Tag Archives: RIck Famuyima

SIX PACK ABS: THE NEW AMERICAN DREAM

6 Jul

joe-manganiello-435 1. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.9    Total/$ 558.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                                  Wknd/$ 30.1    Total/$ 246.2
3. Terminator: Genisys/Par                      Wknd/$ 28.7    Total/$ 44.2
4. Magic Mike XXL/WB                            Wknd/$ 11.6      Total/$ 26.7
5. Ted 2/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 58.3
6. Max/WB                                                   Wknd/$ 6.6       Total/$ 25.3
7. Spy/Fox                                                    Wknd/$ 5.5        Total/$ 97.9
8. San Andreas/WB                                    Wknd/$ 3.0       Total/$ 147.4
9. Me an Earl and the Dying Girl/FS      Wknd/$ 1.3        Total/$ 4.0
10. Dope/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 14.1

SPOILER ALERT FOR GEEK FAN THEORY
Jurassic World holds at number one and there’s a fun fan theory floating around out there is that the movie is actually a satire upon itself. It’s a needless sequel and the movie is about the needless creation of a new dinosaur. According to the theory, the movie studio being represented by the new owner of the park who wants something bigger and better than real dinosaurs, so like the makers of the film BD Wong (back for the first time since the first movie) has to make up a new one and like this movie it turns out to be a mistake. Dallas Bryce Howard tries to get corporate tie-ins to help pay for the new dinosaurs, much in the way corporate tie-ins help pay for this new movie. The cherry on top of this theory is in the end—-SPOILER ALERT—the dinosaurs that made the first film so great, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, the same one from Jurassic Park) and the Veceliraptor team up and kick its ass, which is basically them showing how the first movies were better than this sequel. Bear in mind the director flat out told Spielberg that the original script he was given sucked and his name is on this one. Hmmmm…

MAYBE I WAS TOO BORING TO HAVE AN IMAGINARY FRIEND
Inside Out holds at number two and like the better Pixar films there’s an entire subtext about the death of youth that exists in this film. From Toy Story’s aging of Andy to Nemo going off on his own, the poignancy at the center is the departure from childhood and if Toy Story had you crying, you are not prepared for the fate of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong (voiced by a perfectly cast Richard Kind). It made me realize I have no memory of an imaginary friend, which is shocking given how much immaturity I’ve successfully held onto.

HE SHOULDN’T HAVE COME BACK
Terminator Genisys opens at number three and don’t worry Terminator: Salvation you’re still the worst Terminator film. Apparently the key is whether or not you have a charisma-free Australian actor as your co-male lead. Just as Terminator: Salvation had the bland lump of meat Sam Worthington whose brief career success remains a mystery, this has the even blander Jai Courtney, whose continued career in A-list action films remains a mystery. If there’s been any one constant in better Terminator films it’s been the intensity of the human characters. They truly act like high-strung individuals traumatized by the burden of having to try and save the world from the nightmare threat of annihilation by the machines. Michael Beihn’s Kyle Reese from the first film, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in the second and yes, even Nick Stahl as John Connor in the third. Christian Bale can’t help but be intense no matter what he does, but Sam Worthington sucked it all away in his charisma-free black hole. Here, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are reunited for the first time since the first film (the deleted scene of a dream Sarah has where Kyle comes to her in T2 sadly does not count) and they don’t look so much like two people haunted by the belief that they are all that stands between humanity and annihilation so much as a couple slightly irritated by the fact the movie they wanted to see at the mall has been sold out. Here, Sarah was attacked at the age of 9 by the liquid metal T-1000 Terminator and basically raised for the last decade by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800. Who sent them both back so early? You’ll never know which is one of massive fail of this film. You’re not supposed to leave more questions than answers. But the larger issue remains the lack of bleak intensity. There’s even a tension free countdown. You can see it going wrong from the beginning where John and Kyle are exchanging wisecracks. None of this was possible in the nightmare future of James Cameron’s two films. Reese was an already traumatized war vet merely in his 20’s. None of that is to be found here. Similarly in the 12 years between Terminator 1 and 2 Sarah Connor becomes a slightly unhinged war machine. But her parents being murdered and a lifetime of being raised by a killing machine to save the future affects no such change on Sarah here. Yeah, she barks orders and fires all manner of weapons, but it’s as much movie artifice as it is every time they give a model a gun in a movie and tell you she’s a seasoned secret agent (it doesn’t help that the actress they cast looks 16 and seems to have foregone the physical transformation Linda Hamilton made). Poor casting aside, the plot is as dumb as Terminator: Salvation with lip service being paid to the mechanics and consequences of time travel. Not that I expected Neil Degasse Tyson so show up and break it down, but don’t insult me either. Its sole saving grace is Arnold as an aging machine, which in the hands of a talented filmmaker would have been a metaphor for his own career, but here is picked up and dropped off as the plot demands.

THE “A” IN USA IS FOR “ABS”
Magic Mike XXL opens at number four and where the original was basically an indie film that took the life of a Tampa stripper trying to get out seriously, with its depiction of a life on the sleazier side with a host of slightly damaged people in the world of sex work, this is basically a road comedy like anything Hope & Crosby ever did. Basically Mike is lured out of retirement by dissatisfaction with his new legit life (and broken relationship) for one last ride with the old crew to a male stripper convention in Myrtle Beach with an assortment of hijinks along the way. Seriously, that’s it. And along the way we get a series of dance numbers. Hell, the only thing separating this from being a musical is that they don’t sing during them. Oh, wait. That happens twice. Basically, while the first one was a drama, this is basically a musical comedy. But a fun one. It’s also a lot gentler on its characters than the first. While they were all seemingly losers in the first, the promise of equity in a new club their salvation, here they know it’s the end and are making plans for it, all chasing their version of the American dream, be it a yogurt food truck that also has a DJ, acting or singing or selling condoms packaged along with mints. Even when they poke fun at them (the condom with mints idea is taken) it’s in a gentle fashion. When Matt Bomer speaks sincerely about how he worked at Disneyworld, apprenticing as a Donald Duck, the audience laughs, but no one laughs at him in the film because that is legitimate success. Even Joe Manganiello’s dick, which was just a one shot dirty joke in the first film (his character’s name is Big Dick Richie) is now the source of his unhappiness because no woman wants to have sex with him. Needless to say, that also gets taken care of along the way. Speaking of women, if the overall theme of the movie was appealing to women in the first, this is flat out fan service. Every act by every man in this movie is designed to make women happy, be she a frustrated housewife, a divorcee or just the cashier at a gas station (you’ll never hear the Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” the same again). The Men of Tampa are here to make you happy, ladies.

MY PET PEEVE ONCE AGAIN
Ted 2 is down to number five and gone from this is Mila Kunis to be replaced by Amanda Seyfried, which seems odd because wasn’t the first one about Mark Wahlberg growing up so he can marry his girlfriend? But let’s not kid ourselves. Even not having seen this movie, I know the real love story is between Marky Mark and the teddy bear. The women are clearly replaceable. Or not. This isn’t doing as well as the first. But it still annoys me that 40-something Wahlberg is getting women a decade younger as his love interests. Bear in mind she’d playing a lawyer so it would make sense she’d be a little older, no?

BOTH CAUGHT THE WEB OF A BIG SUMMER PAYCHECK
Max is down to number six, followed by Spy at number seven and San Andreas at number eight and what’s the connection between Max and San Andreas? Spider-Man! See, also in Max is Thomas Hayden Church and a decade ago both he and Paul Giamatti were hot off Sideways, Hayden Church with an actual Oscar nomination. Ironically both he Giamatti wound up as a villain in a poorly-reviewed, but technically successful Spider-Man movie. But while Giamatti is still appearing in A-list summer fare like San Andreas, Hayden Church is doing movies like this. Hey, remember when he was the dumb mechanic on Wings?

CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!?!
Me, Earl & The Dying Girl breaks the top ten and this is one of those indie films that critics and audiences love that I’ll always mean to see, but simply don’t find the time. Why? ‘Cause I’m doing shit like this for you people. That’s why!

AND NOW OUR “GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS!” MOMENT
Finally, Dope closes out the top ten at number ten and one thing I can really appreciate about this film is its love of 90’s R&B. Yeah, it’s more how it was the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, but it was also the last breath of R&B, which has surrendered to auto-tune and sampling. It was already giving into sampling in the 90’s but at least people were still singing. There was even resurgence in purely vocal groups…for as long as it lasted. But yeah the hip-hop was great too. It was the last time there was rap about anything more than thug life or popping bottles with models. You’d never hear a song today like The Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” which is all about not getting a girl. And she’s never called a bitch or a ho because of it. This simply doesn’t exist anymore, yet but those goddamn, ugly-ass 90’s fashions get to come back. Sigh.

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THE LACKLUSTER WEEKEND BEFORE THE 4TH

29 Jun

time 1. Jurassic World/Universal                  Wknd/$ 54.2  Total/$ 500.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                               Wknd/$ 52.1  Total/$ 184.9
3. Ted 2/Universal                                   Wknd/$ 33.0  Total/$ 33.0
4. Max/WB                                                Wknd/$ 12.2   Total/$ 12.2
5. Spy/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 7.8    Total/$ 88.4
6. San Andreas/WB                                 Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 141.9
7. Dope/ORF                                             Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 11.8
8. Insidious 3/Focus                                Wknd/$ 2.0    Total/$ 49.8
9. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                  Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 147.1
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 452.4

AND SHE’S CHERYL ON ARCHER, WHICH IS EVERYTHING
Jurassic World holds the number one spot and for the second time this summer Judy Greer appears in a major release, but unlike Tomorrowland a) we actually see and hear her and b) this is a massive hit. Come to think of it, it actually works in her favor. She’s clearly part of a hit, while nowhere to be seen (literally) in a flop. And her show, Married, is coming back this summer and the guy who plays her husband has an Oscar for screenwriting. No, Judy’s not doing so bad after all.

THERE’S THEATER DUST FOR ALMOST EVERY PIXAR FILM
Inside Out holds at number two and because the movie is such a critical and financial success, the otherwise wonderful short before it is being overlooked. It’s called Lava and like the best Pixar work it comes from the emotions and experiences of the writer/director. In this case he was in Hawaii where he learned that a volcano in the ocean would eventually join with the other islands and upon learning they had names, he wondered if they knew they would one day be together. The result is a musical short about a volcano alone in the ocean singing a song of love, not knowing that under the wave another volcano hears him and hopes to join him. This is when theater dust got into my eyes. You shut up! There is such a thing as theater dust!

AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT
Ted 2 opens at number three and not being a fan of The Family Guy or Seth McFarlane at all, I didn’t see the first and obviously didn’t see this one. And yes, I do look down on you if you do like The Family Guy and did see both this and the first one. Can you blame me? Hard to believe it’s the biggest grossing R-rated film of all time. Why not just slap Mel Brooks across the face?

GOD BLESS SGT. WOOF WOOF AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Max opens at number four and apparently if you’re down about the ruling on gay marriage you can go see a heartwarming movie about a boy and the military dog that belonged to his brother who was killed in combat. I had to check to make sure this didn’t come from one of those Christian studios. Hell, it’s not even Disney. Clearly someone looked at the summer release schedule and saw a spot for an old-fashioned right wing family film where the heroes are male and military. Oo-rah!

THE MORE YOU KNOW (COMIC BOOK GEEK EDITION)
Spy is down to number five, followed by San Andreas at number six and here in a small role as a member of Dwayne Johnson’s rescue team is Colton Haynes and if you watch Arrow, you know that’s Roy Harper aka Arsenal. And he needed this given he was just written off the show. Now is the time when I drop some geek knowledge. In the comics Green Arrow was such a clone of Batman he not only had a mansion with a cave underneath it, but a ward who was his sidekick and also in yellow and red. He was called Speedy, which on the show is the nickname of Green Arrow’s sister (a character that doesn’t exist in the comics). In the 70’s to try and seem up to date, they made Speedy a junkie (which is why the girl Speedy on the show also briefly has a drug problem) and as comics tried to become more and more relevant strongly suggested he prostituted himself for drugs, which sadly makes perfect sense, especially when Green Arrow’s reaction to finding out his surrogate son was hooked on drugs was to throw him out into the streets (Batman of course threw this in his face when Arrow brought up the second Robin being killed). The final stage to make him seem tougher was to have him abandon being called Speedy and take up the name Arsenal, a man who used all kinds of weapons. There was a brief moment where he was Red Arrow, but it didn’t stick. Now, aren’t you glad you asked?

HEY, DON’T TELL ME I DON’T KNOW SELF-HATRED WHEN I SEE IT. I’M HATING MYSELF EVEN FOR WRITING THIS!
Dope is down to number seven and also in this is Zoe Kravitz, aka Little Lisa Bonet clone (who actually has two films in the top ten given she’s in Mad Max: Fury Road). Seriously. That’s all I saw while watching this movie. Kinda like when you watch Kate Hudson. You don’t see her, only her mother. Unfortunately she is emblematic of a problem not just with this film but in far too many films that come from a black creative team: all the principal women all being light skinned. The girl he has a crush on (Zoe Kravitz), the girl he lusts for (model Chanel Iman) and even the lesbian best friend are all of a lighter hue. This is all the more glaring in light of the dark skin of the male lead. To make matters worse the closest thing to a genuine villain the film has is not just a light skinned black man, but Harvard educated no less! You’d think you were watching a Tyler Perry film. Except this is actually good (you know it’s not Spike Lee, because all the women aren’t evil bitches out to bring our hero down). It’s still a good movie and all the actors are good in their roles, but you can no more ignore the greater social implications of this than you can ignore how Ben Stiller would apparently rather die than kiss a woman onscreen who looks as Jewish as he does. Like Woody Allen before him, it’s shicksa heaven up there. Unless of course the woman in question is the butt of jokes. Then she’s as Jewish as can be. Sadly, projecting self-hatred onto women is yet another thing Black and Jews have in common.

R YOU READY FOR CONSEQUENCES FROM VIOLENCE (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Insidious Chapter 3 is down to number eight, followed by Mad Max: Fury Road at number nine and it still hasn’t made budget in the US which is not good. Granted, it’ll probably cross it over the long holiday weekend, but at this rate it’s not going to be into the black until well into home video (DVD, pay-per-view), ‘cause god knows there are no corporate tie-ins to help offset the costs. Even the $200M+ it’s made worldwide is a bit disappointing. Let me put it this way: Jurassic World has already made $1B worldwide with literally half of it coming being domestic. This will hurt future action films in two ways: 1) being about badass women and 2) having an unapologetic R rating. Dinosaurs eat people left and right in Jurassic World, but like previous editions it’s relatively bloodless making it good old-fashioned family fun. There’s almost no blood when a pregnant woman gets run over here and her stomach cut open to get the deformed child from her barely breathing body, but clearly that’s clearly too much for anyone under the age of 17 unaccompanied by a parent.

NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE END
Speaking of underperforming, The Avengers: Age of Ultron—down to number ten this wee—has been getting similarly flack for not doing as well as the first. Well, duh. That’s the first rule of sequels: they usually cost more and make less. You’d think knowing this they’d try to cut back a little, but no, like all sequels this is bigger and more elaborate than the first. But now there’s the added element of building an entire universe, so this is packed to the gills because god forbid you just tell this story now and not set up the next four or five movies. That’s my only real complaint, but it’s been my complaint for almost every movie after Iron Man. Only Captain America II, Iron Man III and Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to be interested in telling their stories first and foremost. Well, not my only complaint. That goddamn love story between The Hulk and The Black Widow remains a stinker and I think that should shoulder the blame.

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DOOOO, OOOH YOU? FEEL LIKE I DO?

22 Jun

alexandra-daddario-photoshoot-by-elisabeth-caren-2014-_3 1. Jurassic World/Universal                Wknd/$102.0    Total/$ 398.2
2. Inside Out/Disney                             Wknd/$ 91.1      Total/$ 91.1
3. Spy/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 10.5     Total/$ 74.4
4. San Andreas/WB                               Wknd/$ 8.2        Total/$ 132.2
5. Dope/ORF                                           Wknd/$ 6.0       Total/$ 6.0
6. Insidious 3/Focus                              Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 45.4
7. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                 Wknd/$ 3.3        Total/$ 177.5
8. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                Wknd/$ 2.8       Total/$ 143.6
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 2.7        Total/$ 451.0
10. Tomorrowland/Disney                   Wknd/$ 2.0       Total/$ 87.7

RIGHT BEHIND THE AMERICA VERSION OF GODZILLA AT 11:00
Jurassic World holds the number one spot and is like The Lost World in that you enjoy it the first time you see it, but the more you think about it the worse it gets. Bear in mind we were laughing and eye-rolling at it while we were watching, but the more you think about it the more this becomes one of the great-bad summer flicks that you will always be happy to see turning up on cable at 1:00 am. Also in this is Vince D’Onofrio who was just killing it as The Kingpin in the Daredevil series on Netflix. Here he’s the less complex but probably more fun bad guy who dies because he couldn’t resist gloating about his supposed victory in his questionable southern accent. I like to think the latter is most responsible. To give you a better sense of his character know that if they’d made this movie 30 years ago, Brian Dennehey would have played him. Yeah, now you get it.

NO, IT’S NOT HERMAN’S HEAD THE MOVIE
Inside Out opens at number two, but don’t let that fool you. This is the biggest original film (as opposed to sequels) opening in history, beating Avatar. It’s also for my money Pixar’s first adult film. Oh, it seems like it’s for kids with the animation and funny characters, but the themes about the workings of the mind and how sadness is as important an emotion as happiness is nothing any 6-year-old is going to understand. I mean the joke about how a hairy guy in San Francisco is a “bear” in the trailer should have told you that. Needless to say, only the adults were laughing when a character remarks how all the bad thoughts are were regulated to the subconscious (that there was a giant clown there was perfect). The plot is the thoughts and emotions of an 11-year-old girl upon her move from Minnesota to San Francisco and when it’s all said and done it’s about how her being angry, scared upset and depressed about it is actually okay. Various emotions are represented in her mind be separate figures. Joy was first and was followed by Sadness. Later followed Anger, Fear and Disgust. There is no greater genius in the world than casting Lewis Black as Anger. None. Okay, maybe Alec Baldwin, but that’s it. The other great moment of genius is that we don’t just stay in her mind, but go occasionally into the minds of her parents to see the same figures there as well. How you know it’s still kind of a kid’s film is that mom & dad don’t have a few more emotions as well. It’s a return to greatness for Pixar after some unnecessary sequels (Cars 2, Monster University) and one disappointing original (Brave). What makes them so successful is that their best work is rooted in an emotional component, be it the fascination of a director’s child with an aquarium (Finding Nemo) or the changes going on in a daughter (this one). That’s why as entertaining as films like Kung Fu Panda may be, they will never hold a candle to films like these.

THE ANTI-TRANSPORTER: GOING NOWHERE IS WHAT HE DOES BEST
Spy is down to number three and also in this is Jason “Don’t Bother Trying To Ruin My Career I’ll Do It Myself” Statham who needed this like he needed air. As you may know, Statham refuses to do movies that involve greens-creen, basically insuring he never will achieve the Action Hero A-list because you don’t get there without a big-budget science fiction movie. This is why I knew any rumors of him joining the Marvel Cinematic universe were just that. He’s too stupid to have said yes if asked. Much like Dwayne Johnson—whom he joined in the Fast & The Furious franchise—his fate is to support others because he cannot get out of his own way.

HERE’S WHERE I TALK ABOUT BOOBS
Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas is down to number four and as his daughter in his is Alexandra Daddario who achieved a level of instant fame for showing her large, real breasts in the first installment of True Detective. The key word there is “real” because like a Rolex, no matter how nice a fake one may be, it will never carry the same weight as a real one. It’s actually perfect she’s his daughter because their physicality is very much a part of their success. I wonder if they bonded over how their wardrobes inevitably consisted of tight tank tops. And it makes sense she’d have a nice rack given Carla Gugino plays her mom and she’s got a nice rack too. Apparently, she played Matt Bomer’s girlfriend on White Collar as well and is probably appreciative of finally being “the pretty one” on-set for once, even if she has to take her shirt off to do it.

SADLY NO GREAT “WHAT THE FUCK” SPEECH
Dope opens at number five and this is basically Risky Business remade for the 21st Century, but that’s not a bad thing as it’s been remade well. Very well in fact, if not as stylistic. We have our senior trying to get into an Ivy league college (then Princeton, now Harvard), he’s distracted by lust (both are virgins), said lust leads to dealings with a criminal and a debt to be paid (there a pimp, here a drug dealer), at least two sidekicks (there boring, here more interesting), a college interview in the middle of the criminal activity (there a visit in the middle of a hooker party, here he’s actually part of it) and in the end there’s a monologue about their success (there internal, here his entrance essay) and a possible relationship with the girl they were chasing to being with (there a hooker, here a girl with college aspirations). One advantage is that Tom Cruise’s character actually lost his virginity, whereas, alas, here our hero gets vomited upon by a half-naked model (Chanel Iman), but his potential future love interest is a bit more stable (again, she’s a hooker). Like Risky Business it shows that film school training can work if you have a good script to work with. Techniques and style with no substance are what you get with Ridley Scott and his bastard stepchildren of everyone from Michael Bay to the hit-or-miss David Fincher. Not ot mention, writer/director Rick Famuyiwa manages to seamlessly integrate the vicious everyday violence of life in a gang-riddled neighborhood alongside a coming of age teen comedy. Imagine if Guido The Killer Pimp of Risky Business had actually behaved in the manner of a pimp onscreen, perpetrating the violence he only threatened.

BUT YOU CAN TELL BRETT RATNER TO GO FUCK HIMSELF
Insidious: Chapter 3 is down to number six, followed by Pitch Perfect 2 at number seven and Mad Max: Fury Road at number eight. The villain in this movie is Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, which is notable because he played the villain, Toecutter, who created Max in the first film by murdering Max’s wife and child. This is why it’s very important to be nice to your director, boys and girls. Just ask Jennifer Lopez who is basically the only cast member from Out of Sight never to work with Steven Soderbergh again and the one who needs him the most.

TRUTH: THE STIFFEST DRINK OF ALL
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number nine, followed by Tomorrowland at number ten and there’s this odd cult of apologists cropping up for this movie, saying the reason it was rejected was because it’s optimistic. Newsflash: looking backwards is not optimism. We call that nostalgia. It’s just not a good movie. Get over it.

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