Tag Archives: Jennifer Anniston

LIKE MOST THINGS IT’S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS…ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU SUCK

12 Dec

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Dwayne Johnson (L) and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda perform onstage at The World Premiere of Disney’s "MOANA" at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, November 14, 2016 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

1. Moana/Disney                                         Wknd/$ 55.5    Total/$ 81.1
2. Office Christmas Party/Paramount    Wknd/$ 17.5    Total/$ 17.5
3. Fantastic Beasts & Where…/WB         Wknd/$ 10.8   Total/$ 199.3
4. Arrival/Paramount                                 Wknd/$ 5.6     Total/$ 81.5
5. Doctor Strange/Disney                          Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 222.4
6. Allied/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 35.6
7. Nocturnal Animals/Focus                     Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 6.2
8. Manchester By the Sea/RAtt                Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 8.3
9. Trolls/Fox                                                 Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 145.5
10. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF                           Wknd/$ 2.3      Total/$ 60.2

BETTER TO SERVE IN FAMILY FILM HEAVEN THAN RULE IN ACTION MOVIE HELL
Moana holds the top spot and as the voice of the supporting character is Dwayne Johnson as the demi god Maui. This is perfect for him. Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman have both had spectacularly spotty careers for tall, handsome, charismatic men. One out of every five films is a success and if you’re Jackman the letter “X” is probably in the title. The difference being Johnson finally realized he was better as part of a team than a lead, thus he joined GI Joe and The Fast & The Furious it’s been easy street ever since. Even in comedies, he’s working with someone else and here he’s supporting the title character and honestly doesn’t show up until almost of a third of the way through. The result is that this basically the best movie he’s ever made. And it’s also not out of the question that his character’s “theme song” just might put him on the Oscar stage for Best Song. Hell, I bought the damn thing and I hate, hate, hate musical animated movies. I know what the damn story is. You don’t have to sing it to me!

UNCOOKED COMEDY STEW
Office Christmas Party opens at number two and one sign of people who are good at what they do is that they make it seem easy. So easy it seems like anyone can do it. Athletes, musicians, porn stars…they do what we’d all like to do and make it seem like it’s not work at all. Well, it is and some of the people who do work that looks easy are the creators of the various raunchy “R-rated” slob comedies, who can trace their origins back to Mel Brooks and Animal House in the 70’s and have been reborn over the last decade or so with the comedies of Judd Apatow and the stable of actors he uses. It definitely seems easy. Take some lovable losers, let them curse, do things we’d all love to do without fear of repercussion, defeat nasty uptight assholes and show some boobs along the way. What we forget is for every one of these that succeeds there are half a dozen other that fail creatively and financially. Office Christmas Part is one such failure of the former. It has all the elements of a perfect raunchy movie: an office of kooky characters headed by the biggest character of them all is about to be shut down by his uptight bitter sister unless they land a big account and they decide to do so by throwing a big office party that gets totally out of control. Add to this a cast of talented comedic actors some of whom have had success in the recent R-comedies (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Anniston, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Jillian Bell and Randall Park) and this should have been an easy win. But it doesn’t gel. Even moments that should have been funny fail because there’s no energy or heat to the proceedings and that failure starts at the basic level: the writing. No less than six of the most untalented comedy writers working were part of this. Sorry, but the guy who wrote Pixels, Just Go With It and This Means War shouldn’t be allow to do anything but serve you fries. I know they thought one of the guys who wrote The Hangover would help, but that anti-talented asshat also cranked out the mediocrity that was Bad Moms, 21 & Over and The Change Up (a few of those R-rated failures we mentioned earlier). Did you think one of the writers for Sacha Baron Cohen would help? Why!?! Add to this one newbie writer and another whose biggest credit is was an episode of the odious Trophy Wife TV show and why this fails is abundantly clear, but hey let’s top it off with two directors who brought you Blades of Glory and The Switch. One failure and one moderate success (which can be credited to Will Ferrell more than anything). And the real, cruelest irony is that it’s not bad because it’s not interesting enough to be bad. When they run this on TV it can pretty much go uncut except for brief nudity and a little cursing. That’s how bland it is. Such a waste of both talent and a concept.

IT HELPS REDMAYNE ISN’T A DRUNK
Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them is down to number three and how do you think Colin Farrell felt about seeing Eddie Redmayne every day? Once Farrell was the new hot young thing destined for greatness and now he’s the bad guy in a big CGI franchise movie that stars a hot young thing, who not only fulfilled his promise but did so almost immediately. I’m thinking it either stung a little or he’s achieved a level of zen about it all and it just happy to be able to still get a paycheck in a big CGI franchise.

YOU KNOW THERE ARE OTHER MINORITIES IN THE MILITARY TOO
Arrival is down to number six and also in this is Forrest Whittaker who you may remember has an Oscar. Nonetheless I think he’s here only because they couldn’t get either Samuel L. Jackson or Lawrence Fishburne as Black Guy of Significant Rank To Show We’re Not Racist because no way was a person of color going to be the lead.

THE NEW FACIAL HAIR STAR
Doctor Strange is down to number five and is now the 9th highest grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beating out both Thors (big surprise) Ant-Man, The Incredible Hulk and the First Captain America Movie. In other words almost everything that didn’t have Robert Downey Jr in it. Read into that what you will, but if you’re Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent you’re very happy right now.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
Allied is down to number six followed by Nocturnal Animals at seven and I’m interested in both these grown up, totally adult films which have gotten decent reviews, but yet I saw the universally Office Christmas Party instead. I’m part of the problem. But so are you.

I KNOW ME. I MAY NEVER SEE IT.
Oscar bait Manchester by the Sea enters the top ten at number eight and I tell myself I’ll see this but again, I saw Office Christmas Party this weekend. Heavy sigh.

IT GOES WITH THE JUST DESSERTS
Trolls is down to number nine and know it’s killing these people that their film with is based a firm piece of pop culture, had superstar Justin Timberlake doing not just the voice but wrote a hit song for it and still didn’t do as well as The Secret Life of Pets whose main voice was Louis CK. Seriously, it literally hasn’t made half as much and has made in six weeks what Moana made in three. I drink their confusion and disappointment like the sweetest wine.

JUST DON’T LET US SEE YOU
Finally, Hacksaw Ridge closes out the top ten at number ten and this was not the disappointment you may think it is. It only cost $40M and has made $60M domestically. Not a home run, but not a strike out either and if it gets any Oscar nods (probably for sound design like war movies usually do) Mel Gibson’s career as a director will continue (though his acting career will remain as dead as Dickens).

ONE OF THOSE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES
I know it’s late for TV, but I’ve really been enjoying No Tomorrow, which will probably be cancelled tomorrow, thus living up to its name. Truth be told I don’t know how this got the greenlight to begin with. A romantic comedy about a woman who plays it safe who meets a guy who thinks the world will end in 8 months and so is trying to live life as much as possible and gets her out of her shell to start living the same way is a movie, not an open ended series. After all, the world won’t end in 8 months and how long can you put that off? After that you just have to accept he’s nuts. But for now it’s light and fun and they do develop the supporting cast which helps make it interesting. They don’t stay in one place, which is almost unheard of for TV as the Slutty Best Friend has to always be the Slutty Best Friend but here she gets her own subplot, which allows her to develop. And they have shown consequences for his lifestyle. Since he thinks the world will end he spends money like, well, there’s no tomorrow, but the bill is coming due today and a few episodes in he loses his home and most of his possessions. Again, that’s development you don’t expect in such a lighthearted premise and honestly cannot stretch out for five years. But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts because like the beliefs of its male lead, it doesn’t have a future.

REVIVAL OF 1776 IN THREE, TWO, ONE…
So I got me some culture of a different sort thanks to my musical theater-loving cousin who occasionally comes into the city on business (she’s an attorney for the Justice Department) and always tries to catch a show. Well, she couldn’t make it this time and so sent me her ticket to none other than Hamilton. No, I’m not kidding. Sorry I this hurts you, but fortune tends to smile on lowly creatures. Now, I never would have seen this on my own. Ever. I simply do not care for musical theater. In fact, if Gene Kelly isn’t dancing you can actually keep musicals, period. The closet I’ve come was a date with a woman who was a sound engineer for the documentary about the making of the show. So when she cleared me to sell it if I couldn’t make it that was my thought first and foremost. Get the money, dolla-dolla bills y’all. But as we all know guilt rules my life so if I sold it had to be for an extravagant amount so when I told my cousin she’d understand. This is how it wound up on Stub Hub for $1200. Now, if that seems a lot, know that it was a) mezzanine center and front and b) seats around it were going for $1500 so I was actually undercutting the competition. But by 7:30 the night of the show no one had bought it and since it was a physical ticket that needed to be picked up it was clear no one would, so I begrudgingly let the dreams of serious Christmas shopping with that extra loot fade away (they were such nice boots…). Fortunately it was very good. I mean, I don’t know musical theater so I’ve got little to compare it to. I saw Wicked (again because of her), which was also a huge Broadway show but don’t remember much about it and only remember one song from it, while Hamilton held my attention for the 2+ hours it ran and I’ve honestly been listening to the soundtrack ever since. My favorite song is “The Schuyler Sisters” but a close second is everything from the King of England, which is done delightfully in Brit-pop style in contrast to the R&B feel of the rest of it. As you may know it’s famous for incorporating rap and hip-hop into this story of one of America’s founding fathers (created our initial financial system, the Coast Guard, The New York Post and is on the $10 bill), but when all is said and done it’s still 50% straight-up Broadway “I’m gonna sing you the plot and my character” which normally I hate. It makes sense that the same person who wrote the song from Moana that I love wrote and starred in this as well: Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now, I didn’t see him. He’s long gone from the show as are a lot of the original stars. In fact, I saw the understudy to the guy who’s taken over the lead, but again, I’ve nothing to compare it to so I thought they were all great. In fact, in listening to the original cast soundtrack I prefer the Understudy-to-the-Replacement because he has a better voice. He had to. He got the role by earning it whereas Lin-Manuel was the star because he wrote it and didn’t have to compete for it. The show is taken from a modern warts-and-all bio of Alexander Hamilton and watching it I was reminded I was actually a bit obsessed with that type of history and that time in American history for awhile in high school thanks to Gore Vidal who wrote the historical novel Burr, about the man who kills Hamilton in a duel (though it can be argued what killed most men of duels in that time was infection from the wound) and is a major part of the show. Vidal is notoriously iconoclastic and I loved his work. The show is similar as it doesn’t shy away from Hamilton’s flaws, most notably his voracious need to climb in society due to his humble beginnings, but decides to keep its lead somewhat sympathetic in omitting one of the rumored reasons for the duel that ended him: Hamilton was telling people Burr had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Yeah, you deserve to get shot for that shit. I was also all about Thomas Jefferson who was the perfect founding father to me as writer of The Declaration of Independence, the bill establishing religious freedom, executed the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country, created the University of Virginia and died on the muthafucking 4th of July. Of course my continued reading killed this hero worship, starting with his inability to oppose slavery and hammered home by his slave-mistress/sister-in-law Sally Hemmings. Yes, she was the daughter of his father-in-law making her technically his wife’s sister and his sister-in-law. He also raped her regularly enough to bear him some kids (it’s rape because a slave cannot give consent). Also, the land he bought from France really wasn’t theirs to sell and contributed to the genocide of the its Native America populace. Nonetheless, when he makes his appearance in the show as a significant character, I was delighted and loved every little aside about his accomplishments (there’s even a Sally Hemmings mention). Hero worship dies hard it seems. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be frequenting any more Broadway shows, but for something I got utterly for free and making no effort it was a pretty good time. And it was needed because good art has a way of inspiring you and improving your view of the world. After seeing this I was optimistic about the future no matter how what the news tells me. After all, do you really think this is the first time we’ve had racists running the country who’d sell us all out for a dollar and wipe their asses with The Constitution? Hardly and we made it through. Then I saw Office Christmas Party and left convinced of our doom and I still haven’t shaken it. So the lesson here is good art will help you make it through, like a good-hearted negro friend in the movie of your life. But don’t pay hundreds of dollars for it. That’s just stupid.

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CAPTAIN UNREASONABLE: CIVIL BORE

9 May

vs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NOTHING IS MORE TERRIFYING THAN AN OLD MAN IN A DIAPER SCREAMING

15 Sep

Michelle Pfeiffer 001(3)

1. Insidious 2/FD                                           Wknd/$  41.1            Total/$  41.1

 2. The Family/Relativity                             Wknd/$  14.5            Total/$  14.5

 3. Riddick/Universal                                    Wknd/$    7.0            Total/$  31.3

 4. Lee Daniel’s The Butler/Weinstein      Wknd/$    5.6            Total/$100.0

 6. Instructions Not Included/LGF            Wknd/$    4.3            Total/$  26.6

 5. We’re The Millers/Warners                    Wknd/$    5.4            Total/$ 131.6

 7. Planes/Disney                                            Wknd/$    3.1            Total/$  83.0

 8. One Direction This Is Us/Sony              Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$  26.9

 9. Elysium/TriStar                                        Wknd/$    2.1             Total/$  88.4

10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters            Wknd/$    1.8            Total/$  62.0

 

WHY BUY THE COW WHEN GET YOU CAN GET TERRIFIED FOR FREE?

Insidious 2 opens at number one and I think we all know by now I don’t like the scary so I didn’t see this as I didn’t see the first one.  Hell, that commercial with the old man in a diaper screaming “He’s got your baby! He’s got your baby!” messed me up.  I wasn’t about to pay for ninety minutes of it, but clearly I was alone in this.

 

HE’S GONNA OFFER A JOKE YOU CAN’T REFUSE TO LAUGH AT

The Family opens at number two and people love Robert DeNiro as a gangster; even moreseo when he’s playing it for laughs.  This looks like it should have been the sequel to Analyze This instead of Analyze That. I wouldn’t know, because like most of the world, I declined to see it, but I think we can all agree Tommy Lee Jones deadpanning instead of a Billy Crystal hamming automatically makes it a better movie.  I won’t even get into Michelle Pfeiffer over Lisa Kudrow because that would just be mean.

 

NOT THAT ONE SHOULD EXPECT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IN A RIDDICK MOVIE

Riddick is down to number three and also in this is Katee Sackhoff best known as Starbuck from the Battlestar Galactica reboot and again, I fully admit her partial nude scene is what pushed me over the edge from ambivalence to finally seeing this movie, but all the Riddick movies have had actresses good at playing tough which is part of the appeal. Claudia Black (best known from Farscape) was in Pitch Black (which I won’t see because I know she dies in it) and Chronicles of Riddick had both Alexa Davalos and Christina Cox (sadly not known for anything) and the latter was the tough mercenary who is genuinely drawn to Riddick. I preferred the to Katee Sackhoff being lesbian who somehow “turns” by the final reel because you know, Riddick is just that badass. Are you freaking kidding me!?!  This isn’t the 60’s where Pussy Galore’s lesbian tendencies are no match Sean Connery at the peak of his Bond powers. Now it’s just a tad offensive to joke all a lesbian needs is the right man to set her “straight.”  It’s a taint on an otherwise dumb good time. It would have been better if it was just something she said to keep from being hit on all the time as the only woman onboard.

 

THE ENGLISH WERE BIGOTS TOO, RIGHT?

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is down to number four and this has crossed the $100M mark making it a ridiculous hit and you just know somehow, somewhere, someone is trying to figure out how to make a sequel. The Butler 2: Now He Works For The Queen of England.

 

CALL IT THE DEBBIE REYNOLDS EFFECT

We’re The Millers is still hanging around at number five and for the first time Jennifer Anniston’s success has little to do with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Of course if not for them she’d be already back on TV with a sitcom probably coming on right after Cougar Town, but we’ll let her have this one.

 

MISC.

Instructions Not Included is down to number six, followed by Planes at number seven and One Direction: This Is Us at number eight.

 

MAYBE IT’S FITTING NOT TO TURN A PROFIT WHEN SO MANY ARE HUNGRY

Elysium is down to number nine and at 232M worldwide has at least broken even, so it’s not loss, but still a disappointment for this ham-fisted parable about the haves and have-nots.

 

AT THE END IT’LL BE COCKROACHES AND THIS MOVIE

Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters hangs around at number ten and we need an exterminator to get rid of this.

IT’S VIN DIESEL’S WORLD. YOU JUST LIVE IN IT.

8 Sep

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1. Riddick/Universal                                    Wknd/$  18.7           Total/$  18.7

 2. Lee Daniel’s The Butler/Weinstein     Wknd/$    8.9           Total/$  91.9

3. Instructions Not Included/LGF            Wknd/$    8.1           Total/$  20.3

 4. We’re The Millers/Warners                  Wknd/$    7.9           Total/$ 123.8

 5. Planes/Disney                                          Wknd/$    4.3           Total/$  79.3

 6. One Direction This Is Us/Sony             Wknd/$    4.1           Total/$  24.0

 7. Elysium/TriStar                                       Wknd/$    3.1           Total/$  85.1

 9. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters           Wknd/$    2.5           Total/$  59.8

 8. Blue Jasmine/SPC                                  Wknd/$    2.7           Total/$   25.4

10. The World’s End/Focus                        Wknd/$    2.3           Total/$  21.7

 

EITHER IN A CAR OR IN SPACE. LESSON LEARNED.

Riddick opens at number one and no one is more shocked than I am and I paid to see it.  This is the continuing adventures of the titular super-killer who first appeared in Pitch Black, which I still have not seen because two actresses I like a lot both die in it and I refuse to watch. Seriously. Unless it’s some kind of super prestige film, I do not see movies where actors I like die. Oh, and you’re so sane with your movie-going decisions! Now, I loved the second film, Chronicles of Riddick which was a total left turn of a sequel, but was not appreciated by the fans of the first—or anyone else for that matter and it tanked.  Still, thanks to home video it managed to find a new life, though still not enough for Universal which traded the rights to the characters to Vin Diesel to get him to be in Fast & The Furious Tokyo Drift, a decision that worked out well for both parties as Diesel helped finance this low-budget sequel himself.  It’s more or less a remake of the first film (bringing back the fans who loved the first one, clearly) but they don’t apologize for that as its reason is simply to make money so they can continue the left turn they took in Chronicles of Riddick which is the only reason I went to see this, because I want more of that. Oh. And to see Starbuck topless. Oh, and you’re so noble in your moviegoing choices!  All that said, it’s not a bad film but you’ve got a serious problem when your main character disappears off the screen for twenty minutes of a two-hour film. That means it only needed to be just over an hour and a half.  And when you add up into the first half hour which is just him recovering alone with a CGI dog fighting CGI monsters, you’ve basically got an hour-long movie stretched out to two hours. That’s never good. But I honestly didn’t mind the twenty minutes spent exploring the other characters.  I actually found it more interesting than the last half-hour of fighting CGI monsters in the dark. That’s when I began to realize I needed to go the bathroom which is always the sign of an overlong film.

 

MANCHILDREN + ACTUAL CHILDREN = $$$

The Butler is down to number two followed by Instructions Not Included at number three and this is a very generic looking Mexican film about a bachelor who gets left with the daughter from one of his liaisons and of course grows into a loving father only to be faced with mom’s return. It’s an old story and the trailer makes it look like made-for-basic cable in its execution, but people still love it.  Part of its success is that it’s part of a growing number of films aimed directly at a neglected audience and in this case it’s Spanish speaking Americans.  Normally, this would have stayed south of the border, but like the recent spate of Indian films, has found a distributor and was well rewarded for the risk. No one should be tto surprised. The last Hollywood version of this, The Game Plan, was also successful. Even in the 21st Century people love the idea of a single, carefree guy turning into a good dad to a precocious daughter. You don’t even have to do it well. Or in English.

 

WORKS FOR JENNIFER ANNISTON, FAILED FOR DEMI MOORE. DISCUSS.

We’re the Millers is down to number four and speaking of less-than-noble moviegoing choices, you think if Jennifer Anniston wasn’t doing a gratuitous striptease half the people would have seen it?  Exactly. There’s a reason it’s the central part of the ad campaign. Why it’s a hit is still a mystery, however.

 

BUT I CAN’T PROMISE NO BOATS. SORRY.

Planes is down to number five and while this will undoubtedly make a little money for Disney in the long run, at only $121M worldwide from a $50M budget it’s done little more than break even. The real test, however, is merchandising. Cars 2 only existed because they sold a billion dollars worth of toys. Hopefully there won’t a billion dollars in Planes sales to inflict a sequel on the world.

 

HICKORY DICKORY DOCK WAS FIRST MENTIONED BY FREUD IS HIS DISCUSSIONS OF THE UNCONSCIOUS

One Direction: This Is Us is down to number six followed by Elysium at number seven and Blue Jasmine at number eight and also in this are Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay. Yes, you read that correctly. Andrew. Dice. Clay. In a Woody Allen film. But let’s not kid ourselves. That “cache” died the second he put Julia Roberts in one.  And the fact that Owen Wilson was in his biggest film of the last 30 years nailed the coffin shut.

 

YOUR FIRST PROBLEM: NO HERO IS NAMED “PERCY”

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is still hanging around like those leftovers in the back of the fridge you thought you threw out but the smell reminds you that you didn’t, but thankfully at $152M worldwide from a $90M budget, there won’t be any more of them.

 

APTLY NAMED FILM

Finally, World’s End closes out the top ten at number ten.

SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN SPACE

11 Aug

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1. Elysium/TriStar                                       Wknd/$  30.5            Total/$  30.4

 2. We’re The Millers/Warners                   Wknd/$  26.6            Total/$  38.0

 3. Planes/Disney                                         Wknd/$  22.5            Total/$  22.5

 4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters            Wknd/$  14.6            Total/$  23.5

 5. 2 Guns/Universal                                    Wknd/$  11.1            Total/$  48.5

 6. The Smurfs 2/Sony                                 Wknd?$    9.5            Total/$  46.6

 7. The Wolverine/Fox                                 Wknd/$    8.0            Total/$ 112.0

 8. The Conjuring/WB                                 Wknd/$    6.7            Total/$ 120.7

 9. Despicable Me 2/Universal                    Wknd/$    5.7            Total/$ 338.3

10. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                 Wknd/$    3.7            Total/$ 123.8

 

SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE OUTER SPACE

Opening at number one is Elysium and honestly, until Star Wars came along pretty much every science fiction film in the 70’s that wasn’t a drive in creature flick had some political message.  And even there you weren’t entirely safe (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster anyone?).  So this is actually bit of a throwback to that time, all the way down to the design of the Elysium city in space being a giant wheel in space.  And they were about as subtle as this film where the security forces on the space station of the rich and powerful is called “homeland security” and anyone who isn’t supposed to be there is an illegal immigrant.  Matt Damon is Max Santos…no I’m not kidding. You think someone actually Latino was going to star in this? They wouldn’t have gotten $15 for it much less $115M for a budget.  As I was saying, Max Santos is an ex-car thief—like the actually Spanish Antonio Banderas was in Miami Rhapsody.  Okay, I’ll stop.  Max grew up in an orphanage dreaming of living on Elysium where the rich and power have fled 150 years from now because the Earth is overpopulated and polluted.  Now you’d think if they had the technology to create a giant space station, they’d have the same technology to clean terra firma up, but this a parable about class so save that noise.  They have everything there including medical devices that can cure anything including cancer, but they aren’t sharing.  Max is trying to turn his life around by working in a robot factory when doing so gets him a fatal dose of radiation poisoning.  He’s got 5 days to live so he decides to break into Elysium and cure himself. He’s aided in this by a local crime boss with a social conscience who spends most of his time trying to get people up there and outfits Damon with an exoskeleton to keep him going. Standing in their way is none other than Jodie freaking Foster who is the Defense Secretary of Elysium who thinks of nothing of blowing illegal alien ships out of the sky, much to the chagrin of the space station government, who don’t so much care for the illegals but still draw the line at just killing them outright, which is why they hate the psychopathic agent she has doing the killing that benefits them. Like I said, none of this is subtle and while enjoyable if you think too much on it tends to deflate at bit. Aside from the technology question (you’ve got robots but they aren’t doing the human work?) there’s the question of why is only one guy in LA the only person trying to break in? Shouldn’t everyone all over the world be trying or is Elysium the space station of the rich of California and there are few dozen others, which would have made much more sense?  And if Elysium has its own government, what is the government on Earth and its relationship to it? Does 1600 Pennsylvania Ave matter or does becoming president get you a free ticket up there?  But these are questions you don’t ask yourself when you just want to preach at people through popular entertainment.  Space is America and Earth is Mexico and that’s about as much as you think it through.  It’s clearly all they did here.

 

WE’RE THE MEDIOCRE

We’re The Millers opens at number two and nothing indicates the poor state of big screen comedy than the fact that Jason Sudekis is a leading man.  Yeah, I know Will Ferrell is getting older, but he was a star on TV and Sudekis is just a talented supporting guy.  He’s the new Kevin Nealon…if Kevin Nealon were actually talented.  And Jennifer Anniston should send half her paycheck to Brad Pitt because dumping her for Angelina Jolie made her a star. It’s certainly not her body of work. It’s decidedly mediocre and has more misses than hits. She’s a TV star who somehow escaped to the big screen when she should be in a sitcom that follows Cougar Town (which is actually very funny, by the way). She seems restrained in anything she does, unwilling to commit, like this movie seems. It’s rated “R” but looks PG13, which is why Ferrell is such a clean cut pot dealer, she’s a very wholesome looking stripper and Emma Roberts as a street kid? Are you kidding me?  They clearly were unwilling to go where a movie like this needed to go to be effective. If this were a true R-rated comedy they’d all be much sleazier characters and she’d get butt-ass nekkid for her stripping scene—and I would have been first in line to see that and it would have opened at number one. You gotta be in it to win it, Jen!

 

AT LEAST THERE WON’T BE A TRAINS MOVIE NOW

Speaking me not seeing films, Planes opens at number three and it’s good to see America could tell full well this was not a Pixar film even though Disney did all they could to tie it to one. It didn’t help that they tied it to the weakest Pixar film ever, Cars.  Honestly, I might have given this a shot until I learned that they replaced the voice of Jon Cryer with Dane Cook. Are you kidding me? If you want people to see something why on earth would you put Dane Cook in it, even unseen? Jon Cryer isn’t some great talent, but he was appealing at least once in his life and you’d buy him as the voice of the underdog.  Dane Cook is the voice of the douchebag and always has been.  It died there for me and clearly America was in agreement.

 

DEMI-GOOD

Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters opens at number four and you’d think that being the fan of Greek mythology that I was as a kid I’d have loved a movie about a kid who learns he’s the son of a Greek god and then goes on adventures with other demi-gods.  Well, the problem with that is the god they chose.  Poseidon?  Really? Know any great stories about the children of Poseidon?  Exactly. Hercules is the son of Zeus. Perseus is the son of Zeus. You know who can call Poseidon dad?  Theseus and yes, Pegasus (via Medusa, so clearly Poseidon had no standards).  The movie The Immortals was about Theseus and even there they make him mortal, so little does Poseidon matter.  I would have even settled for Apollo, but Poseidon?  No. Also, all your friends are demi-gods too?  Then how are you special?  Oh, and your name is Percy.  Needless to say, I didn’t see the first and have no interest in the second and clearly I’m not alone.

 

WE DON’T LIKE ACTORS BECAUSE THEY’RE SMART

2 Guns is down to number five and also in this is Paula Patton, whom you call because Halle Berry is too expensive and too big a star.  She and Denzel last teamed in the underrated Déjà Vu which was like an overlong episode of The Outer Limits.  She’s proudly telling people she insisted on her topless scene because it wasn’t authentic that you’d be lounging around after having sex with a bra on.  Even though she’s right, that doesn’t make her any less stupid for thinking she accomplished something by being naked onscreen or that it was some kind of battle to begin with. A bunch of dudes are not going to stop a beautiful woman from taking off her top in their R-rated action movie. In fact that she’s the only naked woman in this 80’s throwback is the odd thing. Besides, her hair is so long you can barely see anything anyway, so what was the point?  At least when Halle did it in Swordfish, she made sure you got the goods.  And it was good.

 

ALL THE STUPIDITY OF PLASTIC SURGERY WITH NONE OF THE BLOOD

The Smurfs is down to number six followed by The Wolverine at number seven and also in this is Famke Janssen as Jean Grey who died in both X2 and X3, but that’s in-keeping with the comics where Jean Grey has also died a number of times.  She’s not really here, just a series of guilty dreams Wolverine has and apparently his dreams require massive amounts of CGI done to her face to eliminate any aging between now and 2006.  Seriously, it’s ridiculous they felt the need to have done that to her but not to Hugh Jackman, who is supposed to be ageless but is clearly doing it quite well. The needless and unsubtle special effects (she started off as a model, people) make her looks freakishly inhuman next to his lined face.

 

THE END

The Conjuring is down to number eight, followed by Despicable Me 2 at number nine and Grown Ups 2 finally puts us all out of our misery at number ten.