Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dumbo Debut, Unlike Unplanned, Disappointing, Beach Bum Bombs

Previously, modern-day live-action remakes of classic animated Disney movies had been foolproof at the box office. Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, all of them grossed over $200 million domestically and became massive moneymakers for Disney. The newest entry in this trend, Dumbo, failed to soar compared to its predecessors with only a $45 million bow, which does make it the fifth biggest bow for a Tim Burton directorial effort (only about $600,000 behind the bow of Batman Returns from all those years ago) but puts it way behind all the other recent live-action Disney remakes and is a poor showing for a movie that cost $170 million (you read that right) to make. For comparison's sake, Cinderella opened to $67.8 million four years ago while costing only $90 million.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tim Burton's Take On Dumbo Results In A Perfunctory Pachyderm

In the newest entry in the recent line of live-action remakes of classic animated Disney movies, we have Tim Burton directing a new take on Dumbo. This story now focuses on Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell), who has returned from World War I without his left arm and having missed the passing of his wife. Now having to take care of his two kids, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), on his own, he returns to the circus he worked at as a performer before the war only to have ringmaster Max Medici (Danny DeVito) assign him the new duty of taking care of the elephants. It is in this job that Holt and his offspring encounter the newly born elephant Dumbo, a critter with abnormally large ears who is turned into a sideshow attraction and separated from his mama in short order.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Half of Grindhouse Is Utterly Sublime, But The Other Half, Well, Is One-Note Even By B-Movie Homage Standards

Grindhouse is a project only a filmmaker with as much clout as Quentin Tarantino could get off the ground. A 191-minute-long homage to old B-movie double features consisting of two feature-length films, one directed by Robert Rodriguez and the other helmed by Tarantino, it's a project that sounds like a perfect fit for the midnight movie festival circuit but something that would have limited appeal as a conventional wide release project. The Weinstein Company decided to make a big go at bringing Grindhouse to general audiences and pushed it out into 2,629 locations in April 2007 only for it to end up grossing only $26 million domestically, the worst box office performance ever for a movie Tarantino directed outside of his inaugural feature Reservoir Dogs, which never played in more than 61 locations.

Endlessly Inventive Filmmaking Is One of The Many Ways City of God Impresses

City of God is one of those movies that grabs you, doesn't let go and you hope it never loosens its grip. What an intoxicating portrait of how so many seemingly disparate lives end up becoming intertwined over the course of nearly thirty years. Set in Cidade de Deus, Rio de Janeiro, also known as "the City of God" (hence the title of the film), City of God explores how exactly a massive war between two criminal enterprises began. Turns out, such a feud has humble and unexpected origins in a small neighborhood occupied by a child version of our protagonist Rocket (played as an adult by Alexandre Rodrigues). Rocket guides the viewer through the elaborate story that follows chronicling the rise of eventual big-time criminals like the sadistic Li'l Ze (Leandro Firmino).

Ed Wood Provides A Thoughtful Ode To The Man Behind Plan 9 From Outer Space

Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) is a filmmaker. Or at least he will be. Right now, in the year 1952, he just writes and directs plays that barely anyone sees, but nobody has a can-do spirit like Ed Wood, yes sir. He's constantly pitching his ideas for movies to anyone in Hollywood who will listen to him and, wouldn't you know it, he's finally got his shot! He's supposed to direct a movie that will eventually turn into Glen or Glenda and it's the feature that establishes the precedent for what kind of films Ed Wood will direct throughout his entire career: cheaply made, full of continuity errors and full of creative passion. Maybe people don't like his movies, but Ed Woods love making them and that's what drives him as an artist.

Paddleton Serves Up An Emotionally Affecting Portrait of Male Friendship

Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are an unexpected pair of buddies. They're apartment neighbors, with Andy living above Michael, and they've gradually become friends who bond over classic martial arts move, homemade pizzas and a game they created called Paddleton. Once the movie Paddleton begins, though, that friendship is threatened by Michael contacting a life-threatening disease that can't be cured. Death is unavoidable and now these two pals are looking to make the best of whatever time they have left, which will include a road trip to procure some extremely rare medicine for Michael.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

In Laman's Terms: The Best Late Period Tim Burton Movies Emphasize What's Missing From His Weakest Recent Movies

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

Tim Burton kicked off his directorial career in style at the tail end of the 1980s. His debut movie, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, was an acclaimed sleeper hit while Beetlejuice took an off-the-wall horror comedy premise and turned it into the tenth biggest movie of 1988. Of course, both of those features were nothing compared to the gargantuan success Burton had on his third film, Batman, which became a pop culture phenomenon in the summer of 1989 and took in just over $251 million domestically alone. Burton's films weren't just moneymakers, they were critically well-received too, particularly in regards to just how distinctive they were. Burton's movies had macabre sensibilities ingrained into their humor and characters while the production design of his films were loopy, creative and twisted.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Us Only Gets More Terrifying The More One Thinks On It

It's time for the Wilson family to get a little beach vacation in Santa Cruz. The four members of this family, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o), Gabe (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex), who serve as the protagonists of Us, are simply looking for a little bit of R&R in their beach house even as Adelaide grapples with this unyielding feeling of despair that Santa Cruz brings out in her. But everything changes when a seemingly ordinary evening is interrupted by the arrival of four strangers in their driveway. It isn't long before it's revealed that these strangers are actually far more familiar than expected, they're doppelgangers of the four family members known as The Tethered. Led by a version of Adelaide known as Red (also played by Lupita Nyong'o), these doubles are set on one thing and one thing only: killing the Wilsons.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

All of The Fun Found In Shazam! Comes From Total Creative Commitment

Considering that the modern conception of the superhero movie has been running since the 1998 release of Blade, you'd think this subgenre would be running on fumes by now. Perhaps it is to some, but from my vantage point, the superhero movie subgenre seems to be flourishing in recent years simply because producers, perhaps in an attempt to prevent the superhero movie from getting long in the tooth, seem to be willing to let filmmakers take both new and old characters into fresh new directions. Just look at what Taika Waititi did with the Thor mythos or the work done by the cast & crew of the first solo Black Panther movie or anything related to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Former Gremlins 2 Creative Consultant Jordan Peele Scores Another Box Office Hit With Massive Opening Weekend For Us

Just two years after Get Out became one of the most beloved horror films of the decade, writer/director Jordan Peele returned with his follow-up feature Us, which managed to build upon the already strong box office performance of Get Out by grossing $70 million on opening weekend. That's the third-biggest opening weekend ever for a horror film, the sixth-biggest opening weekend for a feature film not based on a pre-existing property (only The Secret Life of Pets, Inside Out, Avatar, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo fared better) and it's also the eleventh-biggest opening weekend ever for a movie opening in March. Us was made for only $20 million, so clearly Universal/Blumhouse/Monkeypaw are all already in the clear profit-wise.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Half Nelson Tackles Two Troubled Human Beings With Remarkable Levels of Nuance

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a good teacher. He's maybe not the best teacher ever but he's passionate about what he teaches his Middle School students, clearly has a dedication to the material he teaches and has some real personality when he's teaching to his students. However, as an everyday human being, Dunne is more of a complex person as he struggles with the sickness of addiction. Cocaine is his drug of choice and he takes it regularly, to the point that one of his students, Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him in the middle of a drug trip in one of the school's locker room. Believe it or not, this moment leads to an unusual friendship between the two of them, as Dan starts to look out for Drey, who has her own set of problems at home mainly stemming from the sudden re-emergence of Frank (Anthony Mackie), a drug dealer that Drey's brother used to sell for, in her life.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Hotel Mumbai Has A Grim Tone & Tons of Gunfire But Little Else To Its Name

In late November 2008, the Indian city of Mumbai found itself under attack by armed gunmen who proceeded to go into random places like gas stations and train stations and just shoot whatever poor souls were inside. There was a terrifying element of randomness to their already horrifying actions, nobody was safe from their rampage. These gunmen eventually found their way to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a lavish location where both guests and staff now found themselves under attack. The movie Hotel Mumbai follows a number of individuals, including employee Arjun (Dav Patel) and newly minted father David (Armie Hammer), as they try to survive all the bloodshed occuring in the middle of this real-life tragedy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Denzel Washington Delivers Some of His Best Work As An Actor In The Outstanding Biopic Malcolm X

In my prior reviews, I’ve made it no secret how much I prefer biopic movies that cover a short span of a real-life person’s life rather than features that try to shove an entire life into one motion picture. When you try to put too many major life events into one biopic movie, it has a tendency to make things feel rushed and lessens the impact of moments that should have real power to them. But this approach to biopic cinema can work with the proper execution and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X not only has the proper execution, it executes its expansive depiction of the life of Malcolm X so well that this truly feels like one of the all-time great biopics.

In Laman's Terms: The Evolving Depiction of Identity In Superhero Storytelling

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


All the way back in 1938, Superman's debut appearance in Action Comics #1 defined our modern conception of the superhero. Part of that definition was the establishment of a superhero secret identity. Superman was an all-powerful God-like entity with a multitude of superpowers, but his human alter-ego was Clark Kent, a nerdy newspaper reporter who no one could ever imagine running particularly fast, let alone leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Plenty of other superheroes soon followed with their own alter-ego's in hand, most notably Batman, who by day is a charismatic billionaire. In the 1960s, Spider-Man took things to the next level by making the alter-ego of a wall-crawling superhero be a puny teenager who gets bullied at High School.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Vincent D'Onofrio's Directorial Debut The Kid Is A Forgettable Trip To The West

Back in the early 1990s, Unforgiven was like a shot heard 'round the world for Westerns as it provided a more contemplative take on the once-omnipresent genre that saw Clint Eastwood do a realistic deconstruction of his fabled Man With No Name persona. Since then, most Westerns have used Unforgiven as a creative touchstone, especially in terms of being more conscious of the gruesome violence that transpired in the Old West compared to many classic Westerns. Such widespread imitations of Unforgiven have meant that the elements of Unforgiven that were once trailblazing are now themselves old hat. By contrast, the best recent Westerns have been films like Rango, True Grit and Slow West that have established their own unique identities rather than do their own variation on the somber contemplative mood of Unforgiven for the umpteenth time.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Putting It All On Two Great Lead Performances And A Strong Script Lead Mississippi Grind To A Big Win

I'm always fascinated by major turning points in an actor's careers, that moment where you can clearly see how one movie changed the trajectory of their careers. Think of how Leslie Nielsen forever became associated with spoofy comedies with Airplane! I'm especially fascinated by contemplating what would have happened if those major turning points hadn't happened. Take Ryan Reynolds for instance. He finally secured A-list leading man status with 2016's Deadpool, but between that film and 2013's blockbuster box office bomb R.I.P.D., Reynolds did a number of offbeat indie projects like The Voices, The Captive and Mississippi Grind that allowed him to show off his talents as a performer beyond just cracking wise and breaking the fourth wall. 

Captain Marvel Continues To Soar At The Top of Domestic Box Office As Wonder Park Sees Scarce Attendance, Five Feet Apart Is Reasonably Infectious And Captive State Has Small Populace

The Mississippi Grind fans kept coming out in droves to see the newest film from Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck as Captain Marvel grossed another $69.3 million this weekend. Down 54% from last weekend, that second-weekend drop is slightly better than usual in terms typical second-weekend declines for Marvel Cinematic Universe fare. Having now grossed $266 million after ten days of domestic release, Captain Marvel has surpassed the lifetime domestic grosses of Ant-Man and the Wasp, Doctor Strange and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will likely cross $300 million domestically by Sunday. Barring unexpectedly large drops in the next two weeks, Captain Marvel should be able to clear $400 million domestically and $1 billion worldwide. The power of the Mississippi Grind fandom has once again been reinforced.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Kiss Me Deadly Is A Fascinating Reflection of 1955 American Society

By the time Kiss Me Deadly was released in May 1955, audiences were ready for a slightly new approach to the beloved film noir genre. A staple of 1940's American cinema, film noirs continued to get made well into the 1950s and beyond, but like any genre that endures throughout numerous decades, it had to also evolve along the way. For Kiss Me Deadly, a directorial effort from Robert Aldrich, this meant embracing a slightly darker tone than the already grim aesthetic of conventional film noirs. Though the restrictions of the Hayes Code meant that Kiss Me Deadly couldn't get too grim, the feature would still have a bit more edge and teeth than audiences in this era might have been expecting.

Ezra Miller Might Not Be Playing The Flash In The Future And That's OK

Yesterday's news of James Gunn being welcomed back into the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 fold so dominated the news cycle yesterday that a piece of major comic book news that got dropped by The Hollywood Reporter last night seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. That piece of news revolved around the fate of the lead actor in that Flash movie that's burned through more directors than Batman goes through Batarangs. Currently under the direction of Game Night directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the film is aiming for a Fall 2019 start, but it might be going forward with a different actor than current Flash performer Ezra Miller playing this super-speedy superhero.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Shatters The Fourth-Wall And Tickles One's Funny Bonne

Because I'm a bad movie fan, I hadn't seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail until two weeks ago. Even without seeing it, though, I was well aware of how influential this movie had become in the broader scheme in the forty-four years since it got released. Or at least, I thought I did. While watching the movie for the first time, I was shocked at how Monty Python and the Holy Grail was in fact even more influential than I had previously imagined. Practically every line of dialogue has been referenced in some fashion in pop culture, every sight gag has been put on a T-Shirt, it's all soaked itself into the very fabric of cinematic comedy to such a profound point that it's impressive that the movie can still work as a standalone entity.

Triple Frontier, Thankfully, Evokes Treasure of the Sierra Madre More Than Lone Survivor


According to Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac), it's time to get the band back together. By band, I'm referring to Garcia and his group of former soldier buddies which used to consist of Captain Tom Davis (Ben Affleck), Captain William Miller (Charlie Hunnam), Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund) and Francisco Morales (Pedro Pascal). All five of these men, in addition to being the lead characters of the new Netflix motion picture Triple Frontier, served the U.S. during extensive tours of military duty that saw them all taking all kinds of injuries but now, with all of that in the past, all of them (sans Garcia, who's working in Brazil trying to track down a drug lord) have returned to conventional civilian lives full of woes ranging from financial issues to run-in's with the law.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Why Do Disney's Memorial Day Weekend Releases Keep Flopping?

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

From 2006 to 2008, the Memorial Day weekend frame was the place to be for highly-anticipated blockbusters titles. Though this particular summertime three-day weekend spot had been a hot spot for high-profile films in the past, most notably Bruce Almighty, the first two Mission: Impossible movies and The Day After Tomorrow, but 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand took things to the next level by becoming the first motion picture to cross $100 million over the holiday frame. With a $102 million three-day gross and a $122.8 million four-day gross, X-Men: The Last Stand scored the biggest Memorial Day opening weekend in history, a record broken a year later by the massive $139.8 million four-day opening weekend haul of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull proved to be the third consecutive Memorial Day blockbuster to gross over $100 million on its three-day opening weekend, cementing this as a prime spot to open one of the biggest movies of any given year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Crowdpleasing Classical Romance Gets Done Right In Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love's Best Picture win was heavily controversial, to put it mildly. In the years since it took home this trophy, only Crash and Green Book seem to have generated equal or greater amounts of strife with their respective Best Picture wins. Its controversial award season campaign tactics, as well as the fact that it beat out a Steven Spielberg directorial effort for the award, not to mention the very understandable dark cloud that lingers on anything, like a Best Picture win, that gave the monstrous Harvey Weinstein further clout in Hollywood all, have led the reputation of Shakespeare in Love to suffer greatly. In recent years, though, its standing seems to have improved significantly as Oscar snubs and wins fade further into the past and we're all left to just take a look at the movie on its own merits.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sugar Is A Departure From Typical Sports Movies And Is All The Better For It

A whole decade before they directed box office juggernaut Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck helmed the sports drama Sugar, which takes a premise that could easily be fodder for a run-of-the-mill inspirational sports movie and takes it in a whole other direction. The Sugar of the title refers to a nickname given to Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), a baseball player residing in the Dominican Republic who, along with every other local baseball player, dreams of getting recruited for rookie training in the United States of America. That's not a turn of events that befall just anyone, but Miguel manages to score such a rare opportunity to train with the Kansas City Knights in Iowa.

