Tag Archives: johnny depp

FINDING MONEY

20 Jun

icy
1. Finding Dory/Disney                          Wknd/$ 136.2   Total/$ 136.2
2. Central Intelligence/WB                    Wknd/$ 34.5     Total/$ 34.5
3. The Conjuring 2/WB                          Wknd/$ 15.6      Total/$ 71.7
4. Now You See Me/LG                           Wknd/$ 9.7       Total/$ 41.4
5. Warcraft/Universal                             Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 37.7
6. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                    Wknd/$ 5.2       Total/$ 146.1
7. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2      Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 71.9
8. Me Before You/Warner                      Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 46.1
9. Alice Through the Looking Glass     Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 69.3
10. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 2.3       Total/$ 401.2

FINDING INSPIRATION
To the surprise of absolutely no one Finding Dory opens at number one. Now, I’m against Pixar sequels on principle but Pixar gets a better response than most because a) they don’t always do them, b) when they do them it’s so far down the line it’s not an obvious money grab and c) they get it right as Toy Story has defied all odds and just gotten better every time. Even Monsters University was better than it had any right to be (no comment on Cars 2 because Cars sucked). So, Finding Dory comes more than a decade after Finding Nemo because they genuinely felt there was no story to tell until now which is stunning in the entertainment business. As if that had anything to do with it. Hell, the Disney board would have been satisfied if Nemo had just gotten lost again and they’d just repeated the first. Luckily for us the Pixar creative leads wanted more and more in this case was about Dory slowly remembering her own family and going off in search of them and while it’s definitely good, there’s no singular brilliant moment like the chant of a seagull being “Mine” or the wonderful irreverence of the sharks who no longer want to eat fellow fish. Despite their good intentions to tell an original story it does feel a bit too familiar, the brightest spark being provided by an octopus who doesn’t want to return to the ocean, but instead wants a nice tank in Cleveland where no one will bother him (voiced by Ed O’Neil). One of the keys to Finding Nemo’s creative success was the wonderful supporting cast, from the adult and child populace of Nemo’s home reef to the laid back turtles to denizens of the dentist office tank to half a dozen others in between. They just don’t match that here and while we see the kids of the reef and the turtles again, they don’t have the same spark. Nonetheless it’s still better than 90% of what else is out there as the sad trailers for Storks and Ice Age: This Goddamn Franchise Has Lasted Longer Than The Actual Ice Age proved. If Finding Nemo was an A+ (and it was) then this is a solid B+. Oh, and make sure you stay through the end credits. There’s always something there…as I found out this weekend with Brave.

WHAT? COULDN’T GET PERMISSION FOR MARIAH?
Central Intelligence opens at number two and it seems logical that two of the hardest working men in show business would finally end up in a movie together. Not since Michael Caine in the 80’s have actors seeming been so omnipresent onscreen. It’s also a great creative move on both their parts for Kevin Hart to actually play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson playing the funny guy. Kevin Hart is Dean Martin while Dwayne Johnson is Jerry Lewis (ask your parents what that means). While I bear it no ill will, I have zero interest in either of them as anything beyond being supporting characters to actual leads. They simply lack that for me. The trailer shows a film, while not aimed at the lowest common denominator of comedy, is severely broad reaching. Oh, look. When Dwayne Johnson was in high school he was fat and sang En Vogue in the shower ‘cause fat guys and guys who sing girl songs are funny. In terms of wit that’s a butter knife level of sharpness. Even on cable this is a hard pass.

AND JAWLINES. DON’T FORGET THE JAWLINES
The Conjuring is down to number three and I’m also glad to see Vera Farminga here on the money train. I’ve loved her as an actress since the short-lived Finding Evil TV show and she improves pretty much everything she’s in. In my movie fantasy she and Gillian Anderson play sisters onscreen as they are seemingly cut from the same cloth (coincidentally they were both on the small screen alongside famous serial killers). In my other fantasy I’ve been very bad and they’ve come to discipline me. Soooo many icy stern looks of disappointment and contempt. Delicious

YUAN BETTER RECOGNIZE
Now You See Me 2 is down to number four followed by the Warcraft at number five and you might be seeing film history being made as China saves an entire franchise single-handedly, which is funny given how movies like Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Whichever The Fuck It Was have bent over backwards trying to win them and been met with contempt. It hasn’t even broken $40M here, but has made ten times that in overseas. Depend on how much studios get (it ranges from 15-14%) this may actually get a sequel…which America will ignore again.

ALSO HE’S A SCUMBAG
Speaking of sequels America has ignored, X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number six and hasn’t even made it’s $178M budget domestically, but like Warcraft has pulled almost $400M from overseas markets, so rest assured there will be another and this time mercifully without Bryan Singer. While he started the franchise and did good things with it, using the metaphor for oppression appropriately, he seems to have forgotten that and they need a director who remembers the core of the X-Men is also appealing to that self-important teenager drama where you think you’re special the entire world is against you for no reason at all. Yes, that’s the dark truth about the real reason so many like it. Not because you’re a person of color or your religion or your sexuality suffering genuine oppression, but because you think you’re special and the world is actively trying to hold you down. You’re wrong.

JUST KIDDING. EVERY ROLE WILL SOMEHOW PUT HER IN A FETISH COSTUME.
I thought this would be the hat trick of franchises supported by overseas money, but it turns out they care even less than we do about Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows, down to number seven. There probably won’t be a third, which must be bittersweet news to Megan Fox who has another child on the way, but at the same time doesn’t have to worry about a contrived reason to put her into a fetish costume in the near future.

LESS IS MORE…IF YOU’RE AN IDIOT AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR PROPERTIES
Me Before You is down to number eight, followed by Alice Through the Looking Glass at number nine and Captain America: Civil War closes out the top ten at number ten and this is why the Warner Brother/DC Comics hierarchy was recently shaken up as two movies about fighting superheroes came out this summer (well, 3 if you count X-Men, but no one cares enough to do that) with had approximately the same budgets but the one what that the 3 most famous superheroes of all time in them did significantly worse than the film that had a bunch of heroes 90% of the population had never heard of ten years ago. And by “significantly” I mean almost $900M vs over $1B. While this may not seem like too much of a difference to you and I, remember that Batman’s last two solo films both made $1B but teaming him up with Superman and Wonder Woman somehow resulted in less!?! Not good when your very next film will add even more superheroes to the roster that you also hope to spin-off into individual films. Warner Brothers is being force to reconsider their dumb-ass strategy of if your competitor has cornered the market on chocolate and you reconfigure your chocolate machines to make vanilla, rather than simply understand there’s no such thing as too much good chocolate. Instead they’ve made mediocre (Man of Steel) and bad (Batman v Superman) vanilla and surprise! People preferred the better made chocolate. Damn it. Now I want some chocolate!

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REAL ARTISTS ARE APPARENTLY ALL PERVS

13 Jun

psylocke
1. The Conjuring 2/WB                        Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Warcraft/Universal                          Wknd/$ 24.4   Total/$ 24.4
3. Now You See Me 2/LG                    Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0
4. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2   Wknd/$ 14.8     Total/$ 61.0
5. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                 Wknd/$ 10.0    Total/$ 136.4
6. Me Before You/Warner                   Wknd/$ 9.2      Total/$ 36.8
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 62.4
7. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony         Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 98.2
9. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 396.9
10. The Jungle Book/Disney               Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 352.6

SCREAM KING! EQUALITY AT LAST!
The Conjuring 2 opens at number one and after years of “scream queens” have we developed a “scream king?” Patrick Wilson, a respected character actor on stage, TV and film is the male lead in not just this successful franchise, but also the Insidious films. When you think about it, it’s a wonder it never occurred to horror filmmakers to go to stage actors for their talent. You’ll get better than your average pretty face (sorry, I do hold stage actors in higher regard ‘cause that shit is real) and because they come from the stage where they get little money and less fame they’d be cheap and eternally grateful, because basically film and TV work is to subsidize what they really love. This is the real reason Claire Danes does Homeland. This is why Billy Crudup has no problem showing up in Mission Impossible 3. This visibility and profitability will serve to finance a few off-Broadway plays once Wilson commits to them. Which is good. I like knowing that people who truly care about art succeed in the world occasionally.

IN RETROSPECT I COULD HAVE USED A LONG, DUMB FILM TODAY
Warcraft opens at number two which is a huge fucking failure for them. Not only did this $160M+ movie based on a ridiculously successful video game not open at number one in the summer, but also it lost to an R-rated film that cost ¼ its budget. Yes, it’s doing huge in China, but know that studios get less than 40% of overseas money. Domestic is where the real money is made and it will have to do ridiculously well overseas in order for this not to be written off as a failure. I thought about seeing it because…well, summer. Seeing dumb movies filled with fantasy creatures and special effects is what the summer is for, but sometimes even I have to draw the line and you’re talking to a man who went to see Battleship. Obviously, bad reviews don’t slow me down so what was it? The two-hour running time. I’ve got a new rule about movies I expect to be bad and it flatly states you don’t get 2+ hours (factoring in previews and commercials) of my life anymore unless I fully expect you to be at least entertaining. Needless to say this didn’t pass muster not even with Rathnar Lothbrok in the cast. Not that it should. I haven’t watched Vikings in over two years. I’m busy!

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE BATMAN V SUPERMAN SUCKED
Now You See Me 2 opens at number three and this is oddly a success because would have thought the first would have been a hit, much less enough of one to generate a sequel. It’s gotta feel good to Jesse Esienberg to have an actual success this year that could be a franchise.

SUCKS TO BE YOU!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is down to number four followed by X-Men: Apocalypse at number five and one good thing about this is it sets back the career of Olivia Munn. I don’t know what it is, but I do not like this woman. Something about her makes her someone you love to hate. I’m not so simplistic a geek for it simply to be the title of her autobiography “Wonder Woman Can Suck It” but it didn’t help. Even better is the fact she’s so full of herself she said she had the option for Monica Baccarin role in Deadpool, but turned it down because it was “just another girlfriend.” Granted, Baccarin basically has sex with Ryan Reynolds and then gets kidnapped, so she’s not too far off, but the character eventually becomes a superhero in her own right and thanks to the highest grossing R-rated film in history (not adjusted for inflation) that will probably happen. Whereas seeing Munn return as Psyclocke is highly unlikely. Not helping matters is the fact they not only translated her stupid T&A costume straight from the comics, but also made it even more degrading by adding a boob-window. You know how pathetic you have to be to make a female superhero costume even more exploitative!?! Just glad it happened to her and not an actress that I liked.

JUST ASK JASON MOMOA ABOUT CONAN
Me Before You is down to number six, but with a $36M return on a $20M budget don’t expect the disabled romance porn to go away anytime soon. The female lead is on Game of Thrones which I do watch, but she’s a lot better off that the other woman from Game of Thrones who was the female lead Terminator: Genysis and that dude who was the lead in Pompeii who knows nothing on and off-screen. The lesson here is stop trying to hit home runs at first bat. Be happy to get on base.

BASICALLY HE’S RAINMAN IN THE MOVIE BIZ
The Angry Birds movie is down to number seven and this is another which needs overseas loot to save it. $98M off a $73M budget isn’t awful, but the $213M from overseas (which is at most $85M and probably less) will be needed to save this from being a disappointment. This is from David Maisel who is apparently as responsible for the Marvel Universe as anyone, but since he’s clearly not with them, they no longer like to talk about it. Apparently he not only came up with the sale to Disney, but the sequel strategy and its original plan to self-finance which meant no more licensing characters out to other companies like they’d done with Spider-Man, The X-Men, Blade, The Punisher and The Fantastic Four And to top it off it he also came up with the idea they could use The Hulk without paying Universal to get him back so long as he wasn’t the lead character. Given how fucking major all this is, you can see why they don’t like to talk about him. But of course he’s a nutcase. He apparently pocketed millions from the Disney sale, but still lives with his mom in a 2-bedroom apartment. So yeah, ladies beware, but if you need financial advice, he’s clearly your dude.

JUST ASK MARY LOUISE PARKER IF ONE CLAIRE DANES IS ENOUGH
Alice Through The Looking Glass is down to number eight and is there any more painful irony that the billion dollar grossing first film did jack shit for the career of Mia Wasikowska who is only the title character in both films!?! Needless to say this won’t be changing that a bit. Not helping is the fact she looks like Claire Danes in a world that thinks one Claire Danes is plenty.

GEEK ANGER LIVES FOREVER
Captain America: Civil War is down to number nine, followed by Jungle Book at number ten. As most people know, The Black Panther finally appeared in the Marvel movies and honestly is one of the best parts about this. It sure as shit isn’t Captain America acting like an asshole or the stupid contrivances created to make him and Iron Man fight. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

CAMERA, GUITAR, GUN = DICK
I finally watched the documentary on famed photographer, Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man, even though I’ve had it on my hard drive forever. Only taking the actual DVD out from the liberry finally got me to see it. It didn’t get great reviews but I thought it was a pretty decent summation of the man’s career and life. Directed by the woman who was thought to be his decades younger girlfriend (they first met when she was 13 and it’s as icky as it sounds) it turns out she was secretly his wife, but we’ll get to that. You know Bert Stern even if you don’t think you know him. The famous “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, her final photo session before she died which stupid starlets and half-assed photographers keep trying to emulate? He did that. The Lolita poster? He did that. He did those and a dozen more iconic shots of celebrities as well as from the history of advertising. It’s subtitled “The Original Mad Man” in a sorry and failed attempt to cash in on the show as Stern was a major player in advertising in the late 50’s and early 60’s, coming up with innovative ideas for campaigns and shooting them himself. Unlike most, he was so good at his job, he basically had a free hand to do what he wanted. Unfortunately, the documentary is short on exploration in areas that seem obvious. We’re told his father attempted suicide and his mother was beautiful but they’re literally never mentioned again after he turns 13. Given he’s famous for taking beautiful shots of women especially, you’d think his relationship with his mother would play into that and be discussed, but it is not. Even the court fight for shots of Marilyn Monroe he took that were stolen in the early 60’s and were rediscovered in the ‘00’s by people who claimed ownership is given the short shrift. What we do get is far too many of shots of the director/girlfriend/wife naked. Even worst is the realization that some of the nudes were taken recently and by a seemingly nude Stern (his reflection is seen in one of the shots). Ewww. Still, there are enough legitimate examinations of the man and his work to make me actually take an interest in his famous “Last Session” as I am not part of the cult that romanticizes Marilyn Monroe. She lived a sad life (sexually abused when young and had to trade on her sex appeal far too much to make it) and died a sad death (accidental drug overdose alone). Her life is cautionary tale, people. Stop romanticizing it. It also caused the “Well, duh” realization that the best photographers of women in fashion (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, David Bailey, etc) were straight men, which is only unique because the industry is well regarded as being both gay and female driven. Stern flat out states that when he took a picture it was because in that way he could possess the woman in question. He laughs, but you know it’s true. He made me think that the others were probably no different as they all dated and occasionally married the women they shot (Avedon was famously with Dovema, Bailey with Jean Shrimpton and Penn married the impeccable Lisa Fonssagrives). Stern just admits it. It makes me wonder if you have to use your camera as your surrogate dick to truly take beautiful photos of people, as it’s pointed out in the documentary that knowing that Stern worshipped them may have actually served to bring out the best in the women he was shooting. It would similarly be the case with others. The safety of being adored and complimented by someone who would do no more than document said adoration would undoubtedly produce better results than say a worthless fucking creep rapist like Terry Richardson (who’s a shitty photographer on top of being a rapist). Then again, you have Herb Ritts, who was open gay and also took beautiful photographs of women. Must think on this… Not including in the film which came out before Stern’s death in 2013 is the fact the heretofore unknown wife became the sole beneficiary of Stern’s will and the children (two of whom are interviewed along with the ex-wife and a still living girlfriend) are currently suing her over it. Oh, and I bought the book of Stern’s last session with Monroe. Some of the details are seriously fascinating. I mean, if I drank champagne with a shot of vodka like she did, I’d probably be taking my clothes off at every opportunity too.

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TODAY’S TOPIC IS AGING OUT…AGAIN

6 Jun

neighbors

 

  1. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2    Wknd/$   35.4     Total/$   35.3
  2. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                  Wknd/$   22.3     Total/$ 116.5
  3. Me Before You/Warner                     Wknd/$   18.3     Total/$   18.3
  4. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$   10.7     Total/$   50.8
  5. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony          Wknd/$     9.8      Total/$     9.8
  6. Captain America: Civil War/BV      Wknd/$     7.6      Total/$ 388.9
  7. Neighbors 2/Universal                      Wknd/$     4.7      Total/$   48.6
  8. Popstar/Universal                               Wknd/$     4.6     Total/$    4.6
  9. The Jungle Book/Disney                    Wknd/$     4.2     Total/$ 347.5
  10. The Nice Guys/WB                              Wknd/$     3.5      Total/$   29.1

 

MONEY BETTER SPENT ON PIZZA. GET IT!?!

Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows opens at number one and while this has gotten better reviews than its predecessor it’s still not going to get me in there. Life is short and the 93 minutes the first one took out of my life back in 1990 is still a personal regret to someone who has almost the second season of Jane the Virgin sitting unwatched on his DVR. But even then it was a stretch for me as I had “aged out” of the demographic for the TNMT. I never watched the cartoon and at best I liked the arcade game because at that time I was learning the bo staff at the time and one of them used it in the game. I am happy that Stephen Amell is getting his toe into the theatrical game though. Based on this disappointing 4th season, Arrow needs to think about its end game soon and he needs to be working on his next step.

 

X AIN’T GIVING IT TO YA

X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number two and speaking of disappointing superhero translations that I’d aged out of, the Apocalypse character and storyline happened after I’d left the X-Men comics as a kid because frankly it had gotten too damn depressing (Chris Claremont, the writer would later admit he was going through a bad patch so in turn inflicted it on the characters. Thanks, asshole.). This is especially disappointing given it’s Bryan Singer at the helm. He not only help set the standards of the modern day superhero film as something to be taken seriously, but directed the best X-Men film (X2) and undid the damage of X3 with X-Men: Days of Future Past (it literally wiped it out). So it’s surprising that this bland trainwreck came from him. The biggest problem is that it forgets what the X-Men are at their heart: a metaphor for discrimination. The X-Men are whatever minority or discriminated group you choose, but you will only find the barest remnants of that here. It’s a dull, thudding superhero film with lots of special effects and no heart or characters to care about. The very first X-Men movie still works because at its heart it’s about two diametrically opposed outsiders (Wolverine and Rogue) finding a home with others and each other. Nothing even approaching that exists here. It should have been Cyclops or Storm (who in this new history are being introduced to the X-Men for the first time) but the actors playing them are not stars and Jennifer Lawrence is, but they don’t know what to do with her character. Gone is the revolutionary who doesn’t think she should be obligated to look human and in her place is a superstar who doesn’t want to be painted blue every day supported by studio execs that don’t want their most famous star covered in blue. With Hugh Jackman leaving (speaking of aging out) she’s now the face of the franchise so simultaneously its biggest asset and its biggest problem. This makes four superhero films I’ve seen this year and still only one I really liked and it’s the character I know and care the least about: Deadpool.

 

YOU DON’T GET A MEDAL FOR LOVING SOMEONE LESS THAN PERFECT

Me Before You is that a subset of romantic drama the disabled/dying romantic drama wherein one partner is either disabled or dying and they other deals with or overcomes that in the name of love. Though when I think about it, it’s actually a subset of the oldest love story variation of all: the tragedy. Obviously there’s not going to be a cure for one and the person dies in the other. That’s the reason for “the drama.” Honestly, because I’m shallow it’s not one I care for. Give me warring families or disparate origins/classes, but someone permanently disabled or dying is just too depressing. I want a full-on happy goddamn ending, or at the very least one where both parties walk off their separate ways. And I mean “walk” literally. Yeah, I said it. What part of “shallow” didn’t you get? This is actually being trashed by some as some kind of “disabled romantic porn” because the person not disabled has to be so, so, so good to love that person who isn’t perfect. This was a criticism placed even on the novel. I would add to that the disabled person in question is, of course, rich so I’m gonna guess that when they die this person is rewarded for being able to love a disabled person with a ridiculous fortune. Yeah, there’s no reason to see this at all.

 

21 CHUMP STREET

Alice Through the Looking Glass is down to number four and this is seen as a flop simply because it opened at number two last week. I think that has more to do with the current tide of public opinion turning against Johnny Depp. Allow me to remind you I’ve been telling you for years he’s utterly full of shit. I didn’t need a domestic abuse charge like the rest of you fuckers. You should have hated him for doing the first one, much less a shitty sequel. But guess what? This has made $125m overseas and the fact that the first made a billion worldwide is the reason this exists to begin with so don’t be surprised if an overwhelming international success leads to a third chapter. I mean that fourth Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t exactly huge domestically either, but was ridiculously huge overseas so they’re making a fifth. Which makes Amber Heard’s lawyers very, very happy. I have no sympathy for middle-aged men in the midst of a mid-life crisis who hook up with obvious golddiggers. Take everything, girl.

 

HELL, I’M PLAYING IT RIGHT NOW

The Angry Birds Movie is down to number five and I was oddly interested in this because I love the game and obviously any movie that has a character that hates everything and everyone appeals to me. But that doesn’t mean I’d spend a dime to see it. No, I’ll catch it on cable in a year or so. What’s surprising is the ridiculous amount of comedic talent on-hand. Jason Sudekis (who should never be a leading man, but a funny supporting actor, so please stop trying), Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Mya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress and Keegan Michael Key. Hell, even Sean Penn is here and that simple fact may be the funniest thing about it as he has no sense of humor, which means he did his lines straight, probably making them funny as fuck. Yeah, I’m soooo watching this on cable on a Sunday afternoon.

 

AMERICA IS NEVER WRONG!

Captain America: Civil War is down to number six and I remain unchanged in disliking this. Captain America is wrong and unreasonable in this movie and Captain America should never be wrong or unreasonable.

 

PRETTY DIRTY

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is down to number seven and I have to say I totally respect how Zac Efron has decided to stop playing to his “look” of the clean cut pretty boy and go directly against and basically be the new king of R-rated slob comedies. Also joining him on his ascent to comedic royalty is Rose Byrne who is showing up in everything and stealing the show. I mean, or so I’ve heard. I hate Seth Rogen so much nothing anyone says can get me into a movie where he’s the star. Again, what part of “shallow” are you not getting? Which brings us back to the fact that pretty boy Efron is basically playing the roles that probably would go to Rogen.

 

SHOULD HAVE STOPPED AFTER 3 MINUTES

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping is the first Lonely Island movie and apparently the last as it opened at number eight. See, this is a great idea for a digital short on SNL or a supporting character in a movie, but it’s difficult to watch an entire movie about a complete asshole even when you’re supposed to be laughing at him. The guys in Spinal Tap weren’t brilliant, but they weren’t irredeemable assholes either.   I was tired of this whole concept before the trailer had finished.

 

A TALENTED GUY WHO’S AN ASSHOLE IS SADLY REDUNDANT

The Jungle Book is down to number nine with The Nice Guys closing out the top ten at number ten and this is the latest R-rated buddy movie from Shane Black. He’s like a less-depressing, funnier yet no less dismissive of women James Ellroy. Like Ellroy he tells dark stories about the seamier side of Los Angles that begin with a beautiful dead woman and the two guys determined to try and find some justice for her (this movie actually reunites Kim Basinger and Russell Crowe who were in the adaptation of Ellroy’s LA Confidential). Black is a good director and is on point with the foul-mouthed, funny dialogue, but his complete and utter hatred of women remains a problem. This is him at his least offensive (it’d be difficult to top the pure misogyny of The Last Boy Scout), but just so you know it’s him the only smart female is a child and it opens with a “joke” that involves a centerfold/porn star dying in the exact same pose as her centerfold. Get it!?! Why she’s naked in car crash is beyond me, but Black doesn’t care. He’s been opening with dead, naked women since Lethal Weapon (also a porn star) and he’s not stopping now. While this is a good movie I’m not sad it’s a bit of a flop because he’s got to be made stop that shit and so long as he doesn’t have a blockbuster hit that’s his and his alone (I could have directed Iron Man 3 and had a hit) he’ll always be under someone’s thumb which will ideally slow him down. Unfortunately, it’s Hollywood, so it’s not like that’s going to slow him down too much.

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

5 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE JOY CONTINUES

The new Fall season continues so here we go…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR…FOR SHUT INS

28 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CATCH A FALLING STAR. OR NOT.

26 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SAD, IRONIC OR BOTH?

20 Jan

chris-hemsworth-768
1. American Sniper/Warner                              Wknd/$ 89.5   Total/$ 92.9
2. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                       Wknd/$ 20.6   Total/$ 20.6
3. Paddington/Weinstein                                  Wknd/$ 19.0   Total/$ 19.0
4. Taken 3/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 8.8    Total/$ 63.4
5. Selma/Paramount                                           Wknd/$ 8.8    Total/$ 26.4
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                   Wknd/$ 6.8    Total/$ 50.4
7. Into the Woods/Disney                                  Wknd/$ 6.8    Total/$ 114.5
8. The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies             Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 244.6
9. Unbroken/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 4.2     Total/$ 108.5
10. Blackhat/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 3.8

WHY CAN’T IT BE BOTH?
I don’t know if it’s sad or ironic or that on MLK Day weekend the number one film is about a sniper. A holiday for a champion of non-violence and opposer of the Vietnam War who was killed by a sniper’s bullet and America goes to see the movie about the most lethal sniper in US history. Goes to prove the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity as the veracity of the sniper’s claims are being questioned, especially when claimed he and a buddy killed over two dozen Americans during the flood of New Orleans and once punched out Jesse Ventura in a bar. There’s absolutely no proof of the first and Ventura just won almost $2M in a defamation suit against the late sniper’s estate (in more irony the sniper himself was killed by another vet at a shooting range). It’s nominated for a few Oscars so I guess I’ll have to see it, but given it’s Clint Eastwood directing I’m in no great rush. You know how far too many directors are all style and no substance? No one will ever accuse Eastwood of that. “Laconic” is the term most often used to describe his “style.” I prefer “dry as fucking toast.” Just as too much of a spice can kill a dish none at all can leave it equally unappetizing. I mean if you’re going to go that way why not simply make a documentary?

GET IT? HE’S LITTLE
The Wedding Ringer opens at number two and Kevin Hart isn’t just striking the iron while it’s hot, he beating down into pennies with this onslaught on the theaters of America. But can you blame him? Being the hot comedian of the moment has a shelf life of the average fruit fly. Remember Dane Cook’s moment? Granted Kevin Hart is actually funny, something that Cook was unburdened with, but these movies look as generic as anything he put out. And you know any moment now he’s probably going to make the mistake they all make and attempt to be the lead in a romantic comedy, not realizing no one wants to see him kiss anyone. I gave this a pass, as I will all his films, because like Jack Black and others before him, he’s a sidekick, not a lead. A little goes a long way. Yes, that’s a deliberate play on words.

OR THE CLASSIC “GO, DOG! GO!”
Paddington opens at number three and I never read the books so we’re done here. When they make a movie about Richard Scary’s work I’ll be front and center.

ALSO MOMMY DRINKS BECAUSE YOU CRY
Taken 3 is down to number four and what kind of life can his daughter have after this? Her best friend and her mother were both murdered because of a trip she took to Europe. If she just went to Cabo like everyone else none of this ever happens. Then again, Liam Neeson shut down a European sex slavery ring as a result saving untold numbers of girls so I guess there’s a greater good to look at.

THE ACADEMY DIDN’T SEE SO WHY SHOULD YOU, RIGHT?
Selma is down to number five and this actually lives up to the hype. Very few films do, but this is like Lincoln in how it shows a particular moment behind an historical event and gets “warts and all” with it being honest about the fact the goal was to beaten up in front of the cameras to show the honesty of racism. Also it means bringing up MLK’s infidelities and how J. Edgar Hoover tried to destroy him with them. While some have found fault with a less-than-favorable portrayal of LBJ, it’s par the course for historical drama. To cite Lincoln again, that film completely falsified his viewpoint on Black people. He didn’t believe in slavery, but he didn’t believe in an integrated society either. He was going ship every Black person back to Africa. I question both decisions in films that are seemingly afraid of showing that great men are still just flawed human beings. But honestly how the hell do you not go see a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. on his holiday weekend!?! He’s the reason you’ve got three days and you can’t spare two hours!?! Bet you saw freaking Lincoln on President’s Day weekend, ya sorry muthafuckas.

MODERATION WAS NEVER HIS STRONG SUIT
The Imitation Game is down to number six, followed by Into The Woods at number seven and also in this is Johnny Depp. And this isn’t as surprising as you might think when you remember that he was in the underrated Sweeny Todd. Also, Depp was in a band before his big TV break. Oh, and then there’s Cry Baby from John Waters so Depp is no stranger to the musical, which makes sense given they’re over-the-top which is where he likes it.

HONESTLY, HITCHCOCK COULDN’T MAKE TYPING ON A COMPUTER SUSPENSEFUL
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is down to number eight, followed by Unbroken at number nine and finally Blackhat opens at number ten which may be too good for it. Initially I was surprised to see a Michael Mann film opening in January, which is the dumping ground for the studios because he’s a major league director, but then again he cast Chris Hemsworth as a hacker which is your first clue things are not quite right. That actually surpasses previous ridiculous hacker castings such as Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. And what do three out of those four have in common? They get topless (Bullock’s the prude). In fact, Hemsworth surpasses the shirtless screentime of Jackman, Jolie and both Thor movies. The film stumbles right out of the gate as Mann, undaunted by previous failures to make the inner working of a computer seem interesting gives it his shot as we watch path of electronic impulses that make their way though a system and cause the failure of a nuclear power plant in China. It’s even more boring than I make it sound. Do you know what the difference between this and Selma? There is actual levity in Selma. Even when dealing with life and death issues and the future of a nation, humans still find humor to make it through. Not so with Michael Mann. I don’t think there’s been a deliberate attempt at a laugh since Pacino messing with Hank Azaria in Heat 20 years ago. This is no exception. This painful somberness forces you to take the film completely and utterly seriously, which I suspect is Man’s, but winds up as its undoing when ridiculous things happen, starting with the FBI, which put Hemsworth in prison for hacking not knowing his college roommate is the same guy who handles China’s cyberterroism problem who comes over to work on the case with them. They know everything about him, except that piece of information, which should have been glaring. Then there’s the SWAT team that doesn’t notice the claymore clearly on the walls of the tunnels they’re chasing the bad guys through. Finally, there’s the matter of the characters who might as well have countdown clocks over their heads like that horrible Nickleback video. You know they’re going to die and die they do, which is a problem when they’re all more interesting than the main character. While I like that Mann is unlike other directors and not wasting his time bitching the loss of film and just jumping right into digital, he loves to shoot at night which is not a friend to it. Either get more lights or let it go because pixelated and grainy are not a good film style. The final nail in the coffin has to be when Mann pays homage to himself by having Hemsworth all but quote a William Petersen line from the great Manhunter. It’s not good to remind us you were once better than this.

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