Posts Tagged ‘Going the Distance’

The DVD Wrap: Fantasia/Fantasia 2000, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Knight and Day, Cairo Time, The Sicilian Girl, Vampires Suck … and more

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: Blu-ray
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Blu-ray

According to Disney legend, Dopey the Dwarf was originally pushed for the role in Fantasia that went to Mickey Mouse. Instead, Uncle Walt went with the established star, hoping the role would maintain Mickey’s high profile in movies. Although Dopey might have been an inspired choice, there’s no questioning Mickey’s enduring appeal as the aspiring magician whose imagination nearly gets him killed.

Seventy years later, in the live-action Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Jon Turteltaub paid homage to Mickey’s conjuring of an unruly army of brooms and buckets, by creating a similar sequence for Jay Baruchel. For me, it was the highlight of the movie.

Historians have written entire books about Fantasia, so it would be difficult to add any more scholarship in the space allotted here. It was Walt Disney’s dream to advance the art of animation to a point where it would be taken as seriously by high-brows as it was by the masses. To accomplish this, he asked his stable of artists to translate great passages from the classical-music repertory into visual narratives.

It was a revolutionary concept, to be sure, and audiences failed to warm to the 125-minute, 64-speaker experiment. Some say Fantasia wasn’t accorded its due until the 1960s, when potheads embraced its unique blend of sensual stimuli. Today, of course, it’s considered to be a work of genius.

If Fantasia had succeeded commercially, Disney probably would have continued to produce such animated symphonies, although not necessary at feature length. His artists kept coming up with ideas, but it wouldn’t be until the turn of the millennium for the sequel to arrive in theaters, and it took the stewardship of nephew Roy Disney to do it.

Initially limited to IMAX screens, Fantasia/2000 reprised The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, while adding Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5″; Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” with its choreographed whales; Greshwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” using imagery inspired by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld; Shostakovich’s “Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102,” combined with Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a heroic toy soldier; Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” with its comically confounded flamingos; Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance, Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4,” starring Donald Duck; and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite, 1919 Version,” which harkens back to “The Rite of Spring” from the original Fantasia. Tellingly, perhaps, Fantasia/2000 was limited to 75 minutes, to fit contemporary consumers’ limited attention spans.

Both movies look and sound splendid in Blu-ray, of course. (They also beg the question as to how they’d look in HD 3D.) The supplemental features also make this package an ideal holiday gift. They include Disney’s Oscar-nominated short Destino (2003) and the feature-length documentary, Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino, which explains the film’s 50-year gestation period; The Schultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure, with newly discovered production notes; Musicana, Walt Disney’s inspiration for a sequel; a tour of the Disney Family Museum, in San Francisco, with daughter Diane Disney-Miller; an interactive art gallery; audio commentaries; and Disney Virtual Vault, via BD Live. The DVD bonuses are limited to “Musicana,” the museum tour and audio commentaries.

Turteltaub’s live-action Sorcerer’s Apprentice seems to have been influenced as much by Ghostbusters as Fantasia, in that its Manhattan location provides an ideal backdrop for super-sized supernatural activity.

Baruchel plays Dave, the reluctant apprentice to Nic Cage’s Balthazar Blake. The madly eccentric magician is one of three seemingly immortal protégés of Merlin, who prophesized the messiah-like arrival of a sorcerer as great as he was. That person is perceived to be Dave. Also vying for control of the young man’s powers is the devious Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), who would love nothing more than to unleash the long-contained evil of Morgana Le Fay (Alice Krieg). Together, they could trump Dave and Balthazar’s intrinsic goodness and raise an army of the dead to destroy humanity.

If all one knew about Sorcerer’s Apprentice is that it’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it still would be possible to imagine the kind of inspired mayhem that transpires when Balthazar, Horvath and Morgana do battle in the Big Apple. Neither would it surprise anyone to learn that the apprentice’s mission, like that of his mentor, would be complicated by a lovely and supportive young woman (Teresa Palmer and Monica Bellucci, respectively).

None of this will matter to audiences drawn to the promise of CGI legerdemain, as promised in the trailers. Fans of Fantasia will dig the homage to Mickey Mouse’s interpretation of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and placement of his starred hat among the artifacts in Balthazar’s antique shop, even if such nods sail right over the heads of younger viewers.

Turteltaub’s version cost a fortune to make, but failed to ignite much passion among audiences drawn to such special-effects extravaganzas. There’s no reason to think it won’t dominate video rentals for the next couple of weeks, though. Among the many Blu-ray supplements are the making-of featurettes, Magic in the City, The Science of Sorcery, Making Magic Real, Wolves and Puppies, Fantasia: Reinventing a Classic, The Fashionable Drake Stone and The World’s Coolest Car; backgrounders, The Grimhold: An Evil Work of Art and The Encantus; several deleted scenes; outtakes; Easter eggs; and visual-effects demos.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story
Walt & El Grupo

Admirers of all things Disney will find a cornucopia of unexpected riches in these three fine documentaries, which are as entertaining as they are informative. The title with the most across-the-board appeal is probably Waking Sleeping Beauty, which describes how Hollywood’s premier animation studio was rescued from the brink of irrelevancy in the early 1980s and re-established in its familiar position of dominance within a decade.

Artistically, the time period covered in Don Hahn and Patrick Pacheco’s film spans the crushing disappointment over critical and commercial returns for The Black Cauldron – a movie that still has its champions — and elation over the stunning success of The Lion King. From a corporate point of view, however, Waking Sleeping Beauty is bookended by the arrival of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and the famously acrimonious departure of Katzenberg, who, in 1994, would found DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

In between, of course, would come a string of successes that would include The Little Mermaid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King. None of these films would have seen the light of day if the studio had been lost in a hostile takeover, as feared, and Roy Disney hadn’t committed to restoring Disney’s prominence in the Hollywood Pantheon. Among other things, it kept the company’s stable of artists and innovators intact and cautiously optimistic, at least.

That family spirit is palpable in “home movies” and other material shot during the development of the ambitious new projects. Interviews with all the key players describe an atmosphere, first, of corporate pride and joy, but, before long, intrigue and back-stabbing. It’s a fascinating story, to be sure, but viewers only interested in the final product might prefer not knowing how the moguls behaved during this tumultuous period. Added material includes the overview featurette, Why Wake Sleeping Beauty?; deleted scenes; The Sailor, the Mountain Climber, the Artist and the Poet, commemorating Roy Disney, Frank Wells, animator Joe Ranft and lyricist Howard Ashman; studio tours; a directors’ reunion with Rob Minkoff and Kirk Wise; a discussion of how the studio operated before and after the death of Walt Disney; webisode shorts; and a gallery of photos, caricatures and art from the period covered in the documentary.

Anyone who’s had the misfortune of having “It’s a Small World (After All)” echo through their brain cavity for hours at a time can blame Disney tunesmiths Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, subjects of The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story. The same could be said of such irresistible numbers as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous,” “Chim-Chim-Cheree” and “I Wanna Be Like You.” Even though the feature-length documentary was conceived, produced and directed by two of the songwriters’ sons,

The Boys isn’t all sugar. There’s some strong medicine in the mix, as well. For example, the brothers remained personally estranged throughout much of their 50-year-plus partnership and tenure with Disney. Among the bonus material is a look at the Disney Studios in the 1960s; the casting of “Mary Poppins”; writing songs for theme-park attractions; a profile of animator Roy Williams, a.k.a. the Big Mooseketeer; Bob Sherman’s artwork; testimonials from celebrities; and a “Sherman Brother’s Jukebox,” with such songs as “Tall Paul,” “Chim Chim Cheree,” “Feed the Birds,” “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” as well as the stories behind them.

Walt & El Grupo describes a time in history when the world was a much larger place and Mickey Mouse may have been our country’s most popular and effective ambassador. It was 1941, before the declaration of global war, when Walt Disney was asked to make a goodwill tour of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Snow White and Pinocchio and had already demonstrated their viability as stand-alone features, but the studio’s health had been threatened by an industry-wide strike.

Uncle Sam agreed to pick up the expenses for the 10-week trip, though, so Disney decided to bring along a coterie of 16 artists, who the boss hoped would collect ideas for such future projects as Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. Moreover, it was believed that Disney’s estimable presence could counter inroads made in South American by Nazis and other fascist propagandists.

Like The Boys, El Grupo was made by the son of a Disney stalwart: Frank Thomas, one of The Nine Old Men. Theodore Thomas mined studio archives for source material, interviewed the relatives of participants, borrowed their memorabilia and re-traced the animators’ steps in Brazil and Argentina. In addition to watching Disney and el grupo interact with the locals, it’s fun to watch artists going about the business of recording their experiences on paper. The DVD adds commentary by Thomas and historian J.B. Kaufman; “Photos In Motion,” which described how photos came to life in motion pictures; three extended sequences; the theatrical version of Saludos Amigos and original trailers for Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.

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Knight and Day: Blu-ray

If there’s one thing we know for sure about Tom Cruise, it’s that he enjoys performing his own stunts. Last week, for example, photos of the 48-year-old actor dangling from the observation deck of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the world’s tallest, were published in newspapers and magazines around the world. The act of dare-deviltry was performed for the fourth installment of “Mission:Impossible,” movies that often use elaborate stunts to advance a recognizable narrative.

As far as I can tell, Knight and Day is a romantic thriller with no plot, discernible or otherwise. It’s one long stunt in search of a grand finale. Considering that most popcorn movies wouldn’t recognize a narrative if it rose from the pages of a screenplay and bit them in the rear end, that remark sounds a bit more dismissive than it’s intended to be. The stunts are very good, indeed, and Cruise’s insistence on performing some of them, at least, make Knight and Day that much more interesting.

According to a featurette in the bonus package, co-star Cameron Diaz also agreed to do some of her own fighting and driving stunts. Knight and Day opens with Cruise’s Roy Miller literally bumping into Diaz’ June Havens in a Kansas City airport. They will find themselves on the same flight, which is nearly devoid of passengers. While June is in the lavatory adjusting her makeup and trying to decide whether or not to hit on Roy, their fellow passengers and crew reveal themselves as assassins bent on killing him.

Before she can even say, “Huh?,” June joins Roy in the ensuing skirmish and behind the wheel of the plane, which he crash lands in the middle of a corn field. It takes nearly the entire length of the movie for June to figure out for which agency Roy works and why two different groups of assassins, minimum, are chasing them around the globe. Viewers are pretty much left in the dark, as well. The good news, though, is that it hardly matters, especially as the action moves from Boston to Kankakee to Jamaica, Salzburg, Sevilla, Point Magu and the Little Europe backlot at Universal City.

Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) keeps everything moving at break-neck speed, while a budget estimated to be in the neighborhood of $120 million (imagine if Cruise and Diaz hadn’t done their own stunts) allows for much lovely scenery and a re-creation of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. And, yes, it’s fun to watch. Making-of featurettes demonstrate how some of the larger set pieces were accomplished, with much bright banter between Cruise and Diaz. There’s also a music video for “Someday,” starring Cruise and the Black Eyed Peas; humorous viral videos; and BD Live extras.

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Cairo Time

I’m terrible at predicting Oscar nominees, but I’d be very surprised if Patricia Clarkson’s name wasn’t among those announced as a finalist in the Best Actress category for her work in Cairo Time. Few actors are as predictably excellent as Clarkson, who, after first gaining attention as the German junkie in High Art, turned in stellar performances in Far From Heaven, Pieces of April, The Station Agent, Good Night, and Good Luck, Elegy and Married Life, among other pictures.

In Ruba Nadda’s heady romantic drama, she plays an American magazine writer in Cairo to reconnect with her husband, a United Nations relief worker in Gaza. If the splendid hotel digs are any indication, it promises to be a wonderful reunion. Unfortunately, Juliette Grant’s husband has been delayed by a disturbance in the occupied territory and there’s no telling how long it will be before he can make the short hop to Egypt.

He’s asked a former co-worker to help Juliette find her bearings in the city of 18 million people, a duty Tareq (Alexander Siddig) takes extremely seriously. From that short description, anyone who’s seen more than a dozen indie romances should be able to guess what happens if not next, then close to it. Juliette and Tariq spend so much time together, in so many exotic places, that it’s inevitable some sort of intimacy should develop between them. Whether it should blossom into something sexual – or lasting — is the question Nadda asks viewers to consider. Not being a Hollywood product, Cairo Time provides its characters with sufficient time to mull and re-mull their emotional impulses, privately, without the input of a Dr. Ruth surrogate.

Tareq is far too loyal and polite to act impulsively, while Juliette seems willing to believe her husband will join her any minute now. What’s wonderful about Cairo Time is summed up distinctly in its title. Nadda, a Canadian of Syrian descent, captures the rhythm and other sensual stimuli of the Egyptian capital and their pull on two emotionally vulnerable, if distinctly different people. Such decisions should not be made in haste, even if lust is a more powerful force than patience.

In the interviews included in the supplementary material, Nadda says she was especially interested in introducing audiences to the kind of Arab man rarely, if ever seen in western films. As portrayed by Siddig (Syriana, 24), Tareq is every bit that person and, through him, we experience Cairo and Egypt – from the casbahs, cafes and congested streets, to the pyramids, White Desert and Alexandria – as if we had a native making sense of it all for us.

The making-of featurette describes how difficult it was to make a movie in the teeming streets of Cairo, with temperatures approaching 120 degrees and setup points that are here today and gone tomorrow. There’s also a Q&A from a press conference at the Toronto Film Festival and some of Nadda’s earlier short films.

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The Sicilian Girl

As we learned in the second and third chapters of The Godfather, the Sicilian Mafia is a very different creature than its American iteration. Besides the fact that its soldiers tend not to dress as snappily as their counterparts here, vendettas are carried from generation to generation to generation, ad nausea. Both, though, are governed by the code of omerta, which demands a level of secrecy few other organizations can maintain.

In Marco Amenta’s The Sicilian Girl, we’re introduced to a 17-year-old girl who risks everything to exact revenge on the men who killed her father – himself a Mafia don – and her older brother. Because there are no men in her family left to do the deed in the traditional way, Rita Atria decides to do the unthinkable: turn state’s evidence against men once considered to be as close as family members.

In doing so, Rita turns to Judge Paolo Borsellino, one of the few law-enforcement officials willing to stand up to her father in a forthright manner and remain incorruptible, even when threatened with assassination. Rita’s no pussycat, however. Even after she enters the country’s witness-protection program, she proves herself to be very much her father’s daughter. When prosecutors don’t appear to be moving fast enough, she confronts them with angry diatribes and ignores their common-sense advice. Neither does she endear herself to the magistrate assigned to the trial of dozens of her father and uncle’s former lieutenants.

Yet, at great personal cost, she delivers the goods. Atria’s direction isn’t always fluid, but Veronica D’Agostino’s gripping portrayal of Rita rarely wavers. It’s a portrait in courage to which the families of American Mafiosi ought to aspire, instead of agreeing to play themselves in hideous reality-TV shows.

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Going the Distance: Blu-ray

For all its profanity and horndog dialogue, Going the Distance is about as provocative as a sketch in the final third of Saturday Night Live. Like most rom-coms about long-distance relationships, Geoff LaTulippe’s script demands of its lovers that they meet-cute and spend the rest of the movie conceiving new and increasingly flimsy reasons why they shouldn’t find a way to be together.

Before the advent of the Internet and unlimited long-distance calls, filmmakers dealt with the futility of such relationships by showing generic jetliners transverse the continent, their nose cones pointing in opposite directions, sometimes on the same day. Today, the same effect can be derived by having lovers converse via Skype or text messaging, although such technologies are rarely exploited correctly.

Devoid of originality or realistic human interaction, Going the Distance plays very much like an episode of Friends, during which the characters chat inarticulately about inconsequential subjects and wonder why they spend more time drinking coffee than making new friends. Here, Drew Barrymore and Justin Long play the couple stuck in the long-distance relationship. They seem extremely comfortable together in person, but devoid of passion when separated, even in de rigueur long-distance masturbation scenes.

The sidekicks who provide Long’s Garrett with bad advice are played by Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, while Barrymore’s Erin receives hers from Christine Applegate, as the humorless sister, and Jim Gaffigan, as her lumpen brother-in-law. The bonus features are dominated by deleted scenes and self-congratulatory interviews with cast and crew.

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Vampires Suck: Extended Bite Me Edition

Given a resume that includes Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, it was only a matter of time before parodists Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer would tackle the recent epidemic of vampire movies. Their formula is simple, really. They break down a currently popular genre according to stock characters, narrative clichés, experiences shared by protagonists and common background elements, with an eye to lampooning archetypes and ridiculous plot devices.

In Vampires Suck, for example, the bloodsuckers that live in a rainy town in the Pacific Northwest tend to be young, attractive and prone to exposing large patches of skin, just like their counterparts in Twilight. Here, though, the teens appear to be practicing for the same quarter-finals as the ones in Glee.

There also are plenty of references to True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Vampire Diaries. When those gags run dry, Friedberg and Seltzer turn to gay, shirtless werewolves and such non-generic pop-cultural touchstones as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Tiger Woods, the Kardashians, Lady Gaga and blow-up sex dolls. If one joke or sight gag doesn’t work, another will surely follow 30 seconds later.

And, speaking of clichés, the ubiquitous Ken Jeong has been assigned the task of parodying himself. The further one is removed from their sophomore year in high school, the less fresh and amusing “Vampire Sucks” will be. The DVD comes with both theatrical and unrated editions, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

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Greaser’s Palace

Made in 1972, in and around Santa Fe, Greaser’s Palace is a wildly eccentric re-telling of the life of Jesus Christ, if He had chosen to make a return engagement in a dumpy desert town in the Old West. As conceived by underground auteur Robert Downey Sr. – yes, Junior, makes a brief appearance as, what else, a 7-year-boy – Greaser’s Palace is an equal-opportunity blasphemer, which, of course, should have made it must-viewing for the midnight-movie crowd.

Here, Jesus is portrayed by a zoot-suited Allan Arbus, who returns to Earth, via parachute, somewhere north of the Mexican border (“to get it right this time,” Downey argues in an interview). In addition to healing the sick and raising the dead, as he makes his way to Jerusalem, the dapper drifter will break into song and dance a mean soft shoe to impress potential disciples. The closer Jesse gets to the dancehall saloon run by Seaweedhead Greaser, the greater the number of followers he accumulates.

Anyone who’s read the New Testament should be able to guess what happens to Jesse next. Critics have openly despised Greaser’s Palace since its brief run in New York City, in 1972. Downey was coming off the success of the anti-establishment comedy Putney Swope and his admirers could hardly wait to see what he could accomplish with the relatively large budget of $1 million. To say they were disappointed would be a huge understatement.

Today, though, much of Downey’s folly looks inspired, at least by comparison to what passes for sacrilegious underground humor these days. (Jesse wows the crowd at the Palace not with his vaudeville shtick, but by falling back on the time-honored stigmata gag.) Among other things to look for: a pre-Fantasy Island appearance by Hervé Villechaize, whose Mr. Spitunia is married to a bearded transvestite, and Toni Basil (Easy Rider, the hit song “Mickey”) as a topless Indian maiden. The DVD includes an interview with Downey Sr.

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The Bing Crosby Collection

The closer we get to Christmas, the more we’re reminded of Bing Crosby, whose image and songs are practically synonymous with the holiday. If we see Going My Way, Holiday Inn and its color remake, White Christmas, once, we’re likely to encounter it a dozen more times before New Year’s Day. That hardly qualifies as a crime, however, considering the wonderful songs and warmth of the screenplays.

The crooner became a Hollywood staple at the dawn of the talkie era and continued to be active in films and television until the 1970s, as a variety-show host and actor adept at drama, comedy and playing singers, like himself. More than 30 years after his death, it’s the odd season when one of his songs, at least, doesn’t appear on a soundtrack.

The rarely seen films collected in Universal’s highly entertaining The Bing Crosby Collection are distinguished by the Tacoma native’s truly splendid singing voice, leading-man good looks and participation of some of the most popular performers of his day. In College Humor (1933), Crosby plays a singing professor at a college where football is king. The instructor falls for the same beautiful blond coed (Mary Carlisle) as the team’s star (Richard Arlen). Among the delightfully goofy things in College Humor is the depiction of collegians – the male students, including Jack Oakie, all look as if they’re over 30 – who wear beanies and letter-sweaters to class and slinky gowns and tuxes to parties. George Burns and Gracie Allen add to the fun.

George and Gracie also appear in We’re Not Dressing (1934), alongside Carole Lombard, Ethel Merman, Ray Milland and Leon Errol. Crosby plays a deckhand on a yacht that is shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. Lombard plays the snobbish heiress who ultimately succumbs to the sailor’s charms. Also released that year, Here Is My Heart imagines a rich radio crooner posing as a hotel waiter to warm the heart of an icy Russian princess, played by Kitty Carlisle. Also on hand are William Frawley and Akim Tamiroff.

Mississippi (1935) pairs Crosby with W.C. Fields, as a Yankee gentleman who loses face when he refuses to duel a Southern military officer, who covets his fiancé. Disgraced, he takes a singing job on a riverboat captained by Fields. The songs are by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In Sing You Sinners (1938), Crosby, Fred MacMurray and Donald O’Connor play the singing Beebe Brothers, who seek their fortune in Los Angeles but are distracted by the temptations of horse racing. (Crosby was a co-founder of the Del Mar race track.)

In Welcome Stranger (1947), Crosby plays an upstart doctor assigned to cover patients of a cranky old physician (Barry Fitzgerald) while he’s on vacation. Joan Caulfield plays the local girl who makes waves with her financee by befriending the singing sawbones, at least until he requires emergency medical care.

These titles were made by Paramount Productions, between 1929 and 1949. In 1958, they were part of a 700-film transaction, through which MCA/Universal acquired the rights, ostensibly for television distribution. They movies have all been upgraded and look and sound terrific.

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Death of a Snowman

A few months back, a nasty crime thriller titled Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema emerged from the truly mean streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, chronicling the ascendency of a pair of poor township teens from common thieves to well-connected urban ganglords.

In 2005, Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi took home a Foreign Language Oscar for its grim depiction of thug life in post-apartheid Jo’berg. Released in 1978, Death of a Snowman also describes a city beset with crime and vigilante violence. Clearly a product of its time, Christopher Rowley and Bima Stagg’s crudely made thriller was informed by the same action, rhythms and fashions that distinguished such American blaxploitation classics as Super Fly and Shaft.

In it, Steve Chaka (Ken Gampu) plays an ambitious news reporter, who’s handed the scoop of the year by an all-black vigilante group known only as War on Crime. Chaka’s anxious to cleanse the streets of the capital of the same scum targeted by the killers, so he ignores any potential conflicts. Seeking the verification of official sources, the reporter enters into an uneasy alliance with a cynical white police detective. Together, they get drawn into the mayhem created by War on Crime in their bloody feud with various facsimiles of “The Man.”

Death of a Snowman is a far from perfect movie … hell, it’s not even that close to being good. Still, I found it interesting for a couple of reasons, unrelated to its violent storyline: 1) the absence of apartheid references and positive representation of middle-class black professionals; and 2) the inclusion of Trevor Rabin’s name on the credits. At the time, the Johannesburg native was something of a local musical phenom and the funky R&B/disco sound of Snowman was right up his alley.

An ardent opponent of apartheid (one of his cousins wrote Biko, while another represented the slain activist’s family in a wrongful-death suit), Rabin had yet to move to London and Los Angeles, where he would join the reunited prog-rock ensemble, Yes, and compose several of the group’s later hits. Obviously, though, Rabin had caught the composing bug. After leaving Yes, he would go on to provide scores for such high-profile movies as Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the People, Remember the Titans, National Treasure, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and, yes, Snakes on a Plane.

For my money, that’s sufficient justification for rental of Snowman.

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Exam
Alarm
The Possession of David O’Reilly

It takes a lot of skimming to separate the gold from the dross among movies that arrive on these shores virtually unseen by critics here and are immediately relegated to video-store shelves. Unreleased American films that end up in the same place generally can boast of one recognizable star or director, at least, while others have benefitted from screenings at festivals. Blurbs from critics are the most unreliable of references, probably. At best, they might lead adventurous viewers to websites devoted to niche films or compiling reviews from other sources.

It’s an inexact science, to be sure, but sometimes the rewards are worth the effort. Here are three imported thrillers that lack most of the usual credentials, yet could find an audience among fans of psycho-dramas.

Exam is being pitched as a twisted spinoff of “Apprentice,” in which eight ambitious men and women compete for a vaguely articulated job with an unknown company, and are accorded a mere 80 minutes to demonstrate their worthiness to an unseen observer. Given only the barest of clues as to the single question that requires an answer, the participants must work as a team, knowing only one of them is likely to survive the challenge.

As soon as any one of them breaks a rule, they’re dragged from the room by a guard, never to return again. This gives the proceedings an Agatha Christie feel, although her scenarios didn’t include anything this sadistic. In another conundrum, the more participants learn about each other, the easier it is for them to target foibles and eliminate potential allies.

At 101 minutes, the winnowing process takes place in real time, so viewers theoretically have no greater advantage than the individual contestants. Exam is an entertaining diversion, but patience is required.

In Alarm, a traumatized Irish woman trades the mayhem of Dublin, for what she expects to be a more sedate existence in the countryside. Director Gerard Stembridge doesn’t give Molly (Ruth Bradley) much time to enjoy her new digs, before he assigns unknown forces to break into her home at night and deprive her of sleep. Even after Molly has an alarm system installed and gets a dog to protect her, the intrusions continue.

There are plenty of people who have the means to torment the pretty young woman, but hardly any reasonable motives. This leaves, of course, the distinct possibility that Molly is completely nuts and she enjoys the attention. For most of its 105-minute length, however, Alarm is full of a lot noise that signifies almost nothing.

The Possession of David O’Reilly imagines a scenario in which a shell-shocked young man arrives at the house of friends, bringing a world of hurt along with him. No sooner does David O’Reilly settle in for the night than he conjures visions of bogeymen and blood-soaked demons. At first, the welcoming couple attempts to comfort their pal by insisting he’s still in mourning over a lost love. Before long, however, David begins wielding a butcher knife around the house, threatening everyone and everything in his path.

Again, the question becomes: is David bonkers or is the house truly haunted? The distributors would love for us to find parallels between their movie and Paranormal Activity. Not having seen the latter title, I wouldn’t know. If you do want to find out if that’s the case, I suggest watching Possession with the lights out.

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David Bowie: Rare and Unseen

This DVD, the latest entry in MVD/Wienerworld’s excellent Rare and Unseen Collection, arrived after my review of The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy & Lou ran here, so there’s really no reason in rehashing Bowie’s contributions to rock music over the last 40 years. Films in the Rare and Unseen are particularly worthwhile for their presentation of archival interviews from non-mainstream sources, as well as largely unseen concert footage and newsreel clips. The same holds true for the Bowie DVD.

It is enhanced by film borrowed from the archives of Britain’s Independent Television News and restored television interviews, in which he discusses his drug use, alter egos and Berlin period. Another rarity is a backstage visit paid Bowie by celebrity journalist Janet Street-Porter and an interview with the late talk-show host, Russell Harty.

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Monk: Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set
The Bionic Woman: Season One

Movie stars will tell you that portraying evil characters generally is a more satisfying experience than playing virtuous ones. In television and novels, the opposite is almost always the case. Dexter Morgan may be a serial killer, but what keeps viewers tuning in each week is his insistence that some criminals shouldn’t be given an opportunity to escape justice on a legal technicality.

Tony Soprano was responsible for the deaths of quite a few people, almost all of them killers in their own right. We identified with him, because, at home, he couldn’t cope with the moods of his teenage children any better than we can. The writers of serial mysteries and series television not only are required to create protagonists who are smarter than the average bear, but also possess quirks and idiosyncrasies that endear them to viewers.

More than 130 years after readers were introduced to Sherlock Holmes, you’d think writers would have exhausted all possible idiosyncrasies.

No crime fighter in memory has more ticks, endearing and otherwise, than freelance San Francisco detective Adrian Monk, and, after eight seasons, it would be difficult to imagine such an obsessive-compulsive character being portrayed by anyone except Tony Shalhoub. (ABC originally wanted Michael Richards and passed on the show when he turned them down.) Normally, you’d think anyone as tightly wound and germ-phobic as Monk would be the last person you’d want to see entering a crime scene in his paper booties. Even if the gag worked once or twice, how long could any actor keep it rolling for a whole season, let alone eight?

Shalhoub, a veteran character actor with established comic chops, crafted performances that somehow kept Monk’s inarguably annoying traits from overwhelming the intricacies of detection. To this end, the show’s writers gave Monk devoted a sidekick, alternately Sharona Fleming and Natalie Teeger (Bitty Schram was replaced by Traylor Howard in the third season), and a cautious ally in the police department in Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine). It’s formulaic, but good scripts trump clichés every night of the week.

Beyond all the obvious reasons for coveting Monk: Complete Series Limited Edition Box Set, its release corrects a problem inherent in the show’s rise to mainstream acceptance. After ABC realized it might have misjudged the popularity of the USA Network show, it scheduled prime-time reruns in the summers of 2002 and 2004. Anticipating a writers’ strike in 2008, NBC picked up second-run airings of Monk and Psyche.

While this exposed the show to countless new viewers, it was difficult for them to keep track of what happened, when, and what might have been missed in the interim. This box corrects any such confusion. Additionally, it offers such special features as “Mr. Monk and His Origins,” “Mr. Monk and His O.C.D.,” “Mr. Monk and His Fellow Sufferers,” “The Minds Behind the Monk,” character profiles, “Life Before Monk,” episode commentaries, a treatise on the writing process, the 32-page “Defective Detective Handbook” and “Mr. Monk Says Goodbye,” which helps tie up ends loosened in Episode One. Look for such guest stars as John Turturro, Howie Mandell, Virginia Madsen Sarah Silverman and Stanley Tucci, Shalhoub’s co-star in “Big Night.”

Last week’s big news in the TV-to-DVD arena was the arrival of The Six Million Dollar Man collector’s box. I’ve subsequently been reminded of the recent release of the first season of The Bionic Woman, the spinoff series that starred Lindsay Wagner.

Initially, Jaime Sommers was introduced as a love interest for Col. Steve Austin (Lee Majors), but viewers demanded more of her. So, she was accorded a bionic future of her own, as a top-secret agent for the Office of Scientific Investigations. The box set includes the five original episodes featured in Six Million Dollar Man and new “Bionic Beginnings” featurette.

____________________________________________________

The Special Relationship
Marvel Knights: Iron Man: Extremis
Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits

Americans should be excused if they can’t tell the difference between actor Michael Sheen and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sheen has performed dead-on impressions of Blair in The Queen, The Deal and The Special Relationship, an HBO original movie whose title not only describes the enduring alliance between England and the United States, but also Blair’s friendship with President Bill Clinton.

We’ve come to know Blair as a strong ally of America during periods of conflict and an astute domestic politician. He shared with Bill Clinton an aggressive approach to diplomacy and a broad smile, which often disguised shark’s teeth. Here, Clinton (Dennis Quaid) is the more experienced leader and Blair would love to hitch his star to the president’s wagon.

When the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupts and the U.S. is accused of waffling on human rights in the former Yugoslavia, Blair must decide if Clinton’s friendship is worth the aggravation. Once again, screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Deal, The Queen) has been asked to imagine what might have been said in conversations between the two world leaders, between the men and their wives and their reactions to embarrassing revelations.

Quaid is very good as the shiftless American president, who’s as difficult to pin down as mercury, and Hope Davis is spot-on as the occasionally clueless Hillary Clinton. Once again, Helen McCrory plays Blair’s wife, Cherie. Movies like these make history fun, even if the circumstances that inspired them were anything but that.

Apparently, some superheroes share a body chemistry that includes a substance that, when synthesized through nanotechnology, allows them to heal themselves at an accelerated rate. Who knew, right? In the latest edition of Marvel Knights, this serum is called Extremis and an arch-enemy of Iron Man has used it to his benefit in a battle supreme. It leaves billionaire Tony Stark at the mercy of a militia headed by Mallen, who wants to avenge the deaths of close family members.

Can the substance be used by the good guys to counter impending doom? Stay tuned.

The set includes a “conversation” with artist Adi Granov, a behind-the-scenes look at the “Marvel Knights” animation process, “Marvel Super Heroes: What the–?,” a visual history of Iron Man and a music video.

Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits is just that: a compilation of classic episodes from such beloved kiddie (and early-rising stoner) shows as H.R Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Bugaloos, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, Wonderbug and Bigfoot & Wild Boy. The shows featured colorfully decorated puppets and live-action characters, who battled evil in highly unusual situations and distant lands.

Besides 154 minutes’ worth of vintage entertainment, the set adds fresh interviews with Marty Krofft and stars of the most popular shows, as well as a never-before-seen pilot episode of an early Krofft production.

____________________________________________________

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement
Anotherworld

When individual states began recognizing same-sex marriages, less than a decade ago, media outlets treated the collective rush to the figurative altar as if it were just another sideshow in the American circus. Photos of gays and lesbians kissing on Page One of local newspapers caused controversy and controversy sells papers – and raises ratings – at a time when consumers are looking elsewhere for their news.

After a few days, gay marriage became as commonplace in those states as ribbon-cuttings at the local mall, only less likely to rate a headline outside the weekly announcements page. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, half of all Americans probably will weep and wail for the next 24 hours, then another crusade to champion or decry.

Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement chronicles the exclusive 40-year-plus partnership and eventual marriage two years ago, in Canada, of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. The non-polemical documentary showcases the evolution of their relationship through the most mundane medium known to man: home movies and slide shows.

Together, the New Yorkers reminisce about vacations, parties, friends and other shared experiences, and how their lives changed after Stonewall. For Thea, who died last year of complications associated with MS, recollections of nights spent dancing are, at once, painful and joyous. They appear to be wealthy, so most of the memories are pleasant, especially those sparked by cheesecake photos of themselves in bikinis, during summer breaks at their home in the Hamptons. That’s it, really.

A Very Long Engagement is a portrait of two people – who happen to be lesbians – in love, and the complications associated with growing old. Their marriage was far less a political statement than an affirmation of their love and dependence on each other. One is free, however, to find the political in the personal, but only so far as it pertains to legalizing something already validated by mutual commitment.

The DVD, from Breaking Glass, includes an interview with Judge Harvey Brownstone, who presided over their nuptials; coverage of Edie, as she accompanied filmmakers Susan Muska and Gréta Olafsdóttir (The Brandon Teena Story) on the festival circuit; the featurette, “Coping With Disability”; a photo gallery; and link to the segment pertaining to Edie and Thea, in “In the Life.”

The official condemnation of homosexuality by the Roman Catholic Church and its reigning pontiff, the former Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, hangs over Anotherworld like a storm cloud threatening a downpour. Pope Benedict XVI may not carry much weight in the gay ghettos of the United States, but, in Italy, the Vatican’s mind police are never very far away from home.

In Fabiomassimo Lozzi’s deeply affecting film, actors dramatize monologues taken from the works of Antonio Venetians and Ricardo Reim. They represent the heaven, hell and purgatory of homosexual culture in Italy. Along with tales dominated by fear and self-loathing are sequences filled with self-discovery and love. At times, their intimacy is overwhelming. Naturally, there is plenty of nudity and rough talk, but Anotherworld shouldn’t be confused with pornography.

Michelle Orange Goes Justin Long And Justin Replies In Comments

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Michelle Orange Goes Justin Long And Justin Replies In Comments

The New Gen Of American Female Directors

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

The New Gen Of American Female Directors

The Weekend Box Office Report

Monday, September 13th, 2010

 

Weekend Estimates – September 10-12, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) change Theaters Cume
Resident Evil: Afterlife Sony 26.9 (8,390) New 3203 26.9
Takers Sony 5.9 (2,710) -45% 2191 47.9
The American Focus 5.7 (2,020) -57% 2833 28.2
Machete Fox 4.1 (1,520) -64% 2678 20.7
Going the Distance WB 3.8 (1,260) -45% 3030 14
The Other Guys Sony 3.4 (1,530) -35% 2246 112.5
The Last Exorcism Lions Gate 3.4 (1,230) -54% 2731 38.1
The Expendables Lions Gate 3.2 (1,050) -51% 3058 98.5
Inception WB 3.0 (1,870) -35% 1583 282.4
Eat Pray Love Sony 2.9 (1,230) -40% 2339 74.6
Nanny McPhee Returns Uni 2.0 (850) -43% 2364 26.2
The Switch BV 1.9 (1,210) -38% 1595 24.9
Despicable Me Uni 1.5 (1,120) -48% 1375 243.4
Vampires Suck Fox 1.4 (830) -57% 1670 24
Lottery Ticket WB 1.3 (1,390) -41% 905 22.7
Get Low Sony Classics .85 (1,690) -29% 504 6.9
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Uni .79 (1,280) -49% 619 30.4
Twilight: Eclipse Summit .73 (610) 68% 1187 299.6
Avatar (reissue) Fox .69 (1,580) -69% 436 759.5
Toy Story 3 BV .67 (940) -66% 712 409.9
Piranha 3D Weinstein Co. .63 (760) -74% 825 24.3
Salt Sony .62 (1,370) -51% 451 116.4
Debangg Eros .61 (9,100) New 67 0.61
Dinner for Schmucks Par .51 (950) -51% 536 71.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films)   $76.50      
% Change (Last Year) -12%
% Change (Last Week) -23%
Also debuting/expanding
L’Arnacouer/Heartbreaker Alliance/IFC .17 (3,690)   47 0.17
Legendary IDP .12 (690)   178 0.12
I’m Still Here Magnolia 93,600 (4,930)   19 0.09
The Romantics Par 43,700 (21,850)   2 0.04
De Mai Tinh (Fool for Love) Wave 40,400 (5,050)   8 0.04
Expecting Mary Rocky Mtn 32,500 (580)   56 0.03
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop Sony Classics 28,300 (2,360) 3% 12 0.06
Bran Nue Dae FreeStyle 23,600 (1,470)   16 0.02
Ahead of Time  Vitagrapaph 11,100 (11,100)   1 0.01
Le Refuge Strand 10,700 (2,680)   4 0.01
Who is Harry Nilsson Lorber 6,200 (6,200)   1 0.01

25-Year-Old Female Reporter Confesses Geeking Over Drew Barrymore

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

25-Year-Old Female Reporter Confesses Geeking Over Drew Barrymore

Weekend Estimates – September 6

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Four Day Estimates| | |
The American| 16.5| New| 19.6
Machete| 14.1| New| 14.1
Takers| 13.6| -47%| 40.1
The Last Exorcism| 8.7| -64%| 33.5
Going the Distance| 8.6| New| 8.6
The Expendables| 8.3| -46%| 93.9
The Other Guys| 6.6| -16%| 108
Eat Pray Love| 6.1| -29%| 70.2
Inception| 5.8| -6%| 278.4
Nanny McPhee Returns| 4.6| -24%| 23.4

The Weekend Box Office Report — Four Day and Summer Charts

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Summer of Our Discontent

Domestic box office for the summer season dropped 3% from 2009 on an estimated gross of $4.05 billion. On an even graver note admissions sank at least 10% and possibly as high as 12%.  Following a fast start in early May, movie going appeared to lose steam mid-stream and though the final Labor Day holiday frame contributed a slight 5% weekend boost it was insufficient to close the gap.

Heading into the weekend, Paramount led in market share but were out-gunned at the final shoot out by Sony with the latter closing the season with a 16.5% slice of the big pie to the former’s 15.9%. The summer’s top grossing film was Toy Story 3 with a $408.8 million tally. Five of the top 10 top seasonal grossers were in the 3D format and two others — Inception and Iron Man 2 — had a significant number of large format engagements. The surge of premium price movies proved to be a ferocious audience magnet. Collectively the seven films contributed $1.82 billion to the box office, or 45% of all summer ticket sales.

Despite the potency of such conventionally formatted films as The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and unexpected results for the likes of Grown Ups and The Expendables, box office events are increasingly tilted toward pictures with higher entry fees.  And whereas the historic trend of successful films increasing attendance, the present situation appears to have limited the general publics frequency at the multiplex in what may be a factor of the slowly recovering American economy.  Gloom and doom aside, major gains were made in the independent sector.

The likes of Summit and Lions Gate chose to compete against the majors for a change and the former was a hair’s breath away from nudging Fox out of the top six. Niche titles ranging from the first two portions of the Millennium trilogy, festival favorites such as Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right and critical favorite I Am Love were a significant factor in summer sales.  In all 13 films of this type grossed in excess of $4 million each — a seasonal record that indicates a growing audience for alternative fare.

Though the industry has long contended that there is an insufficient market for mid-range pictures, the absence of a breakout title on the order of The Hangover may have finally sealed that verdict. Summer 2010 certainly underlines that the multiplex comes in just two sizes — big and small.

Weekend (estimates) September 3 – 6, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change * Theaters Cume
The American Focus 16.5 (6,060) New 2721 19.6
Machete Fox 14.1 (5,290) New 2670 14.1
Takers Sony 13.6 (6,170) -47% 2206 40.1
The Last Exorcism Lions Gate 8.7 (3,030) -64% 2874 33.5
Going the Distance WB 8.6 (2,840) New 3030 8.6
The Expendables Lions Gate 8.3 (2.440) -46% 3398 93.9
The Other Guys Sony 6.6 (2,520) -16% 2607 108
Eat Drink Pray Sony 6.1 (2,300) -29% 2663 70.2
Inception WB 5.8 (3,410) -6% 1704 278.4
Nanny McPhee Returns Uni 4.6 (1,690) -24% 2708 23.4
Despicable Me Uni 3.8 (2,400) -2% 1600 241.3
The Switch BV 3.8 (2.030) -32% 1885 22.2
Vampires Suck Fox 3.7 (1,520) -43% 2434 33
Toy Story 3 BV 2.6 (1,730) 89% 1520 408.8
Piranha 3D Weinstein Co. 2.9 (1,640) -46% 1789 23
Avatar (reissue) Fox 2.8 (3,480) -43% 811 758.1
Lottery Ticket WB 2.6 (1,990) -41% 1310 21
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Uni 1.9 (2,390) -38% 807 29.2
Salt Sony 1.6 (2,230) -34% 705 115.5
Get Low Sony Classics 1.5 (2,910) -26% 526 5.7
Dinner for Schmucks Par 1.2 (1,540) -45% 804 71.1
Step Up 3D BV .89 (2,050) -44% 434 41.2
Grown Ups Sony .65 (1,950) 88% 333 160.1
Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore WB .64 (1,410) -30% 455 42.2
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice BV .57 (1,600) 63% 357 61.7
Twilight: Eclipse Summit .54 (1,360) -18% 396 298.8
The Kids Are All Right Focus .51 (2,130) -22% 239 19.9

* percentage changes are 3-day to 3-day

Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $125.10
% Change (Last Year) 5%
% Change (Last Week) -11%

Also debuting/expanding

We Are Family UTV .32 (4,730) 67 0.32
Cairo Time IFC .22 (3,960) -11% 55 0.9
Mesrine: Killer Instinct Alliance/Music Box .16 (3,110) -38% 52 0.88
Mesrine: Public Enemy no. 1 Alliance/Music Box .15 (3,020) 143% 51 0.23
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop Sony Classics 33,800 (6,760) 5 0.03
My Dog Tulip New Yorker 14,100 (14,100) 1 0.01
Prince of Broadway Elephant 12,300 (12,300) 1 0.01
White Wedding Mitropoulos 6,700 (1,670) 4 0.01
The Winning Season Roadside At. 6,100 (2,030) 3 0.01
16 to Life Water Dog 3,500 (1,750) 2 0.01

Domestic Summer Market Share (May 7 – September 6, 2010)

Rank Distributor Gross Mkt Share % Change Rank
(in millions) 2009 2009
1 Sony 669.2 16.50% 27% 5
2 Paramount 643.6 15.90% -18% 2
3 BV 611.6 15.10% -12% 3
4 Warner Bros. 514 12.70% -49% 1
5 Universal 499.9 12.40% 54% 6
6 Fox 362.3 8.90% -24% 4
7 Summit 360.6 8.90% 1148% 9
8 Lions Gate 178.5 4.40% 1273% 12
9 Focus 47.3 1.20% 172% 11
10 Weinstein Co. 23.9 0.60% -80% 7
Miramax 22.2 0.50% 158% 13
Sony Classics 18.8 0.50% 6% 10
Other 96.3 2.40% N/A
4048.2 100.00% -3%
% Change 2010 (Other Distributors)
Fox Searchlight -83%

The Weekend Box Office Report

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Ooops!

