Sunday, December 24, 2017

Last Jedi #1, Jumanji #2 at box office

For the weekend of December 22-24, 2017, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi had a massive dropoff (as movies that open that big tend to do) and still held on to the #1 spot. Sony has to be tickled with the performance of Jumanji: WTTJ. The weekend after Christmas, movies tend to hold on pretty well, so it's realistic for it to be looking to pass $150 million domestic and $400 million worldwide. Dwayne Johnson needed a return to box office glory after Baywatch flopped.

Pitch Perfect 3 did well despite bad reviews. Looks like it's ending the franchise at the right time.

The Greatest Showman may be able to boast about its Golden Globe nominations, but that's a disappointing opening. Nowhere near as disappointing for Downsizing, a high-concept comedy that's been met with lukewarm reception. Father Figures is a flat-out bomb.

Of the expanding titles, Darkest Hour managed the better per-screen average than The Shape of Water. In limited release The Post did outstanding while Hostiles fizzled.

I'm a little bummed The Disaster Artist isn't doing better.

Opens December 25
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD with Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Last Jedi has second-best opening ever

For the weekend of December 15-17, 2017, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi had the second highest opening in history, behind only Episode VII. The sequel had a different pace and plot style than Star Wars fare we've come to expect, and with word-of-mouth being more mixed and a ton of title coming next week, I'd expect a steep decline in week 2 but it'll still probably keep the top spot through the New Year.

Ferdinand was the alternative release, but it grossly underperformed.

Award-bait titles like The Disaster Artist, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards are losing steam. I hope Disaster Artist is able to keep most of screens despite five new wide releases coming next week.

Thor: Ragnarok has now grossed over $840 million worldwide.

Opens December 20
JUMANJI with Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN with Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams.
Opens December 22
PITCH PERFECT 3 with Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Ruby Rose.
DOWNSIZING with Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis.
FATHER FIGURES with Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close and JK Simmons.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Last Jedi - Movie Review

Starring Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benecio Del Toro, Gwendoline Christie, Billie Lourd, Justin Theroux and Anthony Daniels. 
Written & Directed by Rian Johnson.


The action picks up right where the previous movie left off. The giant death star planet's been destroyed but most of the First Order, including Snoke, Ren, Hux and Phasma escaped. The Resistance is backpedaling and evacuating since the First Order now knows where their base is. Finn's in sick bay. Rey has just found Luke Skywalker.

So how seamless is the transition from JJ Abrams to Rian Johnson? Pretty seamless, but then Johnson is able to expand and deepen characters in ways Force Awakens wasn't able to. TFA built the world. It's fitting that one of the main words used in the Last Jedi trailers is "Breathe." Let's breathe and get to know them better.

I imagine the biggest question going into this was how was it going to be to have Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker back? Just as TFA was largely Han Solo's movie, TLJ belongs to Luke. Rey has arrived to be his eager apprentice, and Luke is the grumpy old wizard who's had it. Imagine how Star Wars would have gone if Ben Kenobi had told Luke to quit whining and go home.

It's nice to see Luke meet his old friends again. Luke and Chewie. Luke and R2-D2. It's sad we never get a Luke-Han scene. But what made me happiest about this movie is that Luke, and Hamill as Luke, is still just freaking cool.

One exciting new character is Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a fangirl Resistance fighter who finds herself pulled into an important plot thread with Finn.

I really enjoyed the character depth added to Ben Solo and Admiral Hux. Hux is still a weaselly Empire wannabe, but he feels more complete. Ben/Kylo makes some interesting decisions, and Adam Driver does a great job of presenting the conflict on his face.

I'll have to see how this one digests on a second viewing. Right now I'd say it's better than Force Awakens or Rogue One. It makes a couple plot decisions I'm not sure I like. But I respect the emphasis on human relationships that Johnson has returned to the heart of this galaxy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations 2017

Theatrical Motion Pictures

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Big Sick — Adeel Akhtar, Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romano, Zenobia Shroff
Get Out — Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams
Lady Bird — Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Laurie Metcalf, Jordan Rodrigues, Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Marielle Scott, Lois Smith
Mudbound — Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Frances McDormand, Clarke Peters, Sam Rockwell, Samara Weaving

Television Programs

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective
Jeff Daniels, Godless
Robert De Niro, Wizard of Lies
Geoffrey Rush, Genius
Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Jessica Lange, Feud
Susan Sarandon, Feud
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Claire Foy, The Crown
Laura Linney, Ozark
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace
William H. Macy, Shameless
Marc Maron, GLOW

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Alison Brie, GLOW
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Crown — Claire Foy, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Anton Lesser, Matt Smith
Game of Thrones — Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson Pilou Asbæk, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, John Bradley, Jim Broadbent, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Richard Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, James Faulkner, Jerome Flynn, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Conleth Hill, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Hopper, Anton Lesser, Rory McCann, Staz Nair, Richard Rycroft, Sophie Turner, Rupert Vansittart, Maisie Williams
The Handmaid’s Tale — Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Tattiawna Jones, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley
Stranger Things — Sean Astin, Millie Bobby Brown, Cara Buono, Joe Chrest, Catherine Curtin, Natalie Dyer, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Finn Wolfhard
This Is Us — Eris Baker, Alexandra Breckenridge, Sterling K. Brown, Lonnie Chavis, Justin Hartley, Faithe Herman, Ron Cephas Jones, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore, Chris Sullivan, Milo Ventimiglia, Susan Kelechi Watson, Hannah Zeile

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Black-ish — Anthony Anderson, Miles Brown, Deon Cole, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner, Yara Shahidi
Curb Your Enthusiasm — Ted Danson, Larry David, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, JB Smoove
GLOW — Britt Baron, Alison Brie, Kimmy Gatewood, Betty Gilpin, Rebekka Johnson, Chris Lowell, Sunita Mani, Marc Maron, Kate Nash, Sydelle Noel, Marianna Palka, Gayle Rankin, Bashir Salahuddin, Rich Sommer, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Ellen Wong, Britney Young
Orange Is The New Black — Uzo Aduba, Emily Althaus, Danielle Brooks,  Rosal Colón, Jackie Cruz, Francesca Curran, Daniella De Jesús, Lea DeLaria, Nick Dillenburg, Asia Kate Dillon, Beth Dover, Kimiko Glenn, Annie Golden, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Evan Arthur Hall, Michael J. Harney, Brad William Henke, Mike Houston, Vicky Jeudy, Kelly Karbacz, Julie Lake, Selenis Leyva, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Miriam Morales, Kate Mulgrew, Emma Myles, John Palladino, Matt Peters, Jessica Pimentel, Dascha Polanco, Laura Prepon, Jolene Purdy, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Nick Sandow, Abigail Savage, Taylor Schilling, Constance Shulman, Dale Soules, Yael Stone, Emily Tarver, Michael Torpey, Lin Tucci
Veep — Dan Bakkedahl, Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, Margaret Colin, Kevin Dunn, Clea Duvall, Nelson Franklin, Tony Hale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sam Richardson, Paul Scheer, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Sarah Sutherland, Matt Walsh

Stunt Ensembles

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Baby Driver
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
The Walking Dead

Life Achievement Award

54th Annual SAG Life Achievement Award: Morgan Freeman

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Golden Globe Nominations

The list of nominations for the 2018 Golden Globes:


Best motion picture, drama
“Call Me By Your Name”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best motion picture, comedy or musical
“The Disaster Artist”
“Get Out”
“The Greatest Showman”
“I, Tonya”
“Lady Bird”

Best actress in a motion picture, drama
Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Michelle Williams, “All the Money in the World”

Best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical
Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Helen Mirren, “The Leisure Seeker”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”

Best actor in a motion picture, drama
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical
Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
Ansel Elgort, “Baby Driver”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Hugh Jackman, “The Greatest Showman”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Best supporting actress in a motion picture
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Hong Chau, “Downsizing”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

Best supporting actor in a motion picture
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best director, motion picture
Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Ridley Scott, “All the Money in the World”
Steven Spielberg, “The Post”

Best animated feature film
“The Boss Baby”
“The Breadwinner”
“Loving Vincent”

Best screenplay, motion picture
Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, “The Shape of Water”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, “The Post”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game”

Best original song
“Home,” “Ferdinand”
“Mighty River,” “Mudbound”
“Remember Me,” “Coco”
“The Star,” “The Star”
“This Is Me,” “The Greatest Showman”

Best original score, motion picture
Carter Burwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Alexandre Desplat, “The Shape of Water”
John Williams, “The Post”
Jonny Greenwood, “Phantom Thread”
Hans Zimmer, “Dunkirk”

Best foreign language film
“A Fantastic Woman”
“First They Killed My Father”
“In the Fade”
“The Square”


Best TV series, drama
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)

Best actress in a TV series, drama
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander” (Starz)
Claire Foy, “The Crown” (Netflix)
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Deuce” (HBO)
Katherine Langford, “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix)
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Best actor in a TV series, drama
Jason Bateman, “Ozark” (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC)
Freddie Highmore, “The Good Doctor” (ABC)
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan” (Showtime)

Best TV series, musical or comedy
“Blackish” (ABC)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
“Master of None” (Netflix)
“SMILF” (Showtime)
“Will & Grace” (NBC)

Best actress in a TV series, musical or comedy
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things” (FX)
Alison Brie, “GLOW” (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
Issa Rae, “Insecure” (HBO)
Frankie Shaw, “SMILF” (Showtime)

Best actor in a TV series, comedy
Anthony Anderson, “Blackish” (ABC)
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None” (Netflix)
Kevin Bacon, “I Love Dick” (Amazon)
William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace” (NBC)

Best TV movie or limited series
“Big Little Lies” (HBO)
“Fargo” (FX)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
“The Sinner” (USA)
“Top of the Lake: China Girl” (Sundance)

Best actress in a TV movie or limited series
Jessica Biel, “The Sinner” (USA)
Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

Best actor in a TV movie or limited series
Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies” (HBO)
Jude Law, “The Young Pope” (HBO)
Kyle MacLachlan, “Twin Peaks” (Showtime)
Ewan McGregor, “Fargo” (FX)
Geoffrey Rush, “Genius” (National Geographic)

Best supporting actress in a series, limited series or TV movie
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us” (NBC)
Michelle Pfeiffer, “Wizard of Lies” (HBO)
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)

Best supporting actor in a series, limited series or TV movie
David Harbour, “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
Alfred Molina, “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot (USA)
Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
David Thewlis, “Fargo” (FX)

Coco is #1 for third week

For the weekend of December 8-10, 2017, Coco stayed #1 for the third week in a row. Not hard since other studios haven't put out any major titles. No one wants to get crushed in The Last Jedi's wake.

Just Getting Started was the only movie that tried, and it flopped. Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones doing the Grumpy Old Men thing just didn't appeal. (The trailer looked awful.)

The Disaster Artist added some screens, and it can enjoy the highest per-screen average in the top ten. It also got a boost this morning from its Golden Globe nominations, so I think word-of-mouth will keep it in theaters for a while.

The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name and Darkest Hour continue to do well in limited release. I Tonya had the best per-screen average of anyone ($61,401) in its opening.

Opens December 15
THE LAST JEDI with Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Carrie Fisher.
FERDINAND with the voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gabriel Iglesias and Jeremy Sisto.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Justice League - Movie Review

Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, JK Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, Joe Morton, Billy Crudup and Amber Heard.
Written by Chris Tessio & Joss Whedon.
Directed by Zack Snyder.


Justice League was deep into pre-production when Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opened. Zack Snyder had Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and Justice League 2 mapped out when he dove in. Darkseid was going to be DC's Thanos, the superpowerful villain who takes a few movies before he steps forward as the main villain. After the reviews of BvJ came out, Justice League plowed ahead as planned. After a personal tragedy, Zack Snyder had to bow out in the final weeks of shooting, leading to Joss Whedon stepping in and finishing the job, doing extensive rewrites and reshoots to try to save it. It shows.

The Frankenstein's monster of a movie that emerges is ultimately better than BvJ or Suicide Squad, but not by much. It's weaker than Man of Steel, and seeing Gal Gadot try to make this work after the far superior Wonder Woman dominated the summer is a little embarrassing.

Let me go into what I liked. I thought Flash (Ezra Miller) was hilarious. He was my favorite character, and he should get his own movie. Henry Cavill, who is billed second so you know Superman won't stay dead, has the best scene in the movie during those first few minutes after he's been resurrected. When he shows up, I thought to myself, "Yeah, Superman's been missed." I kinda liked Jason Momoa's Aquaman. The tiny tiny amount of work Jeremy Irons and JK Simmons were given as Alfred and Gordon respectively made me hope Matt Reeves keeps them when he makes his own Batman movie.

Now for what I didn't like. And this will take longer.

1. Steppenwolf. He is the main villain. He's a lesser DC entity, and as soon as he showed up, I was disappointed. You've got the great Ciaran Hinds playing him; why not use more than his voice? Steppenwolf had this generic CGI monster face complete with a double axehead for a helmet. Why not put Hinds in makeup? Or at least try to look like him a little? Plus he has those dragonfly zombie monsters from the dumb dream sequence in Batman v. Superman as his minions. As his CGI creatures that are easily killed by the dozens. Flying orcs, they.

2. The plot. Steppenwolf has three magic boxes, called mother boxes, that he must unite and it'll give him ultimate power. Feels like the same thing in Marvel with Thanos collecting infinity stones, right? Wonder Woman gives this expositional monologue about this space battle that brought Steppenwolf to power, and I remember thinking, "Did the women from Wonder Woman know all about space battles before this movie? Sure, they're goddesses, but they marveled at a WWI plane." They must have, because apparently they've been guarding one of the three mother boxes for thousands of years. Yeah yeah.

3. Cyborg. I don't know if he's the most poorly written character, or if Ray Fisher is just boring playing him. Probably a bit of both. He's definitely the Hawkeye of this bunch, where there's no desire to see him get his own stand-alone movie.

4. The direction. Snyder loves to do the slo-mo freeze frame speed-it-up-again shots in action sequences, and there are a lot of them. Plus once again, most of this movie takes place at night. Or in darkness, or shadow. Or maybe most days are cloudy.  Brighten this world up already. I love Batman in darkness, but Superman? Wonder Woman? Flash? These are DAY characters!

The post-credits teaser is kinda cool, but I just hope the fruits of that teaser are allowed to breathe a little, grow more organically.

As a kid I always thought DC had overall cooler heroes and villains than Marvel. Marvel movies have blown DC out of the water lately, and I'd like DC to get back on track. Wonder Woman showed they can be just as good, now for the people in charge of the other characters to catch up and elevate their games.

Coco is #1 for 2nd week

For the weekend of December 1-3, 2017, Coco remained on top. Pixar continues to profit on every single movie it makes (even The Good Dinosaur eventually broke even.)

Justice League had another big drop, and it's in danger of not even making $700 million worldwide. That might not sound like a catastrophic milestone to miss, but considering how Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad managed to get there with worse reviews, it just highlights what has been obvious since BvJ came out - DC needs to de-Snyder their brand.

The plan had been to have Darkseid be the Big Bad of Justice League 2, complete with those zombie dragonfly minion guys, but were it me, JL2 should just be put on hiatus until some more of these stand-alone movies come out and they see how they perform. Wonder Woman was a hit. See if its sequel does just as well. They should see how Aquaman does, and how Man of Steel 2 does with a different director. See what Matt Reeves does with The Batman.

Wonder is a feel-good make-you-cry word-of-mouth hit.

Thor: Ragnarok has already passed $810 million worldwide.

Murder on the Orient Express had a $55 million production budget and has passed $230 million worldwide. Yes, let's get that next Hercule Poirot movie made (Death on the Nile has been greenlit).

Oscar hopefuls Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbings Missouri didn't cause much of a splash in expansion, but after Golden Globe nominations are announced next week, maybe it'll help them stay afloat. General consensus among the Award Gurus is that both will be Best Picture nominees.

Meanwhile, The Disaster Artist did great in limited release. This should do for Tommy Wiseau's The Room what 1994's Ed Wood did for Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space. It expands to 800 screens next week, wisely so. Also performing strongly in limited release: Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, and to lesser but still successful degrees, Darkest Hour and Wonder Wheel.

Opens December 8
JUST GETTING STARTED with Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones and Rene Russo.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jigsaw is #1

For the weekend of October 27-29, 2017, Jigsaw was the Halloween weekend winner. After a seven-year hiatus, the Saw franchise is back with this eighth installment, but it doesn't look like there's much interest in keeping this thing going. They're cheap to produce, but Jigsaw only had a better opening than Saw VI.

Meanwhile positive reviews didn't help Thank You for Your Service, the second well-reviewed movie in two weeks starring Miles Teller that bombed anyway.

Bad reviews sunk Suburbicon. George Clooney's directing skills have regressed.

Meanwhile Let There Be Light, a Sean Hannity-produced Christian drama starring Kevin Sorbo, had the second-best per-screen average in the top 20.

Also, Amityville: The Awakening, which has been on the shelf for four years, was finally dumped into a handful of theaters, and hardly anyone went.

Opens November 3
THOR: RAGNAROK with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett and Mark Ruffalo.
A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tyler Perry's Boo 2! is #1

For the weekend of October 20-22, 2017, Tyler Perry scared away all newcomers with Boo 2!, a profitable Madea outing savaged by critics. With Perry, the Rotten Tomatoes ranking never seems to matter.

The most expensive opener was Geostorm, a disaster movie from Dean Devlin,who usually produces these sorts of things (Independence Day 1 & 2, Godzilla) but now he's directing. Most people could see the stench on this project from a mile away, or six months ago, around when the first trailer came out.

The best reviewed movie of the weekend was Only the Brave, but the generic hero title probably didn't do it favors.

Meanwhile The Snowman and Same Kind of Different as Me were other poorly-reviewed titles that should disappear quickly from theaters.

In limited release, Wonderstruck and The Killing of the Sacred Deer had solid per-screen averages, as well as the documentary Jane, about Jane Goodall.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle can now claim to be profitable. It's grossed over $340 million worldwide.

Opens October 27
JIGSAW with Tobin Bell, Laura Vandervoort, Callum Keith Rennie and Brittany Allen.
SUBURBICON with Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and Glenn Fleshler.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE with Miles Teller, Haley Bennett and Amy Schumer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Valerian & the City of 1000 Planets - Movie Review

Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer and John Goodman.
Written & Directed by Luc Besson.


The director of The Fifth Element gets even more crazy in this visually wonderful, narratively clunky movie that goes to some weird corners of the galaxy to tell its unique tale. In many ways, I admire some of the original avenues it wanders down, though ultimately its shallow story and questionable casting prevents it from being a hit.

I'm debating whether or not to even explain the plot. The plot doesn't really matter. We see an alien homeworld where everything is peaceful, like the Na'vi on a beach. Then a space battle above results in ships crashing into their ocean, on to their shores. Most of them are wiped out. That's the prologue. We cut to Valerian and Lauraline, a boyfriend-girlfriend unit where he also outranks her, and they're basically space cops. Eh, it doesn't matter. It's an excuse to go from world to world, retrieving a Macguffin to save the universe. Something like that.

The fun parts are the detours. Ethan Hawke popping up as some sort of space pimp, introducing Valerian to a shape-shifting erotic dancer whose favorite form happens to look just like Rihanna. There's another scene where Lauraline gets stuck in the cosmic kitchen from hell. There's a dimension-hopping chase scene. This is a video game I want to play.

Dane DeHaan is usually best as creeps. He doesn't have the Young Indiana Jones charisma the role of Valerian would call for. Let's just say Cara Delevingne as Lauraline fares better here than she did as Enchantress in Suicide Squad. There's not much chemistry between them, and I would have been cool with Valerian getting killed off halfway through and letting Lauraline finishing the adventure herself. I should be rooting for these two like Han and Leia, or Wesley and Buttercup, or Clark and Lois. Didn't really care.

If you missed it on the big screen, and you still want to see it, see on the largest TV or monitor you can. Otherwise you'd miss its point of existing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Annabelle: Creation - Movie Review

Starring Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, Miranda Otto and Samara Lee.
Written by Gary Dauberman.
Directed by David F. Sandberg.


The first Annabelle movie profited from goodwill from The Conjuring franchise. It made enough money to justify a sequel, even though it was terrible. The sequel is a vast improvement primarily due to getting a new director, David F. Sandberg (Lights Out).

This is actually a prequel to a prequel. Don't get those often.

A little girl named Annabelle is killed by a car. Years later, her grieving parents open up their home as a boarding school for a group of Catholic girls, with one supervising nun. The girls start hearing things going bump in the night, and there's one particular doll that seems to move around on its own.

The dialogue here is as bad as the first movie, but the jump-scares are much more effective.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kingsman 2 hangs on to #1 at box office

For the weekend of September 29-October 1, 2017, Kingsman: The Golden Circle managed to hold off American Made to stay #1 for the second week. Kingsman is already almost to $200 million worldwide and is on pace to be profitable.

American Made, following The Mummy, demonstrates that Tom Cruise isn't as bankable as he used to be in non-Mission Impossible movies. He's still big overseas, so this'll eventually break even (as did The Mummy), but it's the lowest domestic opener for him since Jack Reacher.

Flatliners had bad reviews and a weak opener and I imagine it will disappear from our collective memory the way unmemorable remakes like Fame and Footloose have. Other new releases (Til Death Do Us Part, A Question of Faith) didn't make much of a dent.

It continues to be a juggernaut, grossing over $550 million worldwide.

Battle of the Sexes and Stronger are getting great reviews, but they haven't been able to find their audiences. Victoria & Abdul is staying strong after adding some screens.

Opens October 6
BLADE RUNNER 2049 with Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Jared Leto.
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.
MY LITTLE PONY with the voices of Emily Blunt and Kristen Chenoweth.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Big Brother 19 - TV Review

This was one of the worst seasons of the show overall, but the finale wound up being very satisfying and redeemed it a little bit.

This season's twist was having a veteran return (Paul) and having someone else go home on the first night (Cameron). What made this more and more frustrating as the season went on is that Cameron seemed like he would be an interesting player. Meanwhile Paul was given three weeks of safety and in that time he was able to mesmerize over half of the house. From Ramses' eviction on, every week was predictable. Jessica, Cody, Elena, Mark, Matt, Jason, Raven, Alex, Kevin all went in the order we'd guess. Mix that in with serious mob-mentality bullying and harassing, and it was unpleasant. Each year there are houseguests who display loathsome behavior, but this just felt worse than most. And yet, equally annoying were the ones who refused to play the game.

The best thing about the finale was the jury interaction. Mark blasting his frustration at Matt's terrible gameplay, Raven actually making decent arguments, Cody just staring straight ahead, occassionally shaking his head.

Now that it's all over, I think the producers and future players will learn a lot from this. Get players who actually want to win, not just make jury and coast. Get players who aren't idiots. And no more mixing of vets and newbies. I mean, if they want to bring back vets, bring back ones who were eliminated too early, like Cameron.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - Movie Review

Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Greenwood, Hanna Alstrom, Emily Watson, Edward Holcroft, Sophie Cookson, Poppy Delevingne and Michael Gambon.
Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn.


The first movie definitely left it open for a sequel, but this one goes directions I didn't care for.

1. If Eggsy was such a gentleman at the end of Secret Service, why is he still such a potty-mouth?
2. We invested a lot emotionally into Roxy last movie. Why kill her in the first few minutes here?
3. They did kill Galahad (Colin Firth) in the first movie. Why bring him back and in such a convoluted way?
4. The Stateman organization is set up like it's going to be a big deal, but Tatum and Bridges are barely in this movie. Elton John as himself gets more screen time.
5. There's a weird nastiness with the tone here. Two different people get shoved into a meat grinder.
6. This is the second movie in two months that features Tatum and John Denver's "Country Road."
7. Julianne Moore's villain is ill-conceived. At least she had a cool diaolical plan.

There's still a lot of fun to be had. The action sequences are still CGI'd to look like it's one amazing take, and allowing guys like Firth and Pedro Pascal (Narcos) to look like skilled fighters. Egerton's charismatic enough to make us forgive some slimy things Eggsy does (stuff I remind myself that James Bond wouldn't think twice about).

First movie was better.

Monday, September 18, 2017

mother! - Movie Review

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig and Stephen McHattie.
Written & Directed by Darren Aronofsky.


This is a balls-to-the-wall tour-de-force by Darren Aronofsky. He had a vision and he dives right in.

We know something wild's going to happen because we see the movie start with a woman on fire. It zooms back to a burned house being restored, until everything is pristine, and then Jennifer Lawrence wakes from her bed to go make her husband (Javier Bardem) breakfast. Surely this will be a lovely day. Then strangers show up unannounced. Her husband just lets them in, lets them stay, and she's too polite a hostess to say anything, but why exactly are they here?

No one is ever given a name in this movie. In the credits she is referred to as "mother" and Bardem as "Him." The movie drops several clues where it's going, and I just watched with a giant grin when the action amps up to its psychotic, Biblical, uncompromising conclusion.

I'd say more than half the people in our audience hated it. When I started explaining to some people, I could tell their enjoyment increased. (Except for one guy, who tried to argue Appeal to Authority to me because he works in TV.) I think it's best an experience knowing as little as possible, and it's one I love debating and discussing with people.




This is what I believe the movie meant.

It reimagines God as a selfish male deity who creates life for his own ego. The beginning shows the ending of a cycle. The female deity/Gaia/Mother Earth destroys herself, and when all is renewed, she comes back with no memory and in the form of Jennifer Lawrence.

She serves him, and he is a poet, an artist who can't think of what next to create. Then the man (Ed Harris) shows up. He has nowhere to go. He has a rib injury. He's Adam. He goes to see Bardem's den, his place for creation. He shows him a molten rock that he keeps on display, the soul surviving item from the previous fire. It is forbidden fruit that Adam may not touch. Then the man's wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up. She wants to see the rock more than Adam does. She finally touches it and accidentally breaks it. Bardem banishes them from the den and boards it up so no one may re-enter. (Cherubim and a flaming sword.)

Later the couple's two sons show up, arguing over a will. They fight, and the older brother kills the younger one. Cain and Abel. The older one even winds up with a mark on his forehead after the fight. Then dozens of people show up to mourn with the grieving parents. Bardem just lets them all in, and naturally, since they all seem to be familiar with his poetry and sing his praises. The more people that come, the ruder and more entitled they get. They also keep sitting on a sink until it bursts from the wall and floods the kitchen. This gives Lawrence the courage to yell "Get out!" and all of the people leave. Noah's flood. The humans are gone. She can now repair the damage done.

They fight and then have sex. She wakes up in the morning and knows she's pregnant. She's delighted. This inspires Him to write. He writes something beautiful. Scripture. People come from far and wide to hear and read his words. They come too quickly. They come with zealotry. He eats up the praise. She can't believe he keeps letting all of these people in. They start destroying the house. She goes into labor, and with each labor pang, the whole house shakes. The house is Earth, and she is tied to the Earth in ways He is not.

The baby is Jesus, and he wants to show the baby to the world, but she does not. She refuses to let Him hold the baby. She tries staying awake, but as soon as she nods off, her baby is gone. The houseguests carry the baby like a rock star over the crowd but someone accidentally kills him. Jesus is dead. Then they rip the baby apart and eat of his flesh. This is the sacrament of communion. The people start putting ashes on their foreheads to mark their devotion.

The movie speeds ahead until we finally get to the Book of Revelation. The apocalypse. She cleanses the earth with fire, killing everyone. In the end, only He and she remain. She's given everything. He wants the last drop of love in her. In the end, she's Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. She gives the last part of her existence to him. Her heart. He pulls it from her ribcage. It looks exactly like the molten rock we saw at the beginning. We gets all of the opening imagery again. The burning woman. The rock on a pedestal. The house being renewed. A different young woman waking up in bed. The cycle has started over.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It Movie Breaks September's Box Office Record

For the weekend of September 8-10, 2017, It had the third-highest opening of the year. It shattered box office records for September (previous record was Hotel Transylvania 2 at $48 million). and is the highest opening ever for a Stephen King adaptation. It also has the chance of breaking The Exorcist's record of highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time.

(Would now be a good time for a Killer Klowns from Outer Space reboot?)

The other new wide release was Home Again, a rom-com paycheck for Reese Witherspoon. It's the lowest opening for her since 2010's How Do You Know.

Opens September 15
MOTHER! with Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN with Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch and Sanaa Lathan.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

It - Movie Review

Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga & Gary Dauberman.
Directed by Andy Muschietti.


It's tempting to say It reminded me of Stranger Things, but really, Stranger Things reminded me of It. Stephen King's classic 1986 novel remains one of his best, and the influence of King is felt everywhere.

It's an emormous feat to adapt an 1138-page book to the screen, but the first smart step was to cut focus only on the half that deals with the seven protagonists as kids. So you've pared it down to 569 pages. Still quite a task. (It 2 about the adults will surely come out in 2019.)

They've streamlined the book, left a lot out, changed a lot, but it's still true to the heart of the story. Seven 12-year-olds come together, known as the Losers Club. Their leader is stuttering Bill (St. Vincent's Jaeden Lieberher), whose younger brother is the first victim of It. He's joined by loudmouth Richie (Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard), sickly Eddie (Me Myself & I's Jack Dylan Grazer), ostracized Beverly, fat kid Ben, worrying Stan, and parentless Mike. Each of them is visited in one way or another by It, usually in the creepy form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, played with unsettling menace by Bill Skarsgard (son of Stellan, brother of Alexander).

The strongest parts of the movie are when the seven are just hanging out. It's about comraderie and community, and there's not a weak link in the performances.

I'd say it was a little funnier than I thought it would be, it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be (though it does have a couple really good ones), and it was a satisfying fun summer movie that just happened to open in September.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Logan Lucky - Movie Review

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, Sebastian Stan, Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson, Dwight Yoakum, Jon Eyez, Macon Blair, Farrah Mackenzie and David Denman.
Written by Rebecca Blunt.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh.


This isn't as glitzy as Soderbergh's Ocean's 11 movies, but it's definitely better than the Ocean's sequels. By setting it in West Virginia instead of Vegas, it feels like the stakes are more real. These people actually need the money.

Channing Tatum plays Jimmy Logan, a blue-collar worker who can't seem to get ahead. "Logan lucky" refers to how unlucky his family is. He and his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) decide to rob a NASCAR event. They enlist their sister (Riley Keough) for help, and the plan grows from there.

There is such an ease to the flow of a Soderbergh movie. Throwaway scenes in any other film feel new here. he plays with timelines in a way that doesn't feel like cheating. There's also something about watching Daniel Craig let loose as a Southern safecracker. I can't remember the last time he looked like he was having this much fun onscreen.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day Box Office Lowest in 12 Years

For the weekend of September 1-3, 2017, it was the worst Labor Day weekend in 12 years, and this is after doing surprisingly better than last week's record low. No new movies cracked the top ten, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind re-release did better than any of them. The winner would still be The Hitman's Bodyguard, actually being profitable due to lack of competition.

The box office just seems on hold until Stephen King's It opens next week.

The IMAX release of the first episode of ABC's Inhumans had the highest per-screen average in the top thirty.

Tulip Fever bombed. Alicia Vikander has chosen it after her Oscar win for The Danish Girl, but Oscar dust did not sprinkle over the project, even with fellow winners Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench in the cast.

Opens September 8
IT with Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard and Jack Dylan Grazer.
HOME AGAIN with Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Lake Bell and Nat Wolff.

Atomic Blonde - Movie Review

Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, Til Schweiger and Bill Skarsgard.
Written by Kurt Johnstad.
Directed by David Leitch.


There is a fight scene in a stairway that lasts for over ten minutes, and it's all in one take. That alone is worth the price of admission.

This feels like a crime thriller that could have been a bad John Le Carre adaptation, but it's been amped up with stunts and swagger. Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent sent to Berlin during the week in 1989 that the Wall is expected to fall. She needs to track down a spy who supposedly has a list of double-agents, and that could be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands.

The soundtrack's full of 1980's goodness, and Theron knows how to combine sensuality and martial artistry. James McAvoy also has a good time in his very non-Professor X role as her contact in Berlin who may or may not be looking for an opportunity to betray her.

It's from the co-director of John Wick, and it shows.

The Mummy - Movie Review

Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance and Marwan Kenzari.
Written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet.
Directed by Alex Kurtzman.


This is the first movie in a planned Dark Universe franchise. Their first priority should have been to just make a good movie that can stand on its own. All it needed to do was be better than the Brendan Fraser version, and this is not.

Tom Cruise plays Nick, a soldier who happens to steal ancient artifacts in the Middle East. He and his buddy (Jake Johnson) are fleeing some insurgents when they stumble upon the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an evil ancient Egyptian princess who was buried 1000 miles away from home.

This movie isn't sure what it is. Is it horror? Is it action? What is its aim here? Nick is supposed to be this selfish weasel, and it's the first time I feel like the 55-year-old Cruise has been miscast. 39-year-old Jake Johnson as Nick would have been more like it.

Russell Crowe shows up as Dr. Jekyll, and the Oscar winner did not elevate the material. This is just a confused project that in trying to be many things winds up being nothing.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes - Movie Review

Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Gabriel Chavarria, Toby Kebbel and Sara Canning.
Written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves.
Directed by Matt Reeves.


Andy Serkis & company do a wonderful job in the motion-capture performance area, the special effects are top-notch, and Matt Reeves has made another movie, as the first two, that follows but could still stand on its own.

Caeser and his apes are still dealing with the betrayal of Koba, the ape that set off the chain reaction meant war between apes and humans. The main threat these days are a base of soldiers in northern California being led by a maniac. Woody Harrelson has a lot of fun playing a Col. Kurtz type in charge of these soldiers (and in case you miss the reference, there's "Ape-ocalpyse Now" graffiti in a tunnel).

I liked it, but I have to address five problems I had with this movie:

1. This conclusion to the prequel trilogy to Planet of the Apes isn't just about how the smart humans were wiped out. This movie is designed for you to root for the extermination of the human race. That may be why there were hardly any black or female soldiers. Easier to root for white US soldiers acting like Nazis toward the apes. There is one Hispanic soldier sent up to be somewhat sympathetic, but that's it. If A.I. ever rises up and wipes out humans, I blame this movie more than The Matrix.

2. Where are the females? Among the humans and apes, they were over 90% male. Is the next movie going to be Planet of the Dolphins because the other smart races went extinct over having so few females?

3. A little girl walks through the middle of a prison camp of soldiers on high alert, and they even have spotlights shine over her, and yet no one notices? These soldiers are terrrrible.

4. They say the simian flu, the disease that's robbing humans of speech and intelligence, is dormant in everyone, but the triggering of it is highly contagious. That felt like a yada-yada explanation hat-tipping the Walking Dead's logic.

5. Why at this point is Caeser the only ape who can talk in complete, unawkward sentences? Almost all of the apes stick to sign language. Didn't more apes speak in the last movie?

The Hitman's Bodyguard is #1

For the weekend of August 18-20, 2017, The Hitman's Bodyguard was the last hurrah for summer. The reviews weren't great, but the trailer was funny enough that the star power of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson helped this movie find an audience.

Logan Lucky had better reviews, but the marketing never quite crackled. I hope it finds an audience. It's a fun heist movie.

Notable was the expansion of Wind River, the next crime drama from Taylor Sheridan, who wrote last year's Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water.

Opens August 25
LEAP! with the voices of Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan and Carly Rae Jepsen.
BIRTH OF THE DRAGON with Philip Ng, Terry Chen and Billy Magnussen.
ALL SAINTS with John Corbett, Cara Buono and Barry Corbin.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Annabelle 2 is #1

For the weekend of August 11-13, 2017, Annabelle: Creation was the big winner. Horror has been underperforming all summer, but when a good one finally came along (RottenTomatoes at 69%), it was rewarded. It's the fourth movie in the Conjuring universe, and it's another profitable chapter. The fifth one comes out next summer and will center on the Nun character from Conjuring 2.

The Nut Job 2 was probably the least anticipated animated sequel since Hoodwinked 2, and it should disappear quickly.

The Glass Castle never could find a way to capitalize it being based on a best-seller and starring recent Oscar winner Brie Larson.

Opens August 18
THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD with Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman.
LOGAN LUCKY with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig and Hilary Swank.
(exp) WIND RIVER with Jeremy Renner, Elisabeth Olsen and Martin Sensmeier.

The Beguiled - Movie Review

Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke and Emma Howard.
Written & Directed by Sofia Coppola.


I never did see the Clint Eastwood original, but I can't help but believe there was more to it than what we get here.

Coppola sets up a dreamy plantation-style school in the middle of Civil War-torn Virginia. The fighting is never seen, just the occasional gunfire in the distance, beyond the trees. One day a wounded Union soldier names McBurney winds up at their doorstep. The school is run by two teachers (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst), and they only have five students. There's a one-sentence reference to the slaves having left.

Colin Farrell is McBurney, and there's some instant amusement from the ladies' swirling hormones when a wounded gentleman is now in their care.

There's a gentle dreaminess to Coppola's movies, and also a delecate portrayal of sheltered women that tends to keep some of them from breaking out. I see a lot of similarities here to Somewhere, a movie where Elle Fanning bounced from hotel to hotel with her dad without much happening. Here the women and girls don't really leave the house, and they don't really know how to cope whne a man shows up.

The movie takes a darker turn in the third act, when McBurney's true nature is revealed. Once it was all over, it felt like another movie with little consequence or lasting impression. At least it wasn't long enough to get boring. What do I still think about? Those trees.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Detroit - Movie Review

Starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Jack Reynor, Kaitlyn Dever, John Krasinski, Ben O'Toole, Nathan Davis Jr. and Laz Alonzo.
Written by Mark Boal.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.


The point of this movie isn't to entertain you while you watch. It's to punish you and then make that feeling linger long after it's over.

This has a docudrama feel to it, especially in the beginning, going through the history that led to the Detroit riots of 1967, and then we settle into what will be the main plot, the incident at the Algiers Hotel. Once we start meeting the characters that will be pivotal, it has the trappings of a horror movie. This is a home invasion horror flick where we watch six black men and two white women be terrorized for a solid 75 minutes with no reprieve and no room to breathe, and by the end of that 75 minutes, three unarmed black men will be dead.

The third act is courtroom drama, and it feel simultaneously rushed and extemporaneous. The Office's John Krasinski shows up as the cops' defense attorney and it feels like he's doing a Dwight impression.

The Force Awakens' John Boyega is our portal into watching this, a security guard who's just trying to keep everyone alive but naive as to how to keep things from escalating. He really isn't given much to do and doesn't leave much of an impression. The standouts are Will Poulter, as one scary casually racist cop who doesn't seem to register the whole "innocent until proven guilty" part of the law; and Algee Smith, lead singer in an R&B group who must deal with his PTSD after this horrific ordeal.

This might be better to watch at home, where you can take a break; but then again, if you need a break, you might not ever watch the rest.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Dark Tower is #1 in slow week

For the weekend of August 4-6, 2017, The Dark Tower was #1 in the worst box office week of the summer. The first weekend in August is usually a very reliable springboard for box office success. Suicide Squad opened with $133 million here last year.

Detroit opened wide, and it was supposed to be Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-buzz movie this year, but the studio Annapurna didn't seem to know how to handle the backlash of the true-life portrait of a group of black men being brutalized by white cops in 1967. The good reviews couldn't save it.

Kidnap was filmed almost three years and was finally dumped into theaters. At this point, $10 million seems good.

This is good news for Annabelle: Creation. With a bad week overall and summer not over yet, filmgoers may be poised to give a horror flick a chance. Previous attempts (It Comes at Night, Wish Upon) just didn't click.

Opens August 11
ANNABELLE: CREATION with Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia and Alicia Vela-Bailey.
THE GLASS CASTLE with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts.
THE NUT JOB 2 with the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dunkirk - Movie Review

Starring Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, James D'Arcy, Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan.
Written & Directed by Christopher Nolan.


Nolan's WWII movie doesn't have a signature battle scene. It has men just trying to escape. We never see a Nazi's face. We just get the you-are-there experience of soldiers stranded on a beach, trying to survive from being sitting ducks.

Nolan has made an ensemble, but he's given the main roles to relative unknowns. Harry Styles is pretty famous, but this is his first real acting job, and he's very good at it. The kid has a future. The Jim Caviezel breakout here is Fionn Whitehead as Tommy. It's through his eyes we see the bleakness.

Some of Nolan's ensemble show up for support. Tom Hardy once again spends most of his screentime with his face covered like he did as Bane. Cillian Murphy shows up as a shellshocked soldier, a lone survivor of a sunken ship. Michael Caine's voice makes a cameo. Kenneth Branagh (Conspiracy, Valkyrie) plays a composite character, the admiral in charge, there on the beach with everyone else. Oscar winner Mark Rylance is one of the British citizens with small boats who sail across the channel to rescue however many they can.

The dialogue is sparse. I saw this in IMAX, the way it's meant to be seen, and it is an immersive experience. The viewer is there, standing on the beach, or flying in the plane, or sailing on the ship, or whereever Nolan takes us. He also does an interesting non-linear experiment with time. The Whitehead-led beach scenes take place over a several days. The Rylance-led boat scenes take place over a one day. The Hardy-led aerial scenes take place over an hour. It can create some confusion but all of the timelines meet in the end.

This approach also prevents it from becoming a masterpiece. Other than the flawed bookend Spielberg tacked on Saving Private Ryan, that's a classic that will survive for decades more to come. Nolan sacrifices narrative for immersion, and if he'd managed to throw in some better storytelling on top of everything else he'd provided, that could have been his best film to date. As is, I'd still put Memento, The Dark Knight, and Inception ahead of it.

I also like how Nolan kept it PG-13 so I could take my sons to it.

The Big Sick - Movie Review

Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff.
Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani.
Directed by Michael Showalter.


This semi-autobiographical tale was written by real-life husband and wife Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon. Kumail plays himself in the movie, and Zoe Kazan plays Emily. We see he's a stand-up comedian/Uber driver, and she's a therapist. They meet cute, they date, they break up, and then she gets a serious illness that puts her in a coma.

For much of the movie, we watch Kumail fall back in love with Emily while getting to know her parents (Holly Hunter, Ray Romano) at the hospital. It's certainly an awkward way for them to meet.

The movie also explores a lot of Kumail's Pakistani background, and how his own parents keep trying to set him up with a nice Pakistani girl. He can't bring himself to let them know he's fallen for a white girl.

The movie has plenty of laughs, a lot of heart, and it's nice to watch a movie that provides the perspective we don't often get to see in cinema.

Dunkirk is #1 at box office

For the weekend of July 21-23, 2017, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk was the big hit. Nolan is still one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood, and he has made another critical and commercial success. The WWII drama, which is really about the largest evacuation effort of the war, managed to bring people in despite not having any stars in the main roles.

A notable success in its own right was second-place's Girls Trip. It may have looked like a similar effort to summer's earlier flop Rough Night, but reviews were much kinder and this one didn't have the twist of the girls accidentally killing a guy.

Valerian & the City of 1000 Planets is a bomb in the US. With a production budget exceeding $200 million, it'll need to be a massive overseas hit if it wants to make its money back. Personally I think Luc Besson should have tried to find someone more recognizable than Dane DeHaan in the title role.

Wonder Woman is now officially the domestic winner of summer. It'll pass $400 million soon, and it's been made official that the sequel will arrive in December 2019.

Opens July 28
THE EMOJI MOVIE with the voices of James Corden, TJ Miller and Patrick Stewart.
ATOMIC BLONDE with Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and John Goodman.

Monday, July 17, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes is #1

For the weekend of July 14-16, 2017, War for the Planet of the Apes was the big winner, able to take first place from Spider-Man. it was a slightly better opening than Rise of POTA but not as well as Dawn of POTA.

The other new wide release was Wish Upon, a forgettable low-budget horror movie that will appear on some streaming service in a few months.

The staying power of Wonder Woman is the story of the summer. It's on pace to pass Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I don't see Spider-Man: Homecoming catching it.

Opens July 21
DUNKIRK with Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance.
VALERIAN with Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevinge, Ethan Hawke and Clive Owen.
GIRLS TRIP with Regina Hall, Jada Pinckett Smith, Queen Latifah and Larenz Tate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Movie Review

Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Martin Starr, Martin Chernus, Abraham Attah, Michael Mando, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Logan Marshall-Green, Tony Revolori, Garcelle Beauvais, Chris Evans and the voice of Jennifer Connelly.
Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.
Directed by Jon Watts.


Tom Holland is the third actor in less than ten years to play Spider-Man. He's also the youngest, and that's a good thing. This felt like a high school movie that happened to be a superhero movie too. There's a breezy fun to everything going on.

Fortunately since we've already met this Peter Parker during Captain America: Civil War, we don't have to go through his origin story again. I don't need to see Uncle Ben get killed anymore than I need to see Batman's parents gunned down again.

Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) does a good job of weaving together all of the character relationships, and while there isn't too much action compared to most other superhero movies, the giant set pieces he does have, he handles well. The ferry splitting in half scene in particular.

Michael Keaton's blue-collar Vulture has an understandable POV, as he and his crew go from legitimate demolition workers to underground traffickers of alien technology to get ahead. The arrogance of billionaire Tony Stark lingers over everything, and Stark's in this movie almost as much as he was in Captain America: Civil War.

My favorite scene is one in the car. You've seen the clip in the trailer of Keaton in the driver's seat looking back at Holland, but the way that whole scene plays just crackles. Keaton doesn't go for scenery-chewing; he goes for much more subtle menace. And hey, he has a family, so he can be reasoned with.

Hoping somewhere down the road we can get a Spider-Man/Ant-Man buddy movie.

P.S. Favorite Easter egg is Jennifer Connelly voicing an A.I., following in the footsteps of her husband Paul Bettany who voiced Jarvis for a few movies before he became Vision.


Also saw in 2017:

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfayden and Ian McDiarmid.
Written & directed by James Gray.

This old-fashioned "By Jove!" colonial travelogue of a movie tells the true story of Percy Fawcett, a man commissioned to help map the Amazon River in South America before and after World War I and came across what he believed was evidence of a lost city, an ancient civilized city. I liked some of the supporting work from Robert Pattinson (Twilight) and Angus Macfayden (Braveheart), but it ultimately got too repetitive.

Starring Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough.
Written & Directed by Trey Stults.

This post-apocalyptic domestic thriller was marketed as a horror movie, and while it does have some horrifying things, it doesn't go in predictable directions. It raises more questions than it has answers for, and ultimately I felt hollow when it was over. It does a good job playing off of paranoia and suspicion, but it's also a cautionary tale on just how tribal people can still be.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is #1

For the weekend of July 7-9, 2017, Spider-Man: Homecoming had the second-highest opening of a Spider-Man movie, and with no competition, it easily won the weekend. It's the third highest opening of the year. Sony showed wisdom beyond its years in making a deal with the MCU to allow Spider-Man crossover.

The Big Sick is looking like the summer indie you might want to catch in theaters because it'll be nominated for Best Screenplay during award season in five months.

Opens July 14
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES with Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson.
WISH UPON with Joey King, Ryan Philippe, Sherilyn Fenn and Elisabeth Rohm.