government experimented with the drug, but stopped because the addiction side effects were killing the volunteers. If you recall Cooper had found a way to refine the drug to make it safe for him, but we’re to think that the government with much, much, much money and resources hasn’t done the same? Or that the day or two of genius this would give to a doctor wouldn’t take care of it? For reasons not quite clear, Cooper appears at the end of the episode to give the loser musician the “cure” (which is basically a shot once a month) and now the musician will use his skills to help the FBI solve cases. His liaison is the FBI Agent who was tracking him whose own father who was a junkie who may have been murdered because he also got the smart drug (that the FBI wants him so they can figure out why he’s not suffering side effects does make sense). This makes it yet another “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement show. Like…

Blindspot: I watched it just to see what they’d do with such an outlandish premise of a woman with her memory wiped found naked in Times Square covered in tattoos that lead to seeming threats. Not much. My disbelief—which was already stretched to capacity—hit its breaking point when amnesia woman was the only person in all the FBI in New York City to translate the Chinese tattoo on her neck. It’s stupid for so many reasons from the simple fact given all the unknown markings on her, they obviously would have focused on the thing easiest deciphered to the fact that NEW YORK CITY HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CHINESE PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY! They try to say it was an “obscure dialect” but don’t seem to understand that wouldn’t change the written word! The guy delivering lunch could have figured it out! After that, finding out she was apparently a secret female Navy SEAL because of the blocked tattoo on her shoulder (because that’s what a secret female Navy SEAL would do, paint her secret on her shoulder for the world to see) and buying that with her stick thin arms she could even be a SEAL much less fight grown men toe-to-toe was just icing on the cake of never, ever watching this again. Even the end twist that she was part of the plot to do this to herself did nothing to change this. Oh, and needless to say, because she’s a NAVY Seal who can speak obscure languages and is a clue to terrorist attacks, the FBI decides to use her, making this another “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement” show. Like…

Minority Report: Like Limitless, this is a sequel to the movie, which is referenced constantly in the pilot. It’s a decade later and one of the twin males has decided to come back to the city use his abilities to help people. Unfortunately, by himself he doesn’t get enough information, so he keeps failing. He tries let a cop know, but only succeeds in leading her to him, which is how this show becomes “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement” show. The difference being it was actually fun, though a bit of a mess. The addition of the other selfish twin brother—who is no longer identical but piece of beefcake—is clearly a last minute addition and totally unnecessary. The chemistry between the good twin and the cop works fine without what is sure to be some attempt at a romantic triangle down the line. I also didn’t need the subplot of the older sister who can see everything by herself, seeing them being retaken by the government. Honestly it’s only sheer movie contrivance they were ever let go in the first place. No government in the world would let go of people who could see the future, even if they weren’t 100%. Which, by the way, is a nice subplot here. Remember how you could be jailed for a crime you hadn’t actually committed? Well, all those people were left damaged by the their imprisonment, for which the good twin feels horrible guilty for. It’s a nice motivator for him and provides you with a lot of story material, because needless to say, if they weren’t criminals before, they sure as hell are now.

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NEW YEAR, SAME CRAP

4 Jan

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1. The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies         Wknd/$ 21.9    Total/$ 220.8
2. Into the Woods/Disney                             Wknd/$ 19.1    Total/$ 91.2
3. Unbroken/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 18.4   Total/$ 87.8
4. The Woman in Black 2/Relativity           Wknd/$ 15.1    Total/$ 15.1
5. Night at the Museum: Secret…                 Wknd/$ 14.5   Total/$ 89.7
6. Annie/Sony                                                  Wknd/$ 11.4    Total/$ 72.6
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1     Wknd/$ 7.7      Total/$ 323.9
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein               Wknd/$ 8.1     Total/$ 30.8
9. The Gambler/Paramount                          Wknd/$ 6.3     Total/$ 27.6
10. Big Hero 6/Disney                                    Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 211.3

LITTLE BIG MAN
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies holds at number one and I wonder about the future of the actors who play dwarves, because honestly that’s how I see them, even though I know the actual actor, Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin, the leader and king, is 6’2”. You think he shows up for auditions and people are like, “Oh. We thought you’d be…shorter. Sorry.” Notice how the only people in the Lord of the Rings trilogy who really got boosts in their careers played regular sized people. Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom even Ian McKellan. None of The Hobbits found a lot of leading man work, much less Brian Blessed as the dwarf (he’ll always be Voltran the Hawkman who stole the Flash Gordon movie). Martin Freeman’s lucky he already had an established career before he took on the role of Bilbo or he’d be lucky to have a TV show on basic cable talking to a man in a dog suit. Sorry, Elijah.

THE POINT IS THERE IS NO POINT TO BE MADE
Into the Woods rises to number two and in this are Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep, reuniting after both being nominated for Oscars for The Devil Wears Prada. Meanwhile, their other co-star, Anne Hathaway, who wasn’t nominated actually won an Oscar for a musical. I don’t really have a point. I just thought that was interesting and a tad ironic. And this is doing relatively well. Are we really seeing a comeback of the musical? God, I hope not.

IT CAN BE A SOAPY BATH TOO. I’M NOT INFLEXIABLE
Unbroken is down to number three and this was directed by none other than Angelina Jolie and it remains odd that anyone anywhere would give her money to direct a film that she’s not even in (this is her second). Usually, it’s a Stallone kinda thing where he can direct all he wants so long as he’s also in front of the camera shooting people. Or Eddie Murphy, so long as he’s being funny in front of the cameras. You’d think to give Jolie a film there’d be an insistence she at least play the girl back home waiting on him to return…who takes long, soapy showers. Well, that’s what I’d have demanded anyway.

IT’S COLD & DARK IN THE THEATERS RIGHT NOW
The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death opens at number four and here’s your first clue it’s January, one of the traditional dumping ground of films. August is the other time period. This is where you drop films that you feel can’t handle any real competition. And it didn’t. It’s literally the only wide release this week…and still couldn’t break the top three. But if it cost as little as the first, then it may not matter. That was only $15M with Daniel Radcliff as the star. This has no one so may have been even less, which meaning it’s already made budget.

BETTER OR WORSE THAN BEING LIZ HURLEY?
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is down to number five, followed by Annie at number six and The Imitation Game picking up steam to rise to number seven and also in this is Keira Knightley who may have mixed feelings about this being a success. Obviously it’s good to be in a well-reviewed successful movie, but once again it’s a period piece for her. She’s become the new Helena Bonham Carter…which means she’d better get used to it.

THERE ARE NO SMALL JOBS, ONLY SMALL ACTORS
The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1 is down to number eight, followed by The Gambler at number nine and also in this is Jessica Lange who’s having a bit of a resurgence in her career thanks to being the only reoccurring cast member on American Horror story, playing different yet similar characters. So maybe that FX show may work for Elijah Wood after all. Oh, wait. It was already cancelled. Whoops.

THEY’VE A YEN FOR SUCCESS. GET IT?
Finally, Big Hero 6 returns to the top ten at number ten and this is finally going to see a general Asian release which it kinda needs given that it has yet to make 3x its budget, our usual rule of thumb for a successful film. Though recent information has suggested that really needs to happen domestically because the bulk of international grosses stay international and the Hollywood take can be as little as 14%. But given this is Disney, they’re probably going to make their real money off the merchandising so it matters little. Thanks for nothing, Cars.

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