Tag Archives: Manchester By the Sea

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

12 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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