Posts Tagged ‘The King’s Speech’

In Anti-Piracy Test, Studios Petition BT, Largest Brit Internet Provider, To Cut Access To Site With Illegal Copies Of The King’s Speech

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

In Anti-Piracy Test, Studios Petition BT, Largest Brit Internet Provider, To Cut Access To Site With Illegal Copies Of The King’s Speech

The DVD Geek: The King’s Speech

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Based upon a stageplay that serves as a showcase for some juicy acting, the 2010 Oscar-winner, The King’s Speech, released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, preserves the engaging byplay between Colin Firth, as a member of the British royal family impaired by stuttering, and Geoffrey Rush, as the therapist who oversees his adjustments to the condition.  The film also serves as a fine historical drama and, in essence, a prequel to The Queen (Helena Bonham Carter portrays the spirited character that Sylvia Syms embodied in the latter).  The script falls short in a couple of spots—the early part of the decision making process by Firth’s character is not as satisfying as it could have been—and whether out of royal discretion or an inability to break away entirely from the story’s stage beginnings, the director, Tom Hooper, does not always get as close to the characters as filmmaking could enable him to, but the material is so rich in drama and character interaction that such minor flaws are easily eclipsed by the joys of its discoveries and the excitements of its milestones. 

The picture on the feature is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  Near the beginning, there is a clever audio metaphor employed, as Firth’s character makes an embarrassingly halting speech over a cavernous public address system, and while it is perfectly effective on the DVD’s 5.1-channel Dolby Digital track, the moment is chillingly enhanced by the detail afforded through the DTS track on Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray.  While on the whole, the 119-minute film is not the sort one rushes to the Blu-ray shelves to obtain, particularly when the DVD is at a lower price point and the supplements are identical, the enhanced quality of the image and sound delivery creates some subtle improvements to the play of the film.  The crisper, sharper colors bring out the luxurious details of the production designs surrounding Firth’s character, but they also magnify the oddly uncomfortable tightness of the living quarters of Rush’s character, and his dungeon-like office.  The film’s one other daring audio mix is to overlay the dramatic climax—the movie’s title can refer to how Firth’s character talks in general, but also specifically to the radio broadcast he makes after Germany invades Poland, which serves as the film’s emotional conclusion—with Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.  In a purer world, Hooper’s choice (actually, it was editor Tariq Anwar’s idea) would be the subject of grand debates, since it is a rather absurd distraction and yet one that nevertheless underscores the hero’s struggle and triumph with an unbound emotional precision (with bonus points for using a German composer), and on the Blu-ray, jacked up as high as you dare, it becomes even more of a triumph.

There are optional English and Spanish subtitles.  The story is also the sort of material that can be greatly enhanced by a smart set of supplements, and Anchor Bay does not disappoint.  Along with a decent 24-minute promotional documentary and another 22 minutes of interviews with Hooper and some members of the cast (including Claire Bloom, who once met the character she is portraying), another informative 11-minute interview with the grandson of Rush’s character (who, in terms of production time, revealed at the very last moment to the movie’s creators that his grandfather had left  a diary, which subsequently informed numerous scenes), there is a 2-minute newsreel clip of the real George VI giving a speech at the end of WWII, and a complete audio-only presentation of the real 6-minute title speech (it is only because you’ve seen the movie that you realize his pauses are in very odd places).  Hooper also provides a commentary for the feature, going into more details about staging the film and about the history it is depicting.

Wilmington on DVD, Picks of the Week: The King’s Speech, Le Cercle Rouge, Legends: Bette Davis

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

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PICK OF THE WEEK: NEW

The King’s Speech (Also Blu-ray) (Four Stars)
U. K.: Tom Hooper, 2010

The King’s Speech — which tells the story of King George VI’s chronic speech impediment, and of how he overcame it with the help of a boisterous Australian actor/therapist just in time to help Britain win World War II — was, of course, this year’s “Best Picture” Oscar winner. And that makes sense, even though it wasn’t the movie I’d have voted for. (My favorite was True Grit.)

But this highly polished, highly entertaining British period drama from the Brothers Weinstein definitely has “class act” credentials. It’s well-written (by 71-year-old David Seidler, who also scripted Tucker: A Man and His Dream for Francis Coppola), well-directed (by Tom Hooper, British helmer of the recent PBS John Adams), and extremely well-acted by the usual top-notch British cast — especially by the three leads, Colin Firth (as the introverted, microphone-shy Duke of York and eventually, George VI), Geoffrey Rush (as his rowdily eccentric therapist, Lionel Logue), and by Helena Bonham-Carter, as Elizabeth, the future, much-beloved late Queen Mother of today’s Queen Elizabeth.

Just as important, The King‘s Speech has that look and stamp of class — of quality, literate, intelligent scripting, impeccable style, good politics and good intentions — that Oscar voters like to find and reward. And who could blame those same Academy voters — when many of them have to labor on total losers or super-expensive twaddle or on the latest slam-bang, script-deficient actioner, revenge thriller, horror show or sex comedy? (The joke: Some of those same cheesy-sounding movies eventually do become Hollywood classics.)

But The King‘s Speech is a movie that deserves a prize or two, just as The Hurt Locker did last year.

I know … Good intentions are what pave the road to hell. But that doesn’t mean that bad intentions, or none to speak of (except financial ones), pave the road to heaven. I have to disagree with those cymics who feel that The King’s Speech may be some kind of calculated piece of Oscar-trolling, a pompous fraud of sorts. One thing this movie clearly is not, is cynical. It’s an obviously heartfelt piece from a writer who obviously saw it as a labor of love. (Seidler, a stammerer himself, researched and planned King’s Speech for years, holding off, at her request, until the real Queen Mother died. In 2002, at 101).

The King’s Speech throbs with emotion, with full-hearted feeling, and that’s what makes it work. It carries us along with George VI’s (or Bertie‘s) anguish at his shattered speech, with the embarrassment of the Windsors, the Royal Family, including Michael (The Singing Detective) Gambon as a crusty King George V, Claire Bloom, Chaplin’s Limelight angel, as Queen Mary, and Guy (Memento) Pearce as the abdicating Edward VIII a.k.a. the Duke of Windsor), and with the tension and fear of the oncoming winds of World War II. You could call all their acting florid and unsubtle, or you could also call it bravura. It’s certainly entertaining.

SPOILER ALERT

The movie begins in 1925, with Bertie freezing up on microphone at Wembley Stadium, and ends in 1939 with his “speech,” throwing down the gauntlet to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, a man — and a demagogue, tyrant and killer — who spoke very well indeed. (Insanely well.) In between, we see George V die, Edward VIII abdicate ( for “the woman he loves,” the sharkishly grinning Wallis Simpson, played by Eve Best ), Hitler’s early threats and beginning march over Europe, while Neville Chamberlain (Roger Parrott) appeases and falls, and another great speaker (and writer) Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) rises.

END OF SPOILER

The climax of it all is the King’s speech, and the story leading up to it: the initially stormy, finally productive teacher-student relationship — and friendship — between Bertie and Lionel.

That odd comradeship has to survive seemingly almost irreconcilably opposed temperaments and classes. Bertie, despite his unnerved and unnerving stammer, has some of the toniest credentials in the Western world: the imprimatur of the British Royal family — a pedigree so lofty that you barely have to do anything to win or keep it, except be born and not make a total ass of yourself. (A hard task for some, including Edward VIII and the current Prince Charles.)

Lionel, by contrast, has no highborn family, no degree, no official seal of approval — only his (very effective) self-made, self-taught techniques and his practice as a speech doctor. Lionel isn’t even British. He’s from Australia, land of wild colonials, ex-prisoners, outlaws, the outback and cheeky characters of all kinds. Chosen by Elizabeth, he doesn’t even know at first who his client is. Later he asks that he and the future king interact on a friendly basis, call each other by their Christian names — a suggestion that at first appalls Bertie, as does Lionel‘s insistence that his student sing “Swanee River“ and swear like a bleepin’ trooper.

SPOILER ALERT

There isn’t a whole lot of suspense in whether Lionel will succeed. But still, the movie generates an achingly tense climax. And there is drama in watching these two disparate guys grow to know, respect and like each other. King‘s Speech is about the magic of words, the magic of voices, and it’s also about the importance of social imagery and public persona, especially in a class-conscious society like the old British Empire.

END OF SPOILER

But most of all, it’s about an unlikely friendship. That unlikeliness, and that genuine camaraderie, couldn’t have found two better actors to express it, then Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth.

As a movie star of unusual activity, Rush is also an odd guy out. He looks a little like an Australian Bogie, but slightly homelier, and he projects more raw, sparking, high voltage brain power than almost any of his contemporaries. (If he sat down at a movie chess table with Anthony Hopkins or Jack Nicholson, you’d still bet on Australia.)

Rush’s forte — from David Helfgott in Shine to the Marquis de Sade in Quills, to Lionel in King’s Speech is that he can play geniuses – even obnoxious, eccentric ones — convincingly. And Lionel is both genius and eccentric, which is what makes him such a live wire on screen, and such a perfect contrast to Firth‘s royal wallflower George VI.

If Rush is a great movie eccentric/intellectual, Firth remains one of the most affecting contemporary British leading men romantics, scoring on screen again and again, from either sexual preference, from 1984’s stage to screen Another Country on. (There he played the straight student radical opposite Rupert Everett‘s gay rebel.) Even against the formidable challenge of Laurence Olivier in the 1940 MGM movie of Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, most audiences consider Firth‘s Darcy in the 1995 BBC Simon Langton version of Pride, the role‘s perfect player, with Firth’s dark-tempered gentleman sternly and believably winning the heart of Jennifer Ehle‘s Elizabeth Bennet. (Ehle is in King’s Speech too, playing Lionel‘s hardy wife, Myrtle Logue.)

Working with Rush and Bonham-Carter, Firth shows again how terrific he is at expressing repressed longing — and that trait clashes brilliantly with Rush‘s Lionel, who doesn’t repress anything.

Tom Hooper, the director here, made the Peter Morgan-scripted sports bio-drama The Damned United; last year (with Michael Sheen and Spall), and he also directed the celebrated John Adams miniseries, with Paul Giamatti, and a fine, long TV adaptation of George Eliot‘s Daniel Deronda. His ascension here is another example of what a fertile seedbed British TV is — since the British are not at all shy, as we Americans sometimes are, about  adapting their best literature, classic and popular, for TV.

Hooper’s work with the actors seems flawless, and not just because he has such a great cast. His visual style is a little reminiscent of John Frankenheimer crossed with, say, Nicholas Hytner. The frames are constricted, edgily compact, but the camera (Danny Cohen is the cinematographer) is often mobile, and swift, tracking and picking up pictures and people on the prowl.

In a way, The King’s Speech surprised me. I’m not that sympathetic to the problems of Royal families, and I think we spend too much time worrying about them, especially the Windsors. For me, it wasn‘t so much the voice of George VI (reading, probably, other people‘s words) that rallied his kingdom, his “subjects.” It was Winston Churchill whose eloquence, way with words and burnished timbre inspired the British — and Churchill is played here, almost as an afterthought or cheerer-on, by Spall. Shouldn’t we have got more of his speechifying too, to hear the tradition Bertie had to live up to?

Still and all, the important thing about The King’s Speech is that, in it, we see the dramatized Churchill, we see George VI, we see the king, and we see the man behind the throne, the teacher behind the voice, Lionel. The movie, thanks largely to Rush and Firth and the sparks of language they strike together, becomes an ode to expression and friendship and the English language, and to the power of the human voice, in the right hands.

Extras: Commentary with Tom Hooper; Featurettes; Interview with Hooper, Firth and other cast members;  Speeches by the real King George VI; Real Lionel Logue highlights.

PICK OF THE WEEKS: CLASSIC

Le Cercle Rouge ( Blu-ray, Also available on DVD) (Four Stars)
France: Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970 (Criterion Collection)

Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973) was, in some ways, the Vermeer of the heist movie. A master of classic French film noir — and of neo-noir as well — as well as a lifelong devotee of American cinema, and especially of heist movies like John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow, Melville was a cool, sure-fingered expert at all the on-screen details and fine points of separating casinos from their winnings, jewelry stores from their jewelry, gangsters from their lives  and armored cars from their loot.

He was also an immaculate artist. Like Vermeer, he had an eye for the human physiognomy and for the physical world, and he put his heart into every line. Like Vermeer, his pictures were deceptively simple and utterly haunting, punctilious and mysterious — and, like Vermeer he didn’t leave many behind him.

One of the greatest of all Melville’s films, with one of his most spectacular heists, is Le Cercle Rouge, made three years before his death: a classic neo-noir which has, as its centerpiece, a long, wordless, spine-chilling depiction of a jewel robbery in the Place Vendome in Paris. The job is pulled off with rare skill by three strangely honorable thieves, played by three great international film stars of the period: ex-convict Corey (played by Alain Delon), escaped prisoner Vogel (Gian Maria Volonte) and ex-cop Jansen (Yves Montand).

The movie, a prototypical heist thriller, is about how these three come together, how they execute the robbery, and how they’re finally driven apart — largely through the quiet skill and determination of their deceptively lumpish, bourgeois-looking but relentless police antagonist, Captain Mattei, played by the international movie comedy star, Andre Bourvil (often known simply as “Bourvil”).

Captain Mattei, a mild-looking man who lives alone with three cats, has the face of a sad clown. (He’d be an “Auguste“ in the lexicon of Fellini‘s I Clowns.) He is obsessed with finding Volonte’s Vogel — who slipped out of handcuffs and escaped from a speeding train where the two men, cop and convict, were sharing a sleeper car. Mattei is humiliated. The broken handcuffs become a psychological link.

Despite being tracked in a huge manhunt through the fields, forest and a river Vogel slips again through the dragnet thanks to a seemingly fortuitous accident. By chance, he hides in the trunk of the car belonging to Delon’s Corey, who sees Vogel secreting himself, and deliberately helps him break through the police cordon. Corey, recently released from jail himself and also a recent killer (of two torpedoes), happens to need a cool customer to help with the robbery. Vogel, who almost shot Corey soon after their roadside meeting, becomes Number Two.

