Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Movie Stuff - 1/31/12

- Adam Sandler will star in the live-action big-screen treatment of Candy Land, based on the board game. Kevin Lima (Enchanted) will direct.

- Dennis Quaid has joined the cast of
The Words, starring Bradley Cooper as a successful author who has to pay the price for stealing someone else's work. Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Ben Barnes and JK Simmons co-star.

- Clint Eastwood will act again in
Trouble with the Curve. He will play an aging baseball scout who's losing his sight, who goes on one last trip to check out a hot prospect. Amy Adams will play his daughter, who joins him on the trip. It will open September 28, opposite Won't Back Down, a drama about two mothers (Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal) trying to make a difference at their local school, and Loopers, a sci-fi time-travel actioner where an assassin (Bruce Willis) runs into the younger version of himself.

- Taylor Lautner is now out of the
Stretch Armstrong movie, dropped by Universal, and now Relativity has picked it up and has set aside April 2014 for a release date.

- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who'll appear in
The Silver Linings Playbook later this year, will reunite for Serena, based on the Ron Rash best-seller about a husband-wife team lording over their new timber empire in 1929 North Carolina. When she finds out she cannot hanve children but he has fathered a son from an affair, she seeks to murder the boy.

- Patrick Wilson is reuniting with his Insidious director James Wan for
another ghost story, this one about a haunted farmhouse. Vera Farmiga (Source Code), Ron Livingston (Office Space), and Lili Taylor (The Haunting) will co-star.

- The
X-Men: First Class cast has signed back on for a sequel (including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence), and Matthew Vaughn will return as director.

- Simon Cowell will not bring back host Steve Jones or judges Paula Abdul or Nicole Scherzinger for the next season of
The X Factor.

- After being diagnosed as pre-diabetic,
Alec Baldwin cut sugar out of his diet, and he claims he's lost 30 pounds in the past four months.

HBO's Luck - TV Review

The acting, naturally, is very good. It's a powerhouse cast, with Dustin Hoffman front and center, but so many others (Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Michael Gambon, Joan Allen, Jill Hennessy, Kevin Dunn, Kerry Condon, Jason Gedrick, Richard Kind, John Ortiz) makes it overflowing with talent, reminiscent of that other David Milch HBO drama Deadwood. But it's another show about unlikeable people doing dishonest things. Boardwalk Empire, for all its glossy glory, has no one to root for, and Luck may turn out to be the same way. The horse track, in some ways, is one of the seedier locations to center a show around, and it's clear we're going to see gambling addicts and mobsters and all sorts come and go.

I'm losing my free HBO soon, so it'll largely depend on other reviews of how future episodes go as whether or not I catch up with this.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Screen Actors Guild Award Winners

Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Movie
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Movie
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Outstanding Female Actor in a Lead Role in a Movie
Viola Davis, "The Help"

Outstanding Male Actor in a Lead Role in a Movie
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"

Outstanding Cast in a Movie
"The Help"

Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Kate Winslet, "Mildred Pierce"

Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
Paul Giamatti, "Too Big to Fail"

Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Comedy Series
Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland"

Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Outstanding Ensemble in a TV Comedy Series
"Modern Family"

Outstanding Female Actor in a TV Drama Series
Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story"

Outstanding Male Actor in a TV Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"

Outstanding Ensemble in a TV Drama Series
"Boardwalk Empire"

No real surprises.  I would have guessed George Clooney would have won for The Descendants. I'm annoyed they gave it to Alec Baldwin for a sixth year in a row.  It's the main reason I'd be glad 30 Rock is ending.

Contagion - DVD Review


Starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle, John Hawkes, Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould, Demetri Martin and Sanaa Lathan.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Steven Soderbergh is one of my favorite editors of a director. His stories are very succinct and compact, with nary a wasted scene. This 21st century Andromeda Strain warns us that, yeah, after a few overhyped diseases, there could still be a big one that hits and spreads.

We meet a couple, Mitch and Beth (Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow), but dearie-me, she has a cough. We all know what happens to pretty ladies who cough in movies. Just that quickly, Beth is gone, and Mitch is stunned. "Wait, what happened to her?" Dozens of people who came into contact with Beth drop dead. Mitch is fine.

There's a disease spreading quickly all over the world. Agents from the WHO (Marion Cotillard) and CDC (Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne) try to trace its origins, figure out how it started and how to stop it.

I like the use of several stars to tell the story. By having Paltrow die in the first ten minutes, we know no one is truly safe. This will really make you want to wash your hands when it's over.

Starz's Boss - TV Review

I'd moved Boss down the viewing list so I just saw the last two episodes this week. Wow. Now I really get why Kelsey Grammer won the Golden Globe. His Tom Kane jumped from bad-guy protagonist to truly ruthless monster. Looking forward to seeing the fallout in Season 2.

For those who missed it (99.9% of you), Kane is the mayor of Chicago.  His behind-the-scenes corruption is worse than anything Brotherhood's Tommy would have dreamed of.  Kane is looking to push out the current governor, a long-time ally, in favor of an up-and-comer he can more easily manipulate.  Meanwhile he discovers he has a degenerative brain disorder.  He's cold and unfaithful to his wife (Connie Nielsen), but he's trying to reconnect with his disowned daughter, a former drug addict turned priest.

The first few episodes has this good-not-great vibe to them, akin to AMC's The Killing.  But then as the primary drew nearer, the action ramps up, the betrayals mount, and Kane would give the Lannisters chills for how far he's willing to go to preserve his power.

I'm sure it'll be on DVD or Netflix in a few months.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday's Box Office

1. The Grey - $6.5 million - 1 day
2. One for the Money - $4.1 - 1 day
3. Underworld Awakening - $3.43 ($36.05) - 8 days
4. Red Tails - $2.8 ($26.18) - 8 days
5. Man on a Ledge - $2.5 - 1 day
6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - $2 ($15.96) - 34 days
7. Contraband - $1.9 ($51.77) - 15 days
8. The Descendants - $1.74 ($54.03) - 73 days
9. Beauty & the Beast 3-D - $1.23 ($37.03) - 15 days
10. Haywire - $1.17 ($12.45) - 8 days
11. Mission Impossible 4 - $.93 ($200.02) - 43 days

The Grey is yet another Q1 actioner for Liam Neeson that reinforces his star power. It should get around $19 million for the weekend. One for the Money shows that while her star is fading, Katherine Heigl still draws a crowd, even when she looks like Katie Holmes on the poster. It should get around $11 million. The other new release, Man on a Ledge, is the first Sam Worthington movie banking on his star power outside of a big-budget franchise (Terminator, Avatar, Clash of the Titans...), and he can take comfort he has Wrath of the Titans later this spring.

Some Oscar nominated movies expanded their screens, and they've been met with a collective yawn. The Artist and The Iron Lady had lower per-screen averages than Red Tails, and even the Best Picture nomination of a Tom Hanks-Sandra Bullock movie couldn't boost Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close much. (I think part of it is the kid's obviously the star and Hanks is dead for most of the movie.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Top Ten Films of 2011

I have not yet seen The Artist, Drive, A Separation, Take Shelter, My Week with Marilyn, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Margaret, Meloncholia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and a few of these others that have made some top-ten lists, and I'll probably edit this list as I do see them, but of the 117 titles I've seen in 2011, these were the best.

Enjoyed But Not in My Top 20:
The Adventures of Tintin, Beginners, Black Death, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, The Company Men, Contagion, Crazy Stupid Love, The Debt, The Descendants, Fast Five, Fright Night, Hanna, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Horrible Bosses, The Ides of March, Insidious, Jane Eyre, Kung Fu Panda 2, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Puss in Boots, Real Steel, Sons of Perdition, Terri, Thor, The Trip, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Unknown, Win Win

Meek's Cutoff, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Honorable Mentions (my 12-20, alphabetically):

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS - Destined to become a perennial holiday Christmas, like Polar Express, but this is better.  It has the Aardman spirit infused in the Blue Sky look, with Santa Claus protrayed as a benvolent monarchy, a tradition that's handed down from father to son.  It has some other original ideas which makes the journey seem fresh.

BRIDESMAIDS - Very funny Apatow-produced comedy with some drama sprinkled in.  Kristen Wiig plays a more complex character than usual, and she's able to pull it off swimmingly.  It help that she co-wrote the script.

MARGIN CALL - This tightly-wound corporate thriller has a major powerhouse cast, all taking place over 24 hours when one of the largest investment firms in the world realizes they're on the verge of losing everything.  Do they let the ship sink or do they let their toxic assets go ruin some other people's lives instead?  These talks may well have taken place at Lehman Brothers or AIG one night.  King among kings is Jeremy Irons as the CEO, probably my favorite work of his in years.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL - Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) shows his sense of pace holds true in the live-action world.  Together he and Tom Cruise have made the best entry in the series.

OF GODS AND MEN - Very quiet French movie about grace under pressure.  Based on a true story, it's about a group of monks who choose to stay in their monastery even while Muslim radicals are overthrowing the village around them.  Most memorable for Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale as two of the chief monks.

SOURCE CODE - This nifty little Twilight Zone episode of a movie has a straight-forward conceit that never feels repetitive, even as we relive the same eight minutes over and over.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - An old-fashioned spy thriller. Actually it's the one that defined the modern spy thriller.  Gary Oldman is the outside observer in British Intelligence who must determine which colleague is actually a Russian mole.  It never dumbs down its plot and it requires close attention to keep up.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS - I like how this reboot goes back to 1963, when the first x-Men comics originally appeared.  You have two friends, Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik (Matthew Fassbender) who have mutant powers and are trying to figure out how to adapt in the world, but the plot spins along like a James Bond caper

YOUNG ADULT - This anti-romantic comedy has biting laughs, starring Charlize Theron as one of those shallow popular girls who hasn't matured twenty years out of high school.  She goes back to her hometown to pursue her old boyfriend, and she won't let little things like his wife and baby stand in her way.  Brilliant ending, too.

Special mention:

11.  CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER - Sometimes superhero movies can be done right.  Director Joe Johnston restores much-needed earnestness to the good guy (part of why Chris Reeve's Superman was so appealing).  Chris Evans is actually pretty good as Steve Rogers, the 98-pound weakling who wants more than anything to serve his country, and gets that chance thanks to some experimental drugs that pump him up to a super-soldier.  It handles the mythology right, the evolution of the costume, the dastardly villain Red Skull (Hugo Weaving, having fun).  My only complaint is how it, like the other Marvel movies, in the end, has to tie itself to the upcoming Avengers movie.

And now...

... My Top Ten

10.  HUGO - 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' was a wonderful book, and Martin Scorsese was the perfect choice to bring it to life on-screen.  His camera dives and swims through the inner workings of the Parisian train station, and the story glides into a tribute to early cinema.

9.  THE HELP - Race relations are explored in 1960's Jackson Mississippi, when black women couldn't seem to get a job outside of the service industry.  It's sweet and soluable, with several good performances from its mostly female class, including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain.

8.  RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - Man, this came out of nowhere, didn't it?  Motion-capture king Andy Serkis should have been nominated for his work here as Caesar, the ape that started it all.  Perfect example of how big-budget summer movies can still be great.

7.  THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - I liked the Swedish version, but under director David FIncher's eye, Steig Larsson's pulp mystery is sleeker, more stylish, and places more emphasis on the procedure than the results.  Noomi Rapace was great as Lisbeth Salander, but Rooney Mara owns the role with equal grit and poise.  Really hoping Fincher's able to make the next one.

6.  50/50 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt's plan to land in my Top Ten every year is working.  This touching cancer comedy-drama hits all the right notes, and gives strong moments not just to JGL, but Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bruce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston all leave lasting impressions.

5.  THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER - I don't want to overhype this one, but this quiet gem just worked for me.  Its thin night-in-the-lives-of plot is deliberately drawn from American Graffiti and Dazed & Confused, but all the kids and situations feel so real, it could have been a documentary.

4.  WARRIOR - I'd heard good things, I wanted to see it in theaters, but I just never did.  I repented by renting it on DVD, and I'd recommend others do the same; it deserves to find an audience.  Outstanding acting from the three leads - Tom Hardy as the ex-Marine, Joel Edgerton as the family man, and Nick Nolte as the regret-filled father of both.  The MMA choreography and sound is as bone-crushing as any fight movie can be.

3.  MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - I've seen most of Woody's movies and this is the best movie of his in the past couple decades.  Owen Wilson is the Woody stand-in here, as a Hollywood screenwriter who longs to make art, lounging around Paris with his fiancee until something magical happens and he runs into literary heroes of his from the 1930's, including Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), but the highlight is Corey Stoll's Ernest Hemingway.

2.  RANGO - I love this homage to cinema old and new, where it can switch from a High Noon feel to Sergio Leone to John Huston to Apocalypse Now.  Much of that might be over the heads of kids, but they can still appreciate the critters dressed like cowboys.  Johnny Depp is Rango, a pet lizard who finds himself stranded out in the desert, where he comes across a small town called Dirt.  I loved the details, like the turtle in a wheelchair, or the voice work that sounds like Andy Devine and Pat Buttram. I loved every minute.

1.  MONEYBALL - Brad Pitt at his movie-star best.  He and director Bennett Miller make spreadsheets and statistics exciting, with Pitt as Billy Beane, manager for the Oakland A's, a ball-club that can't spend as much as its competitors, so he has to see where he can get the most value for the cheapest price.  Jonah Hill's work here reminded me of Jamie Foxx's in Collateral, by which I mean he puts away his ticks and quirks and plays it boringly-straight, except it's actually more interesting.  And the dialogue crackles like any good Aaron Sorkin script should.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 84th Academy Award Nominations

Nominations for the 84th Academy Awards

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life

Best Actor
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
George Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt - Moneyball

Best Actress
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants - A. Payne & N. Faxon & J. Rash
Hugo - J. Logan
The Ides of March - G. Clooney & G. Heslov & B. Willimon
Moneyball - S. Zaillian & A. Sorkin & S. Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - B. O'Connor & P. Straughan

Best Original Screenplay
The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids - Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call - J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
A Separation - Asghar Farhadi

Best Foreign Film
Bullhead, Belgium
Footnote, Israel
In Darkness, Poland
Monsieur Lazhar, Canada
A Separation, Iran

Best Animated Film
A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss In Boots, Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

Best Art Direction
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Best Cinematography
Guillaume Schiffman - The Artist
Jeff Cronenweth - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Robert Richardson - Hugo
Emmanuel Lubezki - The Tree of Life
Janusz Kaminski - War Horse

Best Costume Design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

Best Film Editing
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Documentary Film
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Best Makeup
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Iron Lady

Best Original Score
John Williams - The Adventures of Tintin
Ludovic Bource - The Artist
Howard Shore - Hugo
Alberto Iglesias - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Williams - War Horse

Best Original Song
"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets
"Real in Rio" from Rio

Best Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Best Sound Editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Best Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Best Animated Short
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Best Live-Action Short
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

Nomination Totals:
Hugo - 11
The Artist - 10
Moneyball - 6
War Horse - 6
The Descendants - 5
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 5
The Help - 4
Albert Nobbs - 3
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - 3
Midnight in Paris - 3
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - 3
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - 3
The Tree of Life - 3
Bridesmaids - 2
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - 2
The Iron Lady - 2
My Week with Marilyn - 2
A Separation - 2
My thoughts:

PICTURE - I'm surprised Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close got in, since it received such poor reviews. Stephen Daldry must be friends with many powerful people. His fourth movie in a row has been nominated for Best Picture (Billy Eliott, The House, The Reader), though he didn't get a Director's nod. I'd have to say it's a race between The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo.

DIRECTOR - No David Fincher, no Bennett Miller, no Steven Spielberg. If Scorsese hadn't already won for The Departed, he'd be 100% lock to win, but I think this one's between Hazanavicius and Payne, edge to Payne.

ACTOR - Thrilled for Oldman, happy for Bichir. I haven't seen A Better Life, but it's cool when struggling actors get a sudden boost like that. For the 21st century Frat pack leaders, I'd give the edge to Pitt over Clooney, but overall Dujardin has to be the front-runner.

ACTRESS - Glad to see Rooney Mara made it. Close and Williams take comft in adding more nominations to their resume, but I think this is a battle between Doubt co-stars Meryl Streep and Viola Davis. Davis was the heart of The Help, but it's been, what, thirty years since perennial nominee actually won an Academy Award? Really surprised Charlize Theron didn't make it, or Tilda Swinton, from what I've heard.

SUPPORTING ACTOR - Branagh, Hill and Nolte have the honor of being nominated, but this is a showdown between two legends - Plummer and Von Sydow. Edge to Plummer. Would have liked to see Andy Serkis get in here for Apes.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Showier roles tend to win here (Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost, Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny, Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain, etc.) so Octavia Spencer could pull it off, but it wouldn't surprise me if Melissa McCarthy's fearless performance was rewarded. Also, Chastain was in six movies this year and could have easily been nominated here for The Tree of Life.

SCREENPLAY - It's between The Descendants, Hugo and Moneyball for Adapted, and I view Original at this point as anyone's guess.

FOREIGN - A Separation is the one making all of the top-ten lists.

ANIMATED - I'm rooting for Rango. I would have put in Arthur Christmas or The Adventures of Tintin before Kung Fu Panda 2.

VISUAL EFFECTS - Would have liked to have seen Captain America get a nod for the way they transformed Chris Evans from 98-pound weakling to the First Avenger.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Win Win - DVD Review


Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynsky, Alex Shaffer and Margo Martindale.  Directed by Tom McCarthy.

Nice to see a middle-America comedy-drama come along that doesn't condescend and doesn't go for the obvious. Paul Giamatti plays a lawyer whose firm is in financial dire straits. He finds an opportunity to get some extra money by becoming the guardian of one of his elderly clients. Meanwhile he's a part-time wrestling coach. His plans grow more fragile when the grandson of his client shows up.

The movie's a nice balance between humorous situations and the dramatic fallout. It's a good showcase for Giamatti, and it makes for a pleasant rental.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fox's Napoleon Dynamite - TV Review

Voices of Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Tina Majorino, Diedrich Bader, Jon Gries.

I actually liked this show. It's better than Bob's Burgers or The Cleveland Show or Allen Gregory; it's actually a very suitable replacement for the gaping hole where King of the Hill once resided. Most of the original actors are back to provide the voices, and I actually chuckled out loud at a couple jokes.

The show is true to the spirit of the movie, and the universe is slightly expanded, and allowed to go to places where only cartoons can go. (Like Kip being an expert on stilts.)  It makes a good pairing with The Simpsons on Sunday night.

The Hangover Part II - DVD Review


Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zack Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Mason Lee, Jamie Chung and Nick Cassavetes.  Directed by Todd Phillips.

When I think of the best sequels, they contain elements of the first movie, but they stand up solidly as their own story. Aliens, Godfather II, Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight. Some of the worst try to be carbon copies, hitting all the same beats but with tiny tiny differences. This unfortunately falls into that latter camp.

The movie begins the same way the first one did. Phil on the phone letting a bride-to-be know they've really messed up this time. Flashback to one week earlier.

Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug are together again, going to Thailand for Stu's wedding. They take Stu's future brother-in-law Teddy with them for "just one drink" on the beach. Cut to the next morning. Phil, Stu and Alan wake up in a trashed apartment with no idea what happened. But it's Bangkok instead of Vegas. And the surprise animal in the bathroom is a monkey instead of a tiger.

And it keeps going and going just like that, right down to the slide show of their wild night during the closing credits. It is basically the same movie as the first one, but far less funny.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Golden Globe Award Results

Best Picture Drama
The Descendants

Best Picture, Musical/Comedy
The Artist

Best Director
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Screenplay
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Best Actor, Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actress, Drama
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation

Best Animated Film
The Adventures of Tintin

Best Original Score
Ludovic Bourse - The Artist

Best Original Song
"Masterpiece" by Madonna - W.E.

Cecil B. DeMille Award
Morgan Freeman


Best Television Series - Drama

Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland

Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Modern Family

Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened

Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
Downton Abbey

Best Performance By An Actress In A Mini-Series Or A Motion Picture
Made For Television

Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Best Performance By An Actor In A Mini-Series Or A Motion Picture
Made For Television

Idris Elba, Luther

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or
Motion Picture Made For Television

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or
Motion Picture Made For Television

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Weekend Box Office - 1/15/12

For the weekend of Jan 13-15.

1. Contraband - $24.1 million - 1 wk (U)
. . . 2863 screens / $8418 per screen
2. Beauty & the Beast 3D - $18.49 - 1 wk (BV)
. . . 2625 / $7044
3. Mission Impossible 4 - $11.5 ($186.75) - 5 wks (Par) -42.1%
. . . 3346 / $3437
4. Joyful Noise - $11.35 - 1 wk (WB)
. . . 2735 / $4148
5. Sherlock Holmes 2 - $8.41 ($170.01) - 5 wks (WB) -38.6%
. . . 3155 / $2666
6. The Devil Inside - $7.9 ($46.25) - 2 wks (Par) -76.6%
. . . 2551 / $3097
7. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $6.8 ($87.98) - 4 wks (Sony) -40%
. . . 2674 / $2543
8. Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $5.8 ($118.78) - 5 wks (Fox) -38.9%
. . . 2849 / $2036
9. War Horse - $5.61 ($65.78) - 4 wks (BV) -35.4%
. . . 2856 / $1963
10. The Iron Lady - $5.39 ($5.97) - 3 wks (Wein) +2953.7%
. . . 802 / $6716

Disney & Pixar have a few 3D rereleases lined up, and I'm sure they'll get diminishing returns with each one, but hey, it's a profitable move. Meanwhile Mark Wahlberg re-established his action-star cred with Contraband.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Contraband - Movie Review


Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, JK Simmons, Diego Luna and David O'Hara.
Directed by Baltasar Kormakur.

Mark Wahlberg is cool. He just is. He can do your art-house flicks (I Heart Huckabees), your comedies (The Other Guys), your Best Pictures (The Departed), and then he's an action star. His action movies serve as a reminder that Jason Statham could do better.

Wahlberg in action mode isn't much different than Eastwood in the 1980's or Bruce Willis in the 1990's. When I watch movies like this, I always have John Malkovich in True West come to mind. "It's not a film, it's a moo-vie."

Here he's Chris Farraday, former smuggler gone legit, with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids. When Kate's little brother Andy has a job go bad (throwing some drugs in the ocean when customs boards), he's threatened with his life unless he pays the amount the score was expected to bring - $700,000.

Chris tries to appeal to his boss, a little psycho named Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi, in Bruckheimer villain mode), but Briggs wants the full amount and threatens to kill Chris and Kate and their kids as well unless he gets his money. So Chris comes out of retirement for one last job - smuggling counterfeit money from Panama.

The movies goes back and forth from hard-hitting action drama to light-hearted heist flick. Of course Chris's best-laid plans fall apart in Panama. If it all went smooth we'd have a dull 60-minute movie.

This is based on the 2008 Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam. The producer and star of that movie, Baltasar Kormakur, serves as director here, and he has a sleekness to his style. Reminded me of the Scott brothers at times.

(P.S. My wife's biggest complaint? Wahlberg never takes his shirt all the way off.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Killer Elite - DVD Review


Starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert DeNiro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski, Ben Mendelsohn and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
Directed by Gary McKendry.

Jason Statham plays an expert assassin brought out of retirement who must kill a group of war criminals in exchange for the life of his mentor/friend (Robert DeNiro). But an ex-SAS agent (Clive Owen) is on his trail to stop him.

Thoughts I had through the movie:

"Jason Statham was born to play characters named Danny."

"Don't know who this guy is they've tied to the chair, but to me, he's the British Daniel Baldwin."

"Alkaseltzer Akawaka-Ajablahblah would probably have a more successful movie career if he'd use a more pronouncable name. I've seen it spelled out dozens of times and can never remember it. He was cool as Eko on Lost."

"Nice to see Yvonne Strahovski getting work outside of the Chuck universe."

"Wait a minute, that guy with the long hair and mutton chops is the guy from Prison Break! Wow, he looks different. Good for him."

"Why is this being lit like it's a sequel to Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever?"

"Clive Owen's mustache looked silly in the trailer, but it's actually working for me here."

"This setup is very similar to Munich, but these two movies are worlds apart. Which makes me wonder if this movie would be leagues better if Spielberg had directed it."

"Very cool car-chase sequence marred by one guy on the team doing two very stupid things in a row. One, okay. Two? How did he wind up on the team?"

"Gotta love it when movies pretend to be over at the 80-minute mark. Who they foolin'?"

"100-minute mark. Really ready for this muddled movie to be over."

"I wonder how much DeNiro was paid for what looks like about a week of work. More of an extended cameo than a supporting role."

"Ugh, Statham actually had to say 'You just don't get it, do you?' to someone."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cowboys & Aliens - DVD Review


Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Paul Dano and Walton Goggins.
Directed by Jon Favreau.

The first fifteen minutes or so work really well. It's a real Western. Daniel Craig is a cowboy who wakes up with amnesia. He goes to the nearest town where he gets recognized as a thief. He fights back, but he gets jailed. The townsfolk gather when the chief cattle baron of the region (Harrison Ford) shows up to spring his own wayward son out of prison.

And then the aliens show up, kidnapping about half of the people we meet. Somewhere in there the fun factor should kick in, but the movie plays it straight the entire time.

