of November 2, 2014

Creepy member’s only jacket Gyllenhaal barely beats Ouija to a slow Nightcrawl, while John Wick got 86’ed out the Top 5.

Halloween was upon the box office this past weekend, marking death upon any opening film that isn’t a shitty horror remake to get stabbed numbly in the bloody heart any credible movie that feels it can overcome the predetermined of box office failure. Nightcrawler confidently knew it could perpetrate Halloween’s tightly gripped pumpkin box office, with a semi-creepy premise, anchored by a semi-creepy character that video tapes provocative L.A. news at night presented theatrically under the guise of a sneaky snuff film idea. Audiences accepted it, but not for the reasons you think. The movie won with an opening tally of 10.91 million, beating powerpuff girl Ouija, the slumber party from hell movie’s total of 10.9. Gyllenhaal won the popular vote, but there is still the electoral of the general pop culture consciences, and you, my sir, were about to get snuffed out of your own pseudo snuff movie promise. Apparently, the young kids (tweens in some tribal circles) had nothing to do this weekend that was short of asking mom or dad for the car. Can’t go to a party - you’re underage, can’t go trick or treating - you’re too old. So where do dumbass middle schoolers and high schoolers go to celebrate? That’s right, to the movies. And what movies do they actually see? Ones where Ouija is on a dish best served idiotic, that’s where.

Last week Ouija and its supernatural market tested studio forces, beat out a very smart, very cool, John Wick. It wasn’t even close. Here again this weekend, another lauded subversive thriller of a movie, with an out of mind performance from a guy who needed it (Gyllenhaal) was about to get syllabized to death by mall girls that play spiritual demonic board games in the 21st century (Is Mall Madness still a thing?). Movies in North America, and in particular in the United States aren’t hamstrung by box office grosses, for certain types of films, and to Nightcrawler’s credit it’s one of them. It’s not accessible in a traditional sense. It showcases a handsome lead that we are accustomed to seeing manufactured, but dapper, while also affable, in a non-threatening way. He convincingly portrays his role overzealously as a recluse dungeon and dragon’s burnout, with an attraction to homicidal street portraits: when it comes to getting off other peoples macabre. General audiences don’t want to see Gyllenhaal do that, but then again, general audiences don’t know what they want to see him as. They just know, this ain’t that movie. But it is! They just won’t let down their guard for a fear of betrayal of wanting to keep Gyllenhaal on their wall to preen over. And he is fine with that, with this particular piece, it’s apparent he goes all in, while never seeming to want to be pulled out. Gyllenhaal is getting rave reviews for his work on the role, with Variety magazine stating that he could be a possible dark horse best actor nomination and probably more than deserves it with this latest effort. Ouija on the other hand is the movie that will be playing on Cinemax at 2:00 in the morning on a Saturday sandwiched between soft core porn that will be its claim to buffer tired, tawdry cable misfit fame where it belongs. Don’t worry, we will get more Ouijas and it will be a franchise, but it cannot in no way shape or campy form, touch the creative leering power behind Nightcrawler. People will try to tell you otherwise out of their own ignorance because we all grew up with a Ouija board, or the idea of it, therefore it lends to familiarity and thus it’s a good movie. Whereas Nightcrawler isn’t even invited to the cocktail party. That is what is making Oujia competitive, it's child barren harmless familiarity that actually harms good film. To me that is not a good enough excuse to place a viability name tag on Ouija.

So then how did John Wick lose out to Ouija where Nightcrawler won? It’s because of atypical paint by action numbers marketing strategy and the fallibility of another seemingly generic action film hand delivered not shortly after the lessor intellectual granddaddy Denzel won. Sorry Wick, action triumphed two weeks early with the dumb as stolen hammers The Equalizer. Wick, like your movie’s plot, came out of retirement too late to make a good action film. You still got it done in the movie, and quite convincingly I must add, but we are talking about the box office here, where you were dead like the eventual puppy found on your doorstep. Nightcrawler had less pressures financially: of course movies are in the business of making money, but some films don’t cling to that monetary notion. The film was made for 8 million dollars, and grossed almost 11 million, while coming in first with little to no marketing or advertising, so Nightcrawler slyly won big this weekend, even if the difference between it and Ouija is small.

Coming in third at 8.8 million with a total cume of (60 million) was David Ayer’s World War 2 Space Opera laser tank Film “Tank Wars: A New Hope” starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and a pissed/crying emotive Shia LaBeouf. Regardless of the TIE Fighter lasers throughout the film, and its choppy structure, Fury is holding strong and further cements the “Frat-dude cinematic” genre that Ayer always finds himself inhabiting. 4th is “Not-so” Gone Girl holding strong deserving its notoriety as a good film, not just a woman’s book - becoming Fincher’s highest grossing film. Rounding out the Top 5, The Book of Life,the children's movie with all of the Mexican cardboard box charm starring Zoe Saldana, Ice Cube and Channing Tatum at 8.3 million. 

Lastly, I’m pouring a 40 oz. for my falling homey Jonathan Aloysius Wick III. This movie is where Keanu Reeve’s recent film choices (Man of Tai Chi and the live anime masturbation 47 Ronin) failed him and by a larger extent the film itself. This was the action movie in which it needed people with the right amount of insight to know that the film, on one hand celebrates action films while also parodying itself in a simple understated way. Like Tom Cruise with Edge of Tomorrow, audiences didn’t turn out not just because he is box office pariah, but also Edge looks, feels, sounds like a typical sci-fi action like Starship Troopers, or Cruise’s previous movie Oblivion. That is why John Wick got beat out by the Instagram generation. Wick looks, feels and sounds like any old action film, stereotypically highlighted in a moody off-Pablo picassoian blue matte, intertwined with a lifeless taupe that are all too familiar in its essence. Foolishly presented as a hard, thick as ice, skull basher of an action film that is pretty much expected to look to the untrained, savvy movie going eye, no matter how well it’s really delivered. Wick is supposed to be familiar, but to its credit, no one will know that its intent was to strip what’s familiar while holding down action movie codes in a different, irreverent way. Thank goodness, Nightcrawler beat Ouija because when the Hulk-Buster of a Mecha-Godzillian Nolan Golum monster - Interstellar comes out, all of the aforementioned movies will lie petrified in its trashy pop cultured tasted wake like an Ashton Kutcher trucker hat hangover. But for right now, kudos to Gyllenhaal, and Dan Gilroy for carving out a little box office slice behind the little movie train that barely could. 

Top five films of the weekend:
  1. Nightcrawler — $10.91 million
  2. Ouija — $10.9 million ($35 million domestic total)
  3. Fury – $9.1 million ($60.4 million domestic total)
  4. Gone Girl – $8.8 million ($136.6 domestic total)    
  5. The Book of Life – $8.3 million ($40.5 domestic total)

Source: Entertainment Weekly ew.com 
of October 5, 2014

“Not so Gone Girl” –Annabelle has her lifeless doll eyes set on the Buzzy matrimonial mood killer. 

This past weekend, two movies were independently operating hurriedly at separate times and space velocity but ultimately ended up simultaneous fighting over the same gross receipts. Fincher’s brilliant adaptation, Gone Girl of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name – is the thundercats homing beacon in all of its buzzy soap box ecstasy whose demographics are women with ‘Anthropologie’ mail catalogs who casually sip their apple martinis while waiting to find their Ben Affleck-y, good looking, 3L Law Graduate. This weekend came to a feverishly middle-aged pitch. From all accounts, Gone Girl presents everything needed in a film to be an engrossing domestic violence gasser: smarmy, lunkheaded, emotionally terse Affleck, a crystalline Rosamund Pike,the weaseley devoid slickness of Neil Patrick Harris along with Tyler Perry doing his best “I can do other things, white people, besides the whole shucking and jiving shtick like Larry Johnson’s Grandmama." Fincher’s movie has a great but manipulative trailer, tight plot, and principals converted from the book (the author wrote the screenplay); couple that with the director’s unique ability to craft a genuine overrated, sharp, angled thriller, that looks like it was inspired from a Bang and Olufsen showroom. Gone Girl will continue to fascinate audiences in the upcoming weeks.

In addition, the movie has a lot of intrigue with it, and is now part of the “have you read the book before/yet" conversation. Furthermore, critics that had written their reviews recently needed to preface the spoilers, so as not to give away any crucial plot points even though you can’t talk about the movie without divulging said information for it’s the information that is the movie. You can’t separate the two! You would have an easier time splitting the atom than writing a review for Gone Girl without touching purposefully, or accidentally the carefully placed clues. Gone Girl harbors a cohesion of people that had read the book, and know what happens, while also desperately wanting to tell you but can’t – just as much as you want to find out before the movie but can’t. It’s like Fincher birthed a fucked up cinematic speakeasy when discussing the movie. The trailer and promo spots look absolutely predictable, manipulated and a white guilt sensational, as Pike’s character declares quite slithery in her breathy voice, “I’m afraid this man might kill me," while also saying at the same time schizophrenically “I may just disappear." Whatever she does, let’s hope she can make up her mind while Affleck is distracted putting on the cape getting ready to "street sweep” gothamites.

Unfortunately the box office couldn’t make up its mind either. Annabelle, the scary yet complacent raggedy Ann doll (if raggedy Ann had finely interwoven braids and rouge made in blood on its cheekbones) came in a close second at the box office at $37.2 million, second only to Gone Girl's" $38 million. For Annabelle it was mission accomplished as it was made for only $6.5 million whereas Gone Girl was made for $61 million. It’s not all bad news for the Real Housewives of Murder Framing: Rated “R” dramas generally take time, and with its inherent strong reviews, glossy direction, and a legitimate Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted screenplay dark horse come Oscar season, Gone Girl will out distance the doll, that doesn’t do anything but smile you to death. 

Annabelle, for intents of purposes, sold its premise on a doll - that’s right, a fucking doll! It received only 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a certifiable stinker that will make 15-year-olds on their first date all over the country happy. However hardcore fans will continue to turn out, just like they did this week, but it won’t see opening day dollars again and with other movies being released and also with Gone Girl still lingering like a vacant half-assed Ben Affleck trying to hide the murder weapon at a frantic but deliriously pace with the help of the ghost of Colonel Mustard. Annabelle’s strength is the doll itself. It’s truly creepy and terrifying at the same time. It’s smiling but it’s a crooked smile. It’s an inanimate object that can talk by demonstrating meta-physical syntax without having to break its chasm look. She may be scary for what she represents, which is possession, and horror itself, but you walk away gagging at the smell of mothballs on her. Annabelle may kill you, and you won’t do anything about it because you are a waste of her time as she is a waste of yours.

Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer dropped off as anticipated after last weekend’s number one debut. It grossed $19 million making a two week total $64.5 million, which is nothing to shake a disgruntled old man fist at! The Boxtrolls is holding strong at four with $12.4 (32.5) with the solid The Maze Runner grossing $12 million making its total a whopping $73.9!! All in all, a healthy box office for the past week. It surprised me that Annabelle grosses made it a close of a margin it did against Gone Girl. I seriously doubt that will happen again this upcoming week – Gone Girl is the type of movie you see a second time, willingly. In comparison Annabelle is what you sneak into at the theaters, ninja-warrior style, after you’ve just seen Gone Girl.

Top five films of the weekend:
  1. Gone Girl — $38 million 
  2. Annabelle — $37.2 million
  3. The Equalizer — $19 million ($64.5 million domestic total)
  4. The Boxtrolls — $12.4 million ($32.5 million domestic total)
  5. The Maze Runner — $12 million ($73.9 million domestic total)

Source: Entertainment Weekly www.ew.com 
of September 28, 2014

Maze Runner and Boxtrolls get nailed gunned to the head by Denzel’s grown ass man swag!!! 

When it comes to action movies, audiences still root for the older ass-kicking cosmonaut, because who are we fooling, we all still look up to our fathers to get us out of trouble one way or another: like needing their help to change a flat-tire, fixing a busted pipe in the house to giving permission to borrow the car while simultaneously patting us on the head. The point is we still look to older men to lead the way and take care of us. Expendables, finally expended, Liam Neeson, is more bankable and reliable now than 10 years ago because if you are trapped in troubling eurotrash emergencies, he is the wooden fire hatchet behind glass you break, and Denzel is just status quo'ing with is own brand of AARP justice. Washington’s ‘The Equalizer’ opened to a justifiable $35 million dollar domestic box weekend opening. This is the stuff of late September box offices are made of - kinetic fandom, built in audience, track record of previous successful commercial collaborations with Fuqua, were going to astronomically rally around this movie. I was wrong but not mistaken. This is the likeable dumb bro movie that guys who think Fast and Furious 5 is not good enough. Who else could had pulled this movie off? Not anyone younger than a baby boomer. Denzel did what he came to do and that is pick up where he left off in the highly flammable ‘Man on Fire’. We’ve seen him in this role, but weren’t clamoring for it. Reinterpretation is the name of the game with reboots, especially television ones. I dare anyone of any consequence after the Reagan era to truly tell me they know what the original source was beyond the show’s entitled ‘moniker’. This movie is two thirds Denzel’s paunchy reliability and one third a cool ass name. Didn’t matter what the movie is about, he is about to “equalize” it the hell out if it!

This opening pleased Sony Pictures very much, as we know as sequel is on its way, but don’t worry - Denzel will be two years older, so there should be twice as much implausible ratcheted up action. ‘Maze Runner’, the young adult, post-apocalyptic summer camp acid held steady coming in second at $17.5 million dollars, which gives it a domestic total of a little over $58 million. Not bad actually, but not good enough to take out Denzel in a café at night. The movie made its dent had time in the glade’s bankable sun. Maze Runner didn’t sprint around the competition in M.C. Escher-like circles, but a planned sequel is going to hit our theaters in two years, forcibly to hold its place among audiences Hunger game’s doggiebag stuffed tween leftovers.

Boxtrolls? I don’t even know what that is, but when Traci Morgan and Toni Collette (who I respect very much) are your lead voices, your movie will suffer. There is no box office “come hitherness” with either actor and when a movie is called “Boxtrolls” it makes me want to hide in a box and seal myself up with packing tape. Kids come out in droves for movies, and typically slays the adult competition like a little pixilated buzzsaw with parent permission slip included. However, this movie sounds like an April Fool’s day present for someone you really don’t like. It did come out at $17.25 million for animation studio LAIKA which also previously released the peculiar ‘Coraline’ and disappointing stylish ‘Paranorman’. I refuse to believe that ‘Boxtrolls’ is better than those movies, and just write off the $17.25 million to inflation. Star studded Tina Fey ‘This is Where I Leave You’ came in fourth at $7 million and just a drop of 39 percent from the previous weeks earnings.  And lastly, ‘Dolphin Tale 2: Electric Boogaloo’ finished 5th at $4.8 million too much (what the hell is wrong with people???). Anyways the moral of the story here is that Denzel is still Denzel, but also attribute the relative opening weekend success to a lazy competition, excellent marketing but more importantly, the right calendar date. Also, right now is the in-between season for Hollywood where we are exposed to the sleepy little known titles that may surprise or ultimately end up as a Netflix recommendation. We are not yet to the awards season where quality will match quantity, but we finally shook off the Guardians of the Galaxy roofied hangover fog. Kudos, Denzel, be proud of your opening because it’s nothing but a Fleetwood Mac "Landslide" from here on down for your gross dollars. You will not “Equalize” the box office next week. Here are the top five in order for the weekend ending on September 28, 2014.

Top five films of the weekend:
  1. The Equalizer — $35 million
  2. The Maze Runner — $17.5 million
  3. The Boxtrolls — $17.25 million
  4. This is Where I Leave You — $7 million
  5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $4.8 million

Source: Entertainment Weekly www.ew.com