Tag Archives: taylor kitsch

RATHER DIE THAN RIDE

21 Jan

the_four_jack_ryans

 1. Ride Along/Universal                             Wknd/$  41.6            Total/$   41.6

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                       Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$   72.9

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  19.4            Total/$   19.4

 4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par           Wknd/$  15.6            Total/$   15.6

 5. Frozen/Disney                                          Wknd/$  11.9            Total/$ 332.5

 6. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   9.9            Total/$  115.7

 7. Devil’s Due/Fox                                         Wknd/$   8.4           Total/$     8.4

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   7.4            Total/$    18.0

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$   89.8

10. Her/WB                                                      Wknd/$   4.0           Total/$    15.0

 

IT’S A MOVIE, NOT A SOCIAL STATEMENT

Ride Along opens at number one as Kevin Hart’s star continues to ascend.  He’s just one solo film away from the comedic flavor of the month which will include a book according to Chris Rock’s book which came out he was the flavor of the month and he was told this by Jerry Seinfeld who knew for obvious reasons and I’m sure someone told him. While I enjoy Hart he’s one of those comedians where a little goes a loooooong way and second lead behind Ice Cube is still too much of him for me. Maybe third or fourth behind some kind of cute talking pet will work. Or better yet the voice of the villain’s sidekick in an animated movie. That I’d see. This, not so much. And if anyone says it’s an accomplishment for this to open at number one on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I’m gonna punch them in the fucking dick.

 

THE SPOILER’S IN THE TITLE

Lone Survivor drops to number two and this is a minor all-star cast behind Mark Wahlberg, starting with Hollywood’s Miss-It Boy of the last few years Taylor Kitsch (big movies, big bombs), Emile Hirsch (the guy you call when you can’t get Elijah Wood), Ben Foster (the guy you call when want a darker, less attractive Ryan Gosling) and Eric Bana (the guy you keep wondering why he didn’t become a star). No one is really a star, but when you see them you know them and this helps you to care about characters you otherwise wouldn’t. Especially when a film is called “Lone Survivor” and you know the name above will probably play that role.

 

FUNNY ANIMATED ANIMAL MOVIE #2488

The Nut Job opens at number three which is an accomplishment given how little promotion this thing got compared to the films of Disney and Dreamworks. I have no idea what this is even about and I think I saw one commercial.  Shows you just how much parents need these animated films to babysit their kids.  They don’t have to know or care a thing about it. They just need 90 minutes of peace.

 

SCREENWRITERS ALSO MISSES THE COLD WAR

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens at number four and this is the second time Chris Pine has stepped into the shoes of a franchise (Star Trek being the first) and the second time, sadly, he pales in comparison to a predecessor and this is coming from someone who was not a fan of Harrison Ford’s painfully self-righteous Jack Ryan.  I’m comparing him to Alec Baldwin, who was the first and remains the best Jack Ryan. All I can say is that he’s better than the milquetoast Ben Affleck reboot (does anyone even remember he did it?).  I think it’s telling that the best one was a Cold War story and clearly someone else felt the same as Russia returns as a America’s “big bad” for this one.  Set in a post-9/11 America the new Cold War is conducted in the money markets and director and co-star Kenneth Brannagh is the latest Hollywood stock villain, the Russian Oligarch, who is set onto America because didn’t help Russia stop a Turkish oil pipeline. And that’s your first problem right here. Ryan isn’t even fighting the real bad guy.  He’s just a guy following orders.  At the very least Brannagh should have been a rogue Russian businessman setting off to do this without his government’s approval. The other problem is for an action thriller it’s not that thrilling and there’s very little action.  A good 20 minutes is wasted giving us the origin of Jack Ryan. You, know that 2-minute speech from Hunt From Red October?  Yeah, they heard the cries of absolutely no one and decided to show it complete with meeting his future wife.  Now, one of the best scenes from Hunt For Red October consisted of Alec Baldwin giving a briefing and you saw why Jack Ryan was good at his job.  No jumping, shooting or fighting and was still fun to watch.  Here he’s an analyst on Wall Street tracking terrorist funding and it’s as thrilling to watch as it sounds.  We’re not really shown why he’s good, but simply people keep telling us that he is and he spouts some technobabble that apparently no one else in the CIA can understand so he has to go into the field. Previously it was because he was expendable and no one believed him.  Here he’s clearly believed and supported which robs it of some drama as he’s not the underdog. He’s not even alone to fight for his life in Russia, where a dozen CIA show up to help in gunfights.  In sad way it compares to Pine’s role as Kirk where basically he just falls into command rather than earning it. Even the scene as we watch him putting information together doesn’t come off as all that special so much as common sense. In that respect it reminds you of TV shows were everyone is made a little dumb to the hero cop can seem smart.

 

A ROSEMARY’S BABY FOR THE CELL PHONE GENERATION

Frozen falls to number five followed by American Hustle at number six and Devils Due, which opens at number seven. It’s yet another “found footage” about a woman who gets impregnated with the Anti-Christ while on her honeymoon.  Aside from my general disregard for these movies, the trailer strongly suggests that basically they were drugged by Satan’s minions and it’s captured by the camera, which means that if they’d just bothered to check their vacation footage all of this could have been avoided. I mean it’s still horrifying to be drugged by Satan’s minions then presumably raped by Satan himself, but then it could be dealt with early and not eight months later when a priest bleeds from his eyes.  And why does Satan need minions to drug a woman anyway? Seducing people is his job description. Probably the most horrific part of The Devil’s Advocate was that Al Pacino uses his satanic power to seduce Charlize Theron (thank god it’s offscreen, but just imagining the his tiny, creepy, old body climbing on top of her still gives me chills). In a truly more terrifying movie making use of the found footage, Satan would have assumed the husband’s form but they don’t know this happened until they see a honeymoon sex tape where a) it’s the husband, but clearly he didn’t shoot it, or b) either Satan’s true form is captured by the camera, or c) nothing is captured but you see her responding to something.  Though that’s still not as creepy as Al Pacino on top of Charlize Theron.

 

HA IS ONLY TWO LETTERS. SEE?

August: Osage County is down to number eight followed by The Wolf of Wall Street at number nine and I finally subjected myself to yet another overlong Scorsese paean to a sociopathic anti-hero who rises and falls yet rises again.  While on one hand, Scorsese is still obviously a great director and the story told is done well and interesting, it’s done for far too long and many of the techniques become tiresome. I realize the mantra of film is “show, don’t tell” but some things could just be told. I don’t need to see them all, least of all pretty much every single female in the cast doing full frontal nudity (the 13-year-old in me feels utterly betrayed at those words). Yeah, I get that the world of Wall Street is hyper masculine in a weird sort of overcompensation given they really don’t do anything we associate with actual manhood, like being a construction worker or athlete or a soldier, but does that mean you have to show every single instance of this especially when it’s sexual?  I got it when you graphically showed me hooker #1. I really didn’t need to be graphically shown hookers #2-500.  This movie seems to be for people who wanted another, longer GoodFellas but without all the violence.  Emphasis on the longer. There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio, finally beginning to circle the drain on his lifestyle, has to get home on while on an overdose of Quaaludes, which while funny goes on for-freaking-ever and you wonder if that scene were just completely deleted how does the film change and what do we lose. It doesn’t and we don’t and the film is filled with many such scenes that don’t move it forward or tell us anything we don’t already know about the characters. Part of it is obviously Scorsese’s unfamiliarity with comedy It’s a common mistake for someone to overdo it. It makes an odd sort of sense because it took his usual partner in crime, DeNiro, years to learn restraint in comedy. Now he won’t freaking stop making them.

 

I’M BIG ON PERSONAL GROOMING

Finally, Her rises to the top ten and I have different reasons for dragging my feet on seeing different movies. For example: I love the Coen Brothers, but haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet because honestly I freaking hate folk music. Hate. It. I don’t care how good the movie is because it will subject me to that.  I know it’s crazy, but it’s me. Similarly my crazy reason for not having seen this is Joaquin Phoenix’s horrible porn ‘stache.  I cannot bring myself to look at that thing forty feet wide for two straight hours. I know I have to now, given it’s been nominated for some Oscars, but it may be the morning of the ceremony before I finally get around to it.

 

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

So Friday was the quarterly edition of our karaoke get-together and because somewhere down the line I was saddled with not just the organization but declaring a theme I decided this time it would be duets, which seemed like a good idea at the time and allowed me to make a poster based on the movie “2 Guns”, also mandated a lot of slower stuff which gets old fast so I opened it up to include rap duets. Again, this seemed like a good idea at the time until your realize just how frequently the word “nigga” is used and either your white friends feel awkward saying it or a little too comfortable saying it.  My own issues had nothing to do with tempo nor lyrics but the fact that a fucking cold hit me literally the night before. That my voice gets blown out by the end of karaoke is a given, but now it was seemingly over before it started. The final nail in the coffin: ½ price drinks ended with the summer. How the fuck are you supposed to sing without being a little looped!?! Well, I never found out given I’d ordered my two drinks before realizing the happy hour was no more and for some reason I thought if I just got beers from then on I’d be budgeting wisely.  I had…a few (I had no idea how much I’d consumed until I tried to get out bed in the middle of the night and failed miserably in my attempt to stand).  Of course karaoke is always fun, no matter how you limit your song choices or how weak your voice is so it turned out okay, but I can’t believe I forgot “Promiscuous Girl” which was perfect for the lower register. I always invite upwards of thirty people, but it always winds up being the same 7-8, though this time we actually hit 9. That we’ll actually get 10 people into the 10-person room remains on my bucket list. One of the guests is The 25-Year Old. She has a name but that’s what I call her to my therapist so it’s good enough. She may not even be 25 any longer, but still that’s what I call her.  She was a horrible mistake I half-heartedly tried to make for a while and I was nothing but amused to later learn where she once tended bar in Brooklyn, she had quite the fan club of bruthas. In any case she’s a geek girl so we still hang out occasionally and so she invited me to a show she had to attend for work on Saturday night. I only accepted because I was drinking and not thinking, because god knows leaving the house on Saturday night is not something I do, much less something she described as “like David Sedaris.”  When she texted me the details later I was amused to learn that the person’s name was Sam Harris, as I remembered the Sam Harris who was the first winner of Star Search with an over-the-top rendition of “Over The Rainbow” and whose career never took off after producing an abysmal single called “Sugar Don’t Bite.” It was in fact that Sam Harris.  Apparently he had a career doing theater after “Sugar Don’t Bite” and 3o years later he’d written a book about his life and had created an act around it, which was playing at Under 54, a dinner/lounge space under the Studio 54 Theater.  The 25 Year Old was surprised I knew so much about Sam Harris, but then again I was alive when it happened. She was not.  The show was entertaining, though his mannerisms and even the timing of his jokes were the exact same as Will’s from Will & Grace so the whole show had an air of familiarity about it.  He read selections from his book “Ham” interspersed with musical numbers. He reaccounted his first ventures into theater, his growing ambitions, his realization that he was “different” being gay and his resulting suicide attempt which was derailed by needing to help his little brother who’d stepped on a knitting needle. He was fortunate enough to finally encounter a teacher whom he could talk to and when he confessed he was gay, he [the teacher] reassured him there was nothing wrong with him. The climax was the adoption of his son with his husband and reconciliation with his father who apologized for not being there for Sam when he was a boy. I’m not crying! You’re crying! (one reason The 25 Year Old and I get along is that we’re not quite as moved when he cries onstage knowing that he does it every night, twice a night at the same passage)  But oddly enough there was nothing about the great recording career that never was, much less “Sugar Don’t Bite.” Now I always thought “Papa Don’t Preach” ripped off its main hook and The 25-Year-Old sent me a link to an interview where in addition to Sam Harris saying a lot of stupid shit about how he’d kill himself if he had to sing “Like A Virgin” for 30 years (we all know he’d kill for a hit like that) but he also mentioned the writers of  “Sugar Don’t Bite” felt it was similar as well, sued and got paid.  While the minimum cover of $25 for a less than impressive dinner was annoying, it was a nice night out and I think frees me from any future obligations to be social at least until spring.

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EPIC-ISH

29 Jul

1. The Dark Knight Rises/Warners            Wknd/$   64.1            Total/$ 289.1

 2. Ice Age 4/Fox                                             Wknd/$   13.3            Total/$ 114.8

 3. The Watch/Fox                                          Wknd/$   13.0            Total/$   13.0

 4. Step Up Revolution/Summit                   Wknd/$   11.8            Total/$   11.8

 5. Ted/Universal                                             Wknd/$     7.4            Total/$ 193.6

 6. Amazing Spider-Man/Sony                     Wknd/$     6.8            Total/$ 242.1

 7. Brave/Disney                                               Wknd/$     4.2            Total/$ 217.3

 8. Magic Mike/Warner                                  Wknd/$     2.6            Total/$ 107.6

 9. Savages/Universal                                      Wknd/$     1.8            Total/$   43.9

10. Moonrise Kingdom/Focus                        Wknd/$     1.4            Total/$   38.4

 

THERE IS NO DO; THERE IS ONLY TRY

The Dark Knight Rises holds onto the number one spot despite the horrible incident in Colorado, because, sadly there’s no such thing as bad publicity. People probably would have gone anyway, but this atrocity made sure you saw “The Dark Knight Rises” on every TV screen, newspaper and website and considering no one could possibly blame the movie itself it translates in the end to pure awareness. That said, while I enjoyed it more than The Dark Knight, it’s not some kind of epic masterpiece.  Not even close.  I feel that we’re at the point where if you even try to make something with greater scope, try to take your time in telling a story and not rushing through it (to insure more showings at the theater for a greater take), people give you instant credit. Look at movies like The English Patient, The Last Emperor, Titanic and Gladiator.  Every last one of them utterly mediocre in their writing, but were long and pretty and BIG so they all got credit for being epic when they were not.  And much like anything Aaron Sorkin does, because The Dark Knight Rises gives the illusion of being smart referencing “real issues” it gets praise over it.  Because Nolan mentions there are rich and poor people in Gotham City, he gets credit for some kind of social commentary, but he really doesn’t address class structure at all.  The only suggestion that the poor are suffering is because Bruce Wayne blew most of his money on a clean energy device and didn’t have money left to give to an orphanage.  That’s not an example of “society.”  That’s a particular instance where a smaller good suffers in the pursuit of a greater good. That’s reflective of nothing of in the real world unless you think the 99% is a result of the 1% trying to make the world a better place. Nolan is so proud of addressing Bruce Wayne’s wealth, but Bruce Wayne is a total benevolent billionaire, which again is reflective of nothing at all.  The story itself is a slight rerun of the first as Bane comes to Gotham to destroy it, much in the way Liam Neeson was trying to destroy in the first film. He’s also from the same League of Shadows that Neeson ran that trained Batman. I’m down for suspension of disbelief, but you cross the line when you expect me to buy that the US Government would surrender a city on US soil for months.  Granted, Bane has a nuclear warhead that he hides by driving it around all the time, but the longer it goes on, the dumber you realize it is.  It was stupid in the comics when it was an earthquake that had Gotham City declared a disaster area and abandoned.  I won’t even get into how Batman gets “broken” about two hours into the film which means you know he’s got to “montage” himself back into health then save Gotham in about 20 minutes.  It’s an enjoyable mess, but a mess nonetheless. And Nolan still hasn’t learned that Batman’s costume looks pretty stupid standing around in the daylight.

 

MAYBE EVEN A FINE OR A SUSPENSION FROM THE LEAGUE

Ice Age 4 or 6 or 12 or whatever the hell number this one is holds at number two, followed by The Watch opening at number three and when you realize just how funny Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn were in Dodgeball you can’t believe what a clear disappointment this is.  Vince Vaughn’s motor-mouth routine has got to be one of the most irritating in movies. It worked in Dodgeball because he was relatively speaking the “straight man” in a wacky world.  When he’s supposed to be the funny guy, that shit gets old fast.  His five minutes in Mr. & Mrs. Smith were almost unbearable.  And now he’s teamed with Ben Stiller playing straight, (which is never a good idea) and the always-annoying Jonah Hill.  That’s already three strikes but to add some kind of 15-years-too late Men In Black storyline on top of it gets you flat out ejected from the playing field.  The only way it could have been worse would be to have Anthony Andrews or Martin Lawrence or Cedric The Entertainer as the token minority member of the group instead of some Brit comedian no one has ever heard of.

 

DANCE HAS NO COLOR…LITERALLY

Step Up Revolution is also the umpteenth edition of this franchise started by none other than Channing Tatum. He’s long gone, but like herpes, what he touched us with lingers on.  I love dancers, but I’m old so all this street dancing shit leaves me cold.  What made the first one even minimally appealing was the fact it was contrasting modern street dancing with more traditional types.  But since then it’s just been straight up “Hey, your crew vs. our crew” in a world where none of the best street dancers are ever minorities, which explains why it’s so popular.  That actually is a holdover from the first film.

 

FLASH! AHHHHH!

Ted is down to number five and there’s a running joke in this film based on the horrible Flash Gordon movie from the 80’s complete with Sam Jones himself appearing.  For that scene alone I will watch this on cable next year.

 

DOES IT MAKE MONEY? LISTEN,BUD…

The Amazing Spider-Man is down to number six and so far this is the lowest grossing Spider-Man film, which is to say it’s made under $700M dollars.  $655M is just not that impressive in the world of Spidey films, with the much-maligned third one making the most of all the previous three.  What amuses me about how much geeks hated it is their whining about how campy it was.  As opposed to what?  Did they miss the entire sequence in the second one set to “Raindrops Are Falling On My Head.”  Raimi never took it seriously, which was part of my problem with his take. This is more to my liking, geek that I am.  Though I hate the fucking costume.  Okay, you’ve proven you can make money. Let’s go back to the original for the sequel, okay?

 

AT LEAST SHE’S NOT TRYING TO RIDE ON GRANDPA’S COATTAILS

Brave is down to number seven followed by Magic Mike at number eight and the granddaughter of Elvis Presley, daughter of Lisa Marie, Riley Keough, is in this brief as the nothing-but-trouble girlfriend of Alex Pettyfer. Yeah, I have no idea what she looks like either and I saw the freaking film. She’s a former model, which makes sense, given Elvis and Priscilla were anything but ugly.

 

SPOILERS FOR A MOVIE YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER SEE

Savages is down to number nine and this didn’t totally tank which is a sigh of relief for the management of Taylor Kitsch, though it still is the summer of his complete and utter failure to launch a big screen career.  Oliver Stone is grateful too, because it means he’ll also get to continue his career of misogyny.  Now, I cynically joked that two women in this movie would mean they’d come to horrible ends at Stone’s hands.  I was half right.  From what I’ve learned about the book, Salma Hayek as the mob boss eventually kills Bencio del Toro and one of the two dudes who love Blake Lively dies.  In Stone’s movie however, Benicio Del Toro gets to live after kidnapping and raping Blake Lively (which I could tell from the trailer would happen and I tend to avoid movies where actresses I like get raped) but he winds up killing Salma Hayek and living to be try and become the next boss.  Also both dudes who love Blake Lively survive.  No thanks, Oliver.

 

CURIOSITY BECKONS THE CAT TO ITS DOOM

Finally, Moonrise Kingdom holds onto the number ten spot yet again and actually is a success, making $38M off a $16M budget, despite the fact that almost all the indie fans of Wes Anderson that I know despise it.  I guess this is his Midnight in Paris.  I think I may have to break down and see this.

 

THEY’RE NOT CARTOONS; THEY’RE ANIMATED FILMS!

With no movies I’ve been interested in seeing and the disappointment of The Dark Knight Rises I’ve finally been using my Playstation 3 for something and that’s to stream movies.  Of course these movies are Justice League: Doom and Superman Vs. The Elite.  Justice League: Doom is based on the comic book storyline “Tower of Babel” where Ra’s Al Ghul (the guy Liam Neeson played in the Batman Begins) steals plans Batman has to take out the Justice League in case they ever go rogue.  Now given every other week they’re brainwashed to do just that, this actually make sense, but because comic book writers are, well comic book writers, this pisses off the entire Justice League and Batman actually leaves for a short period when they vote him out.  In the movie version a different villain uses the plan and it’s somewhat changed because they use different members of the Justice League (no Aquaman here and different plans are used because they’re more visual than the original), but it’s still fairly entertaining and there’s some degree of suspense as the members of the JL fall one-by-one to plans they can’t outthink because their smartest member thought them up.  What saves them is the appearance of Teen Titan, Cyborg. Because he’s not a member of the Justice League he was never attacked and is able to help stop the attacks on others. I didn’t care for this because in the original story they have to figure it out themselves and this stinks of a current push inside DC Comics to make Cyborg more important a character, which he will never be.  Yeah, I know we need more prominent black superheroes, but this guy ain’t it.  Superman Vs. The Elite is based on a silly one-issue story called “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & The American Way” which was a response to the popularity of more grittier comic books with heroes who killed people, specifically a one called The Authority which regularly poked fun at other superhero books by having their version of Superman and Batman a gay couple and had an entire storyline where a group based on The Avengers with the Captain America analogue raping anyone he defeats—in this case gay Superman analogue (in revenge the Batman analogue would take a jackhammer to his back while the Superman analogue would vaporize his legs).  In the Superman story a group based on The Authority shows up and wins public acclaim for finally dealing harshly with dangerous supervillans, which leads to a showdown with Superman where he actually outthinks them, which is somewhat novel in a Superman comic.  The movie—whose animation style took a moment to get adjusted to—follows the basic plot. People are bothered that Superman won’t deal harshly with bad guys and basically make the world a better place through force, so when a new team shows up ready to break a few necks they’re embraced. Clearly Supes doesn’t care for the whole death thing and it leads to a big fight.  This was supposed to a reaffirmation of Superman’s values, but the problem here is the same problem with the comic: once they started to embrace super-murderous villains in the 80’s, it does make it seem pretty stupid not to kill them.  The way the story should have been is that no one survives in a world where we’re all judged justly.  You cheer when a murder dies, but what happens when you’re judged for buying a bigger TV you don’t need while people are starving?  But no, it came down to showing Superman beating the crap out of people who killed terrorists and murders.  There is a story out there about the validity of Superman’s principles. This just wasn’t it.  I’m so glad I started renting these things before buying them, ‘cause I would have been pissed to have dropped more money on this.  Seeing a seemingly unhinged Superman cut loose is definitely fun for a moment, but not $20 worth of fun.

 

TV, I LOVE YOU

Again, I love that the TV seasons never stop now.  The latest show on is Sullivan & Son, which is a bit of a break-through as the lead character is clearly Asian and dates white women.  The downside is, he looks pretty white so it’s not like he’s that threatening. Also, he’s half-Asian and is playing half-Asian and if you miss it, there’s a joke every five seconds about the fact he’s half-Asian.  I can think of worse ways to spend half-an-hour before going to sleep…which is usually how I watch it.

 

APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED

29 May

 

1. MIB 3/Sony                                                Wknd/$   55.0            Total/$  55.0

2. The Avengers/Disney                               Wknd/$   36.8            Total/$ 513.5

3. Battleship/Universal                                Wknd/$   10.9            Total/$  44.4

4. The Dictator/Paramount                         Wknd/$    9.3            Total/$  41.1

5. Chernobyl Diaries/Warner                      Wknd/$    7.9            Total/$    7.9

6. Dark Shadows/Warners                           Wknd/$    7.5            Total/$  62.9

7. What To Expect When…/LGF                 Wknd/$    7.1             Total/$   22.1

8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/Fox     Wknd/$    6.4            Total/$   16.6

9. The Hunger Games/LionsGate               Wknd/$    2.3            Total/$ 395.3

10. Think Like a Man/SGem                        Wknd/$    1.4             Total/$  88.3

IF YOU THOUGHT THE SECOND THEME SONG WAS BAD, ENTER PITBULL

Men In Black 3 opens at number one and the good news is it’s better than MIB2.  The bad news is it’s still a movie that didn’t need to be made.  MIB is a very good comedy that still stands up thanks to a great premise, notable supporting characters, solid pacing and a catchy theme song.  It was also a complete story, not meant to have sequels.  At least none with Tommy Lee Jones anyway.  But god forbid you try a movie with just a black guy and a woman, so Linda Fiorentino was unceremoniously dumped and the horrific MIB2 came into being whose soullessness was shown by Tommy Lee Jones who, when asked during filming if he were okay replied, “My per diem check cleared, so I’m okay.” Given his total screen time here is about ten minutes I’d say he made limited involvement a prerequisite of coming back.  The saving grace of this movie is he isn’t missed thanks to James Brolin doing a spot-on impression of a younger, much more genial Tommy Lee Jones, putting Will Smith oddly into more of a straight man role.  You even get a nice joke explaining how the 40-something Brolin is supposed to be playing a 20-something Jones.  But sadly it’s not enough.  The freshness of the premise is gone, so the fun of seeing popular celebs “outed” as aliens no longer works. It doesn’t help that the most obvious choices are made (Lady Gaga, Tim Burton, Mick Jagger).  Even the joke that all supermodels are aliens falls flat (they’re from the planet Glamour, get it?  Yawn.)  The only display of imagination is the alien who can see all probabilities of time at once and his simultaneous joy over seeing The Mets win the World Series and pain over the darker outcomes is well done.  Clearly they had no imagination left over for the plot and let me join the chorus to point out that the end makes no sense at all and pretty much serves to unravel the first film and all the motivations of Tommy Lee Jones’s character.  Will Smith said he made this because he felt the public deserved a better film than the second.  Well, keep trying, ace. Or better yet, don’t.

