MCN Originals Archive for October, 2014

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?

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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.

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Halloween Gift guide: Universal Monsters, Vincent Price, Pee-wee, Nightbreed and More

Even Charlie Brown couldn’t have imagined the extent of the violence caused by pumpkin fanatics in New Hampshire and, traditionally, by students in Madison and Carbondale. I can think of several better ways to kill time while waiting for dawn to rise on All Saints Day or, if you prefer, Día de Muertos. It is in this spirit that DVD Wrapup presents the first of its annual gift guides.

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Review: Interstellar (non-spoiler)

I don’t really want to write this review.

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The Weekend Report

Audiences proved game for Ouija and placed it at the top of the charts with an estimated $20.1 million. That left the session’s other incoming wide release, actioner John Wick, with the consolation prize of $14.2 million. In regional release, inspirational high school football yarn 23 Blast failed to score with a $347,000 tally from 617 scrimmages. Another flood of incoming exclusives provided a few encouraging (and better) results including Swedish Oscar submission Force Majeure that entered with $23,400 from two screens. The American indie comedy Laggies also opened well with $81,700 at six sites and the Edward Snowden affair provided Citizenfour with an excellent $117,000 box office from five engagements.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Ouija will probably be the sole $20m-grosser for the weekend, though it is possible—as is often the case with horror films—that it drops so quickly that it comes up short. Good holds for Gone Girl And Disney’s Alexander, etc. Nice expansion for St. Vincent. And strong exclusive launches for Laggies and Citizenfour.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Surveying The Board

Interstellar lands this week.

That leaves Unbroken, The Gambler, Selma, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year, Into The Woods, Big Eyes, and Exodus: Gods & Men

That’s a lot of movies, given an already pretty narrow field.

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Larry Gross on the Passing of L. M. Kit Carson

Kit Carson’s passing really got me.

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The DVD Wrapup: Le Chef, For a Woman, Canopy, Snowpiercer, Sexina, Sleeping With Fishes, Johnny Thunders, Dorothea Lange … More

In a setup that could have been written by climate-change deniers, Snowpiercer describes what happens after an untested cooling agent – think, Ice-nine from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” – is introduced into the upper atmosphere. In 20 years, it turns what might have been an inconvenient loss of beachfront property into a global catastrophe. Survivors of the freeze-out have been packed on a very special “miracle” train, in which passengers are divided into haves and have-nots, and frozen seas allow access to global destinations. Those in the rear half of the train look has if they had been shoved aboard the 1:10 to Siberia, while the passenger in front enjoy privileges commonly reserved for the ruling elite.

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The Weekend Report

The Second World War thundered into multiplexes in the form of Fury and topped the charts with an estimated $23.6 million opening salvo. The two other national bows included Guillermo Del Toro-produced animated fiesta The Book of Life slotting third with $16.9 million and three-hankie The Best of Me striking few Sparks, remaining a few sniffles behind at $10.2 million. Platformers ranged from a drop dead $310,000 result for Jason Reitman’s sixth moral tale, Men, Women & Children, at 608 theaters to a tempo-setting $202,000 bounce for percussive stamina test Whiplash at 21 venues.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Fury rolls out to $8.8m on Friday, including over $1m on Thursday night. The two other openers are soft, though Book of Life could get a boost to a near-$19m weekend as family audiences land on Saturday. And Birdman soars on 4 screens, looking at $100k+ per-screen for the weekend. Also pulling more than $10k per screen for the weekend in exclusive release are The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Listen Up Philip.

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Gurus o’ Gold: After New York…

This week, the Gurus take on Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, and Director. And if The Gurus are right at this point, all five of these individual honors would got to first-time winners and 3 of the 5 would have never been nominated before.

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The Gronvall Report: Theodore Melfi On St. Vincent

From the opening scene of the new movie St. Vincent, where he’s telling a joke in a bar, all the way through the closing credits, Bill Murray creates yet another memorably flippant curmudgeon.

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The DVD Wrapup: Venus in Fur, Witching & Bitching, Chinese Puzzle, Persecuted, Bill Morrison, Kingpin, Courage the Cowardly Dog … More

Say what you will about Roman Polanski–now 81, believe it or not–the man still knows how to make a movie.

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The Gronvall Report: Damien Chazelle on WHIPLASH

Artistry plus adrenaline proves the winning formula for Whiplash the pulsating new musical drama and second feature from French-American writer-director Damien Chazelle. The Sony Pictures Classics release won both the Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) and the Audience Award (Dramatic) when it premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, setting off a chain reaction of kudos that is reverberating months later, well into awards season.

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The Weekend Report

Despite considerable heat from new releases, Gone Girl held onto the top spot for the current frame with an estimated $26.8 million. Four new films entered the marketplace with Dracula Untold coming closest with $23.4 million. The remaining trio included family-friendly Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day that grossed $18.9 million, courtroom/bedroom drama The Judge at $13.3 million and the steamy Addicted fogging up an impressive $7.5 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Drac takes a bite out of Amazing Amy with an Untold $8.9 million to Gone Girl‘s $8.1. Sundance fave Whiplash brings the tempo with over $6,000 per at six jazz rooms. Feel-good pop-doc Meet The Mormons makes a surprising entry at number 10 with a $1.2 million gross.

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The DVD Wrapup: Million Dollar Arm, Edge of Tomorrow, Million Ways to Die, Sleeping Beauty, To Be Takei, Zappa, Dusk Till Dawn, Hemlock Grove, Houdini … More

Because of baseball’s unique learning curve, Million Dollar Arm probably could have been set in any country where cricket, soccer or, even, camel racing are king. The only thing known about baseball by the boys who participated in the contest is that it requires a player to throw an orb covered in horsehide toward an opponent with a bat in his hand, pretty much like cricket.

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21 Weeks To Oscar – Carlos & Joey & Cash, Oh My! (Part 2 of 2)

Should anyone really care that Joey Berlin has built a “critics” group that now affords him a rather significant annual payday? Does it matter than Carlos de Abreu made up awards out of nothing but the contents of his giant scrotal sack and now has gotten rich on the money that returns virtually nothing of value to the studios? Eighty-something foreign-language speakers have made themselves seem worth much, much more than the time of day because they have a TV show that has been successfully and inaccurately positioned as an Oscar precursor… should we care? The Academy has made The Oscars less and less about movies and more and more about being like the Jimmy Fallon show with statues (Oscar nominee beer pong, coming this spring!) because they are obsessed with being cutting edge, when the only real distinction of the organization is the many years it takes to get invited to join, thus given its awards real weight… does it matter?

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21 Weeks To Oscar – Carlos & Joey & Cash, Oh My! (Part 1 of 2)

How could I write about what a con the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was – and is – with its eight-something barely-employed writers puffing up with self-importance and raping studio coffers all year long while showing no semblance of journalistic integrity whatsoever, and be charmingly amused by Carlos who made up awards, chose winners by himself in negotiations with distributors, with no other purpose than to line his own pockets? I was being a hypocrite.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook