Tag Archives: tv reviews

FINDING MONEY

20 Jun

icy
1. Finding Dory/Disney                          Wknd/$ 136.2   Total/$ 136.2
2. Central Intelligence/WB                    Wknd/$ 34.5     Total/$ 34.5
3. The Conjuring 2/WB                          Wknd/$ 15.6      Total/$ 71.7
4. Now You See Me/LG                           Wknd/$ 9.7       Total/$ 41.4
5. Warcraft/Universal                             Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 37.7
6. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                    Wknd/$ 5.2       Total/$ 146.1
7. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2      Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 71.9
8. Me Before You/Warner                      Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 46.1
9. Alice Through the Looking Glass     Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 69.3
10. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 2.3       Total/$ 401.2

FINDING INSPIRATION
To the surprise of absolutely no one Finding Dory opens at number one. Now, I’m against Pixar sequels on principle but Pixar gets a better response than most because a) they don’t always do them, b) when they do them it’s so far down the line it’s not an obvious money grab and c) they get it right as Toy Story has defied all odds and just gotten better every time. Even Monsters University was better than it had any right to be (no comment on Cars 2 because Cars sucked). So, Finding Dory comes more than a decade after Finding Nemo because they genuinely felt there was no story to tell until now which is stunning in the entertainment business. As if that had anything to do with it. Hell, the Disney board would have been satisfied if Nemo had just gotten lost again and they’d just repeated the first. Luckily for us the Pixar creative leads wanted more and more in this case was about Dory slowly remembering her own family and going off in search of them and while it’s definitely good, there’s no singular brilliant moment like the chant of a seagull being “Mine” or the wonderful irreverence of the sharks who no longer want to eat fellow fish. Despite their good intentions to tell an original story it does feel a bit too familiar, the brightest spark being provided by an octopus who doesn’t want to return to the ocean, but instead wants a nice tank in Cleveland where no one will bother him (voiced by Ed O’Neil). One of the keys to Finding Nemo’s creative success was the wonderful supporting cast, from the adult and child populace of Nemo’s home reef to the laid back turtles to denizens of the dentist office tank to half a dozen others in between. They just don’t match that here and while we see the kids of the reef and the turtles again, they don’t have the same spark. Nonetheless it’s still better than 90% of what else is out there as the sad trailers for Storks and Ice Age: This Goddamn Franchise Has Lasted Longer Than The Actual Ice Age proved. If Finding Nemo was an A+ (and it was) then this is a solid B+. Oh, and make sure you stay through the end credits. There’s always something there…as I found out this weekend with Brave.

WHAT? COULDN’T GET PERMISSION FOR MARIAH?
Central Intelligence opens at number two and it seems logical that two of the hardest working men in show business would finally end up in a movie together. Not since Michael Caine in the 80’s have actors seeming been so omnipresent onscreen. It’s also a great creative move on both their parts for Kevin Hart to actually play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson playing the funny guy. Kevin Hart is Dean Martin while Dwayne Johnson is Jerry Lewis (ask your parents what that means). While I bear it no ill will, I have zero interest in either of them as anything beyond being supporting characters to actual leads. They simply lack that for me. The trailer shows a film, while not aimed at the lowest common denominator of comedy, is severely broad reaching. Oh, look. When Dwayne Johnson was in high school he was fat and sang En Vogue in the shower ‘cause fat guys and guys who sing girl songs are funny. In terms of wit that’s a butter knife level of sharpness. Even on cable this is a hard pass.

AND JAWLINES. DON’T FORGET THE JAWLINES
The Conjuring is down to number three and I’m also glad to see Vera Farminga here on the money train. I’ve loved her as an actress since the short-lived Finding Evil TV show and she improves pretty much everything she’s in. In my movie fantasy she and Gillian Anderson play sisters onscreen as they are seemingly cut from the same cloth (coincidentally they were both on the small screen alongside famous serial killers). In my other fantasy I’ve been very bad and they’ve come to discipline me. Soooo many icy stern looks of disappointment and contempt. Delicious

YUAN BETTER RECOGNIZE
Now You See Me 2 is down to number four followed by the Warcraft at number five and you might be seeing film history being made as China saves an entire franchise single-handedly, which is funny given how movies like Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Whichever The Fuck It Was have bent over backwards trying to win them and been met with contempt. It hasn’t even broken $40M here, but has made ten times that in overseas. Depend on how much studios get (it ranges from 15-14%) this may actually get a sequel…which America will ignore again.

ALSO HE’S A SCUMBAG
Speaking of sequels America has ignored, X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number six and hasn’t even made it’s $178M budget domestically, but like Warcraft has pulled almost $400M from overseas markets, so rest assured there will be another and this time mercifully without Bryan Singer. While he started the franchise and did good things with it, using the metaphor for oppression appropriately, he seems to have forgotten that and they need a director who remembers the core of the X-Men is also appealing to that self-important teenager drama where you think you’re special the entire world is against you for no reason at all. Yes, that’s the dark truth about the real reason so many like it. Not because you’re a person of color or your religion or your sexuality suffering genuine oppression, but because you think you’re special and the world is actively trying to hold you down. You’re wrong.

JUST KIDDING. EVERY ROLE WILL SOMEHOW PUT HER IN A FETISH COSTUME.
I thought this would be the hat trick of franchises supported by overseas money, but it turns out they care even less than we do about Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows, down to number seven. There probably won’t be a third, which must be bittersweet news to Megan Fox who has another child on the way, but at the same time doesn’t have to worry about a contrived reason to put her into a fetish costume in the near future.

LESS IS MORE…IF YOU’RE AN IDIOT AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR PROPERTIES
Me Before You is down to number eight, followed by Alice Through the Looking Glass at number nine and Captain America: Civil War closes out the top ten at number ten and this is why the Warner Brother/DC Comics hierarchy was recently shaken up as two movies about fighting superheroes came out this summer (well, 3 if you count X-Men, but no one cares enough to do that) with had approximately the same budgets but the one what that the 3 most famous superheroes of all time in them did significantly worse than the film that had a bunch of heroes 90% of the population had never heard of ten years ago. And by “significantly” I mean almost $900M vs over $1B. While this may not seem like too much of a difference to you and I, remember that Batman’s last two solo films both made $1B but teaming him up with Superman and Wonder Woman somehow resulted in less!?! Not good when your very next film will add even more superheroes to the roster that you also hope to spin-off into individual films. Warner Brothers is being force to reconsider their dumb-ass strategy of if your competitor has cornered the market on chocolate and you reconfigure your chocolate machines to make vanilla, rather than simply understand there’s no such thing as too much good chocolate. Instead they’ve made mediocre (Man of Steel) and bad (Batman v Superman) vanilla and surprise! People preferred the better made chocolate. Damn it. Now I want some chocolate!

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REAL ARTISTS ARE APPARENTLY ALL PERVS

13 Jun

psylocke
1. The Conjuring 2/WB                        Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Warcraft/Universal                          Wknd/$ 24.4   Total/$ 24.4
3. Now You See Me 2/LG                    Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0
4. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2   Wknd/$ 14.8     Total/$ 61.0
5. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                 Wknd/$ 10.0    Total/$ 136.4
6. Me Before You/Warner                   Wknd/$ 9.2      Total/$ 36.8
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 62.4
7. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony         Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 98.2
9. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 396.9
10. The Jungle Book/Disney               Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 352.6

SCREAM KING! EQUALITY AT LAST!
The Conjuring 2 opens at number one and after years of “scream queens” have we developed a “scream king?” Patrick Wilson, a respected character actor on stage, TV and film is the male lead in not just this successful franchise, but also the Insidious films. When you think about it, it’s a wonder it never occurred to horror filmmakers to go to stage actors for their talent. You’ll get better than your average pretty face (sorry, I do hold stage actors in higher regard ‘cause that shit is real) and because they come from the stage where they get little money and less fame they’d be cheap and eternally grateful, because basically film and TV work is to subsidize what they really love. This is the real reason Claire Danes does Homeland. This is why Billy Crudup has no problem showing up in Mission Impossible 3. This visibility and profitability will serve to finance a few off-Broadway plays once Wilson commits to them. Which is good. I like knowing that people who truly care about art succeed in the world occasionally.

IN RETROSPECT I COULD HAVE USED A LONG, DUMB FILM TODAY
Warcraft opens at number two which is a huge fucking failure for them. Not only did this $160M+ movie based on a ridiculously successful video game not open at number one in the summer, but also it lost to an R-rated film that cost ¼ its budget. Yes, it’s doing huge in China, but know that studios get less than 40% of overseas money. Domestic is where the real money is made and it will have to do ridiculously well overseas in order for this not to be written off as a failure. I thought about seeing it because…well, summer. Seeing dumb movies filled with fantasy creatures and special effects is what the summer is for, but sometimes even I have to draw the line and you’re talking to a man who went to see Battleship. Obviously, bad reviews don’t slow me down so what was it? The two-hour running time. I’ve got a new rule about movies I expect to be bad and it flatly states you don’t get 2+ hours (factoring in previews and commercials) of my life anymore unless I fully expect you to be at least entertaining. Needless to say this didn’t pass muster not even with Rathnar Lothbrok in the cast. Not that it should. I haven’t watched Vikings in over two years. I’m busy!

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE BATMAN V SUPERMAN SUCKED
Now You See Me 2 opens at number three and this is oddly a success because would have thought the first would have been a hit, much less enough of one to generate a sequel. It’s gotta feel good to Jesse Esienberg to have an actual success this year that could be a franchise.

SUCKS TO BE YOU!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is down to number four followed by X-Men: Apocalypse at number five and one good thing about this is it sets back the career of Olivia Munn. I don’t know what it is, but I do not like this woman. Something about her makes her someone you love to hate. I’m not so simplistic a geek for it simply to be the title of her autobiography “Wonder Woman Can Suck It” but it didn’t help. Even better is the fact she’s so full of herself she said she had the option for Monica Baccarin role in Deadpool, but turned it down because it was “just another girlfriend.” Granted, Baccarin basically has sex with Ryan Reynolds and then gets kidnapped, so she’s not too far off, but the character eventually becomes a superhero in her own right and thanks to the highest grossing R-rated film in history (not adjusted for inflation) that will probably happen. Whereas seeing Munn return as Psyclocke is highly unlikely. Not helping matters is the fact they not only translated her stupid T&A costume straight from the comics, but also made it even more degrading by adding a boob-window. You know how pathetic you have to be to make a female superhero costume even more exploitative!?! Just glad it happened to her and not an actress that I liked.

JUST ASK JASON MOMOA ABOUT CONAN
Me Before You is down to number six, but with a $36M return on a $20M budget don’t expect the disabled romance porn to go away anytime soon. The female lead is on Game of Thrones which I do watch, but she’s a lot better off that the other woman from Game of Thrones who was the female lead Terminator: Genysis and that dude who was the lead in Pompeii who knows nothing on and off-screen. The lesson here is stop trying to hit home runs at first bat. Be happy to get on base.

BASICALLY HE’S RAINMAN IN THE MOVIE BIZ
The Angry Birds movie is down to number seven and this is another which needs overseas loot to save it. $98M off a $73M budget isn’t awful, but the $213M from overseas (which is at most $85M and probably less) will be needed to save this from being a disappointment. This is from David Maisel who is apparently as responsible for the Marvel Universe as anyone, but since he’s clearly not with them, they no longer like to talk about it. Apparently he not only came up with the sale to Disney, but the sequel strategy and its original plan to self-finance which meant no more licensing characters out to other companies like they’d done with Spider-Man, The X-Men, Blade, The Punisher and The Fantastic Four And to top it off it he also came up with the idea they could use The Hulk without paying Universal to get him back so long as he wasn’t the lead character. Given how fucking major all this is, you can see why they don’t like to talk about him. But of course he’s a nutcase. He apparently pocketed millions from the Disney sale, but still lives with his mom in a 2-bedroom apartment. So yeah, ladies beware, but if you need financial advice, he’s clearly your dude.

JUST ASK MARY LOUISE PARKER IF ONE CLAIRE DANES IS ENOUGH
Alice Through The Looking Glass is down to number eight and is there any more painful irony that the billion dollar grossing first film did jack shit for the career of Mia Wasikowska who is only the title character in both films!?! Needless to say this won’t be changing that a bit. Not helping is the fact she looks like Claire Danes in a world that thinks one Claire Danes is plenty.

GEEK ANGER LIVES FOREVER
Captain America: Civil War is down to number nine, followed by Jungle Book at number ten. As most people know, The Black Panther finally appeared in the Marvel movies and honestly is one of the best parts about this. It sure as shit isn’t Captain America acting like an asshole or the stupid contrivances created to make him and Iron Man fight. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

CAMERA, GUITAR, GUN = DICK
I finally watched the documentary on famed photographer, Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man, even though I’ve had it on my hard drive forever. Only taking the actual DVD out from the liberry finally got me to see it. It didn’t get great reviews but I thought it was a pretty decent summation of the man’s career and life. Directed by the woman who was thought to be his decades younger girlfriend (they first met when she was 13 and it’s as icky as it sounds) it turns out she was secretly his wife, but we’ll get to that. You know Bert Stern even if you don’t think you know him. The famous “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, her final photo session before she died which stupid starlets and half-assed photographers keep trying to emulate? He did that. The Lolita poster? He did that. He did those and a dozen more iconic shots of celebrities as well as from the history of advertising. It’s subtitled “The Original Mad Man” in a sorry and failed attempt to cash in on the show as Stern was a major player in advertising in the late 50’s and early 60’s, coming up with innovative ideas for campaigns and shooting them himself. Unlike most, he was so good at his job, he basically had a free hand to do what he wanted. Unfortunately, the documentary is short on exploration in areas that seem obvious. We’re told his father attempted suicide and his mother was beautiful but they’re literally never mentioned again after he turns 13. Given he’s famous for taking beautiful shots of women especially, you’d think his relationship with his mother would play into that and be discussed, but it is not. Even the court fight for shots of Marilyn Monroe he took that were stolen in the early 60’s and were rediscovered in the ‘00’s by people who claimed ownership is given the short shrift. What we do get is far too many of shots of the director/girlfriend/wife naked. Even worst is the realization that some of the nudes were taken recently and by a seemingly nude Stern (his reflection is seen in one of the shots). Ewww. Still, there are enough legitimate examinations of the man and his work to make me actually take an interest in his famous “Last Session” as I am not part of the cult that romanticizes Marilyn Monroe. She lived a sad life (sexually abused when young and had to trade on her sex appeal far too much to make it) and died a sad death (accidental drug overdose alone). Her life is cautionary tale, people. Stop romanticizing it. It also caused the “Well, duh” realization that the best photographers of women in fashion (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, David Bailey, etc) were straight men, which is only unique because the industry is well regarded as being both gay and female driven. Stern flat out states that when he took a picture it was because in that way he could possess the woman in question. He laughs, but you know it’s true. He made me think that the others were probably no different as they all dated and occasionally married the women they shot (Avedon was famously with Dovema, Bailey with Jean Shrimpton and Penn married the impeccable Lisa Fonssagrives). Stern just admits it. It makes me wonder if you have to use your camera as your surrogate dick to truly take beautiful photos of people, as it’s pointed out in the documentary that knowing that Stern worshipped them may have actually served to bring out the best in the women he was shooting. It would similarly be the case with others. The safety of being adored and complimented by someone who would do no more than document said adoration would undoubtedly produce better results than say a worthless fucking creep rapist like Terry Richardson (who’s a shitty photographer on top of being a rapist). Then again, you have Herb Ritts, who was open gay and also took beautiful photographs of women. Must think on this… Not including in the film which came out before Stern’s death in 2013 is the fact the heretofore unknown wife became the sole beneficiary of Stern’s will and the children (two of whom are interviewed along with the ex-wife and a still living girlfriend) are currently suing her over it. Oh, and I bought the book of Stern’s last session with Monroe. Some of the details are seriously fascinating. I mean, if I drank champagne with a shot of vodka like she did, I’d probably be taking my clothes off at every opportunity too.

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ZACK SNYDER V COMPETENT FILMMAKING

28 Mar

Morena-Baccarin-Photoshoot-by-Robert-Ascroft-2013-morena-baccarin-35411576-748-1000

1. Batman v Superman/WB                 Wknd/$170.1   Total/$ 170.1
2. Zootopia/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 23.1    Total/$ 240.5
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni  Wknd/$ 18.1    Total/$ 18.1
4. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar       Wknd/$ 9.5      Total/$ 34.1
5. Divergent: Allegiant/LG                    Wknd/$ 9.5     Total/$ 46.6
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount      Wknd/$ 6.0    Total/$ 56.0
7. Deadpool/Paramount                         Wknd/$ 5.0    Total/$ 349.5
8. London Has Fallen/Focus                 Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 55.6
9. Hello, My Name is Doris/RA             Wknd/$ 1.7    Total/$ 3.3
10. Eye in the Sky/BST                            Wknd/$ 1.0    Total/$ 1.7

GREED V CHARACTERS: DAWN OF A FRANCHISE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens at number one to no one’s surprise. Also not surprising? It’s goddamned awful that way that only a CGI heavy muddle by a hack director like Snyder can be. The movie exists for one reason only: to make Superman and Batman fight, so they wrote it ass backwards trying to come up with reasons to make this happen and they do a horrible job of it. The movie is strongly inspired by the best-selling Batman comics ever: The Dark Knight Returns, which is set in a future where Batman is little more than a psychotic thug and Superman is a government stooge and at its climax Batman beats a weakened Superman who is honestly trying not to hurt him. I have to give the book credit for brilliantly tapping into the not-so-secret longstanding resentment of many for Superman. Simply put, he’s the status quo, the establishment. He’s everything that makes your angry teen-self feel powerless. Your parents, your teachers, the cops…etc. While Batman is literally powerless (unless you count money which makes him the most powerful superhero). Having the “powerless” character defeat the all-powerful character resonated so strongly, the status quo of DC Comics was forever changed and Superman & Batman were no longer best friends, but antagonistic. Frenemies at best. Also, the book sold millions, which never happens, so DC followed the money, which means for the better part of the last 30 years aside from continually making them fight, Batman has also been a near psychotic. Most of these stories are godawful, but all of those stories are better than this one, which involves Lex Luthor (played as “autistic evil” by Jesse Eiesenberg) hating Superman for no real reason and wanting him both disgraced and dead. Meanwhile, Superman has been doing good deeds since accidentally bringing the Kryptonian Civil War to Earth and causing the deaths of thousands. But apparently he has never once spoken to the people he’s protecting as he continues to be a miserable bastard tormented by the fact that some people still don’t like him. If only he knew someone in the media that he could convey what he was all about. Oh, right HE’S A FUCKING REPORTER! HE COULD DO IT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO! Meanwhile, in Gotham city—which in this film is located across the bay from Metropolis basically making it the Oakland to Metropolis’ San Francisco—Batman has apparently been around for 20 years and in that time Wayne Manor has been destroyed, a Robin has been killed and Batman now has no problem literally branding people when he’s not flat out shooting them down with the machine guns in his Batmobile and Batplane. If the reasons why Luthor hates Superman make no sense, neither does the seeming obsession of Clark Kent with Batman. Thousands are dead, half the world hates him, the government is holding hearings about him, but he’s concerned about the civil liberties being trampled in Gotham City. At least Batman’s resentment of Superman is somewhat legit. Some of thousands of people are dead were employees of Wayne Enterprises and in one of the few effective sequences we see the final moments from Man of Steel from the perspective of Bruce Wayne on the ground. And while his resent of Superman is valid, his psychotic need to cut his head off (which he literally tries to do in the battle that takes far too long to happen) does not. Very little of this film does. And it commits the worst sin imaginable: it’s dull. But again, most of Snyder’s films are, though supposedly action films. Man of Steel was dull. Sucker Punch was dull. Because he thinks he’s a real filmmaker he tries to have scenes were people do things besides fight, only they make no sense. And with the exception of Wonder Woman’s five-minute appearance (which is as badass as it is great) even the fights are dull and if that’s the case, this film has no reason to exist whatsoever. But again, it’s not really a movie is it? It’s just a launching platform for other movies and while Marvel/Disney is equally guilty of sacrificing a film to set up for others (both Thors, half of Captain America and even part of Avengers Age of Ultron) at least they are still capable of making a half-decent movie around it. DC/WB clearly are not.

IT’S CALLED STICKING WITH A BIT
Zootopia is down to number two and outside of the race & gender allegory it’s creating, there are still honest and funny jokes in the film and none so much as the now famous sloth one. That sloths run the DMV is near brilliant in its obvious simplicity, but what makes the joke work it is that they stick with it. At no point do they create some excuse that can make the sloths go faster. No, the audience has to wait alongside the characters and it is hysterical. And while he’s great as the straight man usually, Jason Bateman has a smarm to him as well that works perfectly as the voice of the fox and he clearly enjoys playing the other side of the fence for once.

MY BIG FAT GREEK DESPERATION
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens at number three and clearly God hates everyone to have both this and Batman v Superman opening in the same week. No matter what movie you choose, it’s going to be crap made by the incompetent. The first Big Fat Greek Wedding was like Batman v Superman: godawful, stupid and incredibly successful (I’m stunned to realize it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay when it was only one of those things). Based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and trailers, this is going to get at least two of those down solid. Nia Vardalos has been trying for years to follow that up with a failed TV series (My Big Fat Greek Life) a reteaming with John Corbett (I Hate Valentine’s Day) and revisiting the Greek thing (My Life in Ruins). I hate to knock anyone’s hustle, but girlfriend, it’s time to move the fuck on. I’m sorry Tom Hanks and his wife got all the money the first time around, but you had your moment, you took your shot and you failed. Accept you’re someone’s sidekick and Move. On.

SHE NEEDED SOME JESUS
Miracles from Heaven is down to number four and if you’re wondering why these Christian movies are getting more mainstream Hollywood people in them you need to look at who they’re getting. They’re not getting Ben Affleck who’s winning Oscars and starring in attempted billion dollar franchises. They’re getting his soon-t0-be ex-wife who does credit card commercials and needed the comfort of the lord something fierce this past year. She said she started taking the kids to church after making this movie but let’s not kid ourselves. We know what make you look for meaning in all this and it wasn’t some dumb Christian propaganda movie. It was your husband banging the honestly less-attractive nanny. And the whole world knowing it.

SAY IT WITH ME: THE WORLD IS MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK SELF-AWARENESS
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number five and I’m as surprised to see this still going on as you are because I confused it with The Hunger Games like everyone else. What’s funny is that star Shailene Woodley tries to act like we’re being strange to connect her to Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and you’re not a tall, attractive 20-something blonde who has drawn raves in small indie films while headlining a Young Adult franchise based on a dystopian future where you’re the chosen on who leads a rebellion? No, honey. The difference is Jennifer Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win. You have a one Golden Globe nomination…that you didn’t win.

SERIOUSLY, I HATE YOU ALL
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number six and this has been successful so I guess we’re going to get more of this Cloverfield shit. I hate you all for making it possible.

TALENT, SCHMALENT. SHE’S SO PURTY.
Deadpool is down to number seven and also in this is Morena Baccarin who is like Ryan Reynolds in that she’s a really pretty person that everyone seems to know whose success in Hollywood should be a foregone conclusion, but like him this is actually her biggest success happening a decade after you thought it would. That she should have been Maria Hill in The Avengers movies must be a little easier to bear now.

