MCN Originals Archive for May, 2015

The Weekend Report

The earth moved but there was no fault line for San Andreas as it buried the competition in the rubble with an estimated $53 million debut. The other national newcomer Aloha lei-ed an egg with a $9.8 million opening.

Read the full article »

Friday Box Office Estimates

The seventh wide opening of the summer, San Andreas, opens to the third best Friday of the 2015 season, behind only Pitch Perfect 2 (still #2 in its third weekend) and Avengers: Age of Ultron, which seems like a hundred years ago already (still #6 this weekend). But how it will hold this weekend and moving forward, that is the question. It has a very strong chance of significantly outperforming PP2 internationally, just as it is unlikely to ever pass PP2 domestically.

Also opening is Aloha, which will be the summer’s weakest wide opening (we’re letting The D Train have a pass, which never went wider than 1009 screens). Just to frustrate film critics, who have lined up against the film both on quality and on political correctness, the film will likely open better than We Bought A Zoo, Cameron Crowe’s last, much better-reviewed film. Maybe casting Emma Stone as Alison Ng paid off.

Read the full article »

Review: Aloha (non-spoiler)

There should be no pleasure in tearing down the work of a mighty and sincere aesthetic warrior. Cameron Crowe is one such warrior. It would be easy, if lazy, to compare him to other greats who disintegrated before our eyes, their personal visions somehow muddled by too much success, too much money, too many years. But Aloha doesn’t feel like that to me. It feels like something that has ambition to spare, but an utter inability to tie all of its disparate strands together.

Read the full article » 26 Comments »

The DVD Wrapup: Magician: Orson Welles, The Confession and more

In the stage and cinema works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, it wasn’t always easy for postwar German audiences to differentiate between social satire, parody and provocation. The same holds true for his legacy on film, outside Germany. In a career that lasted 16 years, he was responsible for writing, directing and acting in nearly 50 movies, shorts and TV mini-series, as well as continuing to create Brechtian theater pieces. After beginning his career in the late 1960s making films that ranged from experimental to difficult, Fassbinder would turn to the Hollywood melodramas of German émigré Douglas Sirk for creative inspiration.

Read the full article »

Wilmington on Movies: Poltergeist / When Marnie Was There

One thing you can say in favor of the latest Poltergeist is that at least nobody in it gets tortured, hideously maimed, eviscerated, eaten, or chopped to screaming bits. Children may take their parents to this picture, without fear of nightmares.

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report (4-Day Estimates)

The four-day estimates are in and Tomorrowland expands its lead slightly for the 34th best Memorial Day Weekend gross ever (but expect the “actuals” to be a little lower because of an aggressive Monday estimate). If Disney wants some information about what went wrong, they can call 411, which is also the number of millions Avengers 2 hit domestically this weekend. Poltergeist turns in the 13th best four-day of 2015 so far. Far From The Madding Crowd expands positively, though gently. And I’ll See You In My Dreams tops all per-screen grossers.

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report

It was the future by a nose as Tomorrowland edged out Pitch Perfect 2 for the holiday box office crown. It opened to an estimated $32.2 million to PP2 with $30.3 million (all figures reflect 3-day box office). Also bowing for Memorial weekend was the reboot of Poltergeist that generated a scary $22.7 million that slotted fourth overall.

Read the full article »

Cannes 68: A Wrap

It was a Festival divided from the outset.

Read the full article »

Wilmington on Movies: Tomorrowland

Watching Tomorrowlan—a great big film hunk of love and optimism and confusion from the Walt Disney Studio—you sometimes get the idea that director-writer Brad Bird and company are trying not just to create a new movie but maybe to found a new movement; Dianetics for Disneyphiles, or Pessimists Anonymous or Worldmakers. (Just kidding.)

Read the full article »

Friday Box Office Estimates

“Let’s play two,” says Pitch Perfect 2 as Tomorrowland comes out of the blocks slow, hoping that family audiences will power it to a long weekend win, while Poltergeist is going to scare up some business, but nothing quite as shocking as a scary clown. Meanwhile, the much beloved Mad Max: Fury Road continues to do mediocre business, struggling towards $100m domestic, while PP2 passses that landmark today, just nine days into the run.

Read the full article »

The DVD Wrapup: Leviathan, Lovesick, Before I Disappear, Blue Room and more

Instead of being iron-fisted by Communist Party functionaries, however, the populace is ruled by an increasingly militaristic government and bullied by plutocrats, gangsters, small-minded politicians and conservative leaders of the ascendant Russian Orthodox Church. That much, at least, can be inferred in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s overtly allegorical drama, Leviathan, which ironically was inspired by the story of a Colorado man whose beef with city officials eventually led him to armor-plate a bulldozer and use it as a battering ram against bureaucratic intransigence.

Read the full article »

Cannes Review: Love

Love is a waste of time. It’s a waste of time because, well, most importantly—does anyone really spend more than ten minutes staring at pornography?

Read the full article »

Wilmington on Movies: Pitch Perfect 2 / Pitch Perfect

Any movie sequel that starts out by having its costar moon the President of the United States and the First Lady at Lincoln Center obviously doesn’t suffer from a lack of self-confidence.

Read the full article »

Cannes Review: Youth

It seems like a lot of Paulo Sorrentino’s work is steeped in the truth that it doesn’t matter what age you are, because the grand narratives of life seem to more or less remain the same.

Read the full article »

Cannes You Dig It?: Episode 3

It’s odd to leave Cannes not having fallen fully in love… with a movie.

Read the full article » 7 Comments »

Cannes Review: Sicario

Trust in Denis Villeneuve.

Read the full article »

Cannes Review: Son of Saul

Call it a gimmick, but there’s a ghostly, haunting vibe here, especially in the production design (and of course the historical substance). You and I have seen other films with a similar setting, but Son of Saul really moves through this concentration camp with an overwhelming sense of urgency and context that is unfamiliar.

Read the full article »

Wilmington on Movies: Mad Max: Fury Road

Head-banging, car-crashing action movies with minimal dialogue and maximum carnage may make a lot of money, but they’ve also gotten (deservedly) a bad odor for some film-lovers, including, sometimes, me

Read the full article »

The Weekend Report

Pitch Perfect 2 hit the right note and bowed to an estimated $70.2 million to win weekend bragging rights. The session’s other wide release, Mad Max: Fury Road, also opened dynamically with $44.4 million

Read the full article » 3 Comments »

Cannes Review: Carol

Subtle, delicate, exquisite. Like staying up all night to witness the blooming of a flower, Todd Haynes’ Carol is something special.

Read the full article »

MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin