Kate Beckinsale goes hiking with Kevin Nealon

Lovely Kate Beckinsale joins Kevin Nealon on his new YouTube series where he takes celebrities on a hike. She’s as charming as ever, and Kevin adds some funny bits even as he’s breathing heavily throughout the entire video. It seems like a take on Seinfeld’s car interview series. It’s worth checking out just to see Kate . . .

  

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Box Office Preview: ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

Total Recall

“Total Recall” is a remake of a 1990 film of the same name, which itself was an adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Yeah, I know, Hollywood is really running out of ideas. As Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale put it, “[Director Len] Wiseman does his best to freshen things up, and in some cases, he actually improves upon the original, but you can never quite shake that feeling of déjà vu while watching the film, and that only begs the question, why bother remaking it at all?” Rave reviews I know, but I’ll give you a quick synopsis anyway.

Collin Farrell plays Donald Quaid, a factory worker disenchanted with life in the stereotypical sci-fi “future world” (think “Blade Runner” with better CGI). To cure his woes, Quaid seeks out Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories so realistic you can’t tell the difference between them and your true past. The procedure goes wrong (imagine that) and Quaid finds out his wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), is a government agent assigned to watch over him. It’s the opening scene of the second “Austin Powers” movie, only her guns are guns, not breasts. Along the way, Quaid finds out he too is a secret agent so undercover not even he knew about it (shit’s deep, bro), and teams up with rebel fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) against the United Federation of Britain and its evil chancellor, Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).

As the source material has gone through each step of the adaptation and remake process, its purpose—the major themes and feelings, indeed the story it was trying to tell—has become increasingly diluted. Dick posed philosophical questions about what makes reality “real” and memories “true,” while in the trailer for the latest version, Collin Farrell asks himself, “If I’m not me, then who the hell am I?” Yep, shit’s deep, bro.

Check out “Total Recall” if you’re in the mood for some heavy on the action, light on the depth sci-fi. The film currently sits at a 31 percent on the Tomatometer, so I’d rent the original or see “The Dark Knight Rises” (again, if need be) before plunking down my hard-earned cash on this one.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

I knew it was a book series, but the only reason I had any inkling this was a sequel, let alone the third film in a series, is the fact that there was a colon in the tile. It turns out there have in fact been two “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” films prior to this one. When a series is able to release its third film in as many years, it screams phoned-in counter programming playing for a built-in audience. Here’s what this one’s about, per the official synopsis:

During his summer vacation, “Wimpy Kid” Greg Heffley, the hero of the phenomenally successful book series, hatches a plan to pretend he has a job at a ritzy country club – which fails to keep him away from the season’s dog days, including embarrassing mishaps at a public pool and a camping trip that goes horribly wrong.

The newest “Wimpy Kid” movie is at a 44 percent on the Tomatometer, which notes that it “fails to improve upon previous installments and will likely appeal to few outside its target audience.” How much could there be to improve upon, given that the first two films are at 53 and 47 percent, respectively? Like I said, this is phoned-in counter programming. If you need to sit in the AC with the kids quiet for 90 minutes, this one might be for you. Otherwise, avoid it.

Follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

  

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A roundtable chat with Minnie Driver and Scott Speedman of “Barney’s Version”

A Brit who’s been successfully playing Americans for decades and a charmingly laid back Canadian with a definite air of California dude-ism about him, actors Minnie Driver and Scott Speedman might seem like a somewhat random pairing. Even in the new film version of the late novelist Mordecai Richler’s tragicomic swan song, “Barney’s Version,” their characters make for some pretty strange bedfellows. On the other hand “Driver and Speedman” does sound like the title of a late seventies cop show.

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Ms. Driver portrays the second Mrs. Panofsky, an otherwise unnamed Jewish Canadian princess who marries the very flawed Montreal TV producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti, who picked up a Golden Globe for the part Sunday night), only to find her new husband oddly distant, starting on the very day of their wedding. That’s because that’s also the day Barney meets – and goes completely nutso over – the woman who will eventually become Mrs. Panofsky #3 (Rosamund Pike). In Mrs. Panofsky’s corner: her outspoken ex-crooked policeman father-in-law (Dustin Hoffman), who speaks approvingly of her “nice rack.”

Speedman, for his part, is Barney’s multiple drug using novelist pal, Boogie. Best known for handsome-guy roles in the “Underworld” films opposite Kate Beckinsale and as the male lead in “Felicity” opposite Keri Russell, Speedman’s Bernard “Boogie” Moscovitch is a frequently charming rascal/jerkwad who both fails and assists his best friend in rather spectacular fashion, eventually starting a chain of events that may or may not lead to his murder by Barney.

Speedman entered the room first in typically low-key fashion, acting every bit the likable thirty-something surfer dude or ski-bum he could easily be cast as. Ms. Driver followed along, making a flirtatious joke about Speedman’s good looks and generally providing jovial company for a room full of entertainment writers one Beverly Hills winter’s day.

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Another touchdown for “The Blind Side”

First of all, my apologies for the pedestrian football metaphor in my headline tonight, but all the good ones have already been taken. Add to that the fact that, with my knowledge of sports, you’re likely to end up with “‘The Blind Side‘ hits a grand slam'” or “‘The Blind Side’ scores a 3-pointer.”

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Be that as it may, the up-beat social issue/sports drama starring Sandra Bullock did indeed do extremely well this week. Taking a look at the Box Office Mojo chart, the $29 million film earned a very nice estimated $20.4 million for Warners and Alcon Entertainment in its second weekend and has so far earned a really terrific total amounting to roughly $129,264,00 so far.

As a comparison, my favorite movie of the year (that I’ve seen…I’m way, way behind), “Inglourious Basterds,” was considered quite the success. With a $70 million budget, after 16 weeks it has earned $120,467,000 for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. “2012” cost $200 million to make, a rather obscene sum that was unthinkable not so long ago, and in four weeks in wide release has earned a mere $148,787,000. I haven’t seen “The Blind Side,” but it just makes me happy that a modest movie about people is proving, I think, to be significantly more profitable than at least one pretty obviously bloated spectacle.

As for that other movie about teen vampires, werewolves, and waifs, B.O. Mojo’s Brandon Grey is here to tell us that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” dropped another 63% this week. However, it’s opening week take was so stunning that meant it still took in a respectable estimated $15.7 million for Summit. It’s total domestic bankroll at this point is about $255.6 million and, as per Variety‘s Pamela McClintock, the worldwide total for “New Moon” is $570.1 so far. All that, with a budget of only about $50 million for a fantasy film. The “Twilight” films might not be seen by anyone as great cinema, but they are pretty awesome business.

Some bad guy in For you schadenfreude fanatics, Nikki Finke reminds us that both “The Blind Side” and the “Twilight” franchise were placed into turnaround by Fox and Paramount respectively. However, it’s always possible that those other studios would have found a way to mess up those pictures or their marketing, so who knows how things would have turned out with different studios?  In any case, no one wins all the time.

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“New Moon” and “The Blind Side” to have repeat box office bout

With a number of mostly rather underwhelming looking new films debuting this post-Thanksgiving/pre full-Christmas insanity week in medium-to-wide-release, box office pros like jolly Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter and Variety‘s Pamela McClintock appear to agree pretty strongly that the battle this week will once again be between the romantic monsters of Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and the football loving Red State good Samaritans of Warners’ “The Blind Side.” Considering that, as I wrote about last Sunday, “New Moon” dropped by 70% in its second last week while “The Blind Side” actually grew without the benefit of a major expansion — something I’ve never seen in the entire time I’ve been writing these posts — my money’s on the Sandra Bullock feel-good drama.

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Of the four new releases said to be appearing in 1,000 to 2,000+ theaters this weekend, the most promising, both artistically and commercially, is “Brothers,”  a remake of a widely acclaimed Afghanistan war-themed 2005 drama from Denmark. Distributed by Lionsgate, the movie is an intense love triangle involving the not-actually-dead young Afghanistan war vet played by Tobey Maguire, his not-actually-a-widow played by Natalie Portman, and his black sheep brother, Jake Gyllenhaal — who looks so much like a brother to Maguire that he once is supposed to have nearly replaced him in one of the “Spiderman” sequels.  (If they worked Elijah Wood into the cast, they would have achieved the baby-faced, raspy-voiced star trifecta.)

Director Jim Sheridan of “My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father,” and “In America” has a real flair for intense tales that dance around the edges of melodrama and then sometimes dive right in. The one-two-three punch of the very well known youngish stars would make you think this should come in with a decent amount of money — at least in the double digits. However, considering the growing news and controversy around the Afghanistan war, the topic might be a bit too timely for audience tastes. Also, a film like this should probably should at least crack 70% on the Tomatometer, especially, but hitting it of with something  in the neighborhood of 5060% of critics will have to do. Worse reviewed films have received Oscar nominations, however.

Robert De Niro in Next up is another remake of a foreign language hit, this time of an Italian comedy-drama/tearjerker from 1990 that starred the great Marcello Mastroianni and was directed by Giuseppe Tornatore of “Cinema Paradiso.” (Not at all a favorite of mine, by the way.) Disney’s PG-13 “Everybody’s Fine” brings us Robert De Niro as a widower trying to reconnect with his children and grandchildren and costars Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell. A sentimental tale for the holidays with this kind of star power should have some wattage in theory, though  apparently the “tracking” is kind of stinking for this film which isn’t really wowing the critics either. Our own Jason Zingale liked it mainly on the strength of DeNiro’s performance but this one feels like the movie you settle for if grandma, or maybe great-grandma, wants to see something nice and you can’t get into the “The Blind Side.”

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