Flame and Citron

Conspicuously red-headed, twenty-something “Flame” (Thure Lindhart, “Angels and Demons“) is both a tortured romantic and an efficient killer and anti-Nazi patriot. Whether the target is a Gestapo officer or a pro-Nazi journalist, he’s efficient and not too concerned with moral fine-points — except, perhaps, when it comes to women. Former automotive saboteur “Citron” (Mads Mikkelson, the evil Le Chiffre of “Casino Royale“), however, is overtly troubled by the job, and even more so by his deteriorating marriage. Things become torturous for the pair, comrades but perhaps not quite friends, when a series of events involving questionable leadership, traitors within the resistance, and Flame’s emotional attachment to a sexy and sympathetic resistance spy (Stine Stengade) makes them wonder just how many of right and wrong people they’ve been killing, and why the local Gestapo head (Christian Berkel) isn’t one of them.

“Flame and Citron” attempts to blend the blunt realism of an anti-Nazi resistance thriller like Jean-Pierre Melville’s recently rediscovered “Army of Shadows” with a contemporary action film. Initially, director/co-writer Ole Christian Madsen’s bombast and an overlong first act partially derail matters in this 2008 Danish language production, but once it gets going, the film achieves its goal and becomes an honest look at the real cost of killing. A genuinely affecting, complex story kept remarkably clear by Madsen, strong acting (sometimes too strong), and some painfully effective action sequences makes this film a bitterly poignant reminder of the real cost of World War II.

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…And the Winner (Really) Is….

No, this is not a reference to last night’s Tonys. True, the movie-inspired “Billy Elliot” did take the night, continuing a “trend” for B-way musicals that go back to the classic film era, and it’s also true that host Neil Patrick Harris is a winner both for his show-closing/show-stopping musical summation, and because Empire Online has announced a couple of movie gigs for the still up-and-coming Doogie Horrible. (h/t Whedonesque).

However, it seems that the battle for the #1 box office spot discussed on my last post actually had a somewhat different result than we thought. It’s important to remember that those numbers I talk about on Sunday are really only estimates, though they are treated by press-sters as just this side of gospel. The upshot is Variety is reporting that both “The Hangover” and “Up” did better than expected business yesterday, but the former did just a little bit better better business, if you follow me. Sayeth the big V’s Pamela Mcclintock:

Final figures will show that “Hangover” grossed $45 million from 3,269 runs. “Up” should finish at $44.3 million to $44.4 million from 3,818 theaters.

I don’t suppose it really matters that much in the final analysis; nobody’s going broke here. (Well, I can’t speak for degenerate gamblers. Someone, somewhere, just lost a big bet.)

In other box office news I didn’t have time for yesterday, “Angels and Demons” cracked the $400 million mark over the weekend worldwide, sayeth the Finke. “Terminator Salvation” is not doing so badly overseas, actually. “Land of the Lost,” however, may be doing even less well than expected. Critics, you may step up your gloating.

  

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Weekend at the Multiplex (Updated)

Christian Bale contemplates his eyelineHey folks. Now, if anyone out there remembers the series of “Multiplex Mayhem” posts I was writing back in the dark days of the late, late Bush Administration, I’m returning in a different, and briefer form. For this week and next, I’ll be covering the weekend box office, and then, starting next month, there will be more from me on movies in general here, and that’s all I’m saying for the time being.

This big movie Memorial Day weekend, though no longer the official start of summer movie season, brings us too major tentpole releases from the big studios: Warner’s “Terminator Salvation” and Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” The PG-13 Terminator reboot attempt is directed by McG, who Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale (who kinda sorta liked the movie) terms a “poor man’s Michael Bay.” Other critics were less charitable, and the film is getting easily the worst reviews in the entire history of the “Terminator” franchise, with the Rotten Tomatoes crowd giving it an underwhelming 35% “fresh” and generally seeming a little angry with star Christian Bale for walking into their collective eyeline. Not that any of that will matter to weekend grosses — and I do expect this to be the big winner of the long holiday weekend. However, if audiences agree that it really is inferior to prior “Terminator” flicks, it’s possible there will be a bigger drop-off later than expected. Still, at last night’s midnight’s screenings, it raked in a cool $3 million from the Red Bull drinking legions.

The sequel to 2006’s entirely unacclaimed “Night at the Museum” should also do well regardless of notices because it combines the only sure formula for box office success — a kid-friendly production that offers something, anything, to parents as well. In this case, Ben Stiller and a very strong supporting cast, even if the result had Roger Ebert squirming in boredom and remembering one of the truer critical refrains of all time:

I found myself yet once again echoing the frequent cry of Gene Siskel: Why not just give us a documentary of the same actors having lunch?

Still, the parents I know are mostly grateful for any movie that doesn’t involve CGI rodents eating their own feces, and at least this one encourages kids to go to museums.

And there is another option, that is the latest, at this point entirely unreviewed Wayans Brother’s spoof film from Paramount and MTV, “Dance Flick,” which at least has a reasonably funny trailer and Amy Sedaris (sister of writer/public radio superstar David Sedaris, frequent comedy companion of Stephen Colbert, before he was having portions of space stations named after him). Carl DiOrio says it will do well if can break out of the euphemistic “urban market”? Young folks looking for a comedy will likely go if they can’t get into something else, but something tells me that both “urban” people and their paler “suburban” friends will have other films to watch considering that, new releases aside, “Star Trek” and “Angels and Demons” are still very strong at the multiplex.

In limited release, we have Steve Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” starring thinking man’s porn star Sasha Grey in a sexy but non-porn role which makes it something of a must for cinephile horndogs the world over. And because I’m the retro-guy who occasionally likes the same movies your grandma does, I feel compelled to mention both “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story,” about the guys responsible for the vast bulk of the pre-“Little Mermaid” Disney songs, and the Noel Coward adaptation “Easy Virtue,” which looks like it would go down very well with a nice dry martini made with a good, dry English gin. But you’ll want to see Sasha, won’t you?

UPDATE: Apparently some disagree with what I thought was a conventional-wisdom friendly guess about the weekend’s winner, since “Terminator” is such a time-tested franchise. Nikki Finke says it will be neck and neck but those famed “insiders” are predicting immense numbers for “Museum.” We’ll see.

  

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