The third man is an old partner of Vogel’s: Montand’s Jansen, a former cop and once crack rifleman, now a seemingly hopeless alcoholic whom we first see sweating on his bed in the grip of delirium tremens and a nightmare filled with lizards and snakes. Jansen becomes Number Three. Will he crack?

Even as the trio prepares for the heist though, Captain Mattei — relentless, canny, threatened himself by brutal police superiors — remains on Vogel’s trail. And Mattei has an invaluable source, an underworld mole, in Santi (Francois Perier), a double-dealer who looks like a ferret in a suit and who owns a nightclub that seems to specialize in crooked assignations and ersatz ‘50s American movie musical numbers, set to a cool jazzy score by Eric Demarsan. (The chorus girls in those numbers are almost the only women we see in the movie, except for one faithless lover and one cigarette girl.)

Now, the clock-hands move. The trap has been set. The jewels are waiting. Melville stages each of the acts of his criminal trio’s quest and tragedy, with the dispassionate, endlessly observant eye of a scientist — or of a great artist. The three thieves and their stalker and betrayers are about to meet — in The Red Circle.

The title of Le Cercle Rouge refers to an alleged saying and story of Buddha, who supposedly draws a red circle with red chalk and explains to his students that those who are destined to cross paths, will do so within the circle, no matter what. In this movie, as in Buddha’s curious tale, Fate — perhaps like the Gestapo pursuing the French Resistance fighters in one of the other great subjects of Melville’s cinema — will encircle them, you, us. No matter what.

Melville made and released Le Cercle Rouge in 1970, one year after making his WWII French Resistance masterpiece, Army of Shadows (1969) and two years before making his last film (with his last heist), the flawed Un Flic (Dirty Money), starring Delon, Catherine Deneuve and Richard Crenna — and three years before he died. Cercle Rouge was his last masterpiece.

Let me circle back for a moment. There is one vital quality of Vermeer’s, besides his taste for the everyday, that Melville misses completely, probably never tries for: The painter’s warmth. (I admit my analogy is imperfect.) Melville’s films noirs are cold, cold, especially when cinematographer Henri Decae (of Melville’s Le Samourai) shoots them. His crooks are cool. (They speak little and tend to wear raincoats and fedoras and to smoke cigarettes, like Bogie.) His cops are icy. His world is dark: noir to the brim. His stories chill the soul and cool down the blood, while the heart beats on.

Why was Melville so obsessed with criminals, with heists and with heist movies? Maybe because the tense, dangerous, encircled underworld of robbery noirs reminded him of the tense, dangerous encircled world of The French Resistance, in which he had fought during the war. And maybe — as with Bourvil’s Captain Mattei, the only character in the film who looks a bit like Melville (though not one of the characters whom he loves) — it’s because of the one that got away.

In the ’50s, Melville was hired to direct the movie that eventually became one of the greatest and most enduringly popular of all heist movies (the young Francois Truffaut’s choice as the greatest of all film noirs), 1955’s Rififi. Melville was later fired and replaced by Jules Dassin, who chivalrously refused to take the job without Melville‘s consent (which Melville gave).

So Melville — whose real name was Jean-Pierre Grumbach and who took his nom de plume from his favorite American novelist — almost certainly felt that he’d been robbed. He spent a good part of the rest of his career, making mostly heist or semi-heist or gangster movies now and then, and endowing them with the perfect calm artistry of an art filmmaker, a Robert Bresson (Diary of a Country Priest). Bob Le Flambeur, Doulos, Le Deuxieme Souffle, Le Cercle Rouge — all classics, with melancholy scenes somewhat reminiscent of the doom-haunted Rififi and its long, virtuosic, wordless robbery scene and its dark, bloody ending.

Melville made Le Cercle Rouge in 1970 and it was cut, against his wishes. (This Criterion DVD has the complete, restored 140-minute director’s version.) Three years later, at 55, he was dead, Now, although Delon is still alive, the moviemaker and his cast are an army of shadows.  Volonte is dead, Montand is dead, Bourvil is dead. Perier is dead. And Jules Dassin, who made Rififi, is dead as well, as is Truffaut. So probably are all the American film directors — like Huston and Wyler and Wise — whom Grumbach/Melville loved. So is almost everyone who fought in the French Resistance.

Such is life, of course. And such is film noir. As Buddha said, when you have an appointment within the red circle, it will happen. No matter what. (In French, with English subtitles.)

Extras: Excerpts from the “Cineastes de Notre Temps” French TV program on Melville; On-set and archival footage, including interviews with Melville, Delon, Montand and Bourvil; Video interviews with critic/Melville expert Rui Nogueira and Melville’s assistant director Bernard Stora; Trailers; Booklet with essays by Michael Sragow and Chris Fujiwara; interview with composer Demarsan; Excerpts from Nogueira’s book-length interview Melville on Melville; An appreciation of Melville by director John Woo.

PICK OF THE WEEK: BOX SET

Greatest Classic Legends: Bette Davis (Two Discs) (Four Stars)
U.S.: Various Directors, 1938-43 (TCM/Warner Brothers)

Bette Davis: What a dame.  She was one of the inarguable Hollywood immortals. She was also a female movie superstar with great range, one of the few who could evolve in her very long career through so many changes: from bad girl to glamour queen to Oscar goddess to thriller-movie gargoyle to revered elderly legend, and yet never sacrifice most of her audience’s sympathy. Not even when she reared back in Beyond the Forest, assumed a saucy, frosty stance, swept the house with a contemptuous gaze and snorted “What a Dump!“ — the famous opening line in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? put by Edward Albee in the vitriolic mouth of Martha, a character otherwise inspired by bad-tempered independent filmmaker Marie Menken.

What a dump. At times that seems Bette’s indictment of the whole overblown, trash-happy Hollywood system that she battled for decades (especially when she was the discontent, dissident queen of the Warners lot), to get better roles, a better shake, better movies.

She had to fight. She did fight. Always. Bring on Jack Warner. Bring them all on. After a flotilla of early ‘30s potboilers, in which she and other gifted but often ill-used Warners contract players like Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson (if she was lucky) would bat and fast-talk each other around, she became an acting star in another studio‘s movie: as the sullen, slutty waitress Mildred in John Cromwell’s RKO movie from Of Human Bondage, W Somerset Maugham’s semi-autobiographical novel of his most unhappy love affair. (In real life, reportedly, “Mildred” was a sullen, slutty boy.)

That was the role for which she was denied a deserved Oscar. (1934 was the year of the big It Happened One Night sweep). But it was also probably responsible for the undeserved Oscar she got next year for the bad girl potboiler Dangerous. (Who should have got it? Maybe Bette’s great Oscar nemesis Kate Hepburn in Alice Adams.)

But Bette very richly deserved the next Oscar she got, as the scarlet women turned self-sacrificing gallant lady in Warner Brothers’ and director William Wyler‘s (and co-writer John Huston’s‘) magnificent Southern drama Jezebel — one of the films in this “Greatest Classic Legends” TCM Davis set, maybe the best movie Davis ever made, and maybe the best role she ever played.

