Tag Archives: Young Adult Novels

THE FRANCHISE REFUSES TO SELF-DESTRUCT

2 Aug

600full-michelle-monaghan 1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation    Wknd/$ 56.0    Total/$ 56.0
2. Vacation/WB                                          Wknd/$ 14.9    Total/$ 21.2
3. Ant-Man/Disney                                    Wknd/$ 12.6    Total/$ 132.1
4. Minions/Universal                                Wknd/$ 12.2    Total/$ 287.4
5. Pixels/Sony                                             Wknd/$ 10.4    Total/$ 45.6
6. Trainwreck/Universal                           Wknd/$ 9.7      Total/$ 79.7
7. Southpaw/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 7.5       Total/$ 31.6
8. Paper Towns/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 4.6       Total/$ 23.8
9. Inside Out/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 4.5       Total/$ 329.6
10. Jurassic World/Universal                  Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 631.5

FIFTH VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST!
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation opens at number one and this may be the most solid entry in the franchise, even though it’s the fourth time in five movies Ethan Hunt is wanted by his own government. Seriously. In the first, he’s framed by his own boss for betraying and killing his whole team. In the third he’s framed by someone who’s kind of his boss for freeing an international arms dealer that he just caught. In the fourth, he’s framed for blowing up the Kremlin by a Russian general who thinks we need to just have a nuclear and get it over with and humanity will be the better for it. Here he’s not framed but considered a bit crazy because he believes in a super-secret terrorist organization called “The Syndicate” and is being hunted by the CIA which has also shut down the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) and absorbed its people and operations. What’s funny is the way the CIA shuts them down is by pointing out all the crazy shit they’ve done from breaking into Langley in the first film and almost getting San Francisco nuked in the most recent film. So basically CIA Director Alec Baldwin is completely right in saying it’s an agency of chaos. Every film backs it up. Three out of the five films involve either current or ex members of the IMF being behind all the trouble. It reminds me of the scenes from Under Siege where they also question the logic behind employing crazy people and the CIA responds that sane people can’t do the jobs they need to be done. This would apply to Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt who apparently can’t do anything the safe way. It’s actually joked about by the bad guy in MI2 and is briefly alluded to by a young agent at the beginning of this. But if he did things the smart and rational way, what fun would it be to watch? Yeah, he could have taken the two seconds it would taken to put on a motorcycle helmet from the downed bad guy whose bike he takes, but then wouldn’t get what is clearly Tom Cruise barreling down the highway at ridiculous speeds and crazy leaning angles. He’s basically embarrassing the shit out of every other action star working with their sane use of CGI and stunt doubles. But more than that, this is perhaps the best story since the first and I guess after having recycled it so many times the were bound to get it right simply by the law of averages. It’s not saddled with a love story like MI2 (which was basically a remake of Notorious but with guns and motorcycles), the underwhelming action scenes of MI3 (really, a fight with a drone?) or the dampening revelation in MI4 that the bad buy was a good decade senior to Cruise but had not only outfought but outrun him and almost does him in at the end (it was as bad as that wussy French dude giving Bond trouble at the climax of Quantum of Silence). It helps that they finally give him a badass female counterpart who does everything he does without mussing her hair (speaking of Bond, she’s British Secret Service). They give her the all-out action scenes that both Maggie Q and Paula Patton were denied, which is insult to injury given neither one of them was brought back (supposedly they were busy, but who are we kidding?), but all the guys but John Rhys Myers (who should have inherited the franchise had he not self-destructed) and the helicopter pilot from MI2 (whom no one remembers any) were.

IT’S NOTHING I’VE EVER WANTED (GO-GO’S REFERENCE)
Vacation opens at number two and I’ve never seen a single one of these movies and I wasn’t about to start now. I know the first has somehow gained a place of being a near semi-classic 80’s comedy, directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes at near the peak of their powers, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe it’s just Chevy Chase, but…no, it’s just Chevy Chase. I love Caddyshack and Foul Play, but his very presence is basically a giant warning sign of a bad movie. And guess what? He makes an appearance in this, given this is supposed to be the adult son from the first movie trying to recreate the trip with his own kids (Anthony Michael Hall, you dodged a bullet). I’ve no choice but to stick to my strategy as it has served me well (I ignored it to Hot Tub Time Machine and paid the price). And why would anyone want to recreate that trip anyway? It was a disaster and they should have nothing but horrible, if not traumatic memories of it.

WONDER WOMAN AND BLACK PANTHER MOVIES CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH
Ant Man is down to number three and while it’s nothing but fun there’s a slight bitter taste for me because no one in the production seemed to notice that every single person of color from The Falcon, to Ant-Man’s crew (Michael Pena and TI—yes, TI), to the cop his ex-wife is dating (Bobby Cannavale) is the butt of a joke. Yes, there are jokes about everyone (it’s an action comedy) but everyone else has something else going on. Michael Douglas’ character was a superhero and still is a super-genius and sets everything in motion. Awkward expository dialogue tells us that Paul Rudd’s character went to prison because he attacked a corporation that hurt people, has a Master’s Degree in Engineering and also becomes a super-hero. Even the villain is a genius in his own right, but the Black and Latino characters are all just there to make you laugh. Now, I’m not saying that this was planned, I’m just saying that when it was all said and done no one noticed this. That’s a sad lack of racial sensitivity. It’s the equivalent of movies where all the guys are dreamers and the women are just wet blankets. Not that they get much of a break here either. There’s only one actually involved and while it’s explained that Michael Douglas won’t give his daughter (played by Evangeline Lilly) the suit even though she’s more than capable than Paul Rudd and is already on the inside, because he doesn’t want to lose her the way he lost her mother (she joined Michael Douglas on his adventures), the movie doesn’t give her the motivation to just take the damn thing and do it. If they’re estranged, why is she being the obedient daughter now? The irony being, in the comic this is all based, that’s exactly how the character Paul Rudd is playing gets the suit! He’s not lured; he just takes it to try and save his daughter! We won’t even get in her “You know I’m a no nonsense woman” stupid haircut, because I’ve got friend going off on that somewhere else on the internet.

