Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

MAD MAX: I-95, EXIT 23

18 May

jordana_brewster-gq
1. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 70.3    Total/$ 70.3
2. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 44.4    Total/$ 44.4
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 38.8    Total/$ 372.0
4. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 23.5
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 62.9
6. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 343.8
7. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 3.2      Total/$ 37.5
9. Ex Machina/A24                                     Wknd/$ 2.1      Total/$ 19.6
8. Home/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 165.6
10.Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 1.3      Total/$ 2.6

MAD MAX: ROUTE 12, EXIT 15!
Pitch Perfect 2 opens at number one with Mad Max: Fury Road opening at number two and this is bittersweet triumph for female-driven films. The sweet is obvious. The number one film in the country was written, directed, starring and co-produced by women and nothing about it suggests they gave flying fuck if anyone with a “Y” chromosome saw it They were rewarded for this with a $70M opening off estimated $30M budget. This means whomever approved the third film even before this was released looks like a genius. The bitter is the hit taken by any who hoped for more action movies driven by women as the wonderful hi-octane (literally) Mad Max: Fury Road is beaten out for the number one spot. It’s also female driven from its plotline to its actual hero, Charlize Theron. Yeah, it’s called Mad Max, but everything in it is about her and her plan to save five of her fellow models from The Humungous, er, I mean Immortan Joe, who uses them as his personal breeding stock. And if you think I’m kidding about the models part, the film is very self-aware about it. There’s not one, but two scenes where people stop and gape at them because they’re so different from everyone else. When Max first sees them, he stops dead in his tracks because the women are literally soaking wet in off-white gossamer fabric. It looks like he wandered onto the set of a music video (at any moment you expect the camera to pan over and show INXS singing). The other is such a great scene I’d rather not spoil it. Max is also a prisoner of Immortan Joe’s empire: providing healthy blood for the tumor-ridden mutant “half-life” boys. In fact, Max only gets free because of Theron’s efforts to free the girls and goes from reluctantly helping them to be willing to die for them. Yes, he does help to save the day in the end (his name is in the title after all), but it’s Theron’s show all the way, which is why her name comes up first in the opening credits and she’s the most prominent in the posters. She also has a great name: Imperator Furiosa. But you know someone somewhere is going to fault all these things as to why the latest sequel in an action franchise came in second to a movie about chicks singing. Which I’ll never see because I hated the first Pitch Perfect. I find Mad Max more grounded in reality than anyone anywhere liking Anna Kendrick singing “No Diggity.”

AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU ASKED ME? SHUT UP. YOU WERE THINKING IT.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number three and if you thought it was getting beaten up before on account of how it treated The Black Widow, just wait now that they’ve got the giant hammer that is Mad Max: Fury Road. The other prominent female superhero in this film is The Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, sister to the Olsen Twins, who’s been carving out a critically acclaimed acting career these last few years and now has stepped up her game to big, mainstream action movies. That’s gonna get a lot of indie films no one will ever see financed. In the comics she and her brother Pietro, aka, Quicksilver are the children of Magneto and were part of his original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside Toad (who was in the first X-Men movie) and The Blob (seen in the first Wolverine movie). In the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past where Quicksilver also appears there’s a passing reference made to Magneto being his father and a cut scene where his sister (who would be The Scarlet Witch) is referenced.

MAYBE SHE CAN MEET UP WITH BRIDGET JONES!
Also female driven, but hardly a success story is Hot Pursuit, down to number four. Besides being directed by a woman and starring women, both Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vegara are onboard for this as producers, so they truly have to take some of heat for its failures as they were making some of the decisions. I’m thinking it’s to put on the pink one more time and bring back Elle Woods. Get it right this time and put her where she’s looked down upon and is the underdog, something a pretty blonde coming from money is not in Washington DC. Now, England on the other hand…

AND IT LOOKS LIKE BALLS TOO
Paul Blart holds at number five and women should be proud they had nothing to do with this. Writers, director and producers…all men. This is an all-ball production. Pure scrotum, if you will.

TOO PRETTY TO DRIVE FAST, MUCH LESS FURIOUS
Furious Seven is down to number six and while Jordana Brewster is back it’s in a role so slight it’s almost a cameo. She never got to develop into a butt-kicking action star like almost all the other women in the series. She went from love interest to wife and mother. It may have something to do with being the prettiest cast member (behind Paul Walker, of course). There’s a montage of all the stars from the beginning of the franchise until now and it’s amazing how she’s gone from looking like Demi Moore’s daughter to her sister. I’ll let you discuss why amongst yourselves.

CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN!
The Age of Adeline is down to number seven and I’m still disappointed no one has combined the trailers and produced an “Avengers: Age of Adeline” mash up yet. Me? I’m busy.

CLEARLY MY TUTION WAS FOR THAT PRIME GREENWICH VILLAGE ADDRESS—AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT
Home is down to number eight, followed by Ex Machina at number nine and Far From The Maddening Crowd opening at number ten. This is based on the famous novel by Thomas Hardy and NYU should be ashamed of the fact that I graduated with a degree in English Literature and never read it. Ashamed I say! No, I won’t see it. That would be cheating.

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YOUR CAREER STRATEGY MAY NEED SOME RETHINKING

11 May

Schermafbeelding-2015-02-12-om-12.22.42

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 77.2    Total/$ 312.6

2. Hot Pursuit/WB                                 Wknd/$ 13.3    Total/$ 13.3

3. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate      Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 31.5

4. Furious 7/Universal                          Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 338.4

5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                       Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 58.1

6. Ex Machina/A24                                Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 15.7

7. Home/Fox                                            Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 162.1

8. Woman in Gold/Weinstein               Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 27.0

9. Cinderella/Disney                               Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 196.2

10. Unfriended/Universal                      Wknd/$ 1.4     Total/$ 30.9

GEEK HISTORY 101: WHAT IS AN ULTRON?

Avengers: Age of Ultron holds at number one and in the film Tony Stark creates Ultron, but in the comics it’s created by Henry Pym who was an original Avenger known as Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket. Henry Pym wasn’t in either Avengers movie, but will appear in Ant-Man later this year, but as neither Ant-Man nor Yellowjacket. Got it? Good. I never liked Ultron as a villain because ultimately it made every bad thing he did the fault of The Avengers (one of those things being actual fucking genocide). How can you be a hero when all you’re doing is cleaning up your own mess? They hint that there’s another cause, because Tony is messing with Loki’s Scepter, but to the world at large Tony Stark and The Avengers are responsible ultimately for every life lost and every bit of damage Ultron causes so how can they still be seen as heroes? That said, one good thing they do is give him an actual personality via James Spader. In the comics he’s just “I am evil and hate humans.” Here he’s a perversion of Tony Stark all the way down to the wiseass sarcasm. At one point he unknowingly quotes Tony and becomes enraged when it’s pointed out to him like an actual character with daddy issues would be. In the comics, Henry Pym uses his own brain patterns to create Ultron, but such a simple and effective device of having Ultron act like him. has never been utilized in the character’s near 50-year history to my knowledge. It’s just, “I hate you, father.” That’s it. One of the film’s flaws is that some of the more interesting aspects get shortchanged to accommodate everyone and that is clearly one of them. Whedon says the original cut was three hours long so maybe we’ll see that restored in the inevitable directors cut on DVD. In a better world that whole bullshit “Beauty & The Beast” storyline between Black Widow and The Hulk would have gotten cut in favor of…well anything else. Seriously, it sucks that bad.

LUCKILY THEY HAVE OSCAR NOMS AND COMMERICALS TO FALL BACK ON

Hot Pursuit opens at number two and while nothing was pushing AoU out of the top spot this is still a weak opening and throws a monkey wrench into the Reese Witherspoon comeback machine. Because I like both her and Sofia Vegara, I wanted this to do better, but at the same time, I was unwilling to put myself through it. Sorry, but it just looked like the most painfully forced of “wacky hijinks.” In the past Witherspoon has been somewhat vocal about how she’ll never be in an action film. She might want to rethink that strategy in a world where an action film grossed in a day than her film did all weekend. Especially given her ex-hubby is in talks to hop on the Marvel superhero gravy train.

BEHIND EVERY STRONG ACTRESS IS A TALL, REALLY PRETTY DUDE

Age of Adaline holds at number two and while not a success, it’s not a failure either having at least made its production budget. Too bad there’s a promotional budget that often costs as much as the film itself to consider. Also in this is Michael Huisman who is the latest addition to those guys you know because they always support a stronger, more famous leading actress. Twenty years ago, David Straitharn was guy you went to for Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver. Ten years ago, Mark Ruffalo was there for Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow and now Michael Huisaman is the guy here for Blake Lively, there for Connie Britton on Nashville, with Gisele in those Chanel commercials and also for Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Expect to see him kissing Jennifer Lawrence onscreen any day now.

GUESS NO ONE WANTED ESCAPE FROM CHICAGO…

Furious Seven is down to number four and also in this is Kurt Russell, apparently knowing the place of the aging action hero is playing the higher up the younger heroes have to deal with. I’ve no doubt part of his deal was that his character doesn’t die so he too can get on the F&F gravy train. Spoiler? Oh, fuck you. It’s been out for a month and a half.

BECAUSE FEM-BOTS UNLEASHED WAS TOO OBVIOUS A TITLE

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number five, followed by Ex Machina actually rising to number six, so I guess I’m the only person who has no tolerance for cautionary tales with sexy robots.

HEY, HER MONEY IS JUST AS GREEN

Home is down to number seven followed by Woman in Gold rising to number eight and I can’t imagine why. I mean who wants to see a movie about an strong, older female lead who is supported by a handsome younger man when there’s hockey and basketball playoffs on TV and a movie where some woman is cursed to look like 28-year-old Blake Lively for eternity in the theater? Oh. Your mom. And clearly you took her to see this on mother’s day.

THE END…AGAIN

Cinderella is down to number nine and Unfriended closes out the top ten at number ten.

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THE MONEY MACHINE ROLLS ON

4 May

Tyrese-Gibson-Goes-Off-on-Fat-People-Look-at-What-You-Did-to-Yourself-2
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney Wknd/$ 187.7 Total/$ 187.7
2. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 23.4
3. Furious 7/Universal Wknd/$ 6.1 Total/$ 330.5
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 44.0
5. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 158.1
6. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 193.7
7. Ex Machina/A24 Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 10.9
8. Unfriended/Universal Wknd/$ 1.9 Total/$ 25.2
9. The Longest Ride/Fox Wknd/$ 1.7 Total/$ 30.4
10. Woman in Gold/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 21.6

WATCH ME GET MY GEEK ON!
Surprising absolutely no one, Avengers: Age of Ultron opens at number one and I found this to be superior to the original because it’s more of a movie unto itself and not so much concerned with setting up the next film. This is not to say it’s not setting up the next movie. Oh, no. They’re not afraid to let you know they’re saving shit for you to pay for later. But it’s less of an obvious placeholder. Scenes that showcase every character individually are less forced and even the sub-plots don’t drop like so many lead weights. And last but not least, there’s no 10-minute sequence where Captain America and Iron Man fix an engine. Seriously. I cannot believe they shot that. The movie opens in full swing with The Avengers going after Hydra, which if you remember where the bad guys in Captain America’s two movies because god forbid he fight a Nazi (yes, I will forever be annoyed by that). There they recover Loki’s scepter from the first film and from it Tony Stark creates an artificial intelligence known as Ultron, whom he intends to use to protect the world from the next invasion. Unfortunately Ultron more than has a mind of its own and thinks humanity is the problem and just plans to wipe us all out, Stark in particular. This sets up the basic plot of the film: superheroes vs. giant angry robot. With Ultron are two enhanced (because Fox owns the rights to the term mutant) people who also hate Tony Stark, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch making more of a fair fight and actually kicking Avenger ass. Ultron is longtime Avengers villain in the comic whom I actually have never cared for, but James Spader via writer/director Whedon has been improved immensely. Before he was just a one note bad guy while they’ve given him a much-needed personality, which is basically what if your angry, sarcastic teenage son had the power to wipe out the world? He hates Tony Stark but has elements of Stark’s personality and hates being reminded of that. You need these moments of humanity given 90% of the film they’re swimming in a sea of CGI and it gets a little tiring. Seriously. It’s fun to watch, but when it’s over you really don’t need to see any more of it anytime soon (which why I had Daredevil to watch, but we’ll get to that). Ironically the Summer Movie Season has more or less begun, so I guess I’ll be seeing more of it next week. And the week after that. And the week after that.

GONNA FINALLY SEE THAT KESSEL RUN!
Age of Adaline actually moves up to number two, a result I gather of women (or men) who just drew a line in the sand and decided not to accompany their men (or women) into seeing Age of Ultron (which would explain why the sequel failed to be top its predecessor). Basically, if they were going to watch some wacky fantasy movie, it was going to be something they were actually interested in with more kissing and less CGI. Also in this is Harrison Ford and playing him younger, Anthony Ingruber who basically got the job doing Harrison Ford impressions on YouTube. You damn kids today. Once upon a time you had to sleep your way into movies. Granted, it helps that he looks like Ford, but can also do him perfectly. If I’m at Disney I’m hiring this kid and just creating a new revenue stream of Young Han Solo movies. Tell me more people wouldn’t see that than the main Star Wars films themselves!?! And now that Lucas is gone there’d be a whole lot of shootin’ first!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT SINGING CAREER?
Furious 7 is down to number three and trying to get on the comic book money train is Tyrese Gibson. Not that I blame him, but I do not want to see this fool as any character I actually care about. Not to mention at 5’11 he’s too short to play the character he wanted, who was Luke Cage (who will have a series on Netflix like Daredevil, but we’ll get to that). That role went to Mike Colter from The Good Wife, who is 6’3”. Damn right. Now Gibson wants to be Jon Stewart, one of the Green Lanterns. Given how Ryan Reynolds crashed and burned, DC will probably go that way. I mean given how bad all their other decisions have been, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gibson got the job. Needless to say, I don’t give a crap about Jon Stewart. I mean, I didn’t care when Common’s talentless ass was cast as him for the aborted Justice League movie, so why would I start now?

THEY’LL PAY FOR THIS NEGLECT IN THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number four, followed by Home at number five and Cinderella oddly returning to the top ten at number six. I have no idea how or why. The number of screens actually dropped by almost a thousand and still it popped up. Again, I’m thinking somehow The Avengers had something to do with this. Short sighted fathers who dropped their daughters off here instead of taking them with their brothers to see The Avengers.

IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO RULE IN HELL
Ex Machina is down to number seven, followed by Unfriended at number eight, The Longest Ride at number nine and The Woman in Gold at number ten and it’s gotta be humbling at home for Ryan Reynolds with Blake Lively’s movie getting more exposure than his. Especially when she’s the star of hers and he’s the co-star of Helen Mirren. Yeah, technically this did better, but is it better to the co-star in a success of the star of a disappointment?

YOU’D HAVE TO BE BLIND NOT TO LOVE THIS.
Since we’re discussing The Avengers and other comic book movies, it’s time I got to my long overdue discussion of Daredevil (told you we’d get to it). Simply put: it’s awesome. Seriously. Forget about that godawful movie with Ben Affleck that even he admits was crap. This. Is. Amazing. Netfilix and Marvel have pulled off something I quite frankly had my doubts about. I know it’s not saying much but this is best superhero TV show ever made. It is gritty and serious as a heart attack, but they make it work. It helps they have time. It’s not so much at TV show, but a 13-hour movie. Each episode builds on the previous episode to a great climax. Having been a fan of the comics this is based upon, my jaw dropped at some of the scenes. They’re making it clear that the comics are merely source material and they feel no obligation to follow them to the letter. Their changes are amazing and may have set the bar too high for them to follow, much less other shows that are coming set in this same world. One primary reason is the villain. It’s an old conceit that your movie can only be as good as its villain and Vincent D’Onofrio brings to life a great villain, The Kingpin. He’s not some two-dimensional bad guy, but a fully realized traumatized human being who has been consumed by his darkside, though he doesn’t admit it even to himself. The other saying is that a good villain is the hero of his own story and in this Wilson Fisk (never called The Kingpin, because what is this, a comic book?) firmly believes he’s saving the city. This city is the New York post-Avengers alien invasion. Hell’s Kitchen isn’t the new home of luxury high rises and nice restaurants that’s threatening to price me out of it, but the crime ridden HK of old thanks to the damage of the alien invasion The Avengers fought off. In a plotline all too real, criminals are making the most of all the new money coming in to redevelop the area. Having grown up there, Fisk thinks he’s saving his old neighborhood and the city with a small consortium of organized crime leaders, from Yakuza to Triads to Russian Mobs (clearly the Italians and Irish are old news). Unfortunately for him, Daredevil, aka, Matt Murdock also grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and is having none of it, going out every night dressed in black, using his hyper senses (developed when he was blinded by radioactive chemicals saving a man’s life) to find crime and beat the crap out of people committing it. They actually make you believe one unarmed guy can derail a business of armed gangsters. It’s fairly simple: you screw up their business enough and the partners start getting impatient and wind up finishing them off. They also do a great job of fleshing out the supporting characters. In the comics Vanessa, The Kingpin’s love interest, is a borderline idiot who has no idea he’s a gangster. Here she’s a woman knowing enough to bring a gun on her second date. She knows what he is and not only accepts it, but helps him somewhat. Karen Page is the secretary/love interest with little going on beyond that in the comics, but here she goes from being a damsel in distress to a pit bull determined to take The Kingpin down no matter what it takes. Daredevil himself had the sense of humor that comes and goes in the comics (depending on who’s writing) and takes a fairly realistic beating for someone fighting crime with no superpowers. When his ability to take a pounding without complaining is pointed out, he quips, “That’s the Catholicism in me.” Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough. It’s not perfect (Asians take it only the chin in all kinds of stereotypes and Daredevil functions a little too well despite vicious beatings). Let me put it this way: just make it to the hallway scene in episode two. That’s when I knew this was the real deal.

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CHICKS RULE!

27 Jul

susan-sarandon 1. Lucy/Universal                                              Wknd/$ 44.0   Total/$ 44.0
2. Hercules/Paramount                                    Wknd/$ 29.0   Total/$ 29.0
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes/Fox          Wknd/$ 16.4    Total/$ 172.1
4. The Purge: Anarchy/Universal                   Wknd/$ 9.9      Total/$ 51.3
5. Planes: Fire & Rescue/Disney                     Wknd/$ 9.3      Total/$ 35.1
6. Sex Tape/Sony                                               Wknd/$ 6.0      Total/$ 26.9
7. Transformers 4/Paramount                        Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 236.4
8. And So It Goes/CE                                        Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 4.6
9. Tammy/Warner                                             Wknd/$ 3.4      Total/$ 78.1
10. A Most Wanted Man/RA                           Wknd/$ 2.7       Total/$ 2.7

LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DOLLARS…
Lucy opens at number one and this is the latest from Luc Besson who is no stranger to badass female action movies. His first big hit was the original La Femme Nikita, which made such an impact that they’re still remaking it almost 25 years later. He was also behind his then wife’s (Mila Jovovich) entry into the action world with The Fifth Element. He’s also the name in action films in Europe as the producer behind everything from The Transporter to Taken to B13 (which was remade as Brick Mansions here with him still on as a producer) to Kiss The Dragon. In addition he wrote Bandidas with Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz as well as Colombiana. Now that you know the scope of his power and influence, you understand why his movies seem to be getting worse with time. There’s simply no one who can tell him “No.” That his wife is the producer doesn’t help. The idea of Lucy is great: a woman forced to be a drug mule develops superhuman powers when the bag inside her bursts and the new drug floods her system. The downside is they’re also killing her at the same time so she needs more of it to survive and keep growing. Unfortunately the film begins to fumble almost immediately with hamfisted intercutting of a gazelle being pursued by cheetahs with Lucy being caught by the drug dealers. You know, just in case you didn’t get it. While it mercifully never returns the film just finds other ways to fail. Starting with Lucy walking around with a gun in full view in a hospital with no one noticing. Bear in mind, she’s already twice as smart as a normal human now, to the point she can heal herself and read a scan of a man’s brain to determine if his tumor will kill him, but it never occurs to her to try and hide the gun. Also, when she returns to the ruthless drug dealer’s home to get information about the other mules, she kills all his henchmen, but not him. Why not? Because if she does, he won’t be able to chase her across the globe and shoot up Paris, that’s why. And why is she after them in the first place? If the drug is created in Taiwan, why not simply go to the source and get an endless supply? Smart question for a stupid, stupid movie. They even introduce her concern of her fading humanity…never to broach it again, even as she’s causing no end of damage and most likely civilian casualties speeding through Paris. The film doubles down on the ineptitude by having the cop with her also have no concern for his fellow officer or civilians she’s hurting. Bear in mind she insists he come with her so she can remember what it means to be human. Clearly she picked the wrong dude. Ironically, it’s a bit sad that a crummy action movie with a female lead can do just as well as a crummy action movie with a dude. But it does means Hollywood is all out of excuses not to make more. Hopefully not so crummy.