Yes, I remember Margo Channing in All About Eve, and also all the other films in this TCM/Warners set (Dark Victory, Now Voyager and Old Acquaintance). I‘m quite partial to both Margo and Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? And there’s always Mildred. Or is it Eldred.

But Jezebel is the movie that the great French critic Andre Bazin insisted was, along with John Ford’s Stagecoach and Marcel Carne‘s Le Jour se Leve, one of the “perfect” films of the cinema. Watch it again here, and you’ll probably agree. Davis, Henry Fonda, Wyler and Huston and the writers, and cinematographer Ernest Haller all did achieve Hollywood perfection, or as near as you could get it in 1938 (and that was a damned good year, like the ones that immediately followed it). Jezebel is one of the movies for which she’ll always be remembered and always should be remembered — even though “Baby Jane,” 24 years later, breaks your heart in ways that it’s never been broken before or since.

Bette went on, scrapping, battling, pushing, holding her throne throughout the ‘40s, or at least trading off with Hepburn (and occasionally her other nemesis, and her future “Baby Jane” combatant Joan Crawford), pushing, slipping a little, making a spectacular comeback with All About Eve, then hanging on, working still, making other semi-spectacular comebacks and holding on almost to the end with 1987’s fine Lindsay Anderson movie drama The Whales of August with her superb costar Lillian Gish (nobody‘s nemesis and the most enduring movie actress of them all). Bette had her last movie acting credit Wicked Stepmother (an embarrassing one, but a credit nonetheless) in the year she died, 1989.

She must have loved to act. And, of course, we loved watching her.

She wasn’t ever really a glamour queen, you know. No Garbo, no Dietrich, no Carole Lombard. She could look pouty, almost plain at times. In Now Voyager, one of her signature roles, she’s a wallflower who blossoms. Even her divas make it on spunk and brains more than camera-seducing dazzle.

Still, in Jezebel and in some others, she’s beautiful. Astonishingly beautiful. It may seem a cliche to say “it comes from within,” but it does, it does.

It’s a shame she wound up at the end with all those “Nannies” and “Bunny O’Hares,“ and “Burnt Offerings.“ A shame she didn’t have a shot at Martha as the movie of “Virginia Woolf,” or maybe in a later TV film of it. In a better world, she could have been matched in a “Woolf” of some kind with her old Jezebel guy, Hank Fonda, who’d been Albee’s first choice to play George.

Or she and Kate Hepburn could have done the lead female roles in Tennessee Williams’ lyrical play Night of the Iguana, Bette in the role she played on stage, which became, in the movie, Ava Gardner’s role. Kate in Margaret Leighton’s part, which became in the movie, Deborah Kerr‘s role.  But what’s more ageist than the movies or TV, especially these days? You can get crazy thinking about it.

Bette Davis had her day though. What a day!

You can see Bette in her prime (or in one of her primes, but maybe the prime of her primes) in this Warners and TCM set. It has, shiningly packaged, four of her best loved movies: Jezebel, of course, and another of her great favorites, that sublime tearjerker Dark Victory (with support from Ronald Reagan as a rich carouser and Bogie as an Irish stable master). And the matchlessly corny Now, Voyager. And Old Acquaintance, with one-time rival Miriam Hopkins as her old schoolfriend/rival, the picture which later became George Cukor‘s last movie, Rich and Famous produced by and starring Jackie Bisset, who took Bette’s’ old part, and gave Miriam Hopkins’ role to Candice Bergen.

A good package. No, a damned good package. With all the extras: Four stars. Easy.

You know, all I can say after watching all these movies again, is: It’s a damned good thing that Bette Davis, for all those years, fought for these films, fought for these roles. We who love movies will always be in her debt. (And Kate’s. And Lillian’s.) We need more Bettes: more fighters, more magnificent viragos and two-fisted mixers, more real scrappers willing to rear back and scornfully cry. “What a dump!” at all the garbage that keeps piling up.

Ah, if only we had more Bettes today: actresses battling to bring more quality and beauty and fierce snap and idealism and sparkling adult intelligence and unforgettable moments to our movies: fighting to make them better, fighting to make them good, fighting to make them great, by whatever means necessary. No question: Bette ruled.

Includes: Jezebel (U.S.: William Wyler, 1938) Four Stars. With Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Donald Crisp, Fay Bainter and Spring Byington. Co-Script: John Huston, from Owen Davis’ play.

Dark Victory (U.S.: Edmund Goulding, 1939) Three and a Half Stars. With Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan and Henry Travers, Script by Casey Robinson.

Now, Voyager (U.S. Irving Rapper, 1942) Three and a Half Stars. With Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville and Ilka Chase. Script by Robinson, from the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty.

Old Acquaintance (U.S.: Vincent Sherman, 1943). Three Stars. With Davis, Miriam Hopkins, Gig Young, Roscoe Karns and Anne Revere. Script by John Van Druten and Lenore Coffee, from Van Druten’s play.

Extras: Commentaries by James Ursini and Paul Clinton (Dark Victory), director Vincent Sherman and Boze Hadleigh (Old Acquaintance) and Jeanine Basinger (Jezebel); Featurettes; Vintage shorts (one with Jimmy Dorsey and His orchestra) and cartoons (Including Tex Avery’s great, raunchy Swing Shift Cinderella and his Hitler-bashing Blitz Wolf and Hanna and Barbera’s Oscar-winning classical piano riff with Tom ‘n JerryThe Cat Concerto; Scoring session music cues; Trailers.

 

 

The Weekend Report: April 10, 2011

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

The Best That You Can Do is …

Audiences continued to Hop to it as the animated Easter eggs-travaganza topped weekend tickets sales with an eggs-timated $21.6 million. The film bounded well ahead of a quarter of new national releases that saw the remake of Arthur and the distaff thriller Hanna competing for the second slot with the former squeaking ahead by about 200k with a $12.5 million tally. The inspirational Soul Surfer bowed to $10.9 million and the tongue-in-cheek swashbuckler Your Highness swiped $9.5 million.

Among the new niche releases were the non-fiction nature study Born to Be Wild with $820,000 from 206 cages (194 in 3D) and the Mexican comedy No Eres Tu, Soy Yo that grossed $530,000 at 226 venues. Bollywood entry Thank You failed to revivify that sector with a $253,000 bow from 92 engagements.

Exclusives this weekend saw a couple of glimmers of hope including the minimalist western Meek’s Cut Off with $19,800 at two screens. Solo outings for docs Blank City on Manhattan’s early Punk scene and American: The Bill Hicks Story profiling the late comic genius respectively rang up $10,600 and $6,400 in ducats.

The frame’s overall tally generated roughly $118 million and slipped 5% behind last weekend’s biz. It was a slightly more severe 7% lag from 2010 when the second weekend of Clash of the Titans led with $26.6 million; edging out the $25.2 million gross for newcomer Date Night.

Hopes weren’t particularly high for any of the quartet of newcomers with Arthur given the best prospects that ranged from $12 million to $18 million. Your Highness was also overestimated with pundits pegging its bow somewhere between $11 million to $15 million. Conversely the mavens viewed Hanna’s topmost performance at $10 million with similar expectations for Soul Surfer that proved to be accurate.

Hanna’s strength largely came from unexpected response from males that composed slightly more than half of its audience. Soul Surfer drew a resounding 80% female crowd and was the only one of the four new films that had a majority under 25 demographic with 56%. Arthur was 64% older, Your Highness was 55% dominated by plus 25s and Hanna was at the high end with 69%.

The shift so far this year to an older set of ticket buyers has largely been cited as a reflection of weak product though one can hardly imagine what aspect of such films as Sucker Punch or Drive Angry could possibly draw a mature buyer to the multiplex. The industry mantra is that younger male avids will be back in force come May when the summer tentpole fun rides are unleashed.

What appears to have stumped the pundits is what exactly are these bulwarks of movie going doing during this apparent hiatus? No one appears to have done surveys that might indicate whether a trend exists or if there’s an absence of a conclusive shift to other activities. Regardless, no one believes this segment is staying at home and exercising their fast food options. So, clearly the new VoD initiatives are directed toward them and their involvement in the movie experience remains vital to the industry’s health and welfare.

Weekend (estimates)
April 8 – 10, 2011
Title Distributor Gross (avg) % chng Theaters Cume
Hop Uni 21.6 (5,980) -42% 3616 68.1
Arthur WB 12.5 (3,810) NEW 3276 12.5
Hanna Focus 12.3 (4,850) NEW 2535 12.3
Soul Surfer Sony 10.9 (4,910) NEW 2214 10.9
Insidious Film District 9.8 (4,060) -26% 2419 27.2
Your Highness Uni 9.5 (3,420) NEW 2769 9.5
Source Code Summit 9.0 (3,040) -39% 2971 28.6
Limitless Relativity 5.6 (2,130) -40% 2642 64.3
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules! Fox 4.9 (1,690) -52% 2881 45.5
The Lincoln Lawyer Lions Gate 4.4 (1,830) -35% 2420 46.3
Rango Par 2.3 (1,140) -49% 2007 117.5
Sucker Punch WB 2.1 (1,180) -66% 1755 33.9
Paul Uni 1.7 (1,040) -59% 1667 35.1
Battle: Los Angeles Sony 1.5 (1,090) -57% 1408 81.2
Jane Eyre Focus 1.2 (4,780) -3% 247 5.2
Win Win Fox Searchlight 1.2 (5,220) 4% 226 3.5
The Adjustment Bureau Uni .88 (1,120) -59% 783 60.1
Born to Be Wild WB .82 (3,980) NEW 206 0.82
The King’s Speech Weinstein Co. .55 (810) -52% 675 137.6
No Eres Tu, Soy Yo Lions Gate .53 (2340) NEW 226 0.53
Red Riding Hood WB .52 (670) -71% 777 36.7
Weekend Total
($500,000+ Films)
$113.80
% Change (Last Year) -7%
% Change (Last Week) -5%
Also debuting/expanding
Thank You UTV .25 (2,750) 92 0.25
Kill the Irishman Anchor Bay 91,600 (1,760) -19% 52 0.85
Miral Weinstein Co. 55,700 (1,920) -24% 29 0.25
In a Better World Sony Classics 48,600 (4,050) 47% 12 0.1
Meek’s Cut Off Osciloscope 19,800 (9,900) 2 0.02
Blank City FilmsWeLike 10,600 (10,600) 1 0.01
Meet Monica Velour Anchor Bay 7,300 (3,650) 2 0.01
Ceremony Magnolia 6,800 (2,270) 3 0.01
Henry’s Crime Moving Pictures 6,600 (3,300) 2 0.01
American: The Bill Hicks Story Variance 6,400 (6,400) 1 0.01
To Die Like a Man Strand 2,150 (2,150) 1 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – April 7, 2011)
Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (9) 413.6 18.20%
Sony (10) 370.9 16.30%
Universal (8) 276.1 12.10%
Warner Bros. (14) 273.6 12.00%
Buena Vista (6) 255.2 11.20%
Weinstein Co. (4) 133.4 5.90%
Fox (6) 127.6 5.60%
Relativity (4) 90.5 4.00%
Fox Searchlight (4) 82.9 3.70%
CBS (3) 56.6 2.50%
Lions Gate (6) 47.5 2.10%
summit (4) 31.8 1.40%
Focus (3) 25.1 1.10%
FilmDistrict (1) 17.4 0.80%
eOne/Seville (7) 14.5 0.60%
Sony Classics (6) 12.3 0.50%
Other * (99) 44.3 2.00%
2273.3 100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Domestic Grossers *
(Jan. 1 – April 7, 2011)
Title Distributor Gross
The King’s Speech * Weinstein Co. 119,361,676
Rango Par 115,230,893
Just Go With It Sony 101,651,979
True Grit * Par 100,131,192
The Green Hornet Sony 98,588,503
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 97,075,887
Battle: Los Angeles Sony 79,700,377
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 72,707,468
No Strings Attached Par 70,662,220
Black Swan * Fox Searchlight 65,964,914
Little Fockers * Uni 64,117,440
Unknown WB 62,821,544
The Adjustment Bureau Uni 59,231,700
Limitless Relativity 58,688,230
The Fighter * Par/Alliance 54,624,687
Tron: Legacy * BV 54,483,200
I Am Number 4 BV 53,949,381
The Dilemma Uni 48,800,147
Hop Uni 46,456,305
Hall Pass WB 44,034,990
* does not include 2010 box office

Weekend Estimates by Soul Klady

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

And this is why weekend-to-weekend looks so crappy. Last year on “this” weekend, there were $27m in openers. This weekend, $46m. But the weekend is still well behind last year because Sucker Punch was WB’s entry, not Clash of the Titans, and there was no DWA film (last year, it was a leggy Dragon) doing $25m in a third weekend while Hop, which is a success story (but a mild one), did $21m in Weekend Two. Those two holdovers and one $25m opener (Date Night) overpower nearly $20m in more opening firepower this year than last.

If you simply flipped last year’s WB entry for this year’s, “this year’s weekend” would be ahead of “last year’s weekend” by over $15 million. And if wishes were fishes… But you get the point, no? It’s about the movies, not the market. Until there is a much longer lasting set of data that involves a more muscular set of movies being off by similar amounts, I’m not taking any “slump” seriously. Of course, if you want to believe that somehow Clash of the Titans would have done half the business it did if it opened this year or that Sucker Punch would have done more than double what it’s doing opening last year, please, feel free to make the argument.

One genre that may be nearing its end in this cycle as an industry cash cow is the stoned comedy. Since the Superbad/Knocked Up back-to-back smashes, Team Apatow has racked up just one $100m movie (Step Brothers) in 8 attempts. And while Apatow had nothing to do with the two movies gently opening this weekend (Arthur/Your Highness), they are both bastard children of his camp. Like many niche genres in Hollywood, no reason that this one can’t go on. But costs have to be contained and then these are the kinds of legged-out doubles that studios can use to keep the balance sheet positive build library, an occasionally get a surprise big hit. But right now, they are a little expensive and aren’t delivering on the expectations that the studios have when greenlighting them. (Expectations from tracking come long after the horse is out of the barn.)

Hanna is a really nice opening for Focus. They picked up the film in most of the world (Sony has some territories), extending their relationship with Joe Wright, and this opening is better than any two weekends of Atonement domestic grosses combined. Given some strong word-of-mouth (and a soft market for good movies), it could even end up passing Atonement‘s $50m gross.

Bob Berney is back in business. Soul Surfer is a Sony release, but Film District marketed it for Sony, and the results are strong for what could well have been a much smaller feel-good film. And Insidious had a 26% hold, which is almost unheard of for any film in this front-loaded market, much less a horror film. This is one of this year’s real success stories already, likely heading to more than $50m domestic.

Source Code didn’t hold quite as well, but it does seem that we are in the first stretch of commercial movies this year that anyone is happy to recommend.

F’ing Harvey Defends The S— Out Of Shorn Speech

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

“If the PG-13 re-release enables one more child struggling with similar challenges to feel empowered and hopeful, then our efforts were worth it. And that’s why this decision was an easy one.”
F’ing Harvey Defends The S— Out Of Shorn Speech

Corliss On The F—ery Of The King’s Speech

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Corliss On The F—ery Of The King’s Speech

Which – Nearly Nobody Dashed To

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Which – Nearly Nobody Dashed To

The Weekend Report — March 13

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Los Angeles Doesn’t Believe in Tears … Mars Does

The fears that a depressed marketplace would take its toll on Battle: Los Angeles proved unfounded as the sci-fi extravaganza easily took weekend honors with an estimated $36.2 million. However, the frame’s other two national releases seriously underperformed. The visual flamboyant fairy tale Red Riding Hood trudged through the woods with $14 million in its basket to rank third and the family targeted Mars Needs Moms received a resounding audience “no” with $6.8 million.

Regionally a pair of pics bowed in Quebec to undistinguished results. Local production French Kiss generated $91,200 at 54 stalls while French family fave Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes provided $68,400 from 35 venues.

The action among limited/exclusive debuts was considerably more encouraging with the latest Jane Eyre earning a $45,120 average from four screens. The indie Kill the Irishman was unexpectedly potent with a $142,000 tally in five exposures and French award winner Certified Copy grossed $66,300 from a comparable quintet.

Overall the pluses and minuses canceled out and weekend revenues slipped 4% from the immediate prior session. It was a steeper 13% decline from 2010 when the second weekend of Alice in Wonderland reigned with $62.7 million followed by bows of Green Zone and She’s Out of My League with respective openers of $14.3 million and $9.8 million.

Industry anxiety ran high for Battle: Los Angeles with pundits invoking the likes of Independence Day, District 9 and Skyline on the down side as past barometers. Initial tracking pegged its opening between $25 million and $30 million with it pushing slightly higher as opening day approached.

Exit polls pegged the audience unsurprisingly at 62% male. However, it also showed that the ticket buyers were 55% over the age of 25; continuing the 2011 industry question of where the younger, previously more avid crowds have migrated (and whether is possible to park product at that location).

Audience composition for both Red Riding Hood and Mars Needs Moms were also as anticipated. The cowl clad lass was 54% distaff and 56% under the age of 25 while the folk from the red planet were 85% family with 68% buying stereoscopic ducats. But though not particularly family friendly, Rango was the audience magnet even with a 40% hit off of its opening weekend.

Though the two films hit their target, neither hit it with quite the anticipated force. Red Riding Hood was tracking between $16 million and $20 million while Mars Needs Moms was supposed to be in the range of $10 million to $14 million.

Expect some hard questions to be asked at CinemaCon in two weeks beginning with the evaporation of the under 25s. Distribution is likely to be pushing for shorter theatrical windows and theater owners will just be … freaking out.

Weekend (estimates) March 11 – 13, 2011
Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Battle: Los Angeles Sony 36.2 (10,590) NEW 3417 36.2
Rango Par 22.8 (5,820) -40% 3923 68.4
Red Riding Hood WB 14.0 (4,630) NEW 3030 14
The Adjustment Bureau Uni 11.4 (4,010) -46% 2847 38.4
Mars Needs Moms BV 6.8 (2,190) NEW 3117 6.8
Beastly CBS 5.0 (2,570) -49% 1959 16.9
Hall Pass WB 5.0 (1,970) -43% 2555 34.9
Just Go With It Sony 4.0 (1,660) -38% 2398 93.9
The King’s Speech TWC 3.6 (2,030) -42% 1768 129
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 3.5 (1,360) -52% 2585 89
Unknown WB 3.3 (1,440) -49% 2303 58.4
I Am Number 4 BV 2.2 (1,110) -61% 2005 50.3
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 1.3 (1,050) -69% 1247 70.9
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 1.2 (1,330) -62% 931 35.1
Take Me Home Tonight Relativity 1.2 (610) -65% 2003 5.8
Cedar Rapids FoxSearch .93 (2,360) 13% 394 4.6
Tangled BV .62 (1,710) -22% 363 196.6
The Fighter Par/Alliance .55 (1,210) -51% 453 92.9
Black Swan FoxSearch .44 (1,310) -56% 337 105.9
True Grit Par .43 (1,070) -56% 401 169.4
Barney’s Version eOne/SPC .34 (1,760) -13% 192 6.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $123.60
% Change (Last Year) -13%
% Change (Last Week) -4%
Also debuting/expanding
Of Gods and Men Sony Classics .25 (4,500) -2% 56 1.2
Jane Eyre Focus .18 (45,120) 4 0.18
Kill the Irishman Anchor Bay .14 (28,260) 5 0.14
French Kiss TVA 91,200 (1,690) 54 0.09
Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes Alliance 68,400 (1,950) 35 0.07
Certified Copy IFC 66,300 (13,260) 5 0.07
HappyThankYouMorePlease Anchor Bay 59,700 (3,140) 70% 19 0.09
I Will Follow Film Movement 44,100 (11,020) 4 0.04
3 Backyards Screen Media 11,400 (11,400) 1 0.01
Making th Boys First Run 6,800 (6,800) 1 0.01
Elektra Luxx IDP 5,700 (1,420) 4 0.01
Black Death Magnolia 3,700 (3,700) 1 0.01
Monogamy Oscilloscope 3,600 (3,600) 1 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 10, 2011)
Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (9) 337.1 20.90%
Sony (9) 277.4 17.20%
Buena Vista (5) 215.2 13.30%
Warner Bros. (12) 179.1 11.10%
Universal (6) 163.3 10.10%
Weinstein Co. (3) 121.2 7.50%
Fox (5) 82.9 5.10%
Fox Searchlight (3) 76.3 4.70%
CBS (3) 41.3 2.60%
Relativity (3) 29.5 1.80%
Focus (2) 20.7 1.30%
eOne/Seville (7) 12.2 0.80%
Summit (3) 11.7 0.70%
Sony Classics (5) 9.6 0.60%
Other * (73) 37.6 2.30%
1615.1 100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Limited Releases (Jan. 1 – March 10, 2011)
Title Distributor Gross*
Blue Valentine * TWC 9,313,215
Barney’s Version * eOne/SPC 5,661,527
Biutiful Roadside Att 4,337,480
The Company Men TWC 4,102,660
Cedar Rapids rch 3,676,294
From Nada to Prada LGF 2,946,275
Another Year * SPC 2,854,313
The Way Back Newmarket/All 2,806,469
Hubble 3D * WB 2,321,675
The Grace Card IDP 1,842,199
The Illusionist * SPC 1,811,964
Rabbit Hole * LGF 1,810,546
Somewhere * Focus 1,502,550
Incendies * Seville/eOne 1,348,780
2011 Oscar Shorts Magnolia 1,266,790

The Weekend Report — March 6

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Gold Star … Silver Star

The lizards of Rango slithered easily into audience hearts with an estimated $38.7 million that topped weekend viewing charts. Three other new wide releases entered the marketplace with the “what if” antics of The Adjustment Bureau ranking second with $20.9 million and the modern fairy tale Beastly following with $9.7 million. The romantic Take Me Home Tonight captured few hearts with a $3.4 million gross.

Limited and exclusive debuts were largely uninspired with the coming of age HappyThankYouMorePlease generating $29,700 on two screens and Thai award winner Uncle Bonmee grossing $25,400 from four venues. Box office for the 3D presentation of opera favorite Carmen from England’s Royal Opera weren’t reported.

The infusion of new titles expanded sales by 24% from the prior weekend but couldn’t compete with last years $116.1 million bow for Alice in Wonderland. Revenues slumped by 34% from 2010 and the year to date is lagging behind the prior year’s pace by 16%.

The enthusiastic reviews for the 3D animated gunslinger yarn Rango did little to bolster interest for the film’s non-family audience and the film bowed on the low end of industry estimates. Generally positive reviews for the sci-fi romance The Adjustment Bureau place that film on the high side of tacking predictions.

Conversely tracking for both Beastly and Take Me Home Tonight veered radically from expectations with the latter expected to out perform in its debut. With the former predicted to do no better than $6 million, you can guess the rest.

With the exhibition sector’s convention just three weeks away (now re-named CinemaCon) one can expect some hard questions being bruited. It’s decidedly not a period of warmth between theater owners and the studios and waning audiences; particular among the key under 25s will certainly heat up the issue of making new releases available on other platforms including home screens.

Oscar sheen (a distant relative of Charlie) appeared to dim rapidly for all save The King’s Speech. Though it’s hardly a new phenomenon, the shorter award season (and threat of an even shorter one in the near future) is likely to create the employ of new strategies to exploit films reliant on statuettes and the like this year.

Weekend (estimates) March 4 – 6, 2011
Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Rango Par 37.8 (9,660) NEW 3917 37.8
The Adjustment Bureau Uni 20.9 (7,350) NEW 2840 20.9
Beastly CBS 9.7 (4,980) NEW 1952 9.7
Hall Pass WB 8.8 (2,990) -35% 2950 26.8
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 7.0 (2,350) -48% 2984 83.8
The King’s Speech TWC 6.5 (2,890) -12% 2240 123.8
Just Go With It Sony 6.4 (2,200) -39% 2920 88.1
Unknown WB 6.4 (2,210) -49% 2913 52.9
I Am Number 4 BV 5.7 (1,970) -48% 2903 46.5
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 4.2 (1,880) -55% 2254 68.8
Take Me Home Tonight Relativity 3.4 (1,710) NEW 2003 3.4
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 3.2 (1,950) -58% 1642 33.2
Drive Angry Summit 2.1 (930) -59% 2290 9
The Fighter Par/Alliance 1.1 (1,840) -33% 575 92
Black Swan FxSrch 1.0 (1,440) -26% 681 105.1
True Grit Par .94 (1,300) -52% 725 168.6
Cedar Rapids FxSrch .77 (3,280) 16% 235 3.3
Tangled BV .74 (1,760) 76% 421 195.7
The Roommate Sony .59 (970) -70% 606 36.8
The Grace Card IDP .51 (1,450) -50% 352 1.7
Barney’s Version eOne/SPC .40 (1,900) -27% 211 5.7
No Strings Attached Par .36 (850) -75% 425 69.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $127.75
% Change (Last Year) -33%
% Change (Last Week) 24%
Also debuting/expanding
Of Gods and Men SPC .26 (7,420) -16% 42 0.73
The Illusionist SPC 77,500 (1,020) -48% 76 1.9
HappyThankYouMorePlease Anchor Bay 29,700 (14,850) 2 0.03
Uncle Bonmee Strand 25,400 (6,350) 4 0.03
Bereavement Paradigm 22,300 (1,120) 20 0.02
Detective K CJ Ent 13,500 (13,500) 1 0.01
I Saw the Devil Magnolia 12,100 (6,050) 2 0.01
The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom Mongrel 9,400 (1,880) 5 0.01
The Human Resources Manager FilmMove 8,300 (2,770) 3 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 3, 2011)
Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 283.2 19.60%
Sony (9) 267.7 18.50%
Buena Vista (5) 198.7 13.70%
Warner Bros. (12) 157.7 10.90%
Universal (5) 135.8 9.40%
Weinstein Co. (3) 112.8 7.80%
Fox (5) 78.8 5.50%
Fox Searchlight (3) 73.6 5.10%
CBS (2) 29.3 2.00%
Relativity (2) 24.8 1.70%
Focus (2) 20.3 1.40%
eOne/Seville (7) 10.9 0.80%
Sony Classics (5) 8.7 0.60%
Summit (3) 8.5 0.60%
Other * (68) 35.2 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Domestic Grossers (Jan. 1 – March 3, 2011)
Title Distributor Gross*
The King’s Speech * TWC 99,641,843
True Grit * Par 97,285,477
The Green Hornet Sony 96,820,070
Just Go With It Sony 81,700,070
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 76,782,010
No Strings Attached Par 69,289,473
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 64,551,441
Little Fockers * Uni 63,484,205
Black Swan * FxSrch 63,240,197
Tron: Legacy * BV 53,579,845
The Fighter * Par/Alliance 51,877,355
The Dilemma Uni 48,475,290
Unknown WB 46,509,264
I Am Number 4 BV 40,738,416
Yogi Bear * WB 40,506,801
The Roommate Sony 36,260,283
Tangled * BV 33,709,950
The Rite WB 32,464,547
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 29,969,678
The Mechanic CBS 28,812,145
* does not include 2010 box office

Box Office Hell — March 3

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Rango |42.7|n/a|36.0|44.0|43.0
The Adjustment Bureau|19.3|n/a|16.0|19.0|20.0
Gnomeo and Juliet|8.5|n/a|8.5|8.2|7.5
Hall Pass |7.5|n/a|6.5|13.0|7.7
Unknown|7.0|n/a|n/a|n/a|7.8
Beastly|6.1|n/a|n/a|6.0|8.0
Take Me Home Tonight|5.4|n/a|7.0|10.0|n/a
The King’s Speech|6.2|n/a|n/a|8.1|8.7

As Of Last Night, Tom Hooper Hadn’t Seen Unthanked Harvey’s Re-Cut Of King’s Speech

Monday, February 28th, 2011

As Of Last Night, Tom Hooper Hadn’t Seen Unthanked Harvey’s Re-Cut Of King’s Speech

Some Post-Oscar Tidbits

Monday, February 28th, 2011

My favorite and not-favorite Oscar moments, which may be updated as I think of more of them …

Hailee “pretty in pink” Steinfeld, looking sweetly age-appropriate. But it cracks me up to have dolled-up television entertainment reporters being all, “Oh, it’s so NICE and REFRESHING to see (insert every young actress ever nominated for Supporting here) dressed so appropriately for her age. She just looks like a little girl playing princess, which is as it should be.” Well, yes, okay, it is. And Ms. Steinfeld will have another moment, if she wants it.

Jeff Bridges grabbing the mic on the red carpet and interviewing his entire family about their Oscar experience. The Dude abides. Always.

The whole set-up-with-zero-payout about the trifecta of art, cinematography and picture felt so completely random. WTF was that about? I mean, if I was placing a bunch of really obscure bets with a bookie, maybe, but who else cares?

Listening to the post-show blither-blather about fashion hits and misses. But okay, since I was listening anyhow … if I was going to have an opinion on the fashions, it would be that I hated Melissa Leo’s dress. She looked so lovely otherwise, but I would have loved to have seen her in something sleek in black or silver tonight. Loved Jennifer Lawrence’s simple, sexy red. Loved Hathaway’s Valentino. Loved the black lace on Russell Brand’s mom.

Hated the opening thing with the mom/grandma. Ugh. File under bad idea.

Definitely a mom theme going on, with resplendently pregnant Portman, radiant postpartum Penelope, and Celene Dion, who I guess just had twins. Glad that Hailee Steinfeld was not in maternity wear. She seems like a nice, level-headed kid. I hope she doesn’t Lohan.

Liked Hathaway and Franco overall. Actually, dang … I really like Hathaway a lot. Franco seemed stoned the whole time — what was with the squinting? Steve Martin with thinning hair makes me feel old. Mila Kunis looks great in lavender.

The mash-up of the Harry Potter song was awesome.

Melissa Leo having a vocabulary malfunction is exactly why we love her. More, please.

WTF was up with the Oscar guy commentator going off about King’s Speech being a great feel-good movie that people love and it makes them feel all happy-happy, and then specifically referencing Blue Valentine as “ugh, depressing, who wants to see that?” What a load of BS. I saw The King’s Speech last night finally, and I liked it, for what it is. It’s feel good, it has populist appeal, it’s the kid who’s popular for being a nice guy with a winning personality.

Blue Valentine is dark and daring and gritty, Ryan Gosling is soul-felt and terrific and Michelle Williams even better (she may just be the actress of her generation when all’s said and done), even the end credits sequence is relevant and artful.

… oh, and the Charlie Sheen joke was funny, I get it. But not. It’s sad to see someone nose-diving in the wake of addiction.

After Oscar

Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Award And the Oscar Goes to … Who I Said WOULD win Who I said SHOULD win Neve’s Picks And the Gurus Picks
Best Picture

The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech

Inception

The Social Network

The King’s Speech
Best Director

Tom Hooper

Tom Hooper

Darren Aronofsky

David Fincher

Davd Fincher
Best Actor

Colin Firth

Colin Firth

Javier Bardem

Jesse Eisenberg

Colin Firth
Supporting Actor

Christian Bale

Geoffrey Rush

John Hawkes

Christian Bale

Christian Bale
Best Actress

Natalie Portman

Annette Bening

Michelle Williams

Annette Bening

Natalie Portman
Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo

Helena Bonham-Carter

Hailee Steinfeld

Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo
Animated

Toy Story 3

n/a

n/a

n/a

Toy Story 3
Documentary

Inside Job

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Inside Job

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Foreign

In a Better World

n/a

n/a

n/a

In a Better World
Adapted Screenplay

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

The Social Network

Winter’s Bone

Toy Story 3

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Original Screenplay

David Seidler, The King’s Speech

The Kids Are All Right

Inception

Inception

The King’s Speech

WeinsteinCo Gets PG-13 For Un-F—ed King’s Speech; MPAA Waives 90-Day Withdrawal Rule For Muted Monarch

Friday, February 25th, 2011

WeinsteinCo Gets PG-13 For Un-F—ed King’s Speech; MPAA Waives 90-Day Withdrawal Rule For Muted Monarch

Spines Sez Submarine Ought Not Suffer Harvey’s Post-King’s Speech Confidence

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Spines Sez Submarine Ought Not Suffer Harvey’s Post-King’s Speech Confidence

“Tom Hooper’s Film Will Be A Legend, With Or Without Oscars, Because It Is About The Political Leadership We Crave”

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

“Tom Hooper’s Film Will Be A Legend, With Or Without Oscars, Because It Is About The Political Leadership We Crave”

Art Director’s Guild 2010 Awards

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Excellence In Production Design For A Period Feature Film
The King’s Speech

Excellence In Production Design For A Fantasy Feature Film
Inception

Excellence In Production Design For A Contemporary Feature Film
Black Swan

Costume Designers Guild 2010 Awards

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Excellence in Contemporary Film
“Black Swan” – Amy Westcott

Excellence in Period Film
“The King’s Speech” – Jenny Beavan

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MB Cool. I was really interested in the aerial photography from Enter the Void and how one could understand that conceptually as a POV, while in fact it’s more of an objective view of the city where the story takes place. So it’s an objective and subjective camera at the same time. I know that you’re interested in Kubrick. We’ve talked about that in the past because it’s something that you and I have in common—

GN You’re obsessed with Kubrick, too.

MB Does he still occupy your mind or was he more of an early influence?

GN He was more of an early influence. Kubrick has been my idol my whole life, my own “god.” I was six or seven years old when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I never felt such cinematic ecstasy. Maybe that’s what brought me to direct movies, to try to compete with that “wizard of Oz” behind the film. So then, years later, I tried to do something in that direction, like many other directors tried to do their own, you know, homage or remake or parody or whatever of 2001. I don’t know if you ever had that movie in mind for your own projects. But in my case, I don’t think about 2001 anymore now. That film was my first “trip” ever. And then I tried my best to reproduce on screen what some drug trips are like. But it’s very hard. For sure, moving images are a better medium than words, but it’s still very far from the real experience. I read that Kubrick said about Lynch’s Eraserhead, that he wished he had made that movie because it was the film he had seen that came closest to the language of nightmares.

Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé

A Haunted House 2 is not a movie. It is a nervous breakdown. Directed by Michael Tiddes but largely the handiwork of star, producer, and co-writer Marlon Wayans, the film is being billed as yet another Wayans-ized spoof of the horror movie genre, à la the first Haunted House movie and the wildly successful Scary Movie series. (Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brothers were responsible for the first two Scary Movie films; they have since left that franchise, which may explain why a new one was needed.) And there are some familiar digs at recent horror flicks: This time, the creepy doll and the closet from The Conjuring, the family-murdering demon from Sinister, and the dybbuk box from The Possession all make appearances. But this new film is mostly an excuse for star Marlon Wayans to have extended freak-outs in response to the horrors visited upon him—shrieking, screaming, crying, cowering, and occasionally hate-fucking for minutes on end. Yes, you read that last bit right. A Haunted House 2 puts the satyriasis back in satire.”
Ebiri On A Haunted House 2