Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

TAKEN…BY YOUR MIDDLE AGED SUCCESS

23 Mar

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1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 34.5 Total/$ 122.0
3. Run All Night/WB Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 19.7
4. The Gunman/ORF Wknd/$ 5.0 Total/$ 5.0
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 114.6
6. Do You Believe/PFR Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.0
8. Focus/WB Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 49.4
9. Chappie/Sony Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 49.4
7. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 28.3
10. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 158.8

I’M JUST SAYING IT’S NOT FAIR!
A Poor Man’s Hunger Games, er, I mean, Divergent: Insurgent opens at number one and this is the second installment of the series from that popular Young Adult genre that’s being mined for all its worth. But do you hear people bitching about it the way they do movies based on comic books? Apparently being based on a fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids without pictures is much more respectable than being based on fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids with them. No, I’m not being overly-sensitive! Why do you ask!?! Didn’t see read or see Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so I’m not going to read or see this.

BECAUSE COLORBLINDNESS ONLY EXISTS IN A FAIRY TALE. BOOM!
Cinderella is down to number two and one thing I did like about this was the multi-racial casting. It’s a fairy tale. Why the hell should it obey the segregation of a real world!?! When you think about it, it’s actually amazing that it took this long for it to happen. Yes, I know Brandy was Cinderella on TV, but that was the exception and on TV where Brandy had a successful sitcom. This is “a major motion picture” as the saying once went, the first step to it becoming the rule. So in that respect I’m glad it’s doing disgustingly well.

TAKEN…BY FIRST WORLD LIBERAL GUILT
Run All Night drops one notch to number three but still doing better than The Gunman, opening at number four which is a victory of sorts for Liam Neeson. All those who’ve tried to imitate his Older Action Hero transition have failed for the most part showing it has as much to do with him as anything. The Gunman even has the same director as Taken, but while he clearly understood that action films are guilty-free violent fantasies, no one told this to Sean Penn, who as star, co-writer and producer made sure you felt guilty as hell while watching necks being snapped and throats being cut. While we know nothing of what Liam Neeson may have done during his CIA days, Sean Penn is not only openly a mercenary, but also one who assassinates an honest politician for his employer then leaves behind the woman he loves per his orders. Years later he’s atoning for his crime digging wells in the same country he helped tear apart when a hit team comes for him. I will give them credit for throwing around enough jargon to give it the feel of a more grounded type of film (also to travel he needs a false ID so he lacks that magical ability to go from country-to-country untouched like all other action heroes), he’s still as indestructible as James Bond or Jason Bourne, despite having permanent brain injury from a lifetime in combat which hits him at various points…though never when a bad guy needs to die. If you’ve ever seen one of these types of films, you know exactly who the bad guy is immediately, but we have to wait for Penn to figure it out as he tracks down the only other people who knew about the job, one of whom married the girl he left behind. He’s none too happen to see Penn, while she can’t contain how much she still wants him. A good idea of how confusing this film is about its purpose is a) how the violence alternates between graphic (bullets through heads) and shies away (a decapitation happens just off screen) and the love interest who is regularly unclothed, but you never see her. It’s an R-rated film. It’s a Chuck Norris type of myopia where you can have all the violence in the world, but no sex or nudity. Well no female nudity. If starring, writing and producing didn’t say “vanity” the way Penn’s shirt comes off should make it clear. It almost seems like it’s a message from Penn to the rest of Hollywood that he’s in the best shape of his life. At one point he’s wearing a flak jacket with no shirt on! Aside from being humorless it drags on a bit too long, so by the time the final battle at a bullfighting arena occurs you just want them to wrap it up so you too can try to go dig a well to absolve your first world guilt. Ironically, Taken was a no-apologies celebration of bad-ass America over foreigners. Nobody likes a well-intentioned action film.

“AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO BEG. THAT WAS MY MISTAKE.”
Back in the world of fantasy violence, Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number five and with near $300M worldwide total there will probably be a sequel. Hopefully Mark Hamill who has a part that’s little more than a cameo (in the comic book it’s actually Mark Hamill mixed up in the villain’s plot) had some words of advice for the youthful lead, Targon Egerton, given he just got a franchise under his belt. Maybe something like “Be really, really nice to the director so maybe he’ll think of you for his other movies. I mean, couldn’t Indiana Jones have a sidekick? Was that really too difficult to imagine!?!”

THERE ARE NO ATHIESTS WHEN A CAR PAYMENT COMES DUE
Do You Believe opens at number six and this is yet another Christian-themed film which only succeeds in letting you know a) just how many stars you like are religious nutcases and b) the correlation between being a religious nutcase and a lack of career success. For example: Kevin Sorbo. Nothing after Hercules. Religious nutcase. And who’s in this? Mira Sorvino, who was white-hot for a moment then vanished. Wanna take bets that she’s found God over the last few very barren years, while watching former boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino give his crush, Uma Thurman, a classic, career resurging action film. Know what action movie she got when was still dating him? The Replacement Killers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Kill Bill it ain’t and tall blonde, OSCAR WINNER Sorvino could have slid right into that and don’t think she doesn’t know it.

BUT HE WON’T SINK AS FAR AS INDEPENDENCE DAY 2
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number seven, followed by Focus down to number eight and if you’re wondering why Will Smith hopped on the comic book movie gravy train as part of an ensemble rather than a lead (really, do you think if he wanted to be The Black Panther that Disney would have turned him down?) and just agreed to Bad Boys III, look at this disappointment. Well, I’m sure Martin Lawrence constantly begging helped with Bad Boys III. “Yo, man. I’m sharing a sitcom with Fraiser! Sharing. With. Fraiser. Help me, please!”

OR BE AN “M” TO SOME DUDE’S BOND
Chappie is down to number nine and speaking of returning to the well for a career boost, also in this is Sigourney Weaver who’ll be returning to the Alien franchise for a movie that ignored the third and fourth films. Amen, sister! Get that cheddar! Apologize for nothing. Harrison Ford still thinks he’s got another Indiana Jones in him so why can’t you have this? Though honestly, you need to get on that live action Disney movie gravy train and rock the hell out of a wicked witch.

THE DEFINITION OF BEING LIQUID
Finally, closing out the top ten at number ten is The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

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DEATH BY GINGER

13 Jan

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1. Zero Dark Thirty/Sony                             Wknd/$ 24.0            Total/$  29.5

 2. A Haunted House/                                    Wknd/$ 18.8            Total/$  18.8

 3. Gangster Squad/Warners                        Wknd/$  16.7            Total/$  16.7

 4. Django Unchained/Weinstein                Wknd/$  11.1             Total/$ 125.4

 5. Les Miserables/Universal                        Wknd/$  10.1             Total/$ 119.2

 6. The Hobbit/WB                                         Wknd/$    9.1             Total/$ 278.1

 7. Lincoln/Touchstone                                  Wknd/$    6.3            Total/$  152.6

 8. Parental Guidance/Fox                            Wknd/$    6.1             Total/$   60.7

 9. Texas Chainsaw 3D/LGF                         Wknd/$   5.2              Total/$   23.0

10.Silver Linings Playbook/Wein                Wknd/$    5.0             Total/$   41.3

 

REDHEADS ARE DANGEROUS

Zero Dark Thirty jumps to the number one slot thanks to multiple Oscar nominations (and the addition of over 2000 more screens) and much like Argo, you know a film is good when it tells you a story you already know (0r at least think you do) and it’s still suspenseful and interesting.  Jessica Chastain is a CIA agent who was apparently recruited out of high school (I think we just found the pitch for Justin Bieber’s first movie) and basically spends the whole of her twenties as part of the team tracking down Osama Bin Laden.  I don’t know about you, but I spent my 20’s slowly becoming less and less of a jackass and not much else. And I’m still pretty much a jackass, so it’s not like I was even good at it, much less having my actions change the world like she does.  But it makes sense to me because if I wanted to destroy a man I’d sic a redhead on him, especially a young one.  Those creatures don’t forgive or forget and won’t rest until they’ve put you in a grave. I’m lucky I escape…every time it happens.  When we first meet her she’s a rookie wearing her best suit to an interrogation that she can barely watch, but as time passes soon she’s not just participating in the interrogations, but telling off her bosses to the point where they goes along with her and ultimately describing herself to the head of the CIA as “that mutherfucker” that found Bin Laden, but all the while still seeming like this smart, geeky girl who has no business being there, much less in that line of work (given her pale skin, you’d think the desert sun would burn her to a crisp).  All the Oscar nominations here are clearly well deserved.

 

THE ONLY THING SCARIER THAN ONE LAME FRANCHISE IS TWO

A Haunted House opens at number two and the Scary Movie franchise was actually started off by the Wayans family for Miramax and later taken over by the Zucker team who brought us Airplane and The Naked Gun. Clearly there was a a falling out of some sort as this is the Wayans Family starting a rival franchise as the Scary Movie 5 is coming up which doesn’t look quite as funny as this one, even thought that’s not saying much at all and this one.  Clearly they’re stronger together than they are apart.  I might watch this on cable one day, but would never go out of my way to see it, which again is saying something given I paid to see all four previous Scary Movie films.

 

APPARENTLY NO ONE LIKES THIS PERIOD STORY, PERIOD

Gangster Squad opens at number three leaving Ryan Gosling still searching for that mainstream movie hit to match his commiserate level of fame.  This movie with Nick Nolte about the infamous “Hat Squad” of the LAPD which used dubious methods to keep organized crime from the east out of Los Angeles is not to be confused with Mulholland Falls, another Nick Nolte movie about the infamous “Hat Squad” of the LAPD which used dubious methods to keep organized crime from the east out of Los Angeles.  And neither is to be confused with LA Confidential, which also had the LAPD using dubious methods to keep organized crime from the east out of LA as part of its storyline. The difference between this and Mulholland Falls is that the writers strangely thought this interesting piece of history wasn’t interesting enough and spun off into some ridiculous story about atomic bomb testing and cover-ups.  Even the awesome LA Confidential didn’t make it the main story.  However, Mulholland Falls did manage to get Jennifer Connelly naked before the title credits even stopped rolling so there’s that.  Nick Nolte was the leading man in that one, but almost 20 years later now he’s old guy boss and Josh Brolin is the guy leading the hat squad (though that aspect seems to have been dropped here as well) and Ryan Gosling is one of his young, hot cops (between Chazz Palmenteri, Chris Penn and Michael Madsen, Nick Nolte’s team could also have been called “The Fat Squad”). I hate to say it, but the reason I passed on this story as opposed to the other two has more to do with Sean Penn in silly makeup and overacting as Mickey Cohen (his character’s death is the catalyst for much of what happens in LA Confidential, but is nowhere to be seen in Mulholland Falls).  He looks like he wandered in off the  set of Dick Tracy.  Is Haiti fixed?  Doesn’t he have something better to do than be the unpleasant hole in films I might otherwise have seen?

 

KEEPING B-MOVIE ACTORS WORKING

Django Unchained is down to number four and because this is a Quentin Tarantino it’s filled with all sorts of odd pop culture friendly casting, as evidenced by none other than Tom Wopat showing up as a US Marshal.  Yeah, Luke Duke in a Tarantino film.  Also here are Dennis Christopher from Breaking Away, Lee Horsley from Matt Houston and the great The Sword & The Sorcerer; Russ Tamblyn who once starred in a film called Son of A Gunfighter and plays that character here and daughter Amber is along for the ride as, yes, Daughter of Son of a Gunfighter.  And to top it all off, Don freaking Johnson.  Half the cast is a game of “Hey, it’s that guy!”

 

THE OTHERS

Les Miserables is down to number five followed by The Hobbit at number six and Lincoln at number seven.

