Tag Archives: Morris Chestnut

MAGNIFICENT DIVERSITY

26 Sep

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1. The Magnificent Seven/Sony         Wknd/$ 35.0     Total/$ 35.0
2. Storks/WB                                         Wknd/$ 21.8     Total/$ 21.8
3. Sully/WB                                            Wknd/$ 13.8     Total/$ 92.4
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary/Universal   Wknd/$ 4.5       Total/$ 16.5
5. Snowden/ORF                                  Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 15.1
6. Blair Witch/LGF                               Wknd/$ 4.0       Total/$ 16.1
7. Don’t Breathe/SGems                      Wknd/$ 3.8       Total/$ 81.1
8. Suicide Squad/WB                           Wknd/$ 3.1        Total/$ 318.1
9. When The Bough Breaks/SGem    Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 26.6
10. Kubo & The Two Strings/Focus   Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 46.0

MAYBE THE NEXT TIME THERE’LL BE WOMEN OF COLOR
The Magnificent Seven opens at number one and do you know what every single remake of The Seven Samurai has in common? No matter how ridiculously inept they may be (I’m looking at you TV version which became a series), they’re still as entertaining as fuck. This is no exception. It’s not superlative in any way shape or form beyond making minorities the majority of the seven and making the people in need of help white rather than a bunch of Mexicans speaking accented English. In fact, it’s actually staggering in how shallow the characterization is, but if you know anything about Antoine Fuqua action movies that’s not surprising. Then again in the first western remake you really didn’t know anything beyond Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen or Robert Vaughn or James Coburn beyond some surface color (cool gunfighter, fancy dan gun for hire) and this is pretty much the same, so in fact it’s half-assing any attempt to give them depth that’s a problem. Either do it or don’t. There is no try. Honestly, what made them watchable before is the same as now and that’s the charisma that seasoned actors like Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Peter Skarsgaard (and movie stars like Chris Pratt and Byung-Hun Lee) bring to it. So if you want to watch good guy movie stars mow down lots of faceless stuntmen—and every action movie ever says you do—then this isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. However, if you think an action movie in 2016 should be a bit more sophisticated than a movie made in 1960 then perhaps it’s not.

SOME BULLSHIT RIGHT HERE
Storks opens at number two and when small children in your audience keep making noise when the trailer for your animated movie comes up, then your movie is probably shit. No child anywhere ever went silent for Storks. It looks as unfunny as shit and only makes you count the days before the next Disney or Pixar movie.

SAVING US ALL
Sully is down to number three and its success returns Tom Hanks safely to his perch as “America’s Dad” after a series of misfires and keeps him away from playing Miles Teller’s dad one more day. Unfortunately its success also allows Clint Eastwood to remain safely in his position as “America’s Slightly Racist Sexist Grandfather Who Doesn’t Think He’s a Sexist Racist.”

YOU’RE LUCKY YOU HAD GRAY’S ANATOMY. SERIOUSLY.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is down to number four and while I loves me some Bridget Jones, I’ve never seen or read anything beyond the first book and movie (which are decidedly different but equally entertaining). Ironically, while there was no reason whatsoever for Hugh Grant to be in a sequel, Patrick Dempsey is such a poor replacement you wish they’d bent over backwards to find a way. There’s absolutely no way he’s competition for Colin Firth in anything, anywhere at any time. He is proof positive some people simply do not have the presence to occupy the big screen. Clooney can, Dempsey cannot. It’s just that simple. See you in your new show with a decade-younger wife in the fall of 2017.

AND SO IT BEGINS…
Snowden is down to number four and this signals the official beginning to Oscar-bait season. In other words, I’ll see it only once it’s been nominated by a body I respect (not you Hollywood Foreign Press). I have a firm rule against Oliver Stone so it has to be exceptional to make me break it.

ONCE AN INNOVATOR NOW JUST ANOTHER FACE IN THE CROWD
Blair Witch is down to number six and the movie that not only kicked off the “found footage” horror genre but “viral marketing” is back for another serving. It cost $5M to make and has so far made $15M. Of course if they were really smart they’d have waited until Halloween, but they’ve been out of the fame awhile. Needless to say I didn’t see it as I did not see the first and have only seen one “found footage” movie (Cloverfield) and regretted the shit out of it.

HAVE SOME GODDAMN STANDARDS FOR YOUR SCARY
Ironically, one of Blair Witch’s low-budget horror stepchildren is showing how it’s done in Don’t Breathe, which is down to number seven, but has made a whopping $91M off a paltry $10M budget. That’s fucking ridiculous. What’s wrong with you people!?!

YET ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THIS MOVIE
Suicide Squad is down to number seven showing ridiculous legs even in a weak movie season. So far it’s out-grossed Man of Steel while costing less and is only $12M away from Batman v. Superman’s domestic gross. To repeat: a superhero concept almost no one knows has outgrossed the most famous superhero ever and is gaining on the first ever screen outing of the three most famous superheroes ever. But the greatest sin is that it’s helping to sustain the career of Jai Courtney, aka Sam Worthington 2.0. Proof positive that no matter what Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth have led you to believe, not all Australians are charismatic.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
When The Bough Breaks is down to number nine, but like the other low-budget films on this list that is not the end of the world because it only cost $10M to make and so far has made almost $27M. Sadly I estimated 2o years ago that if you wanted to make Black films keep the costs $8-10M and you’d be okay and nothing has changed. If you’re not Denzel Washington or Will Smith keep it low. Or better yet, just stick to TV where the checks come every week for years like the lead of this, Morris Chestnut, has learned and the female lead, Regina Hall is hoping to learn with that shitty looking TV adaptation of Uncle Buck. Just ask Keenan on Saturday Night Live who has become the new Tim Meadows who did not become the new Eddie Murphy.

A PRETTY PICTURE OF FAILURE
Finally, Kubo & The Two Strings closes out the top ten at number ten and maybe this will teach these guys to stop trying to write their own stuff.

THE MOST WONDERFULEST TIME OF THE YEAR

The new fall season has started and because I love, love, loves me some TV I try to give every new show a shot. I mean unless it stars someone like Kevin James or Tim Allen or that douchey-looking guy from CSI who should have stuck with a sure thing and not let his agent blow smoke up his ass that he was some kinda lead. Especially in a show inspired by fucking Dr. Phil. But it’s on CBS and people who watch CBS will watch any. fucking. thing.

Atlanta: I was never a fan of Community. A little of that show went a long way and the jokes were always a beat or two off from truly being effective in my opinion. But I am a fan of Donald Glover and his music under Childish Gambino after avoiding it for years because of that stupid name. Also, being from Atlanta I had to give it a shot…and it is some good shit. Aside from the fact it’s getting a total pass on FXX for language (yes, the F bomb drops regularly) it’s wonderfully weird for the sheer sake of being weird and indulges in mercifully needed irreverent wit in black-centric TV shows, especially comedy. In a world where Michael Epps works far too much this is needed like oxygen. And the character of Darius is everything for me. He takes the weird sidekick beyond the one-note level of the average weird sidekick.

Designated Survivor: I have to admit this sounds more like the premise of a movie starring Larry the Cable Guy or Adam Sandler than a dramatic show much less a real thing, but it is very much a real thing and while I was just giving the show a cursory look, it hooked the shit out of me. They stacked the deck hard with Keifer Sutherland’s character as the the bleeding heart Housing Secretary (who was actually being fired by the president the day of the terrorist attack) who has to man up for a nation in chaos, but you know he’s going to and you want to see it happen. Even the improbably pretty and painfully thin Maggie Q as a seasoned anti-terrorist FBI agent doesn’t take away from it.

Lethal Weapon: I can’t help but think this is a way of pushing Mel Gibson out of public consciousness once and for all. After all, the first one came out in the 80’s and unlike the superior Die Hard hasn’t really continued into the new century for the kids to know it. At the same time it’s amazing it took this long for them to do it. Back in the old days a successful movie had a TV series based on it the next year, not 30 years later. But Keenan Wayans isn’t complaining. Last time you saw him he was playing his fully adult son’s father on Happy Endings about three years ago (sigh, has it been that long). At one point in his stand up years ago he joked about how his film career vanished. The show is as silly and disconnected from reality as the movies ever were so if you liked them, you’ll probably like this. I never liked the movies and in fact like this a bit better because it doesn’t ask you to take it all that seriously. It’s Bugs Bunny as an action hero and as stupid as it is, maybe a little less stupid than the movies. Certainly less ham-fisted.

The Good Place: Another show that seems more like a movie concept than a sustaining series turned out to have more to it that meets the eye. Kristen Bell is a pretty awful person who mistakenly gets into a neighborhood in heaven, but we learn heaven is far from perfect which is what saves it from being a dull show about her learning a lesson in sharing & caring each week. Not only is its designer, Ted Danson, enormously flawed, but even the other people there are a tad questionable. Best part: the sins and virtues that got people in and kept them out are hysterical as they’re on a point scale. Commissioner of any Sports Organization is a negative but being a devoted Cleveland Browns Fan is a positive. Being a vegan is a positive, but being a vegan who never reveals this unless prompted is even more points.

Better Things: I like all the tiny brunettes in Hollywood and Pamela Aldon is no exception and that she opens the show with her and another tiny brunette, Constance Zimmer, audition for the same role endeared this show to me instantly. The only way it could have been better would be to have Janeane Garafolo also show up. Granted, the world didn’t need yet another behind-the-scenes of the lives of show business people because they aren’t nearly as interesting to us as they think they are, there’s enough here worth watching as it’s just as much about her raising her three daughters and dealing with an English mother who lives across the street. That it’s yet another show that allows celebrities to play obnoxious versions of themselves is another plus. David Duchovny repays his Californication co-star in the third episode.

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LIKE, LATTER DAY ROGER MOORE BAD

9 Nov

Heineken-James-Bond-2-GQ-21Aug15-pr_b_720x1080

1. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 73.0   Total/$ 73.0
2. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 45.0   Total/$ 45.0
3. The Martian/Fox                                   Wknd/$ 9.3      Total/$ 197.1
4. Goosebumps/Sony                                Wknd/$ 7.0     Total/$ 66.4
5. Bridge of Spies/Disney                         Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 55.0
6. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                  Wknd/$ 3.6     Total/$ 161.3
7. Burnt/Weinstein                                    Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 10.2
8. The Last Witch Hunter/LG                  Wknd/$ 2.7     Total/$ 23.6
9. The Intern/WB                                        Wknd/$ 1.8    Total/$ 71.4
10. Paranormal Activity/Paramount       Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 16.3

STUPID. VERY STUPID.
Spectre opens at number one and it’s no secret how much I hated Skyfall. I hated Skyfall so, I went back to look at Quantum of Solace to give it another chance and realized it wasn’t so bad (it’s a good Bond movie until they bring back Matthias from Casino Royale). Bond and stupid stories go together like peanut butter and jelly, but Bond, stupid stories and a painful amount of ennui got together like peanut better, jelly and sardines. Spectre is not as bad as Skyfall though it possibly may even more stupid ironically because it’s trying to patch up some of Skyfall’s stupidity (though not why Bond took M out to the middle of nowhere which got her killed and how he still has a job afterwards). Also it’s needlessly fucking long. Where other Bond movies wisely ended with the destruction of the villain’s base, the apparent death of the villain and the saving of the girl, this goes on for another half hour. Hell, for all I know it kept going on after I left. Also in its attempt to patch up a little of Skyfall stupidity it makes the whole of the Daniel Craig run dumber because it tries to tie them all together. Now, SPECTRE was a Bond nemesis back in the day and yes, they were behind the events of Thunderball, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but now imagine if suddenly they claimed they were behind Dr. No and Goldfinger when they clearly were not (ironically they weren’t in the book of From Russia with Love, but were in the book Dr. No). It would make no sense just as all this now makes no sense. Now suddenly this reboot has become a quad-logy, all being forced into being one giant story when they clearly were not meant to be one. Which is stupid. Even when Bond was fighting SPECTRE (it means Special Executive for Counter Intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion) in every film they didn’t act like every film was a sequel to the previous one. Bond did other things totally unrelated to pursuing the organization, which makes me realize that Daniel Craig is the most worst Bond ever. No, not as actor. He’s great in fact. No, as a secret agent. The Craig Bond is the only Bond who isn’t shown regularly as being a competent agent completing missions without massive exposure (he apparently missed the “secret” class in secret agent school) civilian damage like a superhero or Godzilla movie. In the pre-title sequence every Bond is shown completing a mission more or less cleanly, then starting the main story. Craig only does that his first film. Since then, because they have tried to make this one long damn story, he’s never really shown operating with any kind proficiency, again begging the question: how does this muthafucka keep his job?

ALL THAT’S MISSING IS THE SNOOPY VS. RED BARON SONG
The Peanuts Movie opens ironically at number two and I say ironically because both Peanuts and James Bond were products of the 50’s and achieved nuclear mass of popularity in the 60’s. Also, both films throw out calls to their popular past in both films. There are references to actual strip, the famous Christmas special and the Halloween Special. In addition we have Snoopy fighting The Red Baron, being a novelist and the basic plot revolves around Charlie Brown trying to impress The Little Redheaded Girl. It also goes out of its way to remain in a type of bubble were time hasn’t passed, because Snoopy doesn’t use a computer to write his novel, but a typewriter and I have to wonder if the main audience even knows what those are (they must of realized it because they actually have Snoopy figuring out how it works). But here are no flatscreen TV’s, video games, cell phones or even cordless landlines in this world. The only nod to modernity is that Charlie Brown doesn’t wear short pants. He’s also given more dignity than before. Charles Schultz was adamant about the fact that Charlie Brown always had to lose. Even when he won, he had to lose (in one series of strips Charlie Brown wears a paper sack to hide a baseball stitching rash and becomes a star of summer camp as “Mr. Sack” which he loses immediately after losing the sack). It honestly bordered on sadism towards the end and thankfully his children, who are both producers and writers here are much easier on the character. Charlie Brown is allowed moments of quiet triumph even when he fails and given a solid victory in the end. They also balance out Charlie Brown’s disappointments with Snoopy’s literal flights of fancy. In fact there may be a little too much of Snoopy as the supporting cast gets a short shrift as a result. Linus seems to come in and out as Charlie Brown’s best friend and you’d never know he and Lucy are related. Still, it’s nice to have a new Peanuts cartoon and they can’t get enough points for keeping the computer animation faithful to Schultz’s style.

I FEEL YOU…NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT
The Martian is down to number three and also in this is Donald Glover who’s playing basically the character he played on Community who comes up with a plan to help save Matt Damon…which seems pretty obvious and it’s kind of a wonder absolutely no one else thought of it, as the astrophysics he suggests are quite common. It was the only moment I didn’t feel like a mouth breathing moron. His presence is notable to me because I’ve been listening to his music as Childish Gambino lately. Like my buddy, I was put off by both his name and another actor doing music, but it’s not bad. I can live without his rapping but I won’t pretend it’s a relief to hear someone rap about something other than “money, clothes an’ hoes.” This doesn’t make it good though. I mean, I can actually relate to him talking about growing up assimilated in freaking Georgia, but still it annoys me and comes off as whining. When will these kids learn you can “diss the haters” without acknowledging that their criticisms have affected you, which is all they wanted. However, his R&B game is strong. Seriously. “Sober” is my jam. He should stick to song and singing, because that’s where he clicks. Even the raps in the songs are better (mainly because he’s not whining). Even his covers are good, as he kills Tamia’s “So Into You.”

UNLESS SOMEONE KICKS THE WOLFMAN IN THE NARDS, I DON’T CARE
Goosebumps is down to number four and I’m actually impressed someone was smart enough to release a movies geared to kids at Halloween, as it is the second most profitable holiday. I was too old for the books by the time they came out, but I wouldn’t mind watching this on cable next year. It’ll never be Monster Squad, but then again, nothing ever will.

EVENTUALLY
Bridge of Spies is down to number five and this is pure Oscar bait, so I will see it…eventually. I’m in no hurry and it’s not going anywhere until awards season is well underway.

IT’S CALLED “WHORING ONE’S SELF OUT”
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number six and this was a much needed win for Adam Sandler who’s taken a long overdue beating this year for being the shitty, unfunny comedian he’s always been. What’s truly shocking is that both these movies come from the man behind Samurai Jack, a truly inspired bit of animation. I guess he’s got bills to pay, ‘cause you can’t buy a house for your family on geek praise. Thankfully, he says he’s done with these characters, which, if he actually owns them means something. If not, they’ll be a million more with a different director.

LOOKS BETTER THAN IT TASTES
Burnt is down to number seven and you know you’re dealing with an unimaginative film when the great French father figure chef is named “Jean Luc.” Hell, it’s a miracle it’s not “Jean Pierre.” Thankfully, I didn’t expect much from Burnt so I was able to enjoy it. I wanted pretty people, in a pretty location and pretty shots of food and got all three. Bradley Cooper is the chef making a comeback after burning out on drugs and Sienna Miller is the upcoming sous chef he gets fired to make her work with him. Check. It’s in London and not the London of Guy Ritchie films. Check. Lots and lots of pretty food shots. All that’s missing are shots of more people in ecstasy as they eat it. That’s an essential part of any kind of porn. But take out the great location cursing and you have something that’s little more than a TV movie level of filmmaking. Hint: if part of your character’s motivation involves him having to atone to a dying old man YOU HAVE TO SHOW THAT DYING OLD MAN AT SOME POINT. I’m not kidding. Cooper gets an old friend to make him head chef to a) make it up to the old friend and b) help the old friend impress his father before his father dies and we never ever see the father, much less his response to Cooper’s return or the new restaurant. There’s also a cute kid, a rival chef who was once a friend, a threat from gangsters from the past and of course the great French father figure chef has a beautiful daughter he was once involved with. So many clichés and not a single one made much more than that. Cooper’s original bad boy chef run on the TV show Kitchen Confidential (based very loosely on Anthony Bourdain’s book) was better.

BETTER GET TO WORK ON FAST & THE FURIOUS 8
The Last Witch Hunter is down to number eight and this is Vin Diesel’s attempt to make a third franchise and if he had concentrated on simply making a solid movie than a franchise he might have succeeded. He plays a man made immortal as seeming punishment by The Witch Queen he kills after she murders most of his village with a plague including his wife and daughter. It backfired because he’s now spent 800 years hunting witches as an agent of The Church. Now there’s a treaty between them and the witches. Don’t use magic on humans and every thing is good. But of course now someone has decided to bring back the Witch Queen and Diesel has to stop them. The most interesting aspect of this movie is the idea that witches live in their own underground community among us with bars, clubs and yes, online groups where they talk about how much they hate Vin Diesel. That lets you know how much the main plot fails as “the heavy” the person trying to bring back The Witch Queen, is given no real personality or motivation beyond “just ‘cause.” If they’d made him a character and possibly shown this underground community divided about her return you might have had a better movie. Same for Diesel’s character who’s longing for his lost wife and child comes and goes when needed. There should be more melancholy from given he’s been cursed with immortality, not blessed. Even Highlander got this right.

ALSO DENIRO’S “COMEDY PHASE” WILL CONTINUE
The Intern is down to number eight and this did over $100M overseas. What. The. Fuck? I like Anne Hathaway, but seriously? So yeah, off a $35M budget, $180M total worldwide and even though the studio will get less than half that, combined with the domestic take it will insure that Nancy Meyers will continue to get money to make her pretty, lily white movies. Perfect for you people who haven’t over losing Nora Ephron.

I’M GOING TO SPOIL IT BECAUSE I DON’T CARE
Finally, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension closes out the top ten at number ten and not even Halloween could breathe life into this franchise which single-handedly resuscitated the low-budget “found footage” genre. This is lowest grossing entry of the franchise, which seems to crank out a movie every three six months. It’s also supposed to be the last, which blows because apparently the demon that’s been terrorizing multiple families, killing them and taking their kids. He wins. Seriously. That’s the end. He kills everyone and takes the child. What the fuck!?! This isn’t the 70’s! Why would you end on such a shitty note!?!

THE END OF THE FALL
Final show watched for the fall season…

Rosewood: while I’m glad Morris Chestnut got his own show after all these years and am impressed by a show that’s not only got two minority leads (Black male, Latina female), but also an interracial lesbian couple supporting, it just didn’t grab me and honestly I found it annoying. Yes, it’s a pilot where they do every freaking thing over-the-top for stupid network executives who think it’s other people who are dumb, but him constantly being the “smartest guy in the room” wasn’t so much charming as annoying. That he’s trying to grab every moment of life because he has a heart defect that should have killed him already simply wasn’t enough. But I hope enough people watch to keep it on the air. It’s just that I won’t watch it.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Lost me the moment she started to sing. Sorry. But I am impressed that the ex-boyfriend from summer camp she wants is an Asian male and he’s just another bro. Progress, people.

Supergirl: Okay, this was the big one. CBS deliberately leaked the pilot last year due to the bad buzz that was being generated over its horrible trailer/commercial where it seemed like the SNL skit about a Black Widow movie where it had to be a romantic comedy rather than an action movie because it was about a woman. Honestly, once you get past that part, it becomes a decent TV show. The first episode was still very painfully “a pilot” meaning, again, everything is dumbed down and over the stop because stupid network executives think it’s “other” people who are dumb and not them, but it’s from the people who brought you Arrow and The Flash and they take a little while to find their feet. And yes, while there will still be moments of painful stupidity, the human element it brings (not to mention the geek elements) will hopefully make up for it. I mean, it’s utterly stupid that she doesn’t have any contact with Superman. Until she showed up, he thought he was alone, but doesn’t spend much time with the only other survivor of Krypton who is a freaking blood relative!?! And just a child who’s lost everything!?! Not to mention apparently a Kryptonian prison crashed on earth just after Supergirl releasing all of them on Earth. Pretty sure that would be priority number one for him. The cherry on top is Supergirl’s aunt (twin sister to her mother of course) was in the prison and now wants to take over Earth. So again: other Kyrptonians, some actually related to him and a threat to the world and he’s not around!?! Not even to train her (in the comics he trained her secretly for a year)? They’re seriously pushing suspension of disbelief. This is a movie about superpowered flying aliens in primary colors and they’re pushing suspension of disbelief. That said, I love, love, fucking love it’s true to what Superman is supposed to be: bright and shiny. Supergirl loves having superpowers and loves helping people. There’s no moping or whining. I’m in it for the long haul. Hell, I watched all ten years of Smallville. I can handle this.

