Rhino…the weekend is already underway! Where Rhino…where have you been?
Sorry I’m tardy gang, but I was busy catching flicks. And since I do that for you, I will assume your forgiveness would be offered and I accept.
Box Office Predictions
The Conspirator (4 of 5 Horns)
Win Win (5 of 5 Horns)
Jane Eyre (4 of 5 Horns)
Water for Elephants
Madea’s Big Happy Family
Oh what a weak, weak weekend. Of these three, African Cats, the full-feature documentary on…drum roll…African cats, seems the most interestings to me. Narrated by Morgan Freeman-in-training voice talent, Samuel L. Jackson, Cats seems to be the perfect family friendly fare, as it is a G-rated Doc from Disneynature Films.
So what of the adult fare? Madea? Elephants? Which way do you go?
For me, I have no personal draw to either of these films and for each of their sake, I feel both films are opening in a troublesome weekend. It is Easter weekend and many families will be headed out to the theater, looking for family friendly films. And just so you don’t think I am taking a religious-centric attitude towards this theory, but the most recent Gallup poll on the topic, places nearly 77% of Americans in the category worshiping under some form of Christianity.
Not my intention to start a religious debate, but being the Blinkin, I wanted to at least share that I thought for a moment before using Easter as an impetus for skewing the weekend results.
Madea’s Big Happy Family will do well. Tyler Perry has skills when it comes to making and marketing movies and his fans usually pay their respects in droves. But will the weekend scenario keep him from taking the top slot at the box office?
Water for Elephants…a film based on a 2006 novel, which spent 12 weeks on the NY Bestsellers List, peaking at #7. Water for Elephants is directed by Francis Lawrence, a former music video director and also director of the (actually watchable) Keanu Reeve’s vehicle CONSTINTINE and the equally watchable I AM LEGEND. So what to think about this? Can I take it seriously with Team Edward (Edward Pattinson) in the lead? I am not big on Reese Witherspoon, but she has had some gems and then there’s Christoph Waltz. A diamond in the crown of a film, Inglourious Basterds, and a decent component in the less than decent offering of The Green Hornet. Oh let us lament The Green Hornet. I am not interested in Water for Elephants to any great extent, but the real question is this: will Team Edward fans be enough to raise this drama to the top of the box office?
Let’s look at some of the competition…last week’s box office top five were:
2. Scream 4
5. Soul Surfer
HOP will take the day and ride it out on top. This meager attempt at creating a holiday legacy ran at #1 for two weeks. It was #3 last week and for its milqutoast level of excitement, I think it will have enough draw on topic alone.
What do you think? Here’s my pick for the weekend 5:
2. Madea’s Big Happy Family
4. Water for Elephants
5. Scream 4
Over the last two days, I had the opportunity to see two films, both in at least their second week but only in limited runs so far. I don’t think either will make an appearance on my list.
Robert Redford directs this period epic that looks at the days following the death of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Emancipator of slaves, leader of the Union during the Civil War…his death was truly a tragedy.
Unless you took a class in American History or have read any of the recent offerings covering the conspiracy leading to the assassination, the extent of your knowledge on the subject is probably this: John Wilkes Booth shot and killed Abraham Lincoln while the venerable leader was attending the theater.
The Conspirator looks at the complex plot that was hatched in the boarding house of Mary Surrat. Actually, it doesn’t look at the plot so much, as it looks at the uncertainty that exists surrounding Mary Surrat’s knowledge and involvement in the planning of the killing. Her son, John, was friends with Booth and the plan certainly seems to have been hatched in that boarding house. But in a best case scenario, is her ignorance deserved of death, the penelty suggested by the military tribunal called to preside over the criminal trial?
Redford’s politics brim over the edges a bit, but in manageable doses. And who can disagree that perhaps those making decisions were doing so through misguided eyes. The President was dead, the Civil War had just ended, and the nation was in turmoil. Of course rash decisions were made.
I found this movie entertaining and well-acted. The star-studded cast includes Kevin Kline, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkenson, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney, Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, and Alexis Bledel. This film provides a window into what procedural TV would have been like if Law and Order had existed around the end of the Civil War. This film functions wonderfully as a courtroom thriller as well as the drama upon which the framework is built.
Robert Redford is pure A-List and his work in front of or behind the camera is usually, if nothing else, well made. Love him or hate him, I am thankful he exists in the film commuity for his work developing Sundance. One of America’s truly great film festivals, Sundance is indepentant film.
THE CONSPIRATOR: 4 Horns of 5
I saw this movie Friday on a whim at the tail end of a visit from my folks. My dad is a kamakazi when it comes to early departures, and since he and my mother hit the road early, I was out the door as well for the bargain $5 show at AMC.
Win Win was written and directed by Thomas McCarthy. McCarthy is best known for his acting work…as Dr. Bob, perhaps from the Meet the Parents series, among his many roles. Honestly, as I hit IMDB to see his stats, I hadn’t realized that this Thomas McCarthy, whose additional work was The Station Agent and The Visitor, was so prolific. He wrote and directed both films. This guy has talent! He even has a “story by” credit on Pixar’s UP!
This is a wonderful film. I will tell you out of the gate, I give this film a 5 Horn of 5 review. I loved every minute of it. I do give some preference to Paul Giamatti as I do believe he is a treasure of modern cinema. But his slightly subued everyman role is wholly believable here. His wife is played by Amy Ryan, who for all her beauty, she absolutely becomes whoever she plays and this role is no different.
Win Win is a drama built around the spine of a sports film. It is a sports film that will leave you wanting more…a hunger that will be satiated by the resolution of the drama. It is a great film.
The story concerns an attorney (Giamatti) who is struggling in his practice. He has a client who is in the early stages of dementia and is about to become a ward of the state, as his only daughter cannot be found. Giamatti’s Mike Flaherty offers to become Gaurdian to old man Leo Poplar, but for the wrong reasons. The well-off Poplar has a stipulation that an administration fee of $1500 a month will be collected by the Guardian.
Leo Poplar is played by Burt Young. You know, Paulie from Rocky, Burt Young. I loved him in this film. It is a small role, but Young played it like a master. I was moved by his performance, which was accentuated by his very convincing old man looks.
Flaherty tells Poplar that the judge stipulated that he is required to live in assisted living, when in fact it was arranged so that Poplar could have lived in his own home. To seal the deal, Flaherty runs by Poplar’s house to turn off his water to make sure his pipes don’t freeze.
When he gets there, there is a boy sitting on the steps of the house. The boy, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), is looking for his grandfather. Flaherty obliges him with a visit to see Gramps, and since Kyle is traveling alone, Flaherty takes him in.
Kyle’s mother is in drug rehab, and Kyle is a lonely boy. Flaherty moonlights from his law practice as a wrestling coach, a former wrestler himself. Kyle asks Mike if he can practice with the team, and we learn fast that Kyle is a great talent on the mat.
This film is insanely witty and well-paced. The drama picks up at the end, but for the seemingly weighty content, it never becomes a downer. I found this to be “feel good” from start to finish.
The cast is excellent with support from Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, and Melanie Lynskey. See this movie. It is rated R, but minus a few fantastically placed F-bombs, it is pure PG-13. I hate that this R rating will limit the audience that this film finds.
McCarthy is a genius and this film completes the writer/director’s trifecta of excellent films.
Make this your weekend choice if you can. I think Hop will take the weekend, but for my money, this would be my pick.
Win Win: 5 of 5 Glorious Horns
I mentioned last week the classic offering, JANE EYRE, a film by Cary Fukunaga. I mention is again here because if you are looking for an alternative to the more recent releases, this movie could be for you. This film stars Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Judi Dench and is the lastest filmic rendering of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel of coming of age. The story itself is great, but director Fukunaga has woven a dark, forboding thriller, that is edgy and fresh. Jane Eyre is dark. Many shots are lit by nothing but ambient candle light. Fukunaga’s efforts, when combined with fantastic art direction and a wonderful score, all equal a wholly watchable film that leaves you completely satisfied. As Jane Eyre goes into a wider release this weekend, consider checking it out.
JANE EYRE: 4 of 5 Horns.
Enjoy your Easter, if that’s your cup of tea…if not, kick back and see a movie just for the hell of it.
Until later, take care.