MCN Originals Archive for November, 2016

The DVD Wrapup: BFG, Pete’s Dragon, Baked in Brooklyn, Weng Weng, T.A.M.I./T.N.T. and more

With great numbers already recorded for Disney’s Moana, it’s difficult to look back at the last two years and imagine studio executives not being completely thrilled about what they’ve accomplished. Several releases have exceeded or threatened to hit the billion-dollar barrier and critical response has generally been friendly, even for those titles with lower financial expectations.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Beginning Is The End

You know it’s already over, right?

No, I’m not saying we know who is going to win Oscars this year. We don’t. But we know who is realistically in the running, and who is not.

To use a sports metaphor, we are in the playoffs. But teams still have to play the games.

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DVD Geek: Valley of the Dolls, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Vamp

There is bad, and then there is really bad. Valley of the Dolls is a bad movie. The histrionics of the characters pass for drama, while simplified progressions of successes and failures, both in careers and in romance, pass for narrative. But the plot is coherent, and the acting, although pushing the edges of sensibility, is valid. Dolls is appealing as high camp, with its most indulgent performances and importune dialog being accepted after the fact as a comical alternative to the real world, especially because of its show business milieu.

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The Weekend Report

The box office went unseasonal as Moana ascended to the top of the charts with an estimated $55.6 million debut for the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving holiday frame. Three other wide releases made the turkey trot debut with OK response for the Second World War era espionage thriller Allied that grossed $12.7 million. However, Bad Santa 2 had a paucity of Christmas cheer with a $6 million bow and the Howard Hughes inspired Rules Don’t Apply was decidedly elusive with a $1.6 million tally.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

A mixed bag on Thanksgiving weekend at the box office. It’s early to get a full read on Moana as its launch outpaces Frozen, but it is a rarity for a big animated movie to open on Thanksgiving weekend. Tea leaves are blurry. Likewise, the question of Doctor Strange remains open, as its 24 days to get to $200 million domestic is right in the middle of the Marvel pack. And Fantastic Beasts is pacing right along with the 2nd and 3rd Potter films so far. Allied opens soft, pacing with Australia, though it would be worth noting that Australia did over $200m worldwide and Allied could well do the same. Arrival is the strong hold of the week. Bad Santa 2 peed on Santa’s leg. Lion and Miss Sloane deliver in exclusive runs.

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Thankful 2016: 20 Years In

This is the 20th Thankful column and I am still grateful for so much. But what a long, strange trip it has been.

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The DVD Wrapup and Gift Guide: One-Eyed Jacks, Hell or High Water, Kubo, Mia Madre, The Land, Holiday Horror, Poldark and much more

Brando delivers a performance so distinctively nuanced –it runs the gamut from bizarre to brilliant – that it’s been indelibly etched into the memories of everyone who’s seen it. Ditto, his delivery of the lines, “Get up you scum-sucking pig! I want you standing when I open you up,” “You may be a one-eyed jack around here, but I’ve seen the other side of your face” and “Get up, you big tub of guts!”

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Gurus o’ Gold: Thanksgiving – Episode 2

In the second charts of the week, The Gurus look at Best Picture and offer their suggestions for what you must see this holiday weekend as well as what unexpected nominations would excite them. Have a wonderful holiday!

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Gurus o’ Gold: Thanksgiving – Episode 1

In this first of two pre-Thanksgiving Gurus outings, not a lot of change in Picture and the Supporting acting categories. The only real mover in Picture is… Arrival.

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The Weekend Report

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wasn’t just Pottering around, with an estimated $74.3 million debut way ahead of the pack. The session’s other new wide openers sputtered, as The Edge of Seventeen enrolled at seventh with $4.6 million and inspirational boxing saga Bleed for This only punched $2.3 million. The expansion of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk crawled to $933,000.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Unexpectedly, Fantastic Beasts seems soft in the perspective of 5-day Harry Potter openings. Still, what may well be a $100m+ opening weekend would be foolish to doubt. The big Friday opening took steam out of the market, especially for family and action. The Edge of Seventeen has been a passion project for STX, but not much of a start. Tough to figure out what else they could have done to get it rolling. Great start for Manchester by the Sea. Solid for Nocturnal Animals.

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The DVD Wrapup: Finding Dory, Jungle Book, Shirley Clarke 4, Better Call Saul, Christmas Stuff and more

The only critical knocks I’ve seen against Finding Dory were prompted by a perceived diminishment, however slight, in Pixar’s trademark gags and a story that bears too much resemblance to the original. Even so, the aggregate score on Metacritic.com stands at a lofty 77 and, last month, the worldwide box-office tally passed the billion-dollar barrier.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Who Directed That Masterpiece?

The election took The Gurus by surprise this week, but they have consulted with The Oscar Deities and are back in the saddle. This week, Best Picture and Best Director.

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The Weekend Report

Doctor Strange continued to cast his spell on the world with the top spot in the domestic arena estimated at $43.4 million. The session saw three new national releases with the alien Arrival slotting in position three with $24.1 million and right behind the urban family comedy Almost Christmas grossing $15.5 million. The haunted house thriller Shut In had a much fainter pulse of $3.7 million.

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Confessions Of A Film Fest Junkie

Over the past fifty years, it’s been tough to program a film festival in Los Angeles. It took Gary Essert years to secure financing and convince the Hollywood establishment that the long-gone FilmEx was benign, not a radical assault to crumble studio walls. That was back in 1971, and his pioneering festival was first significant showcase of international cinema in the City of Angels.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Doctor Strange is building with unusually strong weekday numbers and a strong Friday hold Marvel’s latest entry is looking more like a high-200s domestic grosser than a low-200s, which would make it the only non-Iron-Man-starring product besides Guardians to explode out of the gate. Trolls holds solid. Arrival lands, although not overwhelmingly. (A movie meant to build.) And Almost Christmas opens less strongly than Will Packer’s This Christmas, but is aimed at Thanksgiving week. Also holding, Hacksaw Ridge. Big two-screen start for Ang Lee’s motion-emotion experiment of Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk.

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Remembering Leonard Cohen

I met Leonard Cohen many times over the years. He lived close to my neighborhood and I’d see him shopping at Ralph’s or having dinner with his family at Le Petit Greek in Larchmont. But my relationship and odd connection dates back to the early 1970s when I was still living in Canada.

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The DVD Wrapup: Star Trek/Wars, Indignation, Private Property, Morris From America, Viktoria, Mes Aynak, Initiation and more

If these holiday-ready set demonstrate anything conclusively, it’s that distributors of DVD/Blu-ray/VOD titles are way ahead of consumers and equipment manufacturers on the technological curve, at least when it comes to promoting the visual and audio potential for home theaters. Unlike Ultra High Def and Blu-ray 3D units, technologically advanced pictures, like Star Trek Beyond and the upgraded edition of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, are priced to sell right now.

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20W2O: Keep To Your Knitting

Oscar punditry reads a lot like the months and months and months of expertise voiced on cable TV and via print/online media for 18 months leading to the November 8 absurdity of a Trump election. And the voices after the results settled in last night reminded me so much of the post-Oscar (and often, pre-Oscar) whining.

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Wilmington On Movies: DOCTOR STRANGE

I might prefer something adapted not from a classic comic but, say, a great novel, or a profound drama or a truly witty comedy, but we don’t call the shots.

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MCN Originals

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A Spirited Exchange

“In some ways Christopher Nolan has become our Stanley Kubrick,” reads the first sentence of David Bordwell’s latest blog post–none of which I want or intend to read after that desperate opening sentence. If he’d written “my” or “some people’s” instead of “our”, I might have read further. Instead, I can only surmise that in some ways David Bordwell may have become our Lars von Trier.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum On Facebook

“Jonathan has written a despicable thing in comparing me to Trump. He’s free to read or not read what I write, and even to judge arguments without reading them. It’s not what you’d expect from a sensible critic, but it’s what Jonathan has chosen to do, for reasons of a private nature he has confided to me in an email What I request from him is an apology for comparing my ideas to Trump’s.”
~ David Bordwell Replies

“Yes, I do apologize, sincerely, for such a ridiculous and quite unwarranted comparison. The private nature of my grievance with David probably fueled my post, but it didn’t dictate it, even though I’m willing to concede that I overreacted. Part of what spurred me to post something in the first place is actually related to a positive development in David’s work–an improvement in his prose style ever since he wrote (and wrote very well) about such elegant prose stylists as James Agee and Manny Farber. But this also brought a journalistic edge to his prose, including a dramatic flair for journalistic ‘hooks’ and attention-grabbers, that is part of what I was responding to. Although I realize now that David justifies his opening sentence with what follows, and far less egregiously than I implied he might have, I was responding to the drum roll of that opening sentence as a provocation, which it certainly was and is.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum Replies

“In my own mind, I’ve always been a writer and the fact that I act is, well… it’s been very enjoyable and I love doing it. It has been good for me, but in my own mind I’m just a writer with a bizarre activity—acting—that I undertake.”
~ Wallace Shawn