Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hobbit stays #1 over Django, Les Miz


For the weekend of Dec. 28-30.

1. The Hobbit - $32.92 million ($222.7) - 3 wks (WB) -10.9%
 . . . 4100 screens / $8029 per screen
2. Django Unchained - $30.69 ($64) - 1 wk (Wein)
 . . . 3010 / $10,195
3. Les Misersables - $28.03 ($67.47) - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 2808 / $9981
4. Parental Guidance - $14.8 ($29.59) - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 3367 / $4396
5. Jack Reacher - $14.01 ($44.66) - 2 wks (Par) -10.2%
 . . . 3352 / $4180
6. This Is 40 - $13.19 ($37.12) - 2 wks (U) +13.9%
 . . . 2914 / $4525
7. Lincoln - $7.51 ($132.04) - 8 wks (BV) +35.9%
 . . . 1966 / $3819
8. The Guilt Trip - $6.7 ($21.1) - 2 wks (Par) +24.3%
 . . . 2431 / $2756
9. Monsters Inc. 3D - $6.36 ($18.49) - 2 wks (BV) +33.3%
 . . . 2618 / $2430
10. Rise of the Guardians - $4.9 ($90.23) - 6 wks (DW) -16.9%
 . . . 2055 / $2384
11. Skyfall - $4.6 ($289.6) - 8 wks (Sony) -2.1%
 . . . 1637 / $2810
12. Silver Linings Playbook - $4.11 ($27.36) - 7 wks (Wein) +130.7%
 . . . 745 / $5517
13. Life of Pi - $3.83 ($84.7) - 6 wks (Fox) -4.8%
 . . . 1178 / $3247
14. Breaking Dawn 2 - $2.45 ($286.13) - 7 wks (Sum) -6.7%
 . . . 1191 / $2057
15. Cirque de Soleil - $2.4 ($7.41) - 2 wks (Par) +12.4%
 . . . 840 / $2857
16. Wreck-It-Ralph - $2 ($175.66) - 9 wks (BV) +10.2%
 . . . 913 / $2196
17. Argo - $1.08 ($108.53) - 12 wks (WB) +19%
 . . . 345 / $3116

The actual number of theater tickets sold in 2012 is the highest it's been since 2002.

The Hobbit will join Skyfall and Twilight as the third movie this holiday season to pass $290 million.  Skyfall might squeak out $300 million, not sure if Twilight will get there, but all three are big hits overseas, so champagne corks are popping regardless (except it's sparkling cider for Stephenie Meyer).  Skyfall's at $1 billion total worldwide gross, and Twilight's at $800 million.

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Tom Hooper's Les Miserables will both easily get to $100 million domestic, and with awards season upon, they should get longer legs once the Academy Award nominations are announced.

Old shoes Billy Crystal and Bette Midler were able to get Parental Guidance into break-even territory.  Tom Cruise wasn't able to pull off Mission Impossible magic with Jack Reacher.

Frankenweenie - Movie Review


Starring the voices of Charlie Tahan, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau and Winona Ryder.  
Directed by Tim Burton.

★★★

Saw this at the $2 theater with the family.  Burton has taken his short from 1984 and expanded it to feature length.  It's about a boy whose dog Sparky gets killed.  Rather than accept this, he conducts a Frankenstein experiment on him and brings the dog back to life.  But this re-animation power has unforeseen consequences, especially when other kids want to know how to do it.

It's all very Burton-esque, and in animation, that's still a good thing.  It has that Nightmare Before Christmas / Corpse Bride vibe, with the neighborhood feel of Edward Scissorhands.  It's all in black and white, and it makes good use of the suspenseful setting.  There was one sequence in the night at school where all the kids held their breath, just knowing something was coming.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Top Ten in TV 2012


Good stuff not in my top ten:

Kelsey Grammer on Boss (STARZ), the whole cast of Modern Family (ABC), the increased importance of the women of The Big Bang Theory (CBS), the guys of New Girl (FOX), the improved Boardwalk Empire (HBO), the funny melancholia of Louie (FX), the intense second season of Homeland (SHO), the costly season finale of Dexter (SHO), the dry satire Veep (HBO), the still-good-after-all-these-years Survivor (CBS), the still-occasionally funny The Office (NBC), Larry Hagman's comeback on Dallas (TNT), Christopher Heyerdahl's twin creeps on True Blood (HBO) and Hell on Wheels (AMC), Jay Pharaoh's Obama on Saturday Night Live (NBC), Jon Stewart's bad impressions on The Daily Show (COM), the psychotic mess known as American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), and the suspenseful, debatable actual Presidential Debates.

Best:

10. HATFIELDS & McCOYS (HIST) - Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton brought movie-star heft to this mini-series that documents the famous feud.  Enough crazy stuff happens, it could have been a regular series, if Costner wanted to settle on a project for that long.

9. EPISODES (SHO) - Matt LeBlanc has never been better than playing an exaggerated version of himself on this show-within-a-show.  That's right, folks. Matt LeBlanc.

8. JUSTIFIED (FX) - Timothy Olyphant's Raylen Givens is still the coolest marshal on TV. This third season saw the stakes raised when out-of-town mobster Neal McDonough moved in on Raylen's territory.

7. THE GOOD WIFE (CBS) - This show uses guest stars better than any other.  Everyone from the lawyers played by Michael J. Fox and Martha Plimpton and Brian Dennehy to the judges played by David Paymer and Denis O'Hare and Stephen Root gets moments to shine, and the regular cast gets to dig down with their own work. Only downside this season has been Kalinda's out-of-nowhere husband showing up.

6. MAD MEN (AMC) - As this show gets deeper into the 1960's, we see the culture clashes creeping into Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and we saw the tragic end to Pryce.  There's only two seasons to go, and I'd wager by the end, Don will get hired by Peggy.  Just watch.

5. THE WALKING DEAD (AMC) - This was a good show but not a great show until this year.  The writers have learned the lessons of the first two seasons, killing off the more annoying characters, adding some cool ones, ramping up the actions, and demonstrating how humans still make the best villains.

4. COMMUNITY/PARKS & RECREATION (NBC) - Amazing how far Must-See Thursday has fallen on NBC's schedule, not for lack of quality but certainly for lack of viewers.  Community continues to push boundaries on where a sitcom can go, producing instant classics like the video-game episode, the Glee-club as body snatchers, and the annual paintball war.  Parks & Rec meanwhile is doing the mockumentary format better than anything the Office has done since Steve Carell left.

3. DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS) - It started with the sinking of the Titanic. Season 2 took the Crawleys through World War I.  It's been the quintessential period British upstairs-downstairs melodrama, with a great cast down to the last maid.  Maggie Smith's a hoot as the Dowager Countess, but I'm also a big fan of Lord & Lady Crawley (Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern), the perfectionist Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), the troubled Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle)... eh, pretty much everyone.

2. GAME OF THRONES (HBO) - Season 1 introduced the epic, and after killing off some of its main characters (shocking those who don't know the books), Season 2 has allowed the survivors new maneuvers and Plan B's.  Peter Dinklage is now in front of the action as the dwarf Tyrion, using his brain to stay ahead in a world where might makes right.

1. BREAKING BAD (AMC) - This show isn't for everyone, but those who've been on the journey know what I'm talking about.  It started with Bryan Cranston as frustrated chemistry Mr. Walter White, trying to make some extra money cooking meth to make sure his family's provided for once he dies from cancer.  But his cancer got better, and Walt's become addicted to his criminal persona Heisenberg.  Last season seemed impossible to top, with Walt ultimately triumphing over Big Bad Gustavo Fring, who has to be one of the best villains in TV history.  But now Walt himself is the Big Bad, and next year's series finale is sure to be devastating.  One thing I appreciate about this show. It does not glorify its violence.  Each act has repercussions for weeks and months, and no one would watch this show and think taking or cooking meth might be a good idea.

Friday, December 28, 2012

V/H/S - DVD Review


Starring Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingard, Calvin Reeder and Sophia Taki.
Directed by Adam Wingard, Ti West, David Bruckner & Glenn McQuaid.

★★

The found-footage horror movie is played out, but this one finds a way to keep it going. It's essentially an anthology, with a group of guys filming themselves, and they find a dead man in front of a TV at his house, and they see he has some weird videotapes, so they watch them... and it's found-footage within found footage.  The structure didn't work, but half of the six stories told had some genuinely spooky ideas and twists.  I couldn't help but notice that all the stories had young "dudes" just worried about getting drunk and having sex or other unsympathetic behavior until they were killed by whatever it is.  So there it is.  Imagine Blair Witch Project told in 20 minutes, then Paranormal Activity told in 20 minutes, then The Last Exorcism told in 20 minutes, and you still have an hour to go.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Worst Ten List in TV 2012


Dishonorable Mentions:

- All those reality shows I haven't seen more than five minutes of that are destroying America.  Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers & Tiaras, My Sweet 16, Teen Moms, Jersey Shore, and anything with a Kardashian.

- All those shows that want me to call in and vote.  No.  I'm done with you.

- NBC's Olympic coverage.  All those taped delays when we knew the results made no sense.

- That Sprint commercial where Dex plays the dad and he's trying to figure out a way for him to get the most data as if his kids make equal pay to him.  "You're the father.  You're paying the phone bill.  You rule the children out because they're the children."

- HBO's decision to cut 3/4 of the book Game Change, which was mainly about the 2008 primary race between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, and make it about Sarah Palin instead.

- Also, Whitney (NBC), Guys with Kids (NBC), Partners (CBS), Wilfred (FX), Ben & Kate (FOX), Fox & Friends (FNC), and Shameless (SHO) are bad shows, but they just didn't make my bottom ten.

Anyways, here's my worst ten list.  My rule is to not put anything in it this year that I put on it last year.

10. THE NEWSROOM (HBO) - The Newsroom could be really good. I mean, I watched every episode and I plan to watch season 2, but Aaron Sorkin needs some more people from the center and the right when he's writing these things.  Maybe they'd help him notice how annoying his long-winded grandstanding soapbox speeches can be.  And it isn't just the political one-sidedness of its presentation.  It's the mixing in of "screwball" comedy to make Emily Mortimer and Allison Pill look like dithering idiots.  It's the way characters over-explain everything to make sure the dumbest audience member gets the reference.  Sorkin's a really talented guy, and he's assembled a really talented cast, and I really hope he's learned some lessons from season 1 and doesn't double-down on everything that holds it back from being good.

9.  THE NEIGHBORS (ABC) - Obnoxious, wild-eyed sitcom about a family who find themselves in a neighborhood full of aliens.  A lot of people scream for comic effect on this show.

8. SEASON 1 of BRAND X with RUSSELL BRAND (FX) - I emphasize season 1, because it was horrible, but I saw the clip of season 2 of him interviewing the Westboro Baptist Church and found it funny and informative.  Season 1 though?  Painful.

7. TAKE IT ALL (NBC) - Howie Mandel returns to game-show hosting, on a show when encourages the worst in human decency.  Contestants compete for prizes, but when whittled down to the final two, they can choose to keep what they won or take it all.  If they both choose "take it all" no one wins anything.  If they both choose "keep mine" they both walk away winners.  If one chooses "keep mine" and the other chooses "take it all", the greedy one gets everything.  There was a version of this on GSN a few years ago, but alas, it's been resurrected.  Seems like the kind of game show Satan would create.  To every contestant who picks "take it all", you are why the terrorists hate us.

6. MARTIN BASHIR (MSNBC) - Plenty of cable news talking-heads are horses' rears.  Bashir is currently just the most insufferable, the kind where even those on his "side" recognize he's doing more harm than good, if doing anything at all.  Although fellow Brit Piers Morgan is doing a late push to overtake him as cable news' biggest prat.

5. GIRLS (HBO) - Whatever clever ideas this show might have, they're buried in sewage.  Lena Dunham has obvious talent, but my simile is that it's like eating a bag full of Harry Potter's every-flavor jelly beans, but 80% of them are vomit-flavored.

4. WORK IT (ABC) - A rehash of Bosom Buddies, and it's beyond me why anyone thought that was a good idea.  It was cancelled after two episodes.

3. ANGER MANAGEMENT (FX) - Charlie Sheen's comeback show is goofy, conventional, tedious and unfunny. Chuck Lorre has the last laugh on this feud.

2. ANIMAL PRACTICE (NBC) - Terrible sitcom in an animal hospital where no use of any animal was ever funny.  Justin Kirk, Joanna Garcia, Tyler Labine have all been better on other shows.

1. THE 2012 SUPER-PAC ADS - Didn't matter if they were true or not.  As far as substance went, the 2012 Presidential race was one of the most stupid, most shallow in history.  Amazing since there were so many important issues, but no, we got "Big Bird!", "You didn't build that!" and "Romney gave my wife cancer!"  It showed just how much contempt political players have for "the American people."

Les Miserables is #1, Django #2


For December 25-26.

1.  Les Miserables - $30.26 million - 2 days
2.  Django Unchained - $25.01 - 2 days
3.  The Hobbit - $22.66 ($179.66) - 13 days
4.  Parental Guidance - $10.64 - 2 days
5.  Jack Reacher - $9.14 ($27.38) - 6 days
6.  This Is 40 - $7.69 ($20.78) - 6 days
7.  Lincoln - $4.46 ($122.42) - 48 days
8.  The Guilt Trip - $4.26 ($12.8) - 8 days
9.  Monsters Inc 3D - $3.11 ($10.19) - 8 days
10. Rise of the Guardians - $2.63 ($83.87) - 36 days

Les Miserables had the #2 all-time opening on Christmas Day, behind only Sherlock Holmes.  Django Unchained had the #3 all-time opening.

I would guess that Les Miz, Hobbit and Django will be the 1,2,3 for this coming weekend, as there will be no wide releases tomorrow.  January 4 will see Texas Chainsaw 3D open, as well as expansions for The Impossible (starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) and Promised Land (starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Goon - DVD Review

Starring Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Allison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Kim Coates, Marc-Andre Grondin and Richard Clarkin.

Directed by Michael Dowse.



The best hard-hitting hockey comedy since Slapshot! And I never saw Slapshot.

Scott plays Paul Glatt, a nice but dim hockey fan who happens to be really good at fighting. He gets himself on a minor-league hockey team thanks to his fighting skills. He's charged with going into games and beating up whoever just gave a cheap shot on the other team.

This movie isn't shy about making guys lose teeth.

Ruby Sparks - DVD Review


Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Elliott Gould, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan and Alia Shawkat.
Directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris.

½

Zoe Kazan wrote the screenplay and stars as Ruby Sparks, a figment of her author's imagination.  Kazan did great on both counts, in performing the difficult role, and in writing the movie that takes some unexpected turns.

She co-stars with her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano (Cowboys & Aliens), who is my main problem with this movie. Dano's theaterical acting style is way too mannered and indulgent for my taste. I wanted him to stop "acting" and just be the character. Be more natural in this low-budget setting.

So, recast the leading man, and this would have been a great little movie.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hobbit is #1 again


For the weekend of Dec. 21-23.

1.  The Hobbit - $36.7 million ($149.86) - 2 wks (WB) -56.6%
 . . . 4100 screens / $8952 per screen
2.  Jack Reacher - $15.6 - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 3352 / $4654
3.  This Is 40 - $12.03 - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 2912 / $4132
4.  Rise of the Guardians - $5.9 ($79.69) - 5 wks (DW) -17.4%
 . . . 3031 / $1947
5.  Lincoln - $5.63 ($116.78) - 7 wks (BV) -19.9%
 . . . 2293 / $2457
6.  The Guilt Trip - $5.39 ($7.42) - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 2431 / $2217
7.  Monsters Inc 3D - $5.04 ($6.53) - 1 wk (BV)
 . . . 2618 / $1925
8.  Skyfall - $4.7 ($279.97) - 7 wks (Sony) -28.3%
 . . . 2365 / $1987
9.  Life of Pi - $3.8 ($76.16) - 5 wks (Fox) -29.8%
 . . . 1750 / $2171
10. Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 - $2.6 ($281.61) - 6 wks (Sum) -49.4%
 . . . 2000 / $1300

No special effects or Oscar buzz?  Mm, tough times be ahead for ya.  Jack Reacher is a low opening for a Tom Cruise pic, or maybe it's becoming more the norm, considering Rock of Ages bombed in the summer. (Though, I will insist, that's not his fault.)  This Is 40 is a low opening for a Judd Apatow movie, but Paul Rudd's never proven to be a draw.  Then there's The Guilt Trip, one of those movies that probably would have done better to open in January or September.