SOMEWHERE KEVIN SORBO IS LAUGHING
Opening at number two—which is quite frankly too good for it—is Hercules from the painfully untalented director, Brett Ratner. Seriously, you people have a lot to answer for having made him successful with those awful Rush Hour movies. Why do I know this sucks beyond the obvious reasons even though I didn’t see it? There are no labors. Seriously. All the commercials and previews you’ve seen with the Hydra, Neiman Lion and the Boar? All happen in the first five minutes as part of a story his nephew is telling to promote Hercules. He’s not the son of Zeus. He’s just some guy with a good PR man. Seriously. How on earth did this even get made!?! How did it leave the first meeting when the basic premise is, “He’s not the superhero of myth and he’s not going to do the very things which are the only reason we even know his name today.” How!?! And in case you were wondering why The Rock’s career never really took off you have your answer. He saw this script and thought it was a good idea. Just like all the other clearly-obvious-to-anyone-else awful movies he’s done. Yes, he’s still found a measure of success, but did not become the heir to Schwarzenegger that even the man himself thought would happen (did you miss Arnold’s cameo in The Rundown?). This is why. All the personal charm in the world cannot overcome these horrible, horrible choices. Which have just led to his ass being kicked by a 5-foot-blonde.

SHE’S A WONDER
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is down to number three and also in this is Keri Russell and to keep our theme of female action heroes going, she was the voice of Wonder Woman in the direct-to-video film a few years back. You should really check it out. It’s not perfect, but no worse than most theatrically released superhero movies. And definitely better than freaking Lucy.

LIKE GIVING DIAMONDS TO AN APE
The Purge: Anarchy is down to number four, followed by Planes: Fire & Rescue at number five and Sex Tape down to number six and also wasted in this is Rob Corddry. How do you waste Rob Corddry as a wacky neighbor with a sociopath kid? They found a way.

YEAH, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?
Transformers: Age of Extinction is down to number seven with And So It Goes opening at number eight and honestly if I’d known this opened this weekend I might have seen it, but I saw not one single commercial for it. No wonder Michael Douglas was so hot to get into a superhero movie if this is how he’s being treated these days. The man’s got Oscars on both sides of the camera and was once a license to print money. His leading lady is none other than Diane fucking Keaton. Rob Reiner who directed The Princess Bride is the director. Show some respect and promote this damn thing! No matter how much it probably sucks.

SEXY PEOPLE DOING THE SEXY
Tammy is down to number nine and also in this is Susan Sarandon who just admitted she hooked up with David Bowie when they were making The Hunger. That’s the kind of celebrity hook up that just makes you smile. Good for both of them!

AND A MARTINI, SHAKEN. NOT STIRRED.
A Most Wanted Man opens at number ten and this is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final film in a leading role (which suggests there may still be other films yet to be released). It’s based on a John le Carre novel, which means it’s about real spies in the real world, which means I have no interest in it. Give me babes, quips and invisible cars, thank you very much.

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SUCK IT, BRETT RATNER!

27 May

asm ks6

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past/Fox                    Wknd/$ 91.4        Total/$ 91.4
2. Godzilla/Warner                                                Wknd/$ 31.1         Total/$ 148.5
3. Blended/Warner                                                Wknd/$ 14.2         Total/$ 14.2
4. Neighbors/Universal                                         Wknd/$ 13.9        Total/$ 113.6
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2/Sony                  Wknd/$ 7.8          Total/$ 184.9
6. Million Dollar Arm/Disney                              Wknd/$ 7.0          Total/$ 20.5
7. The Other Woman/Fox                                     Wknd/$ 3.6          Total/$ 77.6
8. Rio 2/Fox                                                             Wknd/$ 2.5          Total/$ 121.5
9. Chef/ORF                                                             Wknd/$ 2.3          Total/$ 3.6
10. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                             Wknd/$ 2.1           Total/$ 85.2

Okay, let’s do this quickly. It’s a holiday…

SERIOUSLY, SUCK IT, BRETT RATNER
X-Men Days of Future Past opens at number one and this is based on the classic X-Men story of the same name where Kitty Pryde gets sent back through time from a horrible future to change things for the better and…wait a minute. It’s Wolverine here…and he’s got his metal claws back? How? And Professor X was a dead as he was at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand but he’s here? But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ve got a very good X-Men movie to watch with a plethora of characters all nicely done with solid performances. Don’t bother yourself with trying to match each film to the last one (the filmmakers sure as hell didn’t), just enjoy the film laid out before you. And, yes this more than makes up for the mess that was X-Men: The Last Stand. Maybe the third Wolverine movie will make up for those two previous episodes of crap. Yeah, I don’t believe that either.

HOW NICE OF THE STUDIO TO ASSUME EVERYONE IS A RACIST
Godzilla is down to number two and basically Ken Wantanabe is to this what Raymond Burr was to the original: a token to make the people in another country watch it. Just as no Japanese person would have given a crap about Raymond Burr (he’s not even in the original version, only its American release), not too many Americans care about Ken Wantanabe, but in Japan he’s a star. Sadly, he’s no more vital to this than Raymond Burr was to the original. He just kind of stands around and looks grim. He doesn’t even get to be the hero scientist who helps save the day like Matthew Broderick in the previous Hollywood version. Hell, Bryan Cranston contributes more and he’s only in it for 15 minutes. Hopefully they’ll give him more to do in the already announced sequel.

A LEGACY OF ANNOYING
Blended opens to scathing reviews at number three and you don’t even have to see it to know they’re accurate. It’s Adam Sandler. He’s been stinking up the screen for 20 years now. Did you think he’d somehow get better with age? The irony is that Neighbors is at number four and we see the torch was basically passed from Sandler to Rogen in a film called Funny People. So basically, while I’m glad to see Sandler finally (hopefully) fading away, there’s still an ugly dude I find unfunny onscreen.

