LifeCell
LifeCell Anti Aging & Beauty Tips

Dream House

Months before its late-September release date, we received notification that “Dream House” would be screened in our area. And then, at the last minute, the screening was pulled. The screening for a movie that starred Daniel Craig, Rachael Weisz, and Naomi Watts…was pulled. That is not a good sign, to say the least. It speaks to a sudden lack of confidence in your product, and the studio has gone into damage control mode in order to preserve whatever box office potential it may still have.

Good call, as it turns out, though that’s not to say that “Dream House” didn’t have a wealth of promise. Will Atenton (Craig) quits his job to spend more time with his wife (Weisz) and kids while writing the Great American Novel, but almost as soon as he’s home, his family is threatened by a mysterious stalker. His neighbor Ann (Watts) is sympathetic, but she’s the only one. Once Will discovers that a mass murder took place in his house, he decides to find out more about the crime in question, only to discover that the trail leads directly back to him.

That’s a pretty damn good setup – the only question is where you go from there, and that is where “Dream House” loses its way. There are a myriad of paths the story could have taken, but damned if they didn’t take the simplest option available. Seriously, the explanation for why things went down the way they did is just head-slappingly dumb, and it kills us that we cannot explain why. Add just one more layer to the story, and this could be one of those “Jacob’s Ladder”-type movies where you never really know what is real and what is fantasy. Instead, they took the easy way out. Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. This, however, is not one of those times, not when you begin the movie by pulling the wool over the audience’s eyes. If your movie is high-concept, then see it through to the very end.

Anyone who grew up watching M. Night Shyamalan movies – and are therefore always on the look for the hook or the twist – will not miss the clues in “Dream House,” which form a veritable trail of bread crumbs. Hopefully the three leads will make another movie down the road, because goodness knows that under better circumstances, they could create something special. (Universal 2012)

Click to buy Dream House from Amazon

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

Related Posts

Weekend box office: “Megamind” rules the ‘plex, more or less

MegamindThe “divide and conquer” strategy for this weekend pretty much worked as planned. The cuddly supervillain-centric 3D animated comedy with an all-star voice cast from Paramount/Dreamworks “Megamind” underperformed slightly to come in at $47.65 million according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a couple million lower than the numbers bandied about earlier, but actually a few million above the opening of another Dreamworks Animation, “How To Train Your Dragon.” As Anthony D’Alessandro reminds us, that one had strong enough legs to carry it to a major success after an opening that was originally deemed very disappointing.

Next up was the heavily promoted Robert Downey, Jr./Zach Galifianakis vehicle, “Due Date.” The R-rated road comedy earned an estimated $33.5 million for Warner Brothers. It’ll be interesting to see if the lackluster reviews are reflected in less than awesome word of mouth and theatrical legs for the film. Nikki Finke reports that it got a decent B- from Cinemascore, but I remain eternally somewhat skeptical of those surveys.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis exchange bon mots in

The #3 film was Tyler Perry’s theatrical adaptation of a very non-Tyler Perry play, “For Colored Girls.” The heavy-duty drama earned true to Mr. Perry’s form with his traditional audience base, and generated an estimate of $20.5 million for Lionsgate. Say what you will about Mr. Perry, an adaptation of an acclaimed poetry-based play earning that kind of cash requires someone with his kind of populist sensibilities and appeal.

In the #4 spot, the age-spanning action-comedy, “RED,” continues to maintain its hold on the box office with an estimate of over $8.85 million for Summit. Last week’s Halloween #1, “Saw 3D,” had the expected big second weekend drop, plus a bit extra. It lost 63.6% for a Week 2 estimate of $8.2 million. “Paranormal Activity 2″ is also dropping, but less dramatically (55.8%). It earned an estimated $7.29 million for Paramount in its third week.

Among limited releases, the four theaters showing Danny Boyle’s much discussed James Franco near-one-man-show, “127 Hours,” showed that audiences were willing to pay an arm, if not a leg, to see the fact-based ordeal film and things look promising for a wider release. It endured a spectacular per-screen average of $66,500 for a total of $266,000. Less stratospheric, but still healthy, was the 46 theater debut of the fact-based political ordeal drama, “Fair Game,” featuring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as Bush-era National Security Council analyst Joe Wilson and his wife, spy Valerie Plame, who was very illegally outed by members of the Bush Administration. (Their defense: it was an accident. Woops.) It earned a per-screen average north of $15,000 and a total of $700,000.

fair-game-watts-penn

Related Posts

Trailer: “Fair Game”

With Fall starting it’s approach, it’s time for the award hopefuls to start showing their faces. And we start with a movie guaranteed to get the ideologues over at Breitbart-land (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re just lucky) into their usual state of apoplexy. Hey, it’s not the fault of liberals like me, or borderline radicals like Sean Penn, that more than one person extremely high up in the Bush II Administration pretty clearly engineered the outing of a CIA agent as an act of political revenge against her husband, directly breaking a law signed by the President’s father, Bush I, in the wake of the Phillip Agee affair.

Naomi Watts is, I think, probably the perfect person to play Plame. As young as she looks, she’s even about exactly the right age for the part as well (she’s five years younger than Plame). How often does that happen?  Doug Liman, whose father was a prosecutor in the similarly unresolved Reagan Administration Iran-Contra scandal, directs.

Related Posts

Midweek movie news, the Cannes kick-off edition

With the super-hum0ngous Cannes Film Festival opening today — with Tim Burton heading the festival jury, btw –the movie news is in a kind of hyper-drive.  Also, it’s been a few days since I’ve done one of these newsy posts. So, you’ll have to excuse me as I merely skim the surface.

* Is it that no one’s writing books or plays anymore, or do we really need to keep making movies based on games? Tim Burton, it so happens, is the next to contemplate the matter. Will “MONSTERPOCALYPSE” be the first game-based film to screen at Cannes, or will that be “Checkers: the Movie”?

* Here your fix of Cannes-related glitz, and also details on the rather big film-making names. Meanwhile THR takes a moderately bullish look at the market-side of the event.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts

RIP Frank Frazetta (update 2x)

It’s just one of those days. Frank Frazetta has passed on at age 82. He was key artist in the fantasy and science fiction field who, in his own way, had a major impact on the movie world. Though he was primarily known as the painter whose work graced the covers of books by Conan, the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard and Tarzan/John Carter of Mars author Edgar Rice Burroughs, he also worked in comics, movie posters, and record album covers, primarily heavy metal. His work doubtlessly influenced its share of film imagery as well. (Princess Leia’s outfit while being held captive by Jabba the Hutt comes immediately to mind.)

Anyhow, below are some random movie-related works by Frazetta, starting with this very Frazetta poster for a Clint Eastwood actioner many would rather forget but I remember fairly fondly. (Of course, I was 15 or so when I saw it.)

frazetta-eastwood-movie-poster-gauntlet1

Much more after the flip.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts

Weekend box office preview — how high will “Iron Man 2″ fly?

“Pretty high” is the obvious answer. As I write this, the first midnight shows are just finishing up the trailers on the East Coast, fanboys are queuing up in the Midwest, and their West Coast brethren are enjoying their pre-film burgers and Red Bull, but as far as everyone seems to be concerned, the sequel to the surprise “four quadrant” mega-blockbuster of 2008 is already a massive hit.  “Iron Man 2” has been booked into a record number of theaters, 4,380 according to Box Office Mojo.

Robert Downey Jr. in

Moreover, Nikki Finke is reporting that the film has already earned $132 million from 53 assorted countries where it has already opened. The summer solstice is more than six weeks away, but summer-time film madness is, we are informed, very much upon us. (Just btw, Anthony D’Alessandro offers a brief historical look at the outward creep of the summer movie season over the last couple of decades.)

So, the question remains, just how many millions will the second film about billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) fetch. Will it beat the record $158.4 million opening of “The Dark Knight” and crack $160 mill? Or, will it get a mere $140 million or so and send everyone to the immensely well appointed and hugely relative poor house? That seems to be the floor being offered up by the various gurus, including Ben Fritz of the L.A. Times‘ Company Town blog and THR’s jolly Carl DiOrio, who characteristically seems to be leaning slightly towards the possibility of a huge opening for Marvel and Paramount.

Nevertheless, there is a small dark cloud here and that’s the general perception, at least among us press types — who are, I remind you again, people too — that “Iron Man 2″ is, while not at all bad, also not as good as the first one. This is a rare case where I’ve actually seen the week’s big movie in advance myself and, quality wise, I’m seeing this one as a glass-half-empty. For me, the story simply fails to find a strong emotional connection between Tony Stark’s troubles and the various threats he’s facing. It all feels a bit vague and disconnected despite director Jon Favreau’s way with humor, mostly good acting, and some very decent action scenes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts

Serious offers and old gossip

Just another sane Monday in movieland.

A robot* Halcyon, a somewhat odd firm with an all but empty website, has officially put its one and only asset and reason for being, the rights to “The Terminator” franchise, on the auction block. So reports Variety and Nikki Finke. Suddenly, over at Whedonesque — yes, the Joss Whedon fansite where the beloved cult TV and occasional film creator occasionally posts  — Whedon links to it and posts a very serious offer. So serious, in fact, that Finke — who occasionally claims she “doesn’t do geek” runs the item. Meanwhile, back at Whedonesque, the Whe-man and a commenter who appears to be both a fan of the Joss and the late singer-songwriter Warren Zevon (some folks are just blessed with too much taste) note an earlier serious offer.

Quote of the week (probably):

Well, here’s what I have to say to Nikki Finke: you are a fine journalist and please don’t ever notice me.

* Sony Classic has picked up the rights to “Mother and Child,” the latest film from arthouse/cable director Rodrigo Garcia, still probably best known to a lot of people as the son of Columbian literary great Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s not too surprising a pick-up, even in this tough market, given that the cast includes Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, up-and-comer Kerry Washington (“Ray,” “The Fantastic Four”), and Samuel L. Jackson.

* The box office “actuals” for most of the big releases turned out to be a couple of million higher than the estimates I reported yesterday. Sorry MJ’s ghost.

* Thinking about “The Men Who Stare at Goats” which comes out this Friday, Jeff Bridges gets appropriately trippy but not in too dudish a way.

* This is a few days old, but for those of us who find ourselves unduly fascinating by the Church of Scientology, via Kim Masters, here’s an interesting new story opened up last week. Writer-director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) announced he’s leaving the church.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts

Blu Tuesday: Gran Torino, The International and Fired Up

It may be another slow week in the world of Blu-ray, but while you won’t find too many titles worth owning on the New Release shelf, there are a few movies that are at least worth a rental. Today’s catalog selection is also pretty lackluster (“Predator 2,” really?), so just consider this week another welcome opportunity to save up for the months to come.

“Gran Torino” (Warner Bros.)

Of course, one movie definitely worth purchasing is Clint Eastwood’s no-frills drama about a Korean War veteran whose neighborhood has become overrun by a community of Asian refugees called Hmong. Easily one of the best films of 2008, “Gran Torino” also managed to become a surprise hit at the box office. I’m not sure how (it’s a great movie, but it doesn’t exactly scream “mainstream”), but it’s just nice to see audiences embrace such a low-key drama. The movie also features Eastwood in one of his best performances to date – somehow making an unapologetic racist seem remarkably charming – but is biggest contribution is in casting of Bee Vang and Ahney Her, two relative unknowns who do an incredible job standing toe-to-toe with the acting veteran. The Blu-ray is pretty low-key itself, but fans will enjoy “The Eastwood Way,” an exclusive featurette about the making of the movie.

“The International” (Sony Pictures)

Though I still have yet to actually see the lukewarmly received crime thriller, it’s hard not to recommend “The International” based solely on the involvement of Clive Owen and Tom Tykwer, director of the cult film “Run Lola Run” and the hugely underrated “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.” Though it’s been called anti-climactic by many, it’s hard to deny the appeal of both men, not to mention the inclusion of Naomi Watts as Owen’s partner in crime. Still, movies don’t just get delayed or divide critics for any old reason, so you might want to approach “The International” with caution. If nothing else, at least you’ll get a decent collection of extras to browse through including a director/writer commentary, a making-of featurette and a look at recreating the Guggenheim for the film’s climactic shootout.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts