Sunday, April 30, 2017

How Did The Circle End Up Being This Poorly-Made?

Every director has their misfires in their filmography, with even one of the all-time greats like Steven Spielberg having films like Hook or The Lost World: Jurassic Park in their filmography. But it's always a disappointment when a director I seriously like manages to craft a dud, kinda like when a parent realizes their kid has committed some kind of crime, y'know? You know they're better than this, how could this have happened? In the case of The Circle, it's director James Ponsoldt, the filmmaker behind The End Of The Tour and the particularly excellent 2013 drama The Spectacular Now, that stumbles here when he tackles the world of cyber-security and internet privacy.

We Don't Have To Go Home, We Can Leave The Sleight On

Depending on your age, you may have heard the Pilot tune Magic for the first time as a pop tune on the radio in the 1970's or, if you're in my generation, maybe you got introduced to it by way of 21st century pop culture entities like Wizards Of Waverly Place or Doogal (the latter movie is where I first heard the song). Regardless of where you first heard it, the song has become a prominent fixture of retro radio stations, background music in stores and iPod playlists everywhere. Why? Hey, people love magic, especially the idea of the fantastical existing in our super mundane and depressing world. It's only natural a song imploring you not give up on your belief of magic would resonate with the populace.

The Fate Of The Furious Wins The Box Office For The Last Time While Latin Lover And Baahubali 2 Overperform

For the third weekend in a row, The Fate Of The Furious led the box office, though, compared to last weekend, the newcomers at least had some energy to them. But before we get to the newbies let's quickly look at The Fate Of the Furious, which grossed $19.4 million this weekend to bring its domestic cume up to $192.4 million. That's about a 49% drop from last weekend, slightly better than the 51% drop Furious 7 had in its third weekend. The Fate Of The Furious was really kicking it overseas though, where its current $867.6 million international gross meant it soared past $1 billion. It's likely this one becomes only the sixth film in history to crack $1 billion overseas, an incredible feat for the film.

Grossing $12 million in second place was How To Be A Latin Lover, which scored a fantastic debut at only 1,118 venues for a per-theater average of $10,750. Eugenio Derbez scored a massive hit with his last film Instructions Not Included, so it's no surprise he garnered a major fanbase strong enough to carry further movies he headlined to similarly successful results. Plus, we haven't had a lot of comedies this year nor are there ever a  huge influx of movies starring Hispanic actors, so you're filling a lot of underserved niches there. If this one doesn't fall off a cliff after this weekend, it could hit as high as $35 million when all is said and done.

Waaaaaay overperforming this weekend (I didn't even see many box office analysts predict this one would crack the top ten movies this weekend) was Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which grossed $10.1 million at only 425 theaters for a $23,764 per-theater average. which is a larger opening weekend per-theater average than all but one wide release so far this year. It's also the third-biggest domestic opening weekend for a foreign language film. Super expensive ticket prices (my local theater was charging $23 bucks for normal tickets for this movie) didn't hurt this one's box office performance but this kind of incredible feat can only be accomplished due to fervent anticipation and strong marketing. The fact that its predecessor apparently led directly into a sequel couldn't hurt either.

Behind both of those lower-profile overachievers was an Emma Watson/Tom Hanks thriller, The Circle, which became the newest misfire for the officially struggling mini-studio STX Films (I guess they're called that now instead of STX Entertainment if the logo I saw before The Circle is any indication). Grossing only $9.3 million this weekend, that's a poor debut that makes it only the fourteenth Tom Hanks title to open in wide release below $10 million. The Circle also scored a D+ CinemaScore from audiences and non-horror movies getting grades below C is almost unheard of. That does not bode well for how this one plays out in the coming weekends.

Rounding out the top five was The Boss Baby with another $9 million, a 29% dip from last weekend that brings this animated comedies domestic total to $148.4 million. Fellow March 2017 family movie Beauty And The Beast made another $6.4 million, a 34% dip that brings its own domestic sum up to a massive $480.1 million. Continuing to also hold well was Going In Style eased only 27% to gross another $3.5 million for a $37.1 million domestic haul. Going down only 32% this weekend was Smurfs: The Lost Village, meaning its now grossed $3.31 million for a $37.3 million domestic total. Easing 28%  to gross another $3.3 million was Gifted, which has now amassed $15.8 million after playing for 24 days.

Rounding out the top ten was Unforgettable, with the Rosario Dawson thriller falling 51% to gross an additional $2.3 million for a 10 day total of only $8.8 million. Right behind it was Born In China, which added $2.2 million this weekend, which was a 53% drop from last weekend, a waaaaay steeper drop than the sub-25% drops of the last two DisneyNature documentaries. With only $8.6 million accumulated in ten days, it's very likely Born In China falls beneath the $15.4 million cume of 2011's African Cats to become the lowest grossing DisneyNature movie. Expanding its theater to 866 locations this frame was The Lost City Of Z, which grossed another $1.7 million (an 18% drop from last weekend) for a $2,001 per-theater average and a 17-day domestic total of $4.8 million.

Debuting this weekend to decent numbers was Sleight, a new film from WWE Films and BH Tilt (an offshoot of Blumhouse Productions that distributes certain titles with lower theater counts and promotional efforts), which debuted to $1.6 million at 565 locations for a per-theater average of $2,991, which is actually a better per-theater average than the star-studded and more heavily pushed The Circle. I'd imagine BH Tild hoped for better, but considering the lower level of promotion this one had, this debut isn't too bad and it actually scored a better per-theater average than any past BH Tilt title. It'll probably vanish quickly in the face of the new Guardians movie next weekend but this is a not bad bow for a movie I personally thoroughly enjoyed.

Plummeting this weekend was The Promise, which grossed only $1.4 million, meaning this historical drama has only grossed $7 million in ten days. Yikes! Speaking of yikes, Phoenix Forgotten went down 58% in its second weekend to gross only $770,000, giving it a current domestic total of $3.1 million. Continuing to expand their theater counts while slightly decreasing in their weekend box office revenue were a pair of early April 2017 arthouse titles, one of them being Colossal, which expanded into 326 locations and grossed $502,130 (a 13% dip from last weekend) for a $1,540 per-theater-average and a current domestic box office haul of $2 million. The other one in that pairing was Their Finest, which grossed $500,000 (a 6% dip from last weekend) for a $1,515 per-theater average and a $1.8 million current domestic total. Finally, Free Fire fell 71% in its second weekend, grossing only $287,818 for a current domestic cume of only $1.7 million.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $82.8 million, which is middle of the road as far as the final weekend of April's go. However, it did mean April 2017 narrowly (and boy do I mean narrowly, I think we managed to accomplish this by only a few thousand dollars) beat out April 2011 to become the biggest April at the domestic box office of all-time.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's Time For A Charming Romantic-Comedy With Blast From The Past

When the nuclear apocalypse comes (and considering Trump's daily tantrums, that may come sooner rather than later), we shall gather around fires and tell tales of the past, before the world came crashing around all of us. It'll be like that scene in Reign Of Fire where Christian Bale and Gerard Butler retell the Star Wars movies to a new group of youngsters in order to spark their imaginations and keep the power of stories alive. Yarns shall be spun and one such tale that shall be passed onto the post-apocalyptic denizens of the future will be the legend of leading man Brendan Fraser, who, for some reason, got abandoned by Hollywood in the 2010's despite showing some very clear talent as a leading man.

A Hundred Years, Er, Days Of Trump: Everything Awful, Oh God, Somebody Do Something

Today is the one-hundredth day of Donald Trump's presidency.

I never would have thought I'd have to type those words nor would I ever want to type that sentence, but here we are, through the looking glass and all that.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Shoah Is A Devastating Look At Past Atrocities Through Riveting Present-Day Testimonies

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #28
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #29 (tied with Stalker)

I've been pondering how exactly to start this review, since it's difficult to figure out an introduction that would be proper for a review of the 1985 documentary Shoah. Us critics tend to label a lot of movies as "important" to the point of the word losing its original intended meaning, but Shoah truly is a motion picture more than worthy of being dubbed as an important piece of art. Here is an entire movie dedicated to chronicling video interviews with many individuals involved in some way shape or form with the Holocaust, one of the deadliest genocides to ever be committed on this planet that transpired in the early 1940's.

A Dream Crate Dedicated To Iconic Movie Directors (A Post Brought To You By Loot Crate)

Last week, I got a most unique e-mail in my inbox....a request from the company Loot Crate, the organization that sends a box full of various goodies and items to people centered on various themes for a monthly fee. The idea of a major organization contacting me, some little o'l country boy film geek from Texas, was quite the shock to me, and after that shock wore off, I got accustomed to the assignment they wanted me to write up on. Turns out, they were asking various outlets to write up a post on their websites to create a post centered on the concept of what these writers would love to see in a "dream crate", in other words, one of these loot crates that they could fill with whatever what they wanted tying into whatever theme or concept they wanted. Just as a heads up for the curious, you can also write up your own vision for your own dream crate on your own website if you do so choose, you do not need to be contacted by Loot Crate to do this.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Check Out MovieBob's Take On How The Matrix Is Really That Good! (From The Interwebs)

MovieBob is totally one of my favorite movie critics, a guy whose work as a YouTube film critic offers hope to a medium of expression oversaturated with PewdiePie knock-offs and shallow examples of film criticism. This is a guy who goes for analytical observations of movies, proving once again (much like The Dissolve or Roger Ebert's numerous internet essays) that internet-based film criticism can be a good thing, much as CinemaSins would make you understandably think otherwise! And today, MovieBob's released another entry in a series of long-form video essays he's dubbed Really That Good.

Summer 2017 Box Office Predictions (Part One)

April is winding down as is yet another semester of my college experience, so you know what that means....summer is almost here! That means there's plenty of summer movies to look at, so how about we do another entry in my annual Summer Box Office Predictions column? Following the way we did things the last two years, this column is split into two parts, with the first part (which you're reading right now!) concerning my predictions on what will be the ten biggest movies of the summer and the second part (which should be up over the weekend) concerning my predictions for what will be sleeper hits, wild cards (movies that could go either way financiall) and potential box office misfires amonsgt this summer's movies!

Let's get these top ten predictions started with...

1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Is there any other likely victor for this summer's box office? For the fifth out of six summers (sans 2015 when Jurassic World became a juggernaut), Marvel Studios should have the biggest live-action movie of the summer. I'd suspect this one will have a notably bigger opening weekend than its predecessor (maybe as high as 50% higher) but no way it holds as well simply because early May films are more frontloaded than early August films because of the massive amount of competition May movies face. Even while being more frontloaded than its predecessor, expect this new Guardians movie to be a hefty box office phenomenon and one that will likely crack $1 billion worldwide as well.

Total Gross: $350 million

2. Despicable Me 3
Gru and his Minions show no sign of slowing down at the box office if 2015's Minions is any indication and this new Despicable Me adventure should continue the franchise's massive box office returns. It's doubtful it surpasses the domestic cume of Despicable Me 2 simply because third movies (with the exception of the occasional Toy Story 3, Return Of The King or Madagascar 3) don't outgross the second entries in major franchises but it should remain on par with Minions domestically and will likely be the biggest movie of the summer on a worldwide box office basis easily.

Total Gross: $340 million
3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
The new Marvel Studios approved version of Spider-Man should show a notable improvement over the two Amazing Spider-Man movies where domestic box office is concerned, though the fact that it's the sixth Spider-Man movie in 15 years means it won't have the novelty factor of recent Marvel movies. Ads have gone for a more generic superhero movie tone compared to other Marvel features as well but the advent of a younger protagonist, a High School setting, Michael Keaton as a baddie and the presence of Tony Stark should keep this one as a notable box office force to be reckoned with.

Total Gross: $325 million

4. Wonder Woman
We're five weeks out from the release of the very first live-action Wonder Woman movie but you wouldn't know it judging by the bizarre lack of marketing right now. That's some cause for major concern, but it shouldn't keep this one from being a sizeable hit, even if it's likely to be the lowest-grossing DC Extended Universe movie yet (a feat mitigated by the fact that it's supposedly cheaper than the three past DCEU features). The ads have made sure to emphasize a lighter tone and plenty of spectacles, two elements that typically add up to major hits. What's interesting too is that this one is opening in the first weekend of June, a place typically (though not always as seen by X-Men: First Class) reserved for titles counter-programming against blockbusters like The Fault In Our Stars, The Purge and Spy, meaning Wonder Woman should end up being one of the biggest movies ever opening in this timeframe.

Total Gross: $260 million

5. War For The Planet Of The Apes
Remember that rule I mentioned about third entries in sagas typically making less than their predecessors? There are exceptions to that rule and I wouldn't be surprised to see the third title in the reboot (or prequel, it's kinda unclear beyond some Easter Eggs in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) series of Planet Of The Apes movies go bananas at the domestic box office and chalk up impressive grosses thanks to a marketing campaign that's been firing on all cylinders right now, not to mention the fact that it's coming off of two highly beloved movies. A 15% increase over the domestic cume of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes sounds about right to me right now and there's totally the potential to go higher.

Total Gross: $240 million

6. Cars 3
Normally, the new PIXAR movie (so long as it isn't The Good Dinosaur) is the talk of the town and something that's a box office heavyweight. This summer though, Cars 3 definitely feels like it's the underdog compared to the newest Despicable Me movie and when taking into account the more mixed reception its predecessors received. Luckily, that first Cars is so beloved that it's doubtful this one capsizes to Good Dinosaur levels of domestic box office, but it's also doubtful Cars 3 avoids plunging beneath the domestic total of Cars 2 even with distinctive marketing elements to its name like that tonally unexpected teaser trailer running before all screenings of Rogue One.

Total Gross: $185 million

7. Transformers: The Last Knight
Look, I don't like the Transformers movies, I hated the fourth one but personal opinion doesn't factor into these columns, ya gotta get analytical on these things and there's just not much data here to suggest the newest Transformers movie is gonna have a massive downturn from the fourth movie. Granted, a dip is almost certainly happening because this movie doesn't have the novelty factor of seeing Mark Wahlberg enter the franchise that the fourth film had, but since there's no other big movies opening over the lucrative 4th of July holiday, not to mention that these movies typically go over well with general moviegoers, this newest Transformers movie should easily be one of the ten biggest movies of the summer and make a killing worldwide.

Total Gross: $180 million

8. Dunkirk
Dunkirk is kind of an outlier in this list, being a big-budget non-sequel war drama, but underestimate Christopher Nolan at your own peril, The guys wrung box office hits out of Batman, dreams and space travel, you'd be crazy to think a large-scale World War II movie doesn't at least have a chance to achieve similar levels of box office success. Early trailers have been smart to emphasize small human beings in a big war, including notable names like recent Academy Award winner Mark Rylance and Mad Max himself, Tom Hardy. There's also a guy named Harry Styles in it, tell me, does he have a big fanbase who would see the movie in droves?

Total Gross: $170 million

9. Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Jack Sparrow is back and though Disney's struggled with marketing this $325 million budgeted movie in the wake of Johnny Depp being outed as a wife beater (which makes marketing stunts like him appearing as Jack Sparrow at Disneyland.....weird, at least to me), but Dead Men Tell No Tales will probably end up doing OK. My box office comparison for this one is X-Men: Apocalypse, another entry in a long-running series that came out over Memorial Day last year. X-Men: Apocalypse did OK business domestically that fell way below its predecessor and something similar is likely in store for this new Pirates adventure.

Total Gross: $165 million
10. The House
We've actually got quite a few R-rated comedies this summer that are promising from a box office perspevive but likely to be the biggest of all of them is the new Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler comedy The House. Both of the lead actors are well-liked, the premise combines relatable situations with a more high-concept element and the trailer got a huge response on my screening of Going In Style. Plus, Ferrell's still got a strong box office track record even after nearly 15 years as a leading man so don't ever count out his newest summer comedy.

Total Gross: $140 million

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Histoire(s) du Cinema Is An Academic Exercise That's Frequently Incoherent

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #27
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #48 (tied with The Battle Of Algiers)

Looks like I'm gonna have to adjust my reviewing procedures in order to properly tackle Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema. Just five minutes into this extended movie (which is broken up into eight individual segments), it was apparent I couldn't use the same reviewing barometers I used for, say, Going In Style recently. This isn't a conventional narrative film, but that's true of a lot of Godard's work. Histoire(s) du Cinema goes even further and isn't even trying to be like Godard's more abstract and unconventional dramas, it's basically an exercise in exploring the past of cinema in incredibly avant-garde ways that's mostly been made for himself and film academics.

My Thoughts On The New Cars 3 Trailer

Like all summers since 2006 (sans 2014), the hot months of this years bring forth a new PIXAR movie, with this year's newest movie being Cars 3, the newest entry in the animated saga that aggravates adults and sells billions of dollars in merchandise to children. I'm a big fan of the first Cars movie myself despite some major flaws in it (Lightning McQueen may be the worst protagonist in a PIXAR movie, save for Mater in Cars 2) but that second Cars movie really was the pits. Can Cars 3 turn things around for the franchise? I've got no clue but that first teaser trailer brought an ominous atmosphere that was unexpected at least.

Monday, April 24, 2017

We Didn't Start The (Free) Fire, It Was Always Burning Since The Bullets Were Firing

I've never been much of a gun guy in my everyday life (even as a Texan, a Cabella's store is more puzzling than enticing to me) but I never have an issue with gun-oriented movies, especially when they're top quality like the John Wick films or the first and fourth Die Hard movies (the two best ones in that franchise....come at me internet!). Ben Wheatley's Free Fire doesn't reach those heights of quality but still manages to be some solid grisly fun. It's a shoot-em-up that keeps things simple (maybe a little too simple), confined and directly fixated on two things: over-the-top characters and bullets flying everywhere.

Ugetsu Shows The Price We Pay For Too Much Escapism

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #26
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #50 (tied with City Lights and La Jetee)

Over here in America, we've been taking a fancy to remaking American fairy tale movies (which are typically based on folklore from other countries because what don't we steal from other places and claim as our own?) that have a strong nostalgic connection with general audiences with the likes of Beauty And The Beast and Cinderella. Back in 1953, director Kenji Mizoguchi undertook a similar task of reconfiguring well-known stories into a new cinematic incarnation though, in his case, he was handling two 18th century stories penned by Ueda Akinari that would make up the groundwork for the motion picture known as Ugetsu.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Fate Of The Furious Wins The Box Office Again As Newcomers Like Unforgettable And Free Fire Struggle

Five new movies debuted in wide release this weekend and none of them fared all that well, meaning this was one of the more quiet weekends we’ve had in recent memory at the domestic box office. Sitting atop the box office for the second weekend in a row was The Fate Of The Furious, which took in another $38.6 million this weekend, a 61% drop from last weekend which is larger than the 59% drop of Furious 7. In ten days, it's grossed $163.5 million and is also already at $905 million worldwide, so this one should be cracking $1 billion any day now. So while this one’s gonna easily end up below the domestic cume of Furious and even Fast & Furious 6, the mammoth overseas numbers are keeping this franchise more than profitable.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Can A Man Go On After Seeing The Horrors Of War? Brothers Examines that Very Question To Fantastic Results


Those Amazing Spider-Man movies unleashed a number of terrible things upon our world, but one of the worst was this phenomenon I saw where the arrival of a new Spider-Man immediately meant the previous incarnation of the character must be torn down and defiled lest he distract even a tiny bit from Andrew Garfield's Spider-Stalker interpretation of the character (which wasted an absolutely phenomenal actor in regards to Andrew Garfield). I saw too many social media posts declaring Tobey Maguire to be a "weird" actor who was "whiny" and "stupid" and all that jazz and that just struck me as so weird and as shallow criticisms.

A Strong Jessica Chastain Performance, A Quiet Atmosphere And Some Cute Animals Are All Notable Elements Of The Zookeeper's Wife

The opening scene of The Zookeeper's Wife is so awesome and something I would have been more than happy to watch for six or seven hours or even longer. For a few minutes, we get to just see Jessica Chastain romp around the zoo she runs with her husband and it's so cool to see her interact with or feed a large number of wild animals. Seeing a gigantic hippo tranquilly eat some apples or watching a tiny camel run alongside Chastain's character riding on a bicycle is quite the entertaining sight. Bonus points for having a scene not long afterward centered on a super adorable baby elephant, even if it does involve the baby elephant in grave peril!

Friday, April 21, 2017

In The World Of La Jetee, Time Travel Can't Solve Everything

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #25
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #50 (tied with City Lights and Ugetsu)

And now it's time for the only short film on the Sight & Sound Greatest 50 Films List, La Jetee. This one's a French short film from director Chris Marker, one that uses high-concept notions of time travel to probe into universal human experiences, just like all of the great time travel movies such as Back To The Future, Looper, The Terminator and NOT Hot Tub Time Machine 2. This one's use of time travel hews closer to the likes of the Terminator movies in terms of tone and setting though due to it utilizing time travel in a post-apocalyptic setting where hope has become scarce and time travel is seen as a last hope to help the human race.

There Plenty Of Murder, Incredible Performances And Riveting Writing In The Amazing Second Season Of Fargo


Noah Hawley pulled off one impressive magic trick with the first season of Fargo, managing to create the rare TV show based on a movie that not only wasn't hot garbage but was also a great piece of television in its own right. The main question hovering over my mind as I began to watch the second season of Fargo was whether or not Hawley could keep up this level of quality established in the first season, a task near impossible in my mind. Well, uh, he did just that. Fargo Season Two is even better than the first season and a sprawling masterpiece that somehow manages to balance a bevy of plotlines and coalesce them into something constantly riveting.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Way We Approach Christianity Makes Up The Core Of The Magnificent Ordet

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #24
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #19

One of the best parts about going through all these Sight & Sound 50 Greatest Films titles is discovering so many great movies centered around theology. I'm a proud Christian but I've been dismayed that thought-provoking modern-day Christian movies are few and far in between (though Noah and Silence do prove they can exist!). But going through all these movies has allowed me to discover a number of faith-oriented movies I would have likely taken forever to discover otherwise, one's that blow the likes of God's Not Dead and War Room out of the water and then some. As you likely suspect by now, one such film is the 1995 Carl Theodore Dryer movie Ordet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm Starting With The Man In Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #23
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #19

When you create a piece of art, it's difficult to not have a piece of you be imprinted on the project (Though Lord knows there's plenty of instances of films or shows or other forms of art being taken away from the creators by higher-ups), like your Voldemort and the Horcrux you're putting your soul into is some kind of movie or book or what have you. With Andrei Tarkovsky, the two other movies of his that I've seen (Andrei Rublev and Stalker) have recurring filmmaking traits and storytelling elements that already seem to ooze with Tarkovsky's personal quirks and fascinations, but now here comes Mirror, a movie that serves as a deep dive into the man's psyche to a startling and fascinating degree.

Captain Marvel Gets Directors In The Form Of Duo Ryan Fleck And Anna Boden

There's one movie left in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has yet to get a director...Captain Marvel. Considering the idiosyncratic choices to helm recent Phase Three movies like Ryan Coogler and Taika Waititi, I was super duper intrigued to see who they got for movie. Apparently eyeballing a female director (which Hollywood should be doing way more often given the dismally small number of women who direct major Hollywood features), the hunt has been on for months with plenty of notable names being brought up. Now, we know who's doing....directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Swear To Cod, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen Is An Incredibly Tedious Movie

Like Cameron Crowe's 2011 movie We Bought A Zoo, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen received a lot of online-based rib-poking based on its unorthodox animal-based title. It's a mouthful for sure and I'd imagine they'd have likely just called it Gone Fishin' if that wasn't already the title of a 1997 Joe Pesci/Danny Glover comedy everybody has long forgotten about. But, this is the title it was dealt with and at least it didn't prevent it from getting a Golden Globe Best Picture nod, though unfortunately for this movie in regards to my review, it's lengthy title is at the very bottom of the complaints I have with this overly tedious feature.

Painless But Sorely Lacking In Laughs Is The Best Way To Describe Going In Style

I really wish Morgan Freeman would go back to doing more dramatic acting work. Who can blame the guy for taking easy paychecks in this late stage of his career (dude's more than earned it!) but the novelty of seeing this gravely serious man with a voice like no other human being on the planet goofing it up in more light-hearted fare like Batman Begins, Red and The LEGO Movie was fun for a while for sure, especially in The LEGO Movie where he parodied the exact kind of persona he's always being casted as. But after more than a decade of him lampooning his own image by appearing in genre fare, I dunno, I just wish he'd do more serious films again instead of another Olympus Has Fallen sequel where he just sits in a room for twenty minutes.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Step Brothers Is Another Jewel In Will Ferrel's Early 21st Century Comedy Crown

He's had a recent string of duds thanks to the likes of more middle-of-the-road comedies like The Campaign and Anchorman 2 and outright disasters like Get Hard and Daddy's Home, but Will Ferrell still remains one of my favorite comedians out there. Not even a hundred more movies even worse than Get Hard could erase the value of Elf, Anchorman and The Other Guys, three of my favorite comedies that utilize Ferrell's talents as an actor to phenomenal success. Despite my status as a Ferrell fanboy, I somehow haven't seen Step Brothers in its nearly-decade long existence. That managed to finally change this past weekend when I sat down to view the comedy.

The Fate Of The Furious Wins The Weekend With Solid Debut That's Below Furious 7's Bow

If it's April, that can mean only one thing.....both the Easter Bunny and a new Fast & Furious adventure are speeding your way! This year, the newest entry in the series was The Fate Of The Furious, which managed to gross about $100 million exactly over the weekend, good for the third biggest opening weekend ever in April behind the $147 million bow of Furious 7 and the $105 million debut of The Jungle Book from last year. It's also now only the second movie of 2017 to crack $100 million in its opening weekend, joined only by Beauty And The Beast.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Take Me Home...T2: Trainspotting....To The Place...I Beloooooong...."

The track record of long-delayed follow-ups to highly beloved pop culture properties isn't exactly littered with tons of success stories. Two notable examples of this trend came in 2013, when Arrested Development came back with a narratively ambitious new season that was OK but not quite as successful as its initial seasons while Anchorman 2 reunited Ron Burgundy with his news team for occasionally humorous but mostly just scattered antics. I'd imagine director Danny Boyle knew about this trend going into the making of T2: Trainspotting, a follow-up to the 1996 film Trainspotting, and if he did, he'd likely be happy to know that T2: Trainspotting is a massive departure from that trend in that it's a worthy follow-up to the original movie.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Fate Of The Furious Takes The Car-Filled Franchise To So-So Territory

Out of the seven Fast & Furious movies that have come before The Fate Of The Furious, I've seen all but two of them, the sole exceptions being 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Otherwise though, I've been able to see the other five entries in this saga and now I've also been privy to The Fate Of The Furious, the eighth installment in the greatest car racing spy heist action franchise in history behind The Apu Trilogy. After three gloriously unhinged action movies in a row, it pains me to say that The Fate Of The Furious goes to more routine and repetitive areas that harken back to the middling first and fourth movies in the series.

You Betcha That The First Season Of Fargo Is An Outstanding Piece Of Television!

TV shows based on movies don't exactly have the best track record, when you stop to think about it. As a kid, I watched loads of kids programs based on classic Disney animated movies that couldn't hold a candle to the feature films they were leaning heavily on (The Emperor's New School is totally a thing that existed at one point in time for reasons no one can fathom) and many others in this genre (such as last year's heavily derided Rush Hour TV show) have similarly failed to gain traction. But no subgenre of storytelling is inherently flawed and you've got still got programs like M*A*S*H that people adore.

Friday, April 14, 2017

My Thoughts On The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer

OK folks, this is another trailer post where I won't be babbling for long. Let's get to the trailer we've all been waiting for for so long......the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

Well now, if that don't look dandy!

This is very much a teaser trailer, akin to that very first teaser we got for The Force Awakens all the way back in November 2014 (remember when we were all so hungry for that footage? My how time flies....) in that it basically gives us some establishing shots of the new characters and two classic figures (Leia and Luke). No footage that I could see of newbie characters like Rose (the most prominent new character, a technician played by Kelly Marie Tran) or the other new figures played by Benicio Del Toro or Laura Dern. That's fine by me though; we've got eight months to go until the movie's release, don't spoil everything for me!

What footage we do get looks quite memorable (those ships flying over the desert with their red gas is especially noteworthy) and that final line from Luke Skywalker do seem to indicate (combined with Daisy Ridley mentioning at a Star Wars Celebration panel today that "sometimes your heroes don't live up to your expectations") that Luke is gonna be a complex figure in this movie, which sounds super intriguing to me. Consider me plenty hyped for this one and eager to see more from Rian Johnson's foray into the Star Wars universe!

Oh yeah, and that poster is AMAZING!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Why Ya Gotta Be Gertrud? Don't You Know I'm Human Too?"

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #22
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #42 (tied with Panter Panchali, Some Like It Hot, Pierrot Le Fou, Playtime and Close-Up)

Just as it can be tricky to keep the flame on a candle lit for an extended period of time, so it is that attempting to keep romantic connections that just aren't clicking going is a similarly futile effort that'll just hurt both parties in the long term despite seeming like an easy band-aid to the whole predicament in the short time. This isn't really an all that complex solution, but it's one that many don't want to embrace since it'll mean they'll experience endless amounts of despair stemming from the end of a relationship they hold near and dear. It's a tough situation to be in and it appears Gertrud, the star of, well, Gertrud, has decided to go for the quick option and just cut things off right away.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easy A Has Some Major Story Issues And Also Some Strong Humor And Acting From Emma Stone

Before the surprisingly high number of amazing High School movies we've had this decade (namely, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Spectacular Now, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl and The Edge Of Seventeen), before Emma Stone won an Oscar and before Will Gluck directed that remake of Annie I totally forgot about before now (I never actually saw it, surprisingly), there was the High School comedy Easy A, a trailer for which I saw on the sing-a-long version of Grease all the way back in July 2010. I had wanted to see the movie after seeing the trailer that fateful day, but for some reason, it's taken me nearly seven whole years to see the actual movie!

Satantango Is Challenging Cinema That Shatters Conventions As Often As It Makes Powerful Imagery

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #21
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #35 (tied with Metropolis, Psycho and Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles)

"Pushing the envelope" feels like an ill-suited descriptor for what director Bela Tarr is doing with his filmmaking in Satantango, the dude's practically challenging every convention known in the artform to fit his creative vision. While Satantango is my first time watching a movie from the Hungarian filmmaker, it's obvious this guy has got more ambition in his finger than many other directors have in their entire bodies. Now, to be perfectly frank here, that ambition does result in a movie that's frustrating in some aspects (and outright painful in one extended sequence) but actually becomes quite haunting in a way few movies could hope to be in its best moments. It's a give and take scenario, I suppose, when it comes to Bela Tarr's unique style of filmmaking.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Well, Night Shift Was Certainly Made In 1982, No Denying That

The vast majority of movies reflect a certain time period, whether it's the actual era they were made in or a specifically chosen past time period that's intended to reflect the themes of the story. Sometimes, these specific time periods manage to manifest themselves in subtle ways, other time, they come out in intentionally more overt mechanisms. And then there's Night Shift, a Ron Howard directed movie which wears the fact that it was made in the 1980's (1982 to be exact) on its sleeve just by the wardrobe choices of Michael Keaton's character and the presence an extended 1980's montage sequence alone. The fact that it's such an obvious time capsule of this decade is probably the most interesting thing about this breezy but super forgettable and messy comedy.

The Body-Switching Subgenre Gets Switched Up In The Super Well-Done Your Name.

Note: This review covers the version of Your Name. with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

The body switch subgenre (wherein two individuals switch bodies as shenanigans ensue) feels like it's been dead for a long while now. Chalk it up to there not being too many box office juggernauts in the subgenre unless they come with the Freaky Friday brand name or the fact that it's been parodied to death, but there's no denying the scarcity of this subgenre that was never all that ubiquitous to begin with. Your Name., an international box office juggernaut and particularly successful in its home country of Japan, dives head-first into the world of body switching storytelling and manages to inject some real clever twists into the formula as well as some surprisingly well-done depth that make it a real treat.

The Next Thor Movie Has Its First Brilliant Trailer

The Thor movies are definitely the sore spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that isn't Iron Fist or Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I like the first movie well enough and think the second one has its moments (most of them all coming from Tom Hiddleston) despite some heavily flawed storytelling. But this upcoming third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok, has had everyone eagerly anticipating for it one big reason: Taika Waititi. The man behind What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople is taking the director's chair. How can you not get excited for that???

Well, prepare to have your anticipation skyrocket further as the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok actually just drop, almost out of nowhere. Take a look below!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Life Is A Harsher Presence And Pather Panchali Filters That Truth Through Engrossing Writing And Acting

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #20
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #42 (tied with Some Like It Hot, Getrud, Pierrot Le Fou, Playtime and Close-Up)

There isn't much glamor in the way director Satyajit Ray films the living conditions his lead characters in Pather Panchali reside in and that's a key component of why the movie manages to be so enthralling, it feels like we, the audience, are getting a glimpse into an accurate depiction of a way of life foreign to me and many others but all too familiar for the real-life individuals Pather Panchali takes inspiration from. Satyajit Ray is not looking to gussy up the lives of these human beings to make it more palatable or what have you but rather desires to make an accurate depiction that can stand as a testament to their courage and sacrifices in the face of all the hardships of life.

The Boss Baby Wins The Box Office Again As Smurfs Get Lost And Going In Style Looks OK

It was a quieter weekend this frame, probably the most subdued box office weekend we've had in all of 2017 thus far as The Boss Baby was number one for the second weekend in a row, taking in another $26.3 million, a 47% drop from last weekend that's bigger than the second-weekend drops for March DreamWorks Animation releases The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon but slightly better than the second weekend drop of Home. The Boss Baby has now grossed $89.3 million in ten days. Meanwhile, in second place, Beauty And The Beast grossed $25 million, a 45% drop from last weekend that gives it the tenth biggest fourth weekend of all-time. Beauty And The Beast has now grossed $432.3 million and is currently the fifteenth biggest movie of all-time.

While we've had a number of family movie box office hits this year (The LEGO Batman Movie, Beauty And The Beast and The Boss Baby), not everything with a PG MPAA rating attached to it is gonna make tons of cash. The Smurfs: The Lost Village proved that this weekend by debuting to a dismal $14 million, below the opening weekend of both past Smurfs movies (the second of which burned off demand by opening on a Wednesday), the lowest opening weekend ever for a Sony Pictures Animation release that wasn't tied to Aardman and the first time a computer animated movie from one of the six big American movie studios opened to under $20 million since The Book Of Life in October 2014. Sony/Columbia has had a pretty dismal year so far and this new Smurfs movie that will struggle to clear $45 million domestically only adds more bad news to the pile.

Going In Style beat out weekend projections that didn't even have it clearing $10 million by debuting to $12.5 million, garnering a slightly bigger per-theater average ($4,084 vs. $3,882) than The Smurfs: The Lost Village. That $12.5 million bow isn't as strong as the $16.3 million debut of Last Vegas (another "elderly people get into wacky antics" comedy starring Morgan Freeman) and it still needs to make way more to cover its $25 million budget, but it's an OK debut that's better than the bows of the other two major comedies this year (Fist Fight and CHiPS).

Ghost In The Shell rounded out the top five by grossing another $7.3 million, a 60% drop from last weekend that brings its domestic cume to only $31.5 million in ten days. With The Fate Of The Furious on the way next weekend, it'd be shocking if this movie cracked $50 million domestically. Continuing to fall heavily after its opening weekend was Saban's Power Rangers, which grossed only $6.2 million, a 56% drop from last weekend, which shows this one is strictly resonating with family audiences and it's having trouble competing with Boss Baby and Beauty And The Beast. Saban's Power Rangers has grossed $75.1 million in eleven days and will likely end its domestic gross just under or over $90 million.

A March 2017 blockbuster holding way better right now is Kong: Skull Island, which went down only 32% to gross another $5.8 million, bringing its domestic gross to $156.5 million. Kong has also not also cracked $500 million worldwide but also surpassed the final $529.1 million worldwide cume of Godzilla, an impressive feat for the monkey business movie. Logan also continued to hold on well, adding another $4 million (a 33% dip from last weekend), bringing its domestic cume to $218 million, taking it past the $214.9 million domestic cume of X2: X-Men United. Adding another $4 million this weekend was Get Out, a tiny 29% dip from last weekend that brings its domestic cume to an amazing $162.8 million.

Per usual one weekend before Easter, a new Christian movie debuted, with this year's entry being The Case For Christ, which debuted to an OK $3.9 million, about 10% better than the Spring 2015 Pure Flix (the studio behind The Case For Christ) title Do You Believe? and slightly below the $4 million debut of fellow Pure Flix movie Woodlawn. This one should probably make a little over $10 million domestically, an alright total in terms of Christian movies.

The Zookeeper's Wife held well as it expanded into 806 theaters, grabbing another $2.8 million for a $3,584 per-theater average for a 10-day domestic total of $7.6 million. Could this get past $20 million domestically? I wouldn't be shocked! International box office phenomenon Your Name. finally debuted here domestically and actually opened to a solid $1.6 million at 303 theaters for a per-theater average of $5,281. That's the ninth biggest domestic bow for an Anime-Animated feature film and sixth biggest if you discount the Pokemon movies. No word yet on if Funimation has plans to expand the movies theater count in the weeks ahead.

Alright. now let's get to the other newbie limited releases. Bowing in 56 theaters this weekend was Gifted, which grossed $476,000 for a per-theater average of $8,500. Also debuting was Colossal, which took in $125,809 from 4 theaters for a per-theater average of $31,452. But those two weren't the only limited releases bowing this weekend, as Their Finest also premiered to $77,000 at 4 theaters for a per-theater average of $19,250. The Ticket, the first major movie from Shout! Factory as a theatrical distributor, also premiered this weekend, but I have no box office data for it yet. Finally, in bewildering developments, Before I Fall re-expanded into 268 theaters this weekend for no reason I can discern and grossed another $65,169 for an abysmal per-theater average of only $243. Before I Fall has now grossed $12.1 million.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed only $114.5 million, a middling total for an early April weekend and one of the lowest fourteenth weekends in any given year in recent memory (in this decade, the only fourteenth weekend to fare worse as in the box office dead zone of the first four months of 2011). This entire top 12 total will likely be exceeded by The Fate Of The Furious alone next weekend.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Personal Shopper Is A Fresh Take On Coping With Loss That Ain't Afraid Of No Ghost!

I've remarked in past reviews (namely my review of Manchester By The Sea) about how each of us grapples with the loss of loved ones in profoundly different ways. This also extends to how long each person copes with the passing of people near and dear to them. Some people can manage to filter all those emotions in a rapid manner and manage to go through the process of accepting this major quietus that has disrupted their lives, others take a much longer time to come to terms with this kind of event. No one ever fully overcomes the death of a loved one but it obviously varies in countless ways in terms of how long it can take people to return to a state of normalcy after these kinds of passings. For the protagonist of Personal Shopper, well, she may never be able to fully get over the death of a loved one that's causing her so much pain.

