Posts Tagged ‘Hall Pass’

The Weekend Report — March 13

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Los Angeles Doesn’t Believe in Tears … Mars Does

The fears that a depressed marketplace would take its toll on Battle: Los Angeles proved unfounded as the sci-fi extravaganza easily took weekend honors with an estimated $36.2 million. However, the frame’s other two national releases seriously underperformed. The visual flamboyant fairy tale Red Riding Hood trudged through the woods with $14 million in its basket to rank third and the family targeted Mars Needs Moms received a resounding audience “no” with $6.8 million.

Regionally a pair of pics bowed in Quebec to undistinguished results. Local production French Kiss generated $91,200 at 54 stalls while French family fave Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes provided $68,400 from 35 venues.

The action among limited/exclusive debuts was considerably more encouraging with the latest Jane Eyre earning a $45,120 average from four screens. The indie Kill the Irishman was unexpectedly potent with a $142,000 tally in five exposures and French award winner Certified Copy grossed $66,300 from a comparable quintet.

Overall the pluses and minuses canceled out and weekend revenues slipped 4% from the immediate prior session. It was a steeper 13% decline from 2010 when the second weekend of Alice in Wonderland reigned with $62.7 million followed by bows of Green Zone and She’s Out of My League with respective openers of $14.3 million and $9.8 million.

Industry anxiety ran high for Battle: Los Angeles with pundits invoking the likes of Independence Day, District 9 and Skyline on the down side as past barometers. Initial tracking pegged its opening between $25 million and $30 million with it pushing slightly higher as opening day approached.

Exit polls pegged the audience unsurprisingly at 62% male. However, it also showed that the ticket buyers were 55% over the age of 25; continuing the 2011 industry question of where the younger, previously more avid crowds have migrated (and whether is possible to park product at that location).

Audience composition for both Red Riding Hood and Mars Needs Moms were also as anticipated. The cowl clad lass was 54% distaff and 56% under the age of 25 while the folk from the red planet were 85% family with 68% buying stereoscopic ducats. But though not particularly family friendly, Rango was the audience magnet even with a 40% hit off of its opening weekend.

Though the two films hit their target, neither hit it with quite the anticipated force. Red Riding Hood was tracking between $16 million and $20 million while Mars Needs Moms was supposed to be in the range of $10 million to $14 million.

Expect some hard questions to be asked at CinemaCon in two weeks beginning with the evaporation of the under 25s. Distribution is likely to be pushing for shorter theatrical windows and theater owners will just be … freaking out.

Weekend (estimates) March 11 – 13, 2011
Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Battle: Los Angeles Sony 36.2 (10,590) NEW 3417 36.2
Rango Par 22.8 (5,820) -40% 3923 68.4
Red Riding Hood WB 14.0 (4,630) NEW 3030 14
The Adjustment Bureau Uni 11.4 (4,010) -46% 2847 38.4
Mars Needs Moms BV 6.8 (2,190) NEW 3117 6.8
Beastly CBS 5.0 (2,570) -49% 1959 16.9
Hall Pass WB 5.0 (1,970) -43% 2555 34.9
Just Go With It Sony 4.0 (1,660) -38% 2398 93.9
The King’s Speech TWC 3.6 (2,030) -42% 1768 129
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 3.5 (1,360) -52% 2585 89
Unknown WB 3.3 (1,440) -49% 2303 58.4
I Am Number 4 BV 2.2 (1,110) -61% 2005 50.3
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 1.3 (1,050) -69% 1247 70.9
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 1.2 (1,330) -62% 931 35.1
Take Me Home Tonight Relativity 1.2 (610) -65% 2003 5.8
Cedar Rapids FoxSearch .93 (2,360) 13% 394 4.6
Tangled BV .62 (1,710) -22% 363 196.6
The Fighter Par/Alliance .55 (1,210) -51% 453 92.9
Black Swan FoxSearch .44 (1,310) -56% 337 105.9
True Grit Par .43 (1,070) -56% 401 169.4
Barney’s Version eOne/SPC .34 (1,760) -13% 192 6.2
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $123.60
% Change (Last Year) -13%
% Change (Last Week) -4%
Also debuting/expanding
Of Gods and Men Sony Classics .25 (4,500) -2% 56 1.2
Jane Eyre Focus .18 (45,120) 4 0.18
Kill the Irishman Anchor Bay .14 (28,260) 5 0.14
French Kiss TVA 91,200 (1,690) 54 0.09
Arthur et la guerre des deux mondes Alliance 68,400 (1,950) 35 0.07
Certified Copy IFC 66,300 (13,260) 5 0.07
HappyThankYouMorePlease Anchor Bay 59,700 (3,140) 70% 19 0.09
I Will Follow Film Movement 44,100 (11,020) 4 0.04
3 Backyards Screen Media 11,400 (11,400) 1 0.01
Making th Boys First Run 6,800 (6,800) 1 0.01
Elektra Luxx IDP 5,700 (1,420) 4 0.01
Black Death Magnolia 3,700 (3,700) 1 0.01
Monogamy Oscilloscope 3,600 (3,600) 1 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 10, 2011)
Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (9) 337.1 20.90%
Sony (9) 277.4 17.20%
Buena Vista (5) 215.2 13.30%
Warner Bros. (12) 179.1 11.10%
Universal (6) 163.3 10.10%
Weinstein Co. (3) 121.2 7.50%
Fox (5) 82.9 5.10%
Fox Searchlight (3) 76.3 4.70%
CBS (3) 41.3 2.60%
Relativity (3) 29.5 1.80%
Focus (2) 20.7 1.30%
eOne/Seville (7) 12.2 0.80%
Summit (3) 11.7 0.70%
Sony Classics (5) 9.6 0.60%
Other * (73) 37.6 2.30%
1615.1 100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Limited Releases (Jan. 1 – March 10, 2011)
Title Distributor Gross*
Blue Valentine * TWC 9,313,215
Barney’s Version * eOne/SPC 5,661,527
Biutiful Roadside Att 4,337,480
The Company Men TWC 4,102,660
Cedar Rapids rch 3,676,294
From Nada to Prada LGF 2,946,275
Another Year * SPC 2,854,313
The Way Back Newmarket/All 2,806,469
Hubble 3D * WB 2,321,675
The Grace Card IDP 1,842,199
The Illusionist * SPC 1,811,964
Rabbit Hole * LGF 1,810,546
Somewhere * Focus 1,502,550
Incendies * Seville/eOne 1,348,780
2011 Oscar Shorts Magnolia 1,266,790

The Weekend Report — March 6

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Gold Star … Silver Star

The lizards of Rango slithered easily into audience hearts with an estimated $38.7 million that topped weekend viewing charts. Three other new wide releases entered the marketplace with the “what if” antics of The Adjustment Bureau ranking second with $20.9 million and the modern fairy tale Beastly following with $9.7 million. The romantic Take Me Home Tonight captured few hearts with a $3.4 million gross.

Limited and exclusive debuts were largely uninspired with the coming of age HappyThankYouMorePlease generating $29,700 on two screens and Thai award winner Uncle Bonmee grossing $25,400 from four venues. Box office for the 3D presentation of opera favorite Carmen from England’s Royal Opera weren’t reported.

The infusion of new titles expanded sales by 24% from the prior weekend but couldn’t compete with last years $116.1 million bow for Alice in Wonderland. Revenues slumped by 34% from 2010 and the year to date is lagging behind the prior year’s pace by 16%.

The enthusiastic reviews for the 3D animated gunslinger yarn Rango did little to bolster interest for the film’s non-family audience and the film bowed on the low end of industry estimates. Generally positive reviews for the sci-fi romance The Adjustment Bureau place that film on the high side of tacking predictions.

Conversely tracking for both Beastly and Take Me Home Tonight veered radically from expectations with the latter expected to out perform in its debut. With the former predicted to do no better than $6 million, you can guess the rest.

With the exhibition sector’s convention just three weeks away (now re-named CinemaCon) one can expect some hard questions being bruited. It’s decidedly not a period of warmth between theater owners and the studios and waning audiences; particular among the key under 25s will certainly heat up the issue of making new releases available on other platforms including home screens.

Oscar sheen (a distant relative of Charlie) appeared to dim rapidly for all save The King’s Speech. Though it’s hardly a new phenomenon, the shorter award season (and threat of an even shorter one in the near future) is likely to create the employ of new strategies to exploit films reliant on statuettes and the like this year.

Weekend (estimates) March 4 – 6, 2011
Title Distributor Gross (average) % change Theaters Cume
Rango Par 37.8 (9,660) NEW 3917 37.8
The Adjustment Bureau Uni 20.9 (7,350) NEW 2840 20.9
Beastly CBS 9.7 (4,980) NEW 1952 9.7
Hall Pass WB 8.8 (2,990) -35% 2950 26.8
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 7.0 (2,350) -48% 2984 83.8
The King’s Speech TWC 6.5 (2,890) -12% 2240 123.8
Just Go With It Sony 6.4 (2,200) -39% 2920 88.1
Unknown WB 6.4 (2,210) -49% 2913 52.9
I Am Number 4 BV 5.7 (1,970) -48% 2903 46.5
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 4.2 (1,880) -55% 2254 68.8
Take Me Home Tonight Relativity 3.4 (1,710) NEW 2003 3.4
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 3.2 (1,950) -58% 1642 33.2
Drive Angry Summit 2.1 (930) -59% 2290 9
The Fighter Par/Alliance 1.1 (1,840) -33% 575 92
Black Swan FxSrch 1.0 (1,440) -26% 681 105.1
True Grit Par .94 (1,300) -52% 725 168.6
Cedar Rapids FxSrch .77 (3,280) 16% 235 3.3
Tangled BV .74 (1,760) 76% 421 195.7
The Roommate Sony .59 (970) -70% 606 36.8
The Grace Card IDP .51 (1,450) -50% 352 1.7
Barney’s Version eOne/SPC .40 (1,900) -27% 211 5.7
No Strings Attached Par .36 (850) -75% 425 69.6
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $127.75
% Change (Last Year) -33%
% Change (Last Week) 24%
Also debuting/expanding
Of Gods and Men SPC .26 (7,420) -16% 42 0.73
The Illusionist SPC 77,500 (1,020) -48% 76 1.9
HappyThankYouMorePlease Anchor Bay 29,700 (14,850) 2 0.03
Uncle Bonmee Strand 25,400 (6,350) 4 0.03
Bereavement Paradigm 22,300 (1,120) 20 0.02
Detective K CJ Ent 13,500 (13,500) 1 0.01
I Saw the Devil Magnolia 12,100 (6,050) 2 0.01
The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom Mongrel 9,400 (1,880) 5 0.01
The Human Resources Manager FilmMove 8,300 (2,770) 3 0.01
Domestic Market Share (Jan. 1 – March 3, 2011)
Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (8) 283.2 19.60%
Sony (9) 267.7 18.50%
Buena Vista (5) 198.7 13.70%
Warner Bros. (12) 157.7 10.90%
Universal (5) 135.8 9.40%
Weinstein Co. (3) 112.8 7.80%
Fox (5) 78.8 5.50%
Fox Searchlight (3) 73.6 5.10%
CBS (2) 29.3 2.00%
Relativity (2) 24.8 1.70%
Focus (2) 20.3 1.40%
eOne/Seville (7) 10.9 0.80%
Sony Classics (5) 8.7 0.60%
Summit (3) 8.5 0.60%
Other * (68) 35.2 2.40%
* none greater than 0.4%
Top Domestic Grossers (Jan. 1 – March 3, 2011)
Title Distributor Gross*
The King’s Speech * TWC 99,641,843
True Grit * Par 97,285,477
The Green Hornet Sony 96,820,070
Just Go With It Sony 81,700,070
Gnomeo and Juliet BV/eOne 76,782,010
No Strings Attached Par 69,289,473
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Par 64,551,441
Little Fockers * Uni 63,484,205
Black Swan * FxSrch 63,240,197
Tron: Legacy * BV 53,579,845
The Fighter * Par/Alliance 51,877,355
The Dilemma Uni 48,475,290
Unknown WB 46,509,264
I Am Number 4 BV 40,738,416
Yogi Bear * WB 40,506,801
The Roommate Sony 36,260,283
Tangled * BV 33,709,950
The Rite WB 32,464,547
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Fox 29,969,678
The Mechanic CBS 28,812,145
* does not include 2010 box office

Box Office Hell — March 3

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Rango |42.7|n/a|36.0|44.0|43.0
The Adjustment Bureau|19.3|n/a|16.0|19.0|20.0
Gnomeo and Juliet|8.5|n/a|8.5|8.2|7.5
Hall Pass |7.5|n/a|6.5|13.0|7.7
Take Me Home Tonight|5.4|n/a|7.0|10.0|n/a
The King’s Speech|6.2|n/a|n/a|8.1|8.7

Box Office Hell — February 24

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Hall Pass |14.8|13.0|16.0|16.0|16.0
Drive Angry 3-D|13.2|9.4|11.0|12.0|11.0
Gnomeo and Juliet|12.6|13.3|13.0|14.0|15.0
Unknown |12.4|13.8|12.0|13.0|14.0
I Am Number Four|10.3|9.3|9.5|n/a|9.5
Just Go With It|10.0|10.4|n/a|10.0|10.5

Critics Roundup — February 27

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Hall Pass||Green|||
Driving Angry 3-D|||||
Of Gods and Men||Green|Green||

WILMINGTON ON MOVIES: Hall Pass, I Am Number Four, Certifiably Jonathan, Poetry

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Hall Pass (One and a Half Stars)
U. S.: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

Hall Pass, the first Farrelly Brothers comedy since they messed up The Heartbreak Kid four years ago, is a forgettable, mostly bad movie about two horny forty-something married guys named Fred and Rick (played by Jason Sudeikis and, it seems, Owen Wilson), who, thanks to the amazing tolerance of their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), and the questionable advice of the wives’ therapist Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar), get a spouse-approved “Hall Pass” to go out and make whoopee with other women for a week.

That sounds pretty unlikely to begin with, and even unpalatbale, even if it comes with an official, womanly seal of approval from TV’s Ms. Behar. But their orgy turns into a fiasco. Rick and Fred discover that they don’t know how to pick up chicks or swing any more, if they ever did. (Rick confesses to monogamy; Fred has been perfecting the art of the disguised ogle and how to masturbate in minivans.)

They give it a shot anyway. Suckers. Their ice-breaker lines are losers (“You must be from Ireland, because my penis is Dublin.”) Their timing is off. Their strategy and presentation are ludicrous.


They try to score at the local Applebee’s, and wind up stuffing themselves. And when they do find a willing woman, like the awesome café waitress Leigh (Nicky Whelan) or the hot-to-trot baby-sitter Paige (Alexandra Daddario), or whomever, she either gets a diarrhea attack (this is Farrelly humor, remember), or they get guilt pangs and back out, or a psycho deejay boyfriend (Derek Waters) shows up, murder in mind.

Meanwhile Maggie and Grace, holed up at a beach house in Cape Cod, are pursued by the studs of a minor league baseball team, or could be if they wanted to. Author’s message: These guys should have stayed home, been good husbands, stopped ogling and jacking off and dreaming about café waitresses, and instead watched movies like Hall Pass for diversion on their big-screen TVs.


So much for Joy Behar as a sex therapist. So much for that den of iniquity, Applebee‘s Retreat. So much for the Farrelly Brothers and their gross-out comedy throne, now teetering and tittering over Apatow-Land. Sesame Street could probably make and air a better gross out comedy than this. (“Flipping the Big Bird?”)

Anyway, when I say forgettable, I mean forgettable. I’ve actually forgotten the whole movie, and I had to struggle to write this synopsis. To elucidate: I know there was a Wilson brother in Hall Pass, but was it Owen or Luke? Or was it Brian, Dennis or Carl? (Yeah, I know, two of them are dead. But which two?) And which actress had diarrhea? Was this movie‘s original title maybe “I Am Number Two?“ (See below) Didn’t Ben Stiller do a cameo as an Applebee‘s waiter? Or was that Adam Sandler?

Maybe I just mean Hall Pass should be forgettable. Possibly, I just don’t want to remember this damned movie. It’s a good show to forget even before you see it, especially before you see it.

I’d be justified. The show looks bad, sounds bad, plays bad, is bad. The Farrellys’ happily empty-headed Dumb and Dumber made you laugh. Their magnum dopus There’s Something About Mary made you laugh. Hall Pass just makes you think about maybe laughing and otherwise makes you feel dumb. (And eventually, dumber.) The cinematography is scrappy. The writing is fuzzier. The production is feeble. I’d even criticize the key grips. (Why shouldn‘t they share the blame?) But I‘ve forgotten what they do.

In fact, the whole premise of Hall Pass is bad. A comedy about infidelity where the wives give their consent to the hanky-panky has two strikes against it to begin with. How can you sympathize with wives like that — even if they did get the go-ahead from Joy?  (Or Oprah?) These wives are therapy-debauched doormats. These guys are dim-witted, dickless, dick-head doofusses. The women they’re chasing are ridiculous. (Or ri-donk-ulous.)

The movie makes you appreciate stuff like Just Go With It. The Farrelly Brothers would have been better off forgetting the whole obnoxious idea and just making another gross-out adultery (or would-be adultery) comedy without the wives‘-consent twist. Better than this, they should have made “Kingpin Strikes Again.“ Or “There’s Something about Mary’s Daughter.” Or taken back their franchise with or “Dumb and Dumberer 2: The Dumbest.“ Or even taking another whack at “The Heartbreak Kid.” (How about “Beyond the Valley of the Heartbreak Kids?“ ) Better anything than this.

Oh yeah, now I remember. The Hall Pass Wilson brother is Owen Wilson. Luke was the Wilson ogling along with Will Ferrell in Old School. Brian wrote “Good Vibrations.“ Dennis was the drummer; Carl sang the high parts.

Owen has been all over the map recently, including some places he shouldn’t have gone near. But he might have been better off making “Bottle Rocket 2,” with Luke and their buddy Wes. Or making his rock CD debut with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice to have Fun, Fun Fun: Owen Wilson Sings the Great Songs of The Beach Boys. ” Meanwhile everyone should forget Hall Pass — especially the Farrelly Brothers.

I Am Number Four (One a half Stars)
U.S.: D. J. Caruso 2011

Sometimes, you look at a movie, and you know it’s going to give you a bad time. But what can you do?

I Am Number Four is a super-glossy science fiction teen thriller, produced by Michael Bay and directed by D. J. Caruso, about a striking-looking kid named John (Alex Pettyfer), who’s also known as “Number Four.” Four comes from another planet and is being shepherded around America — and protected from the evil Mogadorians of that same planet– by his helpful guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant). Those bad Mogadorians, who have evil-looking creases by their noses, and are led by their evilly grinning Commander (Kevin Durand), have already killed Numbers One, Two and Three, and their guardians. There’s another refugee from John‘s planet (Teresa Palmer), a striking looking blonde in black leather. She‘s wandering around. So is a cute little dog with an injured leg. (See, this movie has a heart.)

John, or Four, dyes his hair blonde too, and becomes even more striking-looking. But he‘s tired of hiding. He wants to go to high school, though Henri warns him he‘ll have to be inconspicuous. (How can he be inconspicuous? He looks like a movie star with dyed-blonde hair.) So, on the first days of school, Four attracts the prettiest girl in school, artsy photographer Sarah (Dianna Agron), alienates her ex-boyfriend, the school’s snotty star quarterback Mark (Jake Abel) and his hoodlum friends, and gains a Plato-like Sal Mineo sort of hanger-on buddy named Sam (Callan McAuliffe).

Inconspicuous? The picture’s just started and already, Four has used up half the setup of Jimmy Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause, and he doesn’t even have a red jacket. The rest is the same old stuff, science fiction-ized, nowhere near as good as “Rebel,” but very well-shot by Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth), and juiced up with monsters and Mogadorians.

Flashback: Back in the good old days, teen-agers, as far as I know, just did their homework and ran around and danced to rock music and ate cheeseburgers and malts, and snuck smokes and tried to get laid, and occasionally went on chickie runs. (“You ever been on a chickie run?“ “Sure, that’s all I ever do.”)

Now, by God — at least if we can believe many of the teen movies we see — the new breed of high school kids are not only delinquents, but vampires and werewolves and sorcerer’s apprentices and vampire-slayers, and they’re bent on saving the world from super-robots and monsters that come from other planets, or, if they’re bad, destroying it. They’re supermen and superwomen (a fantasy I sometimes shared) and their cute little dogs turn into superbeasts and battle the local dragons, and the kids are being chased all over hell and gone by evilly grinning Mogadorians.

Damn! Don’t Michael Bay, D. J. Caruso and the screenwriters and original novelists of I Am Number Four worry that they may be arousing unrealistic expectations in the hearts and minds of the youth of America? (Nah, it’s only a movie.) But aren’t they a little ashamed of filming scripts like this, where the very best line of dialogue — by a crush — is “I am Number Six!”

When I was a teenager, if I’d gone to a movie like this, I would have felt like I was being played for a sucker, treated like an idiot, and that I should have my head examined for getting a ticket to it — even if the show had a striking-looking blonde or two, plus great dialogue like “I am Number Six!” What did I know? How could I have envisioned? The world can move in strange directions.

Did you ever have a rumble with a Mogadorian? (Sure, that’s all I ever do.) Well, it is only a movie. But of we keep making shows about adults who act like teenagers (See Hall Pass above), and teenagers who are supermen who can rule the world, and we justify it all by how much dough the move makes, how can we complain when people act, and vote and govern, like suckers, idiots and dimwits who believe that they’re supermen? (“I Am Number One! I Am Number One!”)

And yes I had a collection of “Superman“ comics when I was younger than a teenager. I loved them. The man of Steel. He was Number One. This movie, however…

Certifiably Jonathan (Three Stars)
U.S.: James David Pasternak, 2007

When I was a kid, I thought Jonathan Winters was the funniest comedian I’d ever seen in my life, maybe as funny as an improvisational comedian could possibly be. God! He killed me!

A mainstay on late night TV in the late ‘50s and 60s, a revered regular on the Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Garry Moore shows, and in the ‘70s, a supporting star on his acolyte and heir Robin Williams’ TV hit “Mork and Mindy,” the rotund, hilarious and impishly eloquent champion spritzer Winters was in a bleepin’ brown-eyed class by himself. He was a totally inspired comic who could literally create comedy from scratch, instantaneously pull it out of the seeming air, kill an audience with one shift of the eyebrow, a pursed lip, and a well-cracked sentence or two. His specialty on the late night shows came when Paar or somebody threw him some neutral-looking prop — a stick, a ball, a limp cloth — and he would proceed to improvise ten or so swift gags or mini-routines with whatever it was, bang-pop-bang, like a living cartoon, before the audience knew what hit them, before they could stop laughing at the first one.

If Charlie Chaplin was sublimely funny, if Buster Keaton was mathematically and mechancially funny, the Marx Brothers woundingly funny, Peter Sellers chameleonically funny, Richard Pryor dangerously funny, Robin Williams lightning free-associative funny and Woody Allen brainy funny, then Winters was insanely funny. (Sometimes more than comfortably so; Winters is bipolar and has had two nervous breakdowns.) But, despite his comic genius, his absolute mastery of improvisation and the mad spritz, he never got the gold ring, never became the American Sellers, though he had the chops to do it all. Maybe that’s because, sadly, his best stuff usually wasn’t in his movies.

Neither, mostly, was Robin Williams‘s. Like Winters, he’s at his best instead (Good Morning Vietnam excepted) when you get him on stage, and watch him take off and wing it. A stage and an audience and good acoustics: that’s all either of them needed. By the way, it’s a crying shame we don’t have twenty or thirty times more Winters on film than we have now.

Well, the years have passed, the decades have gone. Winters is 85, and somehow we never got enough of him. He never composed his comedy Eroica, or painted his masterpiece. Never played in his Gold Rush, or his Dr. Strangelove.“ The great Jonathan Winters movie was just never made — even if he debuted spectacularly on screen as the bedeviled, childlike truck driver in 1963‘s It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, a gargantuan farce in which he stole the scenery from nearly every comedian in Hollywood, from Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett to Jerry Lewis and Jimmy Durante, to Sid Caesar and Milton Berle.

For good and bad, for funny or not, Sellers found his niche. So did Allen, so did Steve Martin, so did Williams. But the greatness and madness of Jonathan Winters — something I think every comic feels in their bones whenever they watch him — never had its highest wild funny testament, or its perfect hilarious frame.

It doesn’t quite in ” either, a documentary about the now elderly Winters, trying to become recognized for his paintings: delightful, playful, Klee-ish, Miro-like comic concoctions he paints with the same economy, childlike fun and flawless touch that infuses his comedy. But let me tell you: perfection (as a be-all, end-all) can be overrated. Half of perfect is good enough. Or even 25%, sometimes. How the hell often do we see any perfect at all?

Director Jim Pasternak dreams up a framework: Winters trying to finish three new paintings for a proposed New York Museum of Modern Art show, but then losing his desire to paint after the humor is sucked out of him. The reason: His favorite painting was stolen from as gallery by two mean old ladies (one of whom looks suspiciously like Maudie Frickert.)

It’s a so-so idea: Arty high jinks and I Remember MOMA. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The best thing about the premise is that it enables us to see a lot of Winters’ paintings, which resonate with his sly, sunny sense of humor.

But what’s ultimately best about Certifiably Jonathan is that we get to see a lot of Winters, still a marvelous comedian in his 70s and 80s, conjuring up gut busting Winterian humor or wondrous, delirious Winteresque chuckles in the back seat of a car with a few rubbery putty-face-twitches or nutty phrases. And we see him with a host of his admiring fellow comedians, including Williams of course, but also Richard Klein, Jim Carrey, Nora Dunn, Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman and the Arquette family. All are obviously people who love him and love to compete for laughs with him.

Anyway, sometimes movies are valuable, not because they’re perfectly realized works of art but because they contain a perfectly realized work of art. And this movie contains just that: it has Jonathan Winters. It showcases and delivers, certifiably, Jonathan himself. How many other chances are we going to get to see him, to preserve him? And when this show comes out on DVD, there‘ll be lots more of Winters and pals, because there were lots of outtakes, including about an hour of Winters and Williams riffing together. I can‘t wait.

The movie took a long time to make. Winters became ill. Eileen, his wife of many decades, died in 2009. Critics have not been too kind to it. Well, that’s their opinion. There‘s only one thing that’s important to me here: This movie lets you see, lets us all watch, savor, and howl over  — just as I did so insanely-happily, so long ago when I was a kid — one of the funniest damned comedians you‘ll ever see, in your life. And his friends, who are pretty funny too. And there’s a bonus: you can watch him paint his masterpiece. Maybe. (Gene Siskel Center, Chicago)

“Poetry” (Four Stars)
South Korea: Chang-Dong Lee, 2010

Her face is careworn but still pretty, the face of a once beautiful woman now in her ‘60s, her hair still black, her eyes soft, her once dazzling smile now almost completely vanished. She wears colorful flower print dresses and a white beach hat, which, at one point, sails away in the wind when she bends to look at the river. She works as a maid and caretaker for an elderly, disabled man, who gives her tips and gets aroused when she bathes him.

With no help at all from her absent daughter, she tries to feed and provide a home for her teenaged grandson Jongwook (David Lee), a boorish, pimpled bully who treats her with cruel and offhand neglect — and who has committed a hideous crime (a gang rape that drove a young classmate to suicide) that she must now try to make right, by paying reparations (of 500 million won) that she cannot afford. She is gentle and giving, tireless and kind to everyone she meets. She has begun to get distracted, to forget nouns and verbs, and she doesn’t yet know what that may mean.

Once, when she was a little girl, her teacher told her she would grow up to be a poet. And now she remembers those words, as she spies a notice in the street for a poetry class. She decides to take the class, because she wants to write a poem. Just one.

Her name is Mija.

The sorrows, pains and occasional beauties of old age — the way the old can by ignored, hurt and sometimes horribly abused by the young — have rarely been more movingly portrayed than they are here by the superb Korean actress Jeong-Hee Yoon, and by the gifted and deeply perceptive director-writer Chang-Dong Lee, in Lee’s film Poetry.

Lee, an acclaimed Korean novelist, who began his movie directing career late in life, at 40, is now one of South Korea’s finest contemporary filmmakers. Yoon is a one-time film star and great beauty whom Lee coaxed out of retirement for this role. No one in the world, in any country, could have played it better.

The movie is quiet and subtle, and like some of the poems we hear, perfectly phrased. It does not coax our tears. We watch it quietly, and our heart breaks. Seeing this woman, so kind, so good, so badly and uncaringly treated, as she struggles to live her life, to cope with her great troubles, and to write her poem — even as the words slip away from her — is an experience I will never forget. Neither should you. (In Korean, with English subtitles.) (Music Box, Chicago)

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