DROPPIN’ SOME GEEK KNOWLEDGE ON Y’ALL!

The Avengers is finally down to number two and as you may or may not know the reason Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury is because at the beginning of the 21st century Marvel Comics created a separate line called the “Ultimate Universe” which was modern interpretations of its classic characters.  Basically, it’s like if someone relaunched a soap opera so that it wouldn’t be burdened down with years of storylines, open to new interpretation and modernized.  Think if they instead remade Dallas, not about oil but the Ewings now run an empire like Microsoft.  Similarly, the Ultimate Spider-Man wasn’t a photographer, but a kid who helped work on The Daily Bugle’s website. Ultimate Captain America is more of hard-ass regular solider than he is a nice kid who just wanted to do the right thing and The Ultimate Red Skull is actually his son who hated that the US Government tried to turn him into his father and subsequently became a ruthless terrorist who began his career with Kennedy’s assassination. Ultimate Tony Stark not only has a brain tumor, but an older, blonde brother with the same genius.  Also in the Ultimate Universe they can kill characters off permanently.  Ultimate Cyclops, Wolverine, Daredevil, Professor X and even Peter Parker are all dead and are not coming back (the new Ultimate Spider-man is a half-black, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales).  In this universe The Avengers are called “The Ultimates” (The Avengers are a nasty, black ops version of them) and work flat out for the government unlike the classic Avengers who were either a civilian force or reported to the UN. I personally read it as satire, so when Nick Fury who had always been an Italian American was made a black guy, drawn specifically to look like Samuel L. Jackson, it was clearly part of the joke.  The characters even discuss who would play them in movies and Fury says, “Samuel L. Jackson.”  Jackson didn’t approve this so instead smartly decided that to allow Marvel to continue made the deal that when the time came to bring the character into the movies the producers went with the him, which is why Nick Fury is not played by David Hassellhoff.  But to make matters even more convoluted, in the classic, painfully mercenary regular Marvel Universe they’ve introduced Nick Fury’s black son who of course loses an eye and subsequently decides to shave his head and go by dad’s name to coincide with the film.  Aren’t you glad you decided to have sex in high school instead of reading comics?

MOVIES IZ HARD

Battleship is down to number three and one must pity poor Taylor Kitsch because moving from TV to film is a tricky business.  You want to be in good movies, but you also have to grab the big money while you can.  Unfortuntely for every Bruce Willis scoring big with Die Hard there are millions of Blind Dates and Sunsets and other big releases that totally tanked for him when he made the move in the 80’s.  And then there’s George Clooney.  Can you say Batman & Robin?  Kitsch and his management are also trying the “swing for the fences” approach but all they have to show for it are not only the  two of the biggest busts of the year, but two of the most poorly marketed films.  Now, John Carter is not the worst movie ever made, but it surely is the worst marketed.  Battleship is a horrible movie (worse than Wolverine which also had Kitsch in it) that also had horrible marketing mainly because John Carter tanked in my opinion.  Taylor Kitsch is the star, but he’s tainted now so you can’t put him in the ads, which mean you can’t put the rest of the cast in the ads.  The problem?  The rest of the cast is white fucking hot right now.  Liam Neeson had a total middle-aged action hero career resurgence.  He’s not in the poster.  Brooklyn Decker is a swimsuit model currently the background on half the computers of men in America (Kate Upton has the other half).  She’s not in the poster. Alexander Skarsgard is the background on half the computers of women in America (Ryan Gosling  has the other half).  He’s not in the poster.  And Rhianna goes without saying.  Also, not in the poster.  Not a single one of them is to be seen in any print ad for this movie, because you can’t have them without the star and you apparently can’t have the star because he’s tainted.  How dumb is this line of thinking? That four actually famous people are countered by the failings of one semi-famous guy?  Proof once again, that Marketing as an actual degree you can learn alongside science and literature is a abomination.

LEARN WHAT NAPOLEON AND HITLER FOUND OUT THE HARD WAY

The Dictator is down to number four followed by Chernobyl Diaries at number five and was there any doubt I’d overlook this?  First of all it’s supposed to be scary and as we all know I don’t do the scary. Secondly it’s painfully, painfully stupid in its very premise of kids on vacation who decide not to go to Moscow but Chernobyl.  What’s more entertaining than this movie is that there was another bad movie last year about Americans in Moscow when aliens invade, so I guess you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM AND $2.25 WILL GET YOU ON THE SUBWAY

Dark Shadows is down to number six and is it part of their divorce agreement that Helena Bonham-Carter still has to appear in Tim Burton’s crappy films?  There was a time this woman was an art house queen and now she just wears a lot of make-up and camps it up.  Hmmm, I guess that makes her the female Johnny Depp.

SADLY, IT’S A BIG CLUB

What To Expect When You’re Expecting is down to number seven and what does it say that Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez combined can’t get people in to see a movie?  It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. They’ve made money on crap before.  Also here is Brooklyn Decker giving her two crappy movies in the top ten.  She and Taylor Kitsch now have something to talk about.  But who really suffers the most here is Elizabeth Banks because the clock is ticking on her time to ascend from supporting player to leading actress.  What’s ironic about this is that she was Betty Brant in all three Spider-man films.  Betty was Spider-man’s first real love interest, but that story never was in the films, jumping straight to Mary Jane.  She was robbed of her “Lois Lane” moment and everything else since then save The Hunger Games has tanked (The Next Three Days, Man on a Ledge, Zack & Miri Make a Porno, Our Idiot Brother, etc) and that ain’t her movie.  She’s going to be stuck talking dirty in Apatow’s slob comedies if something doesn’t come through soon.  Taylor Kitsch and Brooklyn Decker should save her a seat.

THE REST

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number eight, followed by The Hunger Games at nine (bittersweet for Elizabeth Banks) and Think Like A Man closes out the top ten at ten.

OLD SKOOL

So I’m trying to take advantage of the city more.  You know, go see the sights and shit, which is why I’ve been not only to The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, but this weekend headed out to Brooklyn (again) to catch the exhibit dedicated to DJ Ralph McDaniels and his seminal show Video Music Box. I guess had to be in the tri-state area to know about it, but then again, that was all that mattered in the so-called “Golden Age of Hip-Hop” from the early 80’s to the early 90’s.  But know that anytime you watch some old footage from that time on MTV or VH1 they had to pay Ralph McDaniel’s for it, because he was ground zero of exposure for hip hop in NYC.  He even started a production company for shooting videos where Hype Williams started out.  The display was at the MoCada (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), located just off Atlantic in Brooklyn and appropriately enough there was some kind of African-American themed fair going on right there when I got off.  As you can imagine, it’s not a big space and was be divided up into three rooms.  The first was the large main room upon entry where there was a wall of text explaining the importance of Ralph McDaniels and Video Music Box along with artwork, benched and two monitors, one playing videos and the other playing a short documentary about the most legendary piece of phrasing in hip-hop history (it belongs to Rakim in case you were wondering).  This was followed by two smaller spaces one of which had my favorite exhibit of all time: an interactive program displaying the use of brand name champagne shout outs in hip-hop songs from the 80’s until now.  Cristal, Dom Perignon and Moet were the three most cited and it went from literally one or two in a year in the early 80’s to hundreds in the 90’s.  Apparently there’s another coming for all brand names and I’m personally dying to know how many fucking time Alize has been dropped.  Not to mention Gucci, Prada, etc.  Nonetheless the brevity of it was a bit disappointing. Given the medium was video, I’d have preferred fewer paintings and photographs (in which McDaniels ironically rarely appears) and more footage of those years.  There were also binders with articles and interviews but shouldn’t those also have been videos?  How exactly can you not have video interview with a man who was a pioneer in using videos to expand an art form?  Afterwards I went Carroll Gardens to drink in the middle of the day where one of my geek girls was tending bar.  That’s cultural, right?

SANK

21 May

1. The Avengers/Disney                               Wknd/$   55.1            Total/$457.1

2. Battleship/Universal                               Wknd/$   25.3            Total/$  25.3

3. The Dictator/Paramount                        Wknd/$   17.4            Total/$  24.5

4. Dark Shadows/Warners                          Wknd/$  12.8            Total/$  50.9

5. What To Expect When…/LGF                Wknd/$  10.5            Total/$   10.5

6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/Fox    Wknd/$    3.3            Total/$     8.3

7. The Hunger Games/LionsGate               Wknd/$    3.0           Total/$ 391.6

8. Think Like a Man/SGem                         Wknd/$    2.7            Total/$  85.9

9. The Lucky One/Warners                         Wknd?$    1.8            Total/$  56.9

10. The Pirates! Band of Misfits/Sony        Wknd/$    1.5            Total/$   25.4

THE DEFINITION OF “PRICELESS”

The Avengers holds at number one and given Ed Norton was the Bruce Banner who’s part of this series (the Ang Lee version no longer counts, so Eric Bana was never in consideration), I’d mock him for missing out on a billion dollar film and possibly the biggest of the year, but Norton is clearly such a douche, he probably doesn’t care and thinks the movie could have been made better by his last minute rewrites which plagued the production of The Incredible Hulk.  Then again, if I’d banged Salma Hayek, I could give a shit about some comic book movie and would also think I was a god.

YOU SANK MY LOVE OF FILM!

Battleship opens at number two and you can’t get Michael Bay (though why you’d want him is a mystery to me) then Peter Berg is clearly the man to call.  You want a big, loud completely empty movie that makes no sense, is horribly written and will leave you depressed afterwards?  He’s ready willing and sadly all-too able.  The only reason this isn’t as bad as a Michael Bay film is that despite all else, Berg is an adult and his characters aren’t belligerent assholes.  Nor does he take the opportunity to have the camera ogle the female cast members, which is a new experience for Rhianna and swimsuit model, Brooklyn Decker given their day jobs involve nothing but that.  But seriously, how difficult is it to make an alien invasion movie?  No one is asking for too much and it clearly doesn’t take too much talent as the success of Independence Day proved and proves every time it runs on cable.  It’s not a great film by any stretch but it is fun to watch and doesn’t insult you with every moment.  But year after year we see people utterly failing at a type of movie whose basic structure was laid out in the 50’s (or 1898 when H.G. Welles published War of the Worlds):  Hey, Something’s Coming! Hey, It’s Here! Hey, They’re Kicking The Shit Out of Us! Hey, They Overlooked This One Important Factor! Hey, We Won!  Berg must be equally confused given he used every cliché in the book, but like so many people who follow a formula, it doesn’t work if you don’t know that each ingredient actually means.  Yes, your hero can be an bit of an immature jerkso we can see him grow into a hero, but he has to be good at heart, not a non-stop raging asshole that you cannot root for, like Taylor Kitsch is here (or Shia LeBeouf in every single thing he’s ever made).  You can have the odds be against the humans because that’s where the drama and suspense of the fight comes from, but the crucial weakness of the aliens cannot directly contradict the basic premise of the film.  These aliens come from an earth-like planet, but have a problem with light, so when they attack it’s during the day!?! WTF!?! These aliens are as dumb as the ones that invaded earth in Signs. Water was their weakness but even though they have scouts they invade a planet that’s 70% water and even though they could traverse the galaxy, they couldn’t open doors. Well, the aliens here can also traverse the galaxy with all kinds of amazing war machines, but are so dumb they collide with a satellite that is relatively motionless in space and this is what sets the story in motion. And despite having sensors that can analyze people and objects so thoroughly they can discern whether or not it’s a threat, they don’t have radar!  And what they do have doesn’t seem to work at night!  If operating in low light is their native way, shouldn’t they be twice as dangerous at night!?!  Oh and given they’re going to destroy the planet they tend not to kill anyone who isn’t directly trying to kill them—except when they do, that is.  And this only the ridiculous alien side. I haven’t even gotten into the horribly failed attempt to create human characters.  I almost feel sorry for the people at Hasbro.  All they wanted was another giant commercial to sell toys like Transformers and G.I. Joe.  Sure they were awful and poorly reviewed but they made money and that’s all that mattered.  This will never get back the $200M+ they put into it.  Thank god.  Maybe it’ll give anyone planning a Candyland movie pause.

I’M NOT LAUGH AT YOU. IN FACT I’M NOT LAUGHING AT ALL

The Dictator opens at number three and I’ve never been a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen.  I know what he’s about and I know people love it, but I don’t care for it.  It doesn’t help that his biggest fans don’t get that he’s actually making fun of them and their ignorance.  Even how he promotes his films annoys me as I’ve hated this type of always-in-character bit since Andy Kaufman was doing it 30 years ago.  Needless to say seeing this never even crossed my mind.

YES, THOSE LOSERS BEHIND THE COMPUTERS MATTER

Dark Shadows is down to number four and if you want to know why this is so bad know that it was written by the guy behind The Hard Times of RJ Beger that MTV show about a geek in high school who’s discovered to have a big dick.  Seriously.  That’s the entire premise.  The other writer is one of Tim Burton’s guys who brought us Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Charlie & the Chocolate factory remake and both Charlie’s Angels movies.  So yeah, this was doomed with it still on the printed page, because neither of these guys is particularly talented and it says a lot about Hollywood that they both continue to work and says a lot about what’s continually wrong with Tim Burton’s movies.

JNO

What To Expect When You’re Expecting open at number five and this just looked like a hot mess.  It was clearly from the formula that brought us such fine work as “He’s Just Not That Into You” of just shoving a bunch of stars together in a movie and hoping no know notices you didn’t actually understand the book it’s based upon.  Not to mention nothing, absolutely nothing with Jennifer Lopez onscreen is ever good.  She sits next to Kate Hudson and Jennifer Anniston as people who seemingly never, ever make the right choice regarding a movie.  Like Kate Hudson she has one great film under her belt (Out of Sight) and then can’t do anything right.  The best you can hope for is that it’s not awful.  The worst gives you Gigli.  This doesn’t look Gigli bad, just more of the corporate mediocrity along the lines of Monster-In-Law, Maid-In-Manhattan and her last pregnancy film, The Back-Up Plan.

HEY, DON’T I KNOW YOU?

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel jumps up to number six, followed by The Hunger Games at number seven and Think Like A Man down to number eight and also in this is Regina Hall who you don’t think you know but when pointed out that she was in all four Scary Movies you go, “Oh, her. I know her.”

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER

Still hanging around is The Lucky One at number nine and you have to wonder what was going through the minds of the editors of Men’s Health when they picked the cover boy which is usually someone with a movie promote. When Chris Hemsworth was in Thor he was on the cover.  When Jeremy Renner was in The Town he was on the cover (Robert Downey Jr. could only make Men’s Fitness).  When they are in a movie along with Chris Evans (who was in an article in Men’s Health but couldn’t push one of the stars of True Blood off the cover and I actually get that) the editors decide to go with…Zac Efron?  Granted, there’s a teen girl audience they’d never touch who might buy it, but now they’ve missed out on one of the biggest movies in history and honestly only an idiot would think that the four combined on a cover wouldn’t dwarf him.

THE END

Finally, Pirates: Band of Misfits closes out the top ten at number ten.

 

HEAVEN IS A DANCE FLOOR

Sadly, Death continues her rampage and has taken the heart out of our disco memories with Robin Gibb and the queen herself, Donna Summer.