MCN Originals Archive for May, 2016

The Weekend Report (3-Day Weekend)

Apocalypse couldn’t blow up to $80 million; Alice Through The Looking Glass cracks $33 million; and Birds was almost $25 million Angry.

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The Weekend Report

X-Men: Apocalypse led the field for the Memorial holiday frame with an estimated $64.8 million (all figures represent first three days of extended weekend). Session’s other national debut, Alice Through the Looking Glas , took second with $27.9 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Apocalypse noise at $26.2 million, Alice hardly heard at $9.7 million; and birds stay Angry at $5 million, even after a 54% plunge.

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Wilmington on Movies: Alice Through the Looking Glass

This new movie’s flaws seem to me less ruinous, its strengths less negligible, and its effect more enjoyable than naysayers have allowed. That doesn’t mean that you should rush out and see it, simply that the people involved did a better job than they have been credited.

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The DVD Wrapup: Zoolander 2, Finest Hours, A Married Woman, Manhunter, The Damned and more

With approximately 100 minutes to go, co-writer-director-star Ben Stiller will be required to recycle gags from the original, coordinate the many cameo appearances of well-known stars and fashionistas, preen in character for the camera and hope that viewers have forgotten that Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter did a far better job skewering the industry seven years before Z1 was unleashed in 2001.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of The Angry Birds Movie flew to the top of the weekend charts with an estimated $39.1 million. Other wide openers were Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising in third spot with $21.8 million and the 1970s-style neo-noir spoof The Nice Guys a step back at $11.1 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Kids love anthropomorphic animals… even birds who can only fly by slingshot. And satire is what closes on Saturday night according to George S. Kaufman and The Nice Guys, which WB really worked their asses off on, is suffering through that this weekend. ope for legs. In between, take a wonderfully broad hit comedy, cleverly add girl power, and… meh. Less than half the opening of Neighbors for 2. Meanwhile, Weiner and Maggie’s Plan get solid, if not overwhelming arthouse launches.

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The DVD Wrapup: Theeb, Naked Island, Witch, Maurice Pialat, Cop Rock and more

There are times when Naji Abu Nowar’s terrific World War I adventure, Theeb, feels very much like Lawrence of Arabia writ small. Less than half as long, it tells a similarly exciting story from the point of view of Bedouin tribesmen who attach themselves to a British Army officer assigned to blow up an Ottoman railroad in the heart of the desert. Because Theeb is essentially a coming-of-age story, it betrays no secrets to reveal that the officer rather quickly becomes a non-factor in the drama, leaving only what he left behind to drive the narrative

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Review: The Nice Guys, Maggie’s Plan

Although unshielded,  The Nice Guys are the newest crew of the buddy cop genre that spawned 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys and more recently,Ride Along. They are bigger goofballs than their antecedents and, regrettably, lack the requisite charm to divert attention away from a muddy narrative that involves nefarious shenanigans linking the automobile and porn industries.

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Cannes Review: Hell Or High Water

“Three tours of Iraq and no bail-out for people like us,” reads a spray-painted wall in the opening shot of Hell or High Water (formerly Comancheria), a crime drama from David Mackenzie (2013’s Starred Up). With gripping tension and real-world stakes from the get-go, the graffiti message resonates as a reminder of the bitter resentment people have for financial institutions, and they’re willing to fight back against them.

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The Weekend Report

Captain America: Civil War took a sharp turn but nonetheless maintained a commanding lead  with an estimated $72.6 million. The week’s two national rollout performed roughly as expected, with Money Monster slotting third with $14.8 million and the The Darkness a notch back at $5.2 million.

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Cannes Review: The Transfiguration

Out of the darkness, the remedy to tired post-Twilight vampire movies arrives in Cannes with little to no fanfire: U. S. director Michael O’Shea’s The Transfiguration, a debut that drives an sturdy stake into familiar material while breaking new ground in urban realism.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

No surprise to find the Avengers sequel disguised as a Captain America movie still in front by a large margin. The 74% drop isn’t even a surprise, matching last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and running only $16m behind the same. Some may be disappointed with the Money Monster opening, but it’s solid given its material. Its figure outpaces Hail, Caesar! and The Finest Hours‘ openings, which are really the only comparables this year and isn’t far behind Bridge of Spies‘ opening last year. Good start for Love & Friendship on four screens, projecting a $25k per-screen for the weekend.

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Cannes Review: The Student

On Day 3, sidebar program Un Certain Regard has again proven more interesting and daring than the Competition. It’s a list of films that already includes a fundamental powerhouse: The Student, by Russia’s Kirill Serebrennikov,

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The DVD Wrapup: Mustang, Where to Invade Next, Patty Duke, In a Lonely Place and more

Nominated for a 2015 Academy Award in Best Foreign Language Film category, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s and co-screenwriter Alice Winocour’s heart-breaking coming-of-age drama, Mustang, describes what happens in a country, Turkey, where the dreams and hopes of too many girls are crushed at the onset of puberty.

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Review: DHEEPAN, THE LOBSTER

At its heart, Audiard’s film is about identity. In the process of starting a new life his trio of refugees have the additional hurdle of adopting roles that have little bearing on their pasts. Ironically, the scenario playing out in the building among the locals is presented as more tenable to their experience than they are allowed to admit.

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The Weekend Report

Captain America: Civil War delivered a blistering blow with a potent estimated debut of $182.4 million. The film accounted for roughly 76% of all weekend ticket sales, and coupled with its Disney stablemates, corralled 87% of business for the frame. The company also became the first in 2016 to surpass $1 billion at the domestic box office on Friday and set a new record for that benchmark as well. While no one put out a sacrificial lamb as counterprogramming, the second weekend of Mother’s Day served that purpose with a carbon-copy gross to its opening session.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

“In a world… in which $70m – $85m opening days have become shockingly normal…” here comes the next Avengers installment, sans a couple of Avengers, with a Captain America title, thus opening just slightly lower than the two Avengers movies. Notably, it opened to less than Batman v Superman, though expect that to flip soon. Down-ballot films were clearly damaged, though The Jungle Book held well, even it had been a regular weekend slate.

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Review: A Bigger Splash

There’s a glow that enshrines the Mediterranean isle of Pantelleria. The idyllic fashion in which it’s presented in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, the skeptical would conclude it was a fictional locale. It’s not. Pantelleria is a getaway for wealthy Europeans.

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The DVD Wrapup: East Side Sushi, Glassland, Scherzo Diabolico, The Club, Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party and more

In addition to excellent acting, Marty Rosenberg’s cinematography makes the sushi look consistently mouthwatering. East Side Sushi may not carry the weight of a potential nominee for an Oscar or a Spirit nomination, but it succeeds nicely as an entertainment that can be enjoyed by teens and adults. The blend of ethnic elements is as natural and unforced as the Juana’s prize recipes. It reminds me favorably of the underappreciated rom/com/dram The Ramen Girl, in which Brittany Murphy played a fish out of water in Tokyo. Predictably, that wonderful picture went straight-to-DVD, too. Need I mention that the casts for both pictures are predominantly non-white?

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MCN Originals

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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