Tag Archives: Vera Farmiga

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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OPPRESSED BUT LOOKING DAMN GOOD

20 Oct

6.194416
1. Fury/Sony Wknd/$ 23.5 Total/$ 23.5
2. Gone Girl/Fox Wknd/$ 17.8 Total/$ 107.1
3. The Book of Life/Fox Wknd/$ 17.0 Total/$ 17.0
4. Alexander & The Terrible…/Disney Wknd/$ 12. 0 Total/$ 36.9
5. The Best of Me/Relativity Wknd/$ 10.2 Total/$ 10.2
6. Dracula Untold/Universal Wknd/$ 9.9 Total/$ 40.7
7. The Judge/WB Wknd/$ 7.9 Total/$ 26.8
8. Annabelle/WB (NL) Wknd/$ 7.9 Total/$ 74.1
9. The Equalizer/Sony Wknd/$ 5.5 Total/$ 89.2
10. The Maze Runner/Fox Wknd/$ 4.5 Total/$ 90.8

HATERS GONNA HATE PT. 1
Fury holds the top spot and I was down to see this until I saw fucking Shia LeBeouf in the trailer. Seriously. I’m not the biggest war movie fan, but I do like Pitt and I like how for the epitome of a leading man he doesn’t like to play it safe (can you think of even one romantic comedy or science fiction action film he’s done?). And of course the classic premise of the outnumbered soldiers making a stand is classic for a reason (all that’s missing is a shirtless Pitt screaming “This. Is. Fury!”), but my interest took a complete nosedive the second LeBeouf’s name appeared onscreen. Much in the same way Inglorious Bastard goes unseen by me because torture porn director Eli Roth is part of the cast. Seriously, when I don’t like you, I really don’t like you. So when a half-dozen movies opened this weekend (the blessing and curse of living in NYC is everything opens here first), it quickly got pushed down the list in terms of importance and I don’t see it coming back up…unless you tell me I get to watch him die horribly.

HATERS GONNA HATE PT. 2
Gone Girl is down to number two and speaking of people I hate to see onscreen Tyler Perry is here in an acting role as Ben Affleck’s slick, successful, press-friendly lawyer. Except he’s not really acting. Director David Fincher explained Perry basically got the role years ago when they were scouting studios in Atlanta to make the incredibly underwhelming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. They were looking into Perry’s studio space and he made them wait until he came off the roof where he was flying his model plane. In case you didn’t know how rich Tyler Perry was, that’s how rich. He can ignore an A-list director of major Hollywood film to fly his toy plane. This is part of why I could stomach him in this movie. He was playing someone I was free to dislike. If LeBeouf was playing the bad guy in Fury, I might have seen it.

BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T WANT YOU TO THINK IT WAS A ZOMBIE OR BULLFIGHTING MOVIE
The Book of Life opens at number three and the irony of this film it that it’s about death (it was originally called El Matador then Day of the Dead). It involves “The Day of the Dead” the Mexican holiday that coincides with the Catholic All Soul’s and All Saint’s Day. Basically the belief that on Halloween the gates of heaven open at midnight and the spirits of dead children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours and on November 2nd, the spirits of adults can come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. The former makes me wonder why it took so long for it to be any part of a film aimed at kids. Hell, it should be the basis for the Casper cartoon outright. But good luck finding a plot synopsis for this. As near as I can figure from the trailer two matadors are in love with the same girl and two supernatural entities make a bet on which one will win her. When one thinks he’s going to lose he has the one matador bitten by a poisonous snake and killed. Once in the land of the dead the matador makes a deal with the same entity that killed him to see her again (I can only think his soul is forfeit or something) and he has to go on some quest and face epic challenges. Once again my prejudice toward an artist kept me from a film, but this time in error. I knew Guillemoro Del Toro was a producer on this, but I mistakenly thought he wrote it as well and his writing is for crap. Visually the man is an artist with almost no peer, but I wouldn’t let him write a grocery list. This is now on my list of things to see…above Fury.

LIFE AFTER THE X-MEN IS VERY HARD FOR SOME
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day is down to four, followed by The Best of Me opening at number five and there was no way in hell I was going to see an adaptation of one of Nicholas Sparks horrible someone-dies-in-the-third-act-because-real-love-is-always-tragic novels. Especially one so poorly cast we’re supposed to believe those two people become James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. Maybe if they’d cast actual teenagers to play teenagers to play teenagers instead of two people pushing 30 to play the younger version of two people who are barely 40 (she’s only 38). Serious casting fail here.

METHINKS DAD HAS SOMETHING TO ANSWER FOR
Dracula Untold is down to number six and the star of this is Luke Evans whom you’ve seen everywhere from The Hobbit to the horrible Clash of the Titans remake. How happy is he that he has The Hobbit to wash away all his other sins? Every time he makes something like this or The Immortals, a Hobbit movie comes out to prop him back up (though he did have Fast & The Furious Six last year). Kind of like how it was from the man from whom he was cloned, Orlando Bloom. Bloom always had either Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean to fall back on. Now that they’re done, when did you Bloom last? Why, in The Hobbit films of course…with Luke Evans (they were also in the horrible steampunk Three Musketeers together). But there may be hope here as this has made almost $100M overseas. He could actually be the new Dracula after all.

VANITY THY NAME IS MAN
The Judge is down to number seven and also in this is the wonderful Vera Farmiga who balances off her indie work with mainstream stuff like this as apparently the new “Anne Archer” meaning the first choice of actors “of a certain age” who don’t want to be openly creepy with an actress half their age, but don’t want anyone actually their age either. She was Clooney’s love interest in Up In The Air and she’s the proverbial “girl back home who’s still in love with the hero” and only the twist of her being sexually as well as financially independent allows her to be a bit more than the cliché.

THE PINNCALE AND END OF YOUR CAREER
Annabelle is down to number eight, followed by The Equalizer at number nine and also in this is Melissa Leo. Sound familiar? That’s because she won the Oscar almost guaranteed to send you into obscurity: Best Supporting Actress. Just ask Juliette Binoche or Mercedes Ruehl. How many years was Marissa Tomei missing?

THE END
Finally, The Maze Runner closes out the top ten at number.

JUST A REMINDER: SCHOOL DAZE SUCKED THEN AND IT STILL SUCKS NOW

Not breaking the top ten because it only opened in 11 theaters this weekend (Birdman only opened in 4) is Dear White People, a film that started off as a trailer before it got funding which reminds me that maybe I should finish that trailer I started 20 years ago in hopes of accomplishing the same goal. Nah. It’s probably too late. In any case Dear White People is an examination of modern race relations through the prism of humor and the people who can only see things in absolute terms: college kids. While the protagonist is the subtly named Samantha White (was “Black” as a surname too obvious?) a media major who sees racism in the film Gremlins and hosts a radio program called “Dear White People” (“Dear White People: Stop dancing.”) while secretly nursing a love of Taylor Swift and sleeping with a white teaching assistant in her class, the other storyline which rivals hers is that of Lionel Higgins, who is a shy, gay, undeclared sophomore who doesn’t feel he has a place anywhere with any group, black or white, straight or gay and winds up finding both a potential for romance and a place in journalism when starts a story on Samantha. Points of view are also spread around to Troy Fairbanks, ostensibly the leader of the black community on campus, but is also a pawn in his father’s rivalry with the college president (his father is dean of students and they attended that same college together) to the point where he dates the president’s daughter because of his father, having broken up with Samantha the previous year. Meanwhile Colandrea who prefers to go by Coco to distance herself from her from her background is aggressively assimilating to the point of blue contacts and deliberately conflicting with Samantha to drive up hits on her YouTube channel and possibly score the lead in a reality show coming to the campus. The film details the events leading up to a fight on campus as the result of whites throwing a racially themed party, which begins with Samantha ousting Troy as head of the black house. It’s a very funny film that makes serious observations about race with the time honored tradition of humor, but it is by no means perfect as it fully acknowledges that Samantha has a white father and that Troy has a white mother, but we never delve into how that has served to shape who they are beyond the Dean of Students accusing Samantha of “overcompensating” for it. Pretty sure that’s an important issue. Nor are supporting characters allowed any type of shading beyond being “angry black guy” and “clueless white guy.” Not to mention Lionel’s very presence brings up the very real issue of homophobia within the black community, which he actually acknowledges, but is brushed aside by one person saying “We’re not homophobic.” Though I have to admit their concern with his unruly afro over his sexuality rings all too real, not to mention every black person’s fashion sense is on point. Just because you’re fighting the man doesn’t mean you’re not going to look good doing it. And then there’s the matter of the missing seniors, which is just my personal bone to pick. Like so many movies set in high school or college, the most important and popular people on the campus never seem to be seniors and if anyone is running student society it’s them. But overall the film hits more than it misses and reminds me how long it’s been since a movie like this existed as the primary provocateur, Spike Lee is now too old and too rich to burn like he used to and honestly, was never this funny and is too much a misogynist fuck to have a female lead like this anyway.

