A cinematic wish for a shana tova from Premium Hollywood

I’m a very secular and nonobservant Jew, so there’ll be a news laden post up a bit later. However, I’m not so devoutly unobservant and secular that I completely ignore the day — even if I only figured out a couple of hours ago that Jewish New Year, aka Rosh Hashanah, began tonight.

Anyhow, I was moved to post my favorite scene from, of all films, Clint Eastwood’s “Bird,” written by Joel Oliansky. In this scene, Jewish trumpeter Red Rodney (Michael Zelniker), after traveling with the band through segregated Jim Crow states as “Albino Red,” arranges a much needed paying New York area gig for jazz innovator Charlie Parker (Forest Whitaker) and crew.

If I remember the rest of the scene correctly, afterwards,  the rabbi says something like, “Most of you boys aren’t Jewish, but you’re good.” I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always found this scene both a little bit funny and extremely moving. (I briefly reviewed “Bird” as part of a series of “The Eastwood Jazz Collection” a couple of years back.)

By the way, the real Red Rodney, born Robert Roland Chudnick, like his friend, Bird, and so many other jazz musicians of his era, struggled with hard drugs for most of his life before reviving his career in the late seventies and eighties. He died in 1994 at age 66.

  

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“The Bounty Hunter” to ride shotgun for “Alice”?

Karl Rove and Ken Starr in That seems to be the trend in Hollywood conventional wisdom this busy March weekend, at least as reflected by my only source for such matters right now, the thoughts of jolly Carl DiOrio and Greg Kilday of The Hollywood Reporter. It certainly seems fairly impossible to argue that “Alice in Wonderland” won’t continue to enjoy its ride at the top of the box office for another week, with the aid of all those extra-pricey 3-D tickets. If it makes less than $30 million or so, I’m thinking it would be a rude shock for Disney.

As for the #2 spot, the appeal of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler seems to be working, as per the mysteries of “tracking,” for “The Bounty Hunter.” The film aroused some serious vitriol, however, from our own David Medsker, who has lost all patience with Ms. Aniston. It’s not doing much better with critics as a whole. Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club opines that:

Based on the onscreen evidence, not a single person in front of or behind the camera cared a whit about how The Bounty Hunter turned out…Some movies are passion projects; The Bounty Hunter is an inertia project.

That’s actually mild compared to the zinger Tobias ends his review with. As you might guess, it’s Rotten Tomatoes rating as of this writing is pretty bad, a very lowly 8%.

Jenifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, and the back of bald guy's head star in

Still, audience members may be lured by the film’s effective advertising. Its effective advertising promises a lively ride as a sort of two-fisted spin on “It Happened One Night,” though the PG-13 “Bounty Hunter” is apparently more of an attempt at a light-hearted actioner than the action-packed rom-com you’d expect from the marketing.

DiOrio and Kilday are guesstimating $20-23 million for Sony. Sounds doable to me, though the second weekend might have a huge drop if the film is as much of a creative misfire as it sounds.

Next up is Fox’s PG-rated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on a popular series of young adult “novels in cartoon.” (My pet peeve: why can’t we just call them comics?) I have to say that I hope the movie is much better than the trailer, which I found completely unfunny — just a collection of pale sub-“Wonder Years” jokes. The reviews seem to promise something at least a little better, with “Kid” dividing critics somewhat, though no one seems all that excited in either direction.

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Weekend box office: “Alice” will be in the zone and out of everyone’s league

Johnny Depp is the Mad HatterYes, there really doesn’t seem to be any reason at all to think any of the four new major releases this weekend will come anywhere remotely near the grosses for the latest tentpole flick from Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and company. That’s because last weekend saw the 3-D “Alice in Wonderland” earn an enormous $116 million, so even a gigantic drop would mean a rather huge second weekend by normal standards. And, as both Anne Thompson and Jolly Carl DiOrio seem to agree, the new competition isn’t incredibly strong.

The leading contender of those, however, appears to be the new movie from director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon, “Green Zone.” The publicity is doing everything it can to remind the audience that both of them worked on the last two Jason Bourne films. However, the film itself is a political thriller — never, I’m sorry to say, the strongest genre commercially. Oh, and it’s about the Iraq war, not a favorite topic of escape-seeking audiences, it appears. Indeed, the only thing worse commercially than a political thriller about an unpopular and still ongoing war is one with mediocre reviews.

Green Zone

Still, the Bourne connection, Damon’s appeal, and a bit of topicality may be good for something. About $14-16 million says Carl DiOrio, which may not be enough to support the film’s hefty price tag, he warns. Anne Thompson, also has some hints about what went might have gone wrong with the film. (Hint: Except perhaps on documentaries, it’s rarely a good thing when a director has to “find” the story in the editing room. It’s nice to have it in the screenplay, but I’m old fashioned that way.)

Like “Green Zone,” the primary commercial asset of “Remember Me” is its male lead. To a certain segment of the market, Robert Pattinson certainly kicks Damon’s box office keister, even if the “Twilight” pasty-factor is out of this picture. On the other hand, if a single unaccompanied male sees the weepy romantic/emotional drama which also features Emile de Raven and Pierce Brosnan, it’ll be a shock. Pretty much detested by David Medsker, this one didn’t exactly wow the mass of critics either. There’s also the matter of its ending, which has been leaked on the web and many find a kind of insult.

Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve in Under those circumstances, you might expect the seemingly Apatow-esque (but not Apatow-associated) guy-friendly romantic comedy, “She’s Out of My League” to do rather well. Like Apatow’s break-through film, “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” it benefits from a premise, fully explained in the title, that plays to the kind of universal male insecurities that seem to make for commercial comedy gold. Still, though our own David Medsker found the film quite likable, the overall reviews are middling and the level of interest out in the world appears to be low.

So low is the interest in the comedy, in fact, that Carl DiOrio actually expects the abysmally reviewed comedy, “Our Family Wedding,” to make about $3 million more dollars than “League,” even though it’s in nearly thirteen hundred fewer theaters. Featuring actors who I’m sure deserve better, including Forest Whitaker, America Ferrera and Taye Diggs, as well as comedian Carlos Mencia (who absolutely does not deserve better), I’m not sure why people would want to see this. On the other hand, since when am I “people”?

  

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Red Band Mania! Violence, great acting, and, er, surgical violence!

There are any number of interesting movie stories circulating about right now, but time constraints just won’t permit me to tell them today…and tomorrow is weekend preview, so some might just have to wait. Instead, however, we’ve got two interesting and violent red-band preview.

The first excites me quite a bit as it features the great Michael Caine and is the beneficiary of some very good buzz. Caine is an actor I’ve always kind of loved, but after being assigned to look at some of his lesser known films and doing some research writing up his bio, the admiration I’ve always had kind of turned into awe. I could go and on about that, and kind of did in the bio. Anyhow, “Harry Brown” appears to be an intelligent spin on the vigilante film, and that’s probably enough of an intro. Check it out, courtesy of Rope of Silicon.

And, not to be confused with the 1984 cult classic, “Repo Man” we have “Repo Men,” cowritten by Eric Garcia, who also wrote its basis, the science fiction novel, The Repossession Mambo, and wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where that could be the movie’s title. And, like I alluded to in the name of this post, this one is red-banded for its fairly matter of fact portrayal of organ removal as perpetrated by Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. As a gore phobe, and organ removal I suppose is the definition of gore, I’m still trying to figure out why this doesn’t bother me more.

  

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Your Premium Hollywood Oscar Live Blog

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Yes, my friends, the action starts right here, right now, right after the jump.

New comments will go above older remarks, so if you’re reading this later and want to start at the beginning, you’ll scroll down to the end. Got that? Good. Let’s hope for an interesting night and don’t forget to keep refreshing — the page and yourself with the commestibles of your choice.

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