The final weekend of the 2010 crawled to roughly $105 million excluding the Monday portion that could add an additional $30 million.

A trio of new national releases did little to bolster the overall picture with The American topping the charts with an estimated $13.1 million (all figures are for the 3-day portion of the holiday). It entered the weekend with an additional $3.1 million from a Wednesday pre-weekend launch. Additionally the actioner Machete hacked away to $11.2 million and the rom-com Going the Distance lacked cheek with $6.8 million.

New niche entries were largely tepid including Bollywood entry We Are Family that garnered $228,000 from 67 venues. There was a small surprise with the exclusive debut of the animated entry My Dog Tulip that grossed $11,500.

Overall the current weekend box office appears to be about 5% improved from last year’s tally.

But the nettlesome issue is the performance of summer 2010 top to bottom. The answer is complicated because what we’ve come to identify as the summer season _ oh, that ever shifting calendar _ works out to be one week less than normal. By that yardstick box office is down from 2009 and the lowest of the past decade.

Even when an additional week’s box office is added to the mix, initial calculations put the current season down about 2% from the prior year’s tally. And it goes without saying that admissions are lagging; likely off by 8% to 10% from one year ago.

Some pundits have pointed to the fact that this year’s schedule has two fewer films that grossed in excess of $100 million and that certainly reflects the tip of the iceberg. That aside, it’s fair to say there were a comparable number of surprises and disappointments. In the former area, one can point to a record number of alternative titles that grossed in excess of $4 million (at least 10 on a quick scan).

The more telling factor in the decline is the medium-range performers that had box office of less than $40 million. The decade-long trend is one of haves and have nots. The chasm between films that work to those that are rejected continues to expand and despite claims that the future will foster fewer films in the marketplace, to date the difference is both infinitesimal and unlikely to shift (based on production starts and announcements) in the upcoming 18 months.

There is no definitive answer, rather a series of developments that include alternative ways of viewing movies and a continuing stasis in the economy that’s made the public both more selective and less avid in their movie going habits. The downturn might best be summed up as a slow, painful death by a million small cuts.

______________________________________

Weekend Estimates:  September 3 – 5, 2010

Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theas Cume
The American Focus 13.1 (4,810) New 2721 16.2
Takers Sony 11.3 (5,130) -45% 2206 37.8
Machete Fox 11.2 (4,210) New 2670 11.2
The Last Exorcism Lions Gate 7.6 (2,650) -63% 2874 32.4
Going the Distance WB 6.8 (2,250) New 3030 6.8
The Expendables Lions Gate 6.6 (1,950) -31% 3398 92.2
The Other Guys Sony 5.3 (2,020) -16% 2607 106.7
Eat Drink Pray Sony 4.8 (1,700) -29% 2663 68.9
Inception WB 4.6 (2,690) -6% 1704 277.2
Nanny McPhee Returns Uni 3.6 (1,310) -24% 2708 22.4
The Switch BV 3.1 (1,650) -32% 1885 21.5
Despicable Me Uni 2.8 (1,740) -2% 1600 240.2
Vampires Suck Fox 3.0 (1,,220) -43% 2434 32.3
Avatar (reissue) Fox 2.3 (2,800) -43% 811 757.6
Piranha 3D Weinstein Co. 2.3 (1,300) -46% 1789 22.4
Lottery Ticket WB 2.3 (1,740) -41% 1310 20.6
Toy Story 3 BV 1.9 (1,260) 89% 1520 408.1
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Uni 1.6 (1,930) -38% 807 28.8
Get Low Sony Classics 1.2 (2,300) -26% 526 5.4
Salt Sony 1.2 (1,760) -34% 705 115.2
Dinner for Schmucks Par 1.0 (1,220) -45% 804 70.9
Step Up 3D BV .70 (1,600) -44% 434 40.9
Grown Ups Sony .44 (1,321) 65% 333 159.9
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice BV .43 (1,200) 63% 357 61.6
Twilight: Eclipse Summit .42 (1,060) -18% 396 298.7
The Kids Are All Right Focus .41 (1,720) -22% 239 19.8
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $98.30
% Change (Last Year) 5%
% Change (Last Week) -10%
Also debuting/expanding
We Are Family UTV .23 (3,400) 67 0.23
Cairo Time IFC .16 (2,940) -11% 55 0.84
Mesrine: Killer Instinct Alliance/Music Box .13 (2,480) -38% 52 0.75
Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 Alliance/Music Box .11 (2,080) 112% 51 0.19
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop Sony Classics 25,200 (5,040) 5 0.03
My Dog Tulip New Yorker 11,500 (11,500) 1 0.01
Prince of Broadway Elephant 8,600 (8,600) 1 0.01
White Wedding Mitropoulos 5,900 (1,480) 4 0.01
The Winning Season Roadside At. 4,900 (1,630) 3 0.01
16 to Life Water Dog 1,900 (950) 2 0.01

Domestic Market Share:  January 1 – September 2, 2010

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (11) 1224.2 16.10%
Fox (14) 1198.3 15.70%
Warner Bros. (20) 1196.1 15.70%
Buena Vista (13) 1079.9 14.20%
Sony (19) 886.4 11.60%
Universal (14) 700.4 9.20%
Summit (9) 422.9 5.50%
Lions Gate (10) 354.1 4.70%
Fox Searchlight (4) 70.6 0.90%
Overture (4) 67.4 0.90%
Weinstein Co. (6) 55.4 0.70%
MGM (1) 50.4 0.70%
CBS (2) 50 0.70%
Sony Classics (17) 46.2 0.60%
Other * (228) 215.7 2.80%
* none greater than 0.4% 7618 100.00%

Friday Estimates by Klady, The American vs The Mexican

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

It seems to me that the fair box office comparisons for the two Labor Day openers are The Constant Gardener and Crank The American and Machete are running a few hundred thousand ahead for the Friday, which even without 3D, is about right for two films being released 4 and 5 years later. This should lead to each film doing somewhere between $11 million – $14 million by end of business Monday.

Going The Distance feels like a dump from WB. Funny thing is, it is apparently quite a New Line affair, much raunchier and less (15) Days of Summer than advertised. But most of the world will never know, as even a $20m domestic gross seems a long ways away.

And what is odder than Sony Classics dumping a Zhang Yimou movie? A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, as someone once said, is escaping, not being released.

Weekend numbers will land here on Monday, not Sunday, this week.

MW on Movies: The American, Machete, Going the Distance, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 and Lebanon

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

The American (Three Stars)
U.S.; Anton Corbijn, 2010

I like George Clooney. No off-color psychological speculations, please.

What I like about him is the easy-going “good guy” way he plays the Hollywood game. I like his politics, his philanthropy, his unpretentious smarts, his good-natured jock style, his taste in movie scripts, his daring as a director, his wry grin, his sense of fun and his sense of seriousness.

And I like the fact that he‘s a stunning-looking guy who can effortlessly get all the things available to stunning-looking guys — the ladies, the jobs, the laughs and whatever else — but that he doesn’t rub our noses in it, or act like he‘s always on the make, or pump himself up with vanity and vacuous self-regard. I like that he makes fun of himself, and even makes fun of the American obsession with stunning-looking guys and gorgeous women and using your looks to get ahead.

As Clint Eastwood likes to say about himself and his philosophy, Clooney takes the work seriously, but not himself seriously. (Once, talking about Hollywood acting careers, Clooney said frankly that it was usually the better-looking guys who got the parts, and he made clear he thought that was a mistake — and also that he was one of the beneficiaries.)

Clooney’s special spot in American movies is the one Paul Newman used to have, and Newman was a special favorite of mine too. Both of them are (or were) likable superstars, golden boys and unpretentious liberals, smart jocks who like a good time, but work damned hard, and, in some ways, are over-achievers. (Newman was a spectacular over-achiever, in more than just acting.)

The American, Clooney’s latest movie, is a good example of that striving, of that reach that almost exceeds the grasp. It’s an eye-popping, laconic, dramatically perverse mix of art film and classy romantic thriller that deliberately tramples on the current norms and box-office formulas. Instead, it summons up memories of esoteric European suspense dramas like Melville’s Le Samourai and Le Cercle Rouge, and Antonioni‘s The Passenger, rather than the more obvious models you’d expect, like Bourne and Bond.

It’s a good film, beautifully visualized, a little self-indulgent maybe, and a little spare of script. Clooney‘s star role is as an assassin/gunsmith variously known as Jack, Edward and Butterfly, dodging bullets on a working idyll in the lush Abruzza mountain country of Italy, and involved with several knockout ladies, a philosophical priest, and an impatient employer (some or all of whom may mean him harm). It’s an uncharacteristic minimalist job, fraught with tension and less heavy on the usual Clooney trumps of charm and personality.

