Tag Archives: hunger games


23 Mar

1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 34.5 Total/$ 122.0
3. Run All Night/WB Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 19.7
4. The Gunman/ORF Wknd/$ 5.0 Total/$ 5.0
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 114.6
6. Do You Believe/PFR Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.0
8. Focus/WB Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 49.4
9. Chappie/Sony Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 49.4
7. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 28.3
10. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 158.8

A Poor Man’s Hunger Games, er, I mean, Divergent: Insurgent opens at number one and this is the second installment of the series from that popular Young Adult genre that’s being mined for all its worth. But do you hear people bitching about it the way they do movies based on comic books? Apparently being based on a fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids without pictures is much more respectable than being based on fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids with them. No, I’m not being overly-sensitive! Why do you ask!?! Didn’t see read or see Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so I’m not going to read or see this.

Cinderella is down to number two and one thing I did like about this was the multi-racial casting. It’s a fairy tale. Why the hell should it obey the segregation of a real world!?! When you think about it, it’s actually amazing that it took this long for it to happen. Yes, I know Brandy was Cinderella on TV, but that was the exception and on TV where Brandy had a successful sitcom. This is “a major motion picture” as the saying once went, the first step to it becoming the rule. So in that respect I’m glad it’s doing disgustingly well.

Run All Night drops one notch to number three but still doing better than The Gunman, opening at number four which is a victory of sorts for Liam Neeson. All those who’ve tried to imitate his Older Action Hero transition have failed for the most part showing it has as much to do with him as anything. The Gunman even has the same director as Taken, but while he clearly understood that action films are guilty-free violent fantasies, no one told this to Sean Penn, who as star, co-writer and producer made sure you felt guilty as hell while watching necks being snapped and throats being cut. While we know nothing of what Liam Neeson may have done during his CIA days, Sean Penn is not only openly a mercenary, but also one who assassinates an honest politician for his employer then leaves behind the woman he loves per his orders. Years later he’s atoning for his crime digging wells in the same country he helped tear apart when a hit team comes for him. I will give them credit for throwing around enough jargon to give it the feel of a more grounded type of film (also to travel he needs a false ID so he lacks that magical ability to go from country-to-country untouched like all other action heroes), he’s still as indestructible as James Bond or Jason Bourne, despite having permanent brain injury from a lifetime in combat which hits him at various points…though never when a bad guy needs to die. If you’ve ever seen one of these types of films, you know exactly who the bad guy is immediately, but we have to wait for Penn to figure it out as he tracks down the only other people who knew about the job, one of whom married the girl he left behind. He’s none too happen to see Penn, while she can’t contain how much she still wants him. A good idea of how confusing this film is about its purpose is a) how the violence alternates between graphic (bullets through heads) and shies away (a decapitation happens just off screen) and the love interest who is regularly unclothed, but you never see her. It’s an R-rated film. It’s a Chuck Norris type of myopia where you can have all the violence in the world, but no sex or nudity. Well no female nudity. If starring, writing and producing didn’t say “vanity” the way Penn’s shirt comes off should make it clear. It almost seems like it’s a message from Penn to the rest of Hollywood that he’s in the best shape of his life. At one point he’s wearing a flak jacket with no shirt on! Aside from being humorless it drags on a bit too long, so by the time the final battle at a bullfighting arena occurs you just want them to wrap it up so you too can try to go dig a well to absolve your first world guilt. Ironically, Taken was a no-apologies celebration of bad-ass America over foreigners. Nobody likes a well-intentioned action film.

Back in the world of fantasy violence, Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number five and with near $300M worldwide total there will probably be a sequel. Hopefully Mark Hamill who has a part that’s little more than a cameo (in the comic book it’s actually Mark Hamill mixed up in the villain’s plot) had some words of advice for the youthful lead, Targon Egerton, given he just got a franchise under his belt. Maybe something like “Be really, really nice to the director so maybe he’ll think of you for his other movies. I mean, couldn’t Indiana Jones have a sidekick? Was that really too difficult to imagine!?!”

Do You Believe opens at number six and this is yet another Christian-themed film which only succeeds in letting you know a) just how many stars you like are religious nutcases and b) the correlation between being a religious nutcase and a lack of career success. For example: Kevin Sorbo. Nothing after Hercules. Religious nutcase. And who’s in this? Mira Sorvino, who was white-hot for a moment then vanished. Wanna take bets that she’s found God over the last few very barren years, while watching former boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino give his crush, Uma Thurman, a classic, career resurging action film. Know what action movie she got when was still dating him? The Replacement Killers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Kill Bill it ain’t and tall blonde, OSCAR WINNER Sorvino could have slid right into that and don’t think she doesn’t know it.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number seven, followed by Focus down to number eight and if you’re wondering why Will Smith hopped on the comic book movie gravy train as part of an ensemble rather than a lead (really, do you think if he wanted to be The Black Panther that Disney would have turned him down?) and just agreed to Bad Boys III, look at this disappointment. Well, I’m sure Martin Lawrence constantly begging helped with Bad Boys III. “Yo, man. I’m sharing a sitcom with Fraiser! Sharing. With. Fraiser. Help me, please!”

Chappie is down to number nine and speaking of returning to the well for a career boost, also in this is Sigourney Weaver who’ll be returning to the Alien franchise for a movie that ignored the third and fourth films. Amen, sister! Get that cheddar! Apologize for nothing. Harrison Ford still thinks he’s got another Indiana Jones in him so why can’t you have this? Though honestly, you need to get on that live action Disney movie gravy train and rock the hell out of a wicked witch.

Finally, closing out the top ten at number ten is The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.





11 Jan

1. Taken 3/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Selma/Paramount                                     Wknd/$ 11.2    Total/$ 13.5
3. Into the Woods/Disney                            Wknd/$ 9.8     Total/$ 102.3
4. The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies        Wknd/$ 9.4     Total/$ 236.5
5. Unbroken/Universal                                 Wknd/$ 8.4     Total/$ 101.6
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein             Wknd/$ 7.6      Total/$ 40.8
7. Night at the Museum: Secret…                Wknd/$ 6.7     Total/$ 99.5
8. Annie/Sony                                                 Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 79.4
9. The Woman in Black 2/Relativity          Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 22.3
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1  Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 329.5

Taken 3 opens at number one while Selma moves into the top ten at number two and what’s the difference between it and the second sequel to an utterly ridiculous action film? 19 minutes. What. The. Hell!?! There’s not much good I can say about the first Taken movie other than it gave Liam Neeson a new career and it was short. 93 minutes was all it needed to tell its severely right wing fantasy (American dad is the savior while mom is wrong, daughter is wrong, foreigners are bad, the French are untrustworthy allies, the party girl dies a heroin addicted prostitute and the virginity of the good girl saves her because it makes her valuable to the dirty Arabs trying to buy her). This somehow needs nearly the same amount of time another film needs to deliver a complex, detailed accounting of one of the most turbulent times in this nation’s history. This is not to say a good, dumb action film cannot be long. Die Hard is over two hours, but given how the first one was so ridiculous I passed on the second (which was actually 92 minutes, because they didn’t need to explain the plot), I sincerely doubt this is similar. I did mean to see it but either I was more tired than I thought or my subconscious simply refused to let me awaken to go through this again. This is supposedly the last one but don’t kid yourself. They are not going let go of this cash cow. Neeson just won’t be in it. And it’ll probably show up on Netflix. Let me put it this way. They fourth Scorpion King movie has just arrived on DVD. Fourth. There were only three Mummy movies, which is where the character originated.

Down to number three is Into the Woods and once again I have to give Chris Pine his props for choosing roles that take him outside of the typical leading man fare. Though he’s playing the leading man archetype of Prince Charming it’s still a musical, which is as anti-action film as you can get. Not to mention it’s a supporting role. This is how you manage a career, people. Especially when you’re never going to be mistaken for Daniel Day Lewis.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is down to number four, followed by Unbroken at number five and The Imitation Game rising to number six and also in this are Charles Dance and Mark Strong which would be so awesome if this were a Bond film and they were facing off against Daniel Craig. If you don’t recognize the names, trust me, you know their faces. If you’ve been watching action films for the last 20 years you’ve seen them on a regular basis tormenting basically every leading action hero from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Russell Crowe. Strong is actually in that Jaguar commercial about being a villain. He’s neither Gandhi nor Loki. Yeah, that guy.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is down to number seven and it’s not just Robin Williams for whom this is a posthumous release, but Mickey Rooney as well. If you remember he was one of the night watchmen along with Dick Van Dyke. If you’re surprised he lasted that long, know that no one was more surprised than Mickey.

Annie is down to number eight and also in this is Cameron Diaz who had a bad 2014 thanks to Sex Tape and the abomination that was The Other Woman. She needed a good film like this to round it all out, even if it’s not breaking box office records. Needless to say, Bad Teacher 2 is coming, as it was her last real hit.

Woman in Black: Angel of Death is down to number nine with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 finally closing out the top ten at number ten after being here for two months. Let’s take a look at the numbers: $125M budget, $701 worldwide with $330 of that being domestic, which is the money that really matters. Divergent comes from the same studio so you’re probably not surprised when I tell you that the final book of that series has also been divided into two films. Thanks for nothing, Harry Potter. You realize if they did Star Wars now Return of the Jedi would probably be two movies? It’s only got about 30 minutes of watchable material as it is. Hey, there are no sacred cows here!





4 Jan

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

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

Into the Woods rises to number two and in this are Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep, reuniting after both being nominated for Oscars for The Devil Wears Prada. Meanwhile, their other co-star, Anne Hathaway, who wasn’t nominated actually won an Oscar for a musical. I don’t really have a point. I just thought that was interesting and a tad ironic. And this is doing relatively well. Are we really seeing a comeback of the musical? God, I hope not.

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

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

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

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1 is down to number eight, followed by The Gambler at number nine and also in this is Jessica Lange who’s having a bit of a resurgence in her career thanks to being the only reoccurring cast member on American Horror story, playing different yet similar characters. So maybe that FX show may work for Elijah Wood after all. Oh, wait. It was already cancelled. Whoops.

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





7 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





1 Dec

hemsworths 1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1   Wknd/$ 56.9   Total/$ 225.7
2. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                Wknd/$ 25.8   Total/$ 36.0
3. Big Hero 6/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 18.8   Total/$ 167.2
4. Interstellar/Paramount                          Wknd/$ 15.8    Total/$ 147.1
5. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                             Wknd/$ 15.7    Total/$ 23.0
6. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal         Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 72.2
7.The Theory of Everything/Focus            Wknd/$ 5.1      Total/$ 9.6
8. Gone Girl/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 2.5      Total/$ 160.8
9. Birdman/FoxS                                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 17.2
10. St. Vincent/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 36.6

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Pt 1 holds the stop spot and also in this is the other Hemsworth, Liam. So that’s two brothers with major franchises (there’s a third brother, but he ain’t pretty so I hope he has modest goals). The difference being this one is coming to an end and there’s no separate franchise for him for this character. He’s gonna have to go out and get a job. He was in the first Expendables movie, but was killed off almost immediately, but given how that crashed an burned by actually trying to go younger he may have dodged a bullet there, not to mention enjoying the sweet taste of schadenfreude. It’s never too early in you career to take a swig.

Penguins of Madagascar opens at number two and I hated Madagascar. It was typical, uninspired DreamWorks product, which means all cute surface with celebrity voices and ultimately neither heart nor soul. The best parts of it were the Penguins, who were manic and inspired in a way no other part of the film was. While I refused to put myself through the sequel just to see them again I did wind up getting trapped on a bus where Madagascar 3 was playing…and I have to admit I found it delightfully silly and irreverent in away the previous film (and probably its sequel had lacked). Wondering why, I checked the credits and found a noticeable difference. Co-writer and co-director Tom McGrath was no longer writing and instead the duties had gone to none other than indie darling, Noah Baumbach. Also added as a director was Conrad Vernon. I think that makes it clear who was the problem because Eric Darnell, who has been co-director on every film is still here, neither he nor McGrath is credited as writer, which is the other clear problem. No, it doesn’t get nearly as weird as Madagascar 3 (I’m gonna say it once: cross-dressing tiny dogs with Cockney accents), and now they are burdened with teaching a lesson about love and family which normally fell to the other characters, but it is still as frantic and as irreverent in the way that made the Penguins the best part of every movie. Let me put it his way: Warner Herzog shows up as a voice here. You can’t get more irreverent than freaking Warner Herzog voicing a kids animated film. That they even reached out to him says it all. No, it’s not Pixar but not everything can be steak. Sometimes you just want a good burger and this is a good burger.

Big Hero 6 is down to number three and much in the way the Asian returns saved Pacific Rim, I’m dying to see how this does in China and Japan given its primary characters and overall subject matter. We may like robots here, but they love them over there. Not to mention Kung Fu Panda did well in China to the point they were complaining why the idea hadn’t come to them first. And the only place Kung Fu Panda 2 did better than the US was China. Not that it’s doing badly here. It’s actually doing better than Wreck-It Ralph did two years ago and has already made budget in the US.

Speaking of international returns, Interstellar is up to almost $400M overseas. Now, this used to be impressive until I learned that studios never receive more than 40% of overseas profits and sometimes as low as 14% so what still matters most is its domestic take…where it has yet to make its $165M budget (not counting prints and advertising) and every week there’s a new article slamming it. The latest is when to take your bathroom breaks. Here’s my advice: don’t go at all and watch it at home where you can stop it anytime you like. But now that it’s been out a month I think we can talk about the third act where it gets really, really stupid, as opposed to the first two acts which were just stupid. Now, Nolan’s been open about how 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest influence on this and nowhere is it more obvious (aside from being overlong) than when a character freaks out and starts killing people. In 2001 it was the computer, HAL, who reacted to being given conflicting orders with homicide (or so it was explained in 2010, which I won’t apologize for enjoying). Here it’s secret guest star, Matt Damon as one of the earlier scientists, who reacts to being sent to a dead world by basically trying to kill everyone who rescues him. His plan to kill everyone then take the ship back home makes no sense but I’m going to let it go because he’s clearly been driven insane by his ordeal. Besides, the real point of it is to prove that “love” is what makes the universe work. All the B.S. about hard science being used is just that, because the planet where Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend has landed, the one Matthew McConughey chooses not go to is the inhabitable one. If they’d followed her heart rather than logic, then they could have avoided Good Will Hunting Humans. Man, I dislike this movie more every time I have to think about it.