The Iron Giant More Than Earns It Status As A Masterpiece Through Incredible Storytelling

I am far from the first person whose ever wrote about how awesome The Iron Giant is as a piece of cinema. Coming at the tail end of the 1990's, a decade that had theatrical American animation reinvent itself as the a huge moneymaker after decades of dormancy after the death of Walt Disney, The Iron Giant was unlike anything else seen in that decades crop of animated fare. Most of the studios chasing the tail of Disney in this era, including the studio behind The Iron Giant (Warner Bros.) were looking to do the kind of musical fairy tales that Disney had turned into box office powerhouses, leading to a lot (and boy do I mean a lot) of animated fare that just boiled down to "Disney knock-off".

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Uber Endearing Fun And Cool Dragon Action Make Reign Of Fire A Real Treat!

There were a bunch of high-quality blockbusters that made heaps of cash in the summer of 2002, such as the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie (still one of the high points of superhero cinema), Lilo & Stitch and Minority Report. But you did have a bunch of outright abysmal movies also selling lots of tickets (a phenomenon far from uncommon in the summertime), such as the worst Star Wars movie, Attack Of The Clones, that live-action Scooby-Doo abomination and a middling Men In Black sequel. It's a pity those three duds were able to ride brand name recognition to major success while the vastly superior original movie Reign Of Fire had to settle for box office scraps.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Thoughts On The Nutty News That Squirrel Girl Is Going To Star In A Marvel TV Show!

So, it looks like the movie side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe constantly dragging its feet when it comes to doing any type of female-led project (where is that Black Widow movie we've all been wanting for so long?) means, once again, another notable female superhero from their comic books will be heading to the small screen instead, following Jessica Jones and Inhumans characters Medusa and Crystal. That character in question is Squirrel Girl, whom The Hollywood Reporter notes will star in a New Warriors TV show for Freeform, the network formerly known as ABC Family.

A Load Of Pointless Computer Effects Trickery Can't Boost The Serviceable But Substance-Free Beowulf

For a good chunk of the first decade of the 21st century, Robert Zemeckis devoted himself to being the first filmmaker to dabble in the world of full motion-capture animation (a process whereby actors wear special suits and have their movements put onto CGI characters) movies, a subgenre that basically died off after 2011, though motion-capture animation itself has become quite the frequent presence in live-action movies like the two most recent Star Wars movies. Two of those three efforts were The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol, a duo of family-skewing Christmas movies. Naturally, in between those movies, Zemeckis also used the motion-capture animation artform to create one of only four American computer-animated movies to get an MPAA rating harsher than PG: Beowulf.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Before He Had The High Ground, Ewan McGregor Was Doing Tremendous Acting In The Bleak Classic Trainspotting

Little did avid moviegoers in the 1990's realize how many of the movies they were watching from then unknown filmmakers would turn out to be the start of careers that would forever change the face of cinema. The early part of this decade had the likes of Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino all leap onto the silver screen and immediately leave their mark on the artform they loved in a way that is still being felt and influencing new filmmakers today. Lest you think all the early films from soon-to-be prolific filmmakers were limited to the early days of this decade, one of the middle years of this decade (1996) delivered the first movie from Wes Anderson and the second feature film from one Danny Boyle.

Let's Talk About Stalker, The Movie, Not The Short Lived Ill-Advised CBS Drama

Sight & Sound Voyage Entry #19
Placement On Sight & Sound Top 50 Movies List: #29 (tied with Shoah)

Between Andrei Rublev and now Stalker, my primary impression of Andrei Tarkovsky as a director is that he's a methodical man, a guy who likes to let both his shots and ideas linger for the viewer, letting the larger ramifications of what he's depicting on-screen sink in for the audience and leave them with plenty to ponder once the entire motion picture is finished playing. This slow-burn approach sometimes left me a bit cold in Stalker (though that should be taken less as a major critique of the movie and more on me being sometimes unresponsive to certain slower pieces of storytelling), but there's no denying Tarkovsky has an incredibly evocative way of creating cinema that's both bold and intriguing.

Monday, April 3, 2017


There's a lot of blockbuster movies that combine thoughtfulness with high-octane action. The Matrix is a great example of this, ditto for The Dark Knight or Mad Max: Fury Road or the original Jurassic Park. The new live-action take on Ghost In The Shell appears to be striving to join the ranks of those films as beloved pieces of filmmaking that manage to contain both lots of punching and an equal amount of ideas that'll leave viewers pondering for quite a while. Unfortunately, neither the themes nor the action in Ghost In The Shell turn out to be all that interesting with both elements coming out as simply being frustratingly undercooked.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Boss Baby Bounces To Top Spot At The Box Office While Ghost In The Shell Is Dismantled

Looks like cookies were for both closers and general audiences everywhere if The Boss Baby's big opening weekend is any indication.  Opening to $49 million at the top of the box office, the newest DreamWorks Animation film was way above anyone's expectations for the title (which were mostly in the $30-35 million range) and gained the tenth biggest opening weekend ever for a DreamWorks Animation motion picture and the eighteenth biggest opening weekend ever for a movie in March. It's also the fourth biggest opening weekend ever for Alec Baldwin, steadily ahead of his previous fourth biggest opening weekend ever, the $38 million bow of The Cat In The Hat.

Indulging In Sentimentality And Conventionality Derails The Discovery

Death is an inevitability but just because it's guaranteed to come does not make its imminent arrival more enticing, similar to how knowing Nickelback will eventually have another album unleashed on the unwitting masses does not make that actual event more pleasing to experience. We always fear death, no matter what circumstances bring about its arrival, but in The Discovery, the prospect of death has become something people eagerly greet with open arms, to the point that there's been a swarm of suicides over the course of two years. What on Earth kind of event could account for this morbid turn of events?