“Juno” director Jason Reitman’s latest dramedy, “Up in the Air,” just finished wowing the crowds at the Telluride Film Festival, and now Paramount has released a new clip from the film so everyone can get an idea of what the fuss is all about.
Starring George Clooney as corporate hatchet man Ryan Bingham, “Air” tells the story of what happens when a man who’s made his career out of being a sort of professional grim reaper (that’d be Clooney, of course) feels the sting himself — and right on the cusp of achieving his long-held goal of collecting five million frequent-flyer miles, no less. With a cast that includes Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Jason Bateman — not to mention Reitman writing the script and sitting behind the lens — we know we can safely expect plenty of the seemingly effortless chemistry and smart, downplayed humor on display in this clip. Watch it now — and mark your calendars for December 4.
Sorry, I couldn’t not use the image above, since it graphically demonstrates what happens when the studios release a trio of unexciting-to-detested entries into a Labor Day market full of strong, and strongly violent, competition. It starts with this week’s b.o. winner. It might not be anything resembling a critical darling, but “The Final Destination” boasts the power of gimmicky horror added to the additional gimmick of 3-D, offering some pretty easy to sell ghoulish fun to audiences, who bought it to tune of an estimated $15.4 million over the long weekend.
And this year’s cinephile sensation is also a hit with audiences. “Inglourious Basterds” held beautifully in its third weekend and only came in a few points below its “Final” competition with an estimated $15.1 million. Word of mouth, or tweet, or whatever is obviously working in the long-awaited WWII-flick’s favor — as may be the fact that every film geek in the world is probably going to see it at least twice, if not thrice.
Variety‘s Pamela McClintock also reports that “Basterds” actually won the day on Sunday. She also mentions that with a domestic “cume” of $95.2 million, the wartime fantasia is now Tarantino’s second biggest earner after “Pulp Fiction,” which made just below $108 million back in 1994. Adjusted for inflation, that number may still be hard — though not impossible — to beat. Not adjusted for inflation is looking easier all the time to me. When you consider the near absolute certainty of at least two or three Oscar nominations (quite possibly several more at this point), I’m not sure when this thing stops earning signficant money. Also, THR reports “Basterds” topping the international charts in a slow overseas weekend.
There’s a definite feeling of apathy about this week’s new box office releases, but on we go.
Topping this Labor Day weekend’s movie newbies is the Gerard Butler sci-fi action flick from the team who brought us “Crank.” “Gamer” adds a video game twist to such past violent media commentaries as “Death Race 2000” and “The Running Man.” Lionsgate isn’t screening this one for critics, so there’s no reason to assume there’s anything terribly clever or satirical about it, though a capable supporting cast led by Michael C. Hall (Showtime’s “Dexter“) as a villainous game designer as well as Ludacris and Kyra Sedgwick seem to indicate someone, at one point, hoped to do something interesting with this one. As for commercial success, it appears to all be laid at the feet of Butler. Nothing against the very capable Scottish thespian, but I just don’t see this one beating last week’s leader, the gimmick-driven 3-D horror opus, “The Final Destination.”
And that, I’m sure goes double for next of the three new major releases of the week, the Sandra Bullock headlined screwball romantic comedy, “All About Steve.” A film which the nation’s critics might well wish Fox had withheld, it has achieved the still fairly rare honor of a 00% Rotten Tomatoes “Fresh” rating (as in 100% “rotten”). Costar Bradley Cooper’s newfound recognizability via “The Hangover” probably won’t help much here, and Thomas Haden Church doubtless deserves better. Apparently the creators of this one intended Bullock’s character to be a lovable eccentric, but instead wound up with the more usual sort of eccentric — the kind who’s just weird. There’s likely a reason this one’s being dumped at the end of a long movie summer.
It’s in significantly fewer theaters than its competitors at only about 1,500, but Mike Judge’s “Extract” simply has to be better than either of them. At a 55% RT rating, the nation’s critics pretty much reflect the divided reaction of my fellow PH-er Jason Zingale, who calls it “a wildly uneven film that is deftly funny at some points, and just plain dull in others.” Still, though Jason 100% detested Judge’s earlier, barely released, “Idiocracy” that film got better reviews and the portions I’ve seen on cable certainly made me laugh — not that anyone cares what us critics think. As the writer-director of “Office Space” and the creator of TV’s “King of the Hill” and “Beavis and Butthead,” Judge is a knotty figure when it comes to movies. His now legendary workplace comedy was pretty much dumped at the box office only to be discovered later on vide0, and “Idiocracy” got even less promotion than the original release of “Space.” (Jason would say for good reason.) “Extract” star Jason Bateman is a skilled comedian but despite important parts in numerous hits, including “Juno,” he’s a very long way from the film stardom of his onetime TV son, Michael Cera. Still, both Judge and Bateman have a lot of pent-up goodwill. Maybe there’ll be a surprise here, but don’t bet the farm, or even the garden, on it.
That leaves two 100-theater releases. The first is a horror flick being dumped after the demise of Paramount Vantage. “Carriers” seeks to milk horror from pandemic fears. Quarantined from critics, it stars the talented Lou Taylor Pucci and the new Captain Kirk, Chris Pine. Speaking of James Tiberius, the other release isn’t new at all but another chance to catch J.J. Abrams’ hugely entertaining (if oddly filmed) “Star Trek” in Imax, which has certainly lived long and prospered at the box office.
Just a couple of items where some more information might be of interest.
* I linked yesterday to a Variety story reporting that James Cameron had signed with mega-agency CAA. Last night, however, ace gadfly muckraker Nikki Finke reported that it was merely a new camera technology developed for Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar” 3-D extravaganza, not Cameron himself, that the agency will be repping. In true Finkean style, she can’t resist taking a swipe at Variety in the process, though I guess it might be earned in this case.
* On a more pleasant and actually interesting note, we have some news about Sigourney Weaver‘s upcoming projects, after discussing her — well, actually, Ellen Ripley — topping Total Sci-Fi’s list of female science fiction icons yesterday. For one thing, I didn’t realize until now Ms. Weaver is one of the stars of the aforementioned “Avatar” (as is Will Harris’s talented Facebook buddy Dileep Rao).
But that’s far from all, JA at The Film Experience is waxing enthusiastic over her possible casting (it’s not truly confirmed yet, I gather) in another sci-fi film, of sorts. “Paul” is to be directed by Greg Mottola of “Superbad” and “Adventureland” and written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and “Spaced” fame. Apparently the film has something to do with a couple of British comic book geeks (Pegg and Frost) traveling cross-country from Comic-Con who meet up with Seth Rogen — I gather possibly animated or CGI’d or something — as an alien named, naturally, Paul at Nevada’s Area 51 (at least that’s how SlashFilm’s Paul Sciretta has it). It will also feature Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman and Kristen Wiig.
Sounds pretty good, but JA was also good enough to mention another comedy casting for Ms. Weaver, this in “You Again,” which will star Kristin Bell, a particular favorite over here. As JA points out, it will re-team the high talented, geek-friendly Bell with director Andy Fickman, who elicited one of her most interesting performances in “Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical” back in 2005. At the risk of going off on a bit of tangent (and, by the way, just happening to mention my lengthy 2007 blog post on Fickman’s entertaining, though highly imperfect, movie), did you know that the former Veronica Mars can, as the Western codgers say, sing purty?
Don’t worry, she gets a lot less wholesome later on…
After months of pissing everyone off by telling reporters that he either wasn’t interested in reprising his role of George Michael Bluth or couldn’t be bothered to sign onto an “Arrested Development” movie until he’d read the script, it looks like Michael Cera has finally caved in.
Inside sources close to the negotiations of the upcoming Arrested Development movie tell me that Superbad and Juno star (and before that, hello, George-Michael Bluth!) Michael Cera has finally agreed to do the feature film project. Cera had been the lone holdout among the show’s stars for several weeks. All other Bluths, including Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross, are already game, according to sources.
I think we all knew this was only inevitable. Either Cera was going to sign, or Mitchell Hurwitz – who’s reportedly in the midst of writing the script – would made George Michael the brunt of more jokes than…well, George Michael.