Greetings and welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly guide to the weekend’s new movies. Tune in every Tuesday for the latest look at the upcoming weekend, and then check back on Thursday night for final projections based on actual theatre counts.
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Updated Predictions and Comparisons –
UPDATE: The biggest change you’ll notice is that The Ides of March has been dropped by a couple million dollars and that’s because the actual theater count for the movie is under 2,200 theaters despite the estimate earlier this week that had it over 2,700 theaters. We’re keeping our prediction for Real Steel where it was because we think that Monday being Columbus Day will help keep the movie going strong over the weekend.
1. Real Steel (DreamWorks) – $27.5 million N/A (down .1 million)
2. The Ides of March (Sony) – $11.3 million N/A (down 2.9 million)
3. Dolphin Tale (Warner Bros.) – $10.0 million -30%
4. Moneyball (Sony) – $7.6 million -38%
5. Courageous (TriStar/Sony) – $6.0 million -34%
6. 50/50 (Summit) – $5.5 million -36% (up .3 million)
7. The Lion King 3D (Walt Disney) – $5.3 million -50% (up .5 million)
8. Dream House (Universal) – $3.8 million -54%
9. What’s Your Number? (20th Century Fox) – $3.0 million -45%
10. Contagion (Warner Bros.) – $2.8 million -50%
After a somewhat disappointing September, October kicks off (this time for real!) with two very different movies which will try to break the jinx which has allowed only two brand new movies to open at #1 – yeah, sorry, but we’re not counting The Lion King 3D as a new movie.
The movie that stands the best chance at getting audiences to turn their back on returning fare has Hugh Jackman and big fighting robots in Real Steel, loosely based on the Richard Matheson short story, which gives DreamWorks a chance to have their second hit of 2011 after the surprise blockbuster The Help. Putting together boxing and robots means this one will mainly be appealing to guys with the chances of getting fathers bringing their younger sons to go see it together. If it opened during the summer before the box office took a downturn in August, it probably stood a better chance of making over $30 million in its opening weekend, but it should still do well due to DreamWorks’ strong marketing campaign
Meanwhile, George Clooney returns wearing his director’s cap for his fourth movie as director, the political thriller The Ides of March (Sony), starring Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like previous Clooney movies Good Night, And Good Luck, Michael Clayton and The American, the material probably will appeal to older adults and the more liberal-minded 20 and 30-somethings, but like those movies, it’s more likely to find its audience based on word-of-mouth rather than opening as well as Sony’s other recent prestige film Moneyball, starring Clooney’s pal Brad Pitt.
The fact is that the box office is in a state of flux with very few movies opening over $20 million in the past month and many movies underperforming compared to expectations and tracking, which may mean that the economic crunch has finally trickled down to the average moviegoer. (That doesn’t explain how so many people have the money to pay premium prices for a movie already available on DVD though.)
This week’s “The Chosen One” is Mateo Gil’s South American Western Blackthorn, starring Sam Shepard, which opens in New York and L.A. You can read more about it below.
This weekend last year saw David Fincher’s The Social Network (Sony) remain on top with $15 million, down just 31% from its opening weekend. Second place went to the Katherine Heigl comedy Life As We Know It (Warner Bros.) with $14.5 million, followed by Diane Lane with the horseracing drama Secretariat (Disney?) with $12.7 million. Wes Craven’s latest movie My Soul to Take (Rogue/Universal) was finally released in 3D but it tanked with just $6.8 million to take fifth place. Despite opening wide in over 700 theaters, the indie comedy It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Focus), co-starring Zack Galifianakis, ended up outside the Top 10 with just $2 million in its opening weekend. The Top 10 grossed less than $77 million, an amount that should be beat if Real Steel and The Ides of March open as strongly as we expect.
Real Steel (DreamWorks/Disney)
Starring Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand
Directed by Shawn Levy(The Pink Panther, Date Night, Cheaper by the Dozen, Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian); Written by John Gatins (Hard Ball, Coach Carter, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sports
Tagline: “Courage is Stronger Than Steel”
Plot Summary: Former boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) now fights giant robots on the underground robot boxing circuit, but things aren’t going his way as he owes thousands of dollars and can’t get a break, but when his estranged 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo) is dumped on his lap, things start going Charlie’s way, especially when Max finds an older robot he dubs Atom that turns out to be unbeatable in the ring.
