Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday 2016 Box Office Predictions (PART ONE)

Oh my God, it's actually the holiday season, huh? That means it's time for my third annual Holiday Box Office Predictions, where I attempt to guess just what movies are gonna be biggest during the lucrative holiday period this year. Sure, we all know Rogue One is gonna be making big bucks, but what about the other movies opening up in this time period? This is the column where I examine such a query over two parts. Now, just as a heads up, from December 9th to December 25th, there eight motion pictures debuting in wide release and at least three more (Nocturnal Animals, Miss Sloane and La La Land) that are limited releases that are definitely expanding into wide release over the Christmas holiday. There are other limited release movies like Jackie, Lion and Manchester By The Sea going into wide release in December, but since I don't have exact dates for their expansions I will not be predicting their exact box office totals.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Newest Atrocity Created By White People In 2016 Is This Version Of All-Star Where Every Word Is Somebody

If I've learned anything in 2016, it's that us white people can do anything, and I mean that sentiment in the worst way possible. We can overtake wildlife refugees and suffer no consequences! Hell, a white dolt can brag about grabbing women by the genitals and can elected president! It's like we're living an Alt-Rights wet dream. And now the newest atrocity committed by white people is the newest evolution of the internet's ongoing obsession with Smash Mouth's late 1990's song All-Star. This newest piece of evolution entails replacing every word in the song with the very first word uttered in the song: SOMEBODY.

Check it out below.

I am beyond words.

What I hate about this thing most of all is how damn catchy it is. Goddamnit, why does this song work so well for whatever machinations the evil geniuses on the internet with too much time on their hands come up with??

We all know it's only a matter of time before someone decides to merge the internet's two current favorite obsessions right? Like, some kind of Bee Movie/All-Star hybrid is waiting in the wings. Perhaps our salvation from Trump's America will come in the form of this horrific Bee Movie/All-Star hybrid, a creation whose beauty unites the world over, ceases all wars and eliminates world hunger in the blink of an eye.

It is coming people. Just you wait....

A Seafaring Quest For Identity Drives The Thoughtful And Fun Moana

Looks like Walt Disney Animation Studios recent hot streak continues unabated with their newest motion picture, Moana, which also manages to be the movie that brings back Disney Animation legends Ron Clements and John Musker to the directors chair for the first time since the 2009 feature The Princess And The Frog. This duo's been responsible for a couple of movies you may have heard of like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin and now, with Moana, they've probably made their best movie yet, mainly because its plot is better structured than the likes of The Little Mermaid and its also got a lead character who's actually as interesting as the sidekicks and world they inhabit unlike their 1997 effort Hercules.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Sense Of Authenticity Courses Through The Veins Of The Edge Of Seventeen

When Hailee Steinfeld came onto the scene in December 2010 with a fantastic leading (not supporting as the Academy Awards erroneously thought) performance in True Grit, you'd think such a turn would have made her a major commodity in the world of American cinema. Alas, any woman in Hollywood is going to find challenges in advancing their career and for Steinfeld she was boxed into co-starring as generic daughter roles to leading male characters in the likes of 3 Days To Kill and Begin Again. Granted, she was in Pitch Perfect 2 (a film I freely admit to not yet seeing) last year, but that's been the only major role of note Steinfeld seems to have garnered in the past six years.

Moana Swims To Box Office Victory, Fantastic Beasts Holds Quite Well, Allied Is A World War II Dud And Bad Santa 2 Has Bad Weekend

Well now, if this wasn't a hustling and bustling Thanksgiving weekend at the box office. In fact, this was the fourth biggest Thanksgiving weekend of all-time, with one massively successful new release and some strong holdovers paired up with three wide release newcomers that failed to gain traction in the slightest.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nocturnal Animals Is A Dive Into The Unusual And The Well-Made

Have you ever heard of Paciugo? It's a gelato place that allows you to have multiple flavors of ice cream in one bowl! There's a couple of Paciugo's near where I live (one of them is even inside the movie theater I see most of my movies in!) and the narrative structure of Nocturnal Animals reminds me of one of the confections you could get at Paciugo, in that multiple different storytelling flavors are incorporated into one bowl/movie. You've got a Southern revenge thriller, a high-society slow-burn thriller filled with regret and a romantic drama that dovetails into tragedy.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Brief Thanksgiving Box Office Update: Moana Drowning Newcomers While Fantastic Beasts Is Showing Strong Stamina

I'm still recuperating from all the food I ate yesterday, not to mention trying to study for a major Math exam on Monday, but what the hey, how about a real brief look at what's been going on at the box office these past two days which have delivered four new wide releases that are all doing varying degrees of box office. I'll just be talking about those four new wide releases and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them in this super brief (by my standards!) box office column!

For Moana, it's been smooth sailing at the box office after debuting to $15.7 million on Wednesday, a bigger opening day figure than Frozen, and then grabbing another $9.9 million yesterday. With $25.6 million rounded up in just two days, it's looking at an opening weekend in the low-60 millions and an opening five-day gross in the high-80 million range. These numbers are quite similar, albeit slightly smaller, than the ones posted by Frozen over the Thanksgiving holiday frame.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them has actually been holding quite well over the week, grossing $11.1 million on Wednesday and decreasing just 12% on Thursday to gross another $9.6 million, a smaller Wednesday-to-Thursday decrease than the one that the final Hunger Games movie had during this exact same holiday frame last year. Newt Scamander should have a second weekend in the mid-40 million range, taking him well past $150 million in just 10 days.

It looks like Allied is struggling more than most Brad Pitt films, with the World War II drama grossing only $2.7 million on its opening day and then going down 14% on Thursday to add $2.3 million to its domestic cume. It looks like the feature will barely crack $10 million over its opening weekend, an insanely poor bow for an $85 million budgeted drama/thriller. We'll see if this one can rebound in the days ahead, but it doesn't look so good right now.

If small-scale movie studio was looking for Bad Santa 2 to reverse their cold streak at the box office, well, they're getting coal in their stocking I'm afraid, as Bad Santa 2 is looking to become the newest 2016 sequel to bomb badly. Bad Santa grossed only $1.58 million on its opening day and then went down 16% yesterday to gross another $1.3 million. This one's not even going to gross over $10 million over the five-day holiday frame, a disastrous result.

Speaking of disasters, Rules Don't Apply, the newest Warren Beatty directorial effort, became one of the year's biggest wide release duds, grossing only $308,000 on opening day and going down 9% on Thanksgiving Day to add $279,000 to its gross. Despite playing in over 2,300 theaters and having some relatively big names in its cast (like, y'know, Warren Beatty), this movies not gonna gross over $1.5 million over its three-day opening weekend. Yikes.

I'll be back Sunday to discuss in greater detail the opening weekend sums of these movies, as well as analyze why they soared or failed at the box office, as well as look at the box office grosses of holdovers like Doctor Strange, Trolls and Arrival and arthouse fare like Nocturnal Animals, Loving and Lion.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Just Can't Stop Stumbling Over Its Own Feet

If there's one thing director Ang Lee loves, it's ambition. His 2012 mega-hit Life Of Pi was a small-scale movie that mostly confined itself to a boat starring an unknown actor and a CGI tiger while Brokeback Mountain is one of the most high-profile American movies to deal with the typically taboo topic of homosexuality. Even his foray into superhero movies, the 2003 Hulk film, has one of its core plot points revolve around spousal abuse and the effect that has on a young child's psychology. You give Ang Lee a box to play in, he's gonna think outside of it and then some, no question about it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Believe The Hype, Moonlight Is An Incredible Motion Picture Experience

Recently, I engaged in a conversation regarding films that had an impact on the world around them. Think of how Casablanca was an artistic outlet for refugees whose voices were being silenced in the all too harsh real world. I feel fairly confident in saying that future discussions centered around this topic will have to include Moonlight for so many outstanding reasons. Moonlight isn't just a phenomenal motion picture (though it very much is one, make no mistake), it's something more than that. It's a beautiful portrait of a man trying to grow up in a society unwilling to accept him for who he is, told with the kind of commanding filmmaking that lodges itself into your mind and never escapes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shut In Traps Audiences In Inescapable Boredom

For a thriller, Shut In is sorely lacking in actual thrills. Actually, it's more likely to instill a sense of tedium in prospective audiences rather than dread or unease. It doesn't even manage to be a uniquely bad movie, it's just endlessly dull even with a couple of nonsensical plot twists stashed away in its bare-bones story. Poor Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay, they deserve so much better than this chilly idiocy to star in. At least Tremblay will have a failed movie project he can joke about with interviewers once the next Academy Awards ceremony rolls around.

Paddington Is A Charming Tale With Wit And Heart To Spare

Well, color me more than a tad bit surprised that Paddington is an out-and-out charmer of a movie! What looked like yet another Alvin And The Chipmunks knock-off in its marketing turned out to be something genuinely special, a sweet tale exploring the experience of a foreign individual trying to adapt to the customs and culture of a new country. Unlike, say, Million Dollar Arm or something, the fellow whose actually trying to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings is the lead of this particular story, meaning we, the audience, get to really dive into how such an experience would affect a persons psyche.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fantastic Beasts Runs Wild Across The Box Office While A Number Of New Adult-Skewing Releases Bomb Hard In Pre-Thanksgiving Frame

15 years after Harry Potter first debuted in movie theaters everywhere, Newt Scamander began his cinematic journey with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, which grossed a solid $75 million this weekend. That's considerably below the opening weekends of all the Harry Potter movies, even the two that debuted on Wednesdays and is also the lowest grossing opening weekend for a movie bowing in the pre-Thanksgiving frame since Twilight debuted to $69.6 million eight years ago. It's the eighth biggest opening weekend ever for a prequel and is already the highest grossing live action movie Dan Fogler has ever appeared in.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

There's Too Much Running Wild In The Uneven Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

There's quite a bit that occurs in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, lots of plotlines that transpire in a two-hour running time, loads of magical creatures to meet and new characters to get to know. Despite the large amount of new content lumped onto the audience, it's surprising just how little of this new corner of the Harry Potter universe manages to really register. There's really not a unique tone that this production aspires to, nor are the distinctive time period or famous location (New York City) used to their fullest potential. Do not be mistaken, there are elements for sure in here that are fun or interesting, but the problem is most of the best aspects of Fantastic Beasts are either on the margin of the plot proper or don't get enough screentime to match their fullest potential.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Even Kids Will Likely Find Trolls Too Lacking And One-Note To Fully Enjoy

In the esteemed pantheon of movie adaptations of toys, Trolls can at least take pride in the indisputable fact that it's better than the Transformers sequels and Battleship. And amongst its DreamWorks Animation brethren, it's better than the last two Shrek movies! That's sort of the extent of the highest praise I can offer Trolls, a movie that exists solely to sell toys and albums and makes very little attempt to cover that up. Like, I'm not naive, I know there toy executives slobbering over the infinitely better movie Zootopia since that one had limitless potential for stuffed animals and the like. But there's at least a great movie there, so who cares if they make some toys off it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie Is A Dream Come True For Marketers And Tedious For Everyone Else

One day, we'll get a good video game movie. Hell, we've gotten multiple high-quality movies using video game iconography like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Wreck-It Ralph. But as for direct film adaptations of video games? We're still not there yet. The Angry Birds Movie does nothing to reverse this trend, though its flaws aren't so much related to the failings of other video game movies as they are about this movie clearly trying to imitate conventional tropes of major American computer-animated family movies without understanding how to make these storytelling staples work in a remotely successful manner.

Wayne's World Is Frequently Pleasant Though It Doesn't Quite Reach The Heights Of "Excellent!"

Movies based on recurring characters on Saturday Night Live are basically a thing of the past in the 21st century (the only entries in this subgenre since 2000 are The Ladies Man and MacGruber), but they were all the rage in the 1990's as immediate efforts were made to replicate the box office success of Wayne's World. The likes of Coneheads or Stuart Saves His Family (or even a direct Wayne's World follow-up) couldn't come remotely close to the box office returns of Wayne and Garth's first theatrical outing, which has emerged as one of the more quoted and beloved comedies of the 1990's.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

OK, How About We Get All Of The Details Straight On The Inhumans Becoming An ABC TV Series That'll Air Right After The Middle, Shall We?

I'm not as familiar with The Inhumans via their comic book appearances as I am with numerous other Marvel comic book characters, but they are the kind of overtly stylized science-fiction nonsense I can groove on rather easily. I mean, the Royal Family of Inhumans contains a guy who can't speak lest he his vocals destroy entire planets, a woman whose hair can tear enemies apart, a fish person and a gigantic teleporting bulldog. When it was announced this Royal Family would be headlining a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to be released in November 2018, well, I was happy as clam.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Beauty And The Beast Trailer Is Angling For Your Millennial Nostalgia

The next in Disney's long line of upcoming live-action adaptations of their animated movies (which somehow does not include a Home On The Range remake from director Peter Strickland) is Beauty And The Beast, which already had the most watched trailer of all-time this past summer and is now looking to translate the popularity of its trailer into box office success. That shouldn't be a problem at all (seriously, this thing's gonna be a box office...beast!), but will it actually be a good movie? Pete's Dragon and The Jungle Book suggest these live-action Disney remakes are on the upswing quality-wise but the likes of Maleficent and Alice In Wonderland still linger in one's mind. Well, there's a new trailer for Beauty & The Beast that looks to give prospective moviegoers a better glimpse as to what's to come.

Doctor Strange Wins The Box Office Again While Arrival Arrives To Solid Numbers Over Veteran's Day Weekend

Alright, let's talk about some box office figures, shall we? Maybe it'll take all of our minds off some....not so good recent real world events for just a moment.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Arrival Is An Excellent Demonstration Of The Power Of Visual Storytelling

We've had a lot of alien invasion movies over the decades, but the best ones are those that carve a distinct tone and perspective in their narrative, the movies that seek to do something more than just have aliens blow stuff up. Sometimes ya get the anarchic glee of Mars Attacks!, other times you get the post-9/11 allegories of War Of The Worlds. So what is Arrival's particular approach to the alien invasion subgenre? Intimacy, honestly. Just in the way the movies shot alone suggests a sense of the filmmakers wanting the audience to become familiar with its protagonist and connect with her on her journey of discovery.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Kurt Russell And A Go-For-Broke Attitude Shine In Big Trouble In Little China

To look at the career of director John Carpenter in an in-depth manner is to realize that this guy was nothing if not tonally versatile in the work he produced. The creepy horror film Halloween launched his vocation as a filmmaker into the stratosphere, while the 1982 effort The Thing returned Carpenter to the horror genre with plenty of newfound science-fiction elements to keep things fresh. John Carpenter's 1986 feature Big Trouble In Little China is a bold departure of either of those previously mentioned movies in a myriad of ways, not only in the way it constantly uses Eastern and Chinese imagery but also in its more zany light-hearted atmosphere.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Do We Do Now? Where Do We Go?

If you're at all a reasonable person, you're likely gripped by fear by the results of yesterday's election that have ensured that rapist and white supremacist Donald Trump will be the 45th President Of The United States. A man fueled by hatred is ruling our country, and his followers who love to burn black churches and support his rhetoric will only help ensure that the racially-based bigotry (which has always existed in our country for that matter) he has exploited for this election will become all the more prominent. Now would be a great time for someone to offer words that stir one's soul and let everyone know everything's going to be alright in the end.

That is not this piece of writing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge Is An Over-Done But Mostly Emotionally Satisfying War Drama

In an on-air interview with Stephen Colbert this past week, Mel Gibson made explicit mention that he felt that the act of suffering was a critical part of his religion, Catholicism. And that comes through loud and clear in Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II movie that makes sure to find plenty of time to linger on the kind of barbaric violence and grotesque casualties that occur in war. His devotion to his faith also manages to have a heavy presence in the movie by way of the lead characters strict adherence to the ways of Jesus Christ. It must be said, as a Christian myself, it is truly nice to see a movie with my theology at the center of it that's actually well-made and professional looking. This isn't a God's Not Dead type endeavor in terms of production value in other words.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Inferno Is So Bad I'm Not Even Giving It A Hell-Themed Pun. It Doesn't Deserve My Puns.

Just a few days after seeing The Handmaiden, a fantastic example of using plot twists to enhance plot lines and characters, here comes Inferno, whose entire purpose seems to be to serve as the nadir of what gratuitous story twists can accomplish. There is literally nothing going on in Inferno beyond two acts that plunge the viewer into complete confusion before revealing a final act that ceaselessly drops plot twists on the audience in the same way donuts were served to Homer Simpson in Hell in Treehouse Of Horror IV. Could this be the worst 21st-century movie Tom Hanks has starred in? Mayhaps people, mayhaps.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Man Clutching Anime Body Pillow Claims Film Critic Who Affected A Films Rotten Tomatoes Score Is Infested With "Bias"

Earlier this morning, local Texas pizza roll devourer and anime body pillow aficionado Justin Dunnigan took to the internet to express grievances with a film critic named Tina Harmon who dared to give a negative review to the forthcoming Star Wars movie Star Wars: They Built An Even Bigger Death Star This Time. Dunnigan noticed the individuals negative opinion upon immediately recognizing that said movie review had knocked the Star Wars movies Rotten Tomatoes score from 100% to a mere 98%. Despite having not seen the movie, Justin Dunnigan immediately noted that Tina Harmon was "full of bias" and "being paid off for her review".

Doctor Strange Casts A Spell Over the Box Office While Trolls Have A Hair-Raising Opening Weekend And Audiences Show Loving Some...Money

Well, after so many box office bombs, something's finally going right for Marvel Studios at the box office, as one of their movies for once may actually make some money at the box office. All snarking aside, Doctor Strange had a mighty strong opening weekend, grossing $84.9 million in its bow, only $600,000 beneath the debut of the only other Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to debut in November, Thor: The Dark World. It's also the biggest sub-$100 million opening weekend for a 2016 movie and the third biggest November opening weekend ever for a movie that doesn't belong to the Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games franchises.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Birds Isn't Quite Peak Alfred Hitchcock, Though It's Not Outright Fowl Either (Classic Write-Up)

The Birds is a movie that's become one of Alfred Hitchcock's most influential features, which is truly saying something considering the dudes IMDB filmography is stacked with motion pictures whose impact spreads far and wide across the globe. Some of that I would say is due to it being one of the few horror films to revolve around threatening avian creatures (the only other noteworthy movies are B-grade schlock like Beaks: The Movie or Birdemic: Shock And Terror), giving it a sort of unique nature that makes it stands out in people's minds, there's no way you'll confuse The Birds with many other movies.

Friday, November 4, 2016

By Embracing Its Unique Traits, Doctor Strange Becomes A Visually Impressive Winner

A number of these non-sequel Marvel Cinematic Universe features have big questions looming over them that somehow make new entries in one of the biggest franchises of all-time "underdogs" in certain respects. For Doctor Strange, the queries surrounding this property are particularly noteworthy. Can Benedict Cumberbatch play Doctor Strange in a way that doesn't immediately remind viewers of the countless other socially inadequate but brilliant characters he's played? Can the character of Doctor Strange be executed without coming off like Iron Man 2.0? And then there are the uncomfortable racial aspects to the character that have only been compounded by the white-washing casting of Tilda Swinton as the Tibetan character The Ancient One.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Prepare For Glorious Battle With The New Trailer For Wonder Woman!!

So...look, it's been a bit of a rough year for DC, let's not beat around the bush. Neither of their live-action films were quite the box office bonanzas (read: billion-dollar hits) they were hoping for, both Suicide Squad and especially Batman v. Superman were critically savaged and even that Killing Joke movie became a punchline thanks to a Comic-Con panel gone horribly awry and that Batman/Batgirl romantic subplot. Luckily, the future holds some hopeful properties such as a new animated Justice League TV show that looks like a lot of fun and next year's Wonder Woman movie, which just dropped a new trailer that you can watch directly below!

What The Actual Hell Is Going On With American Pastoral?

Now that we're 50 years removed from America in the 1960's, any given storytelling has enough distance from that 10 year period in this countries history to cultivate a story that can really lend a sharp eye to this decade with a sense of perspective. For his directorial debut, Ewan McGregor adapts the Philip Roth novel American Pastoral, which primarily takes place in the 1960's and revolves around various events that shaped this era, namely the Vietnam War and radical protestors of this war. And it ends up saying nothing at all and doing nothing despite attempting to give off the impression that lots of something are occurring on-screen. It's like that one passage from an Alice In Wonderland book where Alice has to keep running just to stay in one place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Deceit And Romance Are Parallel Forces In The Handmaiden

My unfamiliarity with the works of South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook meant I walked into my screening of The Handmaiden with a sense of uncertainty wafting over my being. I'd heard plenty of positive things about this project, but like I said, I haven't seen past Park Chan-wook films like Stoker and Oldboy, so I had no idea what kind of atmosphere, themes or recurring storytelling ideas run through his work. My lack of exposure to his past efforts means I can't say exactly how The Handmaiden fits into his body of work as a whole, but I can say that I'm extremely curious to see other pieces of work Park Chan-wook considering just how entertaining and well-crafted The Handmaiden is.