MCN Originals Archive for August, 2018

The DVD Wrapup: American Animals, Book Club, Woman Walks Ahead, Bound, Mind Game, Shadowbuilder, Poetic Trilogy, Boss N-word, Crazy Six, My Life With James Dean … More

If, however, the Southern-fried bozos damaged any of the treasures during their ill-conceived caper, had accidentally killed the librarian they tazed, or had managed to hand them off to a fence who could profit from making them disappear, the movie would be more depressing than entertaining.

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The Weekend Report

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Crazy Asians remain the Richest, as Melissa McCarthy’s star gets shadowed by felt in the r-rated puppet comedy The Happytime Murders. A-X-L is a d-o-g. In limited, Searching finds a good sized audience on 9 screens and Papillon may find a million dollar weekend on 544.

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The DVD Wrapup: 1st Reformed, Bleeding Steel, Higher Power, Black Water, Porcupine Lake, Tingler, Strait-Jacket, Tideland, Wild at Heart, Jack Ryan, Terror, Hillary, Outback, Blacklist, Walking Dead … More

First Reformed is set in a religiously minded community of New Englanders caught between traditional beliefs and the commercial realities of megachurches and politically connected preachers.

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The Weekend Report

Orient Express   Appropriately Crazy Rich Asians debuted on Chinese Valentine’s Day and its sweet message took the weekend box office crown with an estimated $25.3 million. The session saw two other national freshmen releases. The testosterone-charged Mile 22 ranked third with $13.6 million while the tale of canine origins was a couple of slots…

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Weekend of Dichotomies: Crazy Rich Asians continue to get love from the media and audiences… but haven’t started mining the big bucks yet. Mile 22 open shows how strong Mark Wahlberg is and that his non-franchise stardom may be fading a bit. Four new arthouse films will be over $10k per screen (The Wife, We The Animals, Juliet, Naked, and Blaze), though all of them are limited to 2, 3 or 4 screens.

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The DVD Wrapup: Avengers, Ninko, Escape, Aim for the Heart, Yellow Birds, Affairs of State, Gregorio Cortez, 200 Motels, Done to Your Daughters?, S.F. Brownrigg, Muppet Babies, BBC Earth … More

And, looking ahead, it’s entirely possible that “Infinity Wars,” “Black Panther” and “Deadpool 2″ – all based on comics by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee – could end up competing for the dubious honor of carrying home the first Oscar as Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film.

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The Weekend Report

Movies with Bite   Super shark The Meg tore through the competition to take the weekend box office crown with an estimated 44.4 million. The session saw two other films debut in wide release and a third launch a bit less wide. The urban legend horror yarn Slender Man slotted fourth overall with $11.2 million…

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Meg looks to be Warner Bros’ biggest opening of their rather quiet 4-film summer, cracking the Top 9 of domestic launches. The biggest question is whether the PG-13 monster shark comedy will draw family audiences today and Sunday or if they will be scared away by how big Meg’s teeth are. Screen Gems throws the somewhat controversial Slender Man into theaters and makes a small ripple. And the much praised, Cannes-awarded BlacKKlansman opens in wide-narrow, just 1512 screens, to what should be just over $7k per screen. It is a strong opening by Spike Lee standards, behind only Malcolm X in traditional Spike joints, and Original Kings of Comedy and Inside Man, which were not sold primarily as Spike films. It may also be the biggest Focus opening of under 2000 screens in their storied history. So, glass half…

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The DVD Wrapup: Bye Bye Germany, John From, Marrowbone, Wildling, Dead Shack, Bitter Money, Big Fish & Begonia, Street Mobster, US Fest, No Offense … More

Because he still considers himself to be an expert in the schmatte game, Bermann arranges for his band of peddlers to access French linens on the black market and sell them to the relatives of German soldiers killed in action, whose names and addresses he found listed in the obituaries and notices on bulletin boards.

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The Weekend Report

Mission: Impossible – Fallout proved its mettle and continued to lead weekend movie going with an estimated $35.3 million. Three new national releases entered the fray with the family friendly Christopher Robin slotting second with $25 million and the comic mash-up The Spy Who Dumped Me one spot back with $12.2 million. However, there was no yeah for the YA The Darkest Minds that bowed with $5.7 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Three disappointing launches this weekend. Disney has it’s softest non-animal opening in almost 2 years, reminding us both why they need a different marketing team if they are going to add Fox product to their line-up. Very few teams re built to hit to more than one spot at the very highest level. Meanwhile, Fox fails utterly to open The Darkest Minds. And Lionsgate has a comedy that stumbles into the market, about 60% behind its similar male take, The Bodyguard’s Hitman.

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The Gronvall Report: Director Marc Turtletaub on Puzzle

Puzzle, a beguiling contemporary love story adapted by Oren Moverman and Polly Mann from Natalia Smirnoff’s 2009 Argentinian film Rompecabezas, heralds producer Marc Turtletaub’s arrival as a director. Upon leaving a long career in the financial industry he transitioned to film in 2004, and after only four features, enjoyed his big breakthrough in 2006 as one of the producers behind Little Miss Sunshine.

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The DVD Wrapup: Final Portrait, Overboard, Dark Crimes, Iron Brothers, Streets of Vengeance, Piranha II, Star Wars Rebels, Myanmar … More

Although known almost exclusively as a sculptor, Final Portrait focuses on the creation of one of Alberto Giacometti’s hauntingly distinctive paintings, “The Portrait of James Lord.” The American journalist/critic first met Giacometti at the Café des Deux Magots in February 1952. As Lord recalled later, he was ‘instantly mesmerized’ by the artist.

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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