MCN Originals Archive for June, 2016

The DVD Wrapup: Aferim!, WTF, Rams, Family Fang and more

Although slavery hasn’t been a taboo subject for exploitation by Hollywood filmmakers, it took Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave to fully dramatize the brutality and dehumanization inherent in the long-accepted practice for a new generation of viewers. From Romania,Aferim! tells a completely unexpected story about slavery, this time as practiced against Gypsies, Tartars, Jews and Muslims in Eastern Europe from the mid-1300s to the mid-1800s.

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Rush to Judgment: The Legend Of Tarzan

The things that are wrong, or wrong-headed with the latest incarnation of The Legend of Tarzan, are myriad and numerous.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Shallows

The Shallows is a genuinely scary movie thriller that spooks you because, in a way, it seems so real — this tense, taut movie manage to get by without ghosts, monsters, supernatural maniacs or The Devil, indeed without almost anything that absolutely couldn’t happen (maybe) in the real world. Like Jaws, it’s the white-knuckle, full-throttle story of a battle between human vs. shark: a visually voluptuous thriller, set in a mostly deserted stretch of Australian coast, about a great white shark that traps a young surfer and medical student on an ocean-bound rock and buoy only about 200 yards from shore — a deserted beach near an ocean that is mostly empty except for that trapped girl and that toothy shark and one other creature we‘ll introduce later. (You’ll like him.)

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Pride, Unprejudiced: The Look Of Silence

“The films avoid a kind of journalistic or historical account. They provide only enough information as required for the viewer to understand the next scene. The film doesn’t become a primer about Indonesian history. I think the films avoid being about Indonesia as such, by focusing on the perpetrator and the men around him in The Act of Killing, and one family in The Look of Silence. Instead of becoming smaller, they grow, because they could be your brothers.”

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The Weekend Report

The story was Dory as the Blue Tang clan of Finding Dory boop boop ditem whatem an estimated $73.2 million in its second weekend. That was bad news for Independence Day: Resurgence that settled into second with $41.6 million. The session’s other two national openers saw upbeat results for The Shallows , churning $16.2 million, while Civil War lesson Free State of Jones struggled to $7.5 million.

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Reviews: Free State of Jones and Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Free State of Jones harkens back to the Civil War era and its aftermath for an arcane and fascinating piece of time that eluded even Ken Burns. Set in Jones County, Mississippi, It centers on disaffected Southerners struggling through a war and a cause unrelated to their daily existence but nonetheless demanding sacrifice they find unduly oppressive.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The world is under attack again… this time, it’s a blue fish swimming right through and past a Will Smith-less ID4-2. Finding Dory is way out in front of any animated film in domestic and will actually be the biggest 10-day grosser of the year at the end of this weekend, passing Captain America: Civil War. Dory is pretty much guaranteed to pass BvS: Apology Tour 1 to give Disney the Top 4 grossers of the year worldwide before August 1. Jaume Collet-Serra’s latest, The Shallows, opens right between his last two films, which starred Liam Neeson. Decent, but hardly a bell-ringer. Free State of Jones is another soft opener for STX, a company filled with veterans with smarts that picks hard-to-market movies that prove, repeatedly, to be hard to market. Swiss Army Man blows away all the other indie openers with a per-screen on three that looks to top $40k.

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The DVD Wrapup: Knight of Cups, Greek Wedding 2, Wondrous Boccaccio, Anesthesia and more

Knight of Cups couldn’t have been made by anyone less contemplative or obsessed with the dialectics of beauty than Malick. Before capturing the attention of the film world with the visually stunning and deeply moving Badlands and Days of Heaven, he apprenticed under some of the industry’s savviest professionals. His stellar education in the humanities would only come to the fore, however, after three individual hiatuses, totaling 32 years.

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Wilmington on Movies: Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence surprises you — or surprised me, at any rate.

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Pride, Unprejudiced: Knight Of Cups, Anomalisa, Embrace Of The Serpent

Guilt as gossamer, memory as wraith, woman as other, love as labor lost: Terrence Malick’s seventh released feature, Knight of Cups, years in the shaping, is dense yet featherlight, elusive yet specific, a wonderment comprising one once-worldly man’s memories, the tide of a single life pummeled by remorseless undertow.

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The Weekend Report

Finding Dory propelled to a record estimated $136.4 million. There was also good news for the other national debut—pumped-up action comedy Central Intelligence—with a  finish of $34.4 million. The frame’s only significant expansion was Genius , which maintained its bottom line. Lobster continues to be a surprise success with a current cume of $6.7 million, rivalling its international run of $8.5 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Finding Dory opens with a 34% bump over the previous best Pixar opening ever (Toy Story 3). Buy how will this be reflected in the 3-day gross, given the 2010 marketplace vs today’s? Based on last summer’s Minions, Dory is swimming towards $137m opening… but no one will know for sure until later today. A little Hart and a big Johnson pays off with an opening day slightly off of Hart’s top showing, Ride Along. Still, it should give WB its second weekend in a row with a $35m+ opening, its third such launch in a year with 5 titles opening between $9m and $20m. And Tickled has a shot at $10k per screen on two.

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Wilmington on Movies: Genius

Thomas Wolfe was an American literary phenomenon: a North Carolina-born novelist and prodigy who hoped to write books of Shakespearean verbal grandeur, of Tolstoyan dramatic scope and Dickensian humanity, and to live a life to fit those vast ambitions. He’s also an artist who tends to be ignored or underrated these days. A pity, because whenever you read one of his huge novels (especially “Look Homeward Angel” and “Of Time and the River”), his talent and his mixed but munificent literary gifts flame right off the page at you.

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The DVD Wrapup: 45 Years, 10 Cloverfield Lane, London Has Fallen, Wenders/Franco, La chienne and more

Once upon a time in Hollywood, movies that featured elderly characters played by venerable stars could be counted on to attract a decent-sized slice of the box-office pie and command the attention of awards voters.

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Pride, Unprejudiced: A Brighter Summer Day; Hail, Caesar!

Its multitude of astonishments include a sure, novelistic mastery of accruing details in an expansive shape that is built upon observation of the smallest moments, gestures, blood-boiling fixations, fetish objects, mortal desires, moral frustrations.

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Weekend Estimates

The Conjuring 2 manifested an estimated $40.4 million, with game-inspired Warcraft at $24.3 million, while Now You See Me 2 prestidigitated $22.8 million.

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Wilmington on Movies: The Conjuring 2

People who like scary ghost horror movies, from Frankenstein to The Haunting, probably are partial, at least a little, to that awesome, icky sensation of being plunged into sucking swamps of cinematic dread, then rescued (maybe spuriously, maybe not) at the very last possible millisecond—a sensation you may feel quite a few times in The Conjuring 2.

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Friday Estimates

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DVD Wrapup: Zootopia, Hail Caesar, 13 Hours, Anomalisa, The Confirmation, Touched With Fire, One More Time, Tom Waits and more

The messages in Disney’s new animated gem, Zootopia, are so overtly liberal, I’m surprised none of the Republican candidates for president didn’t it condemn it during their debates for being subversive. Of course, there’s still time for Donald Trump to propose constructing a wall around the Burbank studios, lest undocumented-alien bunnies, sheep and foxes attempt to enter the country illegally. On that count, anyway, politicians who choke on words like inclusivity, empowerment, diversity and co-existence are several days late and at least a billion dollars short.

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Los Angeles Film Festival 2016 Wrap

The good news for LAFF is it emerged with a relatively strong program, albeit based upon my limited personal experience. I’ll just add the fact that I didn’t see as many films as was my intention. Still, such films as Blood Stripe, Kicks and 11:55 fulfilled a mandate of diversity without employing it as a crutch.

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MCN Originals

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“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho