Monday, December 31, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Meh '07

It's that time of year again, when I look back upon the achievements of my year, which usually turns into diappointment when realizing I haven't achieved much. Although, I did make Simon Pegg laugh. And I got Alba's fries, even though she's forgotten all about me and gotten herself all knocked up.

I was going somewhere with this, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is the list of movies I've seen this year, that came out this year. The total comes up to 90 movies released this year that I saw, with a ever expanding count of flicks I still want to see (They're on the Netflix Queue, or I'm just waiting for them to show up on cable. Two of them, Dan - he of DanSpeak - actually has on DVD, and I'm just being lazy. In fact, I even own one of the movies myself on DVD and haven't watched it, but my laziness knows no bounds).

Being that I try to eschew as many cliches as I can, I don't have a top ten list, as there are far too many movies I liked this year. (57, to be exact, much like the titular passenger portrayed by Wesley Snipes). So what presents are the Good, the Bad, and The Meh.


Hands down, my favorite movie of the year. It was perfect. I heart it so damn much, it's almost pathetic. If you don't love this movie, then you have no heart at all. For shame.

Again, another movie that you just fall in love with. I guess I'm just a big softie, after all. Well, last year's top picks were bleak and depressing.

Just a solid movie, full of great things with nary a wrong step.

What I said about No Country applies here too

For over-the-top violence, these were the most entertaining. Hot Fuzz is brilliant in it's writing (every joke pays off!), and Shoot Em Up is genius in it's execution.

I love meta sci-fi flicks. This ranks up there with them.

I also love Wes Anderson movies. Sue me.

Goddamn this movie was funny. Even if Jonah Hill gets annoying on repeat viewings, you can't deny the comedic brilliance of Michael Cera, Bill Hader, and McLovin. (And sometime doppelganger Seth Rogen. Although, lately, I keep getting people asking me if I was on Ugly Betty, and I don't know what to make of that, because I preferred the Rogen comparisons.)

I saw this movie yesterday, and it's haunting me. It's just a solid piece of cinematic storytelling, anchored by a terrific Daniel Day Lewis performance, confident direction from Paul Thomas Anderson, and a freakish score courtesy of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. This is the best movie Kubrick never made.

It's tough to replicate the theatrical experience in your own home, and attempting to do so only showcases the flaws of each film. But together, they provided a wonderful moviegoing experience, one of the best of the year.

This movie kicked your ass, admit it. Even if it did make you ashamed of your abs.

Whatever was left of your ass after 300 was done, this movie will finish the job. Damn solid entertainment.


Smokin Aces, Bridge To Teribithia, Music and Lyrics, Reno 911 Miami, Zodiac, The Host, Shooter, Blades of Glory, The Lookout, The TV Set, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, Away From Her, Waitress, 28 Weeks Later, Pirates 3, Knocked Up, Day Watch, Ocean's 13, DOA: Dead or Alive, Eagle Vs, Shark, I'm Reed Fish (warm, fuzzy indie on DVD now, check it out), Fido, Ratatouille, Black Sheep, Sicko, Rescue Dawn, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sunshine (first 2/3 anyway), The Simpsons Movie, , Hot Rod, Stardust, Death at a Funeral, 3:10 to Yuma, Jane Austen Book Club, Into The Wild, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone, American Gangster, Smileyface, The Mist, Atonement, I Am Legend, Walk Hard, The Orphanage,

THE BAD (16)

This movie had the gall to present an argument about how sick the spectators of violence are, then go and glorify it. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. Not in this case. The Condemned offended my general sensibilities. And what's worse is that it could have been kind of kick ass.

This one was pretty awful. So awful, I walked out 20 minutes into it, opting to walk into a theater showing 300 instead. 300 was out of focus, but it was better than Ghost Rider. Later on, I had to review the DVD of Ghost Rider. I now own it, which makes me cry at night. So I turned off the DVD and popped in 300 instead. And did crunches.

I wanted to punch everyone involved in the making of this movie. Except Bruce Willis, because he's still pretty badass. But to anyone who claims this movie as awesome, I present to you this foolproof argument as to this movie's stupidity: McClane beats up a jet.

I wanted to like it. It had everything going for it. But then James Franco gets amnesia, and does the twist. And the movie takes a sharp turn down retarded lane. And never recovers. How could this come after Spiderman 2 is a mystery for the ages.

I had a lot of fun at this movie. But it's pretty damn terrible. Hard to believe I can't decide which Alien Vs. Predator I dislike more.

Karl Urban as a viking child raised by Native Americans, whom he then defends from the returning viking parties. Pure dumb fun that's not too fun. I remember there being a toboggan ride of death. That was pretty cool. I'm also pretty sure I got Reese's Pieces when I watched the movie, and those rocked.

I wanted to avoid this movie altogether, but my DVD reviewing duties deemed otherwise. This movie was painful. But if you turn the sound down, and just look at Thandie Newton, it's somewhat tolerable. And Cuba Gooding Jr. is kind of funny in it.

Just a giant mess of a movie. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Good idea on paper, terrible execution.

Mainly on here out of disappointment more than anything, as it did have two truly kick ass scenes, and a great performance from Danny Huston. It was just all the nonsense in between that made me angry.

How do you screw up a movie about a giant man eating crocodile? Watch Primeval and find out.

The "prestige" titles of video game adaptations (Uwe Boll is off the hook this year) proved to be disappointing and lame. Resident Evil suffered from not living up to it's killer premise/teaser trailer. But it looked pretty. And Hitman had a few moments, but any time Timothy Olyphant spoke, it became dumb. Fast. Further proof that video games can't translate to the big screen without some semblance of plot.

The Hitcher, Epic Movie, Captivity, Boogeyman 2,

THE MEH (16)

If you have to see this movie, see it in Digital 3-D. Or IMAX. It's the best way to see it, although it still gave me a headache. There were good things in the movie (mostly Crispin Glover), and one AMAZING sequence (the dragon fight at the end), but overall this movie was boring and awkward. Beowulf fights Grendel naked, and his wang is hidden in a series of Austin Powers-type gags. that should tell you enough.

This movie felt like one of those old Cannon movies from the 1980s, the kind that would air on WPIX-11 on Saturday afternoons. It had Jet Li and Jason Statham, and should have been awesome. Instead it was convoluted and, once again, boring. not even a climactic awesome battle, either.

The first one was mildly entertaining to me. I thought it to be a smarter version of The DaVinci Code. The new one is just okay, sadly missing the first's sense of fun, but it does contain one of the dumbest lines in recent memory: "Hey, didn't your great grandfather kill Lincoln?", as spoken by a ten year old boy.

Another Nic Cage movie. Odd how they stopped being on the good list since Adaptation. This movie was going along alright, if a little weird, but then it has a godawful ending that swiftly washed away all good will I had towards it.

The funniest gag is the title. Followed by the silly things in the preview. And Walken doing a Walken imitation. But that's about it. You'd expect more from a movie with this title, but alas, this is what we get.

By no means good, but not that bad either. Still, the best Uwe Boll movie ever.

Despite my dating history with Ms. Alba, I can't really say much about her in this except that her eyes freak me out. Seriously. Check it out, if you want to, but there's something going on with her eyes that's just plain wrong. Still, it's the best Marvel movie of the year, and that's rather sad.

I laughed a lot. But it's not that great a movie. And given the amount of comedic talent involved (including Bill Hader once again) it should have been a lot better.

Both movies were just okay, while their premises promised so much more. Some amusement, though.

Freedom Writers, Slow Burn, Evan Almighty, Becoming Jane, Heartbreak Kid


It's pretty damn bad. With about fifty plot points too many. And it's pretty stupid. Almost insultingly so. And yet, when I saw it for the first time, I had a blast. Subsequent viewings elicit feelings of self loathing for actually enjoying it. But hey, the robots look cool fighting. When you can see them. And that LeBouf kid is going places. Until next year when everyone's burned out on him. Man, this movie sucks. But I kinda liked it when I watched it on the plane. Mainly because it's long.

And that's what my mind is like since Transformers.

Seraphim Falls, Breach, Wild Hogs, Black Snake Moan, The Namesake, Reign Over Me, Black Book, Disturbia, 1408, You Kill Me, Talk To Me, No End In Sight, Who's Your Caddy?, I Know Who Killed Me (For the awful factor alone), King of Kong, The Ten, Hatchet, Hunting Party, In The Valley of Elah, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With, Dragon Wars, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Across The Universe, We Own The Night, Lars and The Real Girl, Wristcutters A Love Story, Dan In Real Life, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Enchanted, I'm Not There, Control, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Golden Compass, Charlie WIlson's War, Sweeney Todd, The Savages, Persepolis,

Did I miss anything?

Regardless, next year seems kind of promising. Although, it also feels like the 1980s, because we're getting a new Rambo movie, a new James Bond movie, a Batman movie, AND a new Indiana Jones movie.

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm The Dude. Go Fuck yourself, San Diego!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Box Office Report: The Last of '07

Dude here again. Reminding you to help control the pet population, and have your pet spayed or neutered. (Hey, with Bob Barker gone, somebody's got to keep reminding us to do that. Who's gonna do it, you?!?!)

This weekend, we had a few movies open up on Christmas Day, but mostly everything stayed the same, thus giving me a small respite on my template. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (BV)- $35.6, 3832 screens, week 2, $124.0 total

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $30.0, 3484 screens, week 3, $142.3 total

3. I Am Legend (WB) - $27.5, 3636 screens, week 3, $194.5 total

4. Charlie WIlson's War (Uni) - $11.7, 2575 screens, week 2, $34.5 total

5. Juno (FoxS) - $10.3, 998 screens, week 4, $25.6 total

6. Alien Vs. Predator - Requiem (Fox)- $10.0, 2611 screens, week 1, $26.8 total (xmas open)

7. The Waterhorse (Sony) - $9.2, 2772 screens, week 1, $16.8 total (xmas open)

8. P.S. I Love You (WB) - $9.1, 2464 screens, week 2, $23.3 total

9. Sweeney Todd (Par/DW) - $8.0, 1249 screens, week 2, $26.7 total

10. Enchanted (BV) - $6.5, 2262 screens, week 6, $110.6 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, you can pretty much see for yourself that the top leaders made some coin, and the rest faltered. But let's take a moment and see how ridiculously successful Alvin and The Chipmunks turned out to be. Seriously, people, what's going on with that?

The movie where the Alien versed the Predator didn't fare too well, and nowhere near as well as the previous effort, which had the good sense to not be released on Christmas. Let this and Grindhouse be a lesson to counter programming everywhere: Don't release these movies on holidays. You won't do well. Oh, and The Waterhorse didn't fare so well, either, although it has been garnering some spectacular reviews.

The other new release was The Great Debaters, directed by Denzel Washington, hot off his American Gangster success. Unfortunately it only took in $6.3 million in the opening weekend. Guess if the alien were debating the predator, it would have made some more coin. Kudos to Juno for climbing up the charts and winning the hearts of many across the globe. Here's hoping Juno gets all the acclaim it deserves.

Below the radar, there were a lot of new releases, in limited runs, however. The Bucket List, a "comedy" from Rob Reiner that stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman opened on 16 screens and took in $323,000. The Orphanage, a creepy Spanish ghost story produced by Guillermo Del Toro, opened up on 19 screens and took in $230,000. But the big winner was There Will Be Blood, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson, opened up on only 2 screens to take $186,000, with a per screen average of $93,000. Very impressive for such a bleak film.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Before The Devil Knows You're Dead took in $128,000 on 101 screens, bringing it's grand total to $6,418,000 in 10 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week will probably bring lower numbers to the list you see before you. Except for Alvin and The Chipmunks probably, because my reality isn't disturbing enough as it is.

Until next year....

Friday, December 28, 2007

Walking Hard

At long last, Hollywood has finally realized their mistake, and have given praise, and an entire movie, to the life of Dewey Cox. Walk Hard in an unflinching look at the life and times of one of the great musicians of our, possibly of ALL, time.

Who cares that Dewey Cox isn't real? John C. Reily breathes so much life into Cox, you'd think he was real enough. Walk Hard dutifully parodies recent music biopics (Walk the Line, Ray, etc) and does such a convincing job that you'd believe Dewey Cox is real. (And some lucky fans may have a chance to see Cox perform live, completing the cycle).

Walk Hard hits all the right beats. It has a tragedy in the young Cox's life that sparks his interest in music. (And an unfortunate ailment: he now has no sense of smell) At age 15 (where he's played by Reily) his music creates a stir that the townsfolk aren't ready for. Saddled with an eternally pregnant first wife (brilliant Kristin Wiig) who doesn't believe in him, Dewey goes on to write his first big hit: Walk Hard. From there, it's a non stop parade of musical changes, drugs, monkeys, more women (The lovely Jenna Fischer, of Slither and that show that takes place in an office), even more drugs. Then finally, the realization that he can be a good man, and reform his ways, just in time for a giant show that celebrates his life and achievements. The movie is so frighteningly true to the mold, that I almost just took my Walk The Line review, and Find/Replaced the names of the actors.

The humor in the movie (it is blessed by the magical pen of Apatow, who co-wrote with director Jake Kasdan) is more broad than other films that brandish the Apatow name. It's more akin to the humor in Anchorman, although with more heart. What makes Walk Hard so appealing is the music they wrote to represent Cox. It's actually well written, with a lot of talent and thought behind it, akin to the humorous (but genuine) folk music featured in A Mighty Wind. Another plus in this movie's favor.

Reily does an amazing job portraying Cox. He truly gets into the spirit of things. You have to wonder if he did the method actor approach and actually denied himself the sense of smell, much like Jaime Foxx's dedication to studying the life of Ray Charles. What's brilliant about his performance is that he also seems to be playing an actor whose sole purpose is to portray this life and win an Oscar. Sneaky and subversive.

The rest of the cast is outstanding, filled with many familiar faces from the Apatow cannon of actors. (The Beatles scene had me wetting myself with delight, not fear like usual). But the standout support in this film goes to Tim "The Ladies Man" Meadows, as Dewey's long suffering drummer who turns Cox onto every drug imaginable. His performance alone erases many bad memories of poor choices he's made in the past.

Walk Hard is a damn funny film that continues the Apatow tradition of truly hilarious films with their hearts in the right places.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An alien and Predator walk into a bar...

Dear Jerks who greenlit Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem,

Good day. How are you? I am not so fine. I have recently returned from viewing of your motion picture Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem. I have a few, shall we say, concerns about the motion picture that I was hoping you'd address. Primarily, how the hell can you screw up this movie, two times now?

It's seriously not a hard concept to falter on. The script is essentially right there in the title for you. (For those not keen on paying attention, as is evidenced by your products, the movie is about Aliens fighting a Predator, which is another kind of alien, but now we're just splitting hairs). I realize there is a writer's strike going, but this is seriously the sole movie that doesn't NEED a script.

We do not need pointless characters with obnoxious back stories. Like the main guy, Dallas. He's an ex-con, or something, returning to his small town after a stint in prison. I know this because he practically states it in every scene he's in. But his back story contributes in no way whatsoever to his alien/predator versing skills. Or the chick from 24, who returned from Iraq and has to repair the bond with her young daughter. Although it may seem that military training would come in handy in this epic battle, there are far too many scenes of things nobody cares about.

There are, seriously, about fifteen plots going on in this movie. There's the pizza delivery boy trying to get the hot blonde, and the sheriff discovering the bodies that lie in the path of the few moments where an alien will attack. The pregnant waitress, the mother of the missing husband. All these elements have one thing in common: THEY ARE NEITHER ALIENS NOR PREDATORS!!!! And even though I'm sure these actors are good people, and have been good in previous work, here they are awful. The main guy has the worst delivered line I've witnessed in quite some time. ("People are dying"). Oh, then he has a horrible callback line to the first film, that might be the second ranked. (Although "fans" of the series will probably be happy that it's not the "One ugly mother..." line.)

To be fair, whenever the Alien verses the Predator, it's actually kind of cool. That is, when you can see what the hell is going on. See, at least Paul W.S. Anderson knows how to light a scene, which is the sole advantage of the previous film over this one. I realize it's supposed to be blackout conditions, but when you can't even tell which parts belong to which creature. A fact made more difficult by the Predalien, a hybrid creature that takes the alien and puts dreadlocks on it. I have a still of that creature, and it's pretty cool, I can see what it's about. In the movie, you never get a clear view of anything. Murk does not lead to creepy, merely confusion. And if you believe that you're "hiding the monster", I'm gonna clue you in: We already know what these creatures look like. You put them on the poster.

Oh, and not for nothing, but this movie actually crossed some lines of taste issues. I am not offended easily, but when you have aforementioned Predalien killing babies and pregnant mothers, I tend to scoff a bit. I understand you want to appease fans and fanboys alike by making the film R-rated, and for that we are sort of grateful. But you don't need to go EX-TREME, just to make us happy. All you have to do is have Aliens fighting a Predator. It can be done. Audiences could handle it. Hell, they just spent millions of dollars to see Will Smith by himself for an hour. We can handle a dialog free 70 minutes of a Predator hunting and fighting Aliens. We don't need dead babies and aliens bursting forth from pregnant wombs, and uber-bleak endings that vaguely (and pathetically) try to tie the movie more into the "universe" of the chronology. Just deliver on your title.

In conclusion, good sirs, your movie sucks. I wanted to have fun with the movie, but I had more fun making fun of it instead. (Much to the delight of the family behind me, that had good sense to shut off their cell phones, but still bring their 3 year old daughter in with them). You blew it. Twice, now. And this will probably make more money that will get us a third movie. At which point, you should just let them fight. Get a guy in a Predator suit, a guy in an alien suit, do one long tracking shot (that will appeal to internet "fanboys", because it's like that Cloverfield looking thing that's coming, right?) and have them fight for an hour and a half. You don't even need a script, just a fight choreographer and a light. There, you've avoided WGA trouble, and you haven't offended anybody. Especially your audience.

That being said, thank you for not making the Predator team up with another human.

The Dude.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Box Office Report: The Day Before the Day Before Chrsitmas

Dude here again. Looks like a lot of folks have been getting snow. But not here in Los Angeles. In fact, this is my favorite part of the year out here, when Los Angeles becomes a ghost town. It's seriously like the beginning of I Am Legend, because everyone's off with their families. I'd be with my family, but I opted to stay in the land of movies, so I can bring you the numbers fresh off the assembly line. And because it's mad warm out here. Sorry Mom.

This weekend, we have five new wide releases, plus two well performing holdovers from last week. So many movies, and a few more are going to open during the week. Which wreaks havoc on my template, but what are ya gonna do? Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (BV)- $45.5, 3832 screens, week 1, $45.5 total

2. I Am Legend (WB) - $34.2, 3620 screens, week 2, $137.4 total

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $29.0, 3499 screens, week 2, $84.8 total

4. Charlie WIlson's War (Uni) - $9.6, 2575 screens, week 1, $9.6 total

5. Sweeney Todd (Par/DW) - $9.3, 1249 screens, week 1, $9.3 total

6. P.S. I Love You (WB) - $6.5, 2454 screens, week 1, $6.5 total

7. Enchanted (BV) - $4.1, 2752 screens, week 5, $98.3 total

8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Sony)- $4.1, 2650 screens, week 1, $4.1 total

9. The Golden Compass (NL) - $3.9, 2953 screens, week 3, $48.4 total

10. Juno (FoxS) - $3.4, 304 screens, week 3, $6.3 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that Nicolas Cage can now claim not one, but TWO $45 million opening weekends this year. (The first was unfortunately Ghost Rider. Remember that one? Me neither). Folks came out in droves for the second installment of the treasure hunting adventures of Cage and Jon Voight, bringing in a higher opening than the original. Time will tell if this movie continues the first one's rate of success.

Of the other opening films, Charlie Wilson's War (with Tom Hanks) and Sweeney Todd (with Johnny Depp)opened up to decent numbers, but far from good numbers given the level of star power involved. Allegedly, Sweeney Todd (which opened on a relatively low number of screens) had a large drop off between Friday and Saturday, as word of mouth spread that the film is in fact a musical. Something the marketing geniuses failed to point out to the movie going geniuses who thought this might be a de facto Pirates sequel.

P.S. I Love You proved that Gerard Butler needs to yell all his lines in front of a blue screen in order to draw in crowds, and that two Oscars for Hilary Swank means absolutely nothing. And Walk Hard severely underperformed, given the hot streak of producer Judd Apatow. This is truly a shame, as Walk Hard is quite hilarious, and deserves to find an audience. I guess that's what video is for.

Of the holdovers, Will Smith continues to pull in money, but far less than last weekend. Sadly, Alvin and the Chipmunks dropped only 34% from last week's take, which means that Alvin and the Chipmunks could very well be the sleeper hit of the season. At the very least, it's the movie that no one expected to ever make a dime that took in over $100 million. For shame.

Below the radar, the Jessica Simpson feature Blonde Ambition as, I'm guessing probably a ditzy blonde girl proving her worth to the world, opened up on 8 whole screens. In Texas. I wish I was making this up, but apparently the powers that be felt the movie could open in the girl's native state. (Co-star Luke Wilson also hails from there... wait a minute, Luke Wilson is in this movie? That's crazier than his appearance in 3:10 to Yuma). Anyway, it opened up on 8 screens in Texas and took in $1300. Total. Per screen average of $162. That's like what I get paid. Schadenfreude should be kicking in soon, but Simpson is so far from the train wreck of other blonde pop starlets that I don't feel quite right. Besides, she's still kinda hot. (Even if she screws up the Cowboys chances of winning games).

And in the "Because It's There" series: The Polar Express (IMAX Reissue) took in $315,000 on 32 screens, bringing it's grand total to $1,686,000 in 12 weeks.

There you have my break down. On Christmas Day, we finally get the movie we deserve: Aliens Vs. Predator-Apology! Also, There Will Be Blood. Probably something else, too, but nothing matters more than that alien versing the predator. Rated R, for Ridonkulous!

Until next weekend....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Today was kinda shitty.

But you know what cheers me up?

Watching the Dark Knight trailer ad infinitum.

Much like Smilex, this brings a smile to face... again.... and again....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Box Office Report: Holy Shit That's a lot of money!

Dude here again. Once more, bringing you the important numbers on the hour, on the half hour, and when it breaks. Except not really. Especially when they release the correct numbers, and all my hard work from Sunday morning (well, afternoon) is null and void. But, it is the NOW that matters, as in "It doesn't matter if it's right. It matters if it's right NOW".

This weekend, we finally have a nice, record breaking weekend again, courtesy of the world's greatest man Will Smith. And a surprising showing from some chipmunks. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. I Am Legend (WB) - $76.5, 3606 screens, week 1, $76.5 total

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $45.0, 3475 screens, week 1, $45.0 total

3. The Golden Compass (NL) - $9.0, 3528 screens, week 2, $40.9 total

4. Enchanted (BV) - $6.0, 3066 screens, week 4, $92.2 total

5. No Country For Old Men (Mira)- $3.0, 1348 screens, week 6, $33.5 total

6. The Perfect Holiday (YFG) - $2.9 1307 screens, week 1, $3.6 total

7. Fred Claus (WB) - $2.305, 2750 screens, week 6, $68.9 total

8. This Christmas (ScrGems) - $2.30, 1921 screens, week 4, $46.0 total

9. Atonement (Focus) - $1.8, 117 screens, week 2, $2.9 total

10. August Rush (WB) - $1.7, 2007 screens, week 4, $28.0 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Basically, WIll Smith can do no wrong. You put him in a romantic comedy, he scores. Drama about a homeless man taking care of his son? Double word score. Make him the only person in your bleak, depressing sci-fi apocalyptic film released right before Christmas? Out of the freakin' park! I Am Legend took the record for the biggest December opening weekend, and that beats all those Rings movies. All of them! Congratulations to Mr. Smith, as I'm pretty positive he might win the US Presidential election next year, without even trying.

Hey, since a fair majority of folks saw this film, let me ask you this: How awesome was that Dark Knight trailer?!? That was worth the price of admission alone.

In second place is Alvin and the Chipmunks, which took in $45 million. I'll repeat that, Alvin and the Chipmunks made 45 million dollars in three days. The movie about the singing rodents with fairly annoying voices took in forty-five million dollars. If I Am Legend was not released this weekend, Alvin and the Chipmunks would have shocked the world by accumulating.... you see where I'm headed with this.

Interesting to note: There were some bad winter storms in the north and east, which usually deters people and diminishes box office returns. But this is not the case. See aforementioned forty five million... Although, pretty much every other movie is taking in nothing. Some movie called Perfect Holiday also opened and not too well. Atonement did quite well for it's screen count.

Below the radar, awards films are starting to come out, and make a little coin. The first film from Francis Ford Coppola in ten years, Youth Without Youth, opened on 6 screens and took in $27,800. Not bad. The Kite Runner, a movie with a title that sounds like a parody of prestige pictures, took in $451,000 on 35 screens. But once again, the highest per screen average of the week belongs to Juno, which took in $1,440,000 on 40 screens, averaging $36,000. Which is still nothing compared to the $45 million for the Chipmunks.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Lions For Lambs took in $31,000 on 116 screens, bringing it's grand total to $14,893,000 in 6 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, Nicolas Cage returns to figure out the DaVinci Code again, but, you know, in America. And I think there's a singing Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie. And lest us not forget a man called Cox. It's a plethora of joy!

Until next weekend....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Cheer!

It's that time of year again! Time for Chrismanzakuh! When consumerism is forced upon us in the name of fun and good cheer. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. I just hate the frenzy that surrounds them, and all the furor that erupts over saying "Holiday" over "Christmas", and such. No, I don't believe that everyone should celebrate Christmas, but PC can only reach a certain point until the world just becomes, for lack of a better phrase, ricockulous.

That being said, enjoy this fun little ditty.

--Music Videos

Really? A review of Juno? That's not a box office report in disguise?

Within the first ten minutes, you'll know whether or not Juno is a movie for you. Once Ellen Page, as the titular character, begins spouting out bizarre bon mots such as "Honest to Blog", and "Silencio, old man", you can make a decision as to if Juno is right up your alley or far too precocious for it's own good. It's a fine line that worked just fine for me, though, and it provided yet another winner in a fine year for comedy.

The story, however, is fairly familiar. Witty teen girl has unprotected sex with best friend (Michael Cera, rockin' his sweatbands) and gets knocked up. (Wasn't there another movie this year similar in plot?). Juno must then go through the tough choices that lay before such a girl in this situation. She has access to an abortion, but opts to have the baby and give it up for adoption, to a lovely young yuppie couple she finds in the Pennysaver (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, fresh off The Kingdom).

The script was written by Diablo Cody, a woman who loves the press about herself, mainly because it's pretty eclectic. Her odd style, and love of strange linguistics would be too much to bear if there wasn't some damn fine emotional honesty undercutting the whole thing. The scenes between Juno and her father (J.K. Simmons) provide a lot of them, as does pretty much any scene involving the heartbreaking Cera. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is wonderfully funny, and fitting for such an outcast as Juno, but they would just sit there and slowly grate nerves if the movie didn't have the heart, and a genuine heart at that, beating proudly beneath.

Director Jason Reitman, who previously helmed the wickedly acerbic Thank You For Smoking, has shown he is not a one hit wonder. He juggles the balls with a deft touch that doesn't toe the line I previously mentioned regarding the script. From the candy colored opening credits to the fantastic songs (provided by Kimya Dawson, who has a lovely voice even if her lyrics are rather odd),

But the star of the show is Ellen Page herself. Having previously stunned my eyes in Hard Candy, and not offending my sensibilities by appearing in X-Men 3 (probably the only actor to have done such a thing), as Juno, she just blew me away. Any and all awards and accolades are well earned, as Page plays the character so well, and so true to life, that you almost forget she's playing a character. All I know is, if I were in high school, Juno is the girl I would go for. Pregnant or not.

Juno is well worth your time and money, as it's quite funny and winning, if not flawless. It's nice to see a comedy this year with genuine heart and laughs that's not brought to you by Apatow. As wonderful as Knocked Up is, Juno proves to be a little bit better, and a little more honest. And that's all I ever want out of a movie.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Box Office Report: 12-2-07

Dude here again. Ah, yes, the holiday season is once again upon us. If anyone feels like getting their favorite box office reporter a holiday gift, cash works best. Let's be honest, though, that's what everyone wants, holiday or not. You know who else likes cash? Movie studios! Which is a perfect segue for...

This weekend, only one movie was released, as it is typically one of the slowest weekends in the movie business. This is due to shopping activities mostly, but it is a nice respite to catch up on flicks you may have missed the weeks prior. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. Enchanted (BV) - $17.0, 3730 screens, week 2, $70.6 total

2. This Christmas (ScrGems) - $8.4, 1858 screens, week 2, $36.8 total

3. Beowulf (Par) - $7.8, 3249 screens, week 3, $68.6 total

4. Awake (MGM/Wein) - $6.0, 2002 screens, week 1, $6.0 total

5. Hitman (Fox) - $5.8, 2468 screens, week 2, $30.2 total

6. Fred Claus (WB) - $5.5, 3420 screens, week 4, $59.7 total

7. August Rush (WB) - $5.1, 2310 screens, week 2, $20.3 total

8. No Country For Old Men (Mira)- $4.5, 995 screens, week 4, $23.0 total

9. Bee Movie (Par/DW) - $4.4 3150 screens, week 5, $117.6 total

10. American Gangster (Uni) - $4.2, 2699 screens, week 5, $121.7 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means Enchanted might not be as big a hit as Disney was hoping. Dropping over 50% from last week's take, the well received film will need to draw a lot more crowds if it thinks it has any chance of competing with Golden Compass next weekend. (ALthough that movie sneaked this weekend, and didn't do as sell out business as was hoped for)

This Christmas and Beowulf remained in their respective positions. This Christmas might turn out to be the most profitable movie of the season, and it seems to be pleasing crowds all over. Beowulf, however, has slowed down in momentum. And even though it will probably remain on the 3-D and IMAX screens for awhile, it's dreams of reaching $100 million domestically might be dashed. Perhaps if they spent more time with story and less with Austin Powers-esque gags hiding Beowulf's junk, it would have performed better. Oh well.

The only new release this week was awake, featuring Hayden "I'm only really bad in those Star Wars movies" Christensen and former Dude's girlfriend Jessica Alba. It looked pretty bad, to be honest, and I'm amazed it took in as much as it did. On a side note, I must express my dismay with the under performance of The Mist, which is gone from the top ten after merely one week. The flick was solid, and has one of the best endings this year.

Below the radar, The Savages, a dysfunctional family movie starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, took in $153,000 on 4 screens, bringing in the highest per screen average for the weekend. Also released was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, one of the most acclaimed films of the year. It took in $75,300 on 3 screens. Impressive for a film about a man who can only move his left eyelid.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Lust, Caution took in $61,800 on 49 screens, bringing it's grand total to $4,311,000 in 10 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, we're treated to yet another attempt to fill the fantasy void vacated by the Lord of the Rings movies ending. And also, there's one of my favorite movies of the year, Juno.

Until next weekend....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Box Office Report: 11-25-07

Dude here again. It's a holiday weekend, and today's my birthday, so in honor of me and my incredible laziness, I've decided to have a fun Mad Libs inspired box office report. So, enjoy it along with leftovers and that lingering depressive cloud over your head that's reminding you tomorrow's Monday, and the pain returns anew.

This week, we have ______ (number) releases gunning for a chance to _______(verb) last week's champion down to _______ (noun). But only one may call themselves ______ (noun) Let's go to the ______ (plural noun), shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be ______ (past tense verb) on Monday).

1. Enchanted (BV) - $35.3, 3730 screens, week 1, $50.0 total (Wed Open)

2. This Christmas (ScrGems) - $18.6, 1858 screens, week 1, $27.1 total (Wed Open)

3. Beowulf (Par) - $16.2, 3218 screens, week 2, $56.3 total

4. Hitman (Fox) - $13.0, 2458 screens, week 1, $21.0 total (Wed Open)

5. Bee Movie (Par/DW) - $12.0 3507 screens, week 4, $112.0 total

6. Fred Claus (WB) - $10.7, 3603 screens, week 3, $53.0 total

7. August Rush (WB) - $9.4, 2310 screens, week 1, $13.3 total (Wed Open)

8. American Gangster (Uni) - $9.2, 2799 screens, week 4, $115.7 total

9. The Mist (MGM/Wein) - $9.0, 2423 screens, week 1, $13.0 total (Wed Open)

10. No Country For Old Men (Mira)- $8.1, 860 screens, week 3, $16.6 total

Ok, those are the ______ (plural noun), so what does this all mean? Well, if you're ______ (title of a movie) you have to be pretty excited taking the number one spot. Seems all those comparisons to ______ (title of another movie) didn't stop you from making ______(number) dollars this weekend. Not bad. Pretty impressive actually given it's ______ (noun). But, don't discount the alluring power of ______ (name of person in the room) with a shaved ______ (noun).

If you're _______ ________ (Adverb, verb), it can only mean one thing: ______ (curse word). What the _____ (expletive) were the executives ______ (verb ending in "ing") when they thought this was a ______ (adjective) ______ (noun). I mean ______ (name of a religious figure). And for it to make ______ (number) dollars at the box office? ______ (made up word to express anger).

Everything else _____ (past tense verb) significantly. The ______ (adjective) Dog dropped the lowest with a 16.5% change, bringing its total to ______ (number) ______ (plural noun). But pretty much everything else is starting to ______ (verb) out, while new movies keep coming up to bat. And yet, they still hold on, ______ (verb ending in "ing") for one last hope before the lucrative home ______ (noun) market.

Below the ______ (noun), the new ______ (noun) movie opened on 439 ______ (plural noun) and took in $628,000. Not bad. We also had ______ (noun) which managed to ______ (bad play on words involving smoking) $260,000 on 5 screens, making it the highest average per ______ (noun) with $52,000 at each ______(synonym for last noun).

And in the "just because it's there and because I can" series: ______ (title) took in $______ (number) on ______(different number) screens, bringing it's ______ (noun) to $______ (another number) in 11 ______ (noun).

There you have my wonderful break down. Next ______ (noun), we have a little movie from the guys who wrote the ______ (noun) movie. We're also gonna get ______ (Made up word), a heartwarming tale of a ______ (noun) and his lovable ______ (animal), who go off in search of ______ (your favorite food). I'm sure that will make ______ (another made up word) Studios a whole lot of ______ (foreign money name). Ha Ha ______ (exclamation)!

Until next weekend.... ______ (Insert witty ending here)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Whole Buncha Reviews

Indeed, I have been slacking in my move reviewing duties. I have seen so many films lately, and I haven't been able to sit down and collect my thoughts about them, and then share them with you, my unsuspecting public. In order of how I saw them.

Shoot 'Em Up

I can think of one person I know that I would call my good friend who wouldn't enjoy this movie. Only one person. For the rest of us, we have Shoot 'Em Up, which is one of the most entertaining films I've seen all year. On par with Hot Fuzz, even. And just as violent. But, you know, violence as entertainment.

The plot is simple. There's a man, and he's Clive Owen. He's leisurely eating a carrot when a pregnant woman rushes past him, quickly followed by gun toting henchmen. Clive Owen, being the badass that he is, decides to help save the woman. He does this by engaging in ridonkulously staged action sequences. The woman dies, but only after she gives birth (where Owen shoots the umbilical cord off). Owen must now take the baby, who is hunted by Paul Giamatti and his ruthless henchmen for silly reasons that don't matter. His adventures are marked by even MORE ridiculous action scenes that get better and better as the movie progresses. Oh, they also involve uber-hot Monica Bellucci as a hooker who specializes in lactating fantasies. There is a love scene, marked with a lot of gun violence.

Like I say, this could be the most amazing action movie ever made. It really needs to be seen to be believed. I doubt any action movie will ever live up to the imagination put into these scenes. Right from the get go, this movie is off like a hot and stays that way for 90 action packed, fun filled (if slightly nihilistic) minutes. Tough to go wrong with Shoot Em Up.

Brothers Solomon

Will Arnett is the funniest man alive. There is no debating that. He can be in anything that's undeserving of his talent, like RV for example, and he'll still be the best thing in int. Brothers Solomon is no exception. It's an extremely hit-and-miss affair, but it's a lot funnier than anyone will ever give it the credit it to be.

Will Arnett and Will Forte play the titular brothers, home schooled idiots who have a brilliant idea of making a child so that their father (Lee Majors) will wake up out of his coma. What follows is pretty much Dumb and Dumber if it went into "R" territory. A lot of jokes made about the brothers' stupidity, and it works, mostly. It's a very dry humor, very quiet and subtle (Bill Hader's cameo is a work of Dadaist brilliance), and not for everyone. There are big, broad gross out set ups that sort of work, but it's the quieter stuff that works best. And Arnett is a genius. (Forte is fast approaching that, though).

This movie is worth checking out on video, and is infinitely funnier than that Chuck and Larry movie.

3:10 To Yuma

This was a pretty badass movie. How badass is it? A fuckin' horse explodes in it! FUCK YEAH!!!

Russell Crowe plays the captured bandit. Christian Bale leads a group of men (including grizzled Peter Fonda and Alan "Wash" Tudyk from Serenity) taking Crowe back to the train. A lot of macho posturing ensues. Testosterone oozes off the screen. Then something happens in the end that's really obnoxious. Almost enough to throw my whole perception of the movie away. And Ben Foster was pretty creepy, and effective, and he's totally gay for Russell Crowe.

Of course anyone who looks that good amongst all that dirt and blood and gun smoke, I'd imagine many people are gay for Russell Crowe. But when a movie is this manly, you can't deny how awesome it is. Good times all around.

(He was in Cinderella Man, with Russell Crowe. You do the math)

Resident Evil: Extinction

Man was this movie a wasted opportunity. It has a slightly good premise, and it should be the Day of the Dead of the Resident Evil series. Instead, we get this.

Milla Jovavich returns as Alice, the survivor of the T-Virus. Or something. It's not really very clear, even if you've seen the other two movies. Anyway, the T-Virus has gotten out across the world, and most of the planet is full of undead. Zombies, if you will. Alice, and a small handful of survivors (including Oded Fehr and Mike Epps from the second film, and Ali Larter, who is just... just awful in this movie) have a caravan and try to find hope and salvation across vast wastelands. After an attack from mutated birds (which is actually kind of a neat scene, but still pretty dumb) the survivors encounter Las Vegas.

Now mind you, the preview made me think the whole movie would take place in this desert wasteland Vegas. Zombie shoot outs in casinos, and maybe even a nice topical jab at the consumerist culture and over indulgence of Las Vegas. But no. The movie spends ten minutes there having a nifty little action sequence where it's really difficult to figure out what the hell is going on, then moves on to some boring crap. And then it has an incomprehensible ending that could be cool, but is just pants. This move was disappointing, and pretty dumb.

The Kingdom

I remember this movie kicking a fair amount of ass, even though it plays like CSI: Afghanistan. The last twenty to thirty minutes are pretty intense. Almost on par with a sequence out of Bourne. (Almost, but up there.) The only thing is, I'm getting tired of the shaky cam. The you-are-there intensity of the every movie like this.

Director Peter Berg gets very good performances from his cast. Jamie Foxx plays the leader of an FBI investigation squad sent into Saudi Arabia to investigate the bombing of a baseball game on an American-owned base. Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman make up the rest of the team sent overseas. Thankfully, Bateman retains his smartass persona of late that brings much needed tension relief to the actions. There are also two local cops, played by Ashraf Barhom and Ali Suliman, who are far and away the best characters in the whole movie. I could have watched an entire film about the two of them and be just as pleased.

(ok, so it's not from The Kingdom, my hard drive is getting full of pictures. But this picture features Bateman AND director Peter Berg in another movie. It's as good as it's gonna get. At least it's not another Shoot Em Up picture, right?)
As it stands, instead we get a procedural story of tracking down the bombers. Jeremy Piven shows up for no apparent reason and does a variation of his character from Entourage. The film gets a little too jingoistic, almost to the point where I could have stood up and chanted "U-S-A!", and I feel with a certain degree of confidence that the characters would join along with me. (Despite them being fictional, and moving pictures filmed months before viewing). Still, it's a good film, and the ending is solid enough to make me forget my minor quibbles.

And Jennifer Garner is still damn hot, and totally believable with a machine gun in hand.

Michael Clayton

Movies don't get more solid than this. It's pretty much a perfect movie, much the same way as L.A. Confidential is. The performances are all top notch, the direction is tight, the writing crackles, the look of the film is gorgeous, the music fits perfectly. In a word: Solid.

George Clooney plays the titular character, a "fixer" at a corporate law firm in New York City. He is a very flawed character, in debt from a failed restaurant, desperately trying to make a connection with his son, junkie for a brother, gambling problem, etc. A lawyer at his firm (Tom WIlkinson), at a deposition that's been going on for six years, goes crazy, strips naked and runs around claiming he knows "the truth". This makes a lot of people nervous, specifically Tilda Swinton, key defense attorney for the sinister company behind things. Everyone is at the top of their game and reveals layers upon layers, something missing from most films.

There are scenes in this movie of haunting beauty and frightening efficiency. There's a scene where a character is murdered, and the way the scene is executed is more terrifying than anything conceived of in Hostel, Saw, and/or their sequels. (That's not to say Michael Clayton delves into torture porn. Far from it. I'm merely pointing out the realism and true life horror implications).

Michael Clayton is one of the best movies of this or any year.

Eastern Promises
There's a scene in Eastern Promises that everyone who reviews it has to discuss, so I'm bringing it front and center. It's a knife fight. In a bathhouse. With a naked Viggo Mortensen, covered in Russian gang tattoos. It's a brutal fight, and it allows you to see how vulnerable Viggo is while getting slashed by some thugs. It also lets you see his wang, which disturbs me, but different strokes for different folks I guess.

Eastern Promises is David Cronenberg's first film since A History of Violence, which was also a violent look at a world that involves Viggo Mortensen. This time around, the story takes place in London, where Naomi Watts plays a night nurse at a hospital. A Russian immigrant woman strolls in, bleeding, and gives birth before dying. Watts finds the girl's diary, which is written in Russian. She is unable to read Russian (despite having Russian family), and turns to a local restaurant owner (Armin Mueller-Stahl) to translate the book. This leads her deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld she does not belong in. Viggo plays Nikolai, a driver for the Russian mobsters, who finds himself trying to help Watts on her quest.

It's a down and dirty movie that goes to a lot of uncomfortable places. It's not for everyone, especially those offended by violence. And naked violence, for that matter. (I mentioned the fight scene, right? Have you heard about it?) It is a Cronenberg movie, after all. But it's still a very solid character piece. There is one scene early in the film, though, between Watts and her family, that is a very bad scene. It's poorly acted, terribly shot, and all around awful. It almost made me hate the movie. But once you get past that one scene, the movie opens up and becomes instantly watchable. Well worth checking this one out if you can stomach the violent content. (Naked knife fight. There, it's been said.)

Into The Wild

As a director, I have not been too wild about Sean Penn movies. They meander too much, and don't care much about plot. The acting is usually far too over the top, and method, and it's just distracting. Somehow, Into The Wild manages to totally avoid all the trappings of his previous films, and delivers a powerful true story of a young man escaping from the world around him.

Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, who in 1990, after graduating from college, takes out all his savings and gives it to charity. He then begins to wander across this great land, meeting all sorts of different people in his ultimate goal of living by himself in Alaska. McCandless has read far too much Thoreau, and believes that man should live on his own, in the wilderness, with nothing but his thoughts, far away from a consumerist culture. The frightening part is that, as the movie plays, you start to believe that he might actually have a good point.

Hirsch does a tremendous job as McCandless, carrying the film for the most part on his own. A lot of time is spent showing what happens to Chris in Alaska, on his own with no human interaction. He gets you to believe in his ethos and methods and view this plan as not an act of madness or rebellion, but as a choice that all humans should be able to make instead of fitting into the preconceived notions that most of us might be born into. And he's captivating as hell.

Along his journey he meets many different characters, including Catherine Keener as an old hippie, Vince Vaughn as a nice guy who teaches McCandless how to thresh wheat. But the standout of all is Hal Holbrook, who eventually becomes a bit of a surrogate parent in a time when McCandless needs it. Holbrook's performance is heartbreaking and genuine, and provides a great counter to Hirsch, as he might be the only person to dissuade Chris from his ultimate goal of living alone in Alaska.

The film is gorgeously photographed, all on real locations (the bus used in the film is the actual bus that McCandless stayed in for the last leg of his journey. There are some beautiful songs contributed by Eddie Vedder. And the two and half hour running time flies by. It should be noted, though, that the film is utterly depressing at the end. It's fantastic, and Penn's best film by a long shot, but man does it ever bum you out. (It's based on a true story, and you can probably guess what happens in the end if you don't already, but since it's been 15 years since the events that transpired, and 11 years since the book the film was based on was published, I feel that nothing is given away.)

30 Days of Night

Aww, man. This was supposed to be the kick ass movie I waited for. I even posted that link with that amazing scene from the movie. The scene where Mark Boone Jr. goes buckwild on a bunch of vampires with a snow cutting machine. It was hardcore and super badass. And there were about three other things in the movie that were on par with that terrific display. The rest was just severely disappointing.

It has a solid enough premise. Vampires attack a small town in Alaska that is submerged in thirty days of darkness. Seriously, that's a damn fine premise. Endless night and a buffet of slightly deranged, snow bound folks. But the movie doesn't do much with the premise. The vampires look amazing, their design is fantastic, and much more animalistic than any previous incarnations of the vampire I've seen on film previously. And Danny Huston OWNS as the lead vampire. (His "No God" scene has been oft-quoted in my apartment). But after their initial attack on the first night (which is the other thing I thought was the Lincoln in this movie), nothing much happens during the following twenty-nine days.

Josh Hartnett seems pretty bored as he tries to lead a group of survivors who are stuck in various locations for several days at a time, like an attic or a general store. No mention whatsoever is made of the mental anguish and hunger pains associated with staying hidden for so long. The only indication that any time has passed at all, in fact, is a little title card. And some facial hair on Hartnett. That's it. What are the vampires doing all this time? Why are they attacking the house next door, but never come into the house the survivors are hiding in? If they did, why isn't that scene in the movie? Why are they introducing characters that have no point other than to become vamp fodder? And why is Ben Foster pretty much playing the same character he's played in three movies this year already?

All these questions lead up to a very unsatisfying trip to the movie theater. And it's a shame because this movie could have kicked unholy amounts of butt. Alas, this is what we get. Maybe there will be 30 More Days of Night.

(Note, the movie is based on a comic I have never read. I've seen art, and the film replicates that rather well, but the rest of the movie is just plain weak.)

Gone Baby Gone

Ben Affleck steps behind the camera and delivers a taut and satisfying first feature film. He stays behind the camera and lets his brother Casey Affleck do all the heavy acting lifting, but luckily Casey's up for the challenge.

Casey plays Patrick Kenzie, a Boston area private investigator, who is brought on to the case of a missing 4 year old girl. The police don't like Kenzie snooping around, but locals of the Boston neighborhood the girl was taken from don't talk much to the cops. What follows is a lurid and strange path leading to the ultimate fate of the girl. (Which I dare not spoil).

Affleck (the Ben variety) stays away from flashy camera moves, and instead paints a realistic portrait of modern Boston neighborhoods, sometimes casting locals in major parts. He has a real sense of geography and culture of the town. (Obviously being that he grew up there.) He also manages to get outstanding performances all around from his cast, including Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, John Ashton (from Midnight Run!), and most of all, from Amy Ryan, as the mother of the abducted girl.

Gone Baby Gone is based on a book by Dennis Lehane, who also brought us the source material for Mystic River. This is a much better film than Mystic River, as the performances seem more natural and the writing is far better. (For all you Mystic River lovers out there I have one word for you: Vampires. Try to defeat my logic). The film is not without flaws, but it is definitely time well spent. And the ending raises a lot of questions for post-film discussion.

Jane Austen Book Club

Yeah, that's right. I willingly allowed myself to view a movie called the Jane Austen Book Club. And you know something? It's not half bad. Not at all. It's the cinematic equivalent to macaroni and cheese and a sweater on a cool fall's eve. It's comforting.

The Jane Austen Book Club follows the lives of six characters who are all drawn to the works of Jane Austen, for a myriad of reasons. Each of the characters then begin to experience similar situations in their lives to the Austen novel they've chosen to lead for discussion. How these threads entwine is rather delightful, even if you have a feeling you know what's going to happen before the opening credits have finished rolling.

There are many actors here, doing decent work. Kathy Baker is fantastic as the free spirited ring leader of the group. Maria Bello is just plain hot. Amy Brenneman and Jimmy Smits are very good in their roles. Emily Blunt, from The Devil Wears Prada, turns in a great performance as an unhappily married French teacher who's never been to France, and she does a great American accent, to boot! But the character I liked best was Grigg (Hugh Dancy). Maria Bello asks him to join the group as a nice distraction for recently divorced Brenneman. Grigg has never read Jane Austen, and only agrees because he is attracted to Bello. I like him because he's the character I can identify with the best. He's a sci-fi nerd who's never read a word of Austen, but is completely charming and never gets the girl. Maybe I related a little too much to him.

The movie has some problems, most of which I concluded were due to the source material. While certain things translate well on the page, the screen can be a bit more difficult. Although, I must say it is rather nice to see a movie where characters are all reading. When was the last time you saw that?

It's not the most masculine film (in fact, I had to watch 300 twice afterwards just to reclaim my masculinity, then I cried as I viewed the Spartan's abs, then looked at my own.) But it's a fine film, full of nice performances and wit all around. I liked this movie a lot, and I'm not that ashamed to admit it.

Haven't been posting in awhile.

Yeah, I know. I'm lazy, what can I say. I'm also pretty busy with a bunch of other writing projects at the moment. I briefly toyed with the notion of turning this into one of those screenwriting blogs I always read, and update you all, my gentle readers, with the progress of my work. That way, I have a public forum who can humiliate me for slacking.

But then I thought that's Uber-pretensious.

Then, I thought how can it be pretensious if only 5 people read this site right?

Then I remembered I had a deadline for some reviews that I owed the website I occasionally write for. You can peep out my thoughts on Boogeyman 2 and Postal, the new film from Uwe Boll. I think it might surprise you.

Also, I wanted to give a quick shout out to friend of the blog (and The Dude himself, and most of you readers out there) Matty Payne. All around great guy. And fluent German speaker. I have a link over to his site, Fistful of Koi (featuring work from Ben "Denim Like A Jean" Holmes). And I also have this amazing music video as well. Words can't describe it. Just live it.

(For the Low Cool crowd, I'm fairly certain this is what Payne and Holmes worked on with our beloved Pedro, who recently had a child. Well, the wife, had the child, but you know what I mean.)

Oh, and last night, I managed to witness what could possibly be the greatest motion picture of all time. It's called Ninja 3: The Domination. It's directed by the man who brought us Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. It's about an aerobics instructor/telephone repair woman who gets possessed by the vengeful spirit of a ninja. This ninja then proceeds to claim revenge on the lives of the cops that killed him. This movie is truly unbelievable. To prove it, this is the opening of it. (Note to those who watch at work, you can watch this without sound, it's that powerful!)

And it only gets more amazing from here.

More reviews forthcoming.

Box Office Report: Daylight Savings Edition

Dude here again. Did you all have a fun Halloween? I thought it would be fun this year to pass out floss to the trick or treaters. Actually, just leave it in a basket that reads "Take ONLY One". That way, the kids won't come back next year. (And the kids who DO come back with have healthy teeth and gums!) You can't find fault with my brilliance.

This weekend, we had a clash of titans, as two movies on complete opposite ends of the spectrum opened up huge. How huge? So huge as to necessitate dropping the "h", and redubbing these openings as "uge"! Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. American Gangster (Uni) - $46.3, 3054 screens, week 1, $46.3 total

2. Bee Movie (Par/DW) - $39.1 3928 screens, week 1, $39.1 total

3. Saw IV (LGF) - $11.0, 3183 screens, week 2, $51.0 total

4. Dan in Real Life (BV) - $8.1, 1925 screens, week 2, $22.9 total

5. 30 Days of Night (Sony) - $4.0, 2627 screens, week 3, $34.2 total

6. The Game Plan (BV) - $3.8, 2844 screens, week 6, $81.9 total

7. Martian Child (NL) - $3.6, 2020 screens, week 1, $3.6 total

8. Michael Clayton (WB)- $2.9, 2107 screens, week 5, $33.1 total

9. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (LGF) - $2.7, 1403 screens, week 4, $51.1 total

10. Gone Baby Gone (Mira) - $2.4, 1617 screens, week 3, $14.9 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means American Gangster is kicking major ass. Opening on almost a thousand screens less than Bee Movie, and running over two and a half hours, American Gangster took in an obscene amount of movie to sell out crowds across the map. It's also receiving fantastic reviews and Oscar buzz. Next week, it will be nominated for a nobel peace prize, and soon, the film will go on to cure cancer and global warming. I hear the movie is terrific, but I'm waiting to see it with my Dad, because he can't stop talking about how excited he is to see this movie. Not since Virtuosity has he been this psyched, and we all know who starred in THAT picture as well.