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WHO ASKED FOR ANOTHER LETHAL WEAPON MOVIE!?!

4 Aug

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1. 2 Guns/Universal                                    Wknd/$  27.4       Total/$  27.4

 2. The Wolverine/Fox                                Wknd/$  21.7        Total/$  95.0

 3. The SmuRfs 2/Sony                               Wknd?$  18.2        Total/$  27.8

 4. The Conjuring/WB                                 Wknd/$  13.7         Total/$ 108.6

 5. Despicable Me 2/Universal                   Wknd/$  10.4        Total/$ 326.7

 6. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                  Wknd/$    8.1        Total/$ 116.4

 7. Turbo/Fox                                                 Wknd/$    6.4         Total/$  69.5

 8. Red 2/LG                                                   Wknd/$    5.7         Total/$  45.2

 9. The Heat/Fox                                            Wknd/$    4.7         Total/$ 149.6

10. Pacific Rim/Warners                              Wknd/$    4.6         Total/$  93.0

 

SOMEWHERE DANNY GLOVER AND MEL GIBSON ARE CONFUSED BECAUSE THEY DON’T REMEMBER MAKING THIS

2 Guns opens at number one and apparently some people seriously miss the Lethal Weapon series, because that’s all this is. You’ve got the older, less flamboyant black guy and the borderline nuts younger white guy. You’ve also got your “R” rating and gratuitous nudity by the female lead who basically just around to do just that. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are DEA and Naval Intelligence, respectively, only neither knows the other is undercover and each thinks the other is just a criminal.  They’re both using one another to take down a Mexican drug lord and decide the best way to do so is to rob the bank where he keeps his money. Unfortunately for them it winds up being where the CIA stores its ill-gotten goods and while the CIA frames Denzel for murder to get it back, Marky Mark finds out his operation was merely a front to rip off a drug dealer and now his commanding officer and buddies are out to kill him. This means he and Denzel have to team up for some post-racial justice using guns!  Honestly, I enjoyed this more than any Lethal Weapon movies because I hated the Lethal Weapon movies. Even for action movies they were exceptionally stupid.  This is dumb too, but not that dumb and both leads are endlessly more appealing and that’s honestly what carries this film. I know this is based on a comic book, but I could have used a little more modern treatment of women. Paula Patton is playing Denzel Washington’s boss in the DEA so she should have been allowed to kick a little ass instead of her character basically showing once again how writers are made up of guys who didn’t date much in high school. Or college. Or ever.

