Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Wife Is Aided By A Strong Glenn Close Performance But Dragged Down By Gratuitous Flashbacks

As the old saying goes "Behind every man is a good woman, well, I think that's a lie/cause when it comes to you I'd rather have you by my side". Wait, sorry, those are actually the lyrics to a Keith Urban song. Anywho, the ancient adage of a woman influencing a man's creative work certainly must have been on the minds of those creating the new drama The Wife. Based on a book by Meg Wolitzer, The Wife is all about a woman who plays a very big part in the creative process of her famous author husband. Just how extensive of a role she plays in this man's work and what kind of identity she's forged for herself during the course of their marriage are the primary concerns of this motion picture.

The House With A Clock In Its Walls Tick Tocks On The Clock, The Party Don't Stop With Its Great Opening Weekend As Three Other New Releases Bomb

The third weekend of September was led by a newcomer that got off to a strong start while the other three new wide releases did business ranging from underwhelming to outright dismal. Starting things off on a positive note was The House With A Clock In Its Walls, which kicked off its domestic box office run with $26.8 million, ahead of pre-release expectations and ahead of the opening weekends of comparable titles like the $23.8 million bow of Goosebumps and the $24.1 million debut of Maze Runner: The Death Cure. It was also only 8% behind the debut of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children despite Clock In Its Walls not having the Tim Burton brand name and cost less than half of that September 2016 feature. This $42 million budgeted project also had an opening comparable to the $28.4 million debut of Jack Black's Nacho Libre 12 years ago and had the biggest opening weekend ever for an Eli Roth directorial effort. All in all, this was a really good bow for The House With A Clock In Its Walls that puts it on track for a final domestic haul just under or over $80 million domestically.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

White Dog Is an Unflinching And Powerful Look At Racist Violent Behavior

Back in the early 1980's, Paramount Pictures financed a fully completed $7 million budgeted feature film that they proceeded to tuck on a shelf and not release. Such a bold move rarely ever occurs to major movies in Hollywood but then again, White Dog was not a typical motion picture. Hailing from writer/director Samuel Fuller, White Dog was a movie entirely focused on a dog who had been trained by a racist human being to specifically attack black people and such a premise had executives worried about reactions from all kinds of groups ranging from members of the NAACP to charters of the Klu Klux Klan. Thus, the studio behind Monster Trucks canceled its original 1982 theatrical release and the film would not see the light of day (save for a handful of TV airings) until 1991.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

White Boy Rick Is Frequently Scattered But Also Frequently Engaging

For better and for worse, there's a whole lot that the crime drama White Boy Rick wants to explore in depicting the life of non-fictional individual Richard Wershe Jr. A.K.A. White Boy Rick (played by newcomer Richie Merritt), a 15-year-old from Detroit, Michigan who was hired by the FBI and the local law enforcement to become a supplier for local drug dealers as a way of gaining information needed to bring these people into justice. Despite being a teenager, Wershe is basically just dragged into being an informant under the threat of his father of the same name (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey), who sells guns, if he doesn't cooperate. Wershe is basically trapped between a rock and a hard place and he decides to get out of it by agreeing to serve as an FBI informant.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Land of Steady Habits Thoughtfully Probes The Long-Term Consequences Of A Persons Actions

Watching Ben Mendelsohn get interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! this past Thursday allowed me the chance to become even more impressed with Mendelsohn as an actor than I already was and I already was pretty impressed with him! Ben Mendelsohn exuded a self-deprecating yet quietly confident charm in his interactions with Kimmel, a sharp contrast to the scummy morally duplicitous characters he usually plays in films and television programs. The whole process of acting is about immersing oneself in a role drastically different from their own everyday persona but one can take for granted just how wide the gulf between a person's performance and their actual personality can be until you see the guy who helped create the Death Star being a total charmer on late night TV.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mandy Is The Best Kind of Cinematic Madness


I feel like Scrat from Ice Age would love Mandy because this movie is absolutely nuts. The newest directorial effort from filmmaker Panos Cosmatos, Mandy can be best summed up as being the demented spawn of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives and John Wick. Though it may echo two other recent features, and its editing and atmosphere certainly evoke past auteurs of dream-like motion pictures like David Lynch, make no mistake about it, Mandy is very much a one-of-a-kind creation that constantly had me either questioning what the hell I was even watching or cheering on the mayhem transpiring on-screen. It's two hours of the most excellent kind of madness, the kind that was tailor-made for Nicolas Cage's gifts as an actor.

Broadcast News Isn't Quite The Sum of Its Entertaining Parts

You ever finish watching a beloved movie for the first time and suddenly find yourself stuck with the feeling of recognizing you enjoyed it but also wished you had liked it more? I encountered such a sensation after finishing Broadcast News for the first time, a classic James L. Brooks romantic-comedy from 1987 that numerous people claim to be the apex of Brooks' entire career. It's certainly leagues ahead of his 2010 dud How Do You Know and a highly charming feature overall with some exceptional performances, but I walked away from Broadcast News feeling satisfied but not truly enamored with what I had just seen.

The Predator Finds Time To Bleed During Weak Opening Weekend As A Simple Favor Fares Decently And White Boy Rick Doesn't Bring In The Dough

In the wake of Deadpool becoming such a massive success and redefining what R-rated films could do at the box office, I'm sure 20th Century Fox was chomping at the bit to relaunch The Predator and see if they could get this iconic franchise to the box office heights reached with ease by the Merc With A Mouth. Such expectations were not met this weekend, not even close, as the $88 million budgeted The Predator scored only $24 million over its opening weekend, a 3% dip from the opening weekend of the far cheaper to produce Predators from 2010. That's also the worst ever opening weekend for a live-action movie opening in over 4,000 locations (The Predator was playing in 4,037 theaters this weekend) and the first in history a live-action movie opening in over 4,000 locations opened to less than $30 million.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Predator Is A Staggeringly And Tragically Inept Feature

The Predator is a movie that feels like it's been put through a meat grinder and then put through numerous cycles in a blender. Good luck keeping track of where characters are or why crucial plot points are even happening amidst the ramshackle editing that renders the whole movie choppy & frequently incoherent. The disastrous editing isn't all that goes wrong here though in this motion picture whose extremely low level of quality is tragic to see. You'd think pairing up Shane Black, the mind behind Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, with a new Predator movie (Black had previously appeared in the first Predator film in a support role) would be the easiest recipe ever for surefire entertainment, but The Predator is instead a total waste of potential that rarely feels like a Shane Black movie, and I'm not just saying that because it doesn't take place at Christmastime!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Predators Has Creativity To Spare But Struggles To Use Said Creativity Properly

Nearly twenty years after Predator 2, the Predator franchise came back to life (though these aliens had appeared in the two Alien vs. Predator movies) in 2010 under the eye of producer Robert Rodriguez for a movie whose tone couldn't have been farther away from the cornball nature of Predator 2 unless it had maybe been Cabaret But With Predators. Predators was intended to be a grim n' gritty tale that took the Predator series into outer space and followed a wholly new cast (though, like Predator 2, there's a brief verbal reference to the events of the very first Predator movie) of characters trying to survive being hunted by these extra-terrestrial creatures.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"Fewer Songs, More Explosions": When American Animation Got Briefly Action-Packed (Part Two)

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Turns out, audiences were indeed looking for a reprieve from animated fairy tale musicals that had dominated the 1990's. But they weren't looking for such a reprieve from the likes of Titan A.E., no, they were looking towards a farting Scottish ogre to lampoon the type of stories that had made Disney Animation famous. The massive box office success of Shrek (at the time the second biggest animated movie of all-time, only behind The Lion King) had too many ripple effects on the film industry to count, but perhaps it's most noteworthy piece of influence was in how Shrek was suddenly the movie to imitate. Though Shrek didn't invent the idea that pop culture references and bathroom humor could inhabit animated family movies, it did make them required elements in any new animated films looking to score big box office bucks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Shane Black's Directorial Career Kicked Off In Amusing Style With Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr. has so cemented himself as a modern-day box office titan that it can be difficult to remember that, as Robert Downey Jr. himself would be the first to admit, there was a time in the 21st century where he could star in a movie that barely even got a theatrical release. Such was the case with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the directorial debut of prolific action movie writer Shane Black A.K.A. the guy who hires sex offenders on his film without alerting his cast & crew. This comedic noir got a tiny theatrical run in the Fall of 2005 (its highest theater count was a mere 226 locations) before it became an acclaimed cult classic and ended up helping Robert secure the Marvel superhero role that would totally transform his career.

Monday, September 10, 2018

I Cannot Forgive The Nun For Its Sins Against Good Horror Filmmaking

The only thing that's gonna really scare you while watching The Nun is realizing how little effort has been put into this shockingly empty film. Considering not just how good the prior entries in the Conjuring saga have been but also the level of quality and creativity seen in recent horror films like Hereditary and A Quiet Place, The Nun's shallow attempts at horror filmmaking feel all the more egregious. Probably the highest compliment I can offer to it is that it at least gives the immensely talented Demian Bichir his first opportunity to headline a high-profile American film. Oh, and it's also better than The Bye-Bye Man, I suppose that's a plus.