Opens Christmas Day
LES MISERABLES with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
DJANGO UNCHAINED with Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jack Reacher - Movie Review


Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney and Michael Raymond-James.
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.

★★★

I have not read the Jack Reacher books, and my understanding is that Tom Cruise is physically nothing like what Lee Child's described.  Going solely off what I saw on the screen, it worked.  It might have worked better with a bigger, more menacing-looking guy, but Cruise has done enough action flicks that I could buy him in the role.

Reacher is an ex-MP, very good at what he does. When a fellow veteran is accusing of snipering five people, he asks for Reacher. They are not friends. Reacher doesn't like the guy, but Reacher has investigative skills that match his combat skills.

I liked that this was a mystery, that there were layers to peel back.

I also see why the premiere was cancelled. The opening scene is a sniper, and one of his victims is a young woman carrying a child. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, that image takes on a new dimension. Bad timing by the movie, but this is the story they chose to tell.

I've always admired the career path that Cruise has taken, in that he tends to pick his directors carefully, and experienced co-stars. He has a mini-Days of Thunder reunion with Robert Duvall, and you also have Richard Jenkins as a DA and Werner Herzog as the head conspirator.

Now there are other Oscar-bait movies my wife and I would have seen were any of them in a theater near us last night (Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, etc.), but since they weren't, we went with this escapist fare, and we enjoyed it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea - DVD Review


Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale.
Directed by Terence Davies.

★½

Saw this due to Rachel Weisz getting a Golden Globe nomination for it, and she is really good in it.  Otherwise, though, it's a miserable movie that never flows organically.  Most conversations go like this.

"Are you happy?"  Pause.
"No." Pause.  "I'm not."
Pause.
"Anything I can do?" Pause. "For you?"
Pause.
"No." Pause. "There isn't." Pause. "But, thank you."
Pause.
Pained nod and smile.
"You're welcome."

Weisz plays an unhappy wife who has a torrid affair with a younger man in 1950 London.  But as often happens, the passion in the affair fades.  So we're left most of the movie with three unhappy people.  Longing.  Looking through the window.

I stopped having sympathy for her about halfway through the movie. It was a chore to get to the end.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin - DVD Review


Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller.
Directed by Lynne Ramsay.

★★

This movie had what could have been a fascinating premise, and it is fascinating in spots.  Tilda Swinton is Eva, a mother disturbed by her devil-spawn son Kevin.  It's told mostly in flashbacks, and we can see from a baby on that Kevin (Ezra Miller) is a rotten kid. We know early on Kevin is responsible for a mass killing at his school. I kept wondering if it was supposed to be stylized memory, distorted from the mother's perspective, or if the filmmaker is really saying "Some boys are just eeeevil."

Swinton is mesmerizing in the role, and the movie would be painful without her.  The movie is full of scenes where no one says anything, where the elephant in the room is never addressed.  Kevin is mostly nice around dad Franklin (John C. Reilly) but glares at Eva whenever he gets a chance.  Just does that evil Kubrickian look from under the eyebrows.

I would have liked to see a slight shred of humanity from Kevin, especially in his younger days.  It's too easy to just make him soulless from birth.  Not to mention there's no real resolution.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lawless - DVD Review


Starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman and Dane DeHaan.
Directed by John Hillcoat.

★★½

Tom Hardy has star power and he exudes it here.  He's Forrest, one of the three Bondurant brothers, hillbilly moonshiners who refused to pay off the law during Prohibition.  Forrest is the brains of the bunch.  Brawn, too, though older brother Howard (Jason Clarke) is capable of delivering his own psycho butt-whippin'.

But the main protagonist is the sensitive youngest brother (Shia LaBeouf), who wants to be part of the business.  He idolizes gangsters and puts up their newspaper clippings like a 10-year-old girl and her One Direction posters.  Gary Oldman makes an appearance as one such gangster, but his part's so small, it's more of an extended cameo.

The villain here is Guy Pearce as a creepy federal officer from Chicago who wants his piece and who will kill to get it.

There's a stop-and-start lurching to the pace that subtracts from the enjoyment.  I really wanted to love this movie but must admit it was merely okay.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Life of Pi - Movie Review


Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Rafe Spall and Gerard Depardieu.  Directed by Ang Lee.

★★★

One poster advertises it as a new Avatar, which I believe was a quote from Time magazine.  Well, it's visually impressive, but it's also one where I didn't see why it was in 3D.  I wasn't aware of it most of the time.  What we have here is a slightly more satisfying Cast Away.

We get the story of Pi Patel, told in flashback by his older self (Irrfan Khan).  Young Pi's father owns a zoo, but they're running out of money, and he learns he'll be able to make a lot more in Canada.  The family must move.  But as they sail the Pacific, a storm hits and the ship sinks.  Pi manages to get on a lifeboat, and he's accompanied by a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker.

Most of the movie takes place on the open ocean, with just Pi and (food-chain spoilers) the tiger.  The tiger turns into his Wilson, albeit Wilson wasn't trying to eat Tom Hanks the whole time.

My main issue with the movie is that when adult Pi starts telling his story, he says it will demonstrate proof there is a God.  And when I got to the end, and I thought about it, I still didn't see why that experience strengthened his belief in God.  Maybe the book highlights it better.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hobbit easily #1


1.  The Hobbit - $84.78 million - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 4045 screens / $20,958 per screen
2.  Rise of the Guardians - $7.42 ($71.36) - 4 wks (DW) -28.7%
 . . . 3387 / $2191
3.  Lincoln - $7.24 ($107.9) - 6 wks (BV) -18.8%
 . . . 2285 / $3170
4.  Skyfall - $7 ($272.37) - 6 wks (Sony) -35.1%
 . . . 2924 / $2394
5.  Life of Pi - $5.4 ($69.56) - 4 wks (Fox) -35.2%
 . . . 2548 / $2119
6.  Twilight: Breaking Dawn 2 - $5.18 ($276.87) - 5 wks (Sum) -43.5%
 . . . 3042 / $1701
7.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $3.27 ($168.78) - 7 wks (BV) -32.6%
 . . . 2249 / $1455
8.  Playing for Keeps - $3.25 ($10.84) - 2 wks (FD) -43.5%
 . . . 2840 / $1143
9.  Red Dawn - $2.39 ($40.89) - 4 wks (FD) -43.5%
 . . . 2250 / $1064
10. Silver Linings Playbook - $2.08 ($16.95) - 5 wks (Wein) -4%
 . . . 371 / $5617
11. Flight - $1.94 ($89.45) - 7 wks (Par) -38%
 . . . 1823 / $1064

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was more than expected to open huge, and it did.  All other movies will be fighting to stay in theaters since seven movies are scheduled to open wide by Christmas (Jack Reacher, This is 40, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, The Guilt Trip, Parental Guidance, Monster Inc. 3D).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Expendables 2 - DVD Review


Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture, Nan Yu and Chuck Norris.
Directed by Simon West.

★½

I don't remember much about the "plot" of the first one, but the second one has less of it.  Stallone and company are hired mercenaries who go in to fortified headquarters in whatever country, shoot down a hundred henchmen, blow stuff up, then leave.

Then they get a job that is supposed to be easy, but "one of their own" is killed, which makes it personal.

It's inspired that they bring in Jean-Claude Van Damme to play the main villain.  Most of the rest of it is tired rehash.  They fire a lot of guns, they exchange one-liners, they fire more guns, they make in-jokes (Arnold and Bruce say each other's catchphrases at one point), and nothing else about it justifies its existence.  Chuck Norris shows up? Huh. Does he do anything cool?  Not really.

So maybe when they make Expendables 3, they'll get Carl Weathers, Gerard Butler and Dwayne Johnson, and they'll invade North Korea and overthrow Kim Jong-Un.  Might as well.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - DVD Review


Starring Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan and Christopher Lambert.
Directed by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor.

★½

Silliness is the name of the game here.  Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, the motorcycle daredevil who occasionally turns into the Ghost Rider.  He learns of a way to finally free himself from the Rider from a silver-eyed monk (Idris Elba), but first he must stop the Devil from taking over a boy's body.

First time around, the Devil was played by Peter Fonda.  Now he's Ciaran Hinds, a step up in my book.  Its actors like Hinds and Elba that made me think this sequel might be an upgrade, but it's more like an opportunity for those two to ham it up and get paid good money to do it.

Cage gets wild and crazy with the role, and he kills a lot of generic Euro-trash henchmen on the way up to his showdown with the Devil.  It has CG-splashiness, and it's the most unnecessary sequel of the year.  I never had any sense from anyone in the movie they were doing this for anything more than cash. It's not like they actually believed in this project, nor care if it was any good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Golden Globe Nominations


Best Motion Picture — Drama
Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust & Bone
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Motion Picture — Comedy Or Musical
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy Or Musical
Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith, Quartet
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Comedy Or Musical
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
Ewan McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Alan Arkin, Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Director — Motion Picture
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture
Argo, Chris Terrio
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Best Original Score — Motion Picture
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Cloud Atlas, Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimet & Reinhold Heil
Life of Pi, Michael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams

Best Animated Film
Brave
Frankenweenie
Hotel Transylvania
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour
The Intouchables
Kon-Tiki
A Royal Affair
Rust & Bone

Best Television Series — Comedy Or Musical
The Big Bang Theory
Episodes
Girls
Modern Family
Smash

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series – Drama
Connie Britton, Nashville
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kevin Costner, Hatfields and McCoys
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Woody Harrelson, Game Change
Toby Jones, The Girl
Clive Owen, Hemingway and Gellhorn

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Nicole Kidman, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum
Sienna Miller, The Girl
Julianne Moore, Game Change
Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Ed Harris, Game Change
Danny Huston, Magic City
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Sarah Paulson, Game Change
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series — Comedy Or Musical
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks And Recreation

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series — Comedy Or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louis
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Best Television Series — Drama
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Homeland
The Newsroom

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
Game Change
The Girl
Hatfield & McCoys
The Hour
Political Animals

Cecil B. DeMille Award
Jodie Foster

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012 Screen Actors Guild Nominations

Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture
"Argo"
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
"Les Misérables"
"Lincoln"
"Silver Linings Playbook"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Denzel Washington, "Flight"
Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Helen Mirren, "Hitchcock"
Naomi Watts, "The Impossible"
Marion Cotillard, "Rust and Bone"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin, "Argo"
Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
Javier Bardem, "Skyfall"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Sally Field, "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
Nicole Kidman, "The Paperboy"
Maggie Smith, "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
"The Dark Knight Rises"
"Skyfall"
"The Bourne Legacy"
"The Amazing Spider-Man"
"Les Miserables"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
"Boardwalk Empire"
"Homeland"
"Mad Men"
"Breaking Bad"
"Downton Abbey"

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
"30 Rock"
"The Big Bang Theory"
"Glee"
"Modern Family"
"Nurse Jackie"
"The Office"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Damian Lewis, "Homeland"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"
Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"
Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story: Asylum"
Julianna Marguiles, "The Good Wife"
Claire Danes, "Homeland"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Louis C.K., "Louis"
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Amy Poelher, "Parks and Recreation"
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland"

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Costner, "Hatfield and McCoys"
Woody Harrelson, "Game Change"
Ed Harris, "Game Change"
Clive Owen, "Hemingway and Gellner"
Bill Paxton, "Hatfields and McCoys"

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman, "Hemingway and Gellner"
Julianne Moore, "Game Change"
Charlotte Rampling, "Restless"
Sigourney Weaver, "Political Animals"
Alfre Woodard, "Steel Magnolias"
Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
"Game of Thrones"
"Homeland"
"Breaking Bad"
"Sons of Anarchy"
"Walking Dead"
"Boardwalk Empire"

Biggest surprise snubs?  Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams for The Master, Zero Dark Thirty for Ensemble.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly TV Ratings

For the week of Nov. 26- Dec. 2.  Ratings are from the 18-49 demo.

1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC) - 7.4
2.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - 5.5
3.  Modern Family (ABC) - 4.7
4.  The Voice Mon.(NBC) - 4.2
5.  2 Broke Girls (CBS) - 4.1
6.  Two and a Half Men (CBS) - 4.0
7.  The Voice Tue. (NBC) - 3.8
8.  Football Night in America (NBC) - 3.8
9.  Mike & Molly (CBS) - 3.6
10. NCIS (CBS) - 3.6

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Skyfall is #1 in 5th week


1.  Skyfall - $11 million ($261.62) - 5 wks (Sony) -33.6%
 . . . 3401 screens / $3234 per screen
2.  Rise of the Guardians - $10.54 ($61.91) - 3 wks (DW) -21.3%
 . . . 3639 / $2896
3.  Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $9.2 ($268.74) - 4 wks (Sum) -47.2%
 . . . 3646 / $2523
4.  Lincoln - $9.12 ($97.34) - 5 wks (BV) -31.9%
 . . . 2014 / $4526
5.  Life of Pi - $8.3 ($60.92) - 3 wks (Fox) -31.7%
 . . . 2946 / $2817
6.  Playing for Keeps - $6 - 1 wk (FD)
 . . . 2837 / $2115
7.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $4.9 ($164.45) - 6 wks (BV) -29.4%
 . . . 2746 / $1786
8.  Red Dawn - $4.26 ($37.27) - 3 wks (FD) -34.4%
 . . . 2754 / $1547
9.  Flight - $3.13 ($86.2) - 6 wks (Par) -30.1%
 . . . 2431 / $1288
10. Killing Them Softly - $2.75 ($11.77) - 2 wks (Wein) -59.7%
 . . . 2424 / $1134

Playing for Keeps, the one new wide release, flopped.

Skyfall is now Sony Pictures' biggest worldwide grosser of all time.

Expect everyone to get crushed by The Hobbit next week.

Lincoln - Movie Review


Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Gloria Reuben, Bruce McGill, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Stuhlbarg, Walton Goggins and Lee Pace.  Directed by Steven Spielberg.

★★★★

Daniel Day-Lewis may be the best actor on the planet.

So, what else to say?  This movie captures nicely the galaxy of the man, the saint, the politician, the president.

This all takes place in the last four months of his life, when they're trying to get the 13th Amendment passed, banning slavery.  It's a behind-the-scenes look at the handshaking, promise-making, and compromising that go into getting anything done in DC.

Sally Field's really good as Mary Todd Lincoln, the grieving mother who does more harm than good in her role as First Lady; Tommy Lee Jones is great as Thaddeus Stevens, the Radical Republican who doesn't think the 13th Amendment goes far enough; and I also liked the three-man persuasion crew of James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson, charged with finding some Democrats to help support the Amendment.

I appreciated the humanization of Lincoln here.  We see him mourn with his wife, dote upon his youngest son, glare at subordinates, spin homespun yarns as a passive-aggressive way of making his Cabinet listen to him.  I loved when Secretary of War Stanton interrupted him. "No! NO! You're about to tell a story!"

There's more I would have liked to have seen (Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, Andrew Johnson, and Jefferson Davis are some of the players we never see) but this is the window that Spielberg wanted to focus on, and it's rich, rewarding, and never dull.  This could have felt like one of those period Oscar-bait "homework" movies, but I'd like to see it again down the road.

And I can't say enough about Daniel Day-Lewis. There's nothing he can't do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

American Reunion - DVD Review


Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Eugene Levy, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Jennifer Coolidge, John Cho, Natasha Lyonne, Dania Ramirez, Katrina Bowden and Jay Harrington.
Directed by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg.

★★

On one hand, there's something nice about seeing the gang back together.  On the other hand, I'm watching these guys all complain about getting old at age 31.  Maybe I should just rewatch the first one instead?

There is something to be said about seeing Jim, Michelle, Stifler, Finch, Oz, Vickie, etc. back together.  In some ways, it's comfort food with favorite characters. In other ways, it's a reminder that most of these actors didn't have their careers take off the way they imagined.

The Class of 1999 is getting together for their 13-year high school reunion.  Apparently the 10-year didn't happen.  It's an excuse for everyone to come back to their hometown and hang out and get stuck in some awkward situations while juvenile potty humor abounds.  Coming off the best, I suppose, is Stifler (Seann William Scott), who puts the id in idiot.  He still wants to play pranks, get drunk, pick on dweebs, and sleep with teenage girls, keep his high-school glory days alive.

There's a reason the Porky's gang never went to their high-school reunion.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Savages - DVD Review


Starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir.
Directed by Oliver Stone.


★★


Stone, finally, has gone back to make a movie absent of political polemics.  He's just here to make some pulp fiction, a flashy, violent tale about a pair of small-time, successful marijuana dealers who find themselves at war with the Mexican cartel when they refuse to join them.

Even though the title makes me think of Pocahontas, it's fitting for this story, as this cartel is brutal in their punishments and scorched-Earth in their approach.  In a twist, the big mob boss is played by Salma Hayek, and she is where she is due to her willingness to kill people quicker than Scarface.

Kitsch (Battleship) and Johnson (Kick-Ass) are okay as the two "heroes." When their mutual girlfriend is kidnapped, they must hatch a plot to get her back, and it involves a shady federal agent (Travolta) who allows the drug war to flourish as long as he gets paid.

It's the kind of movie where there's little redeeming social value, and everyone deserves to die, but it loses the courage of its convictions in the last few minutes and offers a cop-out instead.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Breaking Dawn's still #1


For the weekend of Nov. 30 - Dec. 2.

1.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $17.41 million ($254.59) - 3 wks (Sum) -60%
 . . . 4008 screens / $4344 per screen
2.  Skyfall - $17 ($246.03) - 4 wks (Sony) -52.1%
 . . . 3463 / $4909
3.  Lincoln - $13.51 ($83.7) - 4 wks (BV) -47.4%
 . . . 2018 / $6694
4.  Rise of the Guardians - $13.5 ($48.95) - 2 wks (DW) -43.2%
 . . . 3672 / $3676
5.  Life of Pi - $12 ($48.36) - 2 wks (Fox) -46.6%
 . . . 2928 / $4098
6.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $7.02 ($158.26) - 5 wks (BV) -57.6%
 . . . 3087 / $2274
7.  Killing Them Softly - $7 - 1 wk (Wein)
 . . . 2424 / $2888
8.  Red Dawn - $6.55 ($31.32) - 2 wks (FD) -54.1%
 . . . 2781 / $2355
9.  Flight - $4.54 ($81.53) - 5 wks (Par) -46.3%
 . . . 2603 / $1744
10. The Collection - $3.41 - 1 wk (LD)
 . . . 1403 / $2430
11. Silver Linings Playbook - $3.34 ($10.99) - 3 wks (Wein) -23.8%
 . . . 371 / $9005
12. Anna Karenina - $2.23 ($4.08) - 3 wks (Foc) +148.8%
 . . . 384 / $5807
13. Argo - $2.03 ($101) - 8 wks (WB) -47.6%
 . . . 1043 / $1942

The new releases were dead on arrival, while the holiday holdovers kept raking in the dough.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 is on track to be the most profitable in the Twilight series. It's passed the $700 million mark in worldwide gross.  Skyfall has passed $869 million worldwide and is now the highest-grossing Bond movie in franchise history (unless you adjust for inflation).

Lincoln should have been a tougher sell, but the Spielberg name combined with Oscar buzz for the movie and for Daniel Day-Lewis has kept it strong.

I don't know how you screw up marketing a Brad Pitt gangster movie but the Weinsteins found a way.  Killing Them Softly's a bad title opening on a bad weekend for new movies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rise of the Guardians - Movie Review



Starring the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher.
Directed by Peter Ramsey.

★★★

With childhood heroes like these, who needs the Avengers?

Okay, Avengers was a better movie, but this is a decent entry into the animated Christmas movie sub-genre.  I liked it about as much as Polar Express.

Santa Claus (Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher) and the silent Sandman have been defending the children of the Earth for hundreds of years.  They answer to the Man in the Moon, who somehow telepathically communicates to them.  When the Boogeyman (Law) regains some of his long-dormant strength, a new Guardian is selected to join them: Jack Frost (Pine).

Frost is more about mischief than protection, and he has to learn to play nice with others and find his inner strength, believe in himself, etc. (Ever notice how many kids' movies have the message "Believe in yourself?")

It's missing a lot of the pop-culture references and cynicism that's marked so many DreamWorks Animation's efforts.  There's some amusing stuff there for adults, but it's mainly aimed at kids.  I found it a bit strange to have Santa be this tattooed Russian sword-fighter, and the Easter Bunny's a bit of an Aussie thug. I'm guessing one of his inspirations was Rabbit from Winnie-the-Pooh.  The Tooth Fairy's more bird than Tinkerbell, and Jack Frost is just your regular teenage boy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Campaign - DVD Review


Starring Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Katherine LaNasa, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd and Brian Cox.
Directed by Jay Roach.

★★

Sure, there's a couple laughs. It's impossible for Will Ferrell to make a movie without some.  It takes the exaggerated nastiness typical in election campaigns and has fun with it.  But its main target is so thinly disguised, it loses its edge.

Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a North Carolina congressman in a safe, safe district.  But after getting caught having an affair, his puppermaster donors decide they want someone else in his place.  They handpick Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) to challenge him.

Hijinks ensue.

This movie is a giant commercial against Citizens United and the Koch brothers.  In the movie, they're the Motch brothers, two rich guys in smoke-filled rooms who plot how to control government.  A smarter satire might have made them a little more subtle, made them more reminiscent of Randolph & Mortimer Duke from Trading Places.  Here they're a parody of an MSNBC caricature of capitalistic evil.  And if you're going to do that, please be smart about it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Breaking Dawn still #1, Skyfall #2


1.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $43.07 million ($226.95) - 2 wks (Sum) -69.5%
 . . . 4070 screens / $10,582 per screen
2.  Skyfall - $36 ($221.72) - 3 wks (Sony) -12.4%
 . . . 3526 / $10,210
3.  Lincoln - $25.02 ($62.18) - 3 wks (BV) +18.9%
 . . . 2018 / $12,398
4.  Rise of the Guardians - $24.03 ($32.61) - 1 wk (DW)
 . . . 3653 / $6577
5.  Life of Pi - $22 ($30.15) - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 2902 / $7581
6.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $16.76 ($149.51) - 4 wks (BV) -9.8%
 . . . 3259 / $5143
7.  Red Dawn - $14.6 ($22) - 1 wk (FD)
 . . . 2724 / $5360
8.  Flight - $8.6 ($74.88) - 4 wks (Par) -2.3%
 . . . 2638 / $3260
9.  Silver Linings Playbook - $4.62 ($6.45) - 2 wks (Wein) +943.6%
 . . . 367 / $12,597
10. Argo - $3.88 ($98.11) - 7 wks (WB) -4.2%
 . . . 1255 / $3088

Hollywood had a great weekend to make up for the sluggish fall.  Twilight and James Bond are both delivering, Steven Spielberg's back in $100+ million grossing territory after competing against himself last year with Tintin and War Horse, and movies like Wreck-It-Ralph, Flight and Argo are stretching their long legs.

Of the new releases, DreamWorks may actually be a bit disappointed in the opening for Rise of the Guardians. They'll be hoping for strong word-of-mouth and they'll be glad there's no more animated competition until the December 21 re-release of Monsters Inc. (in 3D!!!)  Life of Pi had good reviews, and it seems geared toward making its profits overseas.  Red Dawn did well for a movie that's been sitting on a shelf for three years.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - Movie Review

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellen Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Maggie Grace, Lee Pace, Joe Anderson and Christopher Heyerdahl.
Directed by Bill Condon.

★★½

At the very least, this movie is a nice apology for Breaking Dawn Part 1, the low-point in the series.  Bella is now a vampire, and so we see her go through the discovery process, learning her abilities, and seeing this world from her new sparkling point of view.

Ah, but the Volteri are still the ruling vamps, and when they get word of Bella's daughter, it ignites a showdown between them and the Cullens.

This movie has several problems, from the CGI baby, to Bella's ability to feed without getting a drop of blood on her, to her Dad not noticing her eyes are yellow now.  I could go on.  These are problems you can't blame on the book; they could have been caught and cleaned up.

The book has some gifts to the screenwriter, namely an action climax that's actually pretty good.

I've always taken the Twilight movies at the level they are, and so I can enjoy them.  Except for Breaking Dawn Part 1.  This one may well be the best one in the series, for what that's worth.

Wreck-It-Ralph - Movie Review


Starring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling and Dennis Haysbert.
Directed by Rich Moore.

★★★½

Wreck-It-Ralph is the villain in a video game, a game programmed somewhere between Burger Time and Rampage.  Fix-It-Felix Jr. is the name of the game, and when it's over, the townspeople throw Ralph off the building.  But after 30 years, Ralph's tired of his role as the bad guy.  He wants to be the good guy.

This provides continued evidence of the Pixar influence on Disney animation.  The movie has real heart, with Ralph just trying to know what it's like to do good.  He bounces from game to game, trying to find a way to be the hero.

One of the highlights for me was Alan Tudyk as King Candy, the Ed Wynn-like ruler of a racer game in a CandyLand-esque world.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DVD Reviews: Bernie, The Innkeepers, Lockout

These are all 2012 releases now available on Netflix.

BERNIE (★★★) Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. Directed by Richard Linklater.  Black does his best acting job in years as Bernie, a mild-mannered mortician who befriends all the old ladies of his small town, but finds himself the object of affection of one rich spinster (MacLaine).  The Texas humor is gentle, and it's another great turn by Linklater alum McConaughey, doing a new twist on his Southern lawman character.

THE INNKEEPERS (★★½) Starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy and Kelly McGillis.  Directed by Ti West.  I'm enjoying West's continuing contribution to old-school style horror movies.  This one suffers from being just a little too slow and a little too willing to get its heroine out of danger as soon as she's put in it.  But it is a great lesson how much more effective a thriller can be when we get to know and care about the characters.

LOCKOUT (★★) Starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare.  Directed by James Mather & Stephen St. Leger.  Here's an example of an old-school style action movie but it feels more like a retread than a revisiting.  Pearce's wiseguy antihero deserves a better movie than this Escape from New York ripoff, where he must rescue the President's daughter, being held hostage in the world's first supermax prison in outer space. Most of it takes place in hallways and corridors, and it kept making me wish a xenomorph would show up and start picking off everyone.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Box Office - 11/18/12



1.  Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 - $141.3 million - 1 wk (Sum)
 . . . 4070 screens / $34,717 per screen
2.  Skyfall - $41.5 ($161.34) - 2 wks (Sony) -53%
 . . . 3505 / $11,840
3.  Lincoln - $21 ($22.42) - 2 wks (BV) +2124%
 . . . .1775 / $11,831
4.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $18.31 ($121.48) - 3 wks (BV) -44.5%
 . . . 3622 / $5056
5.  Flight - $8.62 ($61.34) - 3 wks (Par) -41.7%
 . . . 2612 / $3298
6.  Argo - $4.07 ($92.02) - 6 wks (WB) -38.5%
 . . . 2210 / $1842
7.  Taken 2 - $2.1 ($134.62) - 7 wks (Fox) -47.7%
 . . . 2063 / $1018
8.  Pitch Perfect - $1.26 ($62) - 8 wks (U) -51%
 . . . 1122 / $1123
9.  Here Comes the Boom - $1.21 ($41.02) - 6 wks (Sony) -52.4%
 . . . 1350 / $889
10. Jab Tak Hai Jaan - $1.2 ($1.9) - 1 wk (Yash)
 . . . 161 / $7580

The Twilight Saga is going to end as one of the most profitable in history.  It is to Summit what Lord of the Rings was to New Line.  Skyfall is also on pace to be the highest-grossing Bond movie yet.  Wreck-It-Ralph should do well over the Thanksgiving weekend, even with Rise of the Guardians opening.  Lincoln did well in its expansion.  Everyone's doing great in November!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cloud Atlas - Movie Review



Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Doona Bae, Susan Sarandon, James D'Arcy, Keith David, Xun Zhou and David Gyasi.
Directed by Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski & Andy Wachowski.

★★★½

Six stories are loosely connected, spanning from the 1800's to the distant future.  The ensemble shows up in each one. They may be the star in one storyline but a cameo in the next.  They interchange age, race, gender in weaving the tapestry of their tales.

There's nothing particularly profound here, and each story on its own might just seem okay, but the way these six intertwine, the pacing at which it jumps from one to the next, this is cinema that is alive, that moves.  I admire not only its ambition, but that a studio had enough faith to give it a budget.  It's tragic, really, that this didn't do better at the box office.

I hope this film isn't forgotten come Academy time, at least for some of the technical awards.  Make-Up, Costume, Art Direction, Sound should all get mentions.

It's also worth seeing on the big screen.  The effects are on par with the Matrix trilogy or Tron Legacy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - DVD Review


Starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup.
Directed by John Madden.

★★½

It's predictable as all get out, but it's also one of those movies where I cut it some slack because it's so nice to see these actors bouncing off each other.  I've gained a new love for every sentence Dame Maggie Smith speaks, and Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy tend to be terrific with how much or how little they're given.

A group of British seniors have decided to outsource their retirement and go to the cheaper "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful" in India.  When they arrive they find the brochure was misleading and it's rather a run-down place, run by a young enthusiastic man (Dev Patel) who dreams of building it up to be like his brochure.

They could have trimmed about 15 minutes without losing anything.  At two hours running time, the pacing can be slow.  But as the relationships develop and the situations unfold, I was rooting for these characters to achieve their hopes and dreams.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Skyfall - Movie Review


Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney.
Directed by Sam Mendes.

★★★½

I've seen every Bond film, and I can say this one makes my top five.  While there have been decent directors of the franchise, Sam Mendes adds that extra artistry that makes this more than a mindless action movie.  It also has more emotional depth than most, as well as a restored sense of humor now that 007 has been grounded in a more "realistic" fashion.

I use realistic in the loosest sense of the word, since there are no invisible cars.

The traditional tropes are there.  A secret mission, exotic locations, beautiful women, a colorful villain, nods to Bond past, and I'm thrilled they finally brought back Q.  This time he's young Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas), so I imagine he can try to break Desmond Llewelyn's record if he so desired.

M (Judi Dench) is more entangled in the plot this time, as someone has hacked into MI6's system and stolen vital information, then releasing it a little at a time to specifically embarrass her.  The villain is eventually revealed to be a Mr. Silva (Javier Bardem), and it helps to have an Academy-Award winner as the villain.  Bardem's Silva is one of the creepier entries into Bond's rogue gallery, with a strong, personal motive.

Bring on the next one!

Tabitha

For my readers who might wonder why I haven't done much on the blog lately, my youngest daughter Tabitha passed away on October 27.  She was 5.  Our blog dedicated to her is here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Skyfall has best Bond opening ever


1.  Skyfall - $87.8 million - 1 wk (Sony)
 . . . 3505 screens / $25,050 per screen
2.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $33.06 ($93.69) - 2 wks (BV) -32.6%
 . . . 3752 / $8810
3.  Flight - $15.1 ($47.77) - 2 wks (Par) -39.4%
 . . . 2047 / $7377
4.  Argo - $6.75 ($85.71) - 5 wks (WB) -33.9%
 . . . 2763 / $2441
5.  Taken 2 - $4 ($131.29) - 6 wks (Fox) -32.4%
 . . . 2487 / $1608
6.  Here Comes the Boom - $2.55 ($39.06) - 5 wks (Sony) -27.7%
 . . . 2044 / $1248
7.  Cloud Atlas - $2.53 ($22.71) - 3 wks (WB) -53.1%
 . . . 2023 / $1248
8.  Pitch Perfect - $2.5 ($59.03) - 7 wks (U) -18.3%
 . . . 1391 / $1800
9.  The Man with the Iron Fists - $2.49 ($12.72) - 2 wks (U) -68.5%
 . . . 1872 / $1330
10. Hotel Transylvania - $2.35 ($140.9) - 7 wks (Sony) -46.7%
 . . . 2566 / $916

Skyfall was the highest opener yet for a James Bond film, and it's already grossed over $400 million overseas.