BUT IT SHOULD STICK TO ADAM SANDLER LIKE FUCKING GLUE
Minions is down to number four, followed Pixels at number five and also in this wreck is Michelle Monaghan (aka Lara Flynn Boyle 2.0), who was “The Young Hot Thing” a few years back, killing it in smaller movies like Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang with a pre-Iron Man Robert Downy Jr, before being bumped up to sharing the screen with Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his few leading man hits, The Source Code. After that she hit solid gold A-list as Tom Cruise’s kidnapped bride-to-be in Mission Impossible 3. But after that…things just seemed to slip away. The smaller films were mediocre and even movie a post-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr and post-Captain America Chris Evans went nowhere. Luckily she was in the highly acclaimed first season of True Detective. Well, lucky until this came out. Hopefully so few people will it see the stench won’t stay with her. You know, like how Zoe Kravitz was in After Earth with Will & Jaden Smith. If anyone had known she might not have had the summer she’s had with Mad Max: Fury Road and Dope.

THEY SHOULD BE FINED IT’S SUCH A WASTE
Trainwreck at number six and while I love Bill Hader and am glad he’s getting some movie success with this it’s still not enough to get me into this, mainly because why the fuck do you hire someone with Bill Hader’s talents and just make him the straight man!?! Anyone good looking meat puppet could have done this and honestly every dude playing a superhero would give a left nut to be in a hit where they aren’t in a costume. Getting Bill Hader to just play a nice, normal guy is like buying a Porsche and never taking it out of first gear. You gotta a redline or don’t bother!

I WOULDN’T SEE IT IF THAT’S ALL IT COST TO GET IN
Southpaw is down to number seven and your first clue this was going to be a mistake was the casting of 50 Cent who has never once made a successful film. Not. Once. Even though he’s made movies with everyone from Robert DeNiro to Bruce Willis. You’ve never heard of them because they went straight to home viewing. Even the movie where he plays himself in a story of his own life tanked. No wonder he’s filing for bankruptcy. Not really. He’s doing that to keep from getting sued of everything he owns because he’s a stupid, vindictive prick and finally going to pay for it.

ALSO: VOICE IN ANIMATED FILM
Paper Towns is down to number eight and starring here as the dream girl is current model-of-the-moment, Cara Delevingne and I hope this is a wonderfully sobering moment for the world at large, because the reason she can play a teenager is because like most models, she’s just a fucking kid. Yes, she’s 23, but in real world terms that would mean she graduated college just last year and high school just 5 years ago. How long have you seen her in stiletto heels and lingerie making come hither stares? Probably longer than that and it’s fucked up. Sorry, I’m still a little bitter over a story about 14-year-old model where the photo showed her in a translucent top. Yeah, she’s six-feet-tall, but that’s still a fucking 14-year-old and I should never ever have seen her nipples. Nor should the rest of the world. Okay, end of rant. I’ll say this for Carla Delevingne, her management is making sure to get her in on every hot movie trend to launch her acting career. This is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel and next year she’ll be in comic book movie: The Suicide Squad. All that’s missing is a “found footage” horror movie.

EXTINCT
Inside Out is down to number nine followed by Jurassic World closing out the top ten at number ten. Thank god. I was totally out of things to say about it.

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ONE, TWO, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, THREE, SEVEN

20 Apr

kenneth-branagh-image
1. Furious 7/Universal                          Wknd/$ 29.1    Total/$ 294.4
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                      Wknd/$ 24.0   Total/$ 24.00
3. Unfriended/Universal                      Wknd/$ 16.0    Total/$ 16.0
4. Home/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 10.3    Total/$ 142.6
5. The Longest Ride/Fox                      Wknd/$ 6.9      Total/$ 23.5
6. Get Hard/WB                                     Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 78.3
7. Monkey Kingdom/Disney                Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 4.7
9. The Divergent Series: Insurgent     Wknd/$ 4.2      Total/$ 120.6
8. Woman in Gold/Weinstein              Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 15.9
10. Cinderella/Disney                            Wknd/$ 3.9      Total/$ 186.3

IT TEACHES THE KIDS MATH…KINDA. WELL, NOT REALLY.
Furious 7 holds at number one and why this is called Furious 7 while the previous entry was Fast & Furious 6, but the one before that was Fast Five while the one before that was Fast & Furious, which is not to be confused with the very first one, which was THE Fast and THE Furious? I have no freaking idea. The only other title to have “The” in it was the much maligned third entry: The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and yes, they do make a return here for a brief scene in Tokyo because the films 4, 5, and 6 all take place before the events in number 3. So the order is The Fast and The Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast and Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and now Furious 7. Got it? Good. Needless to say the nine years between entries were not kind to, Lucas Black, the male lead of Tokyo Drift, while the other two leads, Lil’ Bow Wow (understandably going by his real name of Shad Moss these days) and that ethnically dubious girl who’s now more famous for being in a Bruno Mars video, were relatively unchanged. So it’s not only black that doesn’t crack but also brown (she’s Peruvian-Argentine).

FOR EVIL TO SUCCEED ALL THAT IS NEEDED IS FOR GOOD PEOPLE TO SEE BAD MOVIES
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 opens at number two and stop trying to tell me that God exists. What kind of god would let this happen. Twice. On the other hand, if the greatest trick The Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist, then he’s giving himself away by greenlighting films in Hollywood.

A MOVIE NO ONE OVER 60 WILL UNDERSTAND
Unfriended opens at number three and just as a broken clock is right twice a day, apparently a low-budget stepchild of found footage films (everything is seen from the screen of one computer) is both successful and critically praised. The fact that it may be scary is just more reason for me never to see it.

ANOTHER PRETTY BLONDE SUCCEEDS IN LA. NEWS AT ELEVEN.
Home is down to number four, followed by The Longest Ride at number five and this is a another rung up the ladder for Britt Robertson, who I know because I watched both Life Unexpected and The Secret Circle (where she wore her skirts so short they had to be digitally lengthened in post). Shut up! Shame is for lesser people! She and her team have been making good, solid choices. She was the lead on that show though it was cancelled, got steady exposure on Under The Dome, was in Jennifer Anniston’s Oscar-bait movie, Cake, wisely chose this piece of popular crap and it will culminate in Tomorrowland this summer, directed by Brad Bird and starring George Clooney. Remember the last young woman to co-star with Clooney? Shailene Woodley. Good, because I swear this girl’s been chomping at the bit for superstardom for as long as I’ve seen her. We were moments away from a sexually explicit film from her to get noticed. Whoops. She did that last year.

SO FATIGUED IT’S NOT FUNNY
Get Hard is down to number six and given it hasn’t even doubled its budget in the month it’s been out (compare to Furious 7 which hit a billion dollars last week) people may have had enough of both Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell’s manchild routine. I know I have and I’ve only seen one or two of them.

MONKEY FUNNY. ALWAYS AND FOREVER.
Monkey Kingdom opens at number seven and I swear I will watch the shit about of some monkeys in the jungle on The Discovery Channel, but don’t think I’m gonna get up and go pay for it. But great for all of you who did!

I’M TELLING MYSELF HE DOES THIS TO PAY FOR THEATER WORK
Woman in gold is down to number eight, followed by The Divergent Series: Insurgent at number nine with Cinderella closing out the top ten at number ten and while that seems as disappointing as Get Hard given it failed to double its budget domestically, globally it quadrupled it and while Disney isn’t getting all of that, it’s damn sure getting enough. Not to mention what this is going to pull on home video. Oh, and did we ever mention this was directed by Kenneth Branagh? He’s sadly become a director of very mediocre big budget studio films recently. There was nothing exceptional about this. The best thing about Thor was one man’s performance and there was no best thing about Jack Ryan. This is sad because Dead Again was huge dose of campy fun. Given the difference trajectory of their careers, I’m starting to wonder how much of that had to do with Emma Thompson. Especially now that I remember the awfulness that was his version of Frankenstein, which also had Helena Bonham Carter in it. Seems it’s easier to work with ex-girlfriends than ex-wives.

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EVERYBODY LOVES A CHICK FIGHT. EVERY. BODY.

13 Apr

chickfight
1. Furious 7/Universal Wknd/$ 60.6 Total/$ 252.5
2. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 19.0 Total/$ 129.6
3. The Longest Ride/Fox Wknd/$ 13.5 Total/$ 13.5
4. Get Hard/WB Wknd/$ 8.6 Total/$ 71.2
5. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 7.2 Total/$ 180.8
6. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 6.9 Total/$ 114.8
7. Woman in Gold/Weinstein Wknd/$ 5.9 Total/$ 9.3
8. It Follows/RTWC Wknd/$ 2.0 Total/$ 11.8
9. Danny Collins/BST Wknd/$ 1.6 Total/$ 2.5
10. While We’re Young/A24 Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 1.4

CHICK FIGHT!
Furious 7 holds at number 1 and in addition to Tony Jaa the other martial artist in this is MMA Champion, Ronda Rousey. Like Jaa she has to pretend that her opponent wouldn’t be toast in 30 seconds. Just as Paul Walker’s character suddenly became a master of hand-to-hand combat, Michelle Rodriguez’s character also developed martial skills. Not only does she take on Rousey, but a team of female Arab bodyguards before that. And in the previous installment she took on Gina Carano. But like Carano and Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee before her Rousey clearly made it part of her deal that she wasn’t going to lose in a straight-on fight to some actor. Yes, Jaa loses, but not because Walker punches him out or anything. Similarly, Rousey’s fight with Rodriguez ends in a draw, which is good, because if my eyes had rolled back any further in my head I’d have seen my own brainstem. But don’t get me wrong. I am perverse enough to enjoy a good chick fight and I’m not alone considering this was twice as long as the Carano fight. Though the fact they were in evening gowns is clearly someone else’s fetish. Seriously, you just know that’s his kink because he views it as some kind of clever irony. It’s not.

HE HAS HIS OWN SUPER POWER: PANTY DROPPING
Home holds at number two, followed by The Longest Ride opening at number one and the most notable thing about this is that the male lead is Scott Eastwood. Yes, it’s his son, if you couldn’t tell simply by looking at him. Now I will give him credit for at least attempting a career without using his famous name (he used his mother’s surname), but he quickly realized that it’s stupid not to use every advantage you have. Especially when you actually like your dad unlike say, Angelina Jolie Voight. But let’s face it, if a name really did anything for you, Tyrone Power Jr. would have been a giant star, as would Jennifer Grant (yes, Cary Grant’s daughter). And do we have to once again bring up the sad story of the other son of Kirk Douglas who was an actor? Not everyone can be Jeff and Beau Bridges either. Needless to say the simple fact it’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel guarantees this a place on the crap list, but I’ll never know because I will never, ever see it. In fact, I’m still angry I was tricked into seeing The Notebook (and by “tricked” I mean a really pretty girl I knew named Jennifer wanted to see it). But being in one has never hurt a career if you’re young (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Miley Cyrus, Amand Seyfried), so it’s a smart move on his part. Another smart move is getting into a comic book movie. Learning that he’s going to play Steve Trevor actually made me interested in a Wonder Woman movie for the first time.

IT’S AN ABOMINATION
Get Hard is down to number four, followed by Cinderella at number five and yes, they are making live action versions of everything now, including Winnie The Pooh and Dumbo. Now, Pinocchio I get, because that has been made into live action features before, but Winnie The Pooh and Dumbo? Why!?! Simply because CGI means you can doesn’t mean you should. May god have mercy on their money grubbing souls…which they clearly gave up long ago.

NOW BEST KNOWN AS A NAME IN AN EMINEM SONG…
The Divergent Series: Insurgent is down to number six and let’s rundown the adult cast in this thing: Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, two time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Tony Goldwyn, Daniel Dae Kim and Mekhi Phifer. Remember when he played the male lead to Beyonce in MTV’s version of Carmen? Me neither. Though judging by his size on House of Lies last season, brutha hasn’t missed many meals.

IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
The Woman in Gold holds at number seven and also in this is…Katie Holmes? Well, it makes sense given this is little more than a TV movie that escaped into theaters, though the smart move would have been to be an adult in one of the YA novel film adaptations. I also recommend taking that “hot mom” role on a TV show. After all, it’s where you began. Dawson and Pacey have already accepted their small screen fates. Time to join them, Joey.

HOLDING MY WUSSY GROUND
It Follows is down to number eight and yes, I still refuse to see this.

IMAGINE IF THE LETTER HAD BEEN “YOU SUCK. QUIT NOW.”
Entering the top ten at number nine is Danny Collins, which is based on the true story of a folk singer to whom John Lennon once wrote a letter of encouragement, but since no one really gives a crap about a folk singer, the movie makes it a rock singer and if you’re having trouble seeing Al Pacino as an aging rock singer, come sit right next to me. Yes, he was the same age as John Lennon, but still it doesn’t seem to fit. That said, the movie follows this fictional character who like the real life folk singer never received the letter until 40 years later and it makes him reevaluate his life. Honestly, though I still don’t give a crap about folk singing, I’m more interested in how the real life guy handled it, not this clichéd story of about a man trying to re-connect with the son he’s basically ignored for almost 40 years. Not helping is that his growth is also indicated by him dumping his 20-something girlfriend and becoming more interested in the older manager of the hotel where he’s staying, played by Annette Benning. Pacino is 74. Benning is 56. That’s not age appropriate. Not even close. God forbid you give an actress his age a job. Last I heard Julie Christie is still working. How about giving her some fucking work?

OLD PEOPLE NEED MORE SLEEP
Speaking of age appropriate casting, Ben Stiller is forced to submit to it in While We’re Young, entering the top ten at number ten, since age is kinda the focus of the movie. It’s about two 40-somethings played by Stiller and Naomi Watts (two movies in the top ten this week) who reevaluate their lives after striking up a friendship with two 20-somethings, played by Amana Seyfried and the actor, Adam Driver, who plays Hanna’s creepy boyfriend, Adam, on Girls. This is from writer/director, Noah Baumbach (whom I’ve loved since Kicking & Screaming) who’s banging a 20-something in real life while getting divorced from Jennifer Jason Leigh so like most of his work it’s drawn from his real life. I’m not going to say what’s keeping me from seeing this is because it strikes a little too close to home (not the banging a 20-something part), because it’s not. I’m just lazy. That’s the real reason.

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NOT JUST BLAND. DREAMWORKS BLAND.

29 Mar

common_teaser
1. Home/Fox                                                           Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Get Hard/WB                                                     Wknd/$ 34.6 Total/$ 34.6
3. The Divergent Series: Insurgent                    Wknd/$ 22.1 Total/$ 86.4
4. Cinderella/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 17.5 Total/$ 150.0
5. It Follows/RTWC                                              Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.8
6. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox               Wknd/$ 3.1 Total/$ 119.4
7. Run All Night/WB                                             Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 23.8
8. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel             Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 28.1
9. Do You Believe/PFR                                         Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 7.1
10. The Gunman/ORF                                           Wknd/$ 2.0 Total/$ 8.8

THOUGH MADAGASCAR 3 IS TRULY AWESOME
Home opens at number one and the ad campaign for this was so utterly bland you knew it was a Dreamworks film. When every joke beats you over the head and the stars behind the voices are shoved down your throat, you know it’s definitely not Pixar. Seriously, who the fuck are you people who make a decision on whether or not to see an animated movie based on who does the voices!?! “Oh, I wasn’t going to see that until I heard that Brad Pitt was doing the voice.” What does it fucking matter!?! And seriously who the fuck sees Jim Parsons and wants to see anything!?! Oh, you tasteless fucking Big Bang Theory fans. You probably thought this was brilliant. Me, I couldn’t be bothered. The majority of DreamWorks animated films are barely adequate at best and boring and generic to the point of being offensive at worst. And no, Rhianna doing a voice is not going to change my mind.

YOUR PUN ABOUT THE TITLE HERE: ______
Get Hard opens at number two and the irony of Kevin Hart and Will Farrell working together isn’t lost on me given how I feel about them. They’re great in small doses. They both need a straight man so the two of them as leads is twice the film I never need to see in my lifetime. Hopefully this movie finally put Kevin Hart into a position financially where he doesn’t have a film coming out every other fucking week.

HE LOOKS LIKE A HUMAN HOUND DOG.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent is down to number three and basically every hot young star who wasn’t in The Hunger Games wound up here. I had no idea Miles Teller was in this and if you’ve read any of his interviews he kinda wishes he wasn’t. He’s hot from his indie film work of The Spectacular Now and Whiplash so he’s starting to look down his nose and big paycheck roles like this. Dude, you were in the fucking Footloose remake, not to mention Project X the teen Hangover movie which was actually from the director of The Hangover and 21 & Over which was from the writers of The Hangover. How these are better than an adaptation of a Young Adult novel is beyond me. Oh, and he’s in the Fantastic Four reboot. Yeah, you’re going for the blue chip roles, buddy. But my favorite thing about him is how In Style interviewed him and pointed out immediately that he wasn’t traditionally good looking and he clearly got a little pissed given he’s normally cast in the sidekick role to some guy who actually is traditionally good looking like lack Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment (another movie he seems to have forgotten he made to pay the bills). He’s also not the love interest dude here, which is ironic because the star, Shailene Woodley, was his love interest in The Spectacular Now. That’s gotta sting. Sorry, but it amuses me when dudes occasionally go through what women go through all the time.

SHE STARVED FOR MERCHANT IVORY. THAT WAS ENOUGH.
Cinderella is down to number four and also in this is Helena Bonham Carter and apparently she got used to that Disney money while she was with Tim Burton making crap like Alice in Wonderland. Though, honestly, their Sweeny Todd wasn’t bad.

NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
It Follows enters the top ten at number five and I will never see this. Unlike 99% of what’s sold as scary, this looks as scary as hell. It’s also the effective metaphor for price paid for sex that other films only pretend to be. Basically, there’s a “thing” after you and the only way to get it off is to pass it to someone else through sex. However, if it catches that person and kills them, then it comes back to you. Also, no one else can see it but you and it can transform into anyone to get next to you. Fuck. Me. The trailer alone messed me up. Movies like this are why I don’t do the scary.

GETTIN’ BY ON HIS LOOKS
Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number six, followed by Run All Night at number seven and also in this is Common and will someone please explain to me how he keeps getting work? He’s not a good actor and his rap career hasn’t been relevant for about a decade, so how is this happening? Basically he’s getting by on his looks. There’s just no other explanation. Producers think they’re getting a built-in audience (young people, black people) by casting someone from hip-hop, which isn’t exactly rich in attractiveness. Most of them look like Jay-Z or Lil’ Wayne, so the bar is pretty low. You can imagine how good Common appears in that line-up. Ironically, he’s the physical opposite of Miles Teller, but like him is successful for the reason women are every day. Oh, are you going to argue the reason you even know Olivia Wilde’s name with me now?

HE DOES HAVE MULTIPLE OSCARS AFTER ALL
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number eight, followed by Do You Believe at number nine and The Gunman closes out the top ten at number ten and in this are Ray Winstone, Javier Bardeem and Idris Elba, who clearly only did this because Penn was in it, because Elba barely is. Javier’s scenes take place only in Spain where he lives so for him it as an easy paycheck and he got to stay home with Penelope and the kids. Ray Winstone’s are primarily England it was also an easy gig. Oh, and the female lead. Italian actress, Jasmine Trinca, is twenty years younger than Sean Penn who also co-wrote and co-produced, so clearly it was no accident.

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TAKEN…BY YOUR MIDDLE AGED SUCCESS

23 Mar

Mira-Sorvino-Wallpaper-3-mira-sorvino-464181_1024_768
1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 34.5 Total/$ 122.0
3. Run All Night/WB Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 19.7
4. The Gunman/ORF Wknd/$ 5.0 Total/$ 5.0
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 114.6
6. Do You Believe/PFR Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.0
8. Focus/WB Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 49.4
9. Chappie/Sony Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 49.4
7. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 28.3
10. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 158.8

I’M JUST SAYING IT’S NOT FAIR!
A Poor Man’s Hunger Games, er, I mean, Divergent: Insurgent opens at number one and this is the second installment of the series from that popular Young Adult genre that’s being mined for all its worth. But do you hear people bitching about it the way they do movies based on comic books? Apparently being based on a fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids without pictures is much more respectable than being based on fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids with them. No, I’m not being overly-sensitive! Why do you ask!?! Didn’t see read or see Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so I’m not going to read or see this.

BECAUSE COLORBLINDNESS ONLY EXISTS IN A FAIRY TALE. BOOM!
Cinderella is down to number two and one thing I did like about this was the multi-racial casting. It’s a fairy tale. Why the hell should it obey the segregation of a real world!?! When you think about it, it’s actually amazing that it took this long for it to happen. Yes, I know Brandy was Cinderella on TV, but that was the exception and on TV where Brandy had a successful sitcom. This is “a major motion picture” as the saying once went, the first step to it becoming the rule. So in that respect I’m glad it’s doing disgustingly well.

