Monday, September 30, 2013

A Haunted House - DVD Review

Starring Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, Nick Swardson, David Koechner, Dave Sheridan and JB Smoove.
Directed by Michael Tiddes.


Yet another parody movie, I know. This one sends up Paranormal Activity mainly, but gets in some jabs at other franchises.

There are two main problems with this film.

1. Nick Swardson. I rarely find him funny anyway but here he plays a gay psychic coming on to Marlon Wayans the whole movie.  Maybe some gay panic/misunderstanding at the beginning can be funny, but it gets rapey after a while and by the end, it's virulently homophobic.

2. Low-brow humor. The first night of recorded paranormal activity features... farting. *sigh*

Director Michael Tiddes (who got his big break serving as producer Rick Alvarez's assistant on the set of White Chicks) is able to get a lot of the Paranormal angles down. That's about all I can say.

Cloudy 2 is #1

For the weekend of Sep. 27-29.

1.  Cloudy with Meatballs 2 - $35 million - 1 wk (Sony)
 . . . 4001 screens / $8748 per screen
2.  Prisoners - $11.27 ($38.95) - 2 wks (WB) -45.9%
 . . . 3290 / $3426
3.  Rush - $10.31 ($10.57) - 2 wks (U) +5407%
 . . . 2297 / $4490
4.  Baggage Claim - $9.3 - 1 wk (FS)
 . . . 2027 / $4588
5.  Don Jon - $9 - 1 wk (Rel)
 . . . 2422 / $3716
6.  Insidious Chapter 2 - $6.75 ($69.54) - 3 wks (FD) -51.1%
 . . . 3120 / $2163
7.  The Family - $3.67 ($31.7) - 3 wks (Rel) -47.5%
 . . . 2894 / $1270
8.  Instructions Not Included - $3.38 ($38.57) - 5 wks (LG) -37.4%
 . . . 948 / $3565
9.  We're the Millers - $2.87 ($142.42) - 8 wks (WB) -37.1%
 . . . 2405 / $1191
10. The Butler - $2.42 ($110.28) - 7 wks (Wein) -42.4%
 . . . 2062 / $1172
11. Enough Said - $2.12 ($2.48) - 2 wks (FS) +808.5%
 . . . 227 / $9317
12. Battle of the Year - $2 ($7.47) - 2 wks (SG) -56.6%
 . . . 2008 / $996
13. Metallica Through the Never - $1.67 - 1 wk (PH)
 . . . 305 / $5482

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is the first animated movie to hit theaters since Disney's low-effort Planes, so the kid market was ready.  None of the other new films really broke out. Rush opened on five screens the week before to try to build buzz. It and Don Jon had positive reviews, but didn't make any bigger a dent than the critically-savaged Baggage Claim.

Random Movie News - 9/30/13

- Hugh Jackman has joined the cast of Chappie, the next film from Neill Blomkamp (Elysium, District 9). It's about two gangsters who steal a robot to help them commit crimes. Sharlto Copley will provide the voice of the robot. Jackman is mulling over a return to Broadway for the Houdini musical.

- Mark Wahlberg is looking to team with director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) for a remake of The Gambler, the 1974 movie that starred James Caan as a college professor whose gambling addiction gets him in trouble with the wrong people.

- J.K. Rowling will make her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which takes place in the same universe as Harry Potter but won't be considered a prequel. The events in the film will take place 70 years before the Harry Potter films.

- Christoph Waltz is in talks to play the villain opposite Alexander Skarsgard in a new Tarzan movie.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Emmy Winners

OUTSTANDING ACTOR DRAMA - Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA - Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING DRAMA - David Fincher, House of Cards

OUTSTANDING ACTOR COMEDY - Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
OUTSTANDING WRITING COMEDY - Tina Fey & Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock

OUTSTANDING REALITY SHOW HOST - Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, Project Runway
OUTSTANDING WRITING VARIETY SERIES - (17 writers), The Colbert Report
OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY - Derek Hough, Dancing with the Stars

OUTSTANDING ACTOR TV MINISERIES - Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR - James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING TV MINISERIES - Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra

The show was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and it therefore felt more like the Tonys than the Emmys a lot of the time.  A dance number in the middle of the show?  A choreography sequence in Hour 3? For this, they cut short Anna Gunn's speech?

Favorite parts of the show:
- Kevin Spacey's bit in the opening sequence.
- The acceptance speeches of Merritt Wever and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
- Will Ferrell's "couldn't find a babysitter" presentation.
- General unpredictability.

Some of the categories:
 - Loved that Breaking Bad won Best Drama. Was kinda hoping Veep or Big Bang Theory would win Best Comedy, since Mod-Fam and 30 Rock have won it the past seven years between them.
- Jeff Daniels for The Newsroom was a shocker.  Thought it should have gone to Cranston, or Hamm, or Spacey, or Lewis, or Bonneville.
- Bobby Cannavale for Boardwalk Empire was a surprise, but I guess I'm okay with it. I probably would've gone with Aaron Paul or Mandy Patinkin.
- I never watch Nurse Jackie, so I have no idea how good Merritt Wever is. I would've picked Anna Chlumsky or Mayim Bialik.

As to the In Memorium, they gave five special tributes to Jonathan Winters, Jean Stapleton, Cory Monteith, Gary David Goldberg, and James Gandolfini.  (They really thought the spot should go to Monteith instead of Jack Klugman or Larry Hagman?) But they didn't play any clips; we only got testimonials.  And same with the regular In Memorium, we got only photos.  Anyway, stretching out the death theme made the whole event more of a bummer than usual.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fox's Dads - TV Review

Starring Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Reigert and Brenda Song.

Where to begin with this show's problems? It's a live-in-front-of-a-studio-audience comedy, which means when the one-liners fall flat, the audience still laughs as if they didn't. That poor, poor audience.

Now I've enjoyed the work of the two dads and two sons in other work. The writing here is just so obvious; it feels like they're from recycled scripts circa 1989.  The premise is about two friends/coworkers who run a video-game company, but their single dads are interfering in their lives. Mull plays the scheming dad of Ribisi; Reigert is the grumpy dad of Green.

The one part of the show for me that worked was when the dads were alone at lunch. The check came, and both of them tried to get out of it by ignoring it and hoping the other one would pay.

Disney vet Brenda Song (Suite Life on Deck) probably felt like she'd graduated to grown-up sitcoms, but this one had her bosses get her to dress up as a Japanese schoolgirl to impress some Chinese customers coming in. Maybe next time, kid.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall TV Preview 2013

James Spader will star in NBC's The Blacklist
Last year the networks debuted 19 new shows. 7 of those shows have made it to a second season. None of the new mid-season replacement series were renewed.

This year there are 25 new shows.  The networks seem to be putting more new stuff in fall and holding back established series (like Mike & Molly and Suburgatory) to replace what doesn't work down the road.

Let's say 9 of them survive.  I will guess Mom, Sleepy Hollow, The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, The Goldbergs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Originals, The Michael J. Fox Show and Reign.


Once Upon A Time

The Amazing Race
The Good Wife
The Mentalist

The Simpsons
Bob's Burgers
Family Guy
American Dad

Sunday Night Football

New Shows:

Betrayal (ABC) - The dully-titled soap is about a married lawyer (Stuart Townsend) who begins an affair with a married woman (Boss's Hannah Ware) only to learn afterward her husband in opposing counsel in a high-profile trial he's working.  Sounds like an ideal sudser to follow Revenge, but reviews have been poor.


Dancing with the Stars

How I Met Your Mother
We Are Men
2 Broke Girls

Sleepy Hollow

The Voice
The Blacklist

Hart of Dixie
Beauty & the Beast

New Shows:

We Are Men (CBS) - Another fall, another Jerry O'Connell series that will likely die an ignominious death.  This co-stars Kal Penn and Tony Shalhoub as a bunch of idiotic stereotypes of "men."  This is getting worse reviews than Partners.

