Tag: Abel Ferrara

“New Moon” to rise over the box office

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Jolly Carl DiOrio, my favorite box office prognosticator, appears to be taking the weekend off, and Variety isn’t getting specific. However, it’s not like even someone as bad at guessing these things as I am really needs a guru to figure out that, barring the sudden disappearance of all females between the ages of 10 and 40 from our nation, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is about a certain a bet as ever exists to win the weekend for Summit Entertainment. And, judging from the boffo early worldwide receipts as reported by Nikki Finke, it’s likely to be a very big win domestically.

Now, this is usually the point where I discuss the reviews of the week’s most high profile new release, but I’m not sure what the point is because this series was proven review proof long before the first movie. In fact, it seems to be impossible to find an adult of either gender who will admit to reading the books, except as a guilty pleasure. Vampire-human intra-species love might be a critical favorite when it comes via author Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball in HBO’s “True Blood,” or Joss Whedon’s “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” but not so with the “Twilight” series.

Our own David Medsker is fairly tolerant of this inevitably PG-13 entry, but “New Moon” at this point has nearly halved the lukewarm 49% “fresh” rating of the first film with a 27% RT rating. It’s doing somewhat better with the usually slightly tougher “top” critics for whatever reason — interestingly that was also the case with the prior film. On the other hand, the usually generous Roger Ebert gifted this with a single star and the requisite derogatory one-liners, putting it in the running to be included in the inevitable sequel to his “Your Movie Sucks” collection.

Next up is an intriguing bit of counter-programming, Warner’s PG-13 “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock in a somewhat Oscar-buzzed performance as a wealthy woman who takes in a homeless African-American youth (newcomer Quinton Aaron) who eventually emerges as real-life NFL player Michael Oher. The role strikes me as the flipside of Bullock’s racist upscale homemaker in “Crash” and people always seem to like it when a critical non-favorite like Bullock starts to get some positive attention for her acting. The movie itself is getting okay, but not spectacular, reviews at this point. Once again, as I write this the “Cream of the Crop” critics are a bit more generous than the ink-stained hoi polloi. As for the film’s commercial prospects, my hunch is that it should be profitable. It’s a movie with a little something for largely, but not entirely, male sports fans and largely, but not entirely, female schmaltz fans.

Planet 51
The weeks’s third major release is “Planet 51,” which on the surface looks like a return to “Monster vs. Aliens” territory with a PG-rated CGI animated role reversal tale in which a human astronaut, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, finds himself an alien invader on a planet full of wholesome humanoids. The consensus here seems to be that the potential for clever social satire, or just the mildly adult-friendly comedy of the Dreamworks hit, is pretty much squandered and the feature from a Spanish animation house bankrolled by Sony is strictly for the little ones. Still, to a casual onlooker, it looks like it might have a dash of interest for grown-ups, so this one might have a nice enough opening weekend.

As for limited releases, this weekend brings the kind of movie that gets cinephile pulses racing. Apparition’s R-rated “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is apparently a somewhat comedic not-really-remake of the Abel Ferrara mega-downer policier “Bad Lieutenant” starring Harvey Keitel, as reinterpreted by cinema living-legend Werner Herzog. In the Keitel role this time around is Nicolas Cage and critics seem delighted to have something nice to say about their one-time favorite again, which I guess could also be the start of some Oscar potential.

The oddball police tale will be in 27 theaters, which is only a fraction of the 83 theaters that the Bollywood hit, “Kurbaan” will play according to Box Office Mojo. It’s a¬† controversial, sexually charged (by Indian standards) thriller about a woman who falls for a terrorist and find herself a prisoner in New York City. It’s got music but doesn’t really appear to be a traditional Bollywood musical. You can’t have everything.

Renew! Renew!

No, I’m not reminding you about your subscription to Better Homes and Gardens but merely suggesting that you check out Glenn Kenny‘s amusing post today about “Logan’s Run,” Jenny Agutter, and a certain key moment in the lives of young males in the days of a more forgiving MPAA. And, though I still a bit punchy after my epic look at the Scream Awards yesterday (which I’m still correcting punctuation errors and typos in), there is movie news to recount as second, third and fourth lives for news stories seem to be the theme of the day.


* Setting¬† a movie going record shouldn’t be too hard to pull off if you’re one of the world’s most famous, talented, and bizarrely controversial pop stars and the memory of your unexpected death is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It’s even easier if you open your movie on a Tuesday. However, it sure seems that critics and audiences mostly agree that “This is It” delivers the goods and that the Jackson shows really would have been remarkable. Given all that, I think we can agree that yesterday’s $2.2. million is only the beginning.

I also want to direct your attention to Roger Ebert’s extremely positive review in which he wonders aloud about Jackson’s ability to perform on an extremely high level while apparently shot full of drugs. Frequent readers of Ebert will have long sensed that addiction is a topic he has some first-hand experience with (he confirmed it recently when he came out as a recovering alcoholic), so this is an especially poignant read.

* I meant to post this on Monday, but Joe Mozingo of the L.A. Times put together a pretty excellent run-down on the entire Roman Polanski debacle. I have some relatively minor differences with certain aspects of the article, but on the whole this is the best round-up of the actual information on the case that I’ve read and is appropriately tough and factual. One interesting fact that I’d actually forgotten in all this: the victim herself has said on television of the crime that “It wasn’t a rape.” You can speculate on her reasons for saying that, but perhaps people should have been a bit less hysterical in their criticism of Whoopi Goldberg over her notorious statement. You’d think she’d committed “rape-rape,” when a certain amount of confusion about this case is actually pretty natural. My single favorite word in this piece: “alleged.”

* Another story that keeps renewing, Variety gives us the upside of ten Best Picture nominees and a second life for lesser known classic era Univerasl horror flicks too. Very nice.

* Anne Thompson argues for a second chance and a “serious release” for “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” I’m not a fan of the original movie, but she makes Werner Herzog’s more humorous take sound infinitely preferable to the rather pretentious original by Abel Ferrara.

* Speaking of second chances, the inspired comedy of “Black Dynamite” is in bad, bad trouble. It’s not just the man keeping it down, it’s sheer ignorance. See the damn movie, folks. In any case, if you wait much longer, you might not get to see it in a theater at all. That would straight up suck. And remember, we all deserve a second chance.

I’m still not sure what a kid from Hawaii was doing in South Central that fateful night, but you get the point.

Gearing up

As I recall, not a whole lot of work really got done on the first day of school, but as people trickle back in from vacations, film festivals and the like, things are starting to happen.

Nicolas Cage* THR blogger/reporter Borys Kits has been keeping busy over the long weekend. He reports that Nicolas Cage will be starring in an action/revenge film, and another action/revenge film, with cars and in 3-D, entitled “Drive Angry.” Don’t take the car, Nick, you’ll kill yourself!!!!! (It’s a reference to an old commercial that you may not be in the right age/geographic group to get, but Mr. Cage most certainly is.) Kits also reports that Steven Soderbergh will be entering the action game with martial artist Gina Carano. As if that’s not enough, Kits also has a news story posted on a new documentary about Stanley Ann Dunham, Barack Obama’s late mother who figured prominently in today’s ever-so-controversial “work hard and stay in school” speech, to be directed by acclaimed Los Angeles-based indie filmmaker, Charles Burnett (“Killer of Sheep”). I actually have some very slight personal connections with the group behind this film, so this one has my extra attention.

* Fans of Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo” series should maybe brace for a disappointment.

* Anne Thompson summarizes the Telluride Film Festival in the time of recession. BTW, she has some very kind words for Nicolas Cage’s performance in Werner Herzog’s unauthorized Abel Ferrara homage (or something), “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” After debacles like “The Wicker Man” (my nominee for worst remake of all time with one of the worst lead performances by a major star), Cage badly needs to at least give a well-regarded performance or two. He’s a hugely talented performer — anyone remember “Leaving Las Vegas”? — but they all run the risk of sort of falling into themselves.

* I don’t know how to work this in tastefully. Let’s face it, most of what I talk about here is trivia — and then real life enters the picture and it’s hard to know what to say or do. Anyhow, critic/cinephile blogger Noel Vera has more thoughts, and some affecting links, on the lives of 28 year-old Canadian-Filipino critic Alexis A. Tioseco and his partner, film journalist Nika Bohinc. Both of them were killed last week when they apparently surprised a burglar in their Manila home.

Nicolas Cage is not a deaf-mute…and he couldn’t be happier about it!

In the 1999 version of “Bangkok Dangerous,” the film’s lead character, Kong, was a deaf-mute assassin for hire. In the 2008 remake, Nicolas Cage plays the lead…but while he’s still a hitman, his name is now Joe, and he can hear and speak quite fine, thank you. There’s still a Kong in the film, however, and that character is still a deaf-mute…but now she’s a pickpocket hired by Joe as his assistant.

Was Cage, a man who has been known to enjoy an acting challenge once in awhile, disappointed about the change for the American remake?

He was not.

“I actually thought it worked out better to have the leading lady have that aspect to her behavior,” Cage told Bullz-Eye, during a conference call to promote the release of “Bangkok Dangerous.” “It made it more emotional somehow. Also, my interests were more about the story of this white man in an entirely Asian world and trying to fit in and trying to connect in some way to the culture.”

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