Like Le Samourai, that classic neo-noir of the ‘60s with Alain Delon as a somber Parisian hit man, The American is about a perfectionist in murder whose world is coming apart and who (unwisely, perhaps) seems to fall in love. So the film begins with a botched attack and a startling rub-out and it stays tense and opaque, keeps mixing sex and menace the rest of the way.

During most of The American, a movie in which Clooney’s character fends off attacks, constructs a super-gun for another (female) assassin, engages in some very authentic-looking lovemaking and strolls around the hilly streets and chic shops of that Abruzzi village, Jack simply looks scared shitless or about to be. Or lost in some confused, apprehensive reverie. He looks as if something is sneaking up behind him — and it is.

The movie’s source is the novel A Very Private Gentleman, by Martin Booth, which is apparently less opaque, and less spare of story. And screenwriter Rowan Joffe (who is now at work adapting that classic British thriller Brighton Rock by Graham Greene), gives it the Harold Pinter strip-the-dialogue-to the-bone treatment. People say little and conceal their meanings and feelings, if not their private parts. But then how much is there to say when you’re in Abruzzi, ducking your boss (Johan Leysen as the sinister, corpse-like Pavel) pretending to be a photographer, walking around by yourself, or making a gun, or frenziedly copulating? I’d be mum too.

A lot happens in The American, and it happens very stylishly, thanks to cinematographer Martin Ruhe, designer Mark Digby, and director Anton Corbijn. Corbijn is the Dutch filmmaker and music video maker who made Control, that very stylish black-and-white bio-drama on front man/suicide Ian Curtis and Joy Division, and here he fills the screen with beauty and dread, the way Polanski and Hitchcock do or did, but somewhat less bitingly and with far less lacerating suspense.

We first see Jack in Sweden, my grandparents’ beloved homeland, where we kibitz on a foiled hit that might be described as Bergmanesque. Then comes that Antonionian trip to Abruzzi and encounter with the lady killer, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten), a sub-Fellini interlude in the local bordello with a knockout local whore, Clara (played by the spectacularly beautiful Violante Placido, the daughter of The Godfather’s Simonetta Stefanelli, Michael Corleone’s bride), a somewhat De Sica-ish or Ermanno Olmiesque conversation on American existentialism in a graveyard with an elderly priest, Father Benedetti (Paolo Bonacelli), stark scenes of Melvillean samurai loneliness where the hatless Clooney channels Alain Delon, architectural beauties out of early Alain Resnais documentaries, and a final enigmatic shootout that suggests Sergio Leone hired as a gunsmith by hit man Bernardo Bertolucci. (Both were involved in Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West, which Jack sees here on TV. A grand allusion?)

The American sometimes seems like a film festival disguised as a picturesque neo-noir thriller. But it’s a neo-noir that also plays as if it would rather be a psychological drama about alienation and personal collapse, and that keeps avoiding the violent paydays we seem to expect of our supposed “thrillers.” Despite those inviting Abruzzi mountain roads, for example, there’s no car-chase scene, not even one reminiscent of Dino Risi and Il Sorpasso, or of Fellini and La Dolce Vita — though, at one point near the end, Jack does drive very fast.

Who but Clooney could get away with something like this? Corbijn’s Control was bleak and sad, and this movie is so sparse, so melancholy, that Jack’s fiddling with the gun becomes a sort of action scene by default. The movie’s sex almost totally supplants the usual gunfights, which was fine by me. I saw three other movie shootouts the same day anyway.

In a way, Clooney’s previous persona works for this role the way Jack Nicholson’s past history worked for The Passenger. Like Nicholson‘s tamped-down, oddly unaccented and very quiet performance as the runaway British war correspondent David Locke in The Passenger — in which the movies’ master of the temper tantrum was mostly confined to cryptic conversations and enigmatic stares, but where we still always sensed something like “chicken salad on toast, hold the chicken” underneath, ready to erupt — the memory of Clooney’s infallible charm gives this movie a special charge and an undercurrent. Anyway, the visual beauty of The American’s individual scenes and shots, is its own best defense.

Not for the more right wing TV pundits and critics, of course, who would hate Clooney no matter what he does (though they’d love him if he made exactly the same movies, and supported the same causes, but said something nasty about Obama). Those clowns probably equate The American’s European cinema style and mood (and the craftsmanlike brilliance of Clooney’s European colleagues) with European socialism and the European health care system, and maybe everything European, including whatever bizarre alleged new international conspiracy has lately transfixed God’s Own Man Glenn Beck, rapt and bug-eyed at his blackboard.

Yet, lugubrious though it may seem to some, The American is not anti-American, no matter what Father Benedetti existentially mumbles in the graveyard. The presence of Clooney alone tips the balance in our favor. There is a specific pro-European bias that has always been part of American culture, and they (especially the French) have often returned the compliment — as indeed, Jean-Pierre Melville did in Le Samourai, The American‘s cinematic godfather. The compliment is mutually exchanged here.

Want to see a beautifully-shot thriller, with beautiful people in beautiful surroundings? Here it is — despite a script that could be better, and too much fancy bleakness, and dialogue that could be sharper and wittier, and no car-chases in sight. It’s no Syriana. It’s no Michael Clayton. And it’s certainly no Samourai. But it looks like a nice working holiday for our pal George. He deserves one.

Machete (Two and a Half Stars)
U.S.; Robert Rodriguez, 2010

For me, this was a big disappointment. Robert Rodriguez can be a great pulpy filmmaker, as he is in Desperado and Sin City, and here he seems to have a platform ripe for good cheap thrills and schlocky shocks, crazy comedy and acid social commentary: the no-holds-barred ultra-violent Grindhouse tale of a Mexican EveryHitman named Machete, who‘s mistakenly hired by a mysterious politico (Jeff Fahey, of White Hunter, Black Heart) to take part in a phony assassination scheme rigged to boost the candidacy of a right-wing, anti-immigration U.S. Senator (Robert De Niro), who’s secretly in league with a vicious Mexican drug lord (Steven Seagal, off-type) and a psychopathic border vigilante chief (Don Johnson).

Best of all, the hero/antihero part of Machete is played by Rodriguez’s favorite Danny Trejo, who has great tattoos, a great weathered face, a good working knowledge of dangerous criminals, and happens to be one of the most prolific (and reliable) actors in movie history. Trejo has actually done 70 movie roles since the joke trailer for Machete appeared in Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature in 2007. He‘s done (or is slated for) 195 movie roles throughout his career, ever since Andrei Konchalovsky jump-started Trejo’s acting career in 1985, by casting this deadly-looking acting amateur and obvious natural as the main boxing match heavy in Runaway Train. And I haven’t checked IMdB yet this morning.

Trejo also has two terrific leading ladies: Jessica Alba as knockout border cop Sartana and Michelle Rodriguez as Luz, a drop dead activist and immigrant-smuggler who operates a Mexican underground railroad out of a burrito stand. And I haven’t even mentioned Cheech Marin as the local Padre (who gets crucified), and Lindsay Lohan as April, Fahey’s drug-addict daughter, who runs wild in a nun’s habit.

Unfortunately, I had more fun writing out that cast list than I did watching the movie. Not that the show isn’t entertaining. (How could it not be?) But after dreaming up that franchise peg (Machete, to be followed in Bond-like procession, by Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again) and after hiring that cast, and especially after getting Danny Trejo locked in, Rodriguez seems to have thought the script would write itself. It didn’t.

I hate to say it, but this picture — designed to look like a bad, sleazy but fun and exciting ’70s movie actioner, something like Truck Turner or Billy Jack — actually is (often) genuinely bad and sleazy.

Rodriguez is famous for doing everything on his movies (I think, on one of his movies, I even saw Rodriquez credits for boom man, hairdresser, key grip and personal assistant to Danny Trejo.) He‘s delegated authority here, and he even has a co-director, Ethanas Miniquis. But sometimes it’s best to get a little more help from your friends. Rodriguez’ best movie, the modern classic neo-noir Sin City, has a terrific script, as well as a terrific cast and terrific direction, and happily there’s a Sin City 2 on Rodriguez’s current dance card. Now, couldn’t he get Sin scribe Frank Miller, or somebody like him, to help sharpen the next Machete?

Then maybe he wouldn’t have to crucify Cheech Marin again, or have another joke credit like “Introducing Don Johnson,” or give Lindsay Lohan another nun’s habit. Talking about joke credits, how about “Introducing John McCain?”

Going the Distance (Two and a Half Stars)
U.S.; Nanette Bernstein, 2010

Rom-com anyone? This thinking person’s romantic comedy about a long-distance relationship between San Francisco journalism student Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Manhattan music industry guy Garrett (Justin Long), has a snappier more verbal script (by Geoff La Tulippe) than usual.

It’s certainly not drivel like those would-be comedies The Switch and The Back Up Plan. And thank God there‘s not a sperm donor in sight. (There are two screwing-on-the-dining-room table gags and I’m sorry, I don’t get them. The dining room table? Couldn’t these hot-pants lovers wait at least until they staggered to a couch?) But it continues my disaffection from most modern rom-coms: an awful abbreviation for a once great but now sadly damaged genre.

The biggest problem here: Barrymore’s Erin and Long‘s Garrett, partly due to the smart-alecky script, never struck me as being wildly enough in love to sustain any kind of long distance relationship for any length of time or space, even between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Erin seems like she kinda sorta likes the guy, he’s cute, okay, as long as she didn’t have a better offer, or maybe some roller derby tickets, by Tuesday. And Garrett seemed to be running some kind of con game involving frequent smiling and incessantly widened eyes. Sometimes, there s more affection between Garrett’s two goofy buddies, Charlie Day as toilet-conscious Dan and Jason Sudeikis as “cougar”-hunting stud Box. Or between Erin’s tart sister Corinne (Christina Applegate) and her boob hubby. But maybe that’s the point.

The two kids of Flipped, Madeleine Carroll’s Juli and Callan McAuliffe’s Bryce, struck me as a far more romantic (platonic) couple, and I’d suggest La Tulippe and director Nanette Burstein try to catch that movie for tips. Burstein, by the way, does make a good, smooth transition from documentary (The Kid Stays in the Picture, American Teen) to fiction features.

Strong point in the movie‘s favor: These Going the Distance characters, unlike all too many modern movie rom-com couples, do have topical conversations and they do make topical jokes about politics and culture. Good going. And the movie, if nothing else, may start a new craze for dining room tables with retractable foam mats in drawers.

By the way, I was very unsatisfied by the ending here, though I’m too tired to stick in a SPOILER ALERT.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Three Stars)
France; Jean-Francois Richet, 2008

Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One (Three Stars)
France; Jean-Francois Richet, 2008

These two movies, a triumphantly prize-winning return to French filmmaking by Jean-Francois Richet, who had a Hollywood interlude with the outlandish 2005 remake of Assault on Precinct 13, are entertaining all star crime dramas based on fact: on the incredible and bloody ‘60s-‘70s career of the amazingly self-promoting real-life French bank robber and jail break expert Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassell), who wanted to turn his life into “Bonnie and Clyde” — and did.

The script is by Richet and Abdel Raouf Dafri (A Prophet), based on Mesrine‘s memoirs, and it’s a little too episodic and non-gritty, and maybe a bit too tolerant of Mesrine, but nevertheless full of action and personality.

So is the acting, especially by the relentlessly genial Cassell — an outlaw so charismatic and charming he looks as if he could sell lottery tickets to the tellers even as he robs them — but also by Gerard Depardieu as a tough crook and the Dardenne Brothers regular Olivier Gourmet as a wily cop. Michel Duchaussoy and Myriam Boyer are quite touching as Pere and Mere Lesrine, and the rest of the crackerjack ensemble includes Cecile de Franc and Ludovine Sagnier as Jacques’ ladies, Anne Consigny as his avocat, and Gerard Lanvin and Mathieu Almaric (who never smiles, balancing out Cassell) among his cohorts.

This movie‘s Part 2, by the way, also features probably the worst interview scene in any movie anywhere, ever. Miffed by the reporter’s jibes, Mesrine grants pompous reactionary scandalmonger Jacques Dallier (of Minute) a face-to-face talk. Then he takes him to a cave, forces him to strip naked, handcuffs him and then shoots him — and, to top it all off, he fails to turn on the tape recorder.

Crime movies, especially the new ones in France and Italy, have lately become regular high prestige film projects, somewhat like the prestige literary movie adaptations of old, and I suspect the big influences on Mesrine and the others are The Godfather and Goodfellas. Richet’s and Dafri’s two films don’t approach either of their models, and they don’t really have an epic quality, but they hold your interest. And Cassell, who won the Cesar (French Oscar) for playing Mesrine, is obviously having the time of his life. He plays this superstar bank robber with such gusto and zest, we can even forgive him when he tells one victim that he‘s serving him with a “Warrant Beatty.”

Lebanon (Four Stars)
Israel; Samuel Maoz, 2010

Lebanon. Spring, 1982. The war.

We are inside an armored tank with four Israeli soldiers, in Beirut, in the throes of the Lebanon War. The battle is a raging hellfield punctuated with death, only barely comprehensible to the men or to us. Israelis battle Arabs battle Phalangists (Christian Arabs). The streets pop with gunfire. You can’t tell civilians from killers. The tank is hot and stinking and so small, the four can barely move around — tempers flaring, nerves frayed — as they roll though the streets, and peer through a periscope or gun sight seeking traps to avoid, enemies to kill.

This death-battered tank crew consist of a commander, Assi (Itay Taran), a driver, Yigal (Michael Moshonov), a gun-loader, Hertzel (Oshri Cohen) and a gunner, Shmuel (Yoav Donat). The gunner is young and scared, and when he gets his first targets in his sights, some gunmen in a car, he’s so struck by their humanity, their all-too-vulnerable flesh, that he can’t pull the trigger — and his hesitation gets some Israeli soldiers killed. To be a good soldier of a kind, he learns fast, you have to be a killer. Automatic. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Press the trigger.

Occasionally an officer named Jamil (Zohar Strauss) shows up and enters their crowded confines. He tells them everything is going okay, to hang in there, says they are headed for a rendezvous at a place called San Tropez — same name almost as the famed French resort. Jamil seems to be some kind of bullshitter. They come to realize they can only trust their eyes, trust and live the moments — and their eyes only show them what’s happening though the rectangular viewer of the periscope, through the electronic gunsight on the tank. They see people outside, ravaged streets, gunfire, empty streets, the flurry and the wait. “Safe” within the tank, they keep rolling forward, stopping, waiting, firing, waiting, firing again.

Where is San Tropez? Who is Jamil? What’s going on outside? They are trapped in hell, in the sweltering “No Exit” belly of the tank. But they’re not dreaming; it’s no nightmare. It’s their reality (and ours) then and now. They have to stay clear. They have to play soldier. They have to push their fears way way down, down to the darkest pit of their guts and brains, and twist them up and lock them in and throw away the key. They have to do their job. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Press the trigger.

Shmuel was about 20 when he served in the Lebanese War. 27 years later, that scared young gunner’s real-life model had grown older and become an Israeli filmmaker named Samuel Maoz, the man who wrote and directed Lebanon and saw it win the Golden Lion (Grand Prize) of the Venice Film Festival. So what we are seeing here is mostly what moviemaker Samuel, or what the good soldier Shmuel, remembers of his experiences as a 20 year old gunner in a tank — frightened, inexperienced, screwing up, squabbling with his tank mates, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay alive, trying to figure out what in hell is going on all around them. Trying to keep himself primed so he won’t make another mistake.

As a gunner, he probably did. As a filmmaker he doesn’t.

Great war films, and Lebanon is certainly one of them, are often made by men who actually saw the fighting or participated in it — like the combat soldiers Sam Fuller, Oliver Stone or Maoz. There have been some extraordinary Israeli war films in recent decades, some from participants like Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), and what’s remarkable about many of them is their objectivity, the determination of these filmmakers to stay clear-eyed and hue to the truth.

Few of those movies strike you as so relentlessly objective, so fiercely devoted to the naked fact, as Lebanon. Maoz goes outside the tank only three times, at the opening and closing. Everything we see is in those iron confines, though periscope or gun sight. Everything we see may well have happened and been told to Maoz, or, more likely, happened right before his eyes. If War is Hell, this is the window to it.

“Every truthful movie about war is anti-war.” So said WW2 “Big Red One” veteran turned Hollywood filmmaker Fuller. That’s true. So I don’t agree with some admirers of Lebanon, who insist it has no agenda and no political viewpoint. Telling the truth is an agenda. Getting the facts right is a political viewpoint. It’s just that these viewpoints and agendas are not tied irrevocably to any national motive, political cliché or ideological imperative. They’re reasoned, principled, not automatic.

Maoz’ agenda here is very clear: to put us inside that tank, to let us know what it felt like to be 20, to be scared, to be confused, to be riding though a world of terror and slaughter, to feel the embrace of chaos, to hear the crackle of gunfire, to see the bodies drop, to have a human being in your gun sights. Don’t think. Don’t feel…

(In Israeli, with English subtitles.) Music Box, Chicago.

Box Office Hell – September 2

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Machete|16.4|10.1|18|15|15.5
Going the Distance|15.6|12.6|12|14.5|11
The American|13.6|9.5|12|10.5|11.5
Takers|12.3|10.8|13|12.5|13.5
The Last Exorcism|10|9.4|11|8|9.2

The Gronvall Files:Going the Distance from Fact to Fiction with Director Nanette Burstein

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Change is good, although it’s not always easy to reinvent oneself. But New York filmmaker Nanette Burstein, a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nominee for On the Ropes (which she co-directed with Brett Morgen), doesn’t miss a step in her transition from nonfiction film to narrative features.
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Drew Barrymore: How E.T. Changed My Life (vid)

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Drew Barrymore: How E.T. Changed My Life (vid)

Trailer: Going the Distance

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Trailer: Going the Distance

Friday, May 21st, 2010