Tag Archives: Joseph Gordon-Leavitt

RUSH TO JUDGEMENT

29 Sep

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1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2      Wknd/$  35.0      Total/$  35.0

 2. Prisoners/Warners                                    Wknd/$  11.3       Total/$  39.0

 3. Rush/Universal                                           Wknd/$  10.0     Total/$  10.6

 4. Baggage Claim/Fox                                    Wknd/$   9.3       Total/$    9.3

 5. Don Jon/Relativity                                     Wknd/$   9.0       Total/$    9.0

 6. Insidious 2/FD                                            Wknd/$    6.7       Total/$  69.5

 7. The Family/Relativity                                Wknd/$    3.7       Total/$  31.7

 8. Instructions Not Included/LGF               Wknd/$    3.4      Total/$  38.6

 5. Battle of the Year/SG                                  Wknd/$    5.0      Total/$    5.0

 9. We’re The Millers/Warners                       Wknd/$    2.9      Total/$ 142.4

10. Lee Daniel’s The Butler/Weinstein         Wknd/$    4.3      Total/$ 106.5

 

ALSO THE LEEK AS THE CHRIST FIGURE BOTHERS ME

Cloudy With Meatballs 2 opens big at number one and since I never saw the first I feel I would miss out on some of the subtleties of the sequel so I gave it pass.

 

MORE LIKE PRISONERS OF THE BOX OFFICE

Prisoners is down to number two and it’s a toss up to who is happier about its success: Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard or Jake Gyllenhaal, because they all needed it. Seriously needed it.  Hugh Jackman because he doesn’t have a success outside of singing a beloved musical or having claws (and honestly it should be “having claws in an ensemble cast” because both Wolverine solo movies have been less-than-impressive). Terrence Howard, who is honestly the reason the Marvel Comics Movie Machine exists as it started with Iron Man and Iron Man only happened because his signing up to play Rhodey off his Oscar heat is what caused everyone else to sign on.  For his trouble he was told to take less money or take a hike. He took a hike and you know he has to question it every day. But he’s in The Butler, which is a huge hit. But I’m thinking Jake is the most grateful because his only hit outside of Brokeback Mountain was The Source Code after a double dose of leading man failure in Prince of Persia and Love & Other Drugs.  So Jake is the happiest because Hugh Jackman has something else at least and Terrence Howard is just one film away from a hat trick this year (Best Man Holiday).

 

OPIE DOES FORMULA ONE RACERS IN TYPICAL OPIE FASHION

Rush opens at number two and speaking of subtly, if it and complexity are colors in filmmaking then Ron Howard has never had more than a 8 piece box of Crayolas. Not 12, not 16 and definitely not the childhood prize of 64 (remember how happy you were to get that bad boy?).  He comes from mainstream television and the sad simplicity of that is driven home with every film he makes. More and more it’s clear that A Beautiful Mind was the exception and not the rule. Rush has the advantage of being a true story that people know little about (a professional competition between the freewheeling posh Englishman, James Hunt and the tightly wound Austrian Niki Lauda in Formula 1 Racing) and could care less, so you have actual tension at your disposal. It’s also set in the freewheeling (no pun intended) 70’s but to Howard who actually lived through those times it means little more than window dressing.  Long hair, bad fashion (at least on the men; women’s 70’s fashions were awesome) and some classic rock.  In a good period piece the period should be another character. Here it’s so poorly realized one woman wears the same hairstyle for six years no matter what the setting. I shit you not. When they meet, when they marry and even when she’s in the hospital by his bedside when he’s near death. It. Does. Not. Change.  Now, I do realize that still living people or their surviving relatives from whom you need rights aren’t really excited to let you portray them “warts & all” (though Niki Lauder apparently had no problem being depicted in a fairly unsympathetic fashion and I’ve no doubt being Austrian had something to do with that) but that’s no excuse for storytelling so simplistic you sometimes think the actors are reading the descriptions for their characters rather than actually speaking to one another. I feel half the dialogue between Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl is them describing one another to one another.  How do we know Chris Hemsworth’s marriage to Olivia Wilde is going to end? When they describe each other’s flaws to each other. Oh, and Hemsworth drinks about seventeen drinks in rapid succession and smokes a joint. You know, so you understand when she mentions his drinking and drug use.  Supposedly there’s some infidelity, but you’d never know because despite the numerous women we see him with, none are when he’s supposed to be married to her.  Now, you might be forgive a film about racecar drivers being short on character so long as the racing scenes are exciting but it’s fairly routine there as well. The best scene actually occurs when Hemsworth is in fact “visualizing” racing on the track at Monte Carlo, not say actually racing the dangerous rainy track in Japan at the climax of the film, which should be fraught with suspense after watching Lauda’s accident in a similarly rainy race earlier. Speed Racer had more dramatic tension and you knew he was going to win.

 

BETTER TO RULE IN HELL

Baggage Claim opens at number four, followed by Don Jon at number five and honestly I’m down for them both, but didn’t find the time for either and I think I reflect most of America in this.  Fortunately for both films neither had a budget over $9M so they’re already on the road to success despite opening low. This is good news for Paula Patton who’s been struggling for years to be the new Halle Berry and Joseph Gordon-Levitt who both wrote and directed his film, making him the latest triple threat.

 

THE BLONDE LEADING THE BLONDE

Insidious 2 is adown to number six, followed by The Family at number seven and also in this is Diana Argon and I do like her casting as the daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer. And I hope she’s learning from this, as even though Pfieffer is in her 50’s, her leading man is in his 70’s.  These are the realities of show business, baby girl.  It’s not a hit at$32M worldwide from a $30M budget, but it’s not a flop either and you can have worst things on your resume than a movie with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfieffer that was produced in part by Martin Scorsese. And to be honest, writer/director Luc Besson is not too shabby either when you’re talking international success.  Just ask Liam Neeson Jason Statham both Taken and Transporter franchises come from his company.

 

FORTUNATELY, HOLLYWOOD ALWAYS HAS WORK FOR BLONDES

Instructions Not Included is followed by We’re The Millers which now that I think about is the second comedy in the top ten about a “criminal family” which happens to have a young, pretty blonde daughter played by an actress usually cast in a slightly bitchy role. Seriously. You could swap the actresses out and I doubt either movie would change.

 

DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR EGO IN THE ASS

Closing out the top ten at number ten is Lee Daniel’s The Butler.  A word to the wise dude: Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese don’t make their names part of the official title. Only people like Tyler Perry do. It signifies more ego than talent.

 

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR PT 2

The new fall season continues to roll out and I realize I forgot a few last week so I’ll throw them in with this week’s crop…Brooklyn 99 is funnier than it has any right to be. I wasn’t expecting much beyond Andy Samberg mugging for 20 minutes a week and it’s so much more than that. He’s smarter than most former SNL members and signed up not so much to be the star but the center of a very funny ensemble cast with Andre Braugher pretty much spoofing his entire cop career as the stoic captain who just happens to be gay. And more than that , they get the lighting of New York better than any supposedly seriously cop show set here…Welcome To The Family is funny only as long as it’s about the dads and stays away from the kids. Unfortunately, the only reason situation of this comedy is about them being connected by their kids…Mom is ironically challenging Dads for the most unpleasant half hour you can spend watching TV, but due to its lack of nasty racism comes in second. But it’s a close second…Trophy Wife suffers from the same malady as Welcome To The Family: the situation of the comedy is the least amusing thing about it, in this case poor Malin Ackerman who can’t seem to catch a break on the big or small screen (she’s like a less-annoying Kate Hudson who does nudity).  Everything and everyone is funny in this show but her. You could take her out and just make this about a guy dealing with his two “wacky” ex-wives and their kids and it would be the same, though slightly better show. And you wouldn’t be faced with the ridiculous prospect of her marrying Bradley Whitford. Were there no attractive older actors available? Every time they kiss it’s so much “Ewwwww”…The Blacklist is the new The Following, as it’s basically yet another series seeming inspired by Hannibal Lecter. In this case it’s not so much brilliant serial killer but the relationship of the sophisticated criminal leading the attractive, young, female FBI agent.  It’s also The Following in that it’s painfully stupid. When super-criminal James Spader turns himself in and will only speak with one FBI Agent, they send a helicopter and an army of FBI agents just to pick her up. Later, when he escapes and is the key to a chemical bomb and a kidnapped admiral’s daughter only one agent is chasing him.  Did they use of that helicopter’s fuel budget?  Similarly, when he warns them about the admiral’s daughter kidnapping he tells them THERE WILL BE A DISTRACTION. Guess what they ignore? Dumb, dumb, dumb. The big action scene on the bridge is somewhat reminiscent of the bridge scene in Mission Impossible 3 which isn’t that strange when you realize that this episode was directed by Joe Carnahan who was originally supposed to direct MI3 before ultimately walking away…I shouldn’t laugh like I do at Back In The Game, because it will only encourage them to keep doing it, but James Caan as the crusty ex-baseball player whose former collegiate athlete daughter moves back in with him and winds up coaching the her son’s team of losers works better than it should…the promos for The Michael J. Fox Show were HORRIBLE so expectations were low for a show seemingly based on “Look, we’re not afraid to laugh at Parkinson’s!” but fortunately it’s so much more than that, while they do lean on that crutch a bit. Hopefully less so as the series goes on….finally, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D premiered and it was pretty much as underwhelming as I expected.  As a geek I’ve read about SHIELD all my life as a constant in the world of Marvel Comics, but that’s why it works; as kind of a sauce for the food of the heroes (there also another version where they’re like a James Bond organization led by Nick Fury that fights evil, but clearly they’re not going that way, though the opening action scene acknowledges it). SHIELD adventures without the superheroes are like sauce with no pasta or a show about the roadies for the Rolling Stones where the Rolling Stones never appear. You don’t even hear the songs.  Given the literal hundreds of Marvel Comics superheroes you think they could spare a C-list one for this show if for no other reason than an nice set up for their own film. Needless to say, I’m going to keep watching it anyway. What part of “geek” did you not understand?

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USE A WORD THAT DON’T MEAN NOTHIN’, LIKE LOOPDED

30 Sep

1. Hotel Transylvania/Sony                        Wknd/$  43.0            Total/$  43.0

2. Looper/TriStar                                         Wknd/$   21.2            Total/$  21.2

3. End of Watch/ORF                                  Wknd/$     8.0            Total/$  26.2

4. Trouble with the Curve/Warners          Wknd/$     7.5            Total/$  23.7

5. House at the End of the Street               Wknd/$     7.2            Total/$  22.2

6. Pitch Perfect/Universal                           Wknd/$     5.2            Total/$    5.2

7. Finding Nemo 3D/Disney                       Wknd/$     4.1            Total/$  36.5

8. Resident Evil Retribution/SG                 Wknd/$     3.0            Total/$  38.7

9. The Master/Weinstein                              Wknd/$     2.7            Total/$    9.6

10.Won’t Back Down/Fox                              Wknd/$     2.7            Total/$    2.7

MONSTERS MASHED

Hotel Transylvania opens at number one and I can’t help but think, “This could have been you ParaNorman.”  And I wish it had been because ParaNorman looked like it was made by people with actual talent and vision, while this comes from Adam Sandler (he’s the voice of Dracula as well as a co-writer and executive producer), so you know it probably blows. Chunks. And no I’m not just bitter because I also went to NYU like Sandler and he’s a multi-millionaire casting Salma Hayek as his wife and I’m doing this for free while being ignored by women online.  He’s made one funny film in his life and that was Happy Gilmore. The rest all blow.  All the jokes are the dumbest, weakest, lowest hanging fruit possible and I don’t believe that’s okay simply because a movie is for kids.  Pixar and the occasional Dreamworks film all prove you can be funny, be for kids and not be insultingly lazy about it (yes, I’m looking at you, Shrek, Ice Age, Madagascar, etc.).

WHERE’S THE DIGITIAL UNDERGROUND THEME SONG?

Looper opens at number two and being a geek from way back, I enjoy a good time travel movie. They almost always use paradox and it’s always fun if they make it work, like the end of The Terminator.  On the other hand you can get overrated pieces of crap like 12 Monkeys and an abomination called Retroactive whose purpose seems to punish you for staying up late and watching B-movies on cable TV. How bad was it? Two words: Jim Belushi.  That said, while this is technically science fiction, it’s also heavily hard-boiled noir, which makes sense as the first teaming of Joseph-Gordon Leavitt and director Rian Johnson was Brick, which transferred the detective genre to high school with no small measure of success.  This is basically the story of a hitman dealing both with his past and his future, but because it’s science fiction it takes what’s metaphoric and makes it literal.  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is a “Looper” which is a hitman who kills off mob targets sent back from the future. They’re called “loopers” because eventually that target will be you, so your “loop” gets closed by you.  Of course the time comes when Joseph Gordon-Leavitt has to kill himself and in the last 30 years he’s somehow become Bruce Willis.  Willis gets away and tries to change his past which is Gordon-Leavitt’s present and future—and while Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t love his  present he still wants his planned future to be his own and sets out to kill his future self while avoiding his bosses who have a horrible, vicious punishment for loopers who fail to kill their future selves.  They try to make Gordon Leavitt look a little like Willis but honestly it was unnecessary and ultimately distracting, because we know Joseph Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t look anything like Bruce Willis! And the occasional angle where he does is just weird.  Different actors play the same character all the time and no one cares.  They should have worried more about the gaping hole in the premise which is, if the problem in the future is that there’s no way to completely dispose of a body, why don’t they simply kill them there then just dump the body in the past? Because then you’d have no movie, that’s why. Now, if I can accept that hole to enjoy the movie, I can accept that Joseph Gordon-Leavitt grows two inches in his thirties and forties and the entire structure of his face changes.  That said it’s a fun ride as we jump through time not just literally in the story but in terms of the storytelling with a  flashback/flashforward at a key moment in the film. If there’s one flaw (aside from the pace bogging down a bit in the second act) it’s there’s a little too much science fiction with a subplot about people with mutant powers that really wasn’t necessary.  Take it out and you speed your film up and nothing really changes.

BETTER TO RULE IN HELL

End of Watch is down to number three and this is much-needed success for Jake Gyllenhaal who was the “It Boy” after Brokeback Mountain, but that was followed a lot of A-list failures in every conceivable genre from Jarhead to Prince of Persia to Love & Other Drugs.  This had a budget of $7M and so far has grossed $27M, which more than surpasses the “3x budget” rule that dictates actual profits.  Given his last hit was the Source Code, which also had a relatively small budget ($32M with a $147M worldwide gross) he might want to leave the big summer blockbuster work to others.

FORGET SEXY.  IT’S TIME TO BRING THE MUSIC BACK

The Trouble With the Curve is down to number four and will someone please point out to Justin Timberlake that the only reason he gets to make movies is because he’s a pop star?  And that nothing he’s been the star in has ever succeeded? Jesse Eisenberg was the star of The Social Network. Cameron Diaz was the star of Bad Teacher.  You were the star of In Time and Friends with Benefits, which both bombed. You wanna keep making movies, you better keep making music. Elvis understood this and his movies were actually successful.

BUT I’M SURE PAT BOONE LIKED IT

The House At The End of the Street is down to number five and “Glee Goes To College” aka Pitch Perfect opens at number six, giving Anna Kendrick two films in the top ten (she’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife in End of Watch) and in the latter she proves in thirty seconds all that Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, Hall & Oates, George Michael, Eminem and Justin Timberlake have spent 50 years trying to disprove: the painful stiffness of white people trying to get down.  Her trying to do Dr. Dre’s rap from BlackStreet’s “No Diggity” is one of the most excruciating musical moments on film since Michael Madsen decided to remove a man’s ear in Reservoir Dogs to Stealer’s Wheels “Stuck In The Middle With You.”  The time travel in Looper is more believable than her suddenly stirring up the crowd with her vanilla mayonnaise stylings.  Now I like Anna Kendrick.  She was great in her Oscar-nominated role in Up In The Air, but she is so painfully WASPy she has no upper lip!  I can believe she hasn’t played the uptight girlfriend of the main character who leaves her for a full-lipped, ethnic bohemian. So hearing her even use the phrase “Let’s remix this business” is like nails on a chalkboard. And all these things are from the trailer! You couldn’t have done more to keep me (and undoubtedly others) out of this film if you hired a man to kill me waiting at the door!  No wonder the bulk of the commercials stresses the comedy of Rebel Wilson because Anna Kendrick as some kind of “hip” music type is so ridiculous they may invalidate her Oscar nod.

THE ONLY SURVIVOR

Finding Nemo 3D is down to number seven, followed by Resident Evil: Retribution at number eight and The Master at number nine and also in this is Amy Adams who is also in The Trouble With The Curve and despite the fact that she’s clearly ascended to the A-list with two Oscar nominations for The Fighter and Junebug, to me she’ll always be the girl who played the Sarah Michelle Gellar role in the Cruel Intentions prequel ironically called Cruel Intentions 2.  Yes, they made a prequel, but it was originally supposed to an entire series that was a prequel to the movie, but was cancelled before it even aired because Aaron Spelling found it so offensive.  It’s so bad and so over-the-top with its attempt to show how decadent rich kids are it’s hysterical (they make the Gossip Girl cast look like 3rd graders).  They also break the fourth wall with direct looks at the camera and at one point they comment on how their conversation “sounds like dialogue from a cancelled TV series.” She was also on Smallville, which brings her full circle as she’s Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel.

TO SCABS WITH LOVE

Finally, Won’t Back Down enters the top ten at number ten and has apparently pissed off every teacher in the nation as it’s basically an anti-teacher’s union, pro-charter school movie.  Makes no difference to me. I wasn’t gong to see it when I thought it was just another “spunky single mom and dedicated teacher fight the system” movie with no political leanings.  But it not only gives us two Gyllenhaals in the top ten, but a reunion of Radio Raheem and Tina from Do The Right Thing as also starring in this are Bill Nunn and Rosie Perez. Think she dances in the credits to this?  Too bad.  That might be worth seeing.

ANYBODY CAN HAVE FRIENDS OR READ BOOKS

The most wonderful time of the year continues as the Fall TV Season rollout continues.  I try to give everything a even shake, but couldn’t make through a full episode of Partners, which is about—get this—a gay guy and straight guy who are lifelong friend. OH. MY GOD!  This is barrier breaking…if this were 1982.  It’s from the guys who gave us Will & Grace and is based on their relationship, just as Will & Grace was also based on the relationship of one of the team with his unknowing girlfriend.  Honestly, that was clearly the more interesting relationship because this just recycles most of that.  It’s more like “Straight Will & Jack” which is a show no one asked for.  There’s even a Rosario character continuing the disturbing habit of gay men who feel their own disenfranchised state frees them to stereotype others (see the “Sassy Black Female” currently used on The New Normal and the horrible Asian stereotype continuing on Two Broke Girls).  I like Brandon Routh and Sophia Bush and hope they both find better work soon…Vegas comes from none other than Nicholas Pileggi who wrote both the Goodfellas screenplay and the book it was based upon.  He’s also the executive producer here .  No wonder this was one of the more entertaining things I’ve seen so far this year.  It’s set in the early 60’s when Vegas was just beginning to grow and how that new world of money & the mob runs into the old world already there; specifically rancher turned sheriff Dennis Quaid. He’s based on a real sheriff who’s also a consultant on the show so hopefully the abundance people concerned with actual facts will give this show a nice edge that all the other shows borne out of an attempt to cash in on Mad Men have lacked (yes, I’m looking at you Playboy Club and Pan Am).  One thing I like that is that Dennis Quaid is only doing the job because he wants the mayor to keep planes from flying over his property.  So it starts off as quid pro quo more than any need or concern for justice.  It’s also has a nice cast of character actors, including James Russo who’s always nice to see.  The only problem is he can’t really “win” because we know the mob ran Vegas during that time period and no one pretended they didn’t so it’ll be interesting to see how they balance out reality with a TV need to see good guys win on a weekly basis.  But you know what I would really love?  If they had an appearance by a young boy named Dan Tanna.  That’s a joke for the old people…CBS clearly has room for only one show by smart people, which is unfortunate when your show about a smart character isn’t that show.  Elementary is the attempt to cash in on the Sherlock Holmes resurgence going on with hit movies and the hit BBC modern interpretation. The difference being those are run by the English and they aren’t going to dumb down others to make Sherlock look smart. They’re just going to make him smart. Elementary is American so everyone else has to be dumb for him to be smarter (the smartest thing they do is the use of Elvis Costello’s “Watching The Detectives”).  They also wuss out on the acerbic personality of Holmes, which makes no sense. If an unapologetic rude Sherlock Holmes is something people are clearly willing to pay to see in the theater, what makes you think they want your “Oh, I’m sorry” Holmes for free?  Unfortunately, I have a weakness for shows shot in NYC and Lucy Liu, so I’ll probably give this another shot….now truly stupid is the basic premise of Made in Jersey, because if there’s anything that’s not even remotely unique or unusual it’s a girl from New Jersey working in Manhattan, but whomever ever created this show seems not only to lack a basic knowledge of the city but of basic geography.  This would make sense if the show was set in the south where a Jersey girl (the working-class aspect is given in shows like these) would stand out. In New York City there are literally millions of people from New Jersey who come into work every. single. day.  She wouldn’t stand out, she wouldn’t be special and she’d be far from the toughest person walking the streets as we’re supposed to gather from the way she confronts a bike messenger in the first five minutes. They’ve clearly confused the Upper East Side of Manhattan for all of New York, because everyone in the law firm where she works is clearly some kind of uber-WASP while she’s earthy and ethnic (with a last name that ends in a vowel). And of course, she just can’t be really smart; everyone else has to be a little dumb to make her look smart. In the first 5 minutes she’s the only person who realizes you can’t kill someone by hitting them with just a pair of pliers because apparently no else has ever touched a pair in their lives. At first glance this seems like they’re trying to cash in on The Jersey Shore, but while that clearly has something to do with it, it’s actually a junior sized (translation “younger female lead”) version of The Good Wife (they even give her a kickass ethnic investigator to work with), meaning it’s a police procedural masquerading as a legal drama, only lacking in all the nuances that make The Good Wife interesting. Not to mention her accent is wrong (she’s doing Brooklyn) and she’s too damn skinny as evidenced by the fact none of her casual shirts seem to fit and always “just happen” to reveal her flat, toned stomach…I don’t do the scary at the movies and I don’t do it on TV either, so 666 Park Avenue will not happen for me.