 

FIRST YOU GET THE MONEY, THEN YOU GET THE POWER THEN YOU GET THE BLAME

The Wolverine is down to number two and this is a movie that makes you angrier the more you think about it because the more flaws and mistakes you begin to see. Though honestly, for an action film it’s greatest flaw is the lack of any memorable action scenes. A fight on the roof of a Japanese bullet train is as stupid as it is IMPOSSIBLE!  They might as well have all started flying it’s so detached from reality.  Credit mediocre director James Mangold for that. Clearly no one learned anything from the underperforming Knight & Day last year or the 3:10 To Yuma remake or the TV movie level of drama from Walk The Line.  And clearly Hugh Jackman forgot how much Kate & Leopold sucked to have worked with him again. Jackman clearly has to start taking blame for these bad Wolverine movies as he isn’t just an actor but a producer as well so the bad choices are partially his fault.

 

AMERICA VS. THE WORLD

The Smurfs 2 opens at number three and before you get all happy and think this is the end of the line, know that the only reason this sequel even exists is because overseas it nearly QUADRUPLED its box office.  Once again the argument is made for isolationism because they might just save this franchise again. And do I have to point out that the French created The Smurfs to begin with?  Somehow that just makes sense.

 

OUR WEEKLY INSTALLMENT OF “LOVE HER!”

The Conjuring is down to number four and another reputable actor lending this film credibility is Vera Farmiga, whom I’ve personally loved since she was on the short-lived American remake of the Touching Evil series.  I know she kills it on the Bates Motel series on TV, but I can’t watch that show knowing that every pretty girl basically has an expiration date on her forehead.  But she’s developing a slow and steady stream of box office and critical successes, including Higher Ground where she starred and directed. You go, Glen Coco!

 

EVIL NEVER DIES

Despicable Me 2 is down to number five, followed by Grown Ups 2 at number six and as much as I enjoy the summer, sequels do get tiresome. Especially when they blow like these two.

 

NO, THIS NEVER GETS OLD

Turbo is down to number seven meaning there’s still time to laugh at Ryan Reynolds but he’s not alone in this turd. No, there’s Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader and Ken Jeong. The only difference being most of them have other successful films (Maya Rudolph is in Grown Ups 2 on this very list) if not careers to fall back on. Reynolds can’t say the same. Heh.

 

SO, SO PRETTY

Red 2 is down to number eight and with god as my witness, Byung-hun Lee isn’t in this movie thirty seconds before he’s stripped down naked. He truly is “the girl” in all the movies that he makes.  If you look him up on Google, they’ll ask you “Do you mean Byung-hun Lee Abs?”  Why, yes. Yes, I do.  Clearly he’s taking the younger sex appeal mantle up from Karl Urban in the first film to make sure someone under 40 is in the theater. And to make Bruce Willis look young by fighting him, as if either man wouldn’t have kicked his ass in two seconds.

 

TOO PRETTY TO BE IN ANY OTHER APATOW MOVIES

Finally, Pacific Rim closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t fret Charley Hunnam.  You still have Sons of Anarchy. Though you’ll always be the English man-whore Lloyd from Undeclared to me.  I think the reason he hasn’t be in any other Judd Apatow movies is obvious.  Still the action world needs new leading men and it’s a shame this didn’t help to launch him in that direction.

CAFFEINE RUSH: DIE HARD IN A STARBUCKS

24 Mar

Vera-Farmiga-roar-1600665-374-450

1. The Croods/Fox                                       Wknd/$ 44.7             Total/$ 44.7

2. Olympus Has Fallen/FD                        Wknd/$ 30.5             Total/$ 30.5

3. Oz The Great & Powerful/ Disney        Wknd/$ 22.0             Total/$177.6

4. The Call/TriStar                                       Wknd/$   8.7            Total/$  30.9

5. Admission/Focus                                     Wknd/$   6.4              Total/$    6.4

6. Spring Breakers/A24                               Wknd/$   5.0              Total/$    5.4

7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone        Wknd/$   4.3              Total/$  17.4

8. Jack the Giant Slayer/Warners             Wknd/$   3.0              Total$    59.1

9. Identity Thief/Universal                         Wknd/$   2.5              Total/$127.7

10. Snitch/LGF                                               Wknd/$   1.9               Total/$  40.3

DID THEY CHECK THE DIRECTOR’S RESUME?

