Tag Archives: Gwyneth Paltrow

BETTER LUCK ON MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE THE MOVIE

26 May

500_3_charlize_theron_w 1. Tomorrowland/Disney                          Wknd/$ 33.0   Total/$ 33.0
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.8   Total/$ 109.6
3. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 88.3
– Poltergeist/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 22.6   Total/$ 22.6
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 21.7    Total/$ 404.9
5. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 15.0   Total/$ 39.9
6. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 29.1
7. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 2.2     Total/$ 347.1
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 2.2      Total/$ 5.4
9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 65.7
10. Home/Fox                                              Wknd/$ 1.8     Total/$ 168.1

SOMEWHERE JOHNNY DEPP LAUGHS, “NOT SO EASY, IS IT?”
Tomorrowland opens at number one and between this and Mission Impossible 4, I’m glad Brad Bird is returning to animation with a sequel to The Incredibles, ‘cause live action is clearly not his thing. There are clearly too many compromises you have to make with people that you don’t have to with drawings. Though it’s where the writing is concerned that things go astray. Granted, the simple fact that Damon Lindelof is on as a co-writer here automatically means suckage, but you’d think as director Bird could overcome it. He cannot. This seems to be the logical (and by “logical” I mean only in the mind of someone shamelessly chasing money) extension of Pirates of the Caribbean. That is, Disney making even movies based on their theme park rides. The mistake is while Pirates of the Caribbean was/is a theme park, pirate movies are an old, established genre. You could have called it anything else and still had the same movie. This, however, had to be totally original and how exactly do you tell the story of a future that never came to pass? Well, judging by this, you don’t. Ironically we see more of “the future is now” in our first encounter with the protagonist, Casey (Britt Robertson), than for any other part of the movie when she sneaks onto the Cape Canaveral base using her iPhone to control a toy helicopter. You can use your iPhone to remote control a vast number of things and this has happened in the last decade. It’s amazing but it doesn’t seem to register. Anyway, her father is a NASA engineer and in some naïve way she’s hoping to stop the dismantling of the space program by stomping the dismantling of the launch platform. She’s not only clever, but an incurable optimist and these are the reasons she’s sought out by recruitment robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl. We see this robot earlier when the younger version of George Clooney’s character goes to the World’s Fair in Queens in the 60’s to submit his jet pack idea. The robot helps him sneak into Tomorrowland when House—I mean Nix as played by Hugh Laurie rejects him because his jet pack doesn’t quite work. In Tomorrowland one of the robots fixes it so it does and he’s allowed to stay. Later, however, when the robot drops Casey off at Clooney’s place—after avoiding other killer robots—we learned he was kicked out under pain of death if he ever talked about Tomorrowland. We also learn that Casey was selected because she might be able to fix what’s wrong with it, something Clooney helped to create. As they make the journey back, we learn that the origins of Tomorrowland started with Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla…and they apparently built a rocket in the Eiffel Tower which is just cool as fuck. Of course you might wonder how no one knew there was a rocket there, not even The Nazis when they took the place, but honestly it’s so nice I give it a pass. What I cannot give a pass to is basically the whole concept. A world established over hundred years ago in another dimension for the betterment of mankind…that apparently has never done anything for the betterment of mankind and then gave up in 1984. Yeah, that’s how subtle the film is at yelling at you for letting the planet go to hell. Bear in mind they built a freaking rocket in The Eiffiel Tower which was constructed in 1889, had jet packs and robots in the 60’s (not to mention some kind of fountain of youth shake) and never shared any of it, but it’s our fault. The movie never comes close to explaining why all they seemed to was plan for a better tomorrow but never actually did anything (actually that would have been a better reason for Clooney’s exile in that he realized they never would). Also, the girl robot has been recruiting dreamers, but while Casey makes the cut, Stephen Hawking and Steve Jobs never did (no, I don’t see them asking Bill Gates)? Another problem is that Casey is flat out annoying, something both Clooney and the robot mention and they’re not wrong. When Clooney tells her to just shut up and be amazed for once, he’s speaking for all of us. Speaking of Clooney the most mystifying flaw of the film beyond him vanishing off-screen for half-an-hour, is that they give him a 12-year-old girl robot as a love interest. Yes, she’s technically as old as he is, but when it comes down to it, what you see onscreen is George Clooney and a 12-year-old looking lovingly at one another (which sounds like some kind of bizarre comedy Woody Allen would write where the protagonist keeps insisting that it’s okay because she’s a 50-year-old robot while the world wants him dead). Yeah, I’m sure it was cute on the page that he’s harboring a love from childhood but fully realized it’s just creepy. That no one saw this as a problem in the initial planning stages shows you this was doomed from the beginning.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number two and returning with a promotion for this one is Elizabeth Banks who was actually one of the producers for the original as well as co-starring. Again, this remains a double-edged sword of success in Hollywood. A female driven film is one of the biggest films of the year so far, but it’s about something “silly.” As opposed to the gritty realism of The Avengers, no doubt. But this is the excuse that will be given for no increased presence of women behind the camera despite this being one of two biggest openings of the year being alongside 50 Shades of Grey. But all props to Elizabeth Banks who was the comedic woman of the moment after The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in…’08. Holy shit! Has it really been that long!?! Unfortunately most of her subsequent roles as the female lead tanked. She had the misfortune to be in both Meet Bill and Meet Dave neither of which anyone wanted to meet. She then fell prey to the attempts to make Ryan Reynolds, Sam Worthington and Chris Pine into stars, but luckily The Hunger Games appeared to give her a new lease on life. After that came Pitch Perfect and this year alone she’ll be in the Magic Mike sequel as well as the final Hunger Games movie. So basically the more female driven her work, the more she succeeds. Now there’s a lesson.

SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL
Speaking of female and driven, no matter what the title of the film Charlize Theron is the clear star of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is down to number three this week. But honestly when you think about it, Max is never really the driving force behind any of his movies beyond the first. He’s just trying to die with his pain in the wasteland when he’s caught up in someone else’s schemes to try and rebuild the world, which usually climaxes him driving a big rig that’s beset by the scavengers of the apocalypse. Seriously, that’s the plot of every movie and I don’t have a problem with that. Like Banks, the more Theron stays away from simply being “pretty girl lead” the better off she does. Her last big hits were the far from critically beloved Hancock, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus but in none of them was she the leading man’s love interest. And she damn sure isn’t one here. Also it was her call to shave her head. Yeah, pretty people live for messing up that beauty thing whenever and wherever they can.

AND WHO WOULD HAVE A CLOWN DOLL ANYWAY!?!
Okay, apparently the remake of Poltergeist opened this weekend, but it actually doesn’t show up on some box office charts. Which would make sense as I’ve seen not one commercial, billboard or even print ad for it. It’s almost like it’s a literal ghost film. I saw the original back when I would do the scary, but honestly if I’d known this was coming out I might have given it a shot as it always felt more like science fiction (girl trapped in alternate dimension) than horror. Well, aside from that fucking clown. Whoever thought to include that (and the tree) tapped into the childhood fears of the collective planet.

TIME TO WORK FOR A LIVING
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number four—or five—and finally making an onscreen appearance is someone who’s been part of the Marvel movies all along: Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis. Something he admits to forgetting in interviews. Must be nice to make money that easily. Well, not anymore as he has to be painted and suited up to be the android known as The Vision. You say you want a brief comics history of the character? Well, don’t mind if I do. Shut up. You were too thinking it. The Vision is created by Ultron to help him destroy humanity, but turns on him, becoming an Avenger and ultimately marrying The Scarlet Witch. And they have two kids! Well, kinda. They’re made of magic and…okay even that’s too much for me. But Bettany does a good job with a limited role that only pops in the last half hour of the film. But he’s lost that easy Iron May paycheck.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT PT II
The Age of Adaline actually rises to number five (or six), followed by Hot Pursuit at number six (or seven), Furious Seven at number seven (or eight) and Far From The Maddening Crowd rising to number eight (or nine). Okay let’s tally it up. Britt Robertson is the protagonist of Tomorrowland, followed by the women of Pitch Perfect 2, Charlize Theron and all the women of Mad Max: Fury Road, Blake Lively in Age of Adaline, Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergar in Hot Pursuit and Carey Mulligan here in Far From The Maddening Crowd. That makes six out of the top ten (or eleven) films female driven. Sadly, that’s kind of impressive and won’t be lasting very long now that the summer movie season has formally begun. So enjoy your moment, ladies!

THE END
Paul Blart is either number nine or ten depending how you count it and Home is either number ten or finally removed from our sights.

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MAD MAX: I-95, EXIT 23

18 May

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1. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 70.3    Total/$ 70.3
2. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 44.4    Total/$ 44.4
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 38.8    Total/$ 372.0
4. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 23.5
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 62.9
6. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 343.8
7. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 3.2      Total/$ 37.5
9. Ex Machina/A24                                     Wknd/$ 2.1      Total/$ 19.6
8. Home/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 165.6
10.Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 1.3      Total/$ 2.6

MAD MAX: ROUTE 12, EXIT 15!
Pitch Perfect 2 opens at number one with Mad Max: Fury Road opening at number two and this is bittersweet triumph for female-driven films. The sweet is obvious. The number one film in the country was written, directed, starring and co-produced by women and nothing about it suggests they gave flying fuck if anyone with a “Y” chromosome saw it They were rewarded for this with a $70M opening off estimated $30M budget. This means whomever approved the third film even before this was released looks like a genius. The bitter is the hit taken by any who hoped for more action movies driven by women as the wonderful hi-octane (literally) Mad Max: Fury Road is beaten out for the number one spot. It’s also female driven from its plotline to its actual hero, Charlize Theron. Yeah, it’s called Mad Max, but everything in it is about her and her plan to save five of her fellow models from The Humungous, er, I mean Immortan Joe, who uses them as his personal breeding stock. And if you think I’m kidding about the models part, the film is very self-aware about it. There’s not one, but two scenes where people stop and gape at them because they’re so different from everyone else. When Max first sees them, he stops dead in his tracks because the women are literally soaking wet in off-white gossamer fabric. It looks like he wandered onto the set of a music video (at any moment you expect the camera to pan over and show INXS singing). The other is such a great scene I’d rather not spoil it. Max is also a prisoner of Immortan Joe’s empire: providing healthy blood for the tumor-ridden mutant “half-life” boys. In fact, Max only gets free because of Theron’s efforts to free the girls and goes from reluctantly helping them to be willing to die for them. Yes, he does help to save the day in the end (his name is in the title after all), but it’s Theron’s show all the way, which is why her name comes up first in the opening credits and she’s the most prominent in the posters. She also has a great name: Imperator Furiosa. But you know someone somewhere is going to fault all these things as to why the latest sequel in an action franchise came in second to a movie about chicks singing. Which I’ll never see because I hated the first Pitch Perfect. I find Mad Max more grounded in reality than anyone anywhere liking Anna Kendrick singing “No Diggity.”

AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU ASKED ME? SHUT UP. YOU WERE THINKING IT.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number three and if you thought it was getting beaten up before on account of how it treated The Black Widow, just wait now that they’ve got the giant hammer that is Mad Max: Fury Road. The other prominent female superhero in this film is The Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, sister to the Olsen Twins, who’s been carving out a critically acclaimed acting career these last few years and now has stepped up her game to big, mainstream action movies. That’s gonna get a lot of indie films no one will ever see financed. In the comics she and her brother Pietro, aka, Quicksilver are the children of Magneto and were part of his original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside Toad (who was in the first X-Men movie) and The Blob (seen in the first Wolverine movie). In the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past where Quicksilver also appears there’s a passing reference made to Magneto being his father and a cut scene where his sister (who would be The Scarlet Witch) is referenced.

MAYBE SHE CAN MEET UP WITH BRIDGET JONES!
Also female driven, but hardly a success story is Hot Pursuit, down to number four. Besides being directed by a woman and starring women, both Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vegara are onboard for this as producers, so they truly have to take some of heat for its failures as they were making some of the decisions. I’m thinking it’s to put on the pink one more time and bring back Elle Woods. Get it right this time and put her where she’s looked down upon and is the underdog, something a pretty blonde coming from money is not in Washington DC. Now, England on the other hand…

AND IT LOOKS LIKE BALLS TOO
Paul Blart holds at number five and women should be proud they had nothing to do with this. Writers, director and producers…all men. This is an all-ball production. Pure scrotum, if you will.