THE REAL CRIME IS HOW DULL HE IS
The Amazing Spider-Man is down to number four and did you realize Jamie Foxx is in this. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx? You know why? Because his character is instantly and utterly forgettable. It’s basically a rehash of Jim Carey’s Riddler in Batman Forever and that’s not a good thing. Unfortunately, they’ve announced a spin off film of all Spidey’s villains, called the Sinister Six and he’s one of them.

THREE OTHER MOVIES I’LL NEVER SEE
Million Dollar Arm is down to number six, followed by The Other Woman at number seven and Rio at number eight.

COOKIN’ UP A STORM
Entering the top ten at number nine is Chef the latest from Jon Favreau since he left or was booted from the director’s chair of Iron Man, depending on which rumor you believe. It’s probably a combination of both. If this is his middle finger to them, then they’ve lost creatively if not financially (Iron Man 3 was the highest grossing Iron Man film). It’s not a new story, but there are no new stories. It’s all in how you tell the old ones. Writing, directing and starring, Favreau is a chef in a creative rut under owner Dustin Hoffman. He’s no longer happy doing what he loves and it’s taking its toll on him personally and professionally. He’s not only divorced but neglecting the son who adores him. Finally, a confrontation with an influential blogger pushes him over the edge and he leaves to restart with a food truck. What makes this more of an indie film than a mainstream film is the time it takes to get to Favreau’s breakdown and his eventual rise from the ashes. His should fall by minute 30, spend 31-60 fighting back and 61 – 90 is his triumphant return. Not so here in this near two hour film where the time is used to make all these events feel more organic. Not to say it’s perfect. His comeback is effortless, lacking any real struggle and filled with hipster cameos and Sofia Vergara is just too perfect a loving, supportive ex-wife and not much more. Her role could have used a few more layers. But it’s clearly a film about a man who loves food directed by a man who loves food and its preparation is so lovingly depicted I left starving. There is no greater praise for a movie about cooking. Normally, I’d rip on a film showing Favreau being married to and now banging Scarlett Johansson, but unlike the masturbatory fantasy of John Turturro who is a gigolo hired by Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone for a threesome, you can believe this because Favreau shows his character being a great cook, first. His foreplay with Johansson is literally making a meal for her and you can understand why she or any other woman would bang him senseless. Hell, I’m ready to sleep with him after 2 hours of watching him cook.

SHUFFLE OFF THIS MORTAL COIL
Finally, Heaven is Real closes out the top ten at number ten.

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FOOD PORN IS THE BEST PORN BECAUSE YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET FOOD

12 May

sofia-vergara-in-jeans

1. Neighbors/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 51.1        Total/$ 51.1
2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2/Sony          Wknd/$ 37.2        Total/$ 148.0
3. The Other Woman/Fox                             Wknd/$ 9.3         Total/$ 61.7
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier    Wknd/$ 5.6          Total/$ 245.0
4. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                       Wknd/$ 7.0          Total/$ 75.2
6. Rio 2/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 5.1          Total/$ 113.2
7. Moms’ Night Out/TriS                              Wknd/$ 4.2          Total/$ 4.2
8. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return            Wknd/$ 3.7         Total/$ 3.7
9. Divergent/LGF                                            Wknd/$ 1.7          Total/$ 145.0
10. Brick Mansions/Relativity                      Wknd/$ 1.5         Total/$ 18.3

YOU CAN’T KILL EVIL…ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S UGLY
Neighbors opens big at number one and it’s like some nightmare I’m having as this returns Seth Rogen to the forefront as a comic leading man after wonderfully stumbling with The Guilt Trip and The Green Hornet. My only hope is that this confirms he’s better being partnered with someone else…someone actually attractive and he cannot ever, ever, ever be the male lead who gets the hot girl. No offense, Rose Byrne but Zac Efron is prettier than you and we all know it. You’re actually somewhat attainable for someone like Seth Rogen.

LAMENTATIONS OF AN AGING GEEK
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is down to number two and while I maintain that what makes this movie enjoyable is the characters, let’s not pretend the storyline itself is nothing short of a cosmic mess, but this is what I like to call “Harrison Ford Syndrome.” This is when you so enjoy what’s happening onscreen you don’t stop to think about it. Like Indiana Jones on the sub in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or every single freaking moment of The Fugitive. Because if you do, you realize that it makes little to no sense. You know, like Spider-Man’s plan is basically to kill Electro. No, I’m not kidding. Even though he knows that Electro is a poor schlub that’s been turned into a monster and initially tries to help him, from that point on his big plan is to just blow him up, even though he defeats him with a water hose (which straight from Electro’s first appearance in the comics). There’s never any “I don’t want to hurt you.” Nope. It’s just “let’s blow him up real good!” This a failure of both character and plot, because if there’s one person less likely to kill than even Superman, it’s Peter Parker. But you saw what they did to Superman in Man of Steel. Guess it’s par the course now for you damn kids today.

MRS. SUCCESSFUL PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
The Other Woman is down to number three and are we even pretending that Leslie Mann’s career is based on anything less than being Judd Apatow’s wife? I like her, but let’s not kid ourselves. She’s who you go to in order to make a connection with him or because Sarah Jessica Parker didn’t return your phone calls because she looked at this script and saw for the mildly misogynist treacle it was…or was too expensive. It’s 50/50 with her.

