Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

SOMEONE MADE A BETTER VERSION OF THIS ALREADY

31 Aug

Shannyn-Sossamon-1
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal     Wknd/$ 13.2   Total/$ 134.1
2. War Room/TriStar                                 Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 11.0
3. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 170.4
4. No Escape/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 10.4
5. Sinister 2/Focus                                      Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 18.5
6. The Man from UNCLE/Paramount    Wknd/$ 4.4      Total/$ 34.1
7. Hitman: Agent 47/Fox                           Wknd/$ 3.9      Total/$ 15.3
8. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 36.0
9. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 643.1
10. Ant-Man/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 169.2

HEY, I HEAR THIS RAP THING MAKES MONEY
Straight Outta Compton holds at number one and sound you just heard is the Tupac bio being greenlit because naked greed makes for short memories. Clearly that Biggie had a bio-pic that no one saw (which had Tupac in it) is being put down to bad marketing.

EVEN JESUS WAS OUT WATCHING NWA
War Room opens at number two and this is one of those Christian “niche” films that opens up from time-to-time. In fact it’s super-niche as its Black Christian. Sadly, I know exactly who the audience is for this. Relatively speaking it’s a success, but note that an R-rated film about a rap group from 30-years ago on its third weeks still made three times as much, so don’t break your arm having Jesus pat you on the back.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL CAREER MOVE
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is down to number three and Alec Baldwin is the latest in the series of “serious actors” cast as Tom Cruise’s superior to ground the series as something more than silly popcorn…which it totally is. It’s mutually beneficial. The series gets grounding and the “serious actor” gets exposure to an audience that wouldn’t have seen them otherwise and presumably a nice paycheck for a day’s work. This was pioneered in the superhero film (Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman in Superman; Jack Nicholson and Jack Palance in Batman). The first was obviously Jon Voight, followed by Anthony Hopkins, then Laurence Fishburne, then Tom Wilkinson. I expect the sixth film will go the James Bond route and hire a “serious” female actor. I’m thinking Meryl Streep. Mainly because she hasn’t done a superhero movie yet and she’s clearly in the “I’m Just Gonna Have Some Fucking Fun” stage of her career. Plus Cruise already worked with her once so he has an “in.”

HONESTLY WHO CARES ABOUT A SERIOUS OWEN WILSON?
No Escape opens at number four and honestly who thought this was a wide release film even at the end of the summer? And I can’t help but feeling I’ve seen the “Americans trapped in country of revolution” film before. Given that Pierce Brosnan is in this it feels like it should have been about him as a CIA agent there toppling a government when he feels an obligation to get a family out. That’s so much more interesting that this movie which seems to be about rightfully pissed off rebels trying to kill all the people they rightly feel are responsibility for their problems (Owen Wilson’s character brings his family there as part of a corporate job).

ANY RESEMBLANCE TO LISA BONET IS PURELY DELIGHTFUL
Sinister 2 is down to number four and in this is Shannyn Sossamon. Remember her from the turn of the century? She’s sooooo pretty. But hey, they’re a dime a dozen in Hollywood and her career is proof of it. Nonetheless, I’ve a special affection for her and am glad to see her still working, especially in a genre franchise, which puts an easy win on her resume. And I just learned she’s going to be on Sleepy Hollow this fall…, which means I have to give it another chance when I was read to write it off after the second season. Sigh.

EXCEPT FOR THAT
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is down to number five and Arnie Hammer simply cannot catch a break. He started so high up with great performance in The Social Network, but has had the worst luck in projects sense then, but it’s totally understandable. How do you say “No” to a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio directed by Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)? How do you turn down a movie with Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)? How do you turn down a potential franchise with Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger)? And finally, how do you turn down a second potential franchise directed by Guy Ritchie? All his mistakes are understandable from a conventional career viewpoint. They all looked like smart choices. Unless you’re familiar with the hit-and-miss nature of Eastwood’s work, that almost every movie Julia Roberts has made sucks and that Johnny Depp is a soulless, pretentious whore.

IT’S A PREJUDICE!
Hitman: Agent 47 is down to number six and Zachary Quinto is in this, clearly realizing his options after playing Spock are more limited to genre films than he realized. Seriously, being openly gay is nothing compared to getting famous through science fiction. Just ask Mark Hamill. Oh, you say Harrison Ford? What the fuck do you call Indiana Jones? What Lies Beneath? Even Jack Ryan. He was just in big, successful genre films. His Working Girls and Fugitives are not what made him a superstar. His resume is more populated with Regarding Henry, The Mosquito Coast, Sabrina, Six Days Seven Nights, Random Hearts, Hollywood Homicide…etc.

THE END
The Gift is down to number eight, followed by Jurassic World returning for one last time at the end of summer and Ant-Man closing out the top ten at number ten.

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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

jordana_brewster-gq
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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THE MONEY MACHINE ROLLS ON

4 May

Tyrese-Gibson-Goes-Off-on-Fat-People-Look-at-What-You-Did-to-Yourself-2
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney Wknd/$ 187.7 Total/$ 187.7
2. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 23.4
3. Furious 7/Universal Wknd/$ 6.1 Total/$ 330.5
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 44.0
5. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 158.1
6. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 193.7
7. Ex Machina/A24 Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 10.9
8. Unfriended/Universal Wknd/$ 1.9 Total/$ 25.2
9. The Longest Ride/Fox Wknd/$ 1.7 Total/$ 30.4
10. Woman in Gold/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 21.6

WATCH ME GET MY GEEK ON!
Surprising absolutely no one, Avengers: Age of Ultron opens at number one and I found this to be superior to the original because it’s more of a movie unto itself and not so much concerned with setting up the next film. This is not to say it’s not setting up the next movie. Oh, no. They’re not afraid to let you know they’re saving shit for you to pay for later. But it’s less of an obvious placeholder. Scenes that showcase every character individually are less forced and even the sub-plots don’t drop like so many lead weights. And last but not least, there’s no 10-minute sequence where Captain America and Iron Man fix an engine. Seriously. I cannot believe they shot that. The movie opens in full swing with The Avengers going after Hydra, which if you remember where the bad guys in Captain America’s two movies because god forbid he fight a Nazi (yes, I will forever be annoyed by that). There they recover Loki’s scepter from the first film and from it Tony Stark creates an artificial intelligence known as Ultron, whom he intends to use to protect the world from the next invasion. Unfortunately Ultron more than has a mind of its own and thinks humanity is the problem and just plans to wipe us all out, Stark in particular. This sets up the basic plot of the film: superheroes vs. giant angry robot. With Ultron are two enhanced (because Fox owns the rights to the term mutant) people who also hate Tony Stark, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch making more of a fair fight and actually kicking Avenger ass. Ultron is longtime Avengers villain in the comic whom I actually have never cared for, but James Spader via writer/director Whedon has been improved immensely. Before he was just a one note bad guy while they’ve given him a much-needed personality, which is basically what if your angry, sarcastic teenage son had the power to wipe out the world? He hates Tony Stark but has elements of Stark’s personality and hates being reminded of that. You need these moments of humanity given 90% of the film they’re swimming in a sea of CGI and it gets a little tiring. Seriously. It’s fun to watch, but when it’s over you really don’t need to see any more of it anytime soon (which why I had Daredevil to watch, but we’ll get to that). Ironically the Summer Movie Season has more or less begun, so I guess I’ll be seeing more of it next week. And the week after that. And the week after that.

GONNA FINALLY SEE THAT KESSEL RUN!
Age of Adaline actually moves up to number two, a result I gather of women (or men) who just drew a line in the sand and decided not to accompany their men (or women) into seeing Age of Ultron (which would explain why the sequel failed to be top its predecessor). Basically, if they were going to watch some wacky fantasy movie, it was going to be something they were actually interested in with more kissing and less CGI. Also in this is Harrison Ford and playing him younger, Anthony Ingruber who basically got the job doing Harrison Ford impressions on YouTube. You damn kids today. Once upon a time you had to sleep your way into movies. Granted, it helps that he looks like Ford, but can also do him perfectly. If I’m at Disney I’m hiring this kid and just creating a new revenue stream of Young Han Solo movies. Tell me more people wouldn’t see that than the main Star Wars films themselves!?! And now that Lucas is gone there’d be a whole lot of shootin’ first!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT SINGING CAREER?
Furious 7 is down to number three and trying to get on the comic book money train is Tyrese Gibson. Not that I blame him, but I do not want to see this fool as any character I actually care about. Not to mention at 5’11 he’s too short to play the character he wanted, who was Luke Cage (who will have a series on Netflix like Daredevil, but we’ll get to that). That role went to Mike Colter from The Good Wife, who is 6’3”. Damn right. Now Gibson wants to be Jon Stewart, one of the Green Lanterns. Given how Ryan Reynolds crashed and burned, DC will probably go that way. I mean given how bad all their other decisions have been, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gibson got the job. Needless to say, I don’t give a crap about Jon Stewart. I mean, I didn’t care when Common’s talentless ass was cast as him for the aborted Justice League movie, so why would I start now?

THEY’LL PAY FOR THIS NEGLECT IN THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number four, followed by Home at number five and Cinderella oddly returning to the top ten at number six. I have no idea how or why. The number of screens actually dropped by almost a thousand and still it popped up. Again, I’m thinking somehow The Avengers had something to do with this. Short sighted fathers who dropped their daughters off here instead of taking them with their brothers to see The Avengers.

IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO RULE IN HELL
Ex Machina is down to number seven, followed by Unfriended at number eight, The Longest Ride at number nine and The Woman in Gold at number ten and it’s gotta be humbling at home for Ryan Reynolds with Blake Lively’s movie getting more exposure than his. Especially when she’s the star of hers and he’s the co-star of Helen Mirren. Yeah, technically this did better, but is it better to the co-star in a success of the star of a disappointment?

YOU’D HAVE TO BE BLIND NOT TO LOVE THIS.
Since we’re discussing The Avengers and other comic book movies, it’s time I got to my long overdue discussion of Daredevil (told you we’d get to it). Simply put: it’s awesome. Seriously. Forget about that godawful movie with Ben Affleck that even he admits was crap. This. Is. Amazing. Netfilix and Marvel have pulled off something I quite frankly had my doubts about. I know it’s not saying much but this is best superhero TV show ever made. It is gritty and serious as a heart attack, but they make it work. It helps they have time. It’s not so much at TV show, but a 13-hour movie. Each episode builds on the previous episode to a great climax. Having been a fan of the comics this is based upon, my jaw dropped at some of the scenes. They’re making it clear that the comics are merely source material and they feel no obligation to follow them to the letter. Their changes are amazing and may have set the bar too high for them to follow, much less other shows that are coming set in this same world. One primary reason is the villain. It’s an old conceit that your movie can only be as good as its villain and Vincent D’Onofrio brings to life a great villain, The Kingpin. He’s not some two-dimensional bad guy, but a fully realized traumatized human being who has been consumed by his darkside, though he doesn’t admit it even to himself. The other saying is that a good villain is the hero of his own story and in this Wilson Fisk (never called The Kingpin, because what is this, a comic book?) firmly believes he’s saving the city. This city is the New York post-Avengers alien invasion. Hell’s Kitchen isn’t the new home of luxury high rises and nice restaurants that’s threatening to price me out of it, but the crime ridden HK of old thanks to the damage of the alien invasion The Avengers fought off. In a plotline all too real, criminals are making the most of all the new money coming in to redevelop the area. Having grown up there, Fisk thinks he’s saving his old neighborhood and the city with a small consortium of organized crime leaders, from Yakuza to Triads to Russian Mobs (clearly the Italians and Irish are old news). Unfortunately for him, Daredevil, aka, Matt Murdock also grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and is having none of it, going out every night dressed in black, using his hyper senses (developed when he was blinded by radioactive chemicals saving a man’s life) to find crime and beat the crap out of people committing it. They actually make you believe one unarmed guy can derail a business of armed gangsters. It’s fairly simple: you screw up their business enough and the partners start getting impatient and wind up finishing them off. They also do a great job of fleshing out the supporting characters. In the comics Vanessa, The Kingpin’s love interest, is a borderline idiot who has no idea he’s a gangster. Here she’s a woman knowing enough to bring a gun on her second date. She knows what he is and not only accepts it, but helps him somewhat. Karen Page is the secretary/love interest with little going on beyond that in the comics, but here she goes from being a damsel in distress to a pit bull determined to take The Kingpin down no matter what it takes. Daredevil himself had the sense of humor that comes and goes in the comics (depending on who’s writing) and takes a fairly realistic beating for someone fighting crime with no superpowers. When his ability to take a pounding without complaining is pointed out, he quips, “That’s the Catholicism in me.” Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough. It’s not perfect (Asians take it only the chin in all kinds of stereotypes and Daredevil functions a little too well despite vicious beatings). Let me put it this way: just make it to the hallway scene in episode two. That’s when I knew this was the real deal.

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FRANK MILLER SUCKS. THAT IS ALL.

25 Aug

3b7c5456e1eaa0814d2a9159c3183445
1. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney                  Wknd/$ 17.6    Total/$ 251.9
2. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par            Wknd/$ 16.8    Total/$ 145.6
3. If I Stay/WB                                                     Wknd/$ 16.3    Total/$ 16.4
4. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 11. 0    Total/$ 45.2
5. When The Game Stands Tall/TS                 Wknd/$ 9.0      Total/$ 9.0
6. The Giver/Weinstein                                      Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 24.1
7. The Expendables 3/LGF                                Wknd/$ 6.6      Total/$ 27.5
8. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For                        Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
9. The Hundred-Foot Journey/Disney           Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 32.8
10. Into The Storm/WB                                      Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 38.3

AND LORD OF THE RINGS CAME FROM KING ARTHUR. GET OVER IT.
Guardians of the Galaxy returns to the number one spot and also in this is Glenn Close and if this comes as a surprise to you I have to ask you where the hell you’ve been for 35 years, as A-list dramatic stars have been part of superhero movies since Superman The Movie opened with Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman billed above the title. Still, even after Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Jeff Bridges, Cliff Robertson, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliot, Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, John Travolta and Morgan Freeman have all appeared in them, people are still surprised to see them there. It’s called show “business” people and if there is no business there will be no show. It’s the new “animated movie” where stars want an easy mainstream gig to pad both their resumes and bank accounts with hits. Glenn plays Nova Prime who is the head of the Nova Corps, a type of intergalactic police force which was a very clearly rip off of the Green Lantern Corps in the Green Lantern comics, (which in turn were a rip off of the Lensmen series of science fiction novels). This, however worked out much better for Glen Close than basically everyone in the Green Lantern movie as the success of this film opens the door for a Nova solo film. Oh, and guess who’s going to be in the Ant Man movie currently filming? Michael Douglas.

ACTUALLY SOFT CORE PORN WOULD BE MORE INTERESTING
Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles is down to number two and while this is also based on a comic book, to be in this basically means you’re desperate and one step away from soft-core porn on Cinemax or a eponymously named sitcom. Only one of those I’d actually watch.

NOT A COMPARISON YOU WANT MADE
If I Stay Opens at number three and this is based on a Young Adult novel, a section of the bookstore still being pillaged by movie studios all trying to get the “next big hit.” Clearly this ain’t it. I don’t read, so I know nothing about it, but as a movie the plot of someone in a coma reminds me of that horrible Reese Witherspoon thing, Just Like Heaven, which helped drag both hers and Mark Ruffalo’s careers down. The difference being Ruffalo had no problem doing a superhero movie, whereas Reese Witherspoon has made it clear she’ll never do anything like that. Really? Enjoy starring in “Reese” next fall on NBC.

THE GREAT ESCAPE
Let’s Be Cops is down to number four and I’m actually happy for the success of this film because I like the two guys in it and cannot stand the TV show “Zoe Deschanel is Just So Precious.” Though you might know it as “New Girl.” They’re both on it and this is one step closer to them being set free. Especially Marlon Wayans Jr., who was in the much, much, MUCH superior Happy Endings. Though ironically he was in the pilot for New Girl, but left it for Happy Endings, only to return when it was cancelled, so he’s owed this.

AND HOW MANY NFL PLAYERS CAME OUT OF THAT? EXACTLY.
When The Game Stands Tall opens at number five and I’m actually glad this didn’t do better because while I love football I cannot stand this “Football Is A Holy Religion That Will Cure All” mentality and this film utterly comes from that type of thinking. It’s “based on a true event” which means it’s all but fictional and the fiction will overtake the truth like that Remember The Titans movie with Denzel Washington (the coach was a jerk and hated). This is about a high school team that went undefeated for years then lost. OH. MY GOD! THE HUMANITY! They lost a football game!?! In high school!?! How could they go on!?! Seriously, who gives a crap? High school football players should only be in movies as the villains to the quirky, artistic protagonist, period.

I ALSO DON’T BELIEVE IN THE INTERNET. OR MOBILE PHONES.
The Giver is down to number five and this is another science fiction/fantasy Young Adult adaptation and remember how I said that comic book movies were the new way for actors to pad their resumes and bank accounts? Coming up a close second on that are YA adaptations. I mean look at the adult cast list for The Hunger Games. And here you’ve got Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, though it must be noted Bridges has been trying to get this made for so long he envisioned his father, Lloyd, in the role he himself is playing. Fine. So it’s the exception to the rule. I stand by my cynical observation. Now, you’d think I’d have seen this if for no other reason than the science fiction angle. Well, maybe, but I was on vacation and if I don’t see a film opening week, my chances of ever seeing it at all are slight. Also, I just have a old man prejudice against Young Adult. They’re just not “real” books to me.

THREE STRIKES YOU’RE OUT. TIME FOR ROCKY 18.
The Expendables 3 has dropped to number six and I probably would have seen this as well had I not been on vacation even though I know it’s complete and utter crap. Even worse, it’s selling out its weak-ass premise. The whole conceit of the film was that it was a bunch of old action stars together. That’s it. It’s a one trick pony. Realizing that was why people saw it, the second film decided to wink so hard at the audience that it sprained an eye muscle and the Expendables 2 did less business than the first film. See, the joke only goes so far then you actually have to make an movie worth watching and honestly they didn’t even do that in the first film and the second one was even worse, despite Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Arnold doing actual action scenes instead of just cameos and Jean Claude Van Damme showing up as the villain. This sent them into panic mode and rather than just trying to make a better movie, they lowered the water and opted for a PG-13 rating with more of the same crap. As if anyone didn’t let their kid see the first two because of that. Not even the inclusion of Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes as well as a bunch young people (the less said about Kelsey Grammar the better) could make up for this series’ diminishing returns. Look for a fourth one to show up directly on cable if at all.

YOU’RE BETTER OFF KILLING FOR A BETTER WRITER
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For opens at number eight and I don’t know why I went to see this given I’ve never been a fan of the Sin City series or Frank Miller or even the first film. Oh, I know why: Eva Green. She was the best thing about 300: Rise of an Empire and she’s the best thing about this piece of crap. Like The Expendables there was a “gimmick” to get people in to see it. In this case it was visually mimicking Frank Miller’s artistic style, but like The Expendables, once that was done you still had to make a movie worth seeing and given Miller’s bleak, cynical, misogynist, derivative books aren’t even worth reading, that they didn’t make a good film is not surprising. It’s also not surprising that like the Expendables sequel this sequel underperformed as well. People are aware there’s nothing beneath the surface…and the surface gets old fast. Eva Green, however, is a film noir movie waiting to happen. Her raspy voice and intense look make her a natural for a femme fatale that a knight in tarnished armor would risk all to save, even though he knows she’s lying to him the whole time. Also look for any further sequels to show up directly on cable and honestly it would work better as series of half hour episodes. Too short to grow weary of the bleakness and style and realize there’s not much else there.

THE END
A Hundred Foot Journey is down to number nine followed by Into The Storm closing out the top ten at number ten.

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RATHER DIE THAN RIDE

21 Jan

the_four_jack_ryans

 1. Ride Along/Universal                             Wknd/$  41.6            Total/$   41.6

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                       Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$   72.9

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  19.4            Total/$   19.4

 4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par           Wknd/$  15.6            Total/$   15.6

 5. Frozen/Disney                                          Wknd/$  11.9            Total/$ 332.5

 6. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   9.9            Total/$  115.7

 7. Devil’s Due/Fox                                         Wknd/$   8.4           Total/$     8.4

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   7.4            Total/$    18.0

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$   89.8

10. Her/WB                                                      Wknd/$   4.0           Total/$    15.0

 

IT’S A MOVIE, NOT A SOCIAL STATEMENT

Ride Along opens at number one as Kevin Hart’s star continues to ascend.  He’s just one solo film away from the comedic flavor of the month which will include a book according to Chris Rock’s book which came out he was the flavor of the month and he was told this by Jerry Seinfeld who knew for obvious reasons and I’m sure someone told him. While I enjoy Hart he’s one of those comedians where a little goes a loooooong way and second lead behind Ice Cube is still too much of him for me. Maybe third or fourth behind some kind of cute talking pet will work. Or better yet the voice of the villain’s sidekick in an animated movie. That I’d see. This, not so much. And if anyone says it’s an accomplishment for this to open at number one on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I’m gonna punch them in the fucking dick.

 

THE SPOILER’S IN THE TITLE

Lone Survivor drops to number two and this is a minor all-star cast behind Mark Wahlberg, starting with Hollywood’s Miss-It Boy of the last few years Taylor Kitsch (big movies, big bombs), Emile Hirsch (the guy you call when you can’t get Elijah Wood), Ben Foster (the guy you call when want a darker, less attractive Ryan Gosling) and Eric Bana (the guy you keep wondering why he didn’t become a star). No one is really a star, but when you see them you know them and this helps you to care about characters you otherwise wouldn’t. Especially when a film is called “Lone Survivor” and you know the name above will probably play that role.

 

FUNNY ANIMATED ANIMAL MOVIE #2488

The Nut Job opens at number three which is an accomplishment given how little promotion this thing got compared to the films of Disney and Dreamworks. I have no idea what this is even about and I think I saw one commercial.  Shows you just how much parents need these animated films to babysit their kids.  They don’t have to know or care a thing about it. They just need 90 minutes of peace.

 

SCREENWRITERS ALSO MISSES THE COLD WAR

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens at number four and this is the second time Chris Pine has stepped into the shoes of a franchise (Star Trek being the first) and the second time, sadly, he pales in comparison to a predecessor and this is coming from someone who was not a fan of Harrison Ford’s painfully self-righteous Jack Ryan.  I’m comparing him to Alec Baldwin, who was the first and remains the best Jack Ryan. All I can say is that he’s better than the milquetoast Ben Affleck reboot (does anyone even remember he did it?).  I think it’s telling that the best one was a Cold War story and clearly someone else felt the same as Russia returns as a America’s “big bad” for this one.  Set in a post-9/11 America the new Cold War is conducted in the money markets and director and co-star Kenneth Brannagh is the latest Hollywood stock villain, the Russian Oligarch, who is set onto America because didn’t help Russia stop a Turkish oil pipeline. And that’s your first problem right here. Ryan isn’t even fighting the real bad guy.  He’s just a guy following orders.  At the very least Brannagh should have been a rogue Russian businessman setting off to do this without his government’s approval. The other problem is for an action thriller it’s not that thrilling and there’s very little action.  A good 20 minutes is wasted giving us the origin of Jack Ryan. You, know that 2-minute speech from Hunt From Red October?  Yeah, they heard the cries of absolutely no one and decided to show it complete with meeting his future wife.  Now, one of the best scenes from Hunt For Red October consisted of Alec Baldwin giving a briefing and you saw why Jack Ryan was good at his job.  No jumping, shooting or fighting and was still fun to watch.  Here he’s an analyst on Wall Street tracking terrorist funding and it’s as thrilling to watch as it sounds.  We’re not really shown why he’s good, but simply people keep telling us that he is and he spouts some technobabble that apparently no one else in the CIA can understand so he has to go into the field. Previously it was because he was expendable and no one believed him.  Here he’s clearly believed and supported which robs it of some drama as he’s not the underdog. He’s not even alone to fight for his life in Russia, where a dozen CIA show up to help in gunfights.  In sad way it compares to Pine’s role as Kirk where basically he just falls into command rather than earning it. Even the scene as we watch him putting information together doesn’t come off as all that special so much as common sense. In that respect it reminds you of TV shows were everyone is made a little dumb to the hero cop can seem smart.

 

A ROSEMARY’S BABY FOR THE CELL PHONE GENERATION

Frozen falls to number five followed by American Hustle at number six and Devils Due, which opens at number seven. It’s yet another “found footage” about a woman who gets impregnated with the Anti-Christ while on her honeymoon.  Aside from my general disregard for these movies, the trailer strongly suggests that basically they were drugged by Satan’s minions and it’s captured by the camera, which means that if they’d just bothered to check their vacation footage all of this could have been avoided. I mean it’s still horrifying to be drugged by Satan’s minions then presumably raped by Satan himself, but then it could be dealt with early and not eight months later when a priest bleeds from his eyes.  And why does Satan need minions to drug a woman anyway? Seducing people is his job description. Probably the most horrific part of The Devil’s Advocate was that Al Pacino uses his satanic power to seduce Charlize Theron (thank god it’s offscreen, but just imagining the his tiny, creepy, old body climbing on top of her still gives me chills). In a truly more terrifying movie making use of the found footage, Satan would have assumed the husband’s form but they don’t know this happened until they see a honeymoon sex tape where a) it’s the husband, but clearly he didn’t shoot it, or b) either Satan’s true form is captured by the camera, or c) nothing is captured but you see her responding to something.  Though that’s still not as creepy as Al Pacino on top of Charlize Theron.

 

HA IS ONLY TWO LETTERS. SEE?

August: Osage County is down to number eight followed by The Wolf of Wall Street at number nine and I finally subjected myself to yet another overlong Scorsese paean to a sociopathic anti-hero who rises and falls yet rises again.  While on one hand, Scorsese is still obviously a great director and the story told is done well and interesting, it’s done for far too long and many of the techniques become tiresome. I realize the mantra of film is “show, don’t tell” but some things could just be told. I don’t need to see them all, least of all pretty much every single female in the cast doing full frontal nudity (the 13-year-old in me feels utterly betrayed at those words). Yeah, I get that the world of Wall Street is hyper masculine in a weird sort of overcompensation given they really don’t do anything we associate with actual manhood, like being a construction worker or athlete or a soldier, but does that mean you have to show every single instance of this especially when it’s sexual?  I got it when you graphically showed me hooker #1. I really didn’t need to be graphically shown hookers #2-500.  This movie seems to be for people who wanted another, longer GoodFellas but without all the violence.  Emphasis on the longer. There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio, finally beginning to circle the drain on his lifestyle, has to get home on while on an overdose of Quaaludes, which while funny goes on for-freaking-ever and you wonder if that scene were just completely deleted how does the film change and what do we lose. It doesn’t and we don’t and the film is filled with many such scenes that don’t move it forward or tell us anything we don’t already know about the characters. Part of it is obviously Scorsese’s unfamiliarity with comedy It’s a common mistake for someone to overdo it. It makes an odd sort of sense because it took his usual partner in crime, DeNiro, years to learn restraint in comedy. Now he won’t freaking stop making them.

 

I’M BIG ON PERSONAL GROOMING

Finally, Her rises to the top ten and I have different reasons for dragging my feet on seeing different movies. For example: I love the Coen Brothers, but haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet because honestly I freaking hate folk music. Hate. It. I don’t care how good the movie is because it will subject me to that.  I know it’s crazy, but it’s me. Similarly my crazy reason for not having seen this is Joaquin Phoenix’s horrible porn ‘stache.  I cannot bring myself to look at that thing forty feet wide for two straight hours. I know I have to now, given it’s been nominated for some Oscars, but it may be the morning of the ceremony before I finally get around to it.

 

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

So Friday was the quarterly edition of our karaoke get-together and because somewhere down the line I was saddled with not just the organization but declaring a theme I decided this time it would be duets, which seemed like a good idea at the time and allowed me to make a poster based on the movie “2 Guns”, also mandated a lot of slower stuff which gets old fast so I opened it up to include rap duets. Again, this seemed like a good idea at the time until your realize just how frequently the word “nigga” is used and either your white friends feel awkward saying it or a little too comfortable saying it.  My own issues had nothing to do with tempo nor lyrics but the fact that a fucking cold hit me literally the night before. That my voice gets blown out by the end of karaoke is a given, but now it was seemingly over before it started. The final nail in the coffin: ½ price drinks ended with the summer. How the fuck are you supposed to sing without being a little looped!?! Well, I never found out given I’d ordered my two drinks before realizing the happy hour was no more and for some reason I thought if I just got beers from then on I’d be budgeting wisely.  I had…a few (I had no idea how much I’d consumed until I tried to get out bed in the middle of the night and failed miserably in my attempt to stand).  Of course karaoke is always fun, no matter how you limit your song choices or how weak your voice is so it turned out okay, but I can’t believe I forgot “Promiscuous Girl” which was perfect for the lower register. I always invite upwards of thirty people, but it always winds up being the same 7-8, though this time we actually hit 9. That we’ll actually get 10 people into the 10-person room remains on my bucket list. One of the guests is The 25-Year Old. She has a name but that’s what I call her to my therapist so it’s good enough. She may not even be 25 any longer, but still that’s what I call her.  She was a horrible mistake I half-heartedly tried to make for a while and I was nothing but amused to later learn where she once tended bar in Brooklyn, she had quite the fan club of bruthas. In any case she’s a geek girl so we still hang out occasionally and so she invited me to a show she had to attend for work on Saturday night. I only accepted because I was drinking and not thinking, because god knows leaving the house on Saturday night is not something I do, much less something she described as “like David Sedaris.”  When she texted me the details later I was amused to learn that the person’s name was Sam Harris, as I remembered the Sam Harris who was the first winner of Star Search with an over-the-top rendition of “Over The Rainbow” and whose career never took off after producing an abysmal single called “Sugar Don’t Bite.” It was in fact that Sam Harris.  Apparently he had a career doing theater after “Sugar Don’t Bite” and 3o years later he’d written a book about his life and had created an act around it, which was playing at Under 54, a dinner/lounge space under the Studio 54 Theater.  The 25 Year Old was surprised I knew so much about Sam Harris, but then again I was alive when it happened. She was not.  The show was entertaining, though his mannerisms and even the timing of his jokes were the exact same as Will’s from Will & Grace so the whole show had an air of familiarity about it.  He read selections from his book “Ham” interspersed with musical numbers. He reaccounted his first ventures into theater, his growing ambitions, his realization that he was “different” being gay and his resulting suicide attempt which was derailed by needing to help his little brother who’d stepped on a knitting needle. He was fortunate enough to finally encounter a teacher whom he could talk to and when he confessed he was gay, he [the teacher] reassured him there was nothing wrong with him. The climax was the adoption of his son with his husband and reconciliation with his father who apologized for not being there for Sam when he was a boy. I’m not crying! You’re crying! (one reason The 25 Year Old and I get along is that we’re not quite as moved when he cries onstage knowing that he does it every night, twice a night at the same passage)  But oddly enough there was nothing about the great recording career that never was, much less “Sugar Don’t Bite.” Now I always thought “Papa Don’t Preach” ripped off its main hook and The 25-Year-Old sent me a link to an interview where in addition to Sam Harris saying a lot of stupid shit about how he’d kill himself if he had to sing “Like A Virgin” for 30 years (we all know he’d kill for a hit like that) but he also mentioned the writers of  “Sugar Don’t Bite” felt it was similar as well, sued and got paid.  While the minimum cover of $25 for a less than impressive dinner was annoying, it was a nice night out and I think frees me from any future obligations to be social at least until spring.