The Croods opens at number one and I stopped seeing every single CGI animated film that comes down the pike awhile back because the allure of the sheer beauty of the imagery wore off long ago.  They ALL look good so they have to bring something more and I honestly didn’t see anything all that appealing to me in the trailers here.  The early indications that this young girl’s curiosity brought her family into a new way of life were seemingly abandoned for scenes of silliness in a way that say, trailers for Brave took pains to avoid (not that Brave didn’t ultimately disappoint me too).  You knew that film possibly was essentially about character in the midst of everything else.  This film is about jokes where fire is thought to be a living thing you might to try and hide from in the dry grass.  Yeah, exactly.  No matter how often Pixar succeeds with both heart and actual wit other companies still are content to just coast on the most basic belly laugh or gag and leave out the former entirely.  What’s sad is that one of the directors actually comes from Disney, having worked as a writer on Beauty & The Beast, Mulan, The Lion King, Aladdin and the underrated Lilo & Stich. The other director, however, brought us Chimps in Space.  ‘Nuff said.

VALHALLA, HOWEVER, IS STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Olympus Has Fallen is a glorious R-rated throwback to the action films of the 80’s and I mean that as a compliment.  For most of the 80’s and well into the 90’s every other film was “Die Hard on a ____.” Speed was actually sold as “Die Hard on bus.”  Passenger 52 was “Die Hard on a plane.”  And Under Siege was “Die Hard on a warship” (its underrated sequel was “Die Hard on a train”).  It’s such an effective storyline of a man against the odds it almost always works no matter how inept the talent.  I’ve seen film that was “Die Hard in nuclear silo” with Dolph Lundgren another that was “Die Hard on a military transport plane” that were both enjoyable on a late Saturday night on cable.  But even I drew the line at—Zeus as my witness—one set at a beauty pageant.  Maybe if they’d let Miss Alabama be the hero instead of some dude…  That this opened well isn’t so much a surprise as the fact the basic plot a) hasn’t been done before (there’s another one coming this year with Channing Tatum and Jaime Foxx) and b) the basic “Die Hard on a ____” concept has been left languishing sometime.  No cliché goes unturned here.  Our hero is one type of badass (Secret Service) with a history of being another type of badass (special forces; it’s always special forces) who has suffered a type of traumatic failure in his past (in this case saving the president over the First Lady) and the ongoing crisis is a way to redemption.  Also the villain is of course an international terrorist aided by a traitor (his motivation? The bailout of the banks, I shit you not).  While it seems like this continues making North Korea our new boogey men (because everyone lacks the balls to make it China whose backing of North Korea is ironically the only reason it’s still standing), it honestly lacks even those balls and he is actually unaffiliated, missing the brilliant twist of Die Hard of the bad guys just being thieves pretending to be terrorists.  Some of that self-awareness would be been welcome here, but it wasn’t missed thanks to a steady stream of non-stop, blood-drenched, wise-cracking hero action that moves steadily enough that you never stop to think about how utterly stupid and improbable this all is. You know, like Die Hard.  It also has a solid cast of actors good enough to keep a straight face and sell this, probably with the knowledge it will pay for another project to remind people they are actual actors.

YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE THIS RIDE

Oz The Great & Powerful is down to number three, followed by The Call at number four and speaking of Under Siege, also in this is Morris Chestnut who was in Under Siege 2 and for awhile he was in contention for who’d be the next Denzel Washington along with Taye Diggs and few others only to wind up the lead in smaller films and a supporting player in larger ones because apparently there’s a height requirement to be THE African American leading man and none of them met it.  Personally, I feel it’s what ultimately limited Wesley Snipes. It can’t simply be because he was nuts because so is Nicholas Cage.  Nope. America wants it’s leading man negroes tall. Let me put it this way: Sidney Poitier is 6’2”.