TAKEN…BY FIRST WORLD LIBERAL GUILT
Run All Night drops one notch to number three but still doing better than The Gunman, opening at number four which is a victory of sorts for Liam Neeson. All those who’ve tried to imitate his Older Action Hero transition have failed for the most part showing it has as much to do with him as anything. The Gunman even has the same director as Taken, but while he clearly understood that action films are guilty-free violent fantasies, no one told this to Sean Penn, who as star, co-writer and producer made sure you felt guilty as hell while watching necks being snapped and throats being cut. While we know nothing of what Liam Neeson may have done during his CIA days, Sean Penn is not only openly a mercenary, but also one who assassinates an honest politician for his employer then leaves behind the woman he loves per his orders. Years later he’s atoning for his crime digging wells in the same country he helped tear apart when a hit team comes for him. I will give them credit for throwing around enough jargon to give it the feel of a more grounded type of film (also to travel he needs a false ID so he lacks that magical ability to go from country-to-country untouched like all other action heroes), he’s still as indestructible as James Bond or Jason Bourne, despite having permanent brain injury from a lifetime in combat which hits him at various points…though never when a bad guy needs to die. If you’ve ever seen one of these types of films, you know exactly who the bad guy is immediately, but we have to wait for Penn to figure it out as he tracks down the only other people who knew about the job, one of whom married the girl he left behind. He’s none too happen to see Penn, while she can’t contain how much she still wants him. A good idea of how confusing this film is about its purpose is a) how the violence alternates between graphic (bullets through heads) and shies away (a decapitation happens just off screen) and the love interest who is regularly unclothed, but you never see her. It’s an R-rated film. It’s a Chuck Norris type of myopia where you can have all the violence in the world, but no sex or nudity. Well no female nudity. If starring, writing and producing didn’t say “vanity” the way Penn’s shirt comes off should make it clear. It almost seems like it’s a message from Penn to the rest of Hollywood that he’s in the best shape of his life. At one point he’s wearing a flak jacket with no shirt on! Aside from being humorless it drags on a bit too long, so by the time the final battle at a bullfighting arena occurs you just want them to wrap it up so you too can try to go dig a well to absolve your first world guilt. Ironically, Taken was a no-apologies celebration of bad-ass America over foreigners. Nobody likes a well-intentioned action film.

“AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO BEG. THAT WAS MY MISTAKE.”
Back in the world of fantasy violence, Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number five and with near $300M worldwide total there will probably be a sequel. Hopefully Mark Hamill who has a part that’s little more than a cameo (in the comic book it’s actually Mark Hamill mixed up in the villain’s plot) had some words of advice for the youthful lead, Targon Egerton, given he just got a franchise under his belt. Maybe something like “Be really, really nice to the director so maybe he’ll think of you for his other movies. I mean, couldn’t Indiana Jones have a sidekick? Was that really too difficult to imagine!?!”

THERE ARE NO ATHIESTS WHEN A CAR PAYMENT COMES DUE
Do You Believe opens at number six and this is yet another Christian-themed film which only succeeds in letting you know a) just how many stars you like are religious nutcases and b) the correlation between being a religious nutcase and a lack of career success. For example: Kevin Sorbo. Nothing after Hercules. Religious nutcase. And who’s in this? Mira Sorvino, who was white-hot for a moment then vanished. Wanna take bets that she’s found God over the last few very barren years, while watching former boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino give his crush, Uma Thurman, a classic, career resurging action film. Know what action movie she got when was still dating him? The Replacement Killers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Kill Bill it ain’t and tall blonde, OSCAR WINNER Sorvino could have slid right into that and don’t think she doesn’t know it.

BUT HE WON’T SINK AS FAR AS INDEPENDENCE DAY 2
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number seven, followed by Focus down to number eight and if you’re wondering why Will Smith hopped on the comic book movie gravy train as part of an ensemble rather than a lead (really, do you think if he wanted to be The Black Panther that Disney would have turned him down?) and just agreed to Bad Boys III, look at this disappointment. Well, I’m sure Martin Lawrence constantly begging helped with Bad Boys III. “Yo, man. I’m sharing a sitcom with Fraiser! Sharing. With. Fraiser. Help me, please!”

OR BE AN “M” TO SOME DUDE’S BOND
Chappie is down to number nine and speaking of returning to the well for a career boost, also in this is Sigourney Weaver who’ll be returning to the Alien franchise for a movie that ignored the third and fourth films. Amen, sister! Get that cheddar! Apologize for nothing. Harrison Ford still thinks he’s got another Indiana Jones in him so why can’t you have this? Though honestly, you need to get on that live action Disney movie gravy train and rock the hell out of a wicked witch.

THE DEFINITION OF BEING LIQUID
Finally, closing out the top ten at number ten is The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

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8 Feb

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1. The SpongeBob Movie/Par                        Wknd/$ 56.0   Total/$ 56.0
2. American Sniper/Warner                          Wknd/$ 24.2   Total/$ 282.3
3. Jupiter Ascending/Warner                        Wknd/$ 19.0   Total/$ 19.0
4. Seventh Son/Universal                               Wknd/$ 7.1      Total/$ 7.1
5. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.3
6. Project Almanac/Paramount                    Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 15.8
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 74.7 8.
8. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                    Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 55.1
9. Black or White/Relativity                          Wknd/$ 4.5      Total/$ 13.1
10. The Boy Next Door/Universal                Wknd/$ 4.1      Total/$ 30.7

I DON’T WATCH ADVENTURE TIME EITHER
The SpongeBob Movie opens at number one and I’ve never seen the show. That whole hipster moment totally passed me by. And while the trailer did look exceptionally funny I feel it’s a little late to hop onboard.

CAREERS DESCENDING
American Sniper is down to number two, followed by Jupiter Ascending opening at number three. Now this was supposed to be one of the big summer movies last year, but got pushed back, which is never a good sign. That they chose to release it in February made it perfectly clear the studio thought it was a dud and unfortunately they were right. The Wachowskis (no longer the brothers as one has become a woman) have never made an unattractive film, but they’ve only made two actually good ones: Bound and The Matrix. The others range between messy but entertaining (Cloud Atlas, Matrix Reloaded Speed Racer) to flat out bad (The Matrix Revolutions). This sadly goes into that latter category, though like always is easy on the eyes. It thoroughly embraces the idea of eye candy in space opera which has basically been lost since 2001: A Space Odyssey utilized actual science in its production so the “look” science fiction space operas has been utilitarian ever since. Seeing this makes me wish they’d done an adaption of Flash Gordon instead as they could have brought the beautiful imagery of Alex Raymond’s work to life, all the way down to women in slutwear being a fashion universal. I never enjoyed the film more than when they just showing gigantic spaceships that basically looked like chandeliers flying through space. And honestly that’s all I had, because The Wachowskis once again utilize the idea of an ordinary person who is in fact a very special person who enters into a fantastic world that was around them all the time. The difference being while Neo became an actual participant in that world, Jupiter is always the spectator or the damsel to be saved. She’s the protagonist, but not the hero. The story would have been better told from the perspective of her savior, Channing Tatum, a human spliced with a wolf to be a better space soldier who tracks her down as a result of the inner struggles of a family space dynasty. Yeah, I make it sound more interesting than it is. Basically, she’s the genetic recreation of the matriarch and is now a pawn between the matriarch’s three children as she “owns” the earth, which would make her richer than all of them. Okay, it’s actually as dull as that sounded. It’s so ill conceived, that one of the siblings is totally dropped by the third act and you don’t even miss her, nor do we see what happens when one of them dies, which literally changes everything because the whole fucking movie is driven by sibling rivalry! I think it’s telling that Channing Tatum, who is best known for his body didn’t feel the need to get in top shape for this despite the fact that the movie has him shirtless for half-an hour for no real reason. A weak script isn’t worth crunches or dieting. And what’s the point of having reincarnation as a central plot point when the character is only the physical reincarnation and has no memories from their previous life?

THE MUSTACHE ABIDES
Opening a number four is The Seventh Son, another delayed film whose February dumping boded ill and once again that decision was dead on. This film is about Jeff Bridges’ mustache and a male model in their battle against Julianne Moore paying the bills so she can do Oscar-worthy indie film work. Yes, this is yet another attempt to create a franchise out of a Young Adult novel and yet another failure because they don’t seem to realize that unless it’s a mega success like Harry Potter or Twilight in print form it’s not coming with a built-in audience of millions. You actually have to but something behind it. This is just a waste of actually talented actors and a decent CGI budget because it lacks a better director who realizes you just can’t say there’s light in the villain and dark in the hero, you have to show it. That way you get fully realized characters. And if you want just a big cartoon (which is fine too) then you have to drop those concepts and amp up the pace. It does neither of those things. But it didn’t bore me like Jupiter Ascending did.

TO BE FAIR, NO ONE SAW HER MOVIES WHEN SHE WAS MRS. CRUISE EITHER
Paddington is down to number five and I suppose I should say something about this since it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Um, Nicole Kidman is in it. Clearly making movies her kids can see…or that someone, somewhere might even want to see.

THE MORE YOU KNOW
Project Almanac is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and that actually sounds like the title of a science fiction movie too, but it’s just about real science.

IF YOU WANNA BE A STAR, GOTTA ACT LIKE ONE
The Wedding Ringer is down to number eight, but has more than doubled its budget, so while not a runaway hit, it ain’t no failure either. Both Kevin Hart and Josh Gad have done better but Kaley Cucco needed it. Especially if she insists on hyphenating her famous maiden name with her less known rebound-married name. Courtney Cox did that for a hot second then realized her error and wound up dropping both it and the man it came from.

ONCE IS HAPPENSTANCE, TWICE IS COINCIDENCE, MORE THAN TIMES IS A CURSE!
Black or White is down to number nine and also in this is Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and while yes, the lack of change in her career is partly racial and partly sexist, I feel it’s mostly the curse of Best Supporting Actress. I mean, seen Melissa Leo lately? Marcia Gay Harden? Rachel Weisz? Mo’Nique? Jennifer Hudson? It even took down Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones after they won it. Tilda Swinton seems unaffected because she never gave a crap about mainstream success anyway, but Cate Blanchett is the only survivor of the last decade.

CRITICS DON’T PAY YOUR BILLS!
Finally, The Boy Next Door closes out the top ten at number ten. $30M from a $4M budget and JLo was also a producer. Make that money, girl.

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7 Dec

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1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1        Wknd/$ 21.6   Total/$ 257.7
2. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                     Wknd/$ 11.1    Total/$ 49.6
3. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                                 Wknd/$ 8.6     Total/$ 36.1
4. Big Hero 6/Disney                                        Wknd/$ 8.1     Total/$ 177.5
5. Interstellar/Paramount                               Wknd/$ 8.0     Total/$ 158.7
6. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal             Wknd/$ 4.2     Total/$ 78.1
7. The Theory of Everything/Focus               Wknd/$ 2.7     Total/$ 13.6
8. Gone Girl/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 1.5     Total/$ 162.9
9. The Pyramid/Fox                                          Wknd/$ 1.4     Total/$ 1.4
10. Birdman/FoxS                                             Wknd/$ 1.2     Total/$ 18.9

WHY BOTHER READING WHEN IT WILL BE ONSCREEN NEXT WEEK?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 holds at number one and the continuing success of these Young Adult novel adaptations in pretty much every category (drama, romance, science fiction) has resulted in the odd bit of rational response as the numerous failures are treated as individuals rather than a sign the entire genre is a running down. This isn’t how corporate execs normally think. When their vampire or superhero film fails they immediately think that the whole genre is coming to a close rather than accept they just screwed the property up. Percy Jackson, Eragon, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Ender’s Game, I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy, Blood & Chocolate Milk, Inkheart, The Host, The Mortal Bones, etc, just blew it, period, because the audience is still clearly very much here.