Wreck-It-Ralph had a strong holdover for its second week, and it should be able to keep going strong until its next competition arrives on November 21 in Rise of the Guardians.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wreck-It-Ralph is #1

For the weekend of Oct 2-4.


1.  Wreck-It-Ralph - $49.1 million - 1 wk (BV)
 . . . 3752 screens / $13,086 per screen
2.  Flight - $25.01 - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 1884 / $13,275
3.  Argo - $10.25 ($75.9) - 4 wks (WB) -15.2%
 . . . 2774 / $3693
4.  The Man with the Iron Fists - $8.22 - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 1868 / $4400
5.  Taken 2 - $6 ($125.67) - 5 wks (Fox) -22.2%
 . . . 2639 / $2274
6.  Cloud Atlas - $5.25 ($18.26) - 2 wks (WB) -45.4%
 . . . 2013 / $2608
7.  Hotel Transylvania - $4.5 ($137.57) - 6 wks (Sony) -52.4%
 . . . 2922 / $1540
8.  Paranormal Activity 4 - $4.3 ($49.58) - 3 wks (Par) -49.5%
 . . . 3006 / $1430
9.  Here Comes the Boom - $3.6 ($35.57) - 4 wks (Sony) -30.9%
 . . . 2314 / $1556
10. Silent Hill: Revelation - $3.3 ($13.9) - 2 wks (OR) -58.9%
 . . . 2933 / $1125

Wreck-It-Ralph and Flight both did great in the per-screen average, and they kick off nicely the winter season.  The November-December release time has become as important as the May-June corridor.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Argo's #1 in slow week


1.  Argo - $12.36 million ($60.78) - 3 wks (WB) -24.9%
 . . . 2855 screens / $4327 per screen
2.  Hotel Transylvania - $9.5 ($130.43) - 5 wks (Sony) -26.9%
 . . . 3276 / $2900
3.  Cloud Atlas - $9.4 - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 2008 / $4681
4.  Paranormal Activity 4 - $8.68 ($42.63) - 2 wks (Par) -70.1%
 . . . 3412 / $2542
5.  Silent Hill Revelation - $8 - 1 wk (OR)
 . . . 2933 / $2728
6.  Taken 2 - $8 ($117.39) - 4 wks (Fox) -39.7%
 . . . 2995 / $2671
7.  Here Comes the Boom - $5.5 ($30.61) - 3 wks (Sony) -34.6%
 . . . 2491 / $2208
8.  Sinister - $5.07 ($39.52) - 3 wks (Sum) -42.5%
 . . . 2347 / $2160
9.  Alex Cross - $5.05 ($19.37) - 2 wks (Sum) -55.7%
 . . . 2541 / $1987
10. Fun Size - $4.06 - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 3014 / $1347
11. Pitch Perfect - $3.98 ($51.33) - 5 wks (U) -41.1%
 . . . 1999 / $1990
12. Chasing Mavericks - $2.2 - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 2002 / $1099
13. Looper - $2.1 ($61.5) - 5 wks (TriS) -50%
 . . . 1189 / $1766

Cloud Atlas has a $100 million budget, but it's another big bomb for the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Speed Racer).  I think it also does damage to what above-the-title star power Tom Hanks has left.  The other new wide releases (Silent Hill Revelation, Fun Size, Chasing Mavericks) will be quickly forgotten.

Paranormal Activity 4 had a 70% drop in week two.  Shows that word-of-mouth is catching up that this was the weakest of the series.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 is #1


For the weekend of Oct 19-21.

1.  Paranormal Activity 4 - $30.2 million - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 3412 screens / $8851 per screen
2.  Argo - $16.63 ($43.19) - 2 wks (WB) -14.6%
 . . . 3247 / $5120
3.  Hotel Transylvania - $13.5 ($119) - 4 wks (Sony) -21.7%
 . . . 3014 / $4479
4.  Taken 2 - $13.4 ($105.97) - 3 wks (Fox) -38.7%
 . . . 3489 / $3841
5.  Alex Cross - $11.75 - 1 wk (Sum)
 . . . 2539 / $4628
6.  Sinister - $9.03 ($31.95) - 2 wks (Sum) -49.9%
 . . . 2542 / $3552
7.  Here Comes the Boom - $8.5 ($23.2) - 2 wks (Sony) -28.1%
 . . . 3014 / $2820
8.  Pitch Perfect - $7 ($45.77) - 4 wks (U) -24.4%
 . . . 2660 / $2635
9.  Frankenweenie - $4.43 ($28.34) - 3 wks (BV) -37.1%
 . . . 2362 / $1877
10. Looper - $4.2 ($57.8) - 4 wks (TrS) -32.3%
 . . . 2223 / $1889
11. Seven Psychopaths - $3.31 ($9.19) - 2 wks (CBS) -20.8%
 . . . 1480 / $2233

Paranormal Activity 4 may not have opened as high as its predecessors, and it may have the worst reviews of the bunch, but it still opened to $30 million on a $5 million budget.  PA5 is guaranteed for October 2013.

Argo is showing great staying power.

Tyler Perry didn't direct Alex Cross, and it doesn't seem like the kind of movie his fanbase would see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Random Movie Stuff - 10/19/12


- Warner Bros. plans to release a Justice League movie in Summer 2015. No director have been announced. Christopher Nolan passed on the offer to produce it.  Will Beall has a written a script.  No word if Henry Cavill (Superman), Christian Bale (Batman) and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) will be attached, but it's said to use those characters as well as Wonder Woman and the Flash.  The Avengers 2 is also scheduled to open Summer 2015.

- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has been moved back to January 25.  It stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the famous gingerbread-house-visiting siblings, grown up and determined to fight all witches.

- Jason Statham will star in Homefront, about a DEA agent who retires to a small town only to find out the town has its own drug underbelly.  Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay.  It co-stars James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Frank Grillo (The Grey) and Rachelle LeFevre (Twilight).

- Liam Neeson, James Franco, Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody, Mila Kunis, Maria Bello and Olivia Wilde will star in Paul Haggis's next drama Third Person, which will weave together three storylines, one in Paris, one in New York, and one in Rome.

- Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) has joined the cast of Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman (Swordfish) as a man who takes the law into his own hands after his wife and child are kidnapped.  Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch) and Melissa Leo (The Fighter) co-star.

- Watched some trailers recently.  This has been my lowest movie-attending season in about ten years so I watch them online.  The most moving one for me was The Impossible, based on the true story of a family separated during the 2004 tsunami. It stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.  We have yet another Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake too.  Once again, five kids go into a big house they shouldn't.  Silver Linings Playbook looks good.  Jennifer Lawrence's presense is always a plus, but Bradley Cooper's character looks like it could be his most interesting work to date.

- Saw MIRROR MIRROR (★★) on DVD and it's just far less interesting than Snow White & the Huntsman.  It's more comical, more aimed at kids.  I liked Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and the dwarves fine. I was embarrassed for Armie Hammer as the prince; this did not do him any favors and doesn't give me much hope for The Lone Ranger.

Taken 2 - Movie Review


Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedgia and Luke Grimes.
Directed by Olivier Megaton.

★½

The first Taken had a visceral drive behind it.  His daughter was kidnapped. He didn't know who or why, but he knew he was going to hunt them down and kill anyone who got in his way, and it drove him all the way to an Albanian sex-slave ring.

This time around, he invites his ex-wife and daughter to join him on a vacation to Istanbul. Istanbul? I would think his daughter would never want to leave the US again after the events of the first movie, but why visit a country just a hop, skip and jump away from all those men he killed?  Yes, he has some business there, but why not say "And afterwards, we'll go to DisneyWorld!"

The father of one of the men he killed wants revenge, and he has dozens of henchmen at his disposal.  Unfortunately for him, they're the type of henchmen who sit around and smoke and watch futbol and don't notice the trained killer entering the room until it's too late.

Taken 2 feels like a straight-to-DVD sequel where they figured they'd get Wesley Snipes to do it, but then Neeson said no, he'll do it, so they rewrote it back to being him two weeks before shooting.  It's 92 minutes long, and it's not exciting. We never feel like he or his wife or his daughter is in real danger, but we know pretty much every unshaven Albanian we meet is going to get killed.  Neeson also is getting up there in age, and every fight scene is obviously chopped and edited to death.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Argo - Movie Review


Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Clea DuVall, Tate Donovan, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, Chris Messina and Bob Gunton.
Directed by Ben Affleck.

★★★★

At this point, I'd have to say Ben Affleck is a must-see director.  The first three movies of his directing career - Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and now Argo - have all been fantastic.

This is the true story of the rescue of six Americans in 1979 from Iran.  When the US Embassy was overrun and all 50 Americans inside were taken hostage, six employees had escaped and hid in the home of the Canadian ambassador.

Affleck cast himself as Tony Mendez, the CIA operative charged with getting those six out.  He comes up with the idea of pretending he's a Hollywood producer doing a location scout, and pretending that the six are part of his film crew to get them out.

The Iranian parts are as suspenseful and tense as a prison-break movie, the Washington parts flow like a good West Wing episode, and the Hollywood parts are like any good satire.  And there's not one wasted moment.  It moves and crackles.

This movie seems a shoo-in for nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and a few others, and lest that makes the movie sound like stodgy homework, fear not.  It flies by.

Taken 2 is #1, Argo #2, Sinister #3

For the weekend of Oct 12-14.


1.  Taken 2 - $22.5 million ($86.76) - 2 wks (Fox) -54.6%
 . . . 3706 screens / $6071 per screen
2.  Argo - $20.12 - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 3232 / $6225
3.  Sinister - $18.25 - 1 wk (Sum)
 . . . 2527 / $7222
4.  Hotel Transylvania - $17.3 ($102.19) - 3 wks (Sony) -36.1%
 . . . 3375 / $5126
5.  Here Comes the Boom - $12 - 1 wk (Sony)
 . . . 3014 / $3981
6.  Pitch Perfect - $9.34 ($36.09) - 3 wks (U) -37.1%
 . . . 2787 / $3350
7.  Frankenweenie - $7.01 ($22.04) - 2 wks (BV) -38.5%
 . . . 3005 / $2334
8.  Looper - $6.3 ($51.44) - 3 wks (TriS) -48%
 . . . 2605 / $2418
9.  Seven Psychopaths - $4.28 - 1 wk (CBS)
 . . . 1480 / $2889
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - $2.17 ($6.15) - 4 wks (Sum) +38%
 . . . 726 / $2983
11. Atlas Shrugged Part II - $1.71 - 1 wk (ADC)
  . . . 1012 / $1688
12. End of Watch - $1.7 ($36.38) - 4 wks (OR) -57.5%
 . . . 1551 / $1098

Suddenly there are a lot of choices at the multiplex, and the rewards vary.  Critics may hate Taken 2, but audiences are still flocking to it.  Ben Affleck's Oscarbait bid Argo did very well, and I expect it to have long legs.  Sinister filled the void of the lack of horror movies out right now, wisely opening before Paranormal Activity 4.

Here Comes the Boom is the lowest opening ever for a Kevin James movie.  Seven Psychopaths and Atlas Shrugged Part II opened on fewer screens, and their per-screen average suggests wisdom by the studio/theaters to not try for more.

It's too bad about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It had good reviews, but I guess the teens went to see Pitch Perfect instead.

Friday, October 12, 2012

AMC's Hell on Wheels - TV Review


I've stuck with this show for two years, and it really hit its stride the past few episodes.  Just when I thought it was reachings levels of greatness, it betrayed me.  Whatever artistry the show was beginning to achieve, the last fifteen minutes unravelled it for me.

The camp has been getting restless, and the Sioux have been that lingering threat in the background.  The Swede has been stirring them up, playing the White Spirit.  Mrs. Durant has entered the camp and upset the balance of power.  Mr. Durant knows his embezzling is going to come back to bite him.

The finale exploded the series wide open.  The Sioux rejected the Sede and left him on death's door.  Nearly every structure was burned to the ground.  After Mr. Tool killed himself, we knew that more death was to come, and no one was safe.

Well, we knew Bohannon was safe. he's the lead, right?  And then there's Lilly, the heart of the show.  They wouldn't put her through all that just to kill her, would they?  In the end, Lilly came back to her room to find the Swede waiting, and it reminded me of Anton Chigurh going after Llewellyn Moss's widow.  Lilly's gun was out of bullets and I kept waiting for someone to burst in and save her.  Bohannon?  Elam?  One of the Irish brothers?

But no one came.  The Swede strangled Lilly to death.  The heart of the show stopped beating.

So the playing field's been levelled.  We know Durant's in custody, so they could easily not return for Season 3, though I don't see why you just let Colm Meaney and Virginia Madsen walk.  Elam will presumably stay to be Bohannon's right-hand man, now that he's in charge of the railroad, and Elam's babymama is now a widow and free to stay by him and raise their child with him.  Either Irish brother could leave, or both.  The Swede might have survived his jump into the shallow river.  He's become a mystical force of evil.  I assume he's going to resruface in Season 3, and Bohannon's going to make sure his death is slow.

But Lilly won't be back.  I've been surprised by characters' deaths before, but this one just makes no sense to me.  They can really go any direction for Season 3 but I'm not as enthused as I might have been had their final kill been anyone else.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ABC's 666 Park Avenue - TV Review

This show has the blessing of getting Terry O'Quinn as its main villain.  It also has the curse of opening in a universe where FX's American Horror Story already exists.

666 Park Avenue refers to a hotel where people who check in tend to make deals with the devil.  It centers on two new managers (Rachel Taylor, Dave Annabele) who move and will be learning the secrets of the hotel over the next few weeks.  Meanwhile there's an anthology approach, where a tenant of the week goes through the struggle for their soul.

I liked the episode I saw okay, but not enough to follow, and since it's not doing too well in the ratings, I don't see it surviving for a second season.

Monday, October 8, 2012

2016 Obama's America - Movie Review


Directed by Dinesh D'Souza & John Sullivan.

★★½

It's still in some theaters but I saw it for free on YouTube.

This right-leaning documentary (I say with the same euphemistic flourish I'd use to describe Michael Moore as "left-leaning") proposes that most of America doesn't know the "real" Obama.  Filmmaker/author Dinesh D'Souza decides to go on a journey to discover who the real man is, and he uses Obama's book "Dreams of My Father" as a blueprint.

First we must learn who D'Souza is, so we can see where he's coming from. I'm not a fan of "re-created" scenes in documentaries, and this one has an actor playing D'Souza, having conversations while he was in college.  He talks about his time at Stanford, his debate with Jesse Jackson, his fondness for Ronald Reagan, and his job at the White House.

Then we get more into Obama, and D'Souza globetrots to immerse himself in the places Obama grew up.  He goes to Kenya and interviews Obama's half-brother.  He goes to Hawaii, he goes to the Philippines, back to the United States, and he has a slick trick of interviewing an expert, either in person or by phone, to re-enforce whatever theory's he's put forward.

The film is well-paced and good-looking.  Many political docs look slapped together and done as a cash-grab, but this one aspires to be a real movie.  It also makes effective use of Obama's own voice, narrating his own words.

This actually builds like Rosemary's Baby.  Everything seems pleasant at first, but we know we're building to something horrific, and dread seeps through and spreads slowly, like ink in a swimming pool.

The finale is when D'Souza brings in his final expert, to share what the world would look like if Rosemary gives birth to Satan's baby.  I mean, if Obama gets a second term.  (Spoiler alert!)  "What would happen if America is no longer America?" By 2016, the debt will shoot past $20 trillion, more Middle Eastern countries will fall until they form a giant Muslim Brotherhood alliance against the West, and America will forever be weakened in the world.

I didn't feel very informed, because the back of my mind kept wondering if I wanted to fact-check this.  I don't really feel a need to, as it didn't change my mind about anything.