BLERG THE MOVIE!

Admission opens at number four and while I understand why, after seven years of writing and starring in a weekly show Tina Fey would like to just show up for work, the simple fact is she shouldn’t appear in anything she doesn’t write because we have certain expectations from just seeing her onscreen and there’s no way something from one of the directors of American Pie is going to live up to that.  There was not one ounce of the trademark wit we expect from her in the trailers for this and so her fanbase clearly took a pass fearing what most critics have now confirmed.  Come on and give us the thinly veiled Liz Lemon we want on the big screen, Tina!

YOU DON’T SEE  JENNIFER LAWRENCE DOING THIS

Finally opening wide and entering the top ten at number five is the most discussed movie at the moment, Spring Breakers, which honestly is a relief because I swear I’ve been reading about this for a year.  It’s most noted for being yet another attempt by child stars trying to grow up by doing something edgy and honestly that they’re not playing drug addicted hookers instantly makes it better than most attempts.  Here, they’re girls who decided to fund their spring break by committing a robbery on the way and it continues on a downward spiral there once they meet a corn-rowed James Franco who seems considerably more invested in this role than Oz and has the reviews to match.  My lack of interest in seeing this is actually the reason most seem to like it: its deliberate haze of sleaze.  I felt nauseous just watching the sun-drenched dayglow trailer.  I could practically smell the vomit from vodka-laced drinks, so I can’t imagine sitting through two hours of it.  My other reason is how hipsters are flocking to this, making it “the” film to see and then quote as if they’re doing something subversive, much like the actresses making it.  It’s ironic, dontcha think?

SOON RETURNING TO A WEEKLY TV SHOW

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is down to number six and also in this as mentioned last week is Olivia Wilde whose minutes as the “hot girl” of the moment are ticking away thanks to yet another disappointing movie.  This started off with Cowboys and Aliens, continued with The Change Up on through the disappointing Tron: Legacy and add to that The Words, In Time, Deadfall, People Like Us and Butter.  Only London in WWII saw so many bombs.  But if you need any more confirmation of her questionable taste know that she had her choice of men in Hollywood and is now engaged to Jason Sudeikis.  Yeah, I said it.

THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH ABOUT RYAN REYNOLDS

Jack the Giant Slayer is down to number seven, followed by Identity Thief at number eight and speaking of failures, what does it say that a poorly reviewed film starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy is a hit, while a poorly reviewed film starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds tanked?  I think we know.

SOME PEOPLE CAN’T GET OUT OF THEIR OWN WAY

Finally, Snitch closes out the top ten at number ten and somewhere rather than simply do his own version of Die Hard, The Rock is signing contracts for a spin-off of Fast & The Furious and probably another bad family film which the sole point of humor is this big dude dealing with a kid.

BAD BOOKS MAKE GOOD MOVIES MAKE MEDIOCRE TV

TV never stops (thank god) and this week’s new entry is The Bates Motel, a prequel series about Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. Hell, that he was named after his mom is pretty much all we need to know about why Norman started hacking people up.  This however, purports to give us even more answers to questions we never asked and honestly it lost me at Norman’s hot teacher advisor at high school (yes, it’s “I Was A Teen Psycho”). Had she been played by an older, less attractive woman it would be more of a shock that she dies one day, but that she’s young and hot, you can practically see the countdown clock over her head ticking away.  Ditto the very forward hot teenage girl who practically mounts him within moments of their meeting and her equally hot friends. Someone’s gonna notice that the varsity cheerleading squad all died soon after Norman came to town, no?  Yes, they’re trying to set the town up as already having dark & dirty secrets, but clearly those aren’t the type with an escalating body count that would command notice. I love Vera Farmiga.  She’s pretty much great in everything she does and this is no exception.  You see her casual passive aggressive possessive behavior to Norman clearly laying the groundwork for his demented persona and she does it all well without leaning over into camp.  Now, the film opens with a scene strongly suggesting that she’s murdered her husband and even if she didn’t, she clearly could give a shit. This is why it didn’t need a scene with her killing a guy but only after he handcuffs and rapes her on the kitchen table (the assailant is the previous owner of the hotel who resents her buying it from the bank).  Rape is a cheap, lazy device in the hands of most writers and it would have been the same scene if he’d tried and failed (Norman does show up to his mother’s rescue).  It would have been even better if he’d returned drunk but non-violent saying he’d found away to get his hotel back and she killed him. It would have been better if Norman had encountered him first and assaulted him and his mother then killed him and told Norman he was responsible  There were far too many ways to make a statement about her character and setting Norman for a nice dose of mother controlling guilt than a graphic rape scene.  I won’t even get into Norman discovering Japanese comic book porn, which is clearly supposed to be aiding his way into darkness. That’s when you know they just stopped trying. I’ll be sticking to the fun silliness of The Following and giving this a pass. Besides, I already know how it ends.

“HEY, I’M PHOTOGRAPHIN’ HERE! I’M PHOTOGRAPHING HERE!

The greatness of New York isn’t merely that the space in my neighborhood where a hardware store used to be is now a gay bar called “Hardware” (get it?) or that it’s right around from another gay bar called “FairyTail” (get it?).  Not, it’s how New Yorkers simultaneously don’t give a shit about you but have no problems getting all up in your business.  Case in point, Friday night. I haven’t been doing much of my beloved night shooting because now that the enthusiasm of both riding my bike and taking photos has diminished a bit, I’m simply not willing to spend hours out in the cold any longer, here in our neverending winter (apparently that’s what was keeping me warm).  But I finally screwed my courage to the sticking place and went out to try and complete my Upper West Side shooting that I started when I did Central Park West on another buttfucking cold night.  This time I went up West End Avenue then down Broadway and the entire way it was either completely ignoring the loon with the camera out in the cold or “Hey, whatcha shooting?”  “What settings are you using?” “Are you making a movie?” And my personal favorite, “Hey, cameraman! Take a picture of this!”  I’m genuinely surprised the last one was fully clothed, but I guess it was too cold even for the most devoted exhibitionist perv.  What’s funny is you know they don’t do this to tourists so I was clearly recognized as someone who belongs. Seems finally getting a NY State drivers license did the trick.  Now, with the exception of the Logan’s Run-esque 96th Subway station, it wasn’t as picturesque as I’d hoped but then again I still do kinda suck so it’s probably just me, which makes me wonder if the less-than-memorable Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues will be worth shooting at night. One is best known for a bar scene so annoying the community board of my neighborhood made it a point of trying to zone so we didn’t become “Like Amsterdam Avenue” and the other isn’t known for anything at all. It makes me think pictures of my penis wearing tiny costumes is a worthwhile project after all.

SO, WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS SEXY ISN’T COMING BACK?

Now there was no way Justin Timberlake could have lived up to expectations after a six-year-gap, but he didn’t do himself any favors making every song 8 minutes long then dividing it up into two albums.  Better to cut out the mediocore songs entirely and just release the best tracks from both albums as one good one, but no one asked me.  Why don’t you ask Maxwell how that worked out for him after more than a decade of waiting? Oh, wait. We’re still waiting of the second part of that two album release. Have we learned nothing from Nelly’s “Sweat” and “Suit” disaster?  What I do like is “Shift To Reverse” from a singer/songwriter named N*Grandjean and part of me hopes he never succeeds thanks to that pretentious fucking bohemian bullshit name (I felt the same way about Musiq Soulchild and got my wish), but this one track is awesome. Because I’m old I had to hear it on a TV show. In this case House of Cards.  And yes, I Shazamed it. But thanks to my Pandora station I’ve discovered Michiko and Little People.  Yes, it’s all the same kind of chill music, but I’m old and this is all I can handle now.  Case in point “La Vie En Rose.” One of the oldest songs ever, but there’s a version by Duo Gadjo that I simply cannot stop listening to.