Bee Movie didn't quite open up to Shrek numbers, despite an onslaught of marketing that was bordering on obnoxious. It got so bad, that this afternoon a bee flew into my car, and my immediate response was that Dreamworks had managed to train bees to tell people to see this movie. Alas, it was just a normal, dazed bee that doesn't realize it's November. Stupid bee. Oh but this movie came out, and people saw it, but not nearly as many as saw American Gangster. The movie will probably have some legs, but it's receiving some pretty bad reviews, which seems to be par for the course with Dreamworks animated movies of late.

John Cusack stars in a new movie called Martian Child, which isn't nearly as terrifying a film as the title would lead you to believe. (Or hope). Alas, it barely opened. I didn't even know it was coming out, to be honest with you, which tells you how good a job that marketing department is doing. Although, I do believe this film has been on a shelf collecting dust for some time now. While not necessarily a sign that a movie is bad, it's never really a good sign. Especially if said martian child does not eat brains and gain knowledge.

Saw IV dropped a lot in it's second week. Surprising. Or maybe it's not. I don't know, I should compare it to the previous films in the Saw cannon. Don't know if I want to, though. That sounds like extra work. And we all know that trying is the first step towards failure. So, there's that. (Fine I looked it up. It is the biggest drop for the series. By a long shot).

Below the radar, I couldn't really find anything of much interest that opened up this weekend. Very strange. Soon we'll get more prestige pictures opening up in limited release. That will be fun, won't it kids? Don't forget to floss now.

And in the "Because It's There" series: The Darjeeling Limited took in $1,300,000 on 615 screens, bringing it's grand total to $8,110,000 in 6 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, a fun time Christmas movie that could either be the next Elf or the next Christmas with the Kranks. We also have a badass looking new movie from the Coen brothers that I am literally wetting myself with anticipation for. And Tom Cruise has a new political themed movie that most people will probably ignore.

Until next weekend....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Box Office Report: Special SAW weekend edition

Dude here again. Doing my laundry. Wondering what happened with Daylight Savings Time. It usually occurs this time of year. (According to my past box office reports). How does that happen? I mean, I know it's an arbitrary date set for farmers, but still, how can we just decide to change it? Sometimes my brain hurts from thinking things through too much.

This weekend, in a shock to absolutely nobody at all, Saw IV took the top spot at the box office. It's rather predictable at this point. Almost kind of sad. Almost. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. Saw IV (LGF) - $32.1, 3183 screens, week 1, $32.1 total

2. Dan in Real Life (BV) - $12.0, 1921 screens, week 1, $12.0 total

3. 30 Days of Night (Sony) - $6.7, 2859 screens, week 2, $27.3 total

4. The Game Plan (BV) - $6.2, 3342 screens, week 5, $77.0 total

5. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (LGF) - $5.7, 1897 screens, week 3, $47.3 total

6. Michael Clayton (WB)- $5.0, 2585 screens, week 4, $28.7 total

7. Gone Baby Gone (Mira) - $3.9, 1713 screens, week 2, $11.3 total

8. The Comebacks (FoxA) - $3.45, 2812 screens, week 2, $10.0 total

9. We Own The Night (Sony) - $3.4 2402 screens, week 3, $25.0 total

10. Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D (BV) - $3.3, 564 screens, week 2, $10.0 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? It means that not even death can stop Jigsaw. Apparently dying at the end of Saw III (oh, spoiler for a year-old movie you shouldn't care about) is no match for major box office success. In fact, the movie is so successful that they've already begun back-to-back productions on Saw V and VI, meaning I can just cut and paste this paragraph for the next two halloweens! Lethargy rules!

It should be noted that the success of this movie means all those "torture porn movies are waning in the public eye" people are going to be silenced, and we're gonna have a few more down the pipe again.

Dan In Real Life, the movie that asks us to believe that Steve Carell and Dane Cook are brothers, came in second, taking in around $12 million. Not bad, considering that it was released on less than 2000 screens. Pretty impressive, as it's also the movie getting the best reviews of the week.

The rest of the holdovers continue to underperform, which is no surprise.

Below the radar, the latest film from cinematic legend Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, opened up on 2 screens and took in $73,500, making it the highest per screen average of the week. (Finally besting the average of the Blade Runner cut that's been out for several weeks).

And in the "Because It's There" series: Halloween took in $156,000 on 271 screens, bringing it's grand total to $57,971,000 in 9 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, we have a highly anticipated animated movie, and the re-teaming of the cast of Virtuosity, which should lead to some record breaking box office weekends. Or not. This business is totally unpredictable.

Until next weekend....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

DanSpeak 10-21-07

On the recent news that the remake of Barberella (to be directed by Robert "Planet Terror" Rodriguez) is losing it's funding because the studio doesn't think Rose McGowan is a big enough draw at the box office: Rodriguez is getting sidetracked by the poon.

Box Office Report: This weekend

Dude here again. Halloween is approaching, you know. Have you selected your costume yet? This year, I can't decide if I'm going to go as "Bad Borat" (which involves the world's worst Borat impersonator) or Ms. Pac Man, which involves putting a red bow on last year's Pac Man costume. Or could go as your mom. (BURN!)

This weekend, there were 8 movies released in rather wide capacity. It was allegedly a record. And none of them really did any well. Even the number one performed a little below expectations. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. 30 Days of Night (Sony) - $16.0, 2855 screens, week 1, $16.0 total

2. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (LGF) - $12.0, 2034 screens, week 2, $38.8 total

3. The Game Plan (BV) - $8.1, 3301 screens, week 4, $69.1 total

4. Michael Clayton (WB)- $7.1, 2585 screens, week 3, $21.9 total

5. Gone Baby Gone (Mira) - $6.0, 1713 screens, week 1, $6.0 total

6. The Comebacks (FoxA) - $5.8, 2812 screens, week 1, $5.8 total

7. We Own The Night (Sony) - $5.5, 2362 screens, week 2, $19.7 total

8. Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D (BV) - $5.1, 564 screens, week 1, $5.1 total

9. Rendition (NL) - $4.1, 2250 screens, week 1, $4.1 total

10. The Heartbreak Kid (Par/DW) - $3.9, 2782 screens, week 3, $32.1 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? It means there are far too many movies out there these days. Too many choices, and no sure things. Unpredictable business, this is. 30 Days of Night took the top spot over all the newcomers, tricking enough people into thinking the movie would be good, and not disappointing film that was released before us all. Still, at a low budget, the film should make a decent profit before the next Saw movie comes and obliterates this.

Gone Baby Gone, the directorial debut of Ben Affleck, was the next best performer of the newbies, with The Comebacks hot on it's toes. The re-release of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D performed well, being that it's fourteen years old. Which really makes me depressed every time I walk past a Hot Topic, actually. (Amongst other reasons).

Oh, and Rendition came out and once again confirmed the theory running around Hollywood circles that people don't want to see movies of a topical nature. Which is something I could have told them a long time ago, and gotten them to invest their money is smarter things. Like my magnum opus motion picture "Burger Academy 2 The Vengeance"! When will you learn, Hollywood?

Below the radar, Things We Lost In The Fire, a movie that looks pretty depressing, but is still probably pretty good, opened up and took in $1.6 million on a little more than a thousand screens. Something called Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour took in $561,000, also on a little more than a thousand screens. An animated version of The Ten Commandments allegedly opened up, too... You know what? Far too many movies opened up, and I can't keep up with it. I'm tired, and I got an Uwe Boll movie to see.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Balls of Fury took in $88,400 on 150 screens, bringing it's grand total to $32,721,000 in 8 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, they somehow found a way to make more Saw movies despite pretty much killing every character from the previous three. It might be worth checking out solely to see how they do it. Then again, I have to remember how much I hated that last one. There's also a movie with Steve Carell and Dane Cook, so I'm completely mixed straight down the middle on whether or not to see it.

Until next weekend....