MADRID HAS FALLEN…OH, IT’S JUST SIESTA. NEVER MIND.
London Has Fallen is down to number eight and all you need to know about this movie is that at one point it turns into a video game. Seriously. It turns into a first person shooter as you are Gerard Butler and follow his POV into the action and like a video game, no bullets or shrapnel ever seem to hit him. Thankfully, it hasn’t even made budget yet so no other capitals will fall in the future. What? Were you really looking forward to Paris Has Fallen? Rome Has Fallen? Tokyo Has Fallen? Actually they could do it, just with different characters in each location. Come to think of it, this film would have been infinitely better with no connection with Olympus Has Fallen and just been about a James Bond-like agent dealing with similar circumstances in London. Butler almost does it as his Scottish accent becomes more and more apparent as the film drags on.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY IS REAL, YO
Hello My Name Is Doris actually rises to number nine and I’m happy for Sally Field getting this at this stage of the game. But we know that if the genders were reversed and it was a 60-something dude longing for a 30-something female he’d actually get to bang her and he’d rock her world. Or am I the only person who remembers how charming so many critics found Burt Lancaster lusting after Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City? Or most of Michael Douglas’ casting decisions, period?

I MEAN IT, FUCK THAT MOVIE
Finally, Eye In The Sky rises to number ten to remind you that every day we kill innocent people every time we try to kill a terrorist with a drone strike, which reminds me again of the end of London Has Fallen where such a strike is the cause of all the trouble and also the climax you’re supposed to cheer. Seriously, fuck that movie.

PA KENT: THE MOVIE
Midnight Special isn’t in the top ten but it’s basically Superman from the point of view of The Kents. It’s about 10-year-old boy in Texas who has special powers and his father trying to protect him from the government who wants him badly. Okay, it’s not as nice as The Kents in the comics as the father here (played by Michael Shannon who was ironically Zod in Man of Steel) actually is willing to shoot a state trooper simply because he’s in their way because his on is “More important.” In that way he’s closer the horrible Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who is willing to let a bus filled with children die, but when it comes down to it, he can’t kill someone who might (and actually does) give them away. Also, the mother and father here (mom is Kirsten Dunst) were part of some kind of religious cult run by Sam Shepard that became centered around the boy when his powers began to manifest (Shepard actually took the boy to raise for two years as his own), so they’re a little darker than The Kents. What they do share is a clear an unconditional love for their “special” son with absolutely no fear of him and will do whatever they need to do in order to protect him, even though he clearly possesses amazing powers (at one point the boy downs a military satellite). And if you don’t think it’s not intentional, know that at one point the boy is reading a Superman comic. It could be a little tighter given it’s essentially a chase film (thy aren’t just running from the authorities but the armed cultists who what the boy back as they think Judgment Day is coming) in the era of drones and satellites and amber alerts where running unnoticed is seriously difficult but a satisfying little film nonetheless.

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A DINOSAUR AND HIS PET BOY

30 Nov

michael_b_jordan_main 1. The Hunger Games Mockingjay 2      Wknd/$ 51.6     Total/$ 198.3
2. The Good Dinosaur/Disney                Wknd/$ 39.2     Total/$ 55.6
3. Creed/WB                                               Wknd/$ 30.1     Total/$ 42.6
4. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 12.8     Total/$ 176.1
5. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 9.2       Total/$ 116.8
6. The Night Before/Sony                         Wknd/$ 8.2      Total/$ 24.1
7. The Secret in Their Eyes/STX            Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 14.0
8. Spotlight/ORF                                       Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 12.3
9. Brooklyn/FoxSearchlight                    Wknd/$ 3.8        Total/$ 7.3
10. The Martian/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 3.3        Total/$ 218.6

TO WHICH HARRISON FORD RESPONDS, “IT’LL NEVER END.”
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part II: The Cash Grab Everyone Learned From Harry Potter About Splitting Books holds at number one and you think Jennifer Lawrence just joined the club that Daniel Radcliff and Kristen Stewart started called “Not That I’m Ungrateful, But Thank God It’s Over?” And somewhere Rooney Mara is part of a much, much, much larger club called “It Never Even Got Started.”

IT’S ACTUALLY A JURASSIC WORLD…BUT MUCH, MUCH BETTER
The Good Dinosaur opens at number two and two original Pixar movies in a row!?! In the same year!?! And both of them good!?! Hell, Christmas may have just been taken care of. This is the story of a boy and his dinosaur. Wait. Scratch that. It’s a dinosaur and his boy who is basically a dog. And in case you didn’t get it from the sniffing, the howling and the life on all fours, his name is “Spot.” Set on a world where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs misses so prehistoric man actually shares the planet with dinosaurs, but in a decided non-Jurassic Park way. Mankind is not only not the top of the food chain, but are so low they aren’t even considered a primary food source by the T-Rexes that later show up. They’re considered “critters” little more than squirrels and annoying in the way they eat the crop the Apatosaurus clan is trying to grow and store for the winter. Because he’s the smallest and can’t farm like his brother and sister, Arlo has the responsibility of a) feeding the scary prehistoric turkeys (why they’re keeping them if they’re vegetarians is unexplained) and b) trapping and killing the “critter” who’s been eating their stored crops. When Arlo instead frees the small boy, his father insists they track him and finish him which leads to the required Disney “Death of a Parent” in a storm that causes the river to flood. It’s hardly a spoiler as I don’t think you’re allowed to make a film associated with Disney without it. It’s probably half the reason they bought Marvel to begin with. From Spider-Man to Captain America to Iron Man to Thor to…shit all of them have at least one dead parent if not both (and in Spider-Man’s case two dead parents and the death of a father figure). Blaming the little human they were tracking instead of his father’s own stubborn nature, Arlo chases him and gets caught in a storm similar to the one that killed his father and both are washed away miles from Arlo’s home. This is when Arlo finds out Spot—as he names him—has bonded with him because Arlo spared his life and they begin a Journey of Natty Gann type of return to his home, where Arlo of course learns to overcome the fears that have plagued him his entire life. It’s not A+ perfect Pixar like a Finding Nemo or The Incredibles or Up, but it’s a solid A and thankfully not a freaking sequel.

AKA ROCKY 7. YEAH, 7
Creed opens at number three and making a seventh film in the Rocky saga sounds like a horrible money-grubbing idea…until you hand it over to an acclaimed indie film director and cut Sylvester Stallone completely out of the creative process. While I thought the last film, Rocky Balboa, was actually a nice little movie with probably the best Stallone performance since the first film (only surpassed by this one), the rest all suffered from Stallone’s total control but limited talents, much in the same way the inspired idea of The Expendables has died so quickly. Stallone’s reach (aka, his ego) continually exceeds his grasp. Ryan Coogler, however, who made the much-acclaimed Fruitvale Station a few years back, is only interested in making a good movie, not feeding his ego and reteamed with his leading man, Michael B. Jordan, that’s exactly what he does. Nothing is new here, but there are no new stories, only how you retell the old ones and the old ones are all retold here very well. Seriously, the main plot is one of a son living in the shadow of his father, topped off with him being a bastard was born after his father died. It doesn’t get more cliché than that…at least until the older mentor develops cancer. Like I said, very few clichés are left unturned. But again, it’s about the execution. The film is over two hours, but it never seems to drag and even the old Rocky theme is dragged out and updated to maximum effect.

STRIKE TWO
Spectre is down to number four and if you need any greater clue to how incompetent this film is, know they wasted Christoph Waltz, which I thought was impossible. First they waste Monica Bellucci in what is little more than a glorified cameo—seriously, Teri Hatcher had a more important role in Tomorrow Never Dies and she gets killed—and then Christoph Waltz as the villain is pissed away which is a horrible mistake as most action films tend to only be as good as their villains.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT I LOSE WEIGHT, BUT THAT OTHERS GET FATTER
The Peanuts Movie is down to number five, followed by The Night Before at number six and yes, Thanksgiving does officially open the doors for the Christmas Season, but this still feels too soon. That said, Seth Rogen’s participation basically means an automatic pass for me and there’s precious little to change that opinion. Yeah, I like Lizzy Caplan, but not that much. In fact, the best thing about this for me was seeing the three leads on Lip Sync Battle, where we got to see how flabby Anthony Mackie is currently. Yes, schadenfruede is how I roll. Now and always.

AIN’T NO PRETTY WOMAN TO ME
Speaking of movies I give an automatic pass to, The Secret in Their Eyes is down to number seven and this stars Julia Roberts and I’ve been an anti-fan since Pretty Woman. I’ve never understood her popularity much less her success or any indication of talent. She’s a movie star like Tom Cruise is movie star. Neither is an actor. It’s a shame because there are two good actors in this: Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. They’re actually capable of being other people in films. Roberts, not so much.

MOVIES I SWEAR I’LL SEE, BUT PROBABLY NEVER WILL
Spotlight holds at number eight and this is another for the “Oscar Bait” list, which is getting longer every day. So far it’s Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, Trumbo and Room. And hell, since we’re making a list, let’s just throw the number nine entry, Brooklyn, on it. Based on the novel about an Irish immigrant girl in 1950’s Brooklyn it looks freaking gorgeous and has garnered great reviews but I’ve got cartoon and sequels to see. I’ll get to it one day (maybe never).

NEED THAT FUNNY MONEY
The Martian holds at number ten and also in this is Kristen Wiig, who needed a hit more than you know. Seriously. It’s been awhile since Bridesmaids and while it’s great she’s been putting herself out there with dramatic indie work (always remember: brave = naked when it comes to female actors) lending her name to get smaller films made, that means about as much as good intentions. She needs to be in something that makes money. Hopefully, next time she’ll be the actual star.

END OF THE LINE
Okay, there are no more new TV shows (until the mid-winter replacement season), but there are at least two more to mention…

Agent X: Seemed like a decent enough concept. The Vice President actually has a freaking job beyond going to funerals and that job is deploy a one man task force (charming and wisecracking of course) to handle threats totally off the books and beyond political affiliations and this has been in place since the founding of the country. Also, the VP is none other than Sharon Stone, rocking pantsuits and knee-high boots in modest skirts. Seemed pleasant enough for light Sunday night viewing. I rag on shit like Quantico, but I get why people like it for the same reason I like Blood & Oil, which airs right before it. Dumb fun. Unfortunately, Agent X lost me when it decided that it was going to have a serialized subplot about a conspiracy within the government. Just…no. I wanted light “one-and-done” episodes along the line of Burn Notice with maybe a reoccurring villain (which the plot set up). This conspiracy was not only a buzzkill, but doubled down it by making Sharon Stone’s late hubby on the show an adulterer and maybe the car crash that killed him wasn’t an accident. Yawn.

Into the Badlands: Now this is what I’m talking about. Set in a dystopic future where a feudal system has evolved and there are no guns so martial arts and swordfights (which is technically a martial art but a lot of people don’t get this) are how people settle their business. So basically, every Sunday I get mucho buttkicking in the best way possible. Of course our hero, Sunny, is the best fighter of them all, but is working for an evil baron who only becomes moreso once he learns a tumor is killing him. Our Sunny’s only hope is a teenaged boy from a mythical city beyond The Badlands. It seems Sunny may have been born there as well, but cannot remember. The boy can lead him to the city, but to do so they must go…INTO THE BADLANDS. Oh, did I mention the boy has some kind of power that manifests itself whenever he bleeds and another evil baron known as “The Widow” is after him for it? Unlike Agent X that addition only makes the show more interesting. It’s probably science but if it’s magic I’m down with that too. The fight scenes are so well done, you’d never know the lead actor isn’t even a martial artist. Can’t say that about every show (I’m looking at you, Arrow). And do I even have to say it? An Asian dude as the lead. Yeah, he’s doing martial arts, but sadly it still means something. Especially when they a) actually give him a love interest and b) she’s not Asian.

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WEAK MEN FEAR THE FINEST WINES

16 Nov

MBcaviar

1. Spectre/Sony                                     Wknd/$ 35.4     Total/$ 130.7
2. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                  Wknd/$ 24.2    Total/$ 82.5
3. Love the Coopers/CBS                    Wknd/$ 8.4       Total/$ 8.4
4. The Martian/Fox                              Wknd/$ 6.7       Total/$ 207.4
5. The 33/WB                                        Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 5.8
6. Goosebumps/Sony                           Wknd/$ 4.7       Total/$ 73.5
7. Bridge of Spies/Disney                    Wknd/$ 4.3       Total/$ 61.7
8. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo/FIP          Wknd/$ 2.4       Total/$ 2.8
9. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony            Wknd/$ 2.4        Total/$ 165.2
10. The Last Witch Hunter/LG          Wknd/$ 1.5        Total/$ 26.1

DRINK THE FINE WINE, MUTHAFUCKA! THE FINE WINE!
Spectre holds at number one and much has been made of Monica Bellucci appearing as a Bond girl actually Bond’s age. In fact, she’s actually older. This has only happened twice before. First, with Honor Blackman, who as Pussy Galore was also older than Sean Connery and Diana Rigg who was older than George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Know what else these two women have in common? Both were partners to John Steed on The Avengers TV show. Honor Blackman in fact was on the show before Diana Rigg. Sadly, both women played roles that were more integral to the plot than the one Monica Bellucci plays. Bond shows up, has sex with her and leaves. That’s it. It’s the 20-something blonde French girl who is the actual female lead here. Yet another of this film’s mistakes. It should have been reversed. When John McTiernan made The Thomas Crown Affair he fought to have an age appropriate female lead, insisting a middle-aged man (ironically, another Bond, Pierce Brosnan) wasn’t going to open up to a twenty-something. He was right.

BUT I GET IT. THOSE SONGS CAN BE ANNOYING.
The Peanuts Movie holds at number two and there are only two things I can think of that were missing from this movie (even the Kite Eating Tree shows up): Rerun, Linus & Lucy’s younger brother and the Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron songs by the Royal Guardsman. The latter stands out because a good portion of the movie is dedicated to Snoopy’s imaginary battles against The Red Baron.

LIKE REAL FAMILY YOU LOVE THEM WITHOUT SEEING THEM
Love the Coopers opens at number three and this is what you get opening a Christmas movie even before Thanksgiving. In fact, this is too good for it. And isn’t Diane Keaton getting tired of playing the matriarch to a family gathered for some occasion? But someone should have told her, if Olivia Wilde is in it, it’s gonna tank. Seriously, she’s basically the female Ryan Reynolds. Someone who seemingly has everything going for them, but couldn’t buy a hit. I gotta be honest: you’re both TV stars. You’re too generically attractive for the big screen, but would work on the small one. Go there and prosper.

THE ONLY TIME IT’S OKAY TO SAY THEY DO ALL LOOK ALIKE
The Martian is down to number four and also in this is Jessica Chastain, who also needed this to wash away her involvement with Interstellar. Not to mention a hit to balance out the flop that was Crimson Peak. No, that wasn’t her in Jurassic World, but you’re within your rights for thinking so. Even Bryce Dallas Howard has joined the joke of the two of them being mistaken for one another. Kate Mara is also in this, which I think violates the One Carrot Top Per Film Rule. Seriously. You will not see two redheads in a film unless they’re related somehow.

NOT TO MENTION THE TITLE SOUNDS LIKE A HORROR MOVIE
The 33 opens at number five and this is a-bit-too-late movie about those trapped Chilean miners from a few years ago. Honestly, this should have been a TV movie, because it’s something that’s interesting if done right, but not so much if people have to pay for it. Not to mention more people would have seen it.

VANITY THY NAME IS DUDE
Goosebumps is down to number six, followed by Bridge of Spies at number seven and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo at number eight. What is that you ask? Yet another Bollywood film crashing the top ten. Apparently this is based on The Prince & The Pauper. That’s all I know. Well, that and the fact film businesses all over the world are the same, as the female lead in this film is two decades younger than the male lead. Sigh.

THE KEY TO LONG-LASTING CAREER…AND MULTIPLE HOMES
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number nine and The Last Witch Hunter closes out the top ten at ten and with only $26M domestic and $84M worldwide, it’s safe to say that this $90M film is not giving birth to a franchise. Good. I want another Riddick movie anyway. Also in this is Michael Caine who is continuing his long-established policy of not choosing movies based on the quality, but on the paycheck and whether or not his character is alive at the end of the movie.

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LIKE, LATTER DAY ROGER MOORE BAD

9 Nov

Heineken-James-Bond-2-GQ-21Aug15-pr_b_720x1080

1. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 73.0   Total/$ 73.0
2. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 45.0   Total/$ 45.0
3. The Martian/Fox                                   Wknd/$ 9.3      Total/$ 197.1
4. Goosebumps/Sony                                Wknd/$ 7.0     Total/$ 66.4
5. Bridge of Spies/Disney                         Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 55.0
6. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                  Wknd/$ 3.6     Total/$ 161.3
7. Burnt/Weinstein                                    Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 10.2
8. The Last Witch Hunter/LG                  Wknd/$ 2.7     Total/$ 23.6
9. The Intern/WB                                        Wknd/$ 1.8    Total/$ 71.4
10. Paranormal Activity/Paramount       Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 16.3

STUPID. VERY STUPID.
Spectre opens at number one and it’s no secret how much I hated Skyfall. I hated Skyfall so, I went back to look at Quantum of Solace to give it another chance and realized it wasn’t so bad (it’s a good Bond movie until they bring back Matthias from Casino Royale). Bond and stupid stories go together like peanut butter and jelly, but Bond, stupid stories and a painful amount of ennui got together like peanut better, jelly and sardines. Spectre is not as bad as Skyfall though it possibly may even more stupid ironically because it’s trying to patch up some of Skyfall’s stupidity (though not why Bond took M out to the middle of nowhere which got her killed and how he still has a job afterwards). Also it’s needlessly fucking long. Where other Bond movies wisely ended with the destruction of the villain’s base, the apparent death of the villain and the saving of the girl, this goes on for another half hour. Hell, for all I know it kept going on after I left. Also in its attempt to patch up a little of Skyfall stupidity it makes the whole of the Daniel Craig run dumber because it tries to tie them all together. Now, SPECTRE was a Bond nemesis back in the day and yes, they were behind the events of Thunderball, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but now imagine if suddenly they claimed they were behind Dr. No and Goldfinger when they clearly were not (ironically they weren’t in the book of From Russia with Love, but were in the book Dr. No). It would make no sense just as all this now makes no sense. Now suddenly this reboot has become a quad-logy, all being forced into being one giant story when they clearly were not meant to be one. Which is stupid. Even when Bond was fighting SPECTRE (it means Special Executive for Counter Intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion) in every film they didn’t act like every film was a sequel to the previous one. Bond did other things totally unrelated to pursuing the organization, which makes me realize that Daniel Craig is the most worst Bond ever. No, not as actor. He’s great in fact. No, as a secret agent. The Craig Bond is the only Bond who isn’t shown regularly as being a competent agent completing missions without massive exposure (he apparently missed the “secret” class in secret agent school) civilian damage like a superhero or Godzilla movie. In the pre-title sequence every Bond is shown completing a mission more or less cleanly, then starting the main story. Craig only does that his first film. Since then, because they have tried to make this one long damn story, he’s never really shown operating with any kind proficiency, again begging the question: how does this muthafucka keep his job?

ALL THAT’S MISSING IS THE SNOOPY VS. RED BARON SONG
The Peanuts Movie opens ironically at number two and I say ironically because both Peanuts and James Bond were products of the 50’s and achieved nuclear mass of popularity in the 60’s. Also, both films throw out calls to their popular past in both films. There are references to actual strip, the famous Christmas special and the Halloween Special. In addition we have Snoopy fighting The Red Baron, being a novelist and the basic plot revolves around Charlie Brown trying to impress The Little Redheaded Girl. It also goes out of its way to remain in a type of bubble were time hasn’t passed, because Snoopy doesn’t use a computer to write his novel, but a typewriter and I have to wonder if the main audience even knows what those are (they must of realized it because they actually have Snoopy figuring out how it works). But here are no flatscreen TV’s, video games, cell phones or even cordless landlines in this world. The only nod to modernity is that Charlie Brown doesn’t wear short pants. He’s also given more dignity than before. Charles Schultz was adamant about the fact that Charlie Brown always had to lose. Even when he won, he had to lose (in one series of strips Charlie Brown wears a paper sack to hide a baseball stitching rash and becomes a star of summer camp as “Mr. Sack” which he loses immediately after losing the sack). It honestly bordered on sadism towards the end and thankfully his children, who are both producers and writers here are much easier on the character. Charlie Brown is allowed moments of quiet triumph even when he fails and given a solid victory in the end. They also balance out Charlie Brown’s disappointments with Snoopy’s literal flights of fancy. In fact there may be a little too much of Snoopy as the supporting cast gets a short shrift as a result. Linus seems to come in and out as Charlie Brown’s best friend and you’d never know he and Lucy are related. Still, it’s nice to have a new Peanuts cartoon and they can’t get enough points for keeping the computer animation faithful to Schultz’s style.

I FEEL YOU…NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT
The Martian is down to number three and also in this is Donald Glover who’s playing basically the character he played on Community who comes up with a plan to help save Matt Damon…which seems pretty obvious and it’s kind of a wonder absolutely no one else thought of it, as the astrophysics he suggests are quite common. It was the only moment I didn’t feel like a mouth breathing moron. His presence is notable to me because I’ve been listening to his music as Childish Gambino lately. Like my buddy, I was put off by both his name and another actor doing music, but it’s not bad. I can live without his rapping but I won’t pretend it’s a relief to hear someone rap about something other than “money, clothes an’ hoes.” This doesn’t make it good though. I mean, I can actually relate to him talking about growing up assimilated in freaking Georgia, but still it annoys me and comes off as whining. When will these kids learn you can “diss the haters” without acknowledging that their criticisms have affected you, which is all they wanted. However, his R&B game is strong. Seriously. “Sober” is my jam. He should stick to song and singing, because that’s where he clicks. Even the raps in the songs are better (mainly because he’s not whining). Even his covers are good, as he kills Tamia’s “So Into You.”

UNLESS SOMEONE KICKS THE WOLFMAN IN THE NARDS, I DON’T CARE
Goosebumps is down to number four and I’m actually impressed someone was smart enough to release a movies geared to kids at Halloween, as it is the second most profitable holiday. I was too old for the books by the time they came out, but I wouldn’t mind watching this on cable next year. It’ll never be Monster Squad, but then again, nothing ever will.

EVENTUALLY
Bridge of Spies is down to number five and this is pure Oscar bait, so I will see it…eventually. I’m in no hurry and it’s not going anywhere until awards season is well underway.

IT’S CALLED “WHORING ONE’S SELF OUT”
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number six and this was a much needed win for Adam Sandler who’s taken a long overdue beating this year for being the shitty, unfunny comedian he’s always been. What’s truly shocking is that both these movies come from the man behind Samurai Jack, a truly inspired bit of animation. I guess he’s got bills to pay, ‘cause you can’t buy a house for your family on geek praise. Thankfully, he says he’s done with these characters, which, if he actually owns them means something. If not, they’ll be a million more with a different director.

LOOKS BETTER THAN IT TASTES
Burnt is down to number seven and you know you’re dealing with an unimaginative film when the great French father figure chef is named “Jean Luc.” Hell, it’s a miracle it’s not “Jean Pierre.” Thankfully, I didn’t expect much from Burnt so I was able to enjoy it. I wanted pretty people, in a pretty location and pretty shots of food and got all three. Bradley Cooper is the chef making a comeback after burning out on drugs and Sienna Miller is the upcoming sous chef he gets fired to make her work with him. Check. It’s in London and not the London of Guy Ritchie films. Check. Lots and lots of pretty food shots. All that’s missing are shots of more people in ecstasy as they eat it. That’s an essential part of any kind of porn. But take out the great location cursing and you have something that’s little more than a TV movie level of filmmaking. Hint: if part of your character’s motivation involves him having to atone to a dying old man YOU HAVE TO SHOW THAT DYING OLD MAN AT SOME POINT. I’m not kidding. Cooper gets an old friend to make him head chef to a) make it up to the old friend and b) help the old friend impress his father before his father dies and we never ever see the father, much less his response to Cooper’s return or the new restaurant. There’s also a cute kid, a rival chef who was once a friend, a threat from gangsters from the past and of course the great French father figure chef has a beautiful daughter he was once involved with. So many clichés and not a single one made much more than that. Cooper’s original bad boy chef run on the TV show Kitchen Confidential (based very loosely on Anthony Bourdain’s book) was better.

BETTER GET TO WORK ON FAST & THE FURIOUS 8
The Last Witch Hunter is down to number eight and this is Vin Diesel’s attempt to make a third franchise and if he had concentrated on simply making a solid movie than a franchise he might have succeeded. He plays a man made immortal as seeming punishment by The Witch Queen he kills after she murders most of his village with a plague including his wife and daughter. It backfired because he’s now spent 800 years hunting witches as an agent of The Church. Now there’s a treaty between them and the witches. Don’t use magic on humans and every thing is good. But of course now someone has decided to bring back the Witch Queen and Diesel has to stop them. The most interesting aspect of this movie is the idea that witches live in their own underground community among us with bars, clubs and yes, online groups where they talk about how much they hate Vin Diesel. That lets you know how much the main plot fails as “the heavy” the person trying to bring back The Witch Queen, is given no real personality or motivation beyond “just ‘cause.” If they’d made him a character and possibly shown this underground community divided about her return you might have had a better movie. Same for Diesel’s character who’s longing for his lost wife and child comes and goes when needed. There should be more melancholy from given he’s been cursed with immortality, not blessed. Even Highlander got this right.

ALSO DENIRO’S “COMEDY PHASE” WILL CONTINUE
The Intern is down to number eight and this did over $100M overseas. What. The. Fuck? I like Anne Hathaway, but seriously? So yeah, off a $35M budget, $180M total worldwide and even though the studio will get less than half that, combined with the domestic take it will insure that Nancy Meyers will continue to get money to make her pretty, lily white movies. Perfect for you people who haven’t over losing Nora Ephron.

I’M GOING TO SPOIL IT BECAUSE I DON’T CARE
Finally, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension closes out the top ten at number ten and not even Halloween could breathe life into this franchise which single-handedly resuscitated the low-budget “found footage” genre. This is lowest grossing entry of the franchise, which seems to crank out a movie every three six months. It’s also supposed to be the last, which blows because apparently the demon that’s been terrorizing multiple families, killing them and taking their kids. He wins. Seriously. That’s the end. He kills everyone and takes the child. What the fuck!?! This isn’t the 70’s! Why would you end on such a shitty note!?!

THE END OF THE FALL
Final show watched for the fall season…

Rosewood: while I’m glad Morris Chestnut got his own show after all these years and am impressed by a show that’s not only got two minority leads (Black male, Latina female), but also an interracial lesbian couple supporting, it just didn’t grab me and honestly I found it annoying. Yes, it’s a pilot where they do every freaking thing over-the-top for stupid network executives who think it’s other people who are dumb, but him constantly being the “smartest guy in the room” wasn’t so much charming as annoying. That he’s trying to grab every moment of life because he has a heart defect that should have killed him already simply wasn’t enough. But I hope enough people watch to keep it on the air. It’s just that I won’t watch it.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Lost me the moment she started to sing. Sorry. But I am impressed that the ex-boyfriend from summer camp she wants is an Asian male and he’s just another bro. Progress, people.

Supergirl: Okay, this was the big one. CBS deliberately leaked the pilot last year due to the bad buzz that was being generated over its horrible trailer/commercial where it seemed like the SNL skit about a Black Widow movie where it had to be a romantic comedy rather than an action movie because it was about a woman. Honestly, once you get past that part, it becomes a decent TV show. The first episode was still very painfully “a pilot” meaning, again, everything is dumbed down and over the stop because stupid network executives think it’s “other” people who are dumb and not them, but it’s from the people who brought you Arrow and The Flash and they take a little while to find their feet. And yes, while there will still be moments of painful stupidity, the human element it brings (not to mention the geek elements) will hopefully make up for it. I mean, it’s utterly stupid that she doesn’t have any contact with Superman. Until she showed up, he thought he was alone, but doesn’t spend much time with the only other survivor of Krypton who is a freaking blood relative!?! And just a child who’s lost everything!?! Not to mention apparently a Kryptonian prison crashed on earth just after Supergirl releasing all of them on Earth. Pretty sure that would be priority number one for him. The cherry on top is Supergirl’s aunt (twin sister to her mother of course) was in the prison and now wants to take over Earth. So again: other Kyrptonians, some actually related to him and a threat to the world and he’s not around!?! Not even to train her (in the comics he trained her secretly for a year)? They’re seriously pushing suspension of disbelief. This is a movie about superpowered flying aliens in primary colors and they’re pushing suspension of disbelief. That said, I love, love, fucking love it’s true to what Superman is supposed to be: bright and shiny. Supergirl loves having superpowers and loves helping people. There’s no moping or whining. I’m in it for the long haul. Hell, I watched all ten years of Smallville. I can handle this.

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THE CHANCES OF ANYTHING COMING FROM MARS ARE A MILLION TO ONE…

5 Oct

L-interview-beau-gosse-de-Chace-Crawford_visuel_article21. The Martian/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 55.0    Total/$ 55.0
2. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                         Wknd/$ 33.0    Total/$ 90.5
3. Sicario/Lions Gate                                        Wknd/$ 12.1     Total/$ 15.1
4. The Intern/WB                                              Wknd/$ 11.6     Total/$ 36.5
5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials/Fox       Wknd/$ 7.7       Total/$ 63.2
6. Black Mass/WB                                             Wknd/$ 5.9       Total/$ 52.5
7. Everest/Universal                                          Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 33.2
8. The Visit/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 56.9
9. War Room/TriStar                                        Wknd/$ 2.8      Total/$ 60.5
10. The Perfect Guy/SGem                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 48.9

YES, THEY PLAY BOWIE. HOW COULD THEY NOT?
The Martian opens at number one and I like to think of this as “Matt Damon’s Personal Apology for Interstellar.” Seriously, everything Interstellar wasn’t this is. And by “everything” I mean “not written by an idiot.” Based on a novel with the same name, this chronicles the attempts of an astronaut left behind for dead on Mars along with the efforts to save him on earth, given nothing can get there for years. How he survives is through flat out science. Not “The Force” or “The power of love” which is basically what Interstellar wound up telling us, but zeroes and ones. Hard freaking science. I’ve rarely felt so stupid in a movie theater because everything Matt Damon’s character successfully does to survive is based in numbers. Everything NASA does to save him is based in numbers and people from the head of the agency on down effortlessly throw off numbers from the tops of their heads. When I was a kid, I once took money out of my savings account to buy a VCR then was surprised months later by not having as much money as I thought I did. It didn’t register to me at all. I’m not much better as an adult. I’m just grateful there’s no longer such a thing as debtor’s prison. Needless to say, this is what killed my desire to be an astronaut. I still like science. I just suck at it, which means I would have been dead in a week if it were me. While the film feels a little long at times, it’s not exactly unwarranted in a film about someone struggling to survive over almost two years. I think it adds something to make the audience as tired as your hero must be. This is a major save for Damon who’s recently embarrassed the shit out of himself with comments on homosexuals and minorities in the movie industry, revealing a sad lack of self-awareness and overwhelming straight white male privilege. Not to mention, this is the first film he’s successfully carried since being Bourne. All the other hits since then were with him as part of an ensemble. Yes, fucking Interstellar was a hit.

HATE THE GAME
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number two and it shocks and saddens me that this came from Genndy Tartakovsky, the man who brought you Samurai Jack and then used those skills to produce the infinitely-better-than-the-movies Star Wars Clone Wars shorts. Clearly this is his deal with the devil to allow the freedom of producing more interesting work and feeding his family. Don’t hate the player…

HOW MUCH HE MUST LOVE HIS ROLE AT MARVEL
Sicario jumps up to number three and while he’s always good in what he does, Benicio Del Toro must be getting tired of movies about the drug wars. He won his Oscar as cop fighting them in Traffic (when he should have won it for Usual Suspects), he was a criminal in Oliver Stone’s Savages (where he rapes and kills women he didn’t rape and kill in the book, so you know it’s an Oliver Stone movie) and here he’s a mysterious badass working with CIA…fighting the drug wars. Hell, he was even part of the drug trade when he was in a Bond movie. No, I’m not kidding. He’s in License to Kill as one of the bad guy’s flunkies.

BETTE DAVIS WOULD BE IN THE HUNGER GAMES, WHILE CRAWFORD WOULD HAVE DONE DIVERGENT
The Intern is down to number four, followed by Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials at number five and it’s a little amusing that none of the male lead sci-fi/fantasy YA Novel adaptations get the same attention of the female led ones. Hell, even the The Fault In Our Stars did better than Paper Towns. It’s an odd throwback to the 30’s and 40’s where female leads weren’t just seen as a liability, but in fact a virtue.

STRONGER THAN FICTION
Black Mass is down to number six and reading the comments of the real gangsters about this makes me want to see it even less as their problems with it sound much more interesting than what’s on screen. Apparently, Whitey Bulger didn’t curse like he had Tourette’s even while murdering people. And least of all at one of his psychopath henchmen who would have killed him in a second if he had. That sounds like a much more interesting movie that this, which sounds like it’s trying to compete with The Departed.

BUT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOOOO MUCH BETTER
Everest is our second based-on-real-events movie down to number seven and second movie in the top ten with Josh Brolin (who’s also in Sicario) who was apparently approached to play the older Bruce Wayne for Batman v. Superman, but chose to be the bad guy over in the Marvel films. I think that tells you all you need to know.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
The Visit is down to number eight, followed by War Room at number nine with The Perfect Guy closing out the top ten at number ten. Also in this is Morris Chestnut, who is the “good guy” to Michael Ealy’s “bad guy” and I don’t envy the filmmakers on this choice because they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This way continues the trend in Black films for a light-skinned Black man to be evil (while women are desired) and a dark skinned Black men to be good, but if it’s reversed, it’s the Hollywood trend of lighter-skinned Black people in general to be better than their darker skinned brethren, which tends to bother Black people…the same Black people who have no problem applying this to women in both arenas. Sigh.

THE JOY CONTINUES

The new Fall season continues so here we go…

Blood & Oil: I loves me some Don Johnson and this did not disappoint me. It has officially replaced Nashville as my bad regional accent cheesefest (Rayna & Deacon, Scarlett & Gunner…I just don’t care anymore). Pretty boy Chace Crawford (seriously, he was the best looking cast member on Gossip Girl, even over the women) and his bride arrive in the new American oil boom of Nebraska to open a Laundromat, but because he can’t keep his eyes on the road and wrecks, they parlay overheard information and sheer balls into staking claim on the only entrance to some potentially oil rich land and are millionaires by the end of the first episode. It’s nothing but fun and the perfect thing to watch on a Sunday night before the start of the work week.

Quantico: Man is this stupid. It’s basically a soap opera pretending to be some kind of suspenseful action drama, but a beauty queen being the best agent in FBI training should have been your first clue. Twin Arab Muslims pretending to be one agent trainee was your second. That it’s revealed in the second episodes to be FBI sanctioned doesn’t make it any smarter. Not even a little bit. And while I’m not one to view 9/11 as some sacred day, the depictions of terrorist attacks in NYC are just handled much too lightly in these TV shows. You have no idea how freaked out this city is even after 14 years. A bomb taking out Grand Central Station would lock this city down like Escape From New York. No one anywhere would be doing anything, especially the way Beauty Queen FBI Agent who’s being framed for the blast is doing. But like I said, this is an utterly stupid soap opera pretending to be something else. Let me give you a piece of actual dialogue to make it clear: “Which is she to you: the FBI trainee you fell in love with or the terrorist who rejected you!?!” This is shouted by one high-ranking FBI Agent to another in the middle of a room filled with every possible type of law enforcement. After which we get a Hot Brown Chick fight. Latina vs. East Asian Indian. The only good thing I can say is that unlike supposedly more serious depictions, at least they had their hair tied back like female law enforcement officers actually would…which is why it wasn’t as much fun to masturbate to as it should have been.

The Player: More stupidity. This one is about a former FBI Agent who now works private security in Las Vegas. When his wife is killed by the men trying to kill one of his clients because he [the former agent] got in their way, he’s initially blamed for her death because apparently CSI only works scenes on their show. Anyone investigating that crime scene would have found evidence of the clear struggle he had with the man who killed his wife. I won’t even get into not one security camera or cell phone catching him chasing the guy down the strip (The Fugitive movie was this stupid too, but it was well made). Well, at least not until it’s needed to clear him in the end. But the show is actually about a group of “super gamblers” who can predict crime and make bets on it being foiled by an agent in their employ, who is now the former FBI agent (the show opened with Wesley Snipes standing over the body of presumably the last guy to have the job). They try to insinuate some connection between the organization and the dead wife, not to mention the former agent used to assassinate terrorists he was only supposed to find (and enjoyed it), but it’s just too stupid to make me care and not even a fun stupid.

Grandfathered: John Stamos is basically working out his own issues about growing older and alone, playing a 50-year-old bachelor who finds out he has a 20-somethng son who has a daughter. I was so impressed he’s actually openly playing a character his age (yeah, Clooney, I’m looking at you…and Cruise) I was pulling for this and wasn’t disappointed. He’s more than willing to let his character take shots, which is essential for a good comedy. It also didn’t just end happily with him and his new family but showed his anxiety at what he’d just gotten into. Hopefully, there will be growth but not in an overnight sitcom way.

Scream Queens: I’ve oddly become a fan of the second generation of Roberts in Hollywood (Emma is the daughter of Eric and niece of Julia) so I gave this a shot and the most interesting thing about it was the online debate between gay men over how they seem to love and adore women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another and emulate it in their own lives. Actually only some love it while others hate it. This comes from Ryan Murphy who brought you Glee which was filled with women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another so I think you know which side of that debate he falls under. Me, I’ve got a low tolerance for that without a palate-cleansing hero to pull for and the one given here was just too pretty-girl-bland. Not to mention, I’m not really that amused by watching girls ruthlessly slaughtered every week, even when I know it’s supposed to be a joke.

The Muppets: I’m torn here as I did enjoy The Muppets being updated to Larry David behind-the scenes type talk show sitcom, where Kermit is the show runner and Miss Piggy is the diva host with all The Muppets in various roles. But I can understand how some are dismayed by the show being a little too adult oriented. Make no mistake, The Muppets have always worked on two levels: one for the kids who followed them from Sesame Street and another for the adults who got the running joke that Gonzo was committing unnatural acts with those chickens, but sometimes it’s a little too dark and adult, like Fozzie’s relationship with a human being acknowledged inter-species and looked down upon as result and Kermit acknowledging a pig fetish. Then again, I laughed when Animal says he can’t go out on the road any longer because of “Too many women.” We’ll have to see if it can find a healthy balance.

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