TOO PRETTY TO DRIVE FAST, MUCH LESS FURIOUS
Furious Seven is down to number six and while Jordana Brewster is back it’s in a role so slight it’s almost a cameo. She never got to develop into a butt-kicking action star like almost all the other women in the series. She went from love interest to wife and mother. It may have something to do with being the prettiest cast member (behind Paul Walker, of course). There’s a montage of all the stars from the beginning of the franchise until now and it’s amazing how she’s gone from looking like Demi Moore’s daughter to her sister. I’ll let you discuss why amongst yourselves.

CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN!
The Age of Adeline is down to number seven and I’m still disappointed no one has combined the trailers and produced an “Avengers: Age of Adeline” mash up yet. Me? I’m busy.

CLEARLY MY TUTION WAS FOR THAT PRIME GREENWICH VILLAGE ADDRESS—AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT
Home is down to number eight, followed by Ex Machina at number nine and Far From The Maddening Crowd opening at number ten. This is based on the famous novel by Thomas Hardy and NYU should be ashamed of the fact that I graduated with a degree in English Literature and never read it. Ashamed I say! No, I won’t see it. That would be cheating.

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YOUR CAREER STRATEGY MAY NEED SOME RETHINKING

11 May

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1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 77.2    Total/$ 312.6

2. Hot Pursuit/WB                                 Wknd/$ 13.3    Total/$ 13.3

3. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate      Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 31.5

4. Furious 7/Universal                          Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 338.4

5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                       Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 58.1

6. Ex Machina/A24                                Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 15.7

7. Home/Fox                                            Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 162.1

8. Woman in Gold/Weinstein               Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 27.0

9. Cinderella/Disney                               Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 196.2

10. Unfriended/Universal                      Wknd/$ 1.4     Total/$ 30.9

GEEK HISTORY 101: WHAT IS AN ULTRON?

Avengers: Age of Ultron holds at number one and in the film Tony Stark creates Ultron, but in the comics it’s created by Henry Pym who was an original Avenger known as Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket. Henry Pym wasn’t in either Avengers movie, but will appear in Ant-Man later this year, but as neither Ant-Man nor Yellowjacket. Got it? Good. I never liked Ultron as a villain because ultimately it made every bad thing he did the fault of The Avengers (one of those things being actual fucking genocide). How can you be a hero when all you’re doing is cleaning up your own mess? They hint that there’s another cause, because Tony is messing with Loki’s Scepter, but to the world at large Tony Stark and The Avengers are responsible ultimately for every life lost and every bit of damage Ultron causes so how can they still be seen as heroes? That said, one good thing they do is give him an actual personality via James Spader. In the comics he’s just “I am evil and hate humans.” Here he’s a perversion of Tony Stark all the way down to the wiseass sarcasm. At one point he unknowingly quotes Tony and becomes enraged when it’s pointed out to him like an actual character with daddy issues would be. In the comics, Henry Pym uses his own brain patterns to create Ultron, but such a simple and effective device of having Ultron act like him. has never been utilized in the character’s near 50-year history to my knowledge. It’s just, “I hate you, father.” That’s it. One of the film’s flaws is that some of the more interesting aspects get shortchanged to accommodate everyone and that is clearly one of them. Whedon says the original cut was three hours long so maybe we’ll see that restored in the inevitable directors cut on DVD. In a better world that whole bullshit “Beauty & The Beast” storyline between Black Widow and The Hulk would have gotten cut in favor of…well anything else. Seriously, it sucks that bad.

LUCKILY THEY HAVE OSCAR NOMS AND COMMERICALS TO FALL BACK ON

Hot Pursuit opens at number two and while nothing was pushing AoU out of the top spot this is still a weak opening and throws a monkey wrench into the Reese Witherspoon comeback machine. Because I like both her and Sofia Vegara, I wanted this to do better, but at the same time, I was unwilling to put myself through it. Sorry, but it just looked like the most painfully forced of “wacky hijinks.” In the past Witherspoon has been somewhat vocal about how she’ll never be in an action film. She might want to rethink that strategy in a world where an action film grossed in a day than her film did all weekend. Especially given her ex-hubby is in talks to hop on the Marvel superhero gravy train.