Mom (CBS) - Chuck Lorre is one of the last living kings of the multi-camera sitcom, and here he's provided a vehicle for Anna Faris as a woefully irresponsible mother trying to put her life back together when her that-much-more-irresponsible mother (Allison Janney) re-enters her life. Buzz has been positive.

Hostages (CBS) - CBS may rule the procedural, but with Under the Dome, they showed they're still willing to try cliffhanger dramas.  Hostages will have a limited 15-episode run, and it's about a surgeon (Toni Collette) whose family is being held hostage by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott) who wants her to kill the US President, on whom she's scheduled to operate. Jerry Bruckheimer (24) will executive-produce.  Sounds more like a cable show, which is a compliment.

Sleepy Hollow (Fox) - Supernatural elements have been trending lately, so Fox tries to get into the Grimm business with this update on Ichabod Crane. He and the Headless Horseman show up in modern times. Could be goofy fun. It scored 10 million viewers on its debut.

The Blacklist (NBC) - James Spader is suddenly using his real hairline and chewing the scenery as  a career criminal who turns himself in in order to help the FBI hunt down his enemies. NBC really needs a success on its scripted slate.


Marvel's Agents of SHIELD
The Goldbergs
Trophy Wife
Lucky 7

NCIS: Los Angeles
Person of Interest

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
New Girl
The Mindy Project

The Biggest Loser
The Voice
Chicago Fire

The Originals

New Shows:

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (ABC) - Agent Coulson lives! And rumor has it they'll explain how in one of the episodes down the road. Expectations are high for this series about the regular non-superhero people who keep SHIELD running.

The Goldbergs (ABC) - 1980's nostalgia for this sitcom that makes Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids) as the parents. Sounds like it would've fit in perfectly on Wednesdays. Oh well.

Trophy Wife (ABC) - Malin Akerman is the young third wife to West Wing's Bradley Whitford, and she has to juggle stepkids and her husband's two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins). Interesting cast, but reviews have been meh.

Lucky 7 (ABC) - Seven people win the lottery. This very special dramedy follows their stories, and I don't see this lasting longer than Six Degrees.

Dads (FOX) - "From the creator of Family Guy" comes a likeable cast (Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Reigert, Martin Mull) dealing with father-son issues, but reviews have been dreadful (apparently there's a lot of racist Asian jokes.)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) - If it can survive its lead-in, Andy Samberg tries for the Barney Miller route in this comedy set at a police station. Andre Braugher, that gravitas-filled actor who can't seem to find a series that'll stay on the air, arrives as the new no-nonsense chief. Hijinks ensue. I'm actually good things about this.

The Originals (CW) - Vampire Diaries spinoff. I don't watch CW. Best of luck, folks.


The Middle
Back in the Game
Modern Family
Super Fun Night

Survivor: Blood & Water
Criminal Minds

The X Factor

Law & Order: SVU

The Tomorrow People

New Shows:

Back in the Game (ABC) - James Caan is a grumpy ex-baseball player who helps his estranged daughter coach a Little League team. Should be a Bad News Bears mix.

Super Fun Night (ABC) - Aussie comedienne Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) plays an awkward lawyer with an American accent.

Ironside (NBC) - Blair Underwood mans the wheelchair in this update of the Raymond Burr classic. I expect it will suffer the same fate as Prime Suspect.

The Tomorrow People (CW) - Young pretty people with superpowers.


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Grey's Anatomy

The Big Bang Theory
The Millers
The Crazy Ones
Two and a Half Men

The X Factor results

Parks & Recreation
Welcome to the Family
Sean Saves the World
The Michael J. Fox Show

The Vampire Diaries

New Shows:

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC) - This spinoff of Once Upon A Time will spend its time in Wonderland, where John Lithgow plays the White Rabbit.  Hard to say if this franchise is strong enough to already support a spin-off.

The Millers (CBS) - Will Arnett (Arrested Development) is a man dealing with the divorce of his parents (Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges) in the first episode. The laughs look broad (it's from Raising Hope's Greg Garcia) but that might mean it fits right in behind Big Bang Theory.

The Crazy Ones (CBS) - Robin Williams returns to TV, and CBS is treating it like Richard Dreyfuss in The Education of Max Bickford. Remember that show? Exactly.

Welcome to the Family (NBC) - Mike O'Malley (Glee, Justified) plays a guy who learns his wife is pregnant AND so is his teenage daughter. Said daughter is impregnated by her Latino boyfriend so some culture-clash comedy will probably be in there too.

Sean Saves the World (NBC) - Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) is a bachelor who came out to his wife a few years ago, but now he gets custody of his 14-year-old daughter. Linda Lavin (Alice) plays his mom. It's been getting reviews on par with Nathan Lane's Encore Encore.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC) - Mike finally gets his own show again! I wouldn't have been disappointed if he became a full-timer on The Good Wife, but hey, here he is to try to help the network that originally made him a star. He plays a once star reporter who semi-retired due to his Parkinson's, but he decides to get back in the game. Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad's Marie) plays his wife. I'm looking forward to this.

Reign (CW) - Mary Queen of Scots gets the CW treatment. Torrance Coombs (The Tudors) plays one of her suitors.


Last Man Standing
The Neighbors
Shark Tank

Undercover Boss
Hawaii Five-0
Blue Bloods

MasterChef Junior

Dateline NBC

The Carrie Diaries
America's Next Top Model

New Shows:

Dracula (NBC) - It might benefit from following Grimm but I haven't heard much good about it, and Friday is still Friday. It stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors).

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pain & Gain - DVD Review

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Ken Jeong and Michael Rispoli.
Directed by Michael Bay.


This is Bay in Bad Boys mode. It's a high-octane crime caper featuring some muscle-heads trying to live the American dream. By stealing the accumulated wealth from someone else.

It's based on a true story but it takes a looooot of liberties with actual events (for example, Dwayne Johnson's character is a fictitous combination of three people from the real story). A faithful telling of the facts wouldn't have been as fun.

Wahlberg is the idiot who's perfecting his body at his gym but wondering why he isn't more successful. After all, he's worth it. After attending a bogus self-help seminar, he's inspired to grab life by the throat and take what he wants. What he wants is the fortune of his wealthiest client (Tony Shalhoub), a jerk who owns several properties around Florida. He gets a couple friends (Johnson, Anthony Mackie) to help him kidnap the client, then they force him to sign over all his money.

It's fast-paced, frenetic, and it's where Bay's style excels. I don't why he chose to make the kidnappers more comical/likeable and why he made the victims jerks, but it would have taken a Scorsese-like hand to guide the waters through a more faithful account.  As is, it was fun, as fun as a movie can be where someone ends up on death row.

Stoker - DVD Review

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney, Phyllis Somerville, Alden Ehrenreich and Lucas Till.
Directed by Chan-wook Park.


Stylish thriller that keeps the viewer off-kilter until it ramps up to its inevitable end. It's the first English-language film from accalimed director Chan-wook Park, but it still has a very Korean flavor to it, particularly Mia Wasikowska as the drab protagonist India, a blank-staring girl trying to compute why the adults around her are all so weird.

After her father (Dermot Mulroney) dies, her long-lost uncle Charles (Watchmen's Matthew Goode) shows up to comfort her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman).  There's something off about Charles, but he's very compelling. He's been travelling for years and yet his own brother wouldn't allow him to visit.  Now why would that be?  Hint: people start dying.

Insidious Chapter 2 is #1

1.  Insidious 2 - $41.05 million - 1 wk (FD)
 . . . 3049 screens / $13,463 per screen
2.  The Family - $14.5 - 1 wk (Rel)
 . . . 3091 / $4691
3.  Riddick - $7.01 ($31.28) - 2 wks (U) -63.1%
 . . . 3117 / $2250
4.  The Butler - $5.58 ($100.04) - 5 wks (Wein) -33.6%
 . . . 3239 / $1723
5.  We're the Millers - $5.42 ($131.6) - 6 wks (WB) -29.6%
 . . . 3238 / $1672
6.  Instructions Not Included - $4.25 ($26.58) - 3 wks (LG) -47.8%
 . . . 933 / $4555
7.  Planes - $3.07 ($82.98) - 6 wks (BV) -25.6%
 . . . 2739 / $1119
8.  One Direction: This Is Us - $2.4 ($26.89) - 3 wks (TS) -40.7%
 . . . 2300 / $1043
9.  Elysium - $2.05 ($88.39) - 6 wks (TS) -34.7%
 . . . 1720 / $1192
10. Percy Jackson 2 - $1.83 ($62.04) - 6 wks (Fox) -24.8%
 . . . 1638 / $1114

Insidious Chapter 2 had the second-highest September opening ever.  Patrick Wilson and director James Wan really know how to make money together.  The Family was modestly budgeted so its opening isn't surprising. I'm sure megaplex chains wish they'd get more wide releases this time of year when stuff like Getaway can't leave theaters fast enough.

In limited release, a couple Christian titles (The Investigator, Final: The Rapture) did well.

Breaking Bad - "Ozymandias" - TV Review


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.' 
- Percy Shelley

This may be the most devastating episode yet in an already brilliant series.


There are only two episodes to go after this, and while we've always known there won't be a happy ending, this episode played on audience expectations and side-stepped them and had scene after scene of high-tension moments.

When we ended last episode, it looked like Hank and Gomez were goners, outnumbered in a shootout with the Aryan family. But this episode started at the beginning, showing a scene that would've taken place around the pilot, with Walt and Jesse happily cooking meth in the desert. Such warm and fuzzy memories.

Fast-forward to present (which isn't really present since we know Walt grows his hair out and fetches some ricin, but I'm getting ahead of myself) where Hank is injured and Gomez is dead. They didn't hit any of the Aryans, and Hank's time has come. A handcuffed Walt pleads for Hank's life. All he's done, he keeps telling himself, he did for his family, and now his brother-in-law is about to die.  Walt gives away his $80 million to try to save Hank but to no avail. Great acting job by the trio of Walt, Hank, and gun-holding Jack.

Hank takes a bullet to the head, and Jack and family take $70 of the $80 million. They let Walt keep $10 million to show there are "no hard feelings."  But there's one last item of business. The whole reason Walt had called the Aryans was to kill Jesse Pinkman, and Walt sees Jesse hiding under the car.  Walt gives Jesse a stare harder than Michael gave Fredo in Godfather II. Right before Jesse gets killed, Todd suggests they question him first to see how much he told Hank.  And right before Walt lets Jesse be dragged away for torture and execution, he lets Jesse know that he watched Jane die. Jesse is devastated in every way possible, and Walt's transformation to pure evil is complete.

And yet, one of the great things about BB is how Walt keeps telling himself that he's doing it for the right reasons (his family) and that basically he's still a good person (he knows he's not but it's all for his family!)  Walt is ready to take his $10 million, grab Skyler, Walt Jr., and Holly, and disappear.

Ah, but Hank had called Marie, and Marie confronts Skyler that Hank has arrested Walt.  She makes Skyler tell Walt Jr. now.  Watching Walt Jr.'s world crumble is one of the saddest events yet on this show.  Walt Jr.'s been the innocent here, and now he knows the truth and he goes through the five stages of grief in heartbreaking ways.

Ah, but when they get back to the house, they see Walt. And if Walt is there, that means Hank is dead. Then in one of the tensest moments in TV history, we get a couple glimpses of the knife rack by the phone.  Knives. Phone.  Knives. Phone. Skyler makes her choice. She grabs a knife and tells Walt to go away.  When they scuffle, the audience knows Walt won't die but it doesn't mean he won't accidentally kill Skyler, and then when Walt Jr. intervenes, there's that horrible moment of "please don't accidentally kill Walt Jr.!" Ultimately Walt Jr. protects his mom and calls the cops on his dad. Walt was already betrayed to the cops by his surrogate son Jesse; now his real son has done the same thing.

Walt grabs Holly when he leaves, another horrific moment with Skyler chasing her baby (Emmys for everyone, and this has been Anna Gunn's best season yet!). Walt's call to Skyler to help absolve her (of course he knew the cops were listening) was his last noble gesture, and it ends him riding off into the sunset with Saul's anonymous friend.

One more tidbit though: Jesse is still alive, and Todd (who's the scariest kind of psycho, calm and polite) takes him down to a meth lab, keeping him on a chain but needing him to cook.

Two episodes to go.  Are the Aryans out of it?  Will Lydia's Czech clients come to the US to get some answers?  Are Skyler, the kids, and Marie still in great danger? Who is Walt's intended target with that Ricin?

My guess is Lydia is the ricin's intended victim.  If Walt was going after Jack or Todd, he'd want a quicker method of death.  I don't see how Jesse stays alive to the series finale, but I can almost see Walt rescuing Jesse and letting him go or killing him himself.

What do you think will happen?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Elysium - Movie Review

Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna and William Fichtner.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp.


I was hyped for Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9, but I found this to be one of the more disappointing films of the summer, if you factor in my anticipation versus what it actually wound up being.

In the near future, the 1% have moved to a space-station called Elysium. Elysium is considered its own independent country, and everyone there lives in a mansion, has robot servants, and has their own medical machines that cure any disease or injury.  Somehow the citizens of Earth do not have this technology, and apparently Elysium won't share or even sell it to them.

Also, all of Earth starts to look like the slums of South Africa.

Max (Matt Damon) is a ex-con now factory worker who gets exposed to deadly radiation, so he has days to live unless he can get to Elysium. Max goes to an old contact of his to find out what he has to do to be illegally sneaked "across the border" into Elysium and get into one of those life-saving med-bays.

Now the head of Elysium's Homeland Security is a Disney villain played by Jodie Foster.  It's one of her hammiest performances to date, and I really don't know what she was thinking. It's dinner theater. It's 3rd Rock from the Sun.  Marginally more subtle is her henchman Kruger, a sadistic mercenary played by District 9's Sharlto Copley, with a South African accent so thick it's hard to understand sometimes. But he can fight.

The heartlessness of the rich and powerful has a Verhoevenian flair to it, but it never builds beyond its initial blueprint of ideas. Once the plot's been put into place, it's all chasing, gunfights, and explosions.  It's better than the Total Recall remake, but that's not saying much.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Riddick is #1

1.  Riddick - $19.03 million - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 3107 screens / $6125 per screen
2.  The Butler - $8.4 ($91.4) - 4 wks (Wein) -43.5%
 . . . 3330 / $2523
3.  Instructions Not Included - $8.15 ($20.36) - 2 wks (LG) +3.9%
 . . . 717 / $11,366
4.  We're the Millers - $7.7 ($123.61) - 5 wks (WB) -39.5%
 . . . 3445 / $2234
5.  Planes - $4.12 ($79.12) - 5 wks (BV) -46.8%
 . . . 3033 / $1359
6.  One Direction: This Is Us - $4.05 ($23.94) - 2 wks (TS) -74.4%
 . . . 2735 / $1480
7.  Elysium - $3.14 ($85.12) - 5 wks (TS) -51.2%
 . . . 2241 / $1402
8.  Percy Jackson 2 - $2.43 ($59.77) - 5 wks (Fox) -45.9%
 . . . 2045 / $1186
9.  Blue Jasmine - $2.35 ($25.11) - 7 wks (SP) -41.1%
 . . . 1069 / $2196
10. The World's End - $2.31 ($21.78) - 3 wks (Foc) -54%
 . . . 1520 / $1523
11. The Mortal Instruments - $2.21 ($27.85) - 3 wks (SG) -59.7%
 . . . 2519 / $876

As the lone wide release, Vin Diesel's Riddick had the weekend essentially to itself, but it couldn't crack that magical $20 million number for opening.  The surprise hit Instructions Not Included continued its roll-out and is a huge hit among Spanish-speaking audiences.

In limited release, there's not much success.  Adore (Naomi Watts, Robin Wright) and Winnie Mandela (Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard) and Hell Baby (Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb) and Touchy Feely (Ellen Page, Rosemary DeWitt) all bombed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lee Daniels' The Butler - Movie Review

Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, James Marsden, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Liev Schreiber, Lenny Kravitz, Vanessa Redgrave, Clarence Williams III, Alex Pettyfer, Elijah Kelley, Minka Kelly, David Banner and Mariah Carey.
Directed by Lee Daniels.


An impressive all-star cast gathers for this Forrest Gump journey through the civil rights movement.  It's inspired by a true story but they change so much of it, it might as well not be.

Forest Whitaker is great as Cecil Gaines, a humble man who becomes a butler in the White House during the Eisenhower administration and works there through the Reagan years. We see the changes in the country through his eyes, but also through the eyes of his older son Louis (David Oyelowo), a civil rights activist who happens to be there for pretty much every milestone event.  He's there for the lunch-counter protests where they're assaulted by patrons, for the bombing of the freedom bus, best friends with Martin Luther King, the rise of the Black Panther party. I'm surprised he didn't happen to be on the very bus where Rosa Parks refused to move.

A parade of stars wander through to play the presidents.  Robin Williams is gone before you have time to think if he's convincing as Ike or not.  James Marsden is all boyish sincerity as JFK.  Liev Schreiber's pretty funny as LBJ.  John Cusack is John Cusack as Nixon.  Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda got the mannerisms right as Ronald and Nancy Reagan, but the way the movie craps all over Ronald yanked me out of the movie.

Then I remember the movie was written by Danny Strong, an actor who's quickly made a name for himself demonizing Republicans with his scripts for HBO's Recount, about the Bush-Gore 2000 election told through Gore-colored glasses, and HBO's Game Change, where he cut out all the parts of the book on Hillary, Obama, John Edwards, so he could just focus on Manchurian candidate Sarah Palin, who was about 1/5 of the book.

The movie's over two hours and it's overstuffed with melodramatic coincidences, subplots that meander, and it culminates with angelic voices swelling at the election of Obama.  It's also always watchable.  Not only is Whitaker mesmerizing as Gaines, but Winfrey, Oyelowo, Gooding and Howard all give stand-out performances too.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Random Movie Stuff - 9/6/13

- Matt Damon's the latest to join Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.  Not much is known about it, but rumors are leaking out that it takes place in the near-future when climate change has killed off most of agriculture, but a wormhole has opened, and scientists journey to try to find a sustainable planet in different dimensions.  It stars Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, David Oyelowo, Ellen Burstyn, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy and John Lithgow.

- Roland Emmerich is planning on rebooting Stargate, and to do so as a trilogy. The 1994 original starred Kurt Russell, James Spader and Jaye Davidson and spawned several successful TV series.

- Al Pacino and Holly Hunter will star in Manglehorn, about a man living with the regrets of a past crime that cost him the love of his life.

- Tom Hiddleston (Thor) has joined Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak, a haunted house movie that also stars Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska.  He replaces Benedict Cumberbatch, who dropped out last month.

- Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) has joined the cast of Enemy of Man, a new spin on Macbeth starring Game of Throners Sean Bean and Charles Dance.

- The new RoboCop trailer is online: