The Hot Blog Archive for July, 2013
Paul Schrader is one of my favorite filmmakers. He almost always has something to say and more often than not, he says it in a very interesting, emotionally layered way.
So, when I see something as profoundly worthless as The Canyons, I don’t have the urge to get into a glib contest with other critics. The simplest way I can explain it is… if you ran into this movie on cable, without the names Schrader or Lohan or Easton Ellis connected, you would never get past 10 minutes. Not sexy. Not profound. Not profane. Not well-written (not that the writing has a chance with this amateur show acting). And about as uninteresting as any movie with no familiar actors or behind-the-camera talent you might find on the off-brand channels at 3am, filling the quiet hours. (I am circumspect about that description, lest you run into a great little indie with no one you know involved some late night. Give it 10 minutes.)
The film opens with a series of horribly beautiful images of deserted movie theaters… which really has nothing to do with the film… more so because the images are meaningful. But it would seem to suggest that the filmmakers knew what this film is not and sought a rationalization… an angle that might make it seem to be about something. Or maybe it was in the script from day one and the thematic delusion was with them from the start. Six one way, half worthless the other.
Watching Lindsay Lohan in this is painful. She looks terrible… not, as the film would suggest, a prize amongst hotties, but rather the girl who stayed in Hollywood too long, still trying to use the tricks that worked when she was 22. The make-up is near-Kabuki. But mostly, it’s the dead eyes. It’s not a great performance of irony because the script is not about what she has done to herself, specifically or from a distance. It’s reminiscent of Madonna, hired for acting jobs to act variations of her persona, but unwilling, when push came to shove, to allow the camera to catch any of her truth. Lohan has become an empty vessel.
The sad comparison that sticks with me is Ann-Margret doing Carnal Knowledge at 30, looking all the bombshell that she ever was, only grown up. What drew the Nicholson character in that film is still apparent. But so is a human being underneath, struggling to be more than an object at 30 (which back then was more like late 30s is today). With Lohan, you get big boobs and nothing remotely sexy or interesting about how she uses them. She is neither an object breaking free or one who cannot escape her self-satisfied life. She is, sadly, just an object (in this case, of wannabe box office).
James Deen is the Gretchen Mol’s breasts of The Canyons… which is to say, it’s the thing that people comment on when a great filmmaker has made a film with nothing really worth complimenting. The difference is that Ms. Mol’s busom, particularly in Forever Mine, was indeed special and memorably so (even for women, a number of whom brought it up after seeing the film at Telluride long before I ever saw the film). Deen may be the best actor in porn. But… well… that says it all, doesn’t it. That and the name, an off-brand actor coasting on the almost-name of a serious actor.
I don’t really understand what drew the very bright minds at Lincoln Center Film Society (and Variety’s Scott Foundas, was, I believe, still amongst them when the conversation about this film began) to believe that there was anything to this film and to front its release. That is, aside from deservedly-admired, ofter extremely skilled artists being in the driver’s seat… as they drove this car into the wall. I just don’t get that. But this too shall pass… too much the source of mockery for something so empty, but still quite unworthy of praise.
I look forward to the next work of Mr Schrader and Mr. Ellis, together or apart. There is talent there. Important talent. But there is none of it on display in this particular movie.
Not much more to say about the weekend from yesterday, really.
The 1 – 4 for the indie summer looks different after this weekend. It’s now <b>Way Way Back, Before Midnight, Fruitvale</b>, and <b>Bling</b>. And this order will change again, probably every weekend for the next few, as <b>Blue Jasmine</b> jumps the line and <b>Fruitvale</b> and <b>Way Back</b> continue to expand and either find longer reach or not.
It may not be skyrockets at the box office, but it is going to be a really great August for movie lovers at the arthouse. Every single weekend, there will be at least two compelling new indie films coming out.
Ont he wide release front, there should be solid numbers next weekend, but people are really hoping for some fireworks on the second weekend of August with <b>Elysium, Planes, Millers</b>, and the franchise that almost no one talks about, <b>Percy Jackson</b>. Not everyone is likely to be thrilled, but will there be a big disappointment or a big surprise? Only time will tell, though 2 of the 4 films decided to go out on Wednesday instead of Friday, so we’ll have an early hint of the weekend to come.
This is the kind of weekend where box office analysis is kind of a drag.
The Wolverine opened, is dominant in the market… and is just kinda “meh” in the bigger picture. Two summers ago, X-Men: First Class was media-spun as a miss… not a disaster, but not a hit. It opening-dayed to more than The Wolverine. The wildly inferior X-Men Origins: Wolverine opened to a $34.4m Friday.
On the other hand, thanks to Paramount’s brilliant witchcraft, the media bought World War Z‘s $66m opening as a big success. And that film cost at least double what The Wolverine cost to make. So will media Alzheimer’s kick in? Will media forget what it write a month ago and devalue this opening or will it remember its overly generous position of a month ago and not bother to put The Wolverine in context? That’s the only real mystery about its box office this weekend.
Despicable Me 2 continues to hold brilliantly. It will pass $300m domestic today, having passed Man of Steel for the #2 slot for the summer on Wednesday.
Turbo‘s second weekend will be relatively okay… but still stack right next to Epic, but with $5m less. This suggests that $100m domestic is possible for the lawn-loving saga, but just barely. But that still leaves Turbo as the lowest non-Claymation domestic grosser for DWA in the last decade.
In more cheerful news – though it will make some critics claim to want to slit their wrists – Grown Ups 2 puts Adam Sandler back in the $100m club after a couple of setbacks (Jack & Jill, That’s My Boy). It will not match the $162m domestic take that the first Grown Ups earned, but a big part of this story – sure to be underreported – will be the foreign box office, where Sandler has, after years of struggling with this, become a somewhat consistent $100m draw as well. Grown Ups did $109m international. So will the sequel match that, do better, fall back?
Red 2 is a little disturbing to me. I think this film is significantly better than the first, in all the ways the first was likeable. But word of mouth didn’t happen and it is pretty much doornail dead already. $50m domestic would be a happy surprise at this point (compared to $90m the first time out). Maybe it’s just a joke you can only get a laugh with once. But with a soft opening, you expect a better rebound. Didn’t happen.
Pacific Rim is also suffering. No one really wants to be a $200m cult film. And the cult is mighty. But not enough to drive big box office. It doesn’t look like $100m is happening domestically. It’s already over $100m internationally and it’s still early (no Japan, no reporting on 2nd weekend in many big countries), so while there is little hope for black ink, there is real hope that there will not be the mega-writedown some were predicting.
The Lone Ranger is dead domestically. But the math is still waiting on international.
Even deader is R.I.P.D., which at the end of its 2nd Friday is behind the first day of The Wolverine. The film, which cost a little more than half of what Lone Ranger cost, could end up with a similar or even a bigger writedown.
Interesting Friday on the limited side. The least limited of the limiteds, with 1064 screens, is Fruitvale Station, which did a nice $1.4m yesterday in its expansion. A $4000 per-screen for the weekend on over 1000 screens is pretty good. It’s not Indie Blockbuster. Precious did more money in its second weekend in just 174 screens. But it’s a pretty good number.
The To Do List is a mainstream movie being rolled out slowly. A $2800 per-screen for the weekend is okay… not a phenom. Hard way to push out a movie. Searchlight continues to roll out its terrific The Way Way Back, now on 886 screens and grossing nearly $1m yesterday. Total domestic is $6.6m so far. Similar per-screen as Do To.
And Blue Jasmine got out of the blocks nicely. Woodys fifth straight release with Sony Classics will open right between his mist recent, To Rome With Love and his biggest hit ever, Midnight in Paris.
Okay… so I got the Chromecast.
1. I plugged it in, twice, as you need not only to plug it into your HDMI, but it needs either a USB port or a regular plug for power.
2. You can’t turn the thing on from your phone. You’ll need a laptop or desktop, though you only need to use it for that first sign-in and connection to your wi-fi.
3. You’ll need to download Chrome to your desktop if you haven’t… which is pretty smart. I didn’t have Chrome on my laptop or my iPad or iPhone. Now I do. Don’t know if I’ll use them, but they are now onboard and usable.
4. I’m set up.
5. Opened a movie on my iPad. Nope. Doesn’t connect to the Chromecast.
6. There’s not remote or anything. You basically click in and out via the associates programs/apps or via the Chrome desktop.
7. YouTube does connect from my iPad. The first moving image I get from my Chromecast is the latest DP/30. Looks pretty good.
8. Netflix does connect. I’ve already read complaints that it’s not great, but it’s as good as your wi-fi connection, it seems.
9. I read that you can connect via your Chrome browser window. I open Hulu (not plus) and run a clip. Works pretty well.
10. That’s about it. Not much more to squeeze out of this thing.
I live in a home with four televisions, two of which have an alternate web-based hardware (an Apple TV and a Roku 3). My only real problem with Apple TV is that it doesn’t offer Amazon Prime. The only real problems I have with the Roku is that, 1) it doesn’t stream from my pads/phones, and 2. that its HBOGo via DirecTV doesn’t work. The Chromecast solves neither of those problems for me.
Today was the first Galas announcement from the Toronto International Film Festival.
There are some very interesting titles on the list, but not a lot that looks like it could leap—especially within a few months—into moving into the Oscars race in a serious way. But you never know. Some of the familiar and/or interesting names on the list of directors premiering their films at TIFF: Kelly Reichardt, Nicole Holofcener, Richard Ayoade, Richard Shepard, Sylvain Chomet, Mike Myers, David Frankel, Paul Haggis, John Curran, Jonathan Glazer, Roger Michell, Matthew Weiner, Keanu Reeves, Ralph Fiennes,John Ridley, Jason Bateman and Atom Egoyan.
In terms of Oscar movies, the festival opens with The Fifth Estate, which is good news/bad news. TIFF has vastly improved their opening night selections in the last few years, so I don’t consider it a problem to be slotted there anymore. But maybe it says more about what isn’t right about Devil’s Knot, the new Atom Egoyan about the West Memphis Three, than about what’s right with Bill Condon’s latest. In the end, the movie is all that really matters. And I am expecting a good one. (And good news for Cumberbitches… he has 2 other films at TIFF – Osage & Slave.)
Another nine serious Oscar contenders are also on the Gala/Special Presentations schedule;
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Twelve Years a Slave
I expect we will see the addition of Cannes titles Nebraska and Inside Llewyn Davis to the TIFF list. Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips is expected to go to Venice (and thus, probably Toronto, but probably not Telluride). Hard to imagine why Out of the Furnace wouldn’t show up in Toronto. If Wolf of Wall Street does any festivals, I’d expect it to be at NYFF. Spike Jonze’s Her… who knows?
Still holding out, it would seem (wait for the NYFF announcements), are late entries Lone Survivor and The Counselor, Grace of Monaco, and three big expectation titles, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, and Monuments Men.
I’m tired already.
It seems so obvious… but it won’t sink in for what seems like a majority of media and probably a majority of interested consumers.
Let me try to explain – yet again – using Netflix itself as an example.
The Conjuring is a big horror win for Warner Bros, their best horror launch ever. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the “final” number is a couple million lower, but nonetheless, a strong launch.
Despicable Me 2 remains solid and should pass Man of Steel as the #2 movie of the summer domestically next Saturday. Worldwide, too.
Turbo‘s opening is right down there in the “bomb” group for DreamWorks Animation. As I’ve noted before, I think it’s reading too young for the bigger animation audience and it certainly doesn’t have the benefit of being a sequel, which the two biggest animated hits of the summer have. As with Epic, birthing a new animated franchise isn’t easy… and Epic had a 50% better domestic opening.
Grown Ups 2 continues apace, slightly ahead of the original. And critics wept. I’m not sure how this film doubles its domestic gross from here, as the first film did after its second weekend. But we shall see.
RED 2 is running about 15% behind its first incarnation… though it’s probably 30% better as a movie. But as we all know, opening weekend has nothing to do with the movie itself. It’s a novelty idea and the novelty is clearly not as compelling the second time around. But they did everything that you are supposed to do with a sequel. More Malkovich, which people were wanting in the first film. More shooting by Mirren. Check. Add cool Korean action star (Byung-hun Lee) and Oscar-winners Sir Tony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta Jones. No sale.
Pacific Rim isn’t finding its legs. It may find its way to $100m domestic, but that’s no lock. And it’s not enough. The good news is that it’s already over $100m internationally with a lot of big territories to go (including the misleading China, out of which it’s hard to get your money and impossible to get 50% of your gross). Regardless, it has a long way to go before it gets a whiff of breakeven.
Speaking of survival by foreign, Man of Steel is out of the woods thanks to foreign ($350m int), World War Z still has a shot ($270m int), Star Trek Into Darkness shouldn’t lose money ($224m int), and even After Earth, which will still lose, is in a lot better shape after scoring $176m internationally. (It’s not a summer movie, but the most interesting story of the year in this regard is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which grossed $56m here, but a whopping $170m internationally, making it not only profitable, but a bit of a cash cow, more profitable than any of the movies mentioned in this paragraph.)
RIPD is what it is. Mediocre and disappointing was a theme in the reviews and so with the box office too.
In less-wide releases, The Way Way Back is chugging along, expanding to 304 screens this weekend, but not catching on like wildfire. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain will pass $30m this week with Lionsgate working that Tyler Perry tip. Fruitvale Station is the per-screen champ for the weekend across all categories with $21k on each of 34 screens. Nic Refn’s controversially epic Only God Forgives did okay.
Before Midnight is the clear muscle of this season in the arthouse category, now up to $7.4 million, which is behind only the SummitsGate films, which are indie, but not arthouse. Personally, I think Sony Classics could up the gross significantly with some spending for the film going into August. But next weekend’s release of Blue Jasmine will probably be in the way of that happening.
Other indie hits this summer include The Bling Ring ($5.6m), Frances Ha ($3.9m), Much Ado About Nothing ($3.7m), doc leader 20 Feet From Stardom ($2.4m), The East ($2.2m), The Iceman ($1.9m), Fill The Void ($1.6m), Love Is All You Need ($1.5m), and Stories We Tell ($1.5m). Girl Most Likely and Only God Forgives could join that $1.5m+ club.