Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Tour De Force Awaits For Those Who Watch There Will Be Blood

If there's one common fixture in the last three movies made by Paul Thomas Anderson, it's an affinity for going into decades past of American culture and probe at the darker underbellies of these time periods. Back in 2012, for instance, he released The Master, a movie set in the 1950's, a time period typically associated with lovely picnics and white-picket fences that was here used as a backdrop as the story for a World War II soldier trying to find a post-combat purpose in the world. The film he made just prior to The Master, There Will Be Blood, is also a part of this trend, with this 2007 directorial effort of Anderson's being set in the first few decades of the 20th century.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Can Someone Explain To Me What The Actual Hell Is Going On In This Music Video For Hinder's Lips Of An Angel?

Every day since January 20th has felt like an eternity. Donald Trump's inauguration as President Of The United States has resulted in a daily deluge of horrors that any reasonable human should be terrified of. I've basically immersed myself in cinema, schoolwork and writing as a way to escape the horrors of reality for a brief period before returning to the nightmare that is our world now. Escapism is all well and good but we gotta keep in touch with what is real after all. That being said, can I just offer you, dear reader, a momentary sense of escapism by just overly examining a silly music video? Let's get a few yuks before going back to praising the likes of ACLU for standing up to what's right.

Split Seizes The Top Of The Box Office Again As A Dog's Purpose Fetches A Decent Opening And Resident Evil Closes With A Whimper

Well, the final weekend of January is here and a number of movies got a bit of a boost from the Oscar nominations announced this past Tuesday while some Oscar nominated films didn't quite go the distance as expected. But, for starters, the number one movie in America this weekend was, once again, Split, which had a phenomenal second weekend decline for a horror movie, going down a mere 35% to gross another $26 million. Split has now taken in $77.8 million domestically in just 10 days and is now guaranteed to cross $100 million domestically, being the first 2017 movie to do so. In terms of M. Night Shyamalan's movies, it's already surpassed the lifetime domestic grosses of After Earth and The Visit and is catching up to the $95 million domestic cume of Unbreakable quite quickly.

It's Hard To Find Much Meat On The Bones Of The Founder

In the 21st century, McDonalds has weathered a storm of bad publicity stemming from growing health concerns surrounding their food which has only been compounded by documentaries like Super Size Me. While McDonalds still makes money hand over fist, there's no denying their reputation has been tarnished greatly in the 2000's and it's likely never going to restore itself to its former reputation given how the fact that the companies food is so completely unhealthy is now basic knowledge. The Founder takes audiences back to a time when the word McDonalds had an aura of promise and innocence to it, to an era where the eatery was limited to just one location in California.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Rules Got Broken With Jean Renoir's 1939 Film The Rules Of The Game

The best Wikipedia articles strike me as akin to reading an engrossing book, one that makes you want to keep on scrolling down and reading more about the subject at hand. To that end, reading the expansive Wikipedia page for Jean Renoir's 1939 motion picture The Rules Of The Game fits those requirements like a glove, as it's quite interesting to read about the background of the film and the political climate of Europe in the late 1930's that greatly informed its story. Apparently, the movie generated a great deal of anger-driven controversy by depicting rich individuals with great amounts of influence in society as easily duped fools with selfish goals. Daring to mock the rich and powerful as self-absorbed just didn't sit well, even if the entire first week of Donald Trump as President of the United States seems to suggest the film's message about the upper-crust rings as true as ever.

Friday, January 27, 2017

20th Century Women Brings Weight To Seemingly Inconsequential Moments Of Life

Perspective is a funny thing. We all have different ways of approaching just about anything in this world, all stemming from our own personal experiences, and that includes how we approach looking at the past. For many of the people living in bygone era's we now hold as sacred, there was nothing inherently special about the year they were living in. they were just trying to live out their lives as best they could. The cars we now look at as shining examples of automobile craftsmanship they would just drive around in solely as a means to get from Point A to Point B. The art from these decades we now revere as classics were just the newest movies playing at the multiplex. At the time, what they were going through was just the routine steps of life.

Now Here's A Little (Tokyo) Story, All About How My Life Got Flipped, Turned Upside Down...

It's always interesting to watch a piece of work from a famous director for the first time without any preconceived notions about the director in question. Oh, I had heard of legendary director Yasujiro Ozu plenty of times over the years, but the idiosyncracies of his work were an utter mystery to me. Tokyo Story would be my first ever glimpse into what kind of cinema Ozu was capable of crafting. As it turns out, it's quite a different, slower-paced piece of filmmaking that didn't work 100% of the time for me personally, but even in its weakest moments it doesn't bog down the strong acting and fascinating themes of Tokyo Story.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Year Of Hamilton

"The ship is in the harbor now
See if you can spot him
(Just you wait)
Another immigrant 
Coming up from the bottom"
- Alexander Hamilton

On this day, one year ago, I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack for the very first time.

Illumination Pencils In Dates For Minions And Sing Sequels Because $$$$$$$$$$$

Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind such entities as The Fart Gun and a psychedelic sausage sequence,  has announced some new release dates for their upcoming movies. The Secret Life Of Pets, previously scheduled for July 13, 2018 will now come out on July 3, 2019, the same release date that Despicable Me 2 opened on in 2013 to massive success. It seemed odd that the studio was planning to get a major animated sequel out just two years after the first Pets movie given that typical animated sequels take three years to make.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Happening, Like Hot Dogs, Gets A Bad Rap, But Unlike Hot Dogs, It Totally Deserves That Bad Rap

After the double-whammy of the fun thrillers The Visit and Split, going back to watch M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening for the first time is akin to stumbling upon a photo of your friend being deeply intoxicated after that same friend has been sober for four years now. It's a glimpse into a darker era of a person's past, one that's still stuck in the back of your mind even as he cleans up his act and improves himself. Needless to say, The Happening is pretty much an awful bad terrible sinful rot of a motion picture, but it is an entertaining disaster in contrast to Shyamalan's later dismal efforts like The Last Airbender and After Earth which never went beyond being simply dismal.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Next Star Wars Movie Has A Title!

Rian Johnson's Star Wars movie (Star Wars: Episode 8, don't you know) has been waltzing around in an extremely secretive manner right now, with no plot details coming out beyond what could be gleaned from the occasional rumor or set photo. Well, at least we have a title today to tide us Star Wars geeks over until the film comes out in December! The film will be titled....Star Wars: The Last Jedi! A reference to a line of dialogue Obi-Wan had in The Empire Strikes Back wherein he referred to Luke as "...our last hope", I presume?

2016 Oscar Nominees Predictions!

The nominees for this years Oscar ceremony get announced tomorrow morning, so le'ts have a little bit of fun this morning and look at my predictions for who gets into what category this year. I'll be examining all 24 categories today and remember, these are not my wishlists for what should get nominated, rather, this is me looking at a large swath of data before me, such as what films have been winning a lot on the awards circuit, what features & performances have been getting a large amount of buzz from high-profile award season watchers on sites like Gold Derby or the Fienberg Forecast and taking what kind of films, performances and such have scored nominations in years past.

Anywho, let's look at what my nominee predictions are....

Split Has One Of The Biggest January Opening Weekends Of All Time, xXx Stumbles And The Founder Flails

Well well well, looks like we have the first major sleeper hit of 2017 in the form of Split, an M. Night Shyamalan thriller that absolutely blasted past expectations to gross $40.2 million in its opening weekend, the fourth biggest opening weekend ever in January, only behind Kung Fu Panda 3, Ride Along and American Sniper. It's also got a B+ CinemaScore to its name, which is practically an A+ in the realm of thrillers and horror movies so this one's likely going to have strong word-of-mouth by its side too. Plus, Split only cost $9 million to make, meaning its already done 4.5 times its opening weekend in just three days.

While his films faltered quality-wise in the 2004-2013 era of his career, Shyamalan has actually got a strong track record at the box office with only one of his movies since 1998 (The Lady In The Water) debuting beneath $25 million. Thus, it was always expected for split to make some cash but never at these levels that make it the fourth biggest opening weekend ever for the filmmaker. As I said last weekend when The Bye Bye Man overperformed as well (though not anywhere near these levels), we haven't had a good horror film in a long while so there is some major pent-up demand for some more frightening fare out there (Paramount's Rings reboot is obviously gonna hope to ride this wave of demand in two weeks too). Plus, Split had a good marketing campaign that conveyed the unique premise in a concise fashion that helped it stand out from any recent horror fare. All in all, there's a good chance Split manages to become the first 2017 movie to cross $100 million domestically, an outstanding box office achievement. Finally, it's worth mentioning that this is now the ninth weekend in a row at the domestic box office where the number one movie in America starred a woman. That's really impressive to see!

2016 saw so many sequels to movies audiences hadn't really been clamoring for, from yet another Big Fat Greek Wedding to Alice going Through The Looking Glass to Bad Santa 2, all sequels to movies that nobody really wanted and all waiting too long to capitalize on the success of their predecessors.While 2017 seems to have less of those type of sequels on the slate, they still exist as xXx: Return Of Xander Cage can attest. The newest Xander Cage mission grossed only $20 million, a 59% decrease from the opening weekend of the first xXx movie and is also only 5% ahead of the opening weekend for the far cheaper Riddick. While this one's $85 million budget means it won't be a massive money-loser, it's still likely disappointing for Paramount Pictures, whose off to a really rough start for 2017. That being said, the film actually performed quite well internationally this weekend, so maybe there's hope for more Xander Cage adventures yet.

Hidden Figures continues to be quite the word-of-mouth driven success, grossing another $16.2 million (a tiny 22% dip from last weekend) that brings its domestic cume to $84.2 million. Incredible stuff and it's still got a long way to go in its box office run that could top out at as high of a gross as $135 million. Sing took in another $9 million (a 36% drop) that brings its strong domestic gross to $249.3 million. La La Land, meanwhile, had its first ever weekend-to-weekend decline, going down 42% to gross another $8.3 million. La La Land has now grossed $89.6 million and will crack $100 million next weekend. Rogue One, meanwhile, took in another $7 million, a 48% drop from last weekend that brings its domestic total to $512.2 million. Also worth noting is that this sci-fi adventure cracked a billion dollars worldwide this weekend, becoming only the fourth movie from 2016 to gross over a billion dollars worldwide (all four of these films hail from Disney).

Monster Trucks dipped 36% this weekend, about on par with the second-weekend declines of fellow family movies that opened over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend The Nut Job and Paddington. It grossed about $7 million this weekend for an abysmal $22.6 million 10-day total. This one's probably gonna top out domestically in between $35 and $40 million at best. Patriot's Day couldn't make up ground after an underwhelming bow last weekend, grossing only $6 million (a 48% drop from last weekend) that brings it to only $23.6 million domestically, a poor showing given its $45 million budget.

Finally debuting this weekend was The Founder, the first movie from The Weinstein Company to open in over 1,000 theaters since Jane Got A Gun fifty-one weeks ago. This Michael Keaton biopic grossed only $3.7 million, an OK but not great bow that gave it the fifth best per-theater average for any wide release out there (it grossed $3,370) but just didn't have the buzz or marketing to make it stand out in the marketplace. If The Weinstein Company can hold onto its theater over the next two weeks, there's a slim but existing chance it could crack $10 million domestically.

Sleepless rounded out the top ten with a $3.7 million second-weekend cume, which is a 55% drop from last weekend. This Jamie Foxx crime drama has grossed $15.1 million in ten days, slightly above expectations but still a not so great box office cume. The Bye Bye Man felt the brunt of Split entering the marketplace as it plummeted 73% to gross another $3.5 million, bringing it to a 10-day domestic total of $20.1 million. This one will likely end its domestic run just under or above $25 million. Lion continued to be a persistent performer, grossing $1.8 million (only a 21% dip from last weekend), meaning it's grossed $16.3 million before Oscar nominations have been announced.  And then there was Live By Night, which plummeted 64% from its disastrous opening weekend to gross only $1.8 million, meaning it's now grossed only $9.4 million domestically.

Going into wide release this weekend was 20th Century Women, which grossed an OK $1.4 million at 650 theaters for a per-theater average of $2,155. 20th Century Women has grossed $2.3 million domestically so far and is counting on some Oscar nods for Annette Bening and/or Greta Gerwig to boost its box office. Grossing only $1.3 million was the new Christian movie comedy The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone, which gives it the 39th biggest opening weekend ever for a Christian movie just behind last Fall's Hillsong: Let Hope Rise.

Kudos where kudos are due, Paramount Pictures was trying to help Silence out this weekend by expanding it into 1,580 locations but it didn't help the film as it grossed only $1.1 million, a 42% decline from last weekend and giving it a per-theater average of only $728. Silence has grossed only $5.1 million domestically thus far. Finally, The Red Turtle bowed this weekend to $21,811 at 3 locations for a per-theater average of $7,270.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $127.3 million, up about 29% from this same weekend last year when The Revenant managed to top the box office.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Split Is The Biggest Sign Yet That M. Night Shyamalan's Creative Resurgence Is Happening

For those concerned that M. Night Shyamalan's 2015 film The Visit was some kind of fluke, that he would be returning to the level of quality found in The Last Airbender and After Earth in future works, put those anxieties to rest. It turns out we may be in the midst of, at the very least, a nice uptick in the career of M. Night Shyamalan, as his newest film, Split, is a thrilling little romp that's equal parts nonsensical and thrilling. It's basically a B-movie plot superimposed onto higher quality filmmaking and acting, and if that sounds like a complaint, it really isn't at all. Actually, the film's willingness to embrace the nonsensical and absurd is very much part of its own charm.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gone Baby Gone Kicked Off Ben Affleck's Directorial Career In A Somber Fashion

Ben Affleck's career circa the mid-2000's was not in a happy place. A number of high-profile box office and critical duds like Gigli, Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas had left his profile tainted and he would only appear on-screen in two movies (Hollywoodland and Smokin' Aces) in the five year period between 2004 and 2009. But in that time span, Affleck decided to reinvent himself as a director by adapting the first feature film screenplay he had penned since his breakthrough movie, Good Will Hunting. The movie he would make his feature film directorial debut on was Gone Baby Gone, a sobering drama that, to date, is his only directorial effort that he does not star in.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Art And Humanity Collide In Life, Animated

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs turns 80 years old. Think about that for a second. This movie is only 20 years away from having existed for an entire century. While Snow White and her diminutive pals may be the oldest film in the Walt Disney Animation Studios library, it's far from the only movie the studio has created that's endured throughout the decades. Thes likes of Jiminy Cricket, Dumbo and Mickey Mouse have been entertaining kids and adults alike for so long now, it's impossible to imagine the current pop culture landscape would even exist without them. But how do films like these manage to keep going on from generation to generation? Maybe it's because for many, these Disney animated films aren't just movies but a way to understand the world around them.

New Power Rangers And Logan Trailers Give Audiences A Glimpse At The Superhero Movies Of March 2017

March 2017 is gonna be a jam-packed month for movies, no denying that. We've got the extremely promising looking Kong: Skull Island, that live-action Beauty & The Beast movie (which I really hope offers more new stuff than the trailers suggest), Ben Wheatley's action comedy Free Fire, Jessica Chastain helping save people from Nazi's in The Zookeeper's Wife, the James Gunn-penned horror film The Belko Experiment, Danny Boyle's Trainspotting sequel and....The Boss Baby. Plus, we get two new high-profile live-action superhero movies entitled Logan and Power Rangers.

Both debuted new trailers this morning, so let's take a look at them shall we? First up is....
Is this as good as the first teaser? Of course not. That one's going to become one of all-time greatest trailers ever made if it isn't already. But this is still one spectacular trailer that emphasizes the X-23 and Logan relationship that looks to be the core of the movie as well as reinforcing the melancholy tone that feels appropriate for this final Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie. Also worth noting is how the hand-to-hand combat stuff in this trailer looks exceptionally well-made and I can't wait to see if that holds up throughout the whole feature. Plus, we get to see that X-Men comics exist in this universe and it actually got me kind of wistful to see Logan look at these comics and reminisces about how his adventures with his fellow mutants were never quite like that. Man oh man am I ready for this one!

Next up is....
First, the good news; this is a way better trailer than that dreadful teaser back in October. I actually dig some aspects of the lighter tone here that feels more appropriate for a tale about five teenagers transforming into robot humanoids. Plus, I love Kayne West's Power and it's nice to see that version of the song used here instead of some dark somber cover. I'll also freely admit it's a well put-together trailer that'll probably work mighty fine in enticing general audiences to give this new Power Rangers movie a go. As for me though....I dunno. I honestly think the last 45 seconds of this trailer kinda killed it for me, to be honest. Those new Power Ranger suits just look really really bad and it also just devolves into a bunch of CGI pixels fighting each other. I'm praying to God the actual movie gives some dramatic grounding to all of this mayhem, because if not, that climax could reach Man Of Steel levels of excruciating. So, while this trailers a definite improvement tonally, and there's a good song choice, I'm still really worried about this new take on the Power Rangers. I'm sure Power Rangers fans will go crazy over the appearances of the Zords and Goldar in this trailer (I have no idea what those words mean).

We shall see how both of these actual movies stack up once that jam-packed month of cinema arrives in March.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Animated Spider-Man Movie Gets Miles Morales As A Lead Character And Nabs Two Promising Directors

While this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming will be a collaborative effort between Sony and Marvel Studios, there is a Spider-Man movie coming in December 2018 that's wholly a Sony effort. This untitled project is an entirely animated Spider-Man movie from Sony Pictures Animation that two fellows by the name of Phil Lord & Chris Miller are writing and executive producing. Today, Sony officially announced that the lead character of this movie would be Miles Morales, something that had been rumored for ages now but was a welcome sight to see made official.

Captain Fantastic Tires To Be An Inspirational Tale About A Neglectful Selfish Father. It Doesn't Work.

Last year's Sundance Film Festival delivered some unique motion pictures that have stuck around in my mind a year after that festival concluded. There was the comedic classic Hunt For The Wilderpeople, the zany yet thoughtful Swiss Army Man, and of course, Kenneth Lonergan's beautiful meditation on grief Manchester By The Sea. But every film festival has its duds, it's just the law of averages when you're screening a large number of movies. The Hollars was one big star-studded misfire and Captain Fantastic serves as another example of indie feature that debuted at last year's Sundance Film Festival that just doesn't work.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monster Trucks Is The Best Movie Of 2017

That headline is technically true since all the other movies I've seen theatrically this year were technically released in 2016. Monster Trucks is the only 2017 movie I've seen theatrically thus far, so, yep, it is indeed the Best Movie Of 2017 for me right now!

Snarky explanation for that clickbait headline out of the way, let's talk about Monster Trucks, the second feature film from Paramount Animation that's been delayed nearly two whole years after its initial May 2015 release date and also serves as the live-action directorial debut for Ice Age director Chris Wedge. It's a live-action movie with a CGI creature best friend for the lead character in the vein of those Smurfs and Alvin And The Chipmunk movies, though this is more like the forgotten 2009 film G-Force in that Monster Trucks is technically an original property. And, thankfully, it's better than all of the other 21st century live-action/CGI family movies I just listed off.

Patriot's Day Is Brought To You Courtesy Of the Red, White And Blue...And Messy Screenwriting

Peter Berg's track record as a director has more loop-de-loops than a rickety o'l rollercoaster. Hancock had a solid first half that deteriorated into a forgettable second half, Battleship was a complete misfire, Lone Survivor I barely even remember apart from thinking it wasn't very good but then there was last Fall's Deepwater Horizon, a taut, well-made disaster movie that actually showed some real craftsmanship in terms of creating tension on Berg's part. Was this a sign that he was finally becoming something more as a director, that o'l Peter Berg was about to really break out and become an auteur that would leave the shackles of Battleship and Hancock behind him?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hidden Figures Wins The Box Office Again As La La Land Soars And New Mark Wahlberg And Ben Affleck Movies Flop

Note: This article covers only box office figures for the 3-day weekend.

As six movies went into wide release this weekend, all but one of the newbie movies failed to leave an impact, meaning Hidden Figures was able to win the box office again in its second weekend of wide release. Hidden Figures grossed another $20 million this weekend, going down only 12% from last weekend and bringing its domestic total to $54.3 million. It appears that this inspirational drama is gonna make a run for $100 million domestically, an amazing result for the $25 million budgeted film.

And No One Dared Disturb The Sound Of Silence

As a Christian, my biggest complaint with so-called faith-based Christian movies like God's Not Dead is...well, I don't just have one complaint with these atrocious movies, the worst of the bunch are pretty much top-to-bottom disasters. But in terms of complaints directly connected to my faith, these films claim to try to explore real-world struggles of Christianity but don't seem to exist in the real world. In an effort to be as squeaky-clean as possible, actual topics of hardship are rarely explored in these Christian films. More adult concepts are off-limits except for rare sequences like Kirk Cameron bashing in his porn-riddled computer in Fireproof and any of the tepid dramatic situations are easily resolved in a tidy little bow.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How Much Is That Doggie In The (Rear) Window?

While his most famous films (mainly the annual holiday TV fixture It's A Wonderful Life) have given Jimmy Stewart an image in mainstream pop culture as a loveable good o'l boy, it is interesting to see Alfred Hitchcock's collaborations with the actor (in Vertigo and the subject of this review, Rear Window) dive into darker territory, ones that show off both different sides of Stewart and demonstrate what a versatile actor he is. Rear Window also serves as a splendid opportunity to take witness of just how much of a maestro Hitchcock is at conducting suspense in the most restrained circumstances. All he needs is a window, a neighborhood of various personalities and one man peeping at the world around him to create something truly gripping.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Goodfellas Is A 145 Minute Reminder Of Why Martin Scorsese Is A Cinematic Legend

There was this odd phenomenon when The Wolf Of Wall Street came out three years ago regarding many commentators feeling that the movie was explicitly endorsing the various nasty deeds its lead character commits. Art is subjective and all that, so if that's your takeaway from the film, that's fair. Personally though, I'd say The Wolf Of Wall Street very much makes it clear that Jordan Belfort is a very bad man, one that the movie wants you to gawk at while seeing how much this real-life guy was able to get away with in his time of swindling and debauchery. Scorsese's whole point with that 2013 effort is for the viewer to come away with how delusional Belfort was as a human being; despite all the Quaallades and obvious wrongdoings he was committing, he still saw himself as untouchable, above the common world.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dev Patel Is Living On The Inside, Roaring Like A Lion

What an odd puzzle of a movie we have here. Lion starts off strong and finishes in a similarly satisfying manner, with both sections of the movie relying on some extremely well-done poignancy that tugs right at your heartstrings. But in between those opening and closing 10-minute or so segments is a messy movie with sporadic moments of goodness trying to breathe amidst an overly busy screenplay that's trying to shove too many real-life events into all too short of a running time. Looking at Lion as a whole, those opening and closing scenes likely resonate all the more because of how inconsistent a lot of the film as a whole.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Jetsons and WWE Are About To Meet In An Actual Movie That Is Happening This Year

Since the Boomerang channel and its wall-to-wall Hanna-Barbera programming was a cornerstone of my youth, I know a thing or two about Hanna-Barbera cartoons, from the well-known stuff to more obscure creations like Grape Ape, Squiddily Diddily and Ricochet Rabbit. One such program I always used to fancy, and one my Mom had nostalgic childhood memories of her own watching, was The Jetsons, a show about a standard family living in the future, the polar opposite of fellow Hanna-Barbera creation The Flintstones if you will.

Hidden Figures Is A Total Charmer Of A Movie With A Strong Cast

When ya think about it for even a microsecond, the achievements in space exploration done by NASA truly are incredible, some of the best accomplishments done by our species in the 21st century. We've been probing heretofore unknown territories, truly going, to quote Star Trek, "where no man has gone before". Tragically, NASA has seen massive budget cuts and what not in the decades past but Hidden Figures takes place in an era where we were all invested in NASA on a patriotic level, where it's accomplishments were simultaneously demonstrations of what kind of glorious achievements our country could grasp.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Coping With Grief At A Young Age Is The Crux Of The Phenomenal A Monster Calls

Contemplating on A Monster Calls after seeing it, I've come to the conclusion that the film is most reminiscent in tone of atmosphere of pop culture like Charles M. Schulz Peanuts comic strip or Spike Jonze's 2009 motion picture Where The Wild Things Are, slices of storytelling that dare to look at adolescence in an uncompromising fashion in a dramatically compelling way. After all, childhood isn't a portion of one's life that's just filled with ceaseless joy and wonderment, it's rife with its own set of unique challenges and struggles. To quote a blonde-haired self-proclaimed genius from the funny pages: "People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children." Much as we like to look back on childhood (like any part of our life that exists in the past) with rose-colored glasses, the reality of growing up as a youngster is much more emotionally complex and tumultuous.

Fences Sets The Stage For Strong Small-Scale Drama

Translating any storytelling medium to the confines of feature-length motion picture storytelling is going to come with its own set of challenges. Bringing books to the silver screen means you have to decide what material from the novel gets cut for the sake of brevity and what stays in while film adaptations of TV shows have to bring characters who typically work in only 22-44 storytelling environments and try and make them sustain as much as two whole hours of storytelling. Each of these forms of translation comes with its own set of challenges and the hurdles involved with bringing a stage play to the big screen as a movie are the ones Denzel Washington's newest directorial effort, Fences, faces.

Hidden Figures Rockets To Success While Newest Underworld Movie And A Monster Calls Fail To Take Off

Winter weather harshed the buzz of all the titles at the box office this weekend, with Deadline reporting that harsh winter storms closed down theaters in states like Georgia and Alabama over the weekend. If last years January 29-31st frame (which came one weekend after a box office frame harshly hindered by snowy weather), that does mean that the biggest titles this weekend like Hidden Figures, Rogue One and Sing can expect to have minuscule declines next weekend, though a number of smaller titles this weekend will likely face another hefty plummet next weekend as a swath of new releases descend on cinemas and take up thousands of screens.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Woah! Why Haven't More People Been Talking About The Intimate And Powerful Netflix Movie Blue Jay??

So far, Netflix's forays into the world feature films haven't been as successful as their TV shows and they've easily being overshadowed by Amazon's various box office and awards hits like Manchester By The Sea and Love & Friendship. But 2016 showed the company was capable of releasing some high-quality feature films such as The 13th (one of the year's best movies) and now Blue Jay helps solidify the idea that Netflix may just get a handle on the motion picture side of the entertainment equation yet. I have no clue why Blue Jay hasn't garnered more attention but make no mistake, it's quite the gem of a motion picture.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Endearing If Overly Familiar Dangal Lacks Depth But Carries Its Fair Share Of Cheer-Worthy Moments

I'm personally woefully ignorant when it comes to Indian-originated cinema, so the chance to see Dangal (which looks to be well on its way to becoming the biggest Indian-based film ever at the U.S. box office) was a great chance to step out of my comfort zone and become more acquainted with one of the largest film industries on the planet. Doing some brief research before seeing Dangal, I was curious to discover the existence of Aamir Khan, an actor whose one of the most prolific actors in his home country and sets box office records left and right with each new movie he headlines. Discovering him and his career even just by way of looking at his IMDB filmography was fun and I'm curious to delve into his earlier work as well as plenty of other noteworthy slices of Indian cinema in the near future.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Passengers Is A Bumpy Ride

WARNING: Like Collateral Beauty from a few weeks ago, Passengers is a movie whose marketing has outright lied to audiences by concealing the actual plot of the movie its advertising. To talk about the movie in any way shape or form, I'll have to talk about very basic plot elements introduced from the get-go in the movie that are only spoilers because the ads for Passengers have concealed them from viewers. OK? Okee-dokee, onto the review!

It's nice that Passengers has a polished look to it in terms of production design. The spaceship the two lead characters inhabit is nicely brought to life by way of some solid looking sets and I enjoy that the various technological marvels to be found on the ship are treated in the same way Futurama and Star Wars treated their own futuristic gizmo's; as everyday nuisances, in the same way we might gripe about an iPad mildly malfunctioning despite such a device being unthinkable to exist even as late as a decade ago. That's a unique enough approach that also leads to some brief diversions into dark humor that I wish Passengers had utilized more instead of just dipping its toes into the waters of mildly dark humor two or three times.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

STX And EuropaCorp Are Coming Together Like a Movie Studio Version Of Voltron

2016 was not kind to EuropaCorp RED, the U.S. distribution arm of movie studio EuropaCorp. Though the studio had seen plenty of hits in the past by way of the Taken movies and Lucy, well, their forays into U.S. self-distribution had been an outright disaster. An attempt to reboot the Transporter movie in September 2015 got the studio off to a disastrous start and it'd be 11 whole months before they had another release, Nine Lives, which became a critical punching bag and a big box office dud. At least that Barry Sonnenfeld comedy grossed over $10 million, something that can't be said for their other two 2016 releases, Shut In and the underrated Miss Sloane.

The Fits Moves To Its Own Kind Of Engaging Rhythm

Fitting in can be such a challenge when you're a youngster. I sill struggle to adapt to social circles as a current College student and what not, but you're out in the real world now where there are other vital things that require your attention so your social circle isn't the sole facet of your world. By contrast, all throughout one's life from Kindergarten to your Senior Year in High School though, it feels like nothing but your social life matters. Whose popular, who's not, who am I friends with today, am I still friends with this or that person, it all feels like the most important aspects of the entire universe. Needless to say, one's social statures in these formative years of our lives can be an extremely important thing.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Well Now, Ben Affleck May Not Even Make A Batman Movie, How About That?

Ben Affleck has a new movie entitled Live By Night opening in wide release next weekend, so naturally, all of the press interviews he's done for the movie concern reporters asking him question about why he chose to tell a story like Live By Night that is set in the Prohibition era, how he's grown as a director over the past decade and maybe his thoughts on the bigger picture of cinema in the world in 2016. Nah, just messing with ya, everyone's been asking him about that stand-alone Batman he's set to star in and direct. Previously, Affleck himself had said conflicting reports about the status the movie; he recently said it was aiming to start filming in the Spring (something actor Joe Manganiello backed up) while other times it was still in the development phase. 

Rogue One Rules The New Year's Box Office While Hidden Figures Reigns Over Limited Releases

There may have been no new wide releases this weekend, but there was still plenty to talk about at the domestic box office this weekend, including the total yearly box office for 2016. First though, yep, Rogue One was at the top of the box office again with $49.5 million (a 23% decrease from last weekend), bringing the Star Wars movies domestic total to a whopping $424.9 million in 17 days. It appears this one will end its domestic run with a great $550-570 million domestically. Meanwhile, in second place, fellow Christmas 2016 titan Sing had a hefty increase from last weekend, going up 21% to add $41 million to its domestic cume that now stands at $166.4 million. Look for this one to handily cross $200 million by the time Saturday rolls around and it may even make a run for $300 million if it holds well throughout January.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Free State Of Jones Is As Tedious As It Is Sprawling

All good things must come to an end and that includes Matthew McConaughey's recent resurgence as a leading man. Starting with The Lincoln Lawyer in March 2011, McConaughey has had a streak of unique and high quality films like Mud and Magic Mike to appear in that showed new facets of what he could bring to the table as an actor. This past June brought out his newest starring vehicle, Free State Of Jones, which landed with a thud and quickly vanished without a trace from movie theaters across the globe. Having finally caught up with it, it's not exactly a shocker it had such a short theatrical life.