Tag Archives: oliver stone

MAGNIFICENT DIVERSITY

26 Sep

m7
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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BACK HOME WE CALL ‘EM DRAWERS

9 Jul

1. Amazing Spider-Man/Sony                   Wknd/$   65.0            Total/$ 140.0

 2. Ted/Universal                                          Wknd/$   32.6            Total/$ 120.2

 3. Brave/Disney                                            Wknd/$   20.2            Total/$ 174.5

 4. Savages/Universal                                   Wknd/$   15.6            Total/$   16.2

 5. Magic Mike/Warner                                Wknd/$   15.6            Total/$  72.8

 6. Madea’s Witness Protection/LGF        Wknd/$   10.2            Total/$  45.8

 7. Madagascar 3/Dreamworks                   Wknd/$     7.7            Total/$ 196.0

 8. Katy Perry: Part of Me/Paramount      Wknd/$     7.2            Total/$   10.3

 6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter      Wknd/$     6.0           Total/$  29.0

 7. Prometheus/Fox                                        Wknd/$     4.9           Total/$ 118.3

 9. Moonrise Kingdom/Focus                       Wknd/$     4.6           Total/$   10.3

10. To Rome With Love/SPC                        Wknd/$     3.5           Total/$     5.6

 

BUT WHERE’S THE 60’S THEME SONG!?!

The Amazing Spider-Man opens at number one and as someone who hated Sam Raimi’s borderline camp approach to the character, I was actually looking forward to this and I wasn’t disappointed.  Gone was the “lifted-straight-from-the-comic-books” dialogue and the sun-drenched fantasy NYC and in its place was a more appropriate and actually accurate angsty lead character and a New York City of dark blues and grays.  Tobey Maguire was actually a good Peter Parker, looking pretty much like the character brought to life while Andrew Garfield is a good interpretation of the character fitting in better with this slightly darker viewpoint.  This is also not based as much upon the original comics from the 60’s but upon the Ultimate Spider-Man series from 00’s where the character was “updated” for a 21st Century audience (Peter Parker now works on a the Daily Bugle website).  But much of the “old school” is still here, most notably a return to mechanical webshooters.  None of that bullshit organic webbing which was just gross if you really thought about it.  Also, they utilize Dr. Curt Connors, aka “The Lizard” something Raimi only teased us with for three movies with Dylan Baker.  They also make sure to include Spider-man’s most notable characteristic: he’s a wiseass.  Wisecracks are as much a part of Spider-man as the webbing and the wall-crawling and they were strangely absent from all Raimi’s films.  Unfortunately, like its predecessors, the film does run a tad too long with nothing to show for the length, especially when at the heart of the film is a mystery involving Peter Parker’s parents.  Instead it’s dangled like a carrot for the post credit sequence, which doesn’t so much make you look forward to a sequel as much as it reminds you how much time was wasted on an unresolved plotline.

 

THERE’S ALWAYS AN AUDIENCE OF DATE-RAPISTS

Ted is down to number two and this takes away from brief joy at how Adam Sandler’s recent films haven’t been dong that well by introducing me to his replacement in the world of frat-boy cinema: Seth McFarlane.  This is doing so disgustingly well, expect to spend the next decade watching this guy make a fortune with his policy of low-hanging-fruit humor.

 

IF YOU’RE NOT SCOTTISH, YOU’RE CRAP!

Brave holds at number three and this gets points for its use of actual Scottish actors.  Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and Kelly McDonald are all here, though I can’t believe there’s no Ewan McGregor given he’s in every other goddamn movie all of them not this good.  Likewise Gerald Butler.  And what, no token call to try and lure Sean Connery out of retirement?

 

120 MINUTES OF PRETENSION & MISOGYNY? NO THANKS.

Savages opens at number four and I was actually set to see this until I saw that it had a run time over two hours and Oliver Stone simply does not get that kind of commitment from me any longer.  His days as a “must see” director are long over and not even the possibility of seeing Blake Lively naked and in a threesome is enough to get me in there. Not to mention, given how Stone treats women I also have no interest in watching probably her and definitely Salma Hayek die horrible deaths.  Mommy died, Oliver. She didn’t leave you.

 

I AM STRIPPER NUMBER TWO

Magic Mike is down to number five and no one needed this like Alex Pettyfer needed this. After I Am Number Four, Beastly and even In Time all tanked his run as the “Hot New Thing” was over pretty much before it started (he was also rumored to have been a bad boyfriend to the pretty blonde Glee girl which didn’t help his public image).  So much so that even though he’s the catalyst of the events in the film, you’ll notice he wasn’t on any magazine covers with the other four. He had the dangerous stain of previous failures on him so they basically cut him out completely.  Adam Rodriguez also wasn’t part of it because…well, he’s Latino. There’s simply no other way around it. But is that better or worse than being left out because they’re afraid you, as a blonde, English, ex-model will tank a movie about pretty men?

 

SAD THINGS. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection is down to number six and also in this is Denise Richards of all people. Now, I became a fan of hers after her short-lived reality series where it was revealed she was a foul-mouth girl with a honking midwestern accent, but that pretty much means I follow her twitter feed. That’s about all the fandom I’ve got in me for her.  And Eugene Levy must simply take solace in that he’s paying for his kids college educations because the man was on SCTV 30 years ago so I know that he knows what funny really is—and this ain’t it.

 

SOMEWHERE JESSICA SIMPSON IS WONDERING WHAT. THE. FUCK?

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is down to number seven followed by Katy Perry: Part of Me opening at number eight and honestly I’m stunned because it’s only now dawning on me how big Katy Perry is. Even when she was churning out hit after hit I was in denial that someone so bland and mediocre was some kind of superstar and yet here we are.  Now, these films are cheap to make because they’re basically just filming them on tour, but honestly there still aren’t a lot of them made because only the biggest bands can make a return on their release.  We’re talking Prince and U2 at their 80’s peak level of big.  And dozens of legit superstars have still never done this, but here is Katy Perry’s.  Unbelievable. Needless to say, I’ll never see it. Her music blows (I heard it the first time in the 80’s), her looks are mediocre and covered breasts don’t occupy a lot of my time.

 

ACTUALLY IT STARTED WITH JERRY LEWIS

Moonrise Kingdom continues to hang around the top ten at number nine with To Rome with Love entering the top ten at number ten. This is Woody Allen’s latest and the latest of his “overseas funding” series because these are the people giving him the money to make his films.  That’s it.  It’s not like his inspiration has led him overseas.  His investors have.  You keep hearing people talk about how overseas revenue has mattered more than domestic for years, well it started with Woody Allen.  As much as he was loved here at his peak he was worshipped overseas and these are the people supporting him financially today.  And to people who love Polanski, his banging Mia Farrow’s daughter was positively quaint so it didn’t even register. I’m indifferent, however, which is even worse than being repulsed.  It looks like so much more of the same with no “hook” like the fantasy element of Midnight in Paris to set it apart.

 

AREN’T ALL SUPERHERO COSTUMES UNDERWEAR ANYWAY?