DOUBLE EDGE SWORD
Heaven is Real is down to number four and given Rake was just cancelled is Greg Kinnear happy to have this feather in his cap or is it a mixed blessing given it’s not a “real” movie and would have succeeded with basically anyone in it? I wonder how much work he’s losing to Patrick Wilson who plays similar roles, but is a much better actor?

THEY TRULY LOVE AMERICA
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is down to number five and also in this is Emily VanCamp, best known to most of you and the most ineffective pursuer of Revenge ever. It’s been how many years and she still hasn’t taken that family down!?! Here she’s known as Agent 13, which was also the title Captain America’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter. In the comics it’s no coincidence because she’s, Sharon, the younger sister of Peggy Cater. That was when he reawakened in the early 60’s. As time passed Sharon had to eventually become Peggy’s grandniece, because a woman who was fighting WWII couldn’t have a 29-year-old sister. It hasn’t been made clear if they’re going that route with her here, even though 90-something Peggy Carter does appear. I was impressed that they went hardcore and gave her Alzheimer’s, not making their reunion too touchy feely.

JESUS DOESN’T LIKE FUN OR SO THEY’D HAVE YOU BELIEVE
Rio 2 is down to number six, followed by Mom’s Night Out opening at number seven and how is Leslie Mann not in this? Probably because she doesn’t have to, as this is yet another Christian themed film. How’s that make it any less generic than any Hollywood film with a similar plot? No one has sex or gets high or wants to have sex or get high. And if there’s a divorced woman she’s probably unhappy and a whore.

IT’S ONLY CRAP AND THAT’S ALL
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return opens at number eight and there simply aren’t enough WTF’s for this. This isn’t just an attempt to milk a dead cow, but to milk a dead horse. Even if it were alive you’d still be an idiot. This is based on an Oz sequel written by one Frank L. Baum’s grandkids. He qualifications other than being one of Frank L. Baum’s grandkids? Probably failing at everything else in life, as I’m pretty sure talent isn’t genetic or Mariel Hemmingway’s hiding her talents. He was milking the dead horse and now this film wants to join him and has all the results of what happens when you try to milk a dead horse. Can you imagine how bad a film has to be for the combination of OZ and animation to flop? Personally, I like to think “songs by Bryan Adams” is what did it in, because I still believe in justice.

FOR YOU BEAN COUNTERS
Divergent is down to number nine and this is only $3M away from being profitable by our 3x budget rule of them.

THE END
Finally Brick Mansions closes out the top ten at number ten.

MAKING MORE MUNCHIES THAN WEED
Not entering the Top Ten is Chef, the latest from Jon Favreau since he left or was booted from the director’s chair of Iron Man, depending on which rumor you believe. It’s probably a combination of both. He demanded more money for Iron Man 2, so when it under-performed and he was denied The Avengers he probably threatened to walk and they said “See ya!” If this is his middle finger to them, then they’ve lost creatively if not financially (Iron Man 3 was the highest grossing Iron Man film). It’s not a new story, but there are no new stories. It’s all in how you tell the old ones. Writing, directing and starring, Favreau is a chef in a creative rut under owner Dustin Hoffman. He’s no longer happy doing what he loves and it’s taking its toll on him personally and professionally. He’s not only divorced but neglecting the son who adores him. Finally, a confrontation with an influential blogger pushes him over the edge and he leaves to restart with a food truck. What makes this more of an indie film than a mainstream film is the time it takes to get to Favreau’s breakdown and his eventual rise from the ashes. His should fall by minute 30, spend 31-60 fighting back and 61 – 90 is his triumphant return. Not so here in this near two hour film where the time is used to make all these events feel more organic. Also, uncomfortable moments aren’t skipped over or blown out of proportion so mouth-breathers can get it. His blow up on critic Oliver Platt is as uncomfortable to watch as such an actual breakdown would be. Also, his neglect of his son’s needs isn’t sugar coated. He makes mistakes all the way up to the end only realizing it thanks to his son’s non-stop efforts to get his father’s love. It’s not perfect. His comeback is effortless, lacking any real struggle and filled with hipster cameos and Sofia Vergara is just too perfect a loving, supportive ex-wife and not much more. Her role could have used a few more layers. Is she really not just a little bit angry at how he treats their son in his clear depression? And characters that were very important to the beginning just kinda vanish, which some would say is more like real life, yes, but in real life people who are important to you, just don’t disappear because that actor or actress clearly didn’t have more time to shoot. But it’s clearly a film about a man who loves food directed by a man who loves food and its preparation is so lovingly depicted I left starving. There is no greater praise for a movie about cooking. Normally, I’d rip on a film showing Favreau being married to and now banging Scarlett Johansson, but unlike the masturbatory fantasy of John Turturro who is a gigolo hired by Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone for a threesome, you can believe this because Favreau shows his character being a great cook, first. His foreplay with Johansson is literally making a meal for her and you can understand why she or any other woman would bang him senseless. Hell, I’m ready to fuck him after 2 hours of watching him cook.