"Higher, Further, Faster" Indeed, Captain Marvel Soars With A Massive $153 Million Opening Weekend

The twenty-first Marvel Cinematic Universe title, Captain Marvel, managed to become one of the franchises biggest features yet with a massive $153 million domestic opening weekend. That makes (everyone take a deep breath now!) Captain Marvel the biggest movie of 2019 domestically while also scoring the seventh-biggest opening weekend ever for an MCU title and the third-biggest for a non-sequel (only behind The Avengers and Black Panther). It's also the eleventh biggest opening weekend for any superhero movie in history, the eleventh biggest opening weekend for any Disney title ever (eight of Disney's thirteen biggest opening weekends belong to Marvel movies) and the third-biggest opening weekend ever for a movie opening in March.  It's also already Brie Larson's second-biggest movie ever and it should surpass the $168 million domestic gross of Kong: Skull Island sometime this week to become her biggest movie ever. But it wasn't just in North America that Captain Marvel impressed, no no, its worldwide opening weekend was $455 million, the sixth biggest worldwide opening weekend in history, an astonishing feat for a movie starring a character who had never previously appeared in a live-action movie before.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Fighting With My Family Is A Heartfelt And Delightful Wrestling Story

Inspirational underdog sports stories never go out of style and if you're ever wondering why that is, Fighting with My Family provides some ample proof on why this subgenre endures. Though its a story that involves people beating the heck out of each other, there's also a tender heart to this story that makes it shockingly effective as a piece of emotionally affecting storytelling. I have no real knowledge of wrestling, much less the world of wrestling conglomerate WWE, yet I found myself totally engaged by this tale of two wrestlers chasing life-long dreams and dealing with a reality that never quite lives up to those fantasies that they've clung to for so long.

What A Twist!: Captain Marvel Spoiler Discussion (SPOILERS)


Willem Dafoe Delivers A Haunting Lead Turn In The Vincent van Gogh Movie At Eternity's Gate

Every Academy Awards ceremony, there's one movie that comes out of nowhere to score a nomination in the acting categories and then have no other Oscar nominations to its name. The most prominent example in recent years was the baffling nomination of Robert Duvall in The Judge in Best Supporting Actor while another modern example of this trend was Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic. For the most recent Academy Awards ceremony, the film that kept this tradition alive and well was At Eternity's Gate, a new film from director Julian Schnabel that managed to get Willem Dafoe his fourth Oscar nomination (and his first ever in the Best Actor category) for portraying the painter Vincent van Gogh.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Wandering Earth Looks Pretty But Its Characters Are Painfully Dull

Over the course of the 2010s, the already expansive Chinese film industry has grown substantially, particularly in terms of box office receipts. Monster Hunt, The Mermaid, Wolf Warrior II, all of these Chinese blockbusters have amassed the type of gargantuan box office sums normally seen only by the North American grosses of James Cameron and Star Wars movies. The newest Chinese blockbuster to procure this level of massive box office success is The Wandering Earth, which currently stands as the biggest movie of 2019 at the worldwide box office. A mash-up of Mortal Engines, The Day After Tomorrow and 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Wandering Earth is far more tedious than any combination of those three films should ever be.

Captain Marvel Has A Great Mixture of Cosmic Weirdness And Character-Driven Poignancy

Remember how twelve years ago Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer turned Galactus into a gigantic cloud because the prospect of doing a comic book accurate version of the gigantic space God in a purple hat was apparently too goofy for a live-action movie? Well, welcome to March 2019, where the modern cinema scene is so immersed in oddball comic book cosmic details that Captain Marvel can open, with no introductory text crawl or some expository voice-over narration, with its titular lead superhero living a day-to-day life on the alien planet Hala under the names Vers while Academy Award nominee Jude Law portrays her mentor who talks about the "Kree Supreme Intellegence" and warns his pupil about the dangers of shape-shifting Skrull aliens.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Clifton Webb Steals The Whole Show In The Excellent Noir Laura

Laura is dead. That's how the movie begins, the titular lead character of the Otto Preminger directorial effort Laura has been killed. We don't know who this woman is at first but detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) knows some people who are more familiar with her. He begins his investigation into this murder by interviewing people who knew Laura (Gene Tierney) best, including columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and fiancee Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Prince). Through these two men, particularly Waldo thanks to an extended flashback sequence stemming from Waldo telling Mark the story of how he and Laura became such close friends, we get to know Laura better and get to see Mark try to figure out who could be behind this murder.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Hale County: This Morning, This Evening Is A Transportive Avant-Garde Type of Documentary

If you're a pleb like me, you were likely puzzled by at least one documentary nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 91st Academy Awards ceremony that went by the name of Hale County: This Morning, This Evening. It was a nomination thought of as surprising far and wide simply due to the low profile of the film (Hale County has never played in more than 8 movie theaters in its domestic box office run), though thankfully PBS put the documentary up on their website for a week so that individuals like myself who were unaware of the existence of this film could finally catch up and see what all the fuss was about.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Hills Are Alive With Ambition In The Sound of Music

From the opening scene of The Sound of Music, you know you're about to watch an event. These initial shots make it clear that director Robert Wise is not gonna be playing a restrained game here, whether you actually end up liking or disliking the movie, Wise and everybody in the cast & crew is going to be swinging for the fences and beyond. For those unfamiliar, this extravagant opening scene depicts helicopter shots of the gorgeous Austrian landscape, with the mountains in this region getting particular visual emphasis. Right away, we get a sense that the main characters in this story inhabit an environment that's far bigger than themselves, a clever way to visually foreshadow how these same characters would become swept up in terrifying European World War II historical events that are also bigger than themselves.

Dragons Stay Atop The Box Office As Madea Goes Out On Strong Box Office Note And Greta Disappoints In First Weekend of The March 2019 Box Office

Back on Friday, it looked like a more neck-and-neck race for the top spot at the domestic box office between How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and A Madea Family Funeral, but the animated dragons had the upper hand, though both titles managed to prosper over the first weekend of March 2019. The first seven weekends of 2019 might have been slow, but as this weekend shows, injecting some compelling titles into the marketplace will always get things back on track. Topping this frame was How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World with a $30 million second weekend haul. That's a 45% drop from last weekend, an improvement over the 50% drop of the second movie and the biggest second-weekend for any entry in the series. With $97.6 million after ten days of domestic play, The Hidden World looks like it'll make a serious play for a domestic total just over $200 million.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Milk Is A Stirring Examination of An Everyday Human Being Who Became An Important Historical Figure

The 2000s were a tragically sparse decade for high-profile queer cinema. Whereas the 1990's contained a surprisingly steady stream of mainstream pieces of filmmaking with queer protagonists, such films had been relegated solely to arthouse cinemas in the first decade of the 21st century. Even after Brokeback Mountain scored widespread acclaim and a robust domestic box office haul in 2005, it'd be another three years before another film with a queer protagonist managed to get a wide enough release to make over $1 million domestically. That movie would end up being Milk, a Gus Van Sant directorial effort that turned out to be one of the most acclaimed features in the man's career.

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's Unique Story Deserved A Less Derivative Movie

When a movie makes a whole lot of money, the studio behind said movie (as well as other rival studios) tend to want to replicate that box office success. Normally this is done through sequels, spin-off's, cinematic universes, all that jazz, but back in the day it was a lot more common for studios to just make new movies that were clearly executed in the mold of prior box office successes. For example, two of the biggest movies of the 1990s for Paramount Pictures were its pair of Best Picture winners Forrest Gump and Titanic. Making sequels to such lucrative movies is a problematic idea because, for Forrest Gump, the key creative people behind that movie are just so busy while for the problems with making 2 Tit 2 Anic should be self-evident.