For the past five years to commemorate the big Sunday triathlon there was an Underwear Run the preceding Friday.  A friend of mine asked me to do it three years ago and my response was an instant “No.”  The underwear was not the problem. It was the running. An underwear walk or bike ride would have had my instant approval. However, after watching it on TV I kinda grew to regret not doing it and told her we should do it next year….but she forgot to register us.  And again the year after that.  This time I took matters into my own hand and actually made a note on my calendar on when registration for the event began. Of course by this time she’d become a world traveler and wouldn’t be in town to do it (likely story) so I’d be going it alone. Now, it’s not simply a matter or running in your tighty-whiteys (which should be banned, by the way), but putting on a show.  Of course I have some Superman briefs and a cape (don’t ask) and my running shoes have a lot of red in them so I was going to run in those, only I didn’t know they had a theme and this year it was “Celebrate America.”  I briefly considered keeping Superman as he is an American icon, but Superman represents all of us regardless of borders so I felt that wouldn’t be right (it’s called respecting the character).  Fortunately enough I also have some Captain America underwear, a mask (stop asking!) and the red running shoes work there too.  But you can’t be Captain America without a shield and since I threw out the first one I made I had to make another because the only ones left on-sale were $50 a pop and that wasn’t happening.  Enter the internet.  There are literally dozens of tutorials on how to make a shield, from using actual metal (an old direct TV dish) to simple cardboard and duct tape and since there’s nothing more American than duct tape, I went that route.  The design I chose was somewhat important because I wanted actual curvature to the shield instead of some flat disc.  It took a few hours spread out over a few days (ironically enough, I didn’t work on it on the 4th of July) and while not perfect I was ultimately pleased with it.  Especially considering it was only finished about two hours before runtime.  Now came the second part: someone to hold my pants. Not knowing anything about running I didn’t know if they’d have a bag check or not for such relatively small event.  They did, but still I wanted to bring my camera and didn’t want to leave it and I also wanted someone else to take pictures, but one-by-one all the people I called either backed out, couldn’t make it or decided that “I need help tonight” translated into calling me back the next day.  Fortunately one person was free and it was my Fashion Work Crush. My Fashion Work Crush is of course a woman I work with and have a crush on, but my crush is fashion generated. I love her fashion sense.  It goes from utterly funky to totally chic and everything in between. When you’re relatively tall woman (5’8”) and thin you can wear anything you want, but she actually has some taste in style.  “Oh, these old boots,” she said to me once. “I got them in Peru.”  She was uber-free and looking to get out thanks to a recent breakup. I should have paid more attention that that last bit as it would come back to haunt me.  The run began at 7:30, but I got there at 6:30 to check in and take photos of the other runners. Of course there was a group of Hot Asian Girls in Lingerie who got most of the attention even over other groups of hot girls. What could be more American than the fetishization of an ethnic group?  I wasn’t eager to disrobe because given there were so few there at the time it would mean instant attention. Something proven by the other Captain America, who disrobed in a heartbeat and was soon posing with Hot Asian Girls in Lingerie and being interviewed all over the place.  He had a little toy shield, but made up for it with his boots and gloves.  When Fashion Work Crush finally arrived and I did disrobe, he [other Captain America] and I took a picture together.  As people began to ask me to take pictures, my ego became a little upset we didn’t do it earlier, but given how badly I looked I stand by it. Now when I decided to do this I began to take steps to make sure I didn’t look like a total slug on camera. I gave up my after work snacks of buttered popcorn, my nonstop eating of dark chocolate caramels and 5 pounds dropped off me without even trying. I also started my “Once A Year” running to make sure I didn’t die out there.  Once a year I run three miles a few times a week to prove I can still do it. Then I stop BECAUSE RUNNING SUCKS.  This time however, the run was easier than I remembered, not threatening to give me a heart attack.  In fact, I thought I could do it faster and longer if I wanted to. Of course this is when my right calf, clearly jealous of the attention given the torn left calf earlier in the year decided it would begin cramping like a muthafucka. I got two weeks of running in before it happened but that combined with increasing my swimming, going back to weights (I hate weights too) and cleaning up my diet even more actually resulted in my waist shrinking.  If only I’d had those last two weeks of running I might not have had the same gut I did while running.  Not that I stood out. At. All.  The bodies on display at the Underwear Run ran the gamut from fucking chiseled perfection (she was awesome) to normal, to a guy who should be embarrassed to be seen like that.  Seriously.  There were also kids, which creeped me the fuck out. Why would dress your daughter in matching underwear for you?  I know they probably loved the bonding, but there’s the creepy bastard factor to consider.  The run itself is 1.7 miles through Central Park up and down hills and given I can do 3  it shouldn’t have been a problem, with the exception of my calf, which I’d been stretching and using a foam roll  on for the previous week. It felt fine. Of course I hadn’t taken into account something designers of moving vehicles like cars and planes call “drag coefficient.” You know, the thing that inhibits your motion through the jetstream, like superfluous decorations…OR A TWO FOOT FUCKING SHIELD ON YOUR ARM!  This is how you know comics are fantasy. Running around in a cape is stupid, masks are insanely hot and a giant circular thing on your arm inhibits running speed.  Even my need to have it accurately curved came back to haunt me because that made turning it straight to avoid drag impossible. Still, despite the shield,  the hot mask, the overall heat of the day and the training time I lost, I was soon part of the first pack, which left all the others behind.  And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy people yelling out “Captain America!” at me as I ran through the park and taking pictures. They seemed to take a special delight in the fact I had that TWO-FOOT FUCKING SHIELD ON MY ARM. I can’t tell you my time because aside from not wearing my glasses I could barely see through the damn mask, but I’m assuming it was about 15-20 minutes thanks to the adrenalin rush.  Afterwards there was more picture taking—which was especially gross thanks to the sweat—but also free shit from sponsors, which included Mexican food, bottled water, Muscle Milk energy drink and a coupon for free underwear.  Now remember Fashion Work Crush?  She had my camera and had been taking pictures all this time.  We went out for dinner and drinks afterwards so it wasn’t until I got home late that night that I saw the results…which was lots and lots of man-ass.  Remember, she’d just broken up with someone and apparently was looking at what was out there.  And I was no exception as some very unflattering ass and crotch shots of me too.  Chicks, they’re as nasty as we are.  So now that it’s over I’m sugaring myself to death with all I’ve given up over the last month, but at the same time I think I’m going to keep with it. My repulsion at my body outweighs all other things so we’re going to keep going through July to see what we can make out of this middle-aged mess.  Or maybe I’ll stop tomorrow cause life is too short to run and not eat chocolate every day.  Who knows?