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GIRL YOU’LL BE A WOMAN…ONE DAY

20 Apr

blackwidows 1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier        Wknd/$ 26.6     Total/$ 201.5
2. Rio 2/Fox                                                         Wknd/$ 22.5     Total/$ 75.4
3. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                           Wknd/$ 21. 5     Total/$ 28.5
4. Transendence/Warners                                Wknd/$ 11.2      Total/$ 11.2
5. A Haunted House 2/ORF                             Wknd/$ 9.1        Total/$ 9.1
6. Draft Day/LG                                                  Wknd/$ 5.9        Total/$ 19.5
7. Divergent/LGF                                                Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 133.9
8. Oculus/Relativity                                           Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 21.0
9. Noah/Paramount                                           Wknd/$ 5.0        Total/$ 93.3
10. God’s Not Dead/Free                                   Wknd/$ 4.8       Total/$ 48.3

THERE’S JUST NO PLEASING A GEEK
Captain America: The Winter Soldier holds onto the number one slot for the third week, which is great for me because I’m a Cap fan, but sad for me because I think this success should have been for a better Cap movie. I’m also not thrilled that this cements Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. Yeah, I know this is the third time she’s played the role, but she’s still horribly miscast. The Black Widow is a woman, not a girl and even though she’s 30 now, ScarJo (as she hates to be called) still looks like a girl and I’m supposed to buy her as the best spy in the world (which is what she’s referred to in the comics). It’s still painful to think that Emily Blunt was in consideration for this role and we got stuck with someone who was cast for obvious reasons (blonde hair, boobs). It’s not to say she doesn’t make a decent sidekick. She is and gets some great lines, most of them at the expense of Captain America whom she gently teases throughout the film, but she’s just not The Black Widow as shown in Marvel Comics for the last 50 years. Now, if they made her the character in the comics who was the successor to The Black Widow, using her name and who was in fact a young blonde, the angrygeek in me would be fine with that. But they didn’t so I’m not. Grrrrrrr….

GET IT?
Rio 2 holds at number two and it’s still too little too late for me to see or care about it.

GUESS WHO MISSES THE FIRST DECADE OF THIS CENTURY?
It’s somehow fitting that Heaven is For Real is opening at number three in front of Transcendence at number four because “transcendence” is achieving at type of heaven, no? The former is just the latest in a stream of Christian movies that its target audience is only too happy to turn out and support, turning a profit almost immediately in defiance of all reviews. What’s surprising is that Greg Kinnear is in this one, as these movies are usually for no-name actors or those who need work and are in no position to be picky. While Kinnear is far from his glory days as an Oscar nominee (utterly undeserved for his stereotypical portrayal of a gay man) he still manages to be enough of a name to get cast as a male lead in A-list films and on television. How is a mystery, given he hasn’t be in a hit since Baby Mama which was a Tina Fey/Amy Poelher success. He was just the guy lucky enough to be in it. Yeah, he was in Anchorman 2, but no one saw it for him. Same for this film. It’s a success, but he has nothing to do with it. The failure of Rake is closer to reality. It’s also becoming a reality for Johnny Depp who hasn’t had a hit without special effects, Tim Burton or a pirate hat since Finding Neverland in ’04 and now even with special effects (The Lone Ranger and this) and Tim Burton (Dark Shadows) it’s slim pickings so look for him to put that pirate hat back on in the next 15-20 minutes. In fact, he’s the main reason I didn’t bother seeing this. I likes me some science fiction and have no problem the trope of the scientist who loses his humanity when he achieves some degree of omnipotence of omniscience, so I was ripe for this. Honestly, it’s the casting of Johnny Depp that put me off. I have such a dislike of him that even with commercials every day I still didn’t remember it opened this weekend. It seems many people felt the same. I, for one, have been insisting for years that the Emperor of Cool has no clothes but now that he’s openly the pathetic stereotype of a middle-aged man, hooked up with a 20-something former model now actress (who was gay before Depp, so make of that what you will), others are seeing it as well. Such a shame too, as there’s no shortage of good actors I do like in it from crusty old Morgan Freeman to relatively fresh and new Kate Mara and people like Paul Bettany, Cole Hauser (how is this man not as star) and Cillian Murphy in between.

SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
A Haunted House 2 opens at number five and this is the franchise that spun out of the Scary Movie franchise when the Wayans family realized that even though they launched it, they didn’t own it and decided to just make their own and keep all the money. And given the first Haunted House basically went head-to-head with Scary Movie 5 and made about the same but at literally 1/10 the cost, I’d say it was a wise decision. Releasing this in April rather than October? Now that decision I question. But it only cost $4M and already made $9M so clearly the Wayans family knows more than I do.

SUPERMAN FAMILY
Draft Day is down to number six and also in this is none other than Tom Welling, who played Clark Kent on the show Smallville, not to mention Frank Langella who played Perry White in Superman Returns. I like to think they both looked at Costner with pity for being in Man of Steel. And all three of them looked at Jennifer Garner with pity for being in Daredevil and Elektra.

YOU AIN’T JENNIFER LAWRENCE YET, GIRL
Divergent is down to number seven and even with a $200M+ worldwide box office, this isn’t a rock solid franchise success, given it had an $85M budget. Even by conservative estimates, it’s gonna have to hit at least $255M, which seems less and less likely as we approach the summer releases.

GOD COULD MAKE IT RAIN ON THE BOX OFFICE JUST A BIT MORE
Oculus is down to number eight and it’s already turned a profit so the producers could care less as they prep Oculus 2, while Noah—down to nine—faces the same issue as Divergent in that it cost so much, it’s$290M box office still isn’t enough to be profitable.

NO, BUT THIS FINALLY IS
Finally God’s Not Dead closes out this very Christian friendly top ten.

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