MCN Originals Archive for December, 2014

20 Weeks To Oscar: Oscar Zit Of The Day

Wasn’t it just 48 hours ago that I wrote about the foolishness of reconsidering Selma as a work of art because of what may a legitimate beef on the detail of the film by a witness to a part of the history the film covers? Now we have an eruption from the only participating central subject in Foxcatcher, Mark Schultz. He is angry, angry, angry at Bennett Miller…

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The DVD Wrapup: Binoche, Coogan, Lewis, Clarkson, Mamet, Maclaine & Plummer and More

Anyone who fell in love with Michael Winterbottom’s wonderfully offbeat buddy/road comedy, The Trip, should relish the opportunity to follow Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in the equally delicious sequel, The Trip to Italy. I doubt, however, that anyone unfamiliar with or unimpressed by The Trip — or the not-for-everyone Coogan, for that matter – will have their minds changed by what happens to them in Italy.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: History Is Written By…

I don’t care whether Selma is a work of precise historical accuracy. I do care how it makes me and other audiences feel, how it makes us think, what it has to say. This is just as true of The Interview and American Sniper and Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything and Unbroken and Big Eyes and The Penguins of Madagascar.

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The Weekend Report

No big changes from Friday… or Thursday. Unbroken remains about a million ahead of Into The Woods , both headed to $100m+. The Hobbittstill on top by more than 30%. The Imitation Game showing its commercial legitimacy. The Interview averages an estimated $5,800 per screen on 331 after all the noise, suggesting that VOD day-‘n-‘date remains cannibalistic.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Two days into the Christmas 4-day, The Hobbit 3 returns to the top, both for Friday and for the cume of Thurs-Fri. Still, Unbroken and Into The Woods are doing strong business and should be around the $50 million mark by the end of the weekend. American Sniper remains steady on Day 2, down minimally from opening day, though still on just four screens. Selma takes a 35% hit from opening day, but could be extra-strong on Sunday, as churches send parishioners from the pews to the theaters. And The Interview drops from its millio- dollar opening day to $720k, drawing about $2,175 per screen… which is good, but hardly overwhelming. The story continues to write itself, day by day.

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Review-ish: The Interview

It’s real simple. If you find James Franco playing a relentlessly positive buffoon right out of a Preston Sturges movie funny, you will love The Interview. If you find it boring and trite that Franco and Kim Jong-Un bond over a Katy Perry song and their hopelessly demanding fathers, you will hate The Interview.

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Wilmington on DVDs: A Christmas Carol (1951)

Perhaps critics and movie lovers treasure it because they can see how deftly Hurst and Langley have resisted the obvious temptations of the material. This is the one of the most faithful of all “Christmas Carol”adaptations and also one of the least sentimental, one of the most stylishly crafted and one of the more psychologically acute. It’s beyond question a film for adults more than for children, which is almost never how “A Christmas Carol” is played.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Academy Members, Please Watch…

The Gurus wish you a Merry Christmas and whisper the names of the films they hope will end up in the Academy membership’s viewing stockings to be watched before the new year. At the top of the list, NightcrawlerA Most Violent YearTwo Days, One Night

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Review-ish (spoilers): Annie (2014)

The problem with the new songs is that they are instantly forgettable and don’t seem to have anything to do with the show with which so many are familiar. I get adding a song or two. But dumping most of the show from the second half is just obnoxious. It could be less painful if the new songs were good. But they are not. They are auto-tuned bellowing that seems like a bad rip-off of Foxx in Dreamgirls. Brutal.

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The Weekend Report

The final installment The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies not unexpectedly led weekend viewing with an estimated $55.9 million. Two other new releases slugged it out for the bridesmaid slot with Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb slight ahead of the re-imagined contemporary urban Annie with $16.9 million to $16.1 million respectively. Session box office chimed in just shy of $140 million and an upward bump of 64% from the immediate prior weekend. It was nonetheless 5% behind the 2013 frame was the second weekend of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug edged out Anchorman 2 with, respectively $31.5 million to $26.2 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

A lot of very hopeful movies are opening between now and a week from now, as is the norm for the holiday. It’s hard to judge the Friday for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesHobbit movie after doing it with all three Rings movies.The domestic gross has been behind Rings on all Hobbits, but the international ahead in all but the Oscar-winning finale. So… we’ll see. Signs are good. As for Museum 3 and Annie , the history of this kind of opening in December is that $100m domestic is still a legit option for both… playability will be key.

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The DVD Wrapup: Woody’s Magic, Where I Leave You, Stonehearst Asylum, TMNT, Iguana, Altina, Ed Woods Porn, Doby Gillis … More

After holding his own against big summer blockbusters with such small gems as Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine, and To Rome With Love, Woody Allen delivered a light summer confection that had no chance against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Gurus o’ Gold: The Top 8 Categories Heading Into The Holiday Break

The Gurus take on the “Top 8” categories… Picture, Acting, Screenplay, and Director. Selma continues to fly high, but the big mover this week is The Grand Budapest Hotel. And the biggest loser? Foxcatcher across the board.

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DVD Geek: Snowpiercer

So, the science is at best dubious, the drama, while engagingly performed, is hardly profound, and the story, even aside from the fantasy parts, is illogical and is a mad amalgam of genres. Why, then, is Snowpiercer so entertaining? The answer is simple, it’s a train movie.

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The Weekend Report

Exodus: Gods and Kings swept into the marketplace with an estimated $24.5 million to lead weekend movie ticket sales. The session’s other national newcomer was raw romantic comedy Top Five that bowed to $7.1 million. The exclusive bow of Inherent Vice generated a potent $336,000 box office from five pads and modest expansions for The Imitation Game and Wild maintained both pictures’ commercial momentum.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Exodus will “win” the weekend easily, but right there in between December releases with hope of Christian audience interest The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Golden Compass, both of which were considered flops at the time. This does not preclude word-of-mouth from arriving for Exodus. But the launch leaves much to be desire. Likewise, Top Five, which has every indication of getting very, very strong word-of-mouth started slow, even on just 979 screens. Paramount clearly saw this problem coming in tracking and slowed the roll (out) to build the chatter on the film. They will know whether that paid off by next weekend .Inherent Vice lands on five pads with a per-screen that should inhale about $80k for the weekend.

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Gurus o’ Gold(-n-Globes)

The Gurus pay tribute to The Golden Globe nominations (due Thursday morning), but projecting the Picture, Actor & Actress races. And of course, this week’s update on Oscar’s Best Picture race.

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The Gronvall Report: Screenwriter Graham Moore on THE IMITATION GAME

Graham Moore is no slouch. He was only 29 when his debut novel, “The Sherlockian,” hit The New York Times bestseller list in 2010. Now his first feature film, The Imitation Game, is pegged for awards group plaudits in this year’s very crowded Oscar race. Adapting Andrew Hodges’s nonfiction book “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” screenwriter Moore (also the film’s executive producer) has crafted a biopic that may have a few purely fictional elements, but nonetheless sheds light on a real-life war hero whose professional achievements were long clouded–in the popular imagination, at least–by personal scandal in his final years.

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DVD Gift Guide II: Guardians of the Galaxy, Wonder Years, Jacques Tati, Spielberg, Red Skelton and More

As difficult as it might be to imagine gifting a fan of mainstream films with a collection of comedies by a French filmmaker and actor, I have no qualms about suggesting you stock up on Criterion Collection’s The Complete Jacques Tati for stocking-stuffing. Funny is funny and one needn’t be fluent in French—or a film scholar—to dig Tati’s many talents. He can be fairly compared to Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and other great Hollywood actors of the silent era, as well as Marcel Marceau and, yes, Jerry Lewis. His alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, with his trademark raincoat, umbrella and pipe, is simply one of the most recognizable comic characters in the world.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Box Office

After The Hurt Locker won with less than $15 million in the box office till… after The Artist won with $32 million… And even 12 Years A Slave at $50 million and 4 well-respected contenders over $100 million… does “a wasted vote” exist anymore?

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MCN Originals

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon