Another seven days has come and gone, and brought us a new slew of movie news, box office info, new official websites for upcoming movies and new trailers. Before we get into all that, though, let's check out what I watched this week.
WHAT DID GALLAGHER WATCH THIS WEEK?
I never saw this flick during its theatrical run, but it was one that I wasn't too sure about. Sure, a decent cast with Nic Cage, Jessica Biel and Julianne Moore and a premise based off a book by Phillip K. Dick... but it still just looked too weird and a little bit overdone to work properly. Cage plays a Vegas magician who really does have a bit of a magical power: he can see into the future. There's a catch, of course, as he can only see into the future for two minutes and he can only see his own future. While he lives a mundane life, always knowing what's around every corner, he's recruited by a government agency who know of his trait and want him to help stop a bomb from tearing Los Angeles apart. Just an average flick, really. CLICK HERE for my full review.
One of the latest additions to the martial arts collection Dragon Dynasty is this Hong Kong actioner Dragon Heat. It's your standard Hong Kong sort of story, with a gangster who slips away from the law before his trial and then a bunch of cops from around the globe are brought in to handle the case. We get some marvelous gunplay scenes here and some great fight sequences as well, basically anything you'd come to expect from Dragon Dynasty. The story, though, does get a bit convoluted in the middle, and becomes somewhat hard to follow. Still, this is well worth watching if you're an action or a Hong Kong fanatic. CLICK HERE for my full review.
This shows a much different side of Hong Kong and it's simply a fantastic movie. This one isn't a Dragon Dynasty release, but it comes from Tartan's Asia Extreme collection, which delves into Hong Kong's dramatic and horror genres. Triad Election is just a fantastic movie, and I didn't even see the FIRST movie. Yeah, this is a sequel, even though they really give us no clue that it is one on the package and the movie doesn't feel like a sequel either. The flicks explores the Chinese mafia underbelly known as The Triad, where one of their societies is electing new leadership, and the top candidate actually wants out of the society altogether. A simply wonderful flick, folks. Check it out! CLICK HERE for my full review.
This is another one that I just didn't have a good idea about. Sure, the cast sounds great (here we go again...) with Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep in a rather unsung role. Gyllenhaal is fine in a subdued performance and Streep just doesn't miss at all it seems, and there are some dandy smaller performances from Peter Sarsgaard as a Senator's aide and the wonderful Alan Arkin as said Senator. The big surprise here was that Reese was just not even close to par here. She gives an uncharacteristically bad performance here and it was really quite surprising. The story by relative newcomer Kelley Sane has this little end twist that's quite the opposite of her namesake and just throws the movie into a tailspin because she fails to set us up for it and it really just bothered the crap out of me. Sure, it's a new way to do it... but there's a reason for that: it's moronic. If they would've gone with a more traditional approach to the ending instead of just duping us, it would've been a lot better. 2 stars out of 5
I've been hearing great things up the wazoo for this flick, and they're all right spot on, folks. This is easily one of the best movies of the year and I wouldn't at all be surprised if the Academy bestows yet another nomination on George Clooney, who just delivers a knockout turn as the title character. This is one powerhouse of a movie about a "fixer" (See: Jodie Foster's character in Inside Man), played by Clooney, at an esteemed New York law firm who takes on one of his biggest challenges when one of his firm's top litigator's (Tom Wilkinson) and friend to Clayton, appears to be losing his mind, which naturally jeopardizes the $3 billion class-action lawsuit he's prosecuting.
I don't know how else to describe this except the movie is just absolutely stellar, all the way across the board. Outstanding performances from Clooney, Wilkinson (who should DEFINITELY be in line for a Supporting Actor nod) and the vastly underrated Tilda Swinton, who's superb as always. The real star is writer-director Tony Gilroy, making his directorial debut. Gilroy has written all three Bourne movies, wonderful scripts that were overlooked because of the high-octane action involved, but Gilroy makes you notice his spectacular writing here, with ultra-crisp dialogue and pacing and a directing debut as smashing as they come, with an fluid style that would make you think he's been doing this for years. If you couldn't guess by now, I'm giving this movie 5 stars out of 5. Go see it before it leaves theaters, and you won't regret it, my friends.
"David Koepp Finds the Populace of a Ghost Town" - Monday, October 22:
It's quite a unique populace as well with some talented people like Greg Kinnear, Ricky Gervais and the new addition of Tea Leoni. No, not a blockbuster A-list cast, but some definite talent here as well as behind the camera. Writer-director David Koepp used to be the go-to blockbuster screenwriter in the 90s and early 21st Century. I wouldn't say he's fallen off or anything, but he doesn't seem as prominent or at least as noticeable anymore. Still, the man is extremely talented and this odd little story about a dentist who starts communicating with the dead after, well, being dead for a few minutes, sounds like it should put him back on the map. Oh, he's also writing the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so that should help as well... Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio Reteam for Shutter Island" - Monday, October 22:
Scorcese and Robert De Niro will go down as one of the great director/actor tandems of all time right up alongside Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando, John Ford and John Wayne and Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa, for a little international flavor. It certainly seems that Scorcese has found his new De Niro in Leonardo DiCaprio, as he's taking on yet another project with the young star. They'll be working off a script from Laeta Kalogridis, who has an interesting young career in writing for both TV and the movies ("Bionic Woman, Night Watch, Alexander, Pathfinder). This one has DiCaprio as a U.S. Marshall tracking down a murderous woman who escaped from her insane asylum to the remote title locale. DiCaprio + Scorcese + a solid story = I'm down. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Billy Ray Cyrus and Olesya Rulin to Star in Flying by" - Wednesday, October 24:
Gee there's a pair that gives me the willies. Billy Ray freakin achey-breaky Cyrus and one of the chicks from High School Musical as father and daughter. Unreal. Apparently Billy Ray is on that Hannah Montana show so he isn't just coming out of the forest or anything. Still... come on. It's another cookie-cutter, risk-the-family-and-career-to-follow-dreams deal with Billy Ray as the risk-taker and Rulin as his supportive daughter. The dream is to be a rock star. Great. Fabulous. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Leslie Mann to Star Opposite Zac Efron in 17" - Wednesday, October 24:
THIS is Burr Steers follow-up to the wonderful Igby Goes Down?? Insane. Apparently it's a High School Musical week as well with Zac Efron starring here in a flip-flop of Big where an adult male finds himself as a 17-year old boy trying to make it through high school. Mann will play the adult-turned-boy's adult wife. To make matters worse, we have a script from the writer of Bringing Down The House. Where's my Advil... Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Michael Mann Revs Up with Frankie Machine" - Wednesday, October 24:
I've been waiting for some news on this one. I snatched up the book as soon as I first heard about this being optioned, with De Niro attached, and it was a fantastic read, folks. Don Winslow seems to be the heir apparent to Elmore Leonard, no joke. What makes them so similar is their books are written almost movie-ready, with a slick succinct story, snappy dialogue and wonderful characters. De Niro will be pitch-perfect as Frankie Machine, and I can't wait to see who else they'll cast here. I'm excited for Michael Mann's involvement... but they didn't say if he's directing this or just producing it. Mann directing would be awesome, but even if not, this actually moving forward is a Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Woody Harrelson Is Headed to Pinkville" - Wednesday, October 24:
It looks like Oliver Stone is heading back to some familiar territory with another Vietnam War flick. This time he's examining the My Lai Massacre, where more than 500 innocent people were slaughtered at the hands of American troops. Harrelson is on board to play the officer heading up the task force that committed the carnage. We haven't seen much of Harrelson in war flicks so this should test his wonderful range some. We also have a very strong cast in place with Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum and the up-and-coming Michael Pena, who's been very busy and very good lately. If there's one thing that Stone doesn't screw up, it certainly is war movies so I wouldn't bet against this one, folks. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Well, for the first time on a Halloween weekend in the last four years, Jigsaw did not get my money... and, even though the franchise sagged the tiniest bit, it still came out on top this weekend. Saw IV continued its dominance over the last weekend in October by raking in $31.7 million over the weekend. It couldn't top last year's Saw III which brought in $33.6 million, but it barely came in ahead of Saw II's $31.7 million. It stood fairly strong with a decent rollout of 3,183 theaters and posted a strong $9,976 per-screen average. While the fact that it can still maintain a strong opening weekend after four years is slightly impressive, I highly doubt it will have an overall gross as good as the last two, maybe the last three, for a few reasons.
Firstly, the fourth installment received far less than the mixed reviews the series usually gets. The flick garnered just a 15% "Fresh" rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, easily the worst of the four, and good word of mouth might be a lot harder to come by. Secondly, we have just an absolutely jam-packed awesome month of November coming up, with some potentially huge movies coming out in every weekend of the month, starting this weekend with what I think could easily be the best movie of the year, American Gangster. Don't be surprised with a 60%+ drop-off for Jigsaw this weekend.
There was another flick that decided to brave the bloodbath weekend, countering the carnage with some family fun. Dan in Real Life took the second spot at the box office this weekend, with a solid $11.8 million. It performed quite well with the critics, with a 63% "Fresh" rating and it did some solid biz with a much smaller rollout of 1,921 theaters and a $6,147 per-screen average. With the lack of family fare for awhile, I wouldn't be surprised at all if this held on fairly strong through the month of November.
There was one other flick that made a huge splash in a very small pond. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, the new film from masterful director Sidney Lumet, being hailed by some as the best picture of the year, made $73,837... from just TWO SCREENS! If you don't have a calculator handy, that's a $36,918 per-screen average. I'd look for a significant expansion for this flick in the next coming weeks, similar to Michael Clayton's run.
We get a decent amount of stuff on this neat little site. We start off with a nice Synopsis and then Cast and Crew gives us some very detailed rundowns of their careers (some a little too detailed for their experience). We get the creepy Trailer next and then some more Video which includes a very cool interview with writer-director Frank Darabont, which delves back into his past and gives us great insight into this great filmmaker. We also get two even cooler Webisodes that give us little glimpses about what they're filming that particular day. The first is where they shoot an earthquake, and the other is where they set a dude on fire. Cool stuff, folks, and Darabont looks like a freshman in a liquor store throughout. The Gallery has 12 nice shots to look at and lastly we get some goodies in Downloads which are a Screensaver, some Wallpapers and AIM Buddy Icons. Also at the bottom of the site there are some Stephen King links including his official website. A very nice site with some great content to what looks to be a pretty damn good movie. The Mist rolls into theaters on November 21.
A rather basic site here. We get a decent Synopsis, the dopey Trailer, a brief Photo Gallery, some wallpapers and AIM buddy icons in Downloads and a link to a sweepstakes for the flick. Blah. Mad Money opens on January 18.
This is the latest of Iraq war/coming home flicks and, while the last few haven't been received very well at all, there's a chance this one might. The cast isn't really huge, with Ryan Phillipe the main star here with Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and, even though he wasn't in the trailer, apparently the Hitman himself, Timothy Olyphant is here. Even though director Kimberly Pierce hasn't done anything since her acclaimed debut Boys Don't Cry, it looks like she has a very solid follow-up here that just might be able to find a niche. Stop Loss opens on March 28, 2008.
While this isn't Anthony Hopkins' first stint as a director, it's his first as a writer, and, oddly enough, he stars as a screenwriter who's weird little world starts to deteriorate when his past characters start appearing in real life, in this odd little flick. This is Hopkins first directorial gig in 11 years, though, but his direction and his writing both look very intriguing, as does this very diverse cast. Alongside Hopkins we get Michael Clarke Duncan, Camryn Manheim, John Turturro and what looks to be a dazzling newcomer in Lisa Pepper. I'm really looking forward to this one, folks. Slipstream is in very limited release currently, in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
A pretty good crop this week, but I just have to go with Robert De Niro's Frankie Machine for my Best News of the Week. It's tough to tell what's going to happen with all the strikes and everything, but this is just such a fantastic book, tailor-made for a movie, that I hope they get the wheels rolling on this soon. If Mann does decide to direct here, it will be just an awesome move that should attract a wonderful supporting cast. It should attract one anyway, with the terrific characters in this book, and an adaptation from wonderful writers Brian Koppleman and David Levien, but Mann's involvement should up the ante.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Easy pick here with Burr Steers remixing Big for my Worst News of the Week. It's not like we haven't seen a movie like this recently either (See: 13 Going on 30) so I don't know if Steers and hack writer Jason Filardi (he also has a flick dubbed Gangsta M.D. in development, if you want more proof of his hackness) are just trying to revitalize this age-swapping thing, but it's a terrible move. Steers' debut movie Igby Goes Down was just a wonderful piece, and I'm really quite surprised he'd come back, five years later with no other movies since then, no less... and pick THIS movie for his follow-up. Insane, simply insane...
That's all I've got for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites for upcoming flicks, new trailers and, of course the best and worst news of the week. Take care folks and, always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free. Peace in. Gallagher out!