Posts Tagged ‘the conspirator’

The Conspirator – on DVD August 16th.

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

In the wake of the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, a country mourns its leader, and eight people are charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President and Secretary of State. The lone woman accused, Mary Surratt (Wright), owns the boarding house where the attack was planned. Faced with a certain death, Surratt’s only hope comes in the form of a newly minted lawyer and Union war hero, Frederick Aiken (McAvoy), who reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. As the courtroom trial unfolds, Aiken realizes his client may be innocent and that she is being used as bait in order to capture the only conspirator to have escaped a massive manhunt, her son.

The Weekend Report — May 1

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Weekend Estimates: April 29-May 1, 2011

Title Distributor Gross (average) % chng Theaters Cume
Fast Five Uni 83.1 (22,810) NEW 3644 83.1
Rio Fox 14.5 (3,900) -45% 3707 103.7
Madea’s Big Happy Family Lionsgate 10.0 (4,370) -60% 2288 41
Water for Elephants Fox 9.2 (3,270) -45% 2820 32.4
Prom BV 4.8 (1,770) NEW 2730 4.8
Hoodwinked Too! Weinstein Co. 4.1 (1,650) NEW 2505 4.1
Soul Surfer Sony 3.3 (1,650) -39% 2010 33.8
Insidious Film District 5.3 (2,530) -21% 1584 45.62
Hop Uni 2.5 (790) -79% 3176 105.2
Source Code Summit 2.5 (1,530) -51% 1645 48.9
African Cats BV 2.3 (1,900) -61% 1224 10.6
Scream 4 Weinstein Co. 2.2 (1,000) -68% 2221 35.5
Hanna Focus 2.2 (1,410) -58% 1564 35.9
Limitless Relativity 1.1 (1,300) -59% 838 76.1
The Conspirator Roadside Attractions 1.0 (1,480) -53% 691 8.7
Arthur WB 1.0 (810) -75% 1251 31.7
The Lincoln Lawyer Lionsgate .85 (1,180) -53% 719 54.9
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night FreeStyle .74 (850) 875 0.74
Win Win Fox Searchlight .67 (2,220) -40% 302 7.6
Your Highness Uni .61 (1,520) -84% 402 21.1
Jane Eyre Focus .52 (1,770) -30% 294 8.7
The Adjustment Bureau Uni .51 (1,840) 106% 277 61.7
Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 Rocky Mountain .41 (1,110) -53% 371 3.9
Weekend Total ($500,000+ Films) $150.50
% Change (Last Year) 54%
% Change (Last Week) 15%
Also debuting/expanding
Cave of Forgotten Dreams IFC .14 (27,440) 5 0.14
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold Sony Classics 95,600 (2,660) -19% 36 0.25
In a Better World Sony Classics 76,700 (1,870) 5% 41 0.4
Incendies Sony Classics 69,800 (6,980) 38% 10 0.14
Nenu Naa Rakshasi Great India 45,300 (2,660) 17 0.05
13 Assassins Magnolia 40,100 (10,020) 4 0.04
Chalo Dilli Eros 38,400 (1,370) 28 0.04
Exporting Raymond IDP 35,200 (2,710) 13 0.04
Vaanam Big Cinemas 26,600 (2,960) 9 0.03
The Robber Kino 14,100 (2,8200 5 0.01
Sympathy for Delicious Maya 8,600 (4,300) 2 0.01
Lebanon, Pa. Truly Indie 7,300 (3,650) 2 0.01
That’s What I Am IDP 6,600 (6600 10 0.01
Earthwork Shadow 3,200 (3,200) 1 0.01
The Arbor Strand 1,600 (1,600) 1 0.01

Domestic Market Share: January 1 – April 21, 2011

Distributor (releases) Gross Market Share
Paramount (9) 418.5 15.20%
Sony (11) 403.7 14.70%
Universal (9) 354.7 12.90%
Warner Bros. (16) 314.1 11.40%
Buena Vista (7) 263.5 9.60%
Fox (8) 235.4 8.60%
Weinstein co. (5) 165.9 6.10%
Relativity (4) 105.9 3.90%
Fox Searchlight (5) 87.9 3.20%
Lionsgate (80 85.3 3.10%
Focus (4) 60.7 2.20%
CBS (3) 57.2 2.10%
Summit (4) 57.1 2.10%
FilmDistrict (1) 44 1.60%
eOne/Seville (10) 15.3 0.60%
Roadside Attractions (6) 13.7 0.50%
Sony Classics (8) 13.6 0.50%
Other * (109) 47.1 1.70%
2743.6 100.00%
* none greater than 0.4%

Wilmington on Movies: The Conspirator

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

(Three Stars)
U.S.: Robert Redford, 2010

The late Sidney Lumet, I think, would have liked Robert Redford‘s new movie, The Conspirator, a film that, like Lumet’s courtroom masterpieces 12 Angry Men and The Verdict, deals dramatically and memorably with the vagaries of the law, and with the wars between justice and injustice, between vengeance and mercy, between truth and prejudice — but one that, this time, doesn’t necessarily show us one good man (like 12 Angry Men’s Juror No. 8), prevailing against the many.

Producer-director Redford’s picture is set in 1865, in the aftermath of The Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination by John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell). And it follows, with a clear eye and a heavy artistic commitment. the famous case of Mary Surratt (Robin Wright, superb), the mother of one of the Booth cabal, John Surratt (Johnny Simmons).

Mrs. Surratt was a women who found herself accused of conspiracy and put on trial for her life with the others, mainly because she owned and ran the boarding house where they met. She was a passionate Southerner, but there was no real evidence linking her to the assassination, and in fact, it seems unlikely that Mrs. Surratt would have had a place in the plot, or that Surratt would have bragged to his mother beforehand about planning to kill the President of the United States.

Besides, even if she was involved — and, in real life, she may have been — she was a woman, she was a mother, she was older, and she had obviously lost everything: reputation, livelihood, health, honor, and worst of all, she had lost her son, who never came back to take the blame and save her life.

Yet, despite all this, in the film, Lincoln‘s coldly partisan and relentless Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline, almost unrecognizable and very powerful) wants to make sure that Mary is found guilty. He wants her condemned to death by hanging, because he feels that legal killings, as many as he can muster, are the ways to heal a country in crisis. Though his philosophy is markedly at odds with Lincoln’s own oft-stated Christian humanist compassion, Stanton does everything possible to provide those deaths, every last one of them, beginning with his insistence on a military trial rather than a civil one.

Contending against Stanton’s representative and creature in court, the slick prosecutor Joseph Holt (Danny Huston), are, first, Mary’s more liberal defender, Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), and when Johnson leaves, his protégé, young lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy, in the best performance I have ever seen him give).

Aiken is a Union Army veteran, newly returned to his sweetheart Sarah Weston (Alexis Bedel), and he is at first unenthusiastic and reluctant about taking the case, as well as pretty well convinced of his client‘s guilt. Eventually, as more and more doors are slammed in his face, and as the noose is knotted more firmly around the neck of Mary — a woman bitterly resigned, hurt, suspicious, and unwilling even to accept court help from her daughter Anna (Evan Rachel Wood) — he becomes obsessed with saving her, and, probably in his mind, with saving the honor of the law as well.

Stanton is equally determined that his predetermined sentence will be fully executed, his will be done, and that Mary will become the first woman, and the first mother, ever put to death by the United States Government. A dubious distinction, and he fights ruthlessly to earn it. Aiken fights as passionately to rescue her.

This story, though the facts have been at least somewhat changed or “dramatized” for the film, remains strong drama. On its own, it is a terrific historical tale, well scripted by James Solomon. The cast is first-rate and obviously deeply dedicated, and they are, all of them, very fine. Redford obviously made this movie with all his heart. The picture, economically shot, has a grim, dusty look, and, for me, it also looks a little too TV-historical-dramatic-ish. But the story and the actors are so good, it doesn’t matter.

A confession now of personal predilection. I am against capital punishment, and I believe that as long as one innocent person was unjustly executed and falsely branded forever a murderer — and we know now, thanks to advances in DNA testing, that there have been many — legal execution is an abomination, and should be replaced by any fair government with life imprisonment without possibility of parole, along with enforced reparations to the victims.

I say this knowing that if a loved one of mine were killed intentionally, I would want to kill the monster that did it with my own hands, especially if the evidence seemed certain. But I would be wrong.

Perhaps only a part of the movie’s tale is true, though, according to the (disputed) record, it’s probably a large part. So, Damn you to hell, Edwin Stanton, and even if there isn’t one, and you managed to slip away unpunished — you have been thoroughly well  indicted, prosecuted and damned here, in The Conspirator, by Redford, by Solomon, and by all the film artists and actors who made this film with them, especially Robin Wright, James McAvoy and Kevin Kline.

And damn all those who, like the movie’s Stanton, mistake power for the right, mistake cruelty for justice, mistake brutality for firmness, and mistake personal bias, prejudice and predilection for the law. May the Secretary of War lie forever in some cold, barren and comfortless grave, stripped naked and forever weaponless, in the bones and ashes and ignominy he deserves.

There is no need for a SPOILER ALERT.

We all know, or we all should know, that Mary Surratt was hanged. There was no Juror Number Eight to save her, and no universal director and scripter like Sidney Lumet and Reginald Rose to guide his arguments and to change everyone‘s minds. God watched apparently, but did nothing, for the time being.

But there is an interesting coda to the events, and it’s shown here before the end-titles: an interesting third act for Fredrick Aiken, and one especially ironic in the light of Robert Redford‘s previous career in movies. I will leave you to discover it for yourselves.

Critics Roundup — April 15

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

The Conspirator|Yellow||||Green
Atlas Shrugged Part One|||||
Scream 4|||||Yellow
The Princess of Montpensier|Yellow||||Green
Little White Lies|Yellow||||

Box Office Hell — April 15

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Scream 4 |40.4|25.0|13.0|38.0|n/a
Arthur |6.8|6.1|6.0|n/a|n/a
Soul Surfer|6.7|6.8|n/a|7.0|n/a
The Conspirator|2.0|n/a|n/a|n/a|n/a

Say What, Armond?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I kind of love the way some Facebook posts end up generating a pretty interesting comments discussion. Last night, Matt Zoller Seitz posted a link to Armond White’s review of The Conspirator, Robert Redford’s newest directorial effort, which led Glenn Kenny to note that White had lumped in Matt Damon with George Clooney and Sean Penn, thusly:

Now, with The Conspirator, Redford himself seems to believe his own legend; he has joined his knuckle-headed, self-righteous progeny—George Clooney, Sean Penn and Matt Damon—by directing a film that is as dull as it is politically hip.


Redford Takes His Conspirator North Of The 49th

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Redford Takes His Conspirator North Of The 49th

Redford On Peddling His Lincoln Pic At Toronto

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Redford On Peddling His Lincoln Pic At Toronto

Gurus o’ Gold – A Pre-Toronto Look At The 2010/11 Field

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Welcome to the first Gurus gathering of this upcoming season.

It always seems a little silly to offer strong opinions before the Toronto International Film Festival has even begun. So we don’t. Consider these a gentle guide to what the buzz is, very early in the season.

We asked The Gurus to offer their 15 favorites to end up nominated for Best Picture come January. No ranking, No “sure things.” Just instinct and as much insight as is possible at this moment.

Last year, we did the same and the result was that The Gurus hit seven of the final ten in their Top Ten from this long distance. Two more were picked in the Top Sixteen. And the only film to get nominated that was nowhere to be found on this early list? The Blind Side. (Perhaps that explains the shock from the media when it got nominated… even after becoming a well-reviewed massive box office hit.) So maybe this early poll isn’t really all that silly .

Is there a stone unturned this year? Well, not Stone, which got a vote from Pete Howell. And not Tree of Life, which got 4 votes last year at this time… and just 3 votes this time around (2 of them from the same Gurus as last year).

This is not the look for the future of Gurus moving forward. But our team is designing a databased system that will launch when Gurus goes full-out in November. So, until then…

UPDATE, 9/7/10 – The last three Gurus have now chimed in.

The Participating Gurus
Anthony Breznican – USA Today
Greg Ellwood – Hitfix
Pete Hammond – Deadline Hollywood
Eugene Hernandez – indieWIRE
Pete Howell – Toronto Star
Dave Karger – Entertainment Weekly
Mark Olsen – LA Times
David Poland – Movie City News
Steve Pond – The Wrap
Sean Smith – Entertainment Weekly
Sasha Stone – Awards Daily
Kris Tapley – In Contention
Anne Thompson -indieWIRE
Susan Wloszczyna – USA Today

TIFF Preview, Part Two

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Previously, I wrote about what you might consider the more “indie” sections of the Toronto International film fest: Contemporary World Cinema, Discovery, and docs, plus Canada First!, which is always interesting.

Now let’s take a peek at the Galas and Special Presentations, plus everyone’s favorite late night, wild ‘n’ crazy section, Midnight Madness.