While one might have a hard time taking the idea of fighting robots seriously, the sci-fi premise created by Richard Matheson in his short story is used more to tell a story of a father trying to find redemption from his estranged son in a way that has a similar emotional impact as the recent “Warrior.”
What’s interesting about “Real Steel” is that it isn’t the type of futuristic science fiction one might expect, being a world that’s very much like our own with the main difference being the high-tech robots and the different circuits on which they fight, everything from the professional World Robot Boxing league to underground fights with less rules and clunkier ‘bots.
We’re introduced to the latter aspect of robot fighting through the eyes of Hugh Jackman’s Charlie, a sleazy former boxer down on his luck who travels from town to town with his beaten-down ‘bot to take any fight he can to raise money to pay off those he already owes money. On learning his ex-girlfriend has passed, leaving his 11-year-old illegitimate son Max behind, Charlie makes a deal with Max’s uncle who wants custody but needs Charlie to watch the boy while they go away for the summer.
It’s a great role for Jackman, one that allows him to be a slick showman imbuing his charisma to its fullest effect, but also showing a more dramatic side, playing a character that’s flawed and rarely doing the right thing. Young Dakota Goya, who played a similar role as Josh Hartnett’s son in Rod Lurie’s boxing movie “Resurrecting the Champ,” has a much bigger part this time and the talented young actor really has a strong personality that allows him to go toe to toe with Jackman and steal more than a few scenes. The third part of this equation is Evangeline Lilly’s Bailey, the daughter of Charlie’s trainer who has been running her father’s gym and harboring a secret longing for Charlie while being there to help fix his bots after they get destroyed in a fight. The romance angle isn’t overplayed but offers even more warmth and humanity to counter the many scenes of metal robots fighting each other. Even smaller roles like those played Anthony Mackie as an underground fight promoter and bookie and Kevin Durand as one of Charlie’s “creditors” bring a lot to establishing Charlie’s lifestyle within this realm.
The drama really works, and the action is all terrific, the CG robots having real weight and personality, brilliantly using performance capture on real boxers to make the fighting feel authentic. The film looks fantastic due to the masterful cinematography by Oscar-winner Mauro Fiore (Avatar) who lights the film in a way that makes it feel a lot classier and more cinematic than director Shawn Levy’s previous efforts.
In fact, if Levy felt he had something to prove with “Real Steel” then he’s succeeded as this is his first movie to deliver a powerful dramatic punch without ever feeling like it needs to dumb itself down to win over its audience. Even if it’s somewhat corny and predictable at times, it’s a real crowdpleaser, and despite the PG-13 rating, it’s a movie appropriate for kids down to 7 or 8 who will be able to enjoy it as much as their parents.
In a year when Michael Bay’s third “Transformers” movie is trailing behind the final “Harry Potter,” one has to wonder whether another movie about fighting robots can find an audience, but “Real Steel” is a very different beast in that it’s a movie with literary roots, based on a story by Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) rather than being based on a toy/cartoon. The good thing going for the movie is that it’s not just a movie about robots, which would bode comparisons to movies like “Transformers,” the “Terminator” franchise and the popular animated film The Iron Giant, but it’s also a movie set in the world of boxing, a popular sport that’s been the basis of many great movies.
It’s also the new movie from Shawn Levy, who’s had huge success with family films like Cheaper by the Dozen ($138 million gross) and The Pink Panther ($82.2 million), both which led to sequels, as well as his biggest hit, the Ben Stiller blockbuster Night at the Museum, which led to a sequel Levy directed himself. He went from there to the Steve Carell-Tina Fey comedy Date Night, which grossed nearly $100 million, but Real Steel is definitely a departure, being that it gets Levy away from comedy to do something a bit more dramatic and action-driven.
Levy has a great partner in actor Hugh Jackman who hasn’t done a lot of big budget effects work other than playing Wolverine in the long-running “X-Men” franchise, but that’s where he’s built much of his fanbase, and one can easily see them being interested in a movie like this over something like Baz Lurhmann’s Australia. Jackman has been doing a lot more theater in recent years, as well as hosting both the Tonys and the Oscars, both of which raised his Q-rating among older audiences, though they probably won’t be very interested in a movie about boxing robots. The movie also stars young Dakota Goyo in a breakthrough performance, the young actor having previously played Josh Hartnett’s son in Rod Lurie’s boxing-related drama Resurrecting the Champ, as well as super-cute Evangeline Lilly from “Lost,” Anthony Mackie and Kevin Durand.
The genius of the movie is that while it could play to teen and older guys who might enjoy boxing, it’s going to play gangbusters to boys from 8 to 13, and with a father and son storyline being at its core, one can expect fathers will want to see it with their boys. It’s hard to think many women will have much interest in the movie in the way it’s being marketed, which may keep it under the $30 million mark in its opening weekend, but you can guarantee that any mother who takes their kids to see it will be telling their friends about it, since their kids will most likely enjoy it.
DreamWorks has gotten the word out on the movie via a fairly extensive marketing plan that’s included stunts held at Comic-Con and Hugh Jackman even hosted “WWE Raw” to get the word out to the movie’s potential male audience. Real Steel might not get overwhelmingly positive reviews because it is fairly high concept plus it tends to tug on heartstrings that will please audiences but possibly antagonize critics, but clearly, DreamWorks know they have a movie they don’t have to hide and they have screened it frequently and often over the last month or two.
It also will be opening in IMAX and it should be a bigger draw in that format than Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion was since lots of guys and kids will already be used to seeing their summer movies in the larger format, and what’s better for IMAX than giant fighting robots?
Why I Should See It: If you like giant robots and boxing, this has the two of them together!
Why Not: No Megan Fox! (Oh, wait, that’s probably another reason TO see it.)
Projections: $25 to 28 million opening weekend and roughly $90 million total.
The Ides of March (Sony)
Starring Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright, Max Minghella
Directed by George Clooney (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night, and Good Luck, Leatherheads); Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov (Good Night, And Good Luck), Beau Willimon (playwright of “Farragut North”)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Plot Summary: During the Presidential primary in Ohio, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is the campaign press secretary for the underdog Governor Morris (George Clooney) but a dalliance with a young campaign intern (Evan Rachel Wood) leads Stephen into a conspiracy to derail Morris’ campaign by their opponent’s campaign manager (Paul Giamatti).
Video Interviews with the Cast
Now that it’s October, it’s time to really get into Oscar season with some of the more prestige-based releases, and having a new movie from a filmmaker who has already gone through Oscar season is always something that’s met with interest, and that’s certainly the case with this new movie from actor-turned-director George Clooney. For his fourth movie as a director, Clooney returns to adapted material, this time bringing the recent play “Farragut North” to the screen with an all-star cast of respected actors, and he has a bigger role in the movie than in his first two. Even though the movie is being marketed as a thriller–a genre Clooney has quite a bit of experience with, having won his first and only Oscar with Syriana, but also having starred in The American, a spy action-thriller–it’s really more of a character drama set in the world of politics.
Even though Clooney is considered a major A-list star, he hasn’t had quite the box office success of his pals Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, other than when the three of them were teamed together for Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 and its two sequels, all of which grossed over $100 million.
Otherwise, Clooney is generally good for anywhere between $35 million and $60 million. Even with Oscar buzz for Clooney, Syriana and Michael Clayton only got around to $50 million, with the latter opening in limited release this very weekend four years ago. In fact, Clooney’s highly-acclaimed second movie Good Night, And Good Luck also opened this same weekend in limited release but only ended up with around $31 million. Clooney’s follow-up the lighter period comedy Leatherheads ended up grossing roughly the same even though he had a much bigger role and it received a far wider release. Clooney’s biggest recent movie in which he didn’t play Danny Ocean was Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, which opened later in the year and built upon the awards buzz, despite not winning a single Oscar. Before that, he had The Men Who Stare at Goats (another $30 million topper) and the Coens’ Burn After Reading, which grossed $60 million, but that also had Pitt. The odd thing is that there’s more buzz for Clooney’s performance in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, which is more likely to take him to Oscar night than his own movie.
In fact, The Ides of March is more about Ryan Gosling, an actor who is trying to make his way into the A-list with his third movie of the year. His recent thriller with Nicolas Refn, Drive, seems like it may be stalling out under $30 million, but that follows a major role in Steve Carell’s Crazy, Stupid, Love, which has already passed $82.7 million. That’s Gosling’s biggest movie since the early romantic drama hit The Notebook, but other than those two, Gosling has never had a movie gross more than $40 million.
Gosling stars opposite Evan Rachel Wood, who hasn’t appeared in a movie that’s grossed over $27 million with Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe being some of her more recent hits. It also has a number of other strong actors including a number of Oscar winners like Philip Seymour Hoffman who won an Oscar for his performance in the title role of Capote back in 2005, and he’s been nominated a number of times since. He also has a smaller role in Sony’s hit Moneyball. Paul Giamatti has also been nominated for an Oscar, and if you ask some people (like me), he deserved a lot more accolades than he’s received from the Academy, plus the movie also stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, who brings another level of prestige to the movie, as does Jeffrey Wright, who won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance in HBO’s “Angels in America” (also based on a play).
There haven’t been many movies based on political campaigns that have done particularly well with Primary Colors starring John Travolta and Robin Williams’ Man of the Year doing the best with less than $30 million and Kevin Costner’s Swing Vote bombing when it opened a few years ago. The Ides of March is the second of three movies being released by Sony this fall that seem to be more about prestige and potential awards than being huge box office hits, although those can often go hand-in-hand. The studio, who hasn’t been known for delivering Oscar-winning movies in recent years got the bug last year when they released David Fincher’s The Social Network (in fact, around the same time) and it went all the way to Oscar night, though it only won for screenplay, soundtrack and editing.
One gets the impression the movie will fare better in big cities, particularly on the East and West Coast where people are more liberal and open-minded to a movie set in the world of politics, although they also might feel like there’s more than enough politics on television right now.
Either way, the audience for Clooney’s latest will probably be older and lean a bit more female due to the presence of handsome charmers like Clooney and Gosling, and they’re also an audience who wouldn’t necessarily rush out to see a movie, so The Ides of March should probably fare better in the long-term than opening weekend, which has been the case with most movies over the last few months.
Why I Should See It: This is another great film by Clooney, one that proves his ability to get terrific performances out of actors and do interesting things with politically-tinged material.
Why Not: It seems a bit outdated to be dealing with Democratic Presidential primaries, being that we won’t have another one until 2016.
Projections: $13 to 15 million opening weekend and roughly $40 million total.
THE CHOSEN ONE:
Starring Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Stephen Rea, Magaly Solier, Nicolak Coster-Waldau, Padraic Delaney, Dominique McElligott
Directed by Mateo Gil (Nobody Knows Anybody, a couple shorts and screenwriter of Open Your Eyes, The Sea Inside, Agora and more); Written by Miguel Barros
Genre: Western, Drama
Plot Summary: Decades after he was thought dead, the former “Butch Cassidy” is now living in Bolivia as James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard), but days away from returning to the United States, he encounters a Spaniard named Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega) who convinces James to help him retrieve money stolen from a mining company.
If you’ve already read my interview with director Mateo Gil (above), then you already know Blackthorn is one of my favorite movies of the year, actually #2 behind the French-Canadian film Incendies. Believe me, there was no one more surprised for a Western, let alone one that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, to end up in such a lofty placement. In fact, this one almost evaded me entirely and if not for a big chunk of free time while attending the festival back in May, I might never have seen it.
There are classic films so beloved by an older generation, you’d never imagine any filmmaker today would be ballsy enough to touch them, so it’s shocking to think that over 40 years after George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, someone would try to make a sequel and that it actually would live up to the original movie. That’s what Alejandro Amenabar’s screenwriter Mateo Gil decided to do for his second film as a directorand not even working on his own script either–and it’s quite an achievement that it works as well as it does.
As the film begins, Sam Shepard is introduced as James Blackthorn, who we quickly realize was the man once known as “Butch Cassidy.” He’s been living an idle life as a rancher in Bolivia, in a relationship with one of the locals, but he’s ready to return home to the United States. On his way back from the bank after withdrawing all his money, an encounter with a Spaniard named Eduardo in the desert leaves James without a horse, as it runs off with his life savings, and he has to take a on as an unwitting traveling companion to retrieve the money. Blackthorn is a former bandit with a strong code of ethics that compels him to trust Eduardo when he know he probably shouldn’t.
Sam Shepard’s performance is a revelation, one of the veteran actor’s finest hours as he plays the title character as a tough man’s man with a softer side we get to see in the quieter moments at home with his native girlfriend. The last act provides a reunion between Blackthorn and Mackinley, a Pinkerton who has spent decades convinced that Butch and Sundance were still alive. Played by long-time Shepard compatriot Stephen Rea, he’s spent decades turning into an angry drunk, and the two have great scenes together, including an impressive monologue delivered by Mackinley to his former nemesis. Noriega is somewhat of the weak link in the film, his English holding him back at times, but the chemistry between the young actor and Shepard is strong enough to keep the movie going.
The film regularly flashes back to the early 1900s before Butch, Sundance and the latter’s wife left for South America, and it cuts back to this era to fill in the blanks between the two movies. Those scenes, featuring three barely known actors in Nicolak Coster-Waldau, Padraic Delaney and Magaly Solier, create an interesting dynamic to the scenes with Shepard and Noriega.
Blackthorn is just a brilliantly-executed film that maintains a slow and steady pace but every once in a while, it explodes with an impressive face-off or shoot-out. In some ways, it owes more to Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James than it does the more action-oriented Westerns, and that’s partially since the film looks absolutely astounding with all the glorious landscapes of the Bolivian plateau captured beautifully as the background with a score that has a subtle grace, even including a couple of songs sung by Shepard himself.
At a time when Westerns are having somewhat of a renaissance, it’s quite surprising that it takes two foreign filmmakers working in a foreign country to deliver one of the most compelling Westerns we’ve seen in quite some time. Although it’s been playing on Video on Demand for the past month–as apparently is the norm these days–we highly recommend you get out of your house and see it on the big screen (as we have) because it really is the perfect movie to see in a larger format.
Blackthorn opens in New York and California on Friday, then expands to other cities in coming weeks. You can see the full theater listing here… oh, and a happy 10th Anniversary to the film’s distributor, Magnolia Pictures, who continues to release some of our favorite movies every year!
The Swell Season (Seventh Art Releasing)
Starring Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
Directed by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins, Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (Pale Griot Films)
Starring Fishbone, Flea, Gwen Stefani, Ice-T, Perry Farrell, Branford Marsalis, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, Questlove, Vernon Reid, Eugene Hütz, George Clinton
Directed by Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler
Genre: Documentary, Music
Anyone who’s read this column anytime in the last 8 and a half years here at ComingSoon.net already knows how much I love music docs and this week, we have two of them, one of a band I liked when I was a kid and one that I got into a more recently.
We’ll start with the movie we’ve seen more recently, The Swell Season, which those who saw the movie Once (our #1 movie of that year) will know as the band created by The Frames’ frontman Glen Hansard and Czech singer/songwriter Markéta Irglová. The filmmakers of this doc followed the duo and their band on tour after they won they won the Oscar for their song from Once, shooting entirely in black and white (probably for other reasons than this week’s Human Centipede 2).
They really lucked into a good time to capture the band on film since their popularity had absolutely exploded following their Oscar win, their fans being completely enamored by the duo’s romance, having started out as friends but fallen in love while out promoting the movie. The documentary gets into how their relationship evolved through great interviews with both Glen and Marketa, but also talking to the people around them, including Glen’s Mum and Dad, who seem rather chuffed with their son’s fame. It’s obvious that Marketa is having a hard time coming to terms with her own growing fame, as well as trying to find her own identity, which ultimately puts a wedge in their relationship. (Oddly, Irglova has just finished her own solo album and is touring with it this fall.) The results feel very personal and intimate, giving you insight into the world of these fascinating musicians.
The current cut feels very different from the one we saw at Tribeca earlier this summer, which seemed to have more concert footage, not only of the band, but also of some of the bands they were touring with, but if you’re one of their many diehard fans, it’s a doc not to miss.
Admittedly, we saw the Fishbone doc Everyday Sunshine quite a long time ago, around the time it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and we haven’t had a chance to see it since. Our plans to see it a second time before it opened theatrically was waylaid by our inability to find or screener DVD, but as a fan of Fishbone way back from when they released their first album, it gives just as thorough a glimpse into the crazed minds of Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher and the rest as The Swell Season does for that band, but it also includes more testimonials of their colleagues and musician fans.
The Swell Season opens in Los Angeles on Friday and in New York on October 21, while Everyday Sunshine opens in New York on Friday and then in Los Angeles on October 21. See how that all works out?
Also in Limited Release:
Juno Temple stars in Abe Sylvia’s comedy Dirty Girl (The Weinstein Company) as Danielle, a promiscuous high school student in Norman, Oklahoma who befriends a closeted gay loner named Clarke (first-timer Jeremy Dozier) and she convinces him to go on a road trip with her to California to find her father who ditched her and her mother (Milla Jovovich) years earlier. It opens in select cities on Friday.
Review (Coming Soon)
Director Tom Six returns with his controversial sequel The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (IFC Films), which follows a loner named Martin (Laurence R. Harvey ) who decides to create his own human centipede based on the actions of Dr. Heiter In the first movie, only this time, he’s going for the entire 12-person centipede!
Review (Coming Soon!)
Jackie Chan stars and co-directs (with cinematographer Zhang Li) 1911 (Well Go USA/Variance Films), which covers the rebellion by a group of young military men to take on the Qing Dynasty empire, who have ruled over China for 250 years, but taking on the Empress Dowager (Joan Chen) and her unstoppable army will take more than fighting, which is why Sun Yat-Set (Winston Chao) must travel to the United States and Europe to try get funding for their impossible rebellion. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Mini-Review: It’s fairly obvious that the Chinese Revolution of 1911 was an important part of history in that country, which may have been why the country’s Ambassador of Comedy Jackie Chan would get so intrinsically involved in bringing that to the screen in what seems like a very expensive movie that has a little bit of everything… except a good script.
Apparently, whomever wrote 1911 knew there was going to be a lot of ground to cover, but the movie starts in a weird place, just before the first invasion, so we barely get to meet or know any of the young men killed in that failed rebellion as they’re barely introduced. If they really wanted to have their deaths create any sort of impact, maybe this movie should have been separated into episodes like “Band of Brothers,” each focusing on a different section of this revolutions and spent more time with these young men.
More than that, it’s a showcase for Winston Chao as Sun Yat-sen, the man who would rally the bankers behind the fighting men and become China’s first President, and he gives a strong performance that almost makes the movie worthwhile. Chan himself is also decent as a military leader, and he even finds a way to shoehorn a single awkward martial arts scene in there. Otherwise, there’s a lot of bad melodramatic overacting and grandstanding, and the worst of it is when it veers into English when it becomes how obvious how bad the script is. Chao is good in Chinese but stumbles so badly over his words in English. Then there’s the single American in the movie who comes off as being retarded – I know, let’s make him a military consultant! “1911” is hilariously bad at times, because of bad decisions like that one.
The movie is extremely long-winded with exposition to the point that right after we see something happen, there is text on screen essentially explaining what we just watched take place, and that’s just unnecessary,completely killing any momentum. For the most part there are way too many characters introduced, many of them who have very little importance or relevance, yet they all get little titles explaining who they are, regardless of whether they’ll be in the movie for 10 minutes or 10 seconds. The worst part is that whether or not you’re familiar with the revolution, the movie shows it in a rather boring way whenever it’s not on the battlefields, and those moments are far fewer than you might expect.
Needless to say when you have a cinematographer like Zhang Li (Red Cliff) at the helm, it’s going to be a gorgeously shot film, and the different battles and sections have starkly different looks which keeps things visually interesting, but otherwise and at over two hours long, you’re likely to come away from it not knowing that much more about the 1911 Chinese Revolution and caring even less.
Emilio Estevez wrote, directed and appears in The Way (ARC Entertainment), a movie starring his father Martin Sheen as an American doctor who travels to France to retrieve the remains of his son who died in the Pyrenees while walking the spiritual Camino de Santiago, but once there, he decides to take his son’s planned journey, encountering other troubled individuals from different countries.
Phillipe le Guay’s French comedy The Woman on the 6th Floor (Strand Releasing), set in Paris 1960, stars Fabrice Luchini as Jean-Louis, a rich man living with his socialite wife while their children are away, who hires a Spanish maid Maria (Natalia Verbeke) who introduces him to a new life in the 6th floor servant quarters.
Tim Wolff’s doc The Sons of Tennessee Williams (First Run Features) covers the history of the Mardi Gras and how it’s played into the fight for civil rights by the country’s gay population. Embedded with a US Marines company in Afghanistan, photojournalist Danfung Dennis’ Hell and Back Again (Docurama Films) looks at how a Taliban machine gun bullet deeply impacts the life of 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris , both in the field and when he returns home to North Carolina and tries to readjust to civilian life. Both of these open in New York on Friday and in L.A. on October 14
Steve Mim and Joe Bailey Jr.’s doc Incendiary: The Wilingham Case (Truly Indie) explores the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted and executed for killing his daughters in an arson fire in 1991, a case that had Texas Governor (and Republican Presidential hopeful) Rick Perry involved in the investigation of the case.
Next week, it’s the last Weekend Warrior ever and the three lucky movies we’ll be writing about are Craig Brewer’s remake of Footloose (Paramount), the prequel to the John Carpenter remake of The Thing (Universal) and the comedy The Big Year (20th Century Fox), starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.
Copyright 2011 Edward Douglas