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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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CAFFEINE RUSH: DIE HARD IN A STARBUCKS

24 Mar

Vera-Farmiga-roar-1600665-374-450

1. The Croods/Fox                                       Wknd/$ 44.7             Total/$ 44.7

2. Olympus Has Fallen/FD                        Wknd/$ 30.5             Total/$ 30.5

3. Oz The Great & Powerful/ Disney        Wknd/$ 22.0             Total/$177.6

4. The Call/TriStar                                       Wknd/$   8.7            Total/$  30.9

5. Admission/Focus                                     Wknd/$   6.4              Total/$    6.4

6. Spring Breakers/A24                               Wknd/$   5.0              Total/$    5.4

7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone        Wknd/$   4.3              Total/$  17.4

8. Jack the Giant Slayer/Warners             Wknd/$   3.0              Total$    59.1

9. Identity Thief/Universal                         Wknd/$   2.5              Total/$127.7

10. Snitch/LGF                                               Wknd/$   1.9               Total/$  40.3

DID THEY CHECK THE DIRECTOR’S RESUME?

The Croods opens at number one and I stopped seeing every single CGI animated film that comes down the pike awhile back because the allure of the sheer beauty of the imagery wore off long ago.  They ALL look good so they have to bring something more and I honestly didn’t see anything all that appealing to me in the trailers here.  The early indications that this young girl’s curiosity brought her family into a new way of life were seemingly abandoned for scenes of silliness in a way that say, trailers for Brave took pains to avoid (not that Brave didn’t ultimately disappoint me too).  You knew that film possibly was essentially about character in the midst of everything else.  This film is about jokes where fire is thought to be a living thing you might to try and hide from in the dry grass.  Yeah, exactly.  No matter how often Pixar succeeds with both heart and actual wit other companies still are content to just coast on the most basic belly laugh or gag and leave out the former entirely.  What’s sad is that one of the directors actually comes from Disney, having worked as a writer on Beauty & The Beast, Mulan, The Lion King, Aladdin and the underrated Lilo & Stich. The other director, however, brought us Chimps in Space.  ‘Nuff said.

VALHALLA, HOWEVER, IS STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Olympus Has Fallen is a glorious R-rated throwback to the action films of the 80’s and I mean that as a compliment.  For most of the 80’s and well into the 90’s every other film was “Die Hard on a ____.” Speed was actually sold as “Die Hard on bus.”  Passenger 52 was “Die Hard on a plane.”  And Under Siege was “Die Hard on a warship” (its underrated sequel was “Die Hard on a train”).  It’s such an effective storyline of a man against the odds it almost always works no matter how inept the talent.  I’ve seen film that was “Die Hard in nuclear silo” with Dolph Lundgren another that was “Die Hard on a military transport plane” that were both enjoyable on a late Saturday night on cable.  But even I drew the line at—Zeus as my witness—one set at a beauty pageant.  Maybe if they’d let Miss Alabama be the hero instead of some dude…  That this opened well isn’t so much a surprise as the fact the basic plot a) hasn’t been done before (there’s another one coming this year with Channing Tatum and Jaime Foxx) and b) the basic “Die Hard on a ____” concept has been left languishing sometime.  No cliché goes unturned here.  Our hero is one type of badass (Secret Service) with a history of being another type of badass (special forces; it’s always special forces) who has suffered a type of traumatic failure in his past (in this case saving the president over the First Lady) and the ongoing crisis is a way to redemption.  Also the villain is of course an international terrorist aided by a traitor (his motivation? The bailout of the banks, I shit you not).  While it seems like this continues making North Korea our new boogey men (because everyone lacks the balls to make it China whose backing of North Korea is ironically the only reason it’s still standing), it honestly lacks even those balls and he is actually unaffiliated, missing the brilliant twist of Die Hard of the bad guys just being thieves pretending to be terrorists.  Some of that self-awareness would be been welcome here, but it wasn’t missed thanks to a steady stream of non-stop, blood-drenched, wise-cracking hero action that moves steadily enough that you never stop to think about how utterly stupid and improbable this all is. You know, like Die Hard.  It also has a solid cast of actors good enough to keep a straight face and sell this, probably with the knowledge it will pay for another project to remind people they are actual actors.

YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE THIS RIDE

Oz The Great & Powerful is down to number three, followed by The Call at number four and speaking of Under Siege, also in this is Morris Chestnut who was in Under Siege 2 and for awhile he was in contention for who’d be the next Denzel Washington along with Taye Diggs and few others only to wind up the lead in smaller films and a supporting player in larger ones because apparently there’s a height requirement to be THE African American leading man and none of them met it.  Personally, I feel it’s what ultimately limited Wesley Snipes. It can’t simply be because he was nuts because so is Nicholas Cage.  Nope. America wants it’s leading man negroes tall. Let me put it this way: Sidney Poitier is 6’2”.

BLERG THE MOVIE!

Admission opens at number four and while I understand why, after seven years of writing and starring in a weekly show Tina Fey would like to just show up for work, the simple fact is she shouldn’t appear in anything she doesn’t write because we have certain expectations from just seeing her onscreen and there’s no way something from one of the directors of American Pie is going to live up to that.  There was not one ounce of the trademark wit we expect from her in the trailers for this and so her fanbase clearly took a pass fearing what most critics have now confirmed.  Come on and give us the thinly veiled Liz Lemon we want on the big screen, Tina!

YOU DON’T SEE  JENNIFER LAWRENCE DOING THIS

Finally opening wide and entering the top ten at number five is the most discussed movie at the moment, Spring Breakers, which honestly is a relief because I swear I’ve been reading about this for a year.  It’s most noted for being yet another attempt by child stars trying to grow up by doing something edgy and honestly that they’re not playing drug addicted hookers instantly makes it better than most attempts.  Here, they’re girls who decided to fund their spring break by committing a robbery on the way and it continues on a downward spiral there once they meet a corn-rowed James Franco who seems considerably more invested in this role than Oz and has the reviews to match.  My lack of interest in seeing this is actually the reason most seem to like it: its deliberate haze of sleaze.  I felt nauseous just watching the sun-drenched dayglow trailer.  I could practically smell the vomit from vodka-laced drinks, so I can’t imagine sitting through two hours of it.  My other reason is how hipsters are flocking to this, making it “the” film to see and then quote as if they’re doing something subversive, much like the actresses making it.  It’s ironic, dontcha think?

SOON RETURNING TO A WEEKLY TV SHOW

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is down to number six and also in this as mentioned last week is Olivia Wilde whose minutes as the “hot girl” of the moment are ticking away thanks to yet another disappointing movie.  This started off with Cowboys and Aliens, continued with The Change Up on through the disappointing Tron: Legacy and add to that The Words, In Time, Deadfall, People Like Us and Butter.  Only London in WWII saw so many bombs.  But if you need any more confirmation of her questionable taste know that she had her choice of men in Hollywood and is now engaged to Jason Sudeikis.  Yeah, I said it.

THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH ABOUT RYAN REYNOLDS

Jack the Giant Slayer is down to number seven, followed by Identity Thief at number eight and speaking of failures, what does it say that a poorly reviewed film starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy is a hit, while a poorly reviewed film starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds tanked?  I think we know.

SOME PEOPLE CAN’T GET OUT OF THEIR OWN WAY

Finally, Snitch closes out the top ten at number ten and somewhere rather than simply do his own version of Die Hard, The Rock is signing contracts for a spin-off of Fast & The Furious and probably another bad family film which the sole point of humor is this big dude dealing with a kid.

BAD BOOKS MAKE GOOD MOVIES MAKE MEDIOCRE TV

TV never stops (thank god) and this week’s new entry is The Bates Motel, a prequel series about Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. Hell, that he was named after his mom is pretty much all we need to know about why Norman started hacking people up.  This however, purports to give us even more answers to questions we never asked and honestly it lost me at Norman’s hot teacher advisor at high school (yes, it’s “I Was A Teen Psycho”). Had she been played by an older, less attractive woman it would be more of a shock that she dies one day, but that she’s young and hot, you can practically see the countdown clock over her head ticking away.  Ditto the very forward hot teenage girl who practically mounts him within moments of their meeting and her equally hot friends. Someone’s gonna notice that the varsity cheerleading squad all died soon after Norman came to town, no?  Yes, they’re trying to set the town up as already having dark & dirty secrets, but clearly those aren’t the type with an escalating body count that would command notice. I love Vera Farmiga.  She’s pretty much great in everything she does and this is no exception.  You see her casual passive aggressive possessive behavior to Norman clearly laying the groundwork for his demented persona and she does it all well without leaning over into camp.  Now, the film opens with a scene strongly suggesting that she’s murdered her husband and even if she didn’t, she clearly could give a shit. This is why it didn’t need a scene with her killing a guy but only after he handcuffs and rapes her on the kitchen table (the assailant is the previous owner of the hotel who resents her buying it from the bank).  Rape is a cheap, lazy device in the hands of most writers and it would have been the same scene if he’d tried and failed (Norman does show up to his mother’s rescue).  It would have been even better if he’d returned drunk but non-violent saying he’d found away to get his hotel back and she killed him. It would have been better if Norman had encountered him first and assaulted him and his mother then killed him and told Norman he was responsible  There were far too many ways to make a statement about her character and setting Norman for a nice dose of mother controlling guilt than a graphic rape scene.  I won’t even get into Norman discovering Japanese comic book porn, which is clearly supposed to be aiding his way into darkness. That’s when you know they just stopped trying. I’ll be sticking to the fun silliness of The Following and giving this a pass. Besides, I already know how it ends.

“HEY, I’M PHOTOGRAPHIN’ HERE! I’M PHOTOGRAPHING HERE!

The greatness of New York isn’t merely that the space in my neighborhood where a hardware store used to be is now a gay bar called “Hardware” (get it?) or that it’s right around from another gay bar called “FairyTail” (get it?).  Not, it’s how New Yorkers simultaneously don’t give a shit about you but have no problems getting all up in your business.  Case in point, Friday night. I haven’t been doing much of my beloved night shooting because now that the enthusiasm of both riding my bike and taking photos has diminished a bit, I’m simply not willing to spend hours out in the cold any longer, here in our neverending winter (apparently that’s what was keeping me warm).  But I finally screwed my courage to the sticking place and went out to try and complete my Upper West Side shooting that I started when I did Central Park West on another buttfucking cold night.  This time I went up West End Avenue then down Broadway and the entire way it was either completely ignoring the loon with the camera out in the cold or “Hey, whatcha shooting?”  “What settings are you using?” “Are you making a movie?” And my personal favorite, “Hey, cameraman! Take a picture of this!”  I’m genuinely surprised the last one was fully clothed, but I guess it was too cold even for the most devoted exhibitionist perv.  What’s funny is you know they don’t do this to tourists so I was clearly recognized as someone who belongs. Seems finally getting a NY State drivers license did the trick.  Now, with the exception of the Logan’s Run-esque 96th Subway station, it wasn’t as picturesque as I’d hoped but then again I still do kinda suck so it’s probably just me, which makes me wonder if the less-than-memorable Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues will be worth shooting at night. One is best known for a bar scene so annoying the community board of my neighborhood made it a point of trying to zone so we didn’t become “Like Amsterdam Avenue” and the other isn’t known for anything at all. It makes me think pictures of my penis wearing tiny costumes is a worthwhile project after all.

SO, WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS SEXY ISN’T COMING BACK?

Now there was no way Justin Timberlake could have lived up to expectations after a six-year-gap, but he didn’t do himself any favors making every song 8 minutes long then dividing it up into two albums.  Better to cut out the mediocore songs entirely and just release the best tracks from both albums as one good one, but no one asked me.  Why don’t you ask Maxwell how that worked out for him after more than a decade of waiting? Oh, wait. We’re still waiting of the second part of that two album release. Have we learned nothing from Nelly’s “Sweat” and “Suit” disaster?  What I do like is “Shift To Reverse” from a singer/songwriter named N*Grandjean and part of me hopes he never succeeds thanks to that pretentious fucking bohemian bullshit name (I felt the same way about Musiq Soulchild and got my wish), but this one track is awesome. Because I’m old I had to hear it on a TV show. In this case House of Cards.  And yes, I Shazamed it. But thanks to my Pandora station I’ve discovered Michiko and Little People.  Yes, it’s all the same kind of chill music, but I’m old and this is all I can handle now.  Case in point “La Vie En Rose.” One of the oldest songs ever, but there’s a version by Duo Gadjo that I simply cannot stop listening to.