LEARNING IS FOR SUCKERS
Penguins of Madagascar holds at number two which on one hand is good because it’s a decent movie and deserves success and this hopefully will inspire Dreamworks not to suck so much. On the other hand it’s bad because they never learn and this will inadvertently result in another awful Madagascar film. You’d think watching Disney make money and win awards constantly would give them motivation to do better, but you’d be wrong. And don’t even get me started on the no-talents that make the Ice Age movies.

WILLIAM SHATNER IS STILL FUNNIER THOUGH
Horrible Bosses 2 actually rises to number three which means that grownups desperately wanted something light to watch. All that’s out there right now are Oscar bait dramas and movies for kids and teenagers. Not to mention TV is going into reruns until the new year. They simply had no choice but see this weak sauce. Also in this is Chris Pine making smart moves to build a career outside of the lackluster Star Trek reboot. With something like this he gets to show range beyond being just a pretty boy leading man and the weight of the film doesn’t rest on him. It’s a win-win. But it felt familiar to me having just seen him in Stretch were he plays another horrible boss in the form of a psychotic fare of desperate limo driver who needs one of the fare’s legendary tips to payoff a gambling debt. Pine actually punches himself there as he does here. Now that’s a weird coincidence. At least here you don’t see his (or possibly the stuntman’s) scrotum the way you do in Stretch, which I could have lived without.

YEAH, MORE SPOILERS FOR INTERSTELLAR
Big Hero 6 is down to number four, followed by Interstellar at number five and also in this as Matthew McConughey’s adult son is Casey Affleck which means both Affleck brothers have been in the top ten for the last month in Oscar bait films. Sadly the more successful, more talented brother got the good one. The other brother got Chris Nolan and a story wherein all mention of his character is missing at the end. Matthew McConughey gets to meet his daughter who’s been waiting in hypersleep for two years to see her father once more before she dies. But never once is her older brother mentioned by either her or McConughey. I understand that being older he would have naturally died first, but for McConughey’s character not to even ask about his son’s is as bad as him apparently having no interest in his grandchildren. Bear in mind part of the reason Affleck’s character loses faith in his dad is that his first child dies as the result of deteriorating conditions on earth and his sister actually has to start a fire as a distraction to save the second. It’s in this same scene she discovers mankind’s salvation? That kinda means he has to show up, right? Nope.

A GOOD MOVIE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY STILL STUNS ME
Dumb and Dumber To is down to number six followed by The Theory of Everything at number seven and at number eight with the other Affleck brother, Gone Girl, still here after over two months and holding at number eight for two weeks which is good news for nominations because it means the film hasn’t faded from memory. It’s also good for the box office because this film has grossed $163M from a $63M budget domestically alone. Worldwide it’s $336M, which means more grown up best-selling novels will be adapted into films too. Maybe all those other books that had women in red coats on the cover. You know there’s someone in Hollywood dumb enough to think that way. And he’s making more money than you or me.

ALL MOVIES MUST BE MADE WITH ME IN MIND
The Pyramid opens at number nine and unfortunately the “found footage” genre is also benefitting from being seen as individual films so their failures also aren’t view as signs the whole damn genre needs to die, because it really, really does. I know that seems unfair, but I don’t care. They’re mostly garbage and they make me nauseous with all that camera movement. Not to mention they’re mostly horror films and since I don’t do the scary it’s no big loss for me. And who makes a movie about a pyramid without mummies anyway? Dummy.

IRONICALLY ROBIN WOULD BE THE PERFECT SIDEKICK FOR THIS GUY
Birdman closes out the top ten at number ten and I finally got off my ass and saw it…and it was okay. The crisis of a man trying to put on a show (or make a film) and slowly falling apart is a genre to itself and while this isn’t a bad one, it’s not exactly new either. I believe the filmmakers are aware of this which is why I think they chose a different technique to its approach as it’s done as a series of long takes, ostensibly making the film look like just one long giant shot. It’s befitting the film as it’s about Broadway, which means actors basically had to act like they would onstage, with each scene going on for 10-15 minutes straight. Michael Keaton is an actor best known for playing a superhero called Birdman, which made him a global superstar. Get it? He played Batman (which when adjusted for inflation is still #50 in the biggest films of all time, on the list that includes Gone With The Wind, Godfather, Gone With The Wind, Titanic and Star Wars). But no one really identifies him as Batman, do they? If anything Beetlejuice has stuck with him more. Christian Bale is Batman now and Affleck’s about to replace him. In any case the actor Keaton portrays has put all his money into a Broadway show he wrote directed and stars in based on a Raymond Carver novel and it’s causing him to unravel to the point where the character of Birdman is always talking to him and he hallucinates having superpowers. Not helping is the added pressure of a prima donna actor constantly pushing him and Keaton trying to bond with his daughter who’s fresh out of rehab and working as his assistant. The pretentious actor is perfectly played by Edward Norton in a clearly parody of Norton’s reputation as such. I’d give him credit for being so willing to be in on the joke if I didn’t know somewhere at this very moment he’s actually patting his own back for the same thing. Add to this a needy female lead (who is in fact the pretentious actor’s girlfriend), a co-star girlfriend who may or may not be pregnant (who hooks up with the female lead) and Broadway’s most powerful critic who doesn’t appreciate Hollywood coming to their sacred land and you’ve got a ticking time bomb of a man’s psyche and boom it does go by the end with plenty of tiny detonations along the way. The biggest irony of this is that his performance in this film may do for Michael Keaton what the show is supposed to for his character. In fact there are many levels of irony at work and I’ve no doubt that they were all intentional as the writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu hates superhero franchises and yet has as his main stars people associated with some of the biggest (Batman, Avengers, Spider-Man). This is a well put-together plan.

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