MCN Originals

The DVD Wrapup: Into the Storm, Automata, Wind Rises, Summer’s Tale, Brazilian Western, Alive Within, I Am Ali, Worricker, Monkey Shines and more

Ever since Western film critics and animation buffs helped convince Walt Disney Company to showcase the work of Hayao Miyazaki, by distributing titles from Studio Ghibli outside Japan, niche audiences here have applauded his takes on mankind’s struggle to balance nature and technology, the strength and wisdom of his female characters, and maintaining a pacifist stance in world enamored of war. They also have admired the ways fantasy and supernatural themes are integrated into manga-influenced stories of almost breathtaking visual beauty. Knowing Americans’ genetic predisposition to not reward movies that carry subtitles, Disney has arranged for casts of prominent voice actors to mute any objections to them.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Gurus o’ Gold: A Week From Thanksgiving, aka Screener Time

There’s been a march on the Top Ten and the man leading the charge has moved up the Actors list as well. The field narrows as the holiday gets closer.

Read the full article » 10 Comments »

20 Weeks To Oscar – The Ides Of November

It’s still early. And it’s so late! There are a few titles floating out there, waiting for their moment in the spotlight. But it’s getting awfully late to make a first impression.

Read the full article » 8 Comments »

Wilmington on Movies: Foxcatcher

When a movie comedian goes dramatic, the results can be devastating—as Steve Carell proves again in Foxcatcher.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

Walt and Harry get a hero’s welcome after two decades away, grossing out an outrageous $38 million, while Big Hero 6 mashes up an estimated $35.8 million. Interstellar doesn’t quite go beyond infinity with $28.5 million, but gets tantalizingly close to the $100 million barrier.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Gurus o Gold: Just After Selma & American Sniper

The Gurus voted on Best Picture again this week after the Tuesday screenings of Selma and American Sniper. One of the films skyrocketed into the Top 6.

Read the full article » 5 Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

Twenty years later, the original-star sequel to Dumb & Dumber‘s opening day is just $2.1 million behind the entire opening weekend of the original. Back in 1994, it took seven weeks for that film to generate 85% of its domestic box office.This film will have more like four weekends to do the same. The Friday/weekend flip between Interstellar and Big Hero 6 should occur again this weekend as BH6 hits the $100m tape on Sunday. Newcomer Beyond the Lights from Relativity will open a little behind Addicted, Lionsgate’s October “urban” entry. Foxcatcher will be the big per-screen opener of the weekend, looking at about $35k per on five.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Mood Indigo, Jersey Boys, Tammy, Happy Christmas, Land Ho!, I Am Yours, Demons, Ornette/Jason, S.O.B., Compleat and more

Imagine a collaboration between Jacques Tati, Pee-wee Herman and Giacomo Puccini and it might resemble Michel Gondry’s latest romantic fantasy, Mood Indigo, not that he needs much help in that department.

Read the full article » 2 Comments »

Gurus o Gold: Just Before Selma & American Sniper

The Gurus rank the Top 6 categories right before the AFI double feature of Selma and American Sniper. Will either film move into the Top 10? You’ll have to wait for the next charts to find out…

Read the full article » 15 Comments »

The Gronvall Report: Talking With ROSEWATER’s Maziar Bahari

“We are going through a really turbulent time in journalism. There are the chaos and challenges within the industry itself. Then there are the waves of citizen journalists [operating online and digitally]. Meanwhile, because news now can travel instantly, leaving no time for deniability, governments become more and more afraid of media coverage.”

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

The weekend was expected to be highly competitive between spaced-out Interstellar and the cuddly animated robot of Big Hero 6. When the dust cleared the tilt went friendly with BH6 grossing an estimated $56 million and the sci-fi eye-popper close behind with $48.3 million. The two films accounted for roughly 66% of the session’s box office. Similarly, it was drear among the new exclusive with the notable exception being the Stephen Hawking origin story The Theory of Everything with a potent $206,000 box office from five screens.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Friday Box Office Estimates

The weekend will go to Big Hero Six in the end rather than Interstellar, but the placement at the top of the chart means almost nothing in reality. These two films are not cannibalizing one another. Geeks who love Interstellar will surely also see Big Hero 6 this weekend or next. And kids under 10 aren’t expected to rush to Interstellar. These are both strong openings, but by no standard sensational. Both films should have the kind of legs that reach to Thanksgiving weekend. Interstellar‘s open is about 23% off of Inception and Big Hero Six, compared to other animated films in the first weekend of November slot, should be slightly ahead of Wreck-It-Ralph, but still #4 all-time.

Read the full article » No Comments »

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: AFI 2014

Gary Essert spent close to a decade raising money and fighting industry resistance before the curtain rose on FilmEx back in 1971. It was the first truly international and substantial celebration of global cinema in the city that thinks of itself as the movie capital of the world. Now Los Angeles has two such events (and myriad specialty/niche movie showcases). AFI Fest gets underway Thursday with the world premiere of A Most Violent Year kicking off the show. For the record AFI connects back to FilmEx as the institution came aboard shortly after the latter’s board forced Essert out and that panel proved incapable of running the operation.

Read the full article » No Comments »

20 Weeks To Oscar: A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

When people start answering questions under the protection of anonymity (“isn’t identified for lack of wanting to be seen taking a position on this in the New York Times because there is only downside from being quoted in a story like this”)… well, professional spinners is gonna spin. And professional reporters are, it seems, going to take a side when they don’t have truly firm facts.

Read the full article » 6 Comments »

Wilmington on Movies: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is a movie mostly about Los Angeles at night, mostly about the times when a lot of the city closes down and the streets go black, and freelance newshounds and videographers come crawling out of the dark corners and racing through the dark streets to take pictures of disaster and bloodshed and mayhem — which they peddle to the noisier TV channels and news programs: all those second or third tier (or less) stations whose (not always) unspoken motto is “If it bleeds, it leads.” It’s a good movie: tough, eloquent, very well-shot (by Robert Elswit)—a rousing little show that tries to tap the same sort of sleaze-scraping, unsparing vein as Ace in the Hole (about newspapers and sensationalistic journalism), Sweet Smell of Success (about newspaper gossip columnists) and A Face in the Crowd (about populist rightwing TV). A lot of the time, it succeeds. Sometimes sweetly, and sometimes with a spray of acid.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

The DVD Wrapup: Maleficent, Planes 2, Hercules, Franco X 2, Begin Again, LFO, Vanishing, Coffee in Berlin, Miss Marple, Pemberley, Running From Crazy … More

The great thing about owning the rights to one of the American cinema’s most cherished works is the ability to borrow from it to the point of re-invention. The privilege can be abused, of course, especially if the re-adaptation is made by lesser talents than those responsible for the origin.

Read the full article » No Comments »

The Weekend Report

Halloween said si to Ouija as the spooky yarn edged out newcomer Nightcrawler for top spot at the box office. Respective estimates for the films were $10.9 million and $10.7 million. The session’s other wide release was the chiller Before I Go to Sleep that grossed a disappointing $1.9 million. Holiday-timed retreads of Saw and The Nightmare Before Christmas also failed to treat.

Read the full article » 1 Comment »

Friday Box Office Estimates

In spite of premature guessing by the “trades,” Ouija wins Friday over excellent adult thriller Nightcrawler. There is still a good chance that Nightcrawler will win the weekend, holding better on Saturday and Sunday than Ouija. The last time Halloween fell on a Friday (2008), Zack & Miri Make A Porno started with a $2.2m Friday and made it to the $10m mark. So the tale for Nightcrawler will be told today, as people actually buy tickets.

Read the full article » No Comments »

20 Weeks To Oscar: Sell Short

In the real world, where studios are just selling movies with massive marketing campaigns, the marketing windows have shrunk in recent years. Big TV buys can wait for 3 weeks out if the awareness has been pumped up via publicity for the months and months before. Have Oscar campaigners taken this lesson to heart? Are the early September festivals just an awareness play, followed by a 6-to-8 week window of lingering, and then the real campaign in the course of just a few weeks?

Read the full article » 2 Comments »

Wilmington on Movies: Gone Girl

Even if you’ve never read the book or seen the movie (which may well be the case), you probably think you sort of know what’s going to happen next. But you probably don’t. Gone Girl, which Flynn has cunningly imagined and craftily, stunningly wrote, and which Fincher has visualized with all the eerie expertise which usually marks his high-style crime movies (including Fight Club, Se7en, The Game, Zodiac, Panic Room, and even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), is, like many another thriller of its type, dependent on how far we’re willing to suspend disbelief. But, in the realms of bestseller-turned-moviedom, Gone Girl is a cut or two above and definitely better than most — full of not always guessable tricks and twists, told in a tense, taut, racy, mostly engrossing style and boasting a lot of tangy, sharply drawn characters, very well played by a very good cast.

Read the full article » 2 Comments »

MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

Six rules for filmmaking from Mike Nichols
1. The careful application of terror is an important form of communication.
2. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
3. There’s absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.
4. If you think there’s good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.
5. Friends may come and go but enemies will certainly become studio heads.
6. No one ever lost anything by asking for more money.
~ Via Larry Karaszewski and Howard A. Rodman On Facebook

“I expected ‘Salesman’ to take the step backward every day that Chekhov and Beckett did — but no, it was there to help all the time. The circumstances are like a brick shithouse, they are so solid. You can’t really be satisfied, but I am pretty close to it because the cast took it and ran. They get better every day. I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. Is my ambition sated? I don’t know. To get something right, it can’t be sated because you can’t ever get enough of it right—and even if it is right, it won’t stay right. That’s the thing about a play. But with ‘Salesman,’ it’s different. I don’t know how, but they just keep getting better each night. I really don’t think I’ll direct another play. This is as good a time as I’ve ever had, and I don’t want to fuck it up.”
~ Mike Nichols To Stephen Galloway At The Time Of “Death Of A Salesman”