So as an alien movie, the aliens don't seem that threatening, which is to say, despite their technology, the aliens are poor tacticians and shockingly easy to kill. Their design isn't that creative, straight out of the gray-skinned, many-limbed playbook. They actually reminded me a lot of the creature from Super 8.

Now I've read the source material. It was a comic-book written with the intent of being made into a movie. Its story wasn't great either. In fact Favreau's really fleshed it out. I just don't see a reason why no one seemed to realize they were making a summer movie called Cowboys & Aliens. Let's have a blast, why don't we.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are You There Chelsea? - TV Review

NBC's ARE YOU THERE CHELSEA? - Laura Prepon plays Chelsea Handler, and Chelsea plays her grouchy sister in this sitcom based on Handler's life.  The laughs from the studio audience are half-hearted at best.  It's about on the level of Whitney.

The first episode centers on Chelsea getting a DUI.  There are tons and tons of jokes about how Chelsea drinks too much, to the point that her sister decides she doesn't want her to be there for the birth of her child. It all works out.

Other news shows:

ABC's WORK IT - It is about as stupid as you'd expect.  Two men, in tough economic times, dress in drag in order to get a job, and they're completely unconvincing as women, so all the other actors have to pretend like they don't notice.  Almost as glaring as White Chicks.

ABC's CELEBRITY WIFE SWAP - Same old, same old.  The one I saw had Carnie Wilson and Tracey Gold swap.  Carnie's a wild messy mom with a ships-passing-in-the-night relationship with her husband; Tracey's a neat organized mom that spends a lot of quality time with her family.

Warrior - DVD Review


Starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn, Maximiliano Hernandez, Denzel Whitaker and Kurt Angle.
Directed by Gavin O'Connor.

If you put a hundred different writer/director teams into a hundred different rooms and told them to make a movie about mixed martial arts, I believe Gavin O'Connor's team would win.

Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a family-man/school-teacher whose personal finances are suffering. He was a former UFC fighter, and an upcoming MMA tournament has a $5 million winner-take-all purse attached.

Tommy (Tom Hardy) is an ex-Marine, stalled in life, bitter against his formerly alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) and his brother Brendan. He's also a great fighter and wants to join the tournament.

The family dynamics and father-son issues ring true and run deep, even if it's hitting familiar notes. It hits thems skillfully, where it doesn't even feel like a formula.

Also, the choreography of the matches are fantastic. They're brutal and exciting, and more than once it seems like people are really getting hurt.

It's really a shame this flopped at the box office. It deserves to find new life on DVD.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Movie Stuff - 1/10/12

- Robert Downey Jr. is Tim Burton's top choice to play Geppetto in his new version of Pinocchio, a semi-sequel (like his Alice in Wonderland) where Geppetto is on a quest to reunite with his missing wooden son.

- Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and Jordi Malla (Knight & Day) are in talks to join Riddick, the third movie starring Vin Diesel as the sight-enhanced fugitive, following Pitch Black and The Chrnonicles of Riddick.

- Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy) is in talks to join the cast of Inside Llewelyn Davis, the next movie from Joel & Ethan Coen.  It's about folk music in the 1960's and stars Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac and John Goodman.

- Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) has been hired to rewrite Thor 2, which reunites Chris Hemsowrth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, and will be directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones).

Old Movie I Saw:

SKIDOO (1968) - Check out this cast: Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Groucho Marx, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith, Frankie Avalon, Cesar Romero, John Phillip Law, Michael Constantine, Austin Pendleton, Peter Lawford, Mickey Rooney, George Raft, Slim Pickens, Robert Donner, Richard Kiel, Arnold Stang. That movie has to be seen, right?

This is in the same boat as Casino Royale, in that it's a cultural oddity. Otto Preminger doesn't embrace the anarchic sloppiness of Casino. He's a meticulous director, and he just can't do comedy well. This movie was dated the moment it was released. It's very much the movie of an old guy in 1968 trying to be cool with "the hippies." How can you have Groucho Marx and not unleash him?

So yeah, I sat through the whole thing, but I would advise, if anyone wants to seek it out at this point, if you watch 20 minutes of it - any 20 minutes - you will have gotten the idea. Gleason plays a long-retired gangster dragged back into action for one last job by the big boss. The boss's name is God, and he's played by Marx. This movie has the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), but none of them are really allowed to go wild, except when Meredith and Gorshin have to pretend they're on an acid trip.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Movie Review


Starring Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, David Dencik, Kathy Burke and Simon McBurney.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson.

Gary Oldman made his name by playing frenetic, over-the-top personalities (Sid & Nancy, Dracula, Immortal Beloved, True Romance) but he's reintroduced himself to a new generation as the mild-mannered Jim Gordon in the Dark Knight movies, and now here he is as George Smiley. Smiley barely moves, speaks low. He's a British gentleman. He's also one of the best spies in the world.

Smiley is brought out of retirement to help out. Seems there is a mole at the top. The boss is named Control (John Hurt), and Smiley is the only man he can trust with the job. Control knows it's one of his top four agents, and he gives each of them a nickname. Perhaps you've seen the title of the movie?

Smiley never shows what he is thinking, but to the scrutinizing audience, we can catch those glimpses of him locking information away.

It's based on the classic John le Carre spy novel, and it rewards the audience members that pay attention and leaves behind those that don't. As glued as I was to what was going on, even though there's very little actual action, I must admit that the reveal of the mole didn't have the emotional impact for me I'd hoped, I guess because it didn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things who the mole actually was.

Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Academy award. That is not right.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Box Office 1-8-12

For the weekend of Jan 6-8.

1. The Devil Inside - $34.5 million - 1 wk (Par)
. . . 2285 screens / $15,098 per screen
2. Mission Impossible 4 - $20.5 ($170.2) - 4 wks (Par) -30.3%
. . . 3555 / $5767
3. Sherlock Holmes 2 - $14.06 ($157.42) - 4 wks (WB) -32.7%
. . . 3603 / $3901
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $11.3 ($76.84) - 3 wks (Sony) -23.8%
. . . 2950 / $3831
5. Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $9.5 ($111.59) - 4 wks (Fox) -42%
. . . 3425 / $2774
6. War Horse - $8.6 ($56.83) - 3 wks (BV) -40.4%
. . . 2783 / $3091
7. We Bought A Zoo - $8.45 ($56.54) - 3 wks (Fox) -36.2%
. . . 3170 / $2666
8. The Adventures of Tintin - $6.6 ($61.88) - 3 wks (Par) -42.3%
. . . 3006 / $2196
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - $5.77 ($10.42) - 5 wks (Foc) +431.3%
. . . 809 / $7129
10. New Year's Eve - $3.27 ($52.03) - 5 wks (NL) -48.5%
. . . 1864 / $1752

The Devil Inside is getting terrible reviews, but the marketing was good and there was no genre competition.

Mission Impossible 4 is going to pass the $200 million domestic mark. Sherlock Holmes 2 has an outside chance of doing that as well. Those naysayers who tried to paint it as a flop the first week are eating crow.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is showing strong legs. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had the second best per-screen average in the top twenty.

SNL's White People Problems

The funniest sketch from last night's Saturday Night Live.

The Adventures of Tintin - Movie Review


Starring the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook.  Directed by Steven Spielberg.

There's one scene in here that keeps coming back to me. It's a chase sequence that's done as if all in one take. Since it's animation we know that's probably not how it happened, but I like that I really don't know how they did. I just know how I felt as it kept going and going... It's Spielberg at his finest.

Tintin, created by Herge many decades ago, is not a character I'm that familiar with. I read a couple comics of his in my 9th grade French class, but that's about it. And any good movie based on other source material should not require familiarity with said source material for it to be enjoyable. Well, this was Spielberg in Indiana Jones mode.

Intrepid investigative reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) buys a model ship, that others are willing to pay a high price for. His home is eventually burglarized by those seeking the ship, and he learns it's the key to finding a large amount of lost treasure. With his dog Snowy, and the drunken Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis, the mo-cap king), Tintin travels the world looking for clues that will lead him to the treasure before the bad guys get there.

This is a motion-captured animated movie, like the Zemeckis trilogy (Polar Express, Beowulf, Christmas Carol) and the Mars Needs Moms bomb. I liked that Spielberg kept just enough animated quality to the characters' faces (bulbous noses and such) that we don't get that dead-soul look, but there's still expression in the eyes.

What surprised me about Tintin is that for a smaller guy, he's apparently an incredibly effective fighter, and he's really good with a gun.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cancer sucks

I have a couple reviews I was going to write tonight but I just found an old theater friend of mine - Colleen Hansen Weigand - died of cancer.  Her funeral was this morning.  I knew she'd been battling it off and on for years, but it was still a shock to see that she's gone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MCN's List of Top Ten Lists

Compiled from 188 different critics' top-ten lists by the good folks at MCN.

1.  The Tree of Life
2.  The Descendants
3.  The Artist
4.  Drive
5.  Hugo
6.  Melancholia
7.  A Separation
8.  Certified Copy
9.  Moneyball
10. Martha Marcy May Marlene
11. Take Shelter
12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
13. Midnight in Paris
14. Shame
15. Beginners
16. Bridesmaids
17. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives
18. Margaret
19. Meek's Cutoff
20. We Need to Talk About Kevin

Man, I've only seen eight of them.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil - DVD Review


Starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger, Brandon McLaren and Chelan Simmons.
Directed by Eli Craig.

The rural citizen has achieved a brutal reputation thanks to the magic of cinema, largely designed by them coastal dwellers. You have Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, and that's let to the numerous Hills Have Eyes/Wrong Turn parade of murderous hillbillies. This movie picks up where the Scream franchise fizzled out, and we get the best horror comedy of the year.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two country boys who've purchased a cabin in the woods. A vacation home. Meanwhile they come across some beer-drinking college kids out for a little fun, the kind of good-looking two-dimensional students just waiting to find out where they fit in the inevitable body count. A series of misunderstandings leads the kids to believe the hillbillies are serial killers, and darned if the kids don't keep accidentally dying around them. This is not what it looks like.

Tudyk (Serenity) and Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) make a good team, and the ways the kids keep dying would make the fates of Final Destination proud. This barely had a theatrical release, but for fans of the genre, it's a hoot.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Random Movie Stuff - 1/3/12

- Demi Moore will cameo as Gloria Steinem in Lovelace, the Linda Lovelace biopic starring Amanda Seyfried.

- Julianne Moore will star in The English Teacher, about a small-town teacher with no personal life who decides to help a former student put on his unproduced play at their high school.  Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Michael Angarano and Nathan Lane co-star.

- Sony is moving forward with plans to film The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second book in Steig Larsson's trilogy.  Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara will reprise their roles as Mikhael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is currently in theaters.

- Ben Lyons, who single-handedly destroyed all credibility for any film critic on TV anywhere again ever when he took over one of the seats on At the Movies, has been let go as a correspondent on E! channel.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Online Film Critics Society Awards

Best Picture
The Tree of Life

Best Animated Feature

Best Director
Terrence Malick, The Tree Of Life

Best Lead Actor
Michael Fassbender, Shame

Best Lead Actress
Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, The Tree Of Life

Best Original Screenplay
Midnight In Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Best Editing
The Tree Of Life

Best Cinematography
The Tree Of Life

Best Film Not in the English Language
A Separation

Best Documentary
Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Special Awards (previously announced)
To Jessica Chastain, the breakout performer of the year
To Martin Scorsese, in honor of his work and dedication to the pursuit of film preservation

(h/t Deadline)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

War Horse - Movie Review


Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Niels Arestrup, David Kross and Toby Kebbell.  Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg has always had one foot in the past and one foot in the future when it comes to his films. He likes the old-fashioned melodrama, the sweeping spectacle of cinema, and generally I like the idea of this movie. But Spielberg can't help himself. This movie almost collapses under the weight of its own schmaltz.

The movie is about Joey, a horse. A special horse. One day he is purchased by a proud Irish farmer who owes rent to one of those evil-smug "owns half the town" types. But the farmer's teenage son Albie (Jeremy Irvine) trains him. When World War I breaks out, the farmer, despearete for money, sells the horse to the army. And so Joey's journey begins, like Homer's The Odyssey. Joey goes from one adventure to another, somehow staying alive, all the while hoping he can get home.

I liked most of this movie. It's never boring, and I was interested to see where Joey's journey might take him. But the movie tries too hard to tug our heart-strings, and without resistance nor effort, it never tugged at mine. There's an earnestness that feels forced.

I saw a YouTube essay recently on what they call the "Spielberg face." The Spielberg face is a common shot he uses, where he zooms in on the face of an actor reacting with awe at whatever they're looking at behind the camera. It's been a trick of the trade since the silent era, but Spielberg uses it often, and I've never been more aware of it than in this movie. Way too many shots of people marvelling. "Wow. What a miracle. What a horse."

My favorite moments came from Niels Arestrup, the criminal godfather from Un Prophete, now here a kindly French grandfather trying to raise his orphaned granddaughter in peace as war rages all around them.

Some people this might work for, and they'll find it a rewarding cinematic experience. I thought it was fine. A shrug. A thumbs sideways.

Weekend Box Office

For the weekend of December 30-January 1.

1.  Mission Impossible 4 - $31.25 million ($134.14) - 3 wks (Par) +5.9%
 . . . 3455 screens / $9045 per screen
2.  Sherlock Holmes 2 - $22.1 ($132.1) - 3 wks (WB) +9.1%
 . . . 3703 / $5967
3.  Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 - $18.25 ($94.61) - 3 wks (Fox) +45%
 . . . 3724 / $4901
4.  War Horse - $16.94 ($42.97) - 2 wks (BV) +125.4%
 . . . 2547 / $6651
5.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - $16.3 ($57.1) - 2 wks (Sony) +27.8%
 . . . 2914 / $5594
6.  We Bought A Zoo - $14.3 ($41.79) - 2 wks (Fox) +52.8%
 . . . 3163 / $4521
7.  The Adventures of Tintin - $12 ($47.84) - 2 wks (Par) +23.6%
 . . . 3087 / $3887
8.  New Year's Eve - $6.74 ($46.37) - 4 wks (WB) +103.7%
 . . . 2225 / $3030
9.  The Darkest Hour - $4.3 ($13.2) - 2 wks (Sum) +43.3%
 . . . 2327 / $1848
10. The Descendants - $3.65 ($39.68) - 7 wks (FS) +76%
 . . . 758 / $4815
11. The Muppets - $2.59 ($82.46) - 6 wks (BV) +20.6%
 . . . 1541 / $1679
12. Hugo - $2.53 ($49.54) - 6 wks (Par) +18.8%
 . . . 951 / $2655
13. Young Adult - $2.2 ($12.17) - 4 wks (Par) +25.7%
 . . . 987 / $2229
14. Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 - $2 ($275.45) - 7 wks (Sum) +36.3%
 . . . 1411 / $1417

Doing really well in limited release are A Separation, The Iron Lady and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol has passed MI3 and is on course to pass the first MI movie to become the second-highest grosser in the series.  It probably won't pass MI2, but it's made the franchise still relevant and justifies an MI5, should Cruise want to do it.

After disappointing openings, Sherlock Holmes 2 and Alvin & the Chipmunks 3 have shown strong legs and will be profitable.

Steven Spielberg has cannibalized himself by having two of his movies (War Horse and Tintin) opening less than a week apart, though I've always said Tintin was made for overseas audiences first.