Speaking of wasting my time, Horrible Bosses 2 opens at number five and this is actually too good for it. Committing the age-old sequel sin of missing just what made the first film work (beyond it being shamelessly derivative of The Hangover characters by the same writers) which the Horrible Bosses of the title. Here the previously tormented characters are the bosses so the basic concept has been thrown out the window and all you have left is the riffing between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day, which was fine as a part of the film, but here as the meat it gets really annoying really fast. It’s telling that the best parts about the film are the only two horrible bosses back for the sequel, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Anniston (obviously Colin Farrell couldn’t make it because Kevin Spacey killed him in the first one). Maybe if they’d been allowed to actually be under the thumb of Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine (who clearly relish being horrible as much as the previous bosses did) for awhile there might have been something, but as Kevin Spacey points out, by stupidly getting screwed over by Waltz, they are actually the horrible bosses now. And honestly why are they bosses? With Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell gone, two of the three characters should now have good jobs. I guarantee you I just thought about this more than anyone involved in this film did.

Dumb and Dumber To is down to number six, followed by The Theory of Everything rising to number seven and Gone Girl Down to number eight.

Holding at number nine is Birdman and I’m now embarrassed not to have seen it when I’m clearly making time to see crap like Horrible Bosses 2…and Interstellar.

Finally, St. Vincent is down to number ten and also in this is Terrence Howard and one of the producers of this is Don Cheadle. This may seem like nothing, but I’m smelling a little guilt from Cheadle over taking over the role of War Machine in Iron Man 2 which has not only lead to Iron Man 3, but he’s also going to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron and since Iron Man will be in the third Captain America film he might show up there too. All this could have and should have been Terrence Howard who is still the better Rhodey to me. Howard has said he’s not angry with Cheadle because Cheadle also got him into Crash. Hell, I’d say that means Cheadle owes him twice as much. I think Don agrees.





29 May


1. MIB 3/Sony                                                Wknd/$   55.0            Total/$  55.0

2. The Avengers/Disney                               Wknd/$   36.8            Total/$ 513.5

3. Battleship/Universal                                Wknd/$   10.9            Total/$  44.4

4. The Dictator/Paramount                         Wknd/$    9.3            Total/$  41.1

5. Chernobyl Diaries/Warner                      Wknd/$    7.9            Total/$    7.9

6. Dark Shadows/Warners                           Wknd/$    7.5            Total/$  62.9

7. What To Expect When…/LGF                 Wknd/$    7.1             Total/$   22.1

8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/Fox     Wknd/$    6.4            Total/$   16.6

9. The Hunger Games/LionsGate               Wknd/$    2.3            Total/$ 395.3

10. Think Like a Man/SGem                        Wknd/$    1.4             Total/$  88.3


Men In Black 3 opens at number one and the good news is it’s better than MIB2.  The bad news is it’s still a movie that didn’t need to be made.  MIB is a very good comedy that still stands up thanks to a great premise, notable supporting characters, solid pacing and a catchy theme song.  It was also a complete story, not meant to have sequels.  At least none with Tommy Lee Jones anyway.  But god forbid you try a movie with just a black guy and a woman, so Linda Fiorentino was unceremoniously dumped and the horrific MIB2 came into being whose soullessness was shown by Tommy Lee Jones who, when asked during filming if he were okay replied, “My per diem check cleared, so I’m okay.” Given his total screen time here is about ten minutes I’d say he made limited involvement a prerequisite of coming back.  The saving grace of this movie is he isn’t missed thanks to James Brolin doing a spot-on impression of a younger, much more genial Tommy Lee Jones, putting Will Smith oddly into more of a straight man role.  You even get a nice joke explaining how the 40-something Brolin is supposed to be playing a 20-something Jones.  But sadly it’s not enough.  The freshness of the premise is gone, so the fun of seeing popular celebs “outed” as aliens no longer works. It doesn’t help that the most obvious choices are made (Lady Gaga, Tim Burton, Mick Jagger).  Even the joke that all supermodels are aliens falls flat (they’re from the planet Glamour, get it?  Yawn.)  The only display of imagination is the alien who can see all probabilities of time at once and his simultaneous joy over seeing The Mets win the World Series and pain over the darker outcomes is well done.  Clearly they had no imagination left over for the plot and let me join the chorus to point out that the end makes no sense at all and pretty much serves to unravel the first film and all the motivations of Tommy Lee Jones’s character.  Will Smith said he made this because he felt the public deserved a better film than the second.  Well, keep trying, ace. Or better yet, don’t.


The Avengers is finally down to number two and as you may or may not know the reason Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury is because at the beginning of the 21st century Marvel Comics created a separate line called the “Ultimate Universe” which was modern interpretations of its classic characters.  Basically, it’s like if someone relaunched a soap opera so that it wouldn’t be burdened down with years of storylines, open to new interpretation and modernized.  Think if they instead remade Dallas, not about oil but the Ewings now run an empire like Microsoft.  Similarly, the Ultimate Spider-Man wasn’t a photographer, but a kid who helped work on The Daily Bugle’s website. Ultimate Captain America is more of hard-ass regular solider than he is a nice kid who just wanted to do the right thing and The Ultimate Red Skull is actually his son who hated that the US Government tried to turn him into his father and subsequently became a ruthless terrorist who began his career with Kennedy’s assassination. Ultimate Tony Stark not only has a brain tumor, but an older, blonde brother with the same genius.  Also in the Ultimate Universe they can kill characters off permanently.  Ultimate Cyclops, Wolverine, Daredevil, Professor X and even Peter Parker are all dead and are not coming back (the new Ultimate Spider-man is a half-black, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales).  In this universe The Avengers are called “The Ultimates” (The Avengers are a nasty, black ops version of them) and work flat out for the government unlike the classic Avengers who were either a civilian force or reported to the UN. I personally read it as satire, so when Nick Fury who had always been an Italian American was made a black guy, drawn specifically to look like Samuel L. Jackson, it was clearly part of the joke.  The characters even discuss who would play them in movies and Fury says, “Samuel L. Jackson.”  Jackson didn’t approve this so instead smartly decided that to allow Marvel to continue made the deal that when the time came to bring the character into the movies the producers went with the him, which is why Nick Fury is not played by David Hassellhoff.  But to make matters even more convoluted, in the classic, painfully mercenary regular Marvel Universe they’ve introduced Nick Fury’s black son who of course loses an eye and subsequently decides to shave his head and go by dad’s name to coincide with the film.  Aren’t you glad you decided to have sex in high school instead of reading comics?


Battleship is down to number three and one must pity poor Taylor Kitsch because moving from TV to film is a tricky business.  You want to be in good movies, but you also have to grab the big money while you can.  Unfortuntely for every Bruce Willis scoring big with Die Hard there are millions of Blind Dates and Sunsets and other big releases that totally tanked for him when he made the move in the 80’s.  And then there’s George Clooney.  Can you say Batman & Robin?  Kitsch and his management are also trying the “swing for the fences” approach but all they have to show for it are not only the  two of the biggest busts of the year, but two of the most poorly marketed films.  Now, John Carter is not the worst movie ever made, but it surely is the worst marketed.  Battleship is a horrible movie (worse than Wolverine which also had Kitsch in it) that also had horrible marketing mainly because John Carter tanked in my opinion.  Taylor Kitsch is the star, but he’s tainted now so you can’t put him in the ads, which mean you can’t put the rest of the cast in the ads.  The problem?  The rest of the cast is white fucking hot right now.  Liam Neeson had a total middle-aged action hero career resurgence.  He’s not in the poster.  Brooklyn Decker is a swimsuit model currently the background on half the computers of men in America (Kate Upton has the other half).  She’s not in the poster. Alexander Skarsgard is the background on half the computers of women in America (Ryan Gosling  has the other half).  He’s not in the poster.  And Rhianna goes without saying.  Also, not in the poster.  Not a single one of them is to be seen in any print ad for this movie, because you can’t have them without the star and you apparently can’t have the star because he’s tainted.  How dumb is this line of thinking? That four actually famous people are countered by the failings of one semi-famous guy?  Proof once again, that Marketing as an actual degree you can learn alongside science and literature is a abomination.


The Dictator is down to number four followed by Chernobyl Diaries at number five and was there any doubt I’d overlook this?  First of all it’s supposed to be scary and as we all know I don’t do the scary. Secondly it’s painfully, painfully stupid in its very premise of kids on vacation who decide not to go to Moscow but Chernobyl.  What’s more entertaining than this movie is that there was another bad movie last year about Americans in Moscow when aliens invade, so I guess you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


Dark Shadows is down to number six and is it part of their divorce agreement that Helena Bonham-Carter still has to appear in Tim Burton’s crappy films?  There was a time this woman was an art house queen and now she just wears a lot of make-up and camps it up.  Hmmm, I guess that makes her the female Johnny Depp.


What To Expect When You’re Expecting is down to number seven and what does it say that Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez combined can’t get people in to see a movie?  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. They’ve made money on crap before.  Also here is Brooklyn Decker giving her two crappy movies in the top ten.  She and Taylor Kitsch now have something to talk about.  But who really suffers the most here is Elizabeth Banks because the clock is ticking on her time to ascend from supporting player to leading actress.  What’s ironic about this is that she was Betty Brant in all three Spider-man films.  Betty was Spider-man’s first real love interest, but that story never was in the films, jumping straight to Mary Jane.  She was robbed of her “Lois Lane” moment and everything else since then save The Hunger Games has tanked (The Next Three Days, Man on a Ledge, Zack & Miri Make a Porno, Our Idiot Brother, etc) and that ain’t her movie.  She’s going to be stuck talking dirty in Apatow’s slob comedies if something doesn’t come through soon.  Taylor Kitsch and Brooklyn Decker should save her a seat.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number eight, followed by The Hunger Games at nine (bittersweet for Elizabeth Banks) and Think Like A Man closes out the top ten at ten.


So I’m trying to take advantage of the city more.  You know, go see the sights and shit, which is why I’ve been not only to The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, but this weekend headed out to Brooklyn (again) to catch the exhibit dedicated to DJ Ralph McDaniels and his seminal show Video Music Box. I guess had to be in the tri-state area to know about it, but then again, that was all that mattered in the so-called “Golden Age of Hip-Hop” from the early 80’s to the early 90’s.  But know that anytime you watch some old footage from that time on MTV or VH1 they had to pay Ralph McDaniel’s for it, because he was ground zero of exposure for hip hop in NYC.  He even started a production company for shooting videos where Hype Williams started out.  The display was at the MoCada (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), located just off Atlantic in Brooklyn and appropriately enough there was some kind of African-American themed fair going on right there when I got off.  As you can imagine, it’s not a big space and was be divided up into three rooms.  The first was the large main room upon entry where there was a wall of text explaining the importance of Ralph McDaniels and Video Music Box along with artwork, benched and two monitors, one playing videos and the other playing a short documentary about the most legendary piece of phrasing in hip-hop history (it belongs to Rakim in case you were wondering).  This was followed by two smaller spaces one of which had my favorite exhibit of all time: an interactive program displaying the use of brand name champagne shout outs in hip-hop songs from the 80’s until now.  Cristal, Dom Perignon and Moet were the three most cited and it went from literally one or two in a year in the early 80’s to hundreds in the 90’s.  Apparently there’s another coming for all brand names and I’m personally dying to know how many fucking time Alize has been dropped.  Not to mention Gucci, Prada, etc.  Nonetheless the brevity of it was a bit disappointing. Given the medium was video, I’d have preferred fewer paintings and photographs (in which McDaniels ironically rarely appears) and more footage of those years.  There were also binders with articles and interviews but shouldn’t those also have been videos?  How exactly can you not have video interview with a man who was a pioneer in using videos to expand an art form?  Afterwards I went Carroll Gardens to drink in the middle of the day where one of my geek girls was tending bar.  That’s cultural, right?


6 May

1. The Avengers/Disney                              Wknd/$200.3            Total/$200.3

2. Think Like a Man/SGem                        Wknd/$   8.0             Total/$  73.0

3. The Hunger Games/LionsGate             Wknd/$    5.7             Total/$ 380.7

4. The Lucky One/Warners                        Wknd?$    5.5             Total/$  47.9

5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits/Sony       Wknd/$    5.4             Total/$   18.6

6. The 5 Year Engagement/Universal      Wknd/$    5.1             Total/$   11.2

8. Safe/Lion’s Gate                                       Wknd/$    2.5            Total/$   12.8

7. The Raven/Relativity                               Wknd/$    2.5            Total/$   12.0

9. Chimpanzee/Disney                                 Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$   23.0

10. The Three Stooges/Fox                           Wknd/$    1.8            Total/$   39.6


The Avengers opens up at number one and this is the end result of an effort that first began four years ago with Iron Man when Agent Coulson of  SHIELD appeared and Nick Fury popped up in a post-credits scene to discuss “The Avengers Initiative.” That same summer, Tony Stark also appeared in a post-credit scene in The Incredible Hulk and just last year Agent Coulson and Nick Fury again appeared in Thor and Nick Fury did his final post credit scene in Captain America.  All of that has led to this and…it’s not bad. Sorry, I can’t be a spewing geek like all the rest, but I’m still a little resentful that some of the previous movies were flat out sacrificed to build up to this (Captain America and Thor are little more than prequels).  And when all is said and done a lot of it is as calculated as that build up.  That Joss Whedon did this well certainly amazing and in just a few scenes makes a better Hulk movie than Ang Lee and…whoever-the-hell-that-guy-was did in two, but far too many scenes are “Let’s set this up” none as painful as “This is the scene where we set up Captain America as a leader” which frankly doesn’t ring true since Chris Evans lacks the gravitas needed for that position, though he does get the earnestness down pat. Also forced is the infamous bickering that was part and parcel of The Avengers, which made them more human than say, the perfect “we-do-all-just-get-along” Justice League of America (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc) that The Avengers were basically ripping off by the admission of Stan Lee himself.  Straight arrow Captain America conflicts with the morally flexible (by comparison) Iron Man. Demi-god Thor won’t be held accountable by any mortal and The Hulk…well, he hates everyone (missing from this movie are original Avengers Ant-Man and The Wasp and instead have Hawkeye and The Black Widow because it’s also based on a cynical version of The Avengers called The Ultimates). In this movie it’s a painfully long scene to make sure even the morons “get it” and movies shouldn’t be written for morons, even those based on comic books.  You didn’t see The X-Men beating you over the head with mutants being allegories for racism.  Also the plot mysteriously revolves around Loki needing to destroy The Avengers which makes no sense given they don’t exist yet.  In the comics Loki is the reason they come together.  Here they also come together because of him but apparently he’s got a plan to defeat them even before they do so?  Huh?  But no one is here for a plot. Not really.  You’re here to see a big superhero battle and you get it.  You even get then comic book standard of good guys fighting each other before they realize they’re friends.  But even that’s flawed as arrows and really hard punches can defeat the invading aliens. Given the conventional might of humans works why do we need The Avengers?  And why mysteriously do all the agents of SHIELD not show up for the final battle against the invaders?  All we see are some cops and get a one liner about how long it’s going to take the army to get there, which rings false for New Yorkers who see military men with machine guns on the street on a regular basis.  I won’t even get into how it’s impossible to be as cavalier seeing buildings destroyed in NYC as it was pre 9/11.  But overall the movie works when history has shown us the capacity for failure grossly outweighs the potential for success, especially given the many moving parts.



Think Like A Man is down to number two and the person benefitting the most from this other than Steve Harvey (and Steve Harvey’s accountants) is Michael Ealy, who has been bubbling under as the next Black Leading Man for years now, but I’m gonna be real for a moment and say it: Hollywood, America and Black people like their Black Leading Men dark as much as they like their Black Leading Women light, which is why for the last decade it’s been Halle Berry (for whom Ealy was once the love interest) and Denzel Washington.  This is why as pretty as Shemar Moore is, he never was as successful as Taye Diggs, why Terrence Howard could never really supplant Denzel despite an Oscar nomination and probably why Michael Ealy has taken so long.  But between this and the new TV show on USA where he’s an actual lead it may finally happen.



The Hunger Games holds at number three giving us two Hemsworth brothers in the top ten, but Chris far ahead in The Avengers than Liam here.



The Lucky One holds at number four, followed by Pirates: Band of Misfits at number five and let’s count down the actual stars who did this.  Hugh Grant who’s never done the family thing before, but recently became a father (aka, stupidly raw-dogged it with a half-his-age golddigger) probably did it for his new child, but he’s followed by an impressive amount of Brit talent who probably relished the idea of working with the people behind Wallace & Gromit.  Imelda Stanton, David Tennant, Brian Blessed Martin Freeman and Brendan Gleeson are all here alongside the less-than-impressive American contributions like Jeremy Piven and…Al Roker??? Seriously?



The Five Year Engagement is down to number six and Emily Blunt was originally supposed to be The Black Widow.  Think she’s regretting that decision right about now? I know her agents and accountants do.



The Raven is down to number seven and whaddya know?  Brendan Gleeson is here too, but who we’re really talking about is Alice Eve, a would-be “hot girl of the moment” who really isn’t but they’re trying because she’s skinny, blonde and has big, REAL, boobs, which may have been the most interesting part of Sex & The City 2 (she was the nanny).  And if you don’t think it doesn’t matter in this world of fake ones take note of how you think of Pamela Anderson vs. Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Yeah, exactly.  Real ones still rule and will get you somewhere especially if you have a modicum of talent and personality.  They’ve kept Alice Eve working in a series of high profile disappointments.  I mean she made a movie with Harrison Ford that was barely released before going straight-to-video, while the failure She’s Out of My League was widely released.  You know who she is but not until someone like me points it out to you and a lot has to do with her boobs being real as opposed to thousands of fakes.  It’s like a Rolex: you can buy a fake one for $10 off the street, but a real one is what everyone really wants.



Safe is down to number eight, followed Chimpanzee at number nine and The Three Stooges wrapping it up at number ten.



This weekend in I took a break from the steel and concrete of the city in the light and the dark and instead went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens with a friend to photograph living things.  Of course the day I went it was overcast and gray, but ironically that only made the colors stand out more given they didn’t have the sky to compete with.  Even more ironic, my favorite shots had nothing to do with flowers but oddly plants.  And some dude on his laptop in the Japanese.  Probably working on that same novel he’s been tinkering with for 20 years, while pleading with his wife to let him quit his job so he can be the writer he was meant to be.  Hang on to the dream, brother.


9 Apr


 1. The Hunger Games/LionsGate            Wknd/$  33.5            Total/$ 302.8

 2. American Reunion/Universal              Wknd/$  21.5            Total/$    21.5

 3. Titanic 3D/Paramount                          Wknd/$  17.4            Total/$    25.7

 4. Wrath of the Titans/Warners               Wknd/$  15.0            Total/$   58.9

 5. Mirror Mirror/Relativity                       Wknd/$  11.0             Total/$   36.5

 6. 21 Jump Street/Sony                              Wknd/$  1o.2            Total/$ 109.6

 7. The Lorax/Universal                               Wknd/$   5.0             Total/$ 198.2

 9. John Carter/Disney                                 Wknd/$     .8             Total/$   68.0

10. Safe House/Universal                            Wknd/$     .6              Total/$ 124.8



The Hunger Games hold at number one and let’s count the number of actors so happy they could shit that they’re part of this.  Not really Jennifer Lawrence because she was already the hot new thing and this benefits from her as much as she does from it.  No, it’s more people like Wes Bentley, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrleson, and Donald Sutherland.  People like Tucci, Harrelson and Sutherland always work, but they’re hit or miss in big films and know the value of a guaranteed moneymaking franchise that at the same time won’t pigeon-hole them (‘cause they’re old).  People like Elizabeth Banks whose box office returns didn’t match their growing fame and needed a hit under their belts.  People like Wes Bentley whoo needed something let people they’re working again after basically losing their career to drugs (that’s where he’s been since American Beauty).  And people like Liam Hemsworth who needed something to help get their careers established, especially when your older brother has already played Captain Kirk’s dad, is now playing Thor and will later be in Snow White and The Huntsman.  Otherwise you’re gonna get shit at the dinner table this year at Christmas cause your girlfriend Miley Cyrus is a bigger star than you are.



American Reunion opens at number two and needless to say I didn’t see this given I’ve always hated this fucking series just as I hated the premier sex comedy of my generation Porky’s (which also had multiple sequels).  And it has nothing to do with the fact I wasn’t getting laid in high school.  No, it’s purely because they were bad movies.  Still, it did help usher in a new spate of “R-rated” teen sex comedies in the 90’s after a time when teen comedies were very successful with just a PG-13, but that’s bullshit for a good “I’m trying to lose my virginity here” movie. You need to be able to show nudity and copulation and speak in graphic terms about nudity and copulation like actual sexless teenagers do (I speak from experience).  I guess the new harbinger of R-rated teen comedies is the recent Project X, which makes this new generation the luckiest of all as it was better than both American Pie and Porky’s.



Titanic 3D opens at number three and it’s telling that all the retooling Cameron did for re-release had nothing to do with possibly fixing that crap story.  What he should have done was use CGI to replace Billy Zane with Snidely Whiplash given that’s essentially the role he played.  I’m sure if he had a mustache to twirl he would have done it. 



Wrath of the Titans is down to number four and it’s only now that I realize the last time Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were onscreen together it was for Schindler’s List.  From that to this sorry set of movies.  At least Fiennes probably uses his sell-out money for projects like his critically well-received adaptation of Shakespeare’s, Coriolanus.  Neeson pretty much makes movies that will entertain his teenage sons, which is why he did these, and will later be in Battleship.  Also, tuition isn’t cheap.



Mirror Mirror is down to number five and playing Snow White is Lily Collins, who is the daughter of none other than Phil Collins, meaning she’s in the family business as Phil was a child actor and his mother was actually an agent.  She’s from the second wife who didn’t inspire a good album.  Collins famously spoke of Lily Collins when he said in an interview that he wasn’t speaking to his children after leaving their mother for a woman half his age and actually asked the reporter if he should call them (the infamous divorce by fax story isn’t true however).  With that kind of parenting don’t be surprised if she winds up dating a series of older, famous men.  Hell, Clooney’s probably already called.



21 Jump Street s down to number six, followed by Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax at number seven, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at number eight and John carter at number nine.



Safe House returns to the top ten at number ten making you wonder just who in the world is watching it at this late date?  Granted it’s in less than 500 theaters and brought in only a little over half-a-million dollars, but that’s at least a few thousand people who got up, got dressed, got in the car or on the bus and paid money to see this damn thing over two months after it opened.  I just wish someone could ask them all “Why?  Why now?”



Not breaking the top ten is Whit Stillman’s first film in 14 years, Damsels in Distress.  Back in the 90’s Stillman was a darling of the indie world with his film Metropolitan, a loving depiction of the urban upper middle class who were usually vilified or exaggerated to near parody (like they currently are on shows like Gossip Girl).  They were smart, witty and hyper-self-aware which lead to borderline precious dialogue.  He was dubbed a “WASP Woody Allen.”  This was  followed by Barcelona and the trilogy end in The Last Days Of Disco, which I loved, but apparently I was alone in this as it was his most expensive film (the music licensing alone must have cost a fortune) and only made a third of its budget.  Then…nothing.  Now he returns with more of the same only now I fear a line has been crossed when the dialogue and characters have gone from appealing in their idiosyncratic nature to flat out annoying.  Some creative people can take time off and come back energized.  Others are like athletes in that too much time off leads to an atrophy of the skills.  I’m afraid Stillman suffers from the latter as too much of this film seems to be twee for the sake of being twee and not much else.  Greta Gerwig (in a role that would have clearly gone to Chloe Sevigny who starred in Last Days of Disco) is the leader of a group of coeds who feel their mission is to help the less-fortunate, be it working at the suicide prevention center or dating very stupid, less attractive frat boys to help not just lift them up, but protect themselves from the heartbreak very good looking smart men might bring.  There’s a “rule of threes” when it comes to a joke (or in many concepts in writing).  The first time for initial effect, a second time to build upon it and then again much later when everyone has forgotten about it.  When Megan Echikunwoke (recently seen wonderfully naked in House of Lies as stripper who is in fact going to law school) makes a comment about Adam Brody making a “playboy move” literally five or six times in a few minutes, it not only loses its humor right then and there, but when it comes back later it falls with a dull thud.  And honestly, I didn’t wait 14 years for an extended, oblique running joke about anal sex, much less painfully deliberately attempts at whimsy with dance numbers (which he actually pulled off much better at the end of Last Days of Disco).  Maybe now that he’s getting back into the swing of things it will better, but now I just want him to go make sure the transfer of his older films to blu-ray is done properly.



Again the wonderfulness of TV never ends and this week it was Best Friends Forever, a new sitcom created by and starring two women named Lennon and Jessica about two women named Lennon and Jessica. Jessica’s marriage has just ended so she returns to New York (a New York of total fiction by the way, as we see her in the parking lot behind a bar at one point) and moves in with, Lennon, her best friend since freshman year…and Lennon’s boyfriend and the struggle between the two for Lennon begins as she compliments both of them perfectly.  She’s down for an afternoon endlessly discussing Steel Magnolias with Lennon, but at the same time loves that her boyfriend’s big trip is to Scotland where William Wallace died in Braveheart, quoting dialogue in a brogue over brunch.  It’s smart and funny and will probably die a quick death because that’s what NBC does with smart and funny shows while giving Whitney and Are You There It’s Me, Chelsea all the fucking time in the world to find an audience.


1 Apr

1. The Hunger Games/LiongsGate            Wknd/$  61.1            Total/$ 251.0

2. Wrath of the Titans/Warners                Wknd/$  34.2            Total/$   34.2

3. Mirror Mirror/Relativity                        Wknd/$  19.0             Total/$   19.0

4. 21 Jump Street/Sony                               Wknd/$  15.0             Total/$   93.1

5. The Lorax/Universal                                Wknd/$   8.0             Total/$ 189.6

6. John Carter/Disney                                  Wknd/$   2.0             Total/$   66.2

7. Salmon Fishing In The Yemen/CBS      Wknd/$   1.3              Total/$     3.2

8. Act of Valor/Relativity                              Wknd/$   1.0             Total/$   67.8

9. A Thousand Words/Paramount              Wknd/$     .9             Total/$   16.5

10.Journey 2: Mysterious Island/WB         Wknd/$     .8              Total/$  98.5


The Hunger Games holds on to number one and if you think the success of these books along with Harry Potter and Twilight mean that people still read, think again. There’s a surprising number of morons who were upset that a characters depicted in the book as Black were actually played by a Black actors.  Now, if they could actually read (much less comprehend what they’re reading) this would not have been a problem, but like I said, people aren’t really reading if “Young Adult” novels are dominating the bestseller lists. I’m pretty sure real, grown up novels should require something above an 8th grade reading level.


Wrath of the Titans opens at number two and the very existence of this film is proof the wrath of an angry god upon those who made the first film so successful and caused a sequel.  The first was so bad it made people actually question the validity of 3D in spite of the money it made. You know how bad you have to be for that to happen?  In Hollywood?  Well, believe it or not this is even worse.  Seriously. It. Is. Bad.  I can’t remember the last time I wanted to walk out of a theater but that actually crossed my mind during Wrath of the Titans.  It commits the ultimate sin of not simply of being bad, but being boring!  You can be awful. We can have fun with awful.  But to literally put people to sleep (my stalwart companion, Geek Girl, took a nap) is unforgivable.  The first film took the classic Greek myth of Perseus and ruined it by adding on some nonsense about the downfall of the gods.  Not only do they recycle the same plot (they have to; Perseus really didn’t have more adventures) they make it even more about the end of the gods as if that were some kind of virtue.  What’s sad is that a somewhat interesting idea is lost, in that when the gods lose their power all the monsters they had imprisoned came free.  So basically this should have been 90 minutes (though it feels like hours) of Perseus killing monsters that have gotten loose.  But no, they go off into this inane and utterly uninteresting conceit on fathers and sons, like anyone in the world is in the theater to see that.  Not to mention by the first film’s own admission Zeus wasn’t much of a father.  Perseus was raised by a fisherman who was in fact killed by the gods (along with the rest of the family Perseus was raised with) so he’s got none of the attachment to Zeus that this film insists he has.  Then there’s the film’s central conceit that the gods lose their power when people pray to them, but what makes you pray faster than a bunch of monsters out running around?  There are no atheists in foxholes, the saying goes and I feel the same can be said about a village beset by a giant fire-breathing, two-heated dog.  I’m pretty sure Zeus, Apollo even fucking Dionysius (you wanna face a giant fire-breathing, tw-headed dog sober?) is getting dialed up when that happens.  Also the “big bad” in all this is the titan Cronus, the first king of the gods and father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon.  Cronus was a god, not a monster and if they’re losing their power, where the hell is he getting his?  Especially given he has to drain Zeus to get free. And honestly, I wouldn’t be paying attention so much to plot if the action were any good.  The original Clash of the Titans in the 80’s was no great shakes, but it continues to be superior because at the very least it resulted in no crummy sequels.


Mirror, Mirror opens at number three and when are people going to stop giving Tarsem Singh money to make movies?  As you recall, he, Michael Bay and Zack Synder all went to film school together and while he’s most talented of the three, that’s not saying much given he shares their complete and utter disregard for a story in favor of visuals. By my count he only has one hit and that was The Cell with Jennifer Lopez  12 years ago so I’m trying to figure out why he’s now making movies with Julia Roberts now.  Granted, the failure of Immortals was only a few months ago, but his only other film was The Fall which was another display of exceptional visuals and “Script?  What script?” that no one saw.  I’m thinking Julia Roberts is doing what other superstars like Bruce Willis do in that they don’t work with strong directors on their more mainstream, “just a paycheck” projects so they don’t have anyone who can bother them while they’re making easy money.  Julia Roberts can’t fire Steven Soderbergh, but if she has a disagreement with Tarsem Singh, guess who’s going to win?  But even if someone other than Tarsem Singh had directed this I wouldn’t be seeing it because I don’t go to see Julia Roberts movies either.  She sucks. Always has, always will.  I will, however be seeing the other Snow White film, Snow White & The Hunstman, even though it doesn’t make sense that someone as beautiful as Charlize Theron would be threatened by pug-faced Kristen Stewart.  The one good thing I can say about this one is it does make sense that Lily Collins would threaten Julia Roberts.  There honestly is no comparison.


21 Jump Street is down to number four and this is actually Channing Tatum’s second hit this year as The Vow made $169M worldwide off a budget of $30M, which means this big block of wood is about to hit superstar status.  So much for your Masters in Drama from Yale, sucker!


The Lorax is down to number five, followed by John Carter at number six and thanks to overseas returns this has made its production budget back, so perhaps Disney was premature declaring it an abject failure. Granted, it’s still going to lose money, but it’s not the massive bomb it appeared to be.  Though my schadenfreude over the crap marketing and title change remains intact.


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen goes wide and enters the top ten at number seven and will someone please let the casting directors of Hollywood know that Ewan McGregor is no longer 30?  Trainspotting was 16 fucking years ago!  He’s fucking 40 now so why are all his leading ladies either in their 20’s?  Scarlett Johansson (The Island), Eva Green (Perfect Sense) and now here, Emily Blunt.  God forbid the other woman in this film, Kirsten Scott Thomas who is actually in her 40’s touch him.  That aside, my primarily lack of interest in this film stems from its director, Lasse Hallstrom, who makes nothing but schmaltzy treacle under the banner of a quality indie film director thanks to the masterpiece that was My Life as A Dog 20 years ago.  Clearly that was the exception to the rule as the man is so untalented he took a story about chocolate in France with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche (in red pumps!) as lovers and left it sexless and tasteless. The idea (from a novel of the same name) that fly fishing would build bridges between nations is a nice once, but it would take a delicate touch not to make schmaltz and they unfortunately hired the king of trite sentimentality to do it.


Act of Valor, A Thousand Words and Journey 2: Mysterious Island finish out the top ten at eight, nine and ten respectively and they all made a million dollars or less showing you how weak this weekend was in terms of box office returns.  Yeah, you can blame March Madness, but exactly who among that audience would really be at these movies anyway?


26 Mar

1. The Hunger Games/LiongsGate            Wknd/$ 155.0           Total/$ 155.0

2. 21 Jump Street/Sony                                Wknd/$  21.3            Total/$    71.1

3. The Lorax/Universal                                Wknd/$  13.1             Total/$ 177.3

4. John Carter/Disney                                  Wknd/$   5.0             Total/$   62.3

5. Act of Valor/Relativity                              Wknd/$    2.1            Total/$   65.9

6. Project X/Warners                                     Wknd/$    2.0           Total/$   51.8

7. A Thousand Words/Paramount              Wknd/$    1.9            Total/$   14.9

8. October Baby/Goldcrest                           Wknd/$    1.7            Total/$     1.7

9. Safe House/Universal                                Wknd/$    1.4            Total/$  122.6

10.Journey 2: Mysterious Island/WB            Wknd/$    1.4          Total/$    97.2


The Hunger Games opens at number one and I have no interest in this on any level. Not the books and certainly not the movie.  Why? I simply can’t get beyond it being kids.  Seriously. I can handle my adult-on-adult arena violence just fine, but you tell me children are being forced to fight to the death and I’m out.  This is essentially the same premise as the successful Battle Royale manga (Japanese comics) series from Japan and I got through maybe four pages of that in its all its bloody black-and-white glory before putting it down.  It also spawned a film that I will never see.  I don’t even care that it’s 20-somethings playing teenagers, it’s still kids.  So you have fun.  I’ll be over here waiting for The Avengers to come out.


21 Jump Street is down to number two and I was getting perilously close to actually seeing this—but then I think of looking at Jonah Hill for 90 minutes and the feeling goes away.


The Lorax is down to number three, followed by John Carter at number four, and Disney has already written this off as a flop despite the fact that it’s doing well overseas.  It’d be hysterical to find out director Andrew Stanton had no control over overseas marketing. That would put the final nail in the coffin of him ever having this much control over a live-action film again.  But you know what?  Given he directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E, I don’t want him wasting another second with live action.  This needs to die and go away as quickly as possible, so stop it, France!


Act of Valor actually holds at number five and has made 3x its cost meaning it’s not only profitable, but pretty much guarantees a sequel.  Unsurprisingly this hasn’t done well at all overseas. Actually, I’m surprised they even tried. How on earth could you sell what is basically an unvarnished celebration of the US Military in other countries?  Yeah, Transformers, Top Gun, Battleground LA, etc were all celebrations too, but those were hidden behind drama and aliens.  This might as well be called “How We Kick Your Asses All Over The World, Foreigners.” Even Captain America was a superhero WWII movie more than anything.


Project X is down to number six, followed by A Thousand Words at number seven and to show you the bullshit about disparate ages between men and women crosses color lines, Eddie Murphy is 50 and playing his wife in this is Kerry Washington (the girl you call when Nia Long is busy) who is 35.  And don’t tell me Eddie doesn’t look his age. That’s not the point. Angela Bassett (who was once his love interest in the miserable A Vampire in Brooklyn) doesn’t look her age either, but she’s not being given a job playing his wife.  Though in this case it may be a mercy.


Opening at number eight is October Baby, yet another one of those Christian movies that shows up in the top ten from time to time. Last year it was Christian Cops and earlier this year it was Christian Firefighters.  This one is Christian…Children?  I dunno.   Basically it’s one long anti-abortion ad.  I won’t call it “pro-life” because that’s bullshit. People who fight the death penalty are “pro-life.”  This is about an adopted girl who discovers that her medical problems are the result of being the survivor of an attempted abortion by her biological mother.  Wow. Could you stack the deck any more than that?  “Abortion is so evil, even when it doesn’t happen a life is still damaged!” Sigh. I’m not even remotely surprised this was made in my hometown of Birmingham.  Keep it classy, Alabama!  Normally, I really don’t care about these movies, because everybody deserves something made for them.  I’m also glad these people have finally made their own so they can stop bitching about how horrible Hollywood is and stop that hypocritical bullshit where they edit out movies they’re clearly interested in under the guise of “inappropriate material.”  Funny how they care so much  about their morality so much they’ll edit a film that isn’t theirs but don’t care so much about morality they simply won’t give it up altogether.  That’s taking a stand for your beliefs. Cutting the nudity out of Titanic is not. Oh, and “cleaning up” a movie almost never requires taking out the violence.


Safe House is down to number nine, followed by Journey 2: Mysterious Island this stunningly has made a shitload of money.  With a $79M budget it made $97M stateside and a whopping  $207 million internationally, showing we don’t need the military to take over the world. We’ve already done it with our crappy movies.


Once again, it’s wonderful how the TV season never really ends and this week it was Bent, the second most horribly marketed product of the year (#1 of course being John Carter).  You wouldn’t know it by any of the commercials or ads on buses or phone booths, but this is essentially a romantic comedy about a contractor and the woman he’s working for. Now the review I read was not kind. It complained of all the clichés present and they are definitely here.  She’s an uptight lawyer with a cute 10-year-old daughter, slutty sister and a husband in jail for insider trading. Seriously. Not an original concept to be seen, but we’re not done.  He’s a laid back, surfing, skirt-chasing, recovering addict (gambling which isn’t as messy or unappealing as drugs or booze) contractor with a wacky dad and wacky construction crew.  But if clichés made a show bad then both Modern Family and Arrested Development are bad because they’re just about wacky families. It’s the execution that matters, because there’s no such thing as a new idea and the execution is not bad on this show. One thing that won me over immediately was a) no laugh track, which slows down the jokes to wait for the audience to laugh and b) everyone has a brain.  While the exchanges aren’t a Modern Family or even Happy Endings level of swiftness, they’re still a cut above your average sitcom.  Even the WASPy Ralph Bellamy doctor boyfriend meant to be the rival (like I said, not a cliché left unturned) gives as good as he gets.  And the cast is solid with TV vets young and old including Arrested Development’s own Jeffery Tambour, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s JB Smoove and Friday Night Lights Jesse Plemons.  Not that you’d know this from one of the worse promotions ever.  I mean, what the fuck is that title supposed to mean!?!  Given he’s a contractor shouldn’t it have been a play on that, like “Under Construction” or something?  And honestly, this is barely a 90-minute movie plot, much less something that runs indefinitely. Unless the joke was going to be that he never finishes her house like Elton on Murphy Brown.  But honestly, this was doomed the moment they cast Amanda Peet as the lead.  No matter how prestigious or a seeming sure thing the project may be, if she’s in it, it’s not gonna work.  The only way it could have been more fated for failure is if they’d cast Rena Sofer.


So I broke with my usual tradition or drinking at home alone and accomplishing nothing of what I set out to do and went out on Saturday night.  Into the wilds of Brooklyn.  And when I mean “wilds” I mean the fucking wilds as I wound up on the G train at one point.  One of the geek girls I met while working at St. Mark’s Comics is now in a band (basically she’s doing all the shit you’re supposed to do in your 20’s) where she plays the saw. Yes, the saw. It sounds like a Theremin and if you don’t know what that is do an internet search and watch some science fiction movies from the 50’s ‘cause I don’t have the time.  I get invites all the time, but this time I decided to get off my ass and support one of my friends (this doesn’t mean I’m going to do it for you).  Of course when I finally decide to do this I learn it’s in Greenpoint.  Not even Williamsburg, but Greenpoint.  Since we were headed out that way my friend and I decided to have dinner out there first.  This lead to an internet search for something nearby and comforting. I’m not going to be testing the waters of exotic in Brooklyn.  I chose Mabel’s Stackhouse, which is a bbq place in Williamsburg with some decent reviews, but me being me forgot to get the right stop before I left home. Once on the L I decided the best thing to do would be to get off on the stop where all the young people got off.  Sure enough when I saw everyone under 30 to exiting the train, I followed and the restaurant was only a few blocks away.  I’m not a connoisseur of BBQ, but I am southern so that makes my opinion more valid than 99% of everyone else above the Mason Dixon line and this was some good stuff. Definitely better than my first go round at Southern Hospitality, the place backed by Justin Timberlake.  I got the rib platter and it was tender and came easily off the bone.  The size was a little small, but I’m about portion control these days so it worked out. After dinner we got one of cars that are now legally allowed to pick you up which is a good thing because there are no fucking cabs to be found and we were headed into the wastelands.  The club was actually a bar whose backroom had the tables removed and pool table pushed into the corner. There was no elevated bandstand putting the bands flat on the floor to perform.  Because I’m old I was immediately disappointed I didn’t have anywhere to sit. Not to mention you’re killing your opportunity to have people order drinks.  The bands were supposed to start at 8:30 and my friend’s band was third up, which means they’d be lucky to be on at 11:30 which about when they went up and I was pleasantly surprised by them being good. It’s always a gamble to see a friend’s band because if they suck (and they usually do) what do you say? “Um, you were really…on stage…playing.”  But they were energetic, tight and the songs actually had melody.  Oh, and they had a saw.  But more than anything, this frees me from ever having to see them again. My obligation has been met.  Still, this doesn’t mean I’m going to see you.