Howdy folks. I had some electricity issues and I lost the whole column right as I was finishing it. Of course, these things only happen on the few occasions that I DON'T save it periodically. Henceforth, I've decided that I'm going to stop being a lazy bum and work on the column a little bit each day during the week, instead of doing it all at once like I've been doing for the last two and a half years. This way, everything will be done by the end of the week, and I'll only have to do the Box Office Corner on Sunday and voila! So, starting next week, expect seeing this lovely column on Sunday's sometime. Anyway, enough blathering. Let's get into Notables.
"Tilda Swinton to Join the cast of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - Monday, September 25:
This has all the makings of a wonderful flick. We have the vastly talented and underrated Tilda Swinton, who I still marvel over for her spectacular performance in The Deep End, joining an already superb cast with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who starts aging backwards after hitting the big 5-0, it's adapted for the screen by one of the best writers in the biz, Eric Roth, and directed by one of the best directors in town, and one of my all-time favorites, David Fincher. This was going to be good before Swinton's arrival, and now it's even better. This should be a knockout of a picture. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Martin Scorcese to Direct Silence" - Monday, September 25:
After doing a couple of classic American stories, Martin Scorcese seems to be enamored with Japan for his next two. His latest flick, The Departed, is a remake of the 2002 Japanese flick Internal Affairs, and it appears this Silence will be his next movie, based off a Japanese novel. Naturally, it sounds like another epic-ish flick, revolving around a pair of Portugese priests who go to Japan to help tortured priests, since Japan was trying to abolish Catholicism, and to learn the truth about a certain priest in particular. We don't have a cast yet and all we know is that Jay Cocks, one of his Gangs Of New York writers, and Marty wrote a first draft about 10 years. The weird thing is that I can't see Leonardo DiCaprio fitting in anywhere here, unlike Scorcese's last three movies. At any rate, this still sounds like classic Marty material, and that can only mean a Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Rob Schneider To Star In Juliana and The Medicine Fish" - Monday, September 25:
Interesting, very interesting. Rob Schnieder in a children's flick? It almost sounds sacreligious, considering the previous work he's done. Still, it seemed he had grown up considerably and turned over a new leaf in the wonderful flick The Benchwarmers. You can only play foreign guys in Adam Sandler flicks for only so long, I suppose, and it looks like Schnieder is starting to pick his projects a lot better now. This fantasy-ish tale has him as the owner of a struggling fishing lodge whose world gets all topsy-turvy when his daughter discovers some mystical happenings in the waters near the lodge. Sure, it sounds a little dopey, but this sounds wonderful for Schnieder and hopefully the start of better projects for him and no more flicks like The Animal. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Rob Cohen To Direct Scared Straight" - Tuesday, September 26:
This sounds like a project that could easily put Rob Cohen back in the spotlight. After directing a few high-profile flicks like The Fast and the Furious, xXx and being touted as a new Hollywood "bad boy" he has fallen off a tad. His latest flick, Stealth was a considerable bomb, and this project could add some credibility to his repitoire. It sounds like a wonderful flick, surrounding around the teenaged son of a governor. The youngster makes a small mistake and is sent to prison as part of a program called Scared Straight, which sends youths to prison for a short while, in hopes that the prison experience will deter them from crime in the future. But, while the youth is there, a riot breaks out and some hardened criminals take the kid hostage. This sounds pretty damn cool, and with Cohen's already-slick style, and a story that doesn't revolve around explosions or other eye candy, this could be a big break for him. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks and Selma Blair Join Homeland Security" - Tuesday, September 26:
At first I was rather shocked that these "big names" were attatched to such drivel. Then I started thinking about it. Banderas hasn't done much besides his wonderful Puss in Boots deal from Shrek 2, Meg Ryan hasn't had a hit since the turn of the century, Colin Hanks is still young and Selma Blair is just terrible at picking projects. Well, I doubt none of their stocks will rise after this flick by George Gallo, who has brought us such wretched fare like Double Take and The Whole Ten Yards, probably one of the worst sequels of all time. This flick is about a young Homeland Security agent who has the unenviable job of spying on his sexually-liberal mother since her new lover is a suspected threat. Balls. Go away, George Gallo, and don't come back until you can write something decent. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
The box office crown was hunted by three newcomers this weekend, but only the most aptly-titled flick took advantage. Open Season shot down the rest of the competition this weekend, taking the top spot with $23.6 million. The animated Sony flick was shown in a hefty 3,833 theaters and posted a solid per-screen average of $6,163. The flick was only mildly received by the critics, receiving a 50% "Fresh" rating from the Rotten Tomatoes critics. While this isn't necessarily a good sign for the flick, another figure doesn't bode well for these critters. The movie had an $85 million budget, so they only nabbed about a quarter of the budget in the opening weekend. Even if they sustain the meaty theater count for awhile, October looks to be a very high-powered month fueled by adult (and possible Oscar) fare that should take a lot of business from this kiddie flick. I'd be surprised if this flick ends up turning a profit.
Coming in second place this weekend was another newcomer, The Guardian, which snagged the silver medal with just over $18 million. This take ensured Ashton Kutcher, who provided a voice in Open Season, a nice little 1-2 weekend. The flick was at a serious theater count disadvantage to Open Season, bowing in almost 600 fewer theaters, but it still managed a solid, and somewhat creepy, per-screen average of $5,555. Weird, eh? Budget figures weren't released for this flick, but I'm guessing it came in with at least a $60 million budget, so this opening weekend doesn't look too solid for the guardians as well. The 35% "Fresh" rating on RT probably won't help matters much either.
While Jackass Number Two took the third spot with $14.6 million, the last newcomer just couldn't keep up. School for Scoundrels took the 4th spot at the box office, taking in a meager $8.6 million in its opening weekend. The Billy Bob Thornton/Jon Heder flick opened in 3,004 theaters, but posted a horrendous $2,863 per-screen average, perhaps proving that Heder's Napoleon aura may be starting to fade. The news keeps getting worse, as the budget here was $35 million, which will be seemingly impossible to recoup with the heavy-hitting month ahead of us. Sorry, Jon. It looks like you won't be able to do whatever you feel like (GOD!) for a little while.
The Prestige: (Prestige-movie.com)
This is a pretty slick site here. The opening page has the one-sheet, with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale facing away from each other. Click on one of those images to get into this really cool site. They keep the whole magic motif alive in this site, as the menus are subtely hidden behind smoke. There are also little red icons throughout the page, and those bring up clips from the flick. You also can, by watching these clips, find these "journal fragments" and when you find all of them, you get a little surprise at the end. They've also removed any of the scrolling sliders, and you can "magically" scroll down text by just clicking empty space and dragging. The Gallery has a bunch of pictures of whichever character you're on (you can access the other character via a tab at the bottom), the Downloads have a few screensavers and a wallpaper to grab, but don't bother with the Cast and Crew menus because there's nothing there now, except for a little red icon. The last thing is the Production Notes, but there isn't much there, except for a red icon. This is a really slick site for style, and some decent content with all the video clips, even though it could've been more diverse of content. Still, this is one site worth visiting before The Prestige opens on October 20.
This is a fairly bland little site. We get a decent synopsis in Story, some rather thorough Production Notes, a Stills Gallery with all of 6 photos, the Trailer and Interviews, which feature several video interview segments with the two main stars Ed Harris and Diane Kruger. Still, these video interviews don't even take that long, and this site just doesn't have much to it for my liking. Copying Beethoven opens on November 10 in limited release.
This looks like a damn good movie, folks. The war is a hot-button issue, naturally, but the people who fight in it often fall beneath the cracks when they come home, and this movie looks to show the immense difficulties these soldiers have to overcome when they get back stateside. It looks to be a powerful film near the holidays, a time when we should all be thinking about family, friends and everyone else at war. Home of the Brave opens on December 15 in limited release.
Wow. I gave this little news item my Best News of the Year for one of my Year in Review's, and it looks like I won't be let down at all. This looks like an absolutely phenomenal flick, folks. Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria in a flick written AND directed by the masterful scribe of the streets David Ayer, who has brought us Training Day and the vastly underrated Dark Blue. Ayer is making his directorial debut here, and I absolutely can't wait! If this flies the way I hope it does, this will be one hell of a year for Christian Bale, and another marvelous flick from David Ayer. Bam! Harsh Times opens on November 10.
I was wondering when another Christopher Guest movie was coming out, and now I have my answer. And now that I have my answer, like usual, I just can't wait for this one. The marvelous Guest has chosen to tackle Hollywood for his latest flick but, unlike his other three efforts, this one doesn't appear to be a "mockumentary." It could be, but from the trailer I'm not really sure yet. Still, everyone you know and love from his movies are back in this one like his wife Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey, Fred Willard and many many more. In this one, there is a small indie film being made, with Guest even acting as a director here, and the whole place gets turned upside down when a little bit of Oscar buzz starts to surface about the movie. I loved all his other movies, so I'm sure I'll love this one too. For Your Consideration opens on November 17 in limited release.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
It was a very tough choice this week, but I'm going with Tilda Swinton just adding to talented cast of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for my Best News of the Week. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is in place for this to be just a spectacular movie. Cast, writer, director, everything is absolutely top-notch. Even the source material from which this was adapted from comes from one of the greatest writers of all time, F. Scott Fitzgerald. How can you pick against that? While most might be unfamiliar with Tilda Swinton, except for her marvelous turn as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I still think she was wronged by not even getting a nominated for an Oscar for her spellbounding performance in The Deep End. It's just tragic. Still, with her talent and choice of projects like this one, and Oscar may soon be in the future for Swinton after all.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Well, only one choice here, and that's George Gallo still working for my Worst News of the Week. I don't know about this guy. He wrote Midnight Run 18 years ago and hasn't done jack squat since then. Yeah, he has a story credit for Bad Boys but he originally wrote it for Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, since he wrote and directed probably both of their only semi-good movie, Trapped in Paradise. Gallo is certainly not much of a writer, or a director and he hasn't done anything noteworthy in years. I suppose it's fitting that a bunch of almost has-beens have signed up for this gig, since it's being done by a guy who's even past the has-been stage, to the point where you wonder if he ever was something to begin with.
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 kids, 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.