BEHIND EVERY STRONG ACTRESS IS A TALL, REALLY PRETTY DUDE

Age of Adaline holds at number two and while not a success, it’s not a failure either having at least made its production budget. Too bad there’s a promotional budget that often costs as much as the film itself to consider. Also in this is Michael Huisman who is the latest addition to those guys you know because they always support a stronger, more famous leading actress. Twenty years ago, David Straitharn was guy you went to for Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver. Ten years ago, Mark Ruffalo was there for Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow and now Michael Huisaman is the guy here for Blake Lively, there for Connie Britton on Nashville, with Gisele in those Chanel commercials and also for Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Expect to see him kissing Jennifer Lawrence onscreen any day now.

GUESS NO ONE WANTED ESCAPE FROM CHICAGO…

Furious Seven is down to number four and also in this is Kurt Russell, apparently knowing the place of the aging action hero is playing the higher up the younger heroes have to deal with. I’ve no doubt part of his deal was that his character doesn’t die so he too can get on the F&F gravy train. Spoiler? Oh, fuck you. It’s been out for a month and a half.

BECAUSE FEM-BOTS UNLEASHED WAS TOO OBVIOUS A TITLE

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number five, followed by Ex Machina actually rising to number six, so I guess I’m the only person who has no tolerance for cautionary tales with sexy robots.

HEY, HER MONEY IS JUST AS GREEN

Home is down to number seven followed by Woman in Gold rising to number eight and I can’t imagine why. I mean who wants to see a movie about an strong, older female lead who is supported by a handsome younger man when there’s hockey and basketball playoffs on TV and a movie where some woman is cursed to look like 28-year-old Blake Lively for eternity in the theater? Oh. Your mom. And clearly you took her to see this on mother’s day.

THE END…AGAIN

Cinderella is down to number nine and Unfriended closes out the top ten at number ten.

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CATCH A FALLING STAR. OR NOT.

26 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WHERE EVERYONE HAS GONE BEFORE

19 May

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 1. Star Trek Into Darkness/Par                   Wknd/$  70.6            Total/$   84.1

 2. Iron Man 3/Paramount                            Wknd/$  35.2            Total/$ 337.1

 3. The Great Gatsby/Warners                      Wknd/$  23.4            Total/$  90.2

 4. Pain and Gain/Paramount                       Wknd/$   3.1              Total/$  46.6

 5. The Croods/Fox                                          Wknd/$   2.8             Total/$ 176.8

 6. 42/ Warners                                                Wknd/$   2.7              Total/$  88.7

 7. Oblivion/Universal                                     Wknd/$   2.2              Total/$  85.5

 8. Mud/                                                             Wknd/$   2.2               Total/$  11.6

 9. Tyler Perry Presents Peeples/LGF         Wknd?$   2.2                Total/$    7.9

10. The Big Wedding/LGF                             Wknd/$   1.1                 Total/$  20.2

 

INTO DUMBNESS

In the interests of total transparency, I must admit I’m a Trekker from way back. The simple fact I used “Trekker” and not “Trekkie” should tell you that because for hardcore fans, “trekkie” was considered derogatory.  Seriously. People dressed up like Klingons while getting married took offense to that term.  Needless to say a reboot was automatic sacrilege to me and it didn’t help matters that it was being done by a JJ Abrams, who is basically Joss Whedon for stupid people. Seriously, if you think he’s smart, you’re as dumb as a bag of rocks and should let other people handle important decisions in your life like voting and taxes and which color socks to wear.  He freely admitted he didn’t “get” Star Trek and wanted to “broaden the audience” (because you know, after 50 years, 9 films and 5 television shows, it still hadn’t found one without him) which is double-speak for “dumb it down.” The mildly intellectual aspects of Star Trek (and they were mild, let’s not kid ourselves) are what distinguished it and he got rid of them, which is like saying you’re making a Sherlock Holmes film, but he won’t be smart.  Now the reason I’m stressing this is that the number one movie this week, Star Trek: Into Darkness, is one of the dumbest movies you will ever see, even for a summer movie.  We start off immediately with The Enterprise being underwater for no reason other than someone thought it would look cool rising from the waves. That it makes not one lick of sense hardly seems to matter.  This lets you know right then you should have checked your brain, not just the door, but not even bother taking it out of the house. Unlike the first film, this one does try to have an underlying theme besides “be more like Star Wars.”  They seem to finally address the fact that Kirk is in fact too irresponsible to be an actual captain, but it’s a feint because literally ten minutes after he loses his command, he’s back in the captain’s seat and this is done through the time-honored hack convention of making everyone else around him dumb so that he seems smart. He continually “fails upwards.”  While the original James T. Kirk succeeded from balls & bravado coupled with brains, this one is basically balls and not much else and literally has a character tell him, “You’re totally wrong, but I will still reward your failings.”  I can’t really discuss the plot without giving away the twists, but what’s the point in making a new Star Trek if you’re just going to continually recycle the old? For all its problems, the first Star Trek reboot movie had a new villain and dramatic changes to the status quo (Vulcan is gone, Spock’s mother is dead and he’s involved with Uhura), while this basically remakes an old Star Trek episode, part of one of the movies and takes various elements from the last film with the original cast, improving on nothing you’ve seen before while wasting a good cast with solid chemistry and humor that is actually on the level of the original Star Trek.

 

LET THEM READ GOOP

Iron Man 3 finally drops to number two and while she is justifiably mocked for her view of the world which rivals Marie Antoinette’s for sheer obliviousness, I loves me some Gwyneth Paltrow and always have.  Thank goodness Shane Black’s misogyny was reigned in and we get to see her kick a little ass without his original idea that she get publicly humiliated in a sex tape with one of the bad guys. No, I’m not kidding. Remember this is Shane Black, the reason The Last Boy Scout opens with a woman’s head being held underwater by a man who says he won’t let up until she performs oral sex on him. The reason in the same film Halle Berry is not just crushed between two cars but finished off with machine gun fire.  The reason Kiss Kiss Bang Bang stops cold so Robert Downey Jr can deliver a monologue for what’s wrong with women in LA.  You don’t want to be a woman at the table with him, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee.  Or in their movies if you can help it.

 

WAITING FOR AN ALL ASIAN VERSION CALLED “GI”

The Great Gatsby is down to number three and whenever I remember there was a modern day, all-black version of this called “G” I simply cannot stop laughing.  Though it turns out to be tad prescient given its Gatsby was a hip-hop millionaire (in the mode of Sean “Puffy” Combs) and this new one has hip-hop millionaire Jay-Z coordinating the soundtrack. It’s gonna need all the help he can provide given it needs to make $300M to make a profit and the summer onslaught begins en masse next week.

 

GOOD GIRLS GO TO HEAVEN; BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE ELSE

Pain & Gain is down to number four and one good thing about the success of this movie is that it continues Rebel Wilson’s rise to success which started with her small role in Bridesmaids, which also kicked off Kristen Wiig’s movie career and rocketed Melissa McCarthy to the comedy A-list. Paul Feig must be drowning in fruit baskets of gratitude.

 

A CLUE AS TO HOW EXPENSIVE BABYSITTERS REALLY ARE

The Croods actually rises to number five and I’d ask why but I look at this top ten and realize parents have no place to dump their smaller children off for two hours yet.  They’re dying for the summer movies to start just like the rest of us.

 

NOTHING SAYS “EVIL” LIKE A BAD REGIONAL ACCENT

42 is down to number six, followed by Oblivion at number seven and the most annoying thing about this movie had to be Melissa Leo’s godawful southern accent. That alone should have let Tom Cruise’s character know something was up.  Though I guess if she’d gone with “Bawston” accent from The Fighter, there’d have been no doubt.

 

ONE STEP FORWARD TWO STEPS BACK

Mud surprisingly hangs around at number eight, followed by Tyler Perry Presents Peeples at number nine, and while I’m delighted any time something with Tyler Perry’s name on it fails, I feel badly for the talent in this movie because there’s so much of it.  Craig Robinson and Kerry Russell at least have other things to fall back on, but poor David Allen Grier needed a win.  Not to mention a minority female directors.  Hollywood is looking for reason to turn them back and this just gave them another.

 

THE END

Finally, the big wedding closes out the top ten at number ten.

 

SCATTER MY MINE AT OLD NAVY

Never going to break the top ten is Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs, a documentary about the eponymous department store on 5th Avenue in New York.  I saw it continuing my run on documentaries about fashion which have been good for the most part and I think I’ve found the clue that let’s you know whether or not that’s the case: Anna Wintour.  Any fashion doc worth its weight has to have an appearance by the grand doyenne of fashion and this one does not, despite a half-dozen other fashion luminaries from Armani to Lagerfeld to De la Renta to Marc Jacobs to Michael Kors to Tory Burch to…you get the idea. Her absence is conspicuous.  Oh, there’s footage of her, of course, but no interview and methinks it has to with a small rivalry between her and the head buyer for Bergdorf Goodman, Linda Fargo, who unlike Wintour can make a designer’s career in a real world fashion.  Wintour can choose to promote or not promote a designer, but Fargo gives them an actual venue to sell their wares and it’s questionable which truly matters more.  The film is oddly divided between a history of the store, which is genuinely interesting; an observation of a young designer trying to get into the store (Tommy Hilfiger’s daughter and it’s really hard to root for her given the “in” she clearly had) which is also interesting and the creation of the famous store windows…which is not that interesting and when all is said and done, I’d say that at least half of this 90 minute film is devoted to that.  That’s about 30 minutes too long.  That time would have been better spent with a more in-depth history of the store (the stories of Liz Taylor and John Lennon are great) or more in-depth account of the journey of a designer to the store’s hallowed halls.  Instead it wraps that story up far too quickly (Hilfiger’s daughter doesn’t make the cut and it’s really hard to feel sad for her given how much of her career was probably handed to her) and hops around from talking head to talking head gushing about the store, while any deep topic like the importance of wealth to the store or the effect the faltering economy had on it are brought in and out in less than five minutes (that the son of the founder used his position to bang the models who worked there is rushed by as quickly as possible).  The only jolt of life comes from one of the no-holds barred personal shoppers, who when asked what she’d be doing if not that job replies, “Drinking.” More of her, less literal window decoration.

 

RED TRUNKS CAN’T SAVE EVERYTHING

The new Superman is coming and with questionable timing DC’s direct-to-video line releases an animated film about the “old Superman” as in the one who wore bright blue tights and little red trunks and didn’t mope about the world.  Superman: Unbound is based on a storyline from the comic a few years ago that rebooted the character of Brainiac, saying that the one Superman had been fighting for years was only a probe who thought he was Brainiac because the real one never left his ship.  It also alluded (badly) to the idea that Brainiac had been responsible for the destruction of Krypton when it attacked it and stole the city of Kandor, which he shrunk and put into a bottle.  Well, they say bad books make the best movies, so maybe they could turn this lackluster storyline into something interesting the way they did with the flat-out-bad Superman/Batman: Apocalypse which is actually the story of Supergirl, but marketing dictates you can’t tell anyone that. No, I’m not kidding. Supergirl and Wonder Woman are in it and you won’t see them anywhere on the box.  She’s in this too, but again, no box cover, which is sad because her character’s journey is one of the better things about it.  One thing about animation with superheroes is that you get to see them use their powers fully without the restrictions of special effects of budgets. The problem is, once you’ve seen Superman cut loose without his powers it makes no sense when he stops. Brainiac is shown to be as strong as Superman, but clearly cannot fly and has no super-speed or heat vision and given we’ve spent 10 minutes watching Superman use them against his robot army, why is he stopping now?  Because then he crushes Brainiac in seconds and your story is done. That contrivance aside, the best things about the story are the subplots involving the female characters. Clark and Lois and dating but he doesn’t want anyone in the office to know and we find out it took him a year to tell his parents. He wants to create this odd bubble where nothing goes wrong because he controls it all. Also, Supergirl saw Brainiac’s attack on Krypton and was traumatized by how helpless it made her feel. Now that she’s got godlike power on earth she likes smack around anyone she considers a bully, which rubs Superman the wrong way.  Despite her newfound power she’s still so scared (she’s only 17) when she finds out Brainiac is coming to earth she’s prepared to run and let him destroy the planet.  I could have watched more of her and less of Superman smacking Brainiac around a swamp, which somehow messes him up because he gets dirty.  Yes, the weakness of the supervillain is OCD. Like I said, it wasn’t a good story to begin with. Matt Bomer is the voice of Superman which is great because height aside, he looks exactly how you’d expect Superman to look. Stana Katic from Castle is the voice of Lois Lane and Supergirl is Molly Quinn, also from Castle (she plays his daughter).