 

WHEN BILLY MET MONEY

Parental Guidance is down to number eight and it looks like the joke is on me as this has made $65M off a $25M budget ($83M worldwide) and it looks like Billy Crystal has found the payday for his twilight years. And for him it’s not the move of a desperate actor looking to stay relevant (I’m looking at you Eddie Murphy), it’s just the easy payday he’s earned after 40 years.

 

SOMEWHERE ROGER CORMAN BEAMS WITH PRIDE

Texas Chainsaw 3D is down to number nine, but that’s okay.  It’s made $30M and probably cost about $5, so everyone is happy.  And it’ll be out on DVD in about a week.

 

IT’S LIKE THE BROCOLI OF MOVIES

Finally, The Silver Linings Playbook also returns to the top ten as a result of Oscar nominations and still they were not enough to get me into see it. Seriously.  I know it’ll be good, but I just can’t seem to get myself into the theater.  I chose Zero Dark Thirty at over two-and-a-half hours over this.  I’m going to have to make it a date or something so I feel obligated to go.  I’m blaming Bradley Cooper, whom I don’t mind, but still find terribly interesting and remain shocked he’s a now a box office draw and an Oscar nominated actor.  Somewhere Ryan Reynolds is confused, because he’s the same kinds of dull.  Yeah, but he’s a boring American, Canada-boy. Trivia: the role of Green Lantern came down to Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds.  Reynolds got the role and a wife from it, while Cooper went on to be in successful, critically acclaimed films.  Don’t kid yourself if you think Reynolds wouldn’t switch places with him. Hell, Blake Lively would switch places with him.  They’ve made film together so that press tour is going to fun…for one of them. The other will be staring daggers the entire time.

HE WORE A BLAZING SADDLE

6 Jan

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1. Texas Chainsaw 3D/LGF                        Wknd/$  23.0           Total/$   23.0

2. Django Unchained/Weinstein             Wknd/$  20.1            Total/$ 106.4

3. The Hobbit/WB                                       Wknd/$  17.5            Total/$ 263.8

4. Les Miserables/Universal                      Wknd/$  16.1            Total/$ 103.6

5. Parental Guidance/Fox                          Wknd/$  10.1            Total/$   52.8

6. Jack Reacher/Paramount                      Wknd/$   9.3            Total/$   64.8

7. This Is 40/Universal                               Wknd/$   8.6            Total/$   54.5

8. Lincoln/Touchstone                               Wknd/$    5.3            Total/$  143.9

9. The Guilt Trip/Paramount                    Wknd/$    4.5            Total/$    31.2

10.Promised Land/Focus                            Wknd/$    4.3            Total/$     4.6

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

Texas Chainsaw 3D opens at number one and while January and August are traditionally the dumping ground for films the studios are contractually obligated to release, this could have been released at any time and probably would have done as well. This franchise is 40 years old and sadly shows no signs of stopping, though 3D is always a sign that they’re pretty much out of ideas…not that they really had any beyond, “This guy with a chainsaw slaughters a bunch of people.” But apparently that’s all they need.

BLAZING SADDLES PART TWO!

Django Unchained holds at number two and now that I’ve finally seen it my reaction is…what’s the big deal?  Clearly the people getting upset over it (i.e., Spike Lee) are unaware of a period known as “the 70’s” which this is a clear homage to like many of Tarantino’s films (this along with Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds could honestly be seen as a homage trilogy of 70’s exploitation flicks, with Django and Inglorious Basterds having been actual films).  This is positively enlightened compared to films like Mandingo and Drum.  Spike Lee’s problem is Tarantino’s seeming love affair with the “N word” which is legitimate as Tarantino he is one of those people who wants the ultimate “cool pass” of being able to say it with impunity to show “he’s down.”  Tarantino has made claim in interviews how he should be able to say it as he’s been down like a black man understands what it’s like which is an utterly ridiculous and offensive statement.  I don’t care how much Samuel L. Jackson likes you.  However, either by accident or design Tarantino has finally made a film wherein the use of the word is entirely appropriate and its absence would honestly be ridiculous so Lee’s grandstanding sense of propriety is out of place.  If Abraham Lincoln himself is on record for using it, what exactly do you think the men who ran plantations used?  It’s like being offended by a film wherein Nazis referred to Jews in derogatory language while herding them into the gas chambers.  A sadistic plantation overseer isn’t going to refer to a slave as “African American” while he sets dogs on him (which does happen in this film).  That said, it’s not much more than a straight up exploitation flick  though better written and with a sense of humor that the originals were sorely lacking.  The scene where a mob gathers to go after Django could have been dropped into Blazing Saddles without changing a word.  There is no higher praise.  And Christopher Waltz continues to single-handedly justify Tarantino’s existence, once again utterly stealing one of his films on charm alone.

SOMEWHERE LINDSAY LOHAN WONDERS WHY

The Hobbit is down to number three, followed by Les Miserables at number four and also in this is Amanda Seyfried, who is basically making her way through long running Broadway musicals, the first being Mama Mia.  You know she’s regretting her star didn’t ascend before they made Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.  You know the producers of the former are definitely regretting it.  They only had Emily Rossum as the female lead.  They also had Gerald Butler but it was before anyone gave a crap about him. Oh, and they let Joel Schumacher direct.  So yeah, they’ve got a lot of regrets.

COME ON, TOM! GIVE HIM ANOTHER SHOT!

Parental Guidance is down to number four and from the looks of the commercials and the trailers you wouldn’t guess that the kids in the film have two parents, but the dad is played by Tom “wasn’t he supposed to be a star” Everett and so is beneath notice or even simple acknowledgement.  It’s quite a fall from when he was handpicked by Tom Hanks to basically play a young Tom Hanks in the underrated That Thing You Do. It tanked and not even being in a movie produced and starring Spielberg’s wife could save him (Kate Capshaw in The Love Letter).  He was perfect for almost every “nice young guy” role he played but none of them took and now he’s aged out of them into thankless dad roles.

INVASION OF THE ROLE SNATCHERS

Jack Reacher is down to number five and also in this is Alexia Fast. Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to know her and honestly the only thing really notable about her role as the doomed, dumb girl is that she’s practically a clone of Jessica Alba who is now a mother twice over and apparently out of the “young hottie” business and roles like these.  It’s a tad disturbing that they’re got someone to fill her exact slot if needed.  Just like that blonde girl songwriter on Nashville looks just like a young Kirsten Dunst.  Of course what I want is for people like this to play siblings instead trying to convince me Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette are related.

SPOILERS IF A FILM LIKE THIS CAN HAVE THEM

This Is 40 is down to number six and also in this is Megan Fox and if you think Judd Apatow has gotten any better in regards to women just because he’s executive producing the TV show “girls” know that she’s playing a literal whore here.  I mean what else could she be?  She’s young, hot and utterly out of reach of guys like Apatow so of  course she has to play a prostitute.  I suppose we should be grateful she’s not predatory and out to take Paul Rudd from Leslie Mann. But that could never happen as Paul Rudd is an actually attractive man in an Apatow film…which is why she ends up with Jason Segel as the most unlikely physical trainer ever to walk the earth. Pretty sure trainers are supposed to be in shape.

BABY, I’M A STAR

Lincoln is down to number seven and also in this is Walton Goggins, who is best known for playing Boyd Crowder on Justified.  He’s also in Django Unchained, which is a nice bookend in regards to films concerning slavery. Here, he’s a congressman whose vote is sought out to abolish slavery.  In Django Unchained…it’s a tad different.  Seriously different.  Still, he’s got two films in the top ten with two of Hollywood’s biggest directors. Drinks are on him!

THE FILM EQUIVALENT OF VEGETABLES

Finally, The Promised Land enters the top ten at number ten and this reunites Matt Damon and director Gus Van Sant, complete with Damon and his co-star (in this case John Krasinski) having their fingerprints on the script.  It’s deadly serious about big business energy concerns in small town America.  In other words, I’ll be seeing Hansel & Gretel before I see this.