MCN Originals Archive for October, 2016

Wilmington On Movies: Inferno, The Girl On The Train

Inferno, the third in Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’ series of Dan Brown-derived high-end action movies, aspires to classy trash. At least it tries — mashing references to the works of the great classical Italian poet Dante Alighieri (“The Divine Comedy”) with the not-so-great works of the financially astute airport bestsellermeister Brown (The Da Vinci Code), amid imagery that suggests a nightmare attraction on the National Geographic Channel.

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The Weekend Report

Never underestimate a woman scorned. Boo! A Madea Halloween maintained the top spot in the marketplace for a second weekend with an estimated $16.8 million. It scared the sole weekend national newcomer (and once-presumed champ) Inferno that settled for poor seconds of $14.9 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

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The DVD Wrapup: Hunt for Wilderpeople, Skiptrace, Nerve, Vampire Ecstasy, Gored, Dark Water, The Id, Norman Lear and more

I’ve complained before about the lack of attention given to uniquely entertaining indie movies by distributors, even after being greeted with near-unanimous approval by audiences and critics at festivals. Indulge me while I endorse another film that has broad audience appeal but could easily get lost in the VOD-DVD shuffle. Set in a supremely scenic corner of Peter Jackson’s backyard (a.k.a., New Zealand), Taika Waititi’s coming-of-age Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows a state-raised Maori boy who’s nearly run out of options when it comes to being taken in by foster families and non-penal shelters for abandoned kids. Rotund, lazy and belligerent, Ricky (Julian Dennison) is handed over to a middle-age couple living on the edge of the “bush” – a term not at all representative of the environmentally diverse Tongariro National Park – at the center of the country’s North Island. If Waititi’s name sounds familiar, it’s for his peculiarly Kiwi entertainments as Eagle vs. Shark, “Flight of the Conchords” and What We Do in the Shadows. He’ll get his shot in the Major Leagues with – surprise! – the next chapter in the comic-book epic, “Thor: Ragnarok.” Let’s hope he doesn’t lose sight of the little picture.

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The Weekend Report

It was scary stuff as Boo! A Medea Halloween had an edge over Jack Reacher: Never Go Back with the debuting films opening to respective estimates of $27.6 million and $23 million. The other two national openers included a chilling $14 million for Ouija: Origin of Evil and an even more chilly $5.5 million for the spy spoof Keeping Up with the Joneses.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Tyler Perry puts on the Madea face again, this time with numbers slightly behind the last two big hits but well above the most recent Madea, which was Santa soft. Look for a weekend number in the low 20s. The return of Jack Reacher was met by action yawns, though it was a 74% better start than the first in the series, which makes its profits internationally. Did we need a second Ouija? Apparently not. But it will still make money. And Keeping Up With The Joneses tanked. Not a great movie, but much better than that. Four terrific performers who can’t open a movie.

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The DVD Wrapup: Through the Looking Glass, Café Society, Our Kind of Terror, Buying Democracy and more

If, as was the case in the 1970-80s, such writers and directors as Paul Mazursky, Michael Ritchie, Neil Simon, Herbert Ross, Elaine May, Nora Ephron, Mike Nichols, Francis Veber, and Larry Gelbart were still competing for the same adult audiences, Woody Allen wouldn’t stand so alone in the American filmmaking firmament. Neither would his detractors feel as if they have to make excuses for buying tickets to see his annual film.

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The Gronvall Report: Author Deborah E. Lipstadt On DENIAL, David Hare And Rachel Weisz

“If the filmmakers had to choose what material to fit into an hour and fifty minutes, I think they did it very, very well. The things that impressed me so much, as the person to whom it happened, and as an historian, was their emphasis on truth, on getting it right.”

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Pride, Unprejudiced: Hooligan Sparrow, Café Society

The shards of surveillance of secret police, of intimidation by plainclothes operatives and the sheer oppressive weight meant to crush resistance are equally horrifying, and captured with kaleidoscopic perseverance.

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DVD Geek: Medium Cool

In 1968, it was clear that something would happen on the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. With Medium Cool, Haskell Wexler and his collaborators assembled a viable romantic story, a Cinderella Liberty tale where a news cameraman (Robert Forster), chases after a kid who steals his bag then winds up falling for the kid’s hardworking but struggling mother (Verna Bloom). But, along with sending his character to pre-Convention events, Wexler also got Forster press credentials and into Chicago’s International Amphitheatre as rules votes and other events were unfolding at the Convention. Although it makes me wince, Wexler also put Bloom onto the streets as cops were attacking protesters.

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The Weekend Report

There’s no Accountant for taste as the Ben Affleck thriller topped weekend viewing with a debut estimated at $24.5 million. The Kevin Hart concert film What Now? appeared to have a razor-thin lead to take second spot ahead of The Girl on the Train with a $12 million tally. And gamer adaptation Max Steel was lost in the ether with a dismal $2.1 million launch.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Accounting for taste, Ben Affleck’s latest (and unlikely to be last) super-genius fantasy, The Accountant tallies $9 million. Kevin Hart shouts his way to $4.7 million with What Now, while Girl on the Train tracks to a 58% dropoff, for $3.9 million and a $38.5 million cume.

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First Blush Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (spoiler-free)

Essentially, Ang Lee made the absolute cutting edge version of a “Playhouse 90″ episode with some extra bells and whistles, and color.

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The DVD Wrapup: Infiltrator, Blood Father, Violent Cop, Sherpa, Les Cowboys, Hills Have Eyes and more

If it weren’t for the likelihood that American audiences already know as much about Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel as they’ll ever care to learn, Brad Furman’s compelling drug-war drama, The Infiltrator, might have managed to break even at the box office. Instead, fine performances by Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and Diane Kruger (“The Bridge”), as undercover U.S. Customs agents Robert Mazur and Kathy Ertz, will pretty much go for naught.

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DVD Geek: Walking Dead Season Six

“The Walking Dead” zombies probably should be identified as “classic Romero zombies.” The drama is compelling because it uses a fantasy horror premise to magnify human conflicts and emotions that otherwise could not be so readily highlighted. And to this invigorating drama, there is the constant suspense of a zombie attack. You never know where or when it is going to happen

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Settling Into The Starting Gates

By this time next week, the only unseen contenders in the race will be Allied, Collateral Beauty, Hidden Figures, Fences, Passengers, and Silence. And I expect, sight unseen, three of those six titles to be nominated for Best Picture. This is not an insignificant group.

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The Weekend Report

The Girl on the Train was first to arrive at the station with an estimated $24.6 million fare. The session featured two other national newcomers. The controversial historical drama The Birth of a Nation opened in sixth with $7 million. Teen comedy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life was a jot behind at $6.8 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The train! The train!

Solid opening, but not overwhelming. About 30% off of Gone Girl… which still (projected out) makes GOTT a $100m domestic grosser. Birth of a Nation opens to a tepid number. Could get to a domestic gross total that matches the Sundance purchase price, which could cover marketing. Slightly better opening than Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, the worst performing wide opening of the week.

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The DVD Wrapup: Innocents, Swiss Army Man, Purge: Election Year, Diary of a Chambermaid, The Wailing, Homestretch and more

The silence and shame that accompanies the infant’s birth would suggest that the nun had been impregnated by the devil – or, perhaps, the Holy Ghost — and no word of it should leave the convent’s walls.

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DVD Geek: Johnny Guitar

Dispensing with archetypes that populated so many westerns, Nicholas Ray’s memorable 1954 Republic Pictures production, Johnny Guitar, released as an impressive Olive Signature Blu-ray is filled with vivid, unpredictable characters.

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MCN Originals

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“We’ve talked about this before in the past, my obsession with the Shakespearean histories having the ideal combination of the sweet and the sour. In ‘Henry IV, Part II’ which we’ve discussed before, in the end of that story it’s very complex and haunting because Prince Hal becomes Henry the King, and he has transcended his hoodlum days and at the ceremony is Falstaff, his good friend with whom he has really fucked around and been a loser with, and Falstaff comes up to him and says, ‘Now that you’re king we can really party,’ and the king famously says, ‘I know thee not, old man.’ It becomes Henry IV’s anointment and Falstaff’s catastrophe. That’s life. I have experienced very little unfettered triumph. There are moments, such as when my children are born, but even that comes with new fears and anxieties. In a sense the better you can communicate that life is both at once, the more powerful over time something becomes. One strives for something where the threads are there because it lasts in way that is very palpable. The idea of a tragedy is powerful in literature and theater, but in cinema it doesn’t work, certainly not commercially, and less so critically. Why is that? I think it has to do with how movies are so close to us.”
~ James Gray

 

“Hollywood executives can rattle off the rules for getting a movie approved by Chinese censors: no sex (too unseemly); no ghosts (too spiritual). Among 10 prohibited plot elements are “disrupts the social order” and “jeopardizes social morality.” Time travel is frowned upon because of its premise that individuals can change history. U.S. filmmakers sometimes anticipate Chinese censors and alter movies before their release. The Oscar-winning alien-invasion drama “Arrival” was edited to make a Chinese general appear less antagonistic before the film’s debut in China this year. For “Passengers,” the space adventure starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, a scene showing Mr. Pratt’s bare backside was removed, and a scene of Mr. Pratt chatting in Mandarin with a robot bartender was added.”
~ “Hollywood’s New Script”