Wednesday, 30 July 2014

BOX OFFICE REPORT: LUCY IS BESSON'S BEST STATESIDE


Universal Pictures may be trailing Fox in terms of total gross thus far in 2014, but they tie for the number of films atop the box office, and more impressive about Universal's achievement is that all five of their first placers are original stories, and four of them are R-rated, including this weekend's LucyBox office remains significantly down on the same time last year, continuing a hugely disappointing season, financially, for the big American studios.

1. Lucy ($43,899,340)
Scarlett Johansson's brand has gone up sharply since impressing mainstream audiences in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and arthouse ones in Under the SkinThis is a very strong opening for Lucy, which is an R-rated film from Luc Besson, a director with a very spotty box office history in America. The action film, which is performing above Angelina Jolie's Salt (rated PG-13), looks set to fall off on this gross over the coming weeks, but it's already a hit for Universal.

2. Hercules ($29,800,263)
The Legend of Herculeswith Kellan Lutz, was a major, though not unexpected, bomb earlier this year. With a better budget, marketing campaign, release date and lead, Brett Ratner's Hercules has already out-grossed that film in just three days, though this is still a poor figure that reflects very badly on Paramount's decision to spend $100 million on a sword-and-sandals action film. The genre has seen a slight resurgence in recent years, though one which was already fading by Wrath of the Titans, and looks set to decline further following this lacklustre gross.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ($16,767,260)
4. The Purge: Anarchy ($10,482,760)
5. Planes: Fire and Rescue ($9,529,656)
6. Sex Tape ($6,052,050)

8. And So It Goes ($4,642,329)
Posting a marked increase over upstart distributor Clarius Entertainment's last nationwide release, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Returnthis paltry tally for Rob Reiner's comedy, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, confirms that big names are never enough to sell a movie that people don't want to see. Some will be dismayed to see such talents degraded by such a dismal opening weekend gross. Some will say they deserved it.

9. Tammy ($3,454,221)

10. A Most Wanted Man ($2,686,526)
Roadside cannily shifted this thriller into 361 theatres, giving it just the right moderate push for a modest product, not quite well-reviewed enough to generate major arthouse buzz, not nearly high-profile enough to ignite the interests of general moviegoers. The decent promotional job also ensured that people were aware of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's presence. A Top 10 placement is definitely a win for Roadside, as it's their first time opening so high on the chart.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

REVIEW - BOYHOOD (RICHARD LINKLATER)


Life in the blink of an eye. Richard Linklater's Boyhood is caught between knowing its place and longing for it, between appreciating the fleeting futility of human existence on this planet and seeking greater depth and meaning within it. Linklater is sage enough to understand this dichotomy, reminding us of our own inescapable mortality while accepting that we might as well seek more meaning within our lives, since they're all we've got. He's not sage enough to grasp the position of his players within their lives, though, addressing their thoughts and their concerns with utmost trust and sincerity. His film is determinedly subjective, and while that provides the viewer with a vast expanse on which to build our personal interpretations, it does make Boyhood feel a little more pat than it wishes to be. As skilled as he is in expressing them, Linklater's messages are simplistic and unoriginal. Boyhood is extremely easy to watch, however, its depiction of one boy's maturation a fascinating thing to behold in this perfectly-judged space of time - precisely the right length of film to capture both the individual moments in time and their collective significance. Remarkably, his cast slips into character seamlessly with each installment in the narrative, and their performances have an amiable, unforced timbre. Sporadic strains at poignancy feel like schematic jolts, purposeless in context; Boyhood is at its most touching when it surrenders to the simple passing of time as it is experienced. It's in the subjectivity that we bring to watching it that we understand this life, in the blink of an eye.

Monday, 28 July 2014

FIRST OFFICIAL IMAGE FROM THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES


Meh. I stand by what I thought when I saw both An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. They're both OK movies. The Battle of the Five Armies (oh plz) is released in the British Isles on the 12th of December, and in the US on the 17th.

JLAW IN TEASER FOR MOCKINGJAY PART 1


You can't stop me from legitimately wanting to see this, because I liked The Hunger Games and I liked The Hunger Games: Catching Fire even more. Not even this boring trailer, nor the hilarious one before it, can stop me. All confirmed release dates so far for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 have it coming out between the 19th and the 21st of November, with North America and the British Isles receiving it on the 21st. Hey look! That's Julianne Moore! And that's all she needs for an Oscar nomination for Maps to the Stars after her Cannes success. Yes ma'am.

POSTERS FOR THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY


Ned Benson's romantic drama, which will be available for viewing in three unique versions (Them, Him and Her), comes out in the US on the 26th of September. TWC will surely be hoping for strong buzz and a good box office performance to help the film maintain positive hopes on a successful awards season bid a few months after. You may remember The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby from TIFF last year, or from Cannes this year! Check out my girl Sasha Stone's quote and credit on both posters!


TRAILER FOR THE NOVEMBER MAN WITH PIERCE BROSNAN


Like it or not, Pierce Brosnan is apparently still enough of a box office draw to be helming action thrillers. That doesn't bother me, even if Mamma Mia! did. Bond meets Bourne meets itty-bitty budget in the above trailer. It's disappointingly male-centric, with Olga Kurylenko playing a sexpot who supposedly needs protected. Bored already. But wait! Roger Donaldson is the director, so there's that, and I'll watch Kurylenko in anything, and so should you. The November Man is released in the US on the 27th of August, after Relativity shuffled it into the much-troubled Jane Got a Gun's prospective release slot.

ALAN ALDA AND AMY RYAN JOIN TOM HANKS IN SPIELBERG'S NEXT


Steven Spielberg's as-yet untitled Cold War spy thriller is taking shape, with a newly expanded cast. Tom Hanks will reunite with his director on Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal, as we already know, alongside Mark Rylance, and will be joined by new cast members Alan Alda, Eve Hewson, Billy Magnussen and Amy Ryan. Shooting commences in September; the Fox / DreamWorks co-production is set for release in the US for an awards-friendly date on the 16th of October 2015, a similar fall release to Spielberg's last, the highly-successful LincolnThe Coen brothers are currently working on a script rewrite.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL IN NIGHTCRAWLER - TEASER TRAILER


I didn't know much about Dan Gilroy's directorial debut Nightcrawler before watching this trailer, and I still don't know much about it after watching it. Jake Gyllenhaal couldn't open a movie if it was The Avengers vs. Titanic, though, so my hopes aren't up. Who ordered a Drive rip-off? Before a US opening on the 17th of October and a UK one on the 14th of November, this if heading to TIFF.

TIFF WILL OPEN WITH THE JUDGE


As if to confirm that they intend to follow in last year's footsteps by opening with a gigantic turd (it was The Fifth Estate then, remember?), the TIFF organisers have decided to open their 2014 festival with David Dobkin's The JudgeNo, rly. TIFF begins on the 4th of September this year, and Warner Bros. is releasing RDJ's self-appointed ticket to Oscar (k sure) in the US on the 10th of October and in the UK on the 24th. Brace yourselves.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

REVIEW - THE SIGNAL (WILLIAM EUBANK)


One could look so frequently to science-fiction movies to observe examples of 'style over substance' that it has somewhat become a staple feature of that genre, a touchstone upon which directors can validate their own shallow exercises in sci-fi filmmaking. William Eubank's The Signal is a puzzle of a plot that slowly forms into a rather dissatisfying picture, and then falls apart entirely with a naff twist ending that's so self-consciously meta it's even scored to dubstep. As stupidity goes, it's a cut above the rest of this film, which presents silliness as momentousness, but generally has the viewer on side, as we await the eventual explanation that will confirm the purpose of what Eubank has designed. His explanation fittingly denounces all that has been before as futile, though is itself a throbbing beacon of futility. Though lacking in any tangible substance, yes, The Signal is a stylish sci-fi film, as conventional entries into the genre ought to be. On a small budget, Eubank administers some effective CGI, and the film has a slick aesthetic. None of it is particularly revolutionary, despite Eubank's insistent portentousness, and confirms the derivativeness of so much of The Signal, right down to its basic visual conception. It marks a distinct disappointment that, even in this most vital regard on which the film supposedly thrives, The Signal is lacking in original thought or surprise. A feeling of disenfranchised fatigue settles in, and the mind-fuck final shot doesn't jolt one out of it, it actually reinforces that feeling.