Opening in Las Vegas, May 25, 2018

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The 800-pound gorilla in the room this weekend is Solo (63), directed by Ron Howard. It’s a Star Wars prequel, the adventures of a young Han Solo. It’s getting okay reviews, despite Howard’s participation. His output since A Beautiful Mind is suspect. Does anyone else confuse Alden Ehrenreich and Ansel Elgort?

The only other film debuting here this weekend is a documentary about the pontiff: Pope Francis, A Man of His Word (63). Francis is the nonbeliever’s favorite pope, but I doubt I’ll ever seen this. Ninety or so minutes about a pope, no matter how forward thinking, is too much for me.

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AGEBOC X – Week Five

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Welcome back to AGEBOC! WEEK THREE.

Deadline is Thursday May 25th at 11:59 pm (EST)

  1. What will Solo earn this weekend? (NOTE: FRIDAY-MONDAY)
  2. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  3. What will Solo earn from Thursday preview/Midnight shows?
  4. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest.

    Current rankings:
    James: +22
    Jackrabbit Slim: +18
    Juan: +16
    Marco: +12
    Rob: +10
    Nick: +4
    Joe: +4

Review: Deadpool 2

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“You’re dark. Are you sure you aren’t part of the DC universe?” Deadpool asks Cable, the villain in this installation of what should be a long-running franchise. This meta stuff is what fuels most of Deadpool 2, it’s kind of as if the writers just did their own Mad Magazine parody.

Ryan Reynolds returns as the foul-mouthed, quipping anti-hero (the level of profanity approaches David Mamet level). Since we last saw him, he’s been acting as a mercenary. In the grand tradition of Marvel’s Uncle Ben, he lets a criminal escape, which comes back to haunt him. He tries to kill himself, but since he can’t die he’s taken in by the X-Men, who make him a trainee (again, the only X-Men available are Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. In a funny shot the other X-Men are seen hiding).

Then the main plot kicks in, which is borrowed gleefully from the Terminator films (Deadpool even calls Cable John Conner at one point). A teenage mutant who can shoot fire with his hands will grow up to be a mass murderer, and Cable has come from the future to kill him. Deadpool, showing heretofore unknown paternal instincts, wants to save him.

The plot is secondary in Deadpool 2–it’s all about the gags. Some of them are very funny, as when Deadpool calls Cable Thanos (they are both played by Josh Brolin) or when Cable tells Deadpool he’s not a hero, he’s a clown dressed as a sex toy. In the mid-credit scene, Deadpool will shoot Ryan Reynolds before he can make the lamented Green Lantern film. A surprise cameo will show a famous actor playing a character called The Vanisher.

But all of this stuff doesn’t add up to anything significant. There’s a lot of yuks, but we really don’t care about the characters. When Deadpool has a long death scene (he says he hopes the Academy is watching) we know he’s not going to die–Deadpool 3 is certainly already in the works. How can you worry about a character who can’t die? The only really interesting character is Domino, a chick who is extremely lucky. She calls it a superpower, though Deadpool doesn’t. She’s played by Zazie Beetz, expect to see her in the next film.

I enjoyed Deadpool 2, but compared to other Marvel films it’s a sugary snack. Those can be refreshing, but you don’t want to make a diet of them.

Opening in Las Vegas, May 19, 2018

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The big opening this weekend is Deadpool 2 (66). The film is critic-proof, but some are pointing out that it is more of the same from the first film, and the meta-stuff is getting tedious. Of course I’ll see it.

Counter-programming this weekend, Book Club (53) is for the ladies. Four women read Fifty Shades of Grey, hilarity ensues. I suppose we should be grateful that this demographic is being considered, even if it is a mediocre movie.

For the kids there’s Show Dogs (35), and even though Alan Cumming stars I won’t get anywhere near this. One reviewer probably puts it best: “Show Dogs is really bad, even for a talking-dog movie.”

In limited release is Disobedience (74), a drama about the love that dare not speak its name, at least in an Orthodox Jewish community. Offers the tantalizing prospect of a love scenes between Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Directed by Sebastien Leilo, who just won an Oscar for directing A Fantastic Woman.

Random thread for May 2018

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Margot Kidder passes away at age 69.

Obviously best remembered for her Lois Lane role but was in some interesting films before then and had charisma to burn and didn’t quite have the film/TV career her talented suggested she could’ve.

She gave an entertaining interview to the AV Club website a few years back; obviously not a fan of the original The Amityville Horror!

 

Opening in Las Vegas, May 11, 2018

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Not much this weekend, as the Avengers will again rule the weekend. Next week Deadpool will take over. But until then:

I think Melissa McCarthy is very talented. But her movies seem to be all of a kind–slapstick comedies that don’t appeal to me at all. I haven’t seen any of them, and I’m not going to start with Life of the Party (45), which seems like a female version of the Rodney Dangerfield film, Back to School (which was terrific).

The only other major release this weekend is Breaking In (42), starring Gabrielle Union as a women trying to rescue her children. Directed by James McTeigue, who made the underrated V for Vendetta. Pass.

Opening here in Vegas in limited released (one theater) is RBG (72), about Supreme Court Justice and folk hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The movie is getting fairly good reviews, but they point out that the movie is not exactly even-handed, and leans toward hagiography, so this one is not for the Fox News crowd. I’d like to see it.

Review: Tully

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Tully has three acts that are all like different films. The first act is effective birth control, as it shows the horrors and drudgery of a pregnant woman (Charlize Theron) who already has two kids. One of them is a kindergartner who is repeatedly referred to as “quirky.” (The words autism or Asperger’s are never mentioned, but that would seem to be the case). The film opens with Theron brushing him to calm him down.

This continues after she gives birth, when she has post-partum depression (she had pre-partum depression, too). Her husband (Ron Livingston) is a nice guy but useless, as his routine, Theron says, is to come home from work, kill zombies, and pass out.

During this act we meet Theron’s rich brother (Mark Duplass), who suggests she get a night nanny–a person who will watch the kids while the parents sleep. Theron’s middle class world is contrasted with that of her brother’s, which is perfect and well-managed. A daughter’s talent for the talent show is pilates, for example. That his wife is Asian seems to be pushing it into stereotype.

Theron finally gets the night nanny, the title character, (Mackenzie Davis), and we’re into act two, which might be described as new-age Mary Poppins. Davis is young and thin and a free spirit who knows facts about all sorts of things and presents philosophical questions, such as since all our cells die and are replaced, are we the same person as we once were? She cleans the house spic-and-span and makes cupcakes and one can imagine that she did float in with an umbrella.

During this act, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does, it thumps very loudly. The two women, who have bonded, go out for a night on the town. We get a twist ending that I didn’t see coming–if you want to see this film, do it before it’s spoiled for you, because it will make you reevaluate everything you’ve seen before. There’s some controversy about it, and reasonable people can disagree whether it works–you either buy it or you don’t. I did, because without it things don’t make sense. It does introduce plot holes, but it’s only a movie.

Tully was written by Diablo Cody, who has popped out three kids since she struck gold with Juno over ten years ago. It was directed by Jason Reitman. Both of them have curbed some of the preciousness of their previous work, and Tully is gritty and painful at times.

The best thing about it is the performance of Theron, who deglams and convinced me that she was a working class mom and not an internationally famous model/actress. A scene in which she removes a stained top, revealing her stomach after giving birth, prompting her daughter to ask, “Mom, what’s wrong with your body?” is sure to get recognition laughs from any women who have given birth. Theron reportedly put on fifty pounds for the role (plus effective prosthetics) but more than her physical transformation, it’s the deadness in her eyes, the casual refusal to hold her baby in the hospital, the anger at a nurse waiting for her to pee, that crystallize the difficulties that go along with childbirth.

HAGEBOC X – Week Three

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Welcome back to AGEBOC! WEEK THREE.

I’ll begin this week with a quick request for help. I will need someone to do scoring and to post Week Four on 5/14 as I will be away. Anyone interested?

Deadline is Friday, May 11th at 12:00 pm (EST)

  1. What will Avengers: Infinity War earn this weekend?
  2. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  3. What will Life of the Party earn this weekend?
  4. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest.

  5. What will Breaking In earn this weekend?
  6. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest.

    Current rankings:
    Jackrabbit Slim: +10
    Rob: +10
    Marco: +8
    James: +8
    Nick: +4
    Joe: +4
    Jer:
    Juan:

Opening in Las Vegas, May 4, 2018

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I guess the most prestigious film opening this weekend is Tully (77), the third team-up of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody (following Juno and Young Adult). It’s getting solid reviews and Charlize Theron may be a candidate for an Oscar nomination. The trailer makes it seem like an updated version of Mary Poppins, but I’ll probably see this.

The new film likely to get the highest box office this weekend (still well below Avengers: Infinity War) is Overboard (45), a remake of an old Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell film. I didn’t see that and I won’t see this. What’s next, a remake of Captain Ron or Wildcats?

Bad Samaritan (45) is about a burglar getting involved with a serial killer. Probably will never see this.

Review: Avengers: Infinity War

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If you take a look at the poster for Avengers: Infinity War, there’s almost too many characters to fit. All of the main heroes from the first 18 MCU films are there (except for Hawkeye and Ant-Man) and I wondered how the directors, the Russo brothers, would possibly give them all enough time. But I tip my hat, because they do. Some get more time than others (Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange seem to get the most screen time) but everybody gets their moment.

I read an article in which the author complained that there was no character development. That’s true–there isn’t time. And all of these characters got plenty of development in other films. The only character getting development is the villain, a huge purple guy with a big chin called Thanos (Josh Brolin). He’s obviously studied the Malthusian theory, because he wants to wipe out half of the universe’s population in order for more resources to be available. Of course he’s technically right, but our heroes aren’t about to let anyone kill trillions of beings.

In order to fully appreciate the film, you have to have seen most of the others. I watched Thor: Ragnarok the night before and I’m glad I did, because Avengers: Infinity War picks up right after that one ends.Thanos is after six “Infinity Stones” to gain absolute power, and Loki has one. Bruce Banner is aboard the ship, but gets zapped to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum and fills him in on the threat. Strange notifies Iron Man, and pretty soon the ball is rolling.

The film works like a comic book, and I watched it with a smile on my face, as it made me feel 13 years old again. The heroes are grouped in bunches–Iron Man, Strange, and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) get aboard Thanos’ ship; Thor takes Rocket Raccoon and Groot to a planet where his hammer was forged (the forger is Peter Dinklage, as big as a house); and Captain America (Chris Evans), Falcon (Anthony Mackie) Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsen), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) go to Wakanda to meet up with Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). The Vision has an Infinity Stone in his head, and he needs it to live, so the Wakandans try to take it out without killing him.Meanwhile, Thanos’ henchmen arrive to attack.

The rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Starlord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bauttista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) try to prevent Thanos from getting a stone from The Collector (Benicio Del Toro). Thanos, who has killed thousands, has a soft spot for Gamora, whom he adopted. Later they will be joined by his other daughter, Nebula (Karen Gillan).

The film cuts between these groups skillfully, just like a comic book. There’s arguments and humor (Downey remarks that Strange’s cloak, which can act independently, is “an incredibly loyal piece of outerwear,” and Cumberbatch calls Downey a “douchebag.”) Also, because contracts are up and actors have decided to move on, there is the possibility of irrevocal death. A huge body count at the end will certainly be fixed in part two, coming next May. But some who die have films coming up. A guy I knew writing for Marvel told me, “In the Marvel Universe, no one stays dead except for Uncle Ben.”

I had a great time at the movie. There’s plenty of action to go with the humor, which is always a big part of Marvel’s success. The heroes also are humanistic, willing to sacrifice for the greater good, and despite their arguments, they always have each other’s backs, so this makes one feel good. (When told the Avengers have broken up, Banner, who was gone for two years, says, “Broken up? Like a band? Like the Beatles?”)

Try to watch this with an audience. When characters show up, they are cheered (I didn’t recognize Captain America at first–he hardly wears a costume anymore). When the end of the film comes, and people realize they’ve just seen two and a half hours of a film that is only half over, there were groans. But I think everyone will be back in a year’s time.

HAGEBOC X – Week Two

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Welcome back to AGEBOC! Avengers: Infinity War shattered the opening weekend record with a whopping $257,698,183 domestic to give Nick four points. Joe was closet to predicting Avengers’ preview number of 39m to tie him up. Marco and James earned two points each for being second closest.

Deadline is Friday, May 4th at 12:00 pm (EST)

  1. What will Avengers: Infinity War earn this weekend?
  2. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  3. What will Tully earn from Thursday PM/midnight shows?
  4. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  5. What will Bad Samaritan earn this weekend?
  6. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  7. What will Overboard earn this weekend?
  8. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current rankings:
Nick: +4
Joe: +4
Marco: +2
James: +2
Jackrabbit Slim:
Jer:
Juan:
Rob:

WELCOME TO HAGEBOC X – WEEK ONE

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Welcome back to AGEBOC!

For the last TEN years, the members of the Gone Elsewhere executive management team have been locked in a endless struggle to correctly guess what the latest superhero movie or movie acting as counterprogramming to the latest superhero movie will earn in a particular weekend. If you’re an occasional reader of the site or somehow come across this page when searching for “Avengers Infinity War spoilers”, “Scarlett Johansson bikini” or “Chris Pratt shirtless”…we welcome you to join us.

Let’s get started.

Predict the #1 film for the weekend of April 27-29, 2018.  The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Deadline is Thursday, April 26th at 11:59 pm (EST)

  1. What will Avengers: Infinity War earn this weekend?
  2. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

  3. What will Avengers: Infinity War earn from Thursday PM/midnight shows?
  4. (+4 for closest prediction. +2 for second closest. Additional +2 for prediction within 500k)

Current rankings:

Movies that Opened in April 2018

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Avengers: Infinity War: This culmination of the first three phases of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe features every major character who has appeared in the franchise to date.  Opening weekend should probably knock The Force Awakens down from its two year reign at the biggest opening in history.

A Quiet Place: John Krasinski’s second feature (which he also wrote and stars in alongside Emily Blunt) has captivated critics and audiences globally. A much needed, low-cost smash for Paramount.  Now they just need to figure out how to make another one.

Blockers: John Cena and Leslie Mann star in this throwback comedy that only looks like it was released in 2009.

Chappaquiddick: Drama about Ted Kennedy’s 1969 scandal made by and starring B-level talent. I’m sure it’s fine, but the release date alone should tell you that it’s miles away from being worth a theatrical viewing.

I Feel Pretty: Based on the critical and box office performance of this and her last picture, Amy Schumer probably needs to take more care when it comes to choosing her next project.

The Miracle Season: Another Helen Hunt faith-based drama.

Rampage: Dwayne Johnson action picture based on the 80’s video game property. Completely generic and disposable, despite some entertaining destruction in the third act.

Super Troopers 2: Crowd-funded sequel to the overrated cult classic.  It overperformed this weekend so expect a Super Troopers 3 in another year or two.

Truth or Dare: Blumhouse horror picture.

Review: Regarding Henry (1991)

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When looking back over mainstream Hollywood films of the 1990s, what sometimes interests me more than the critically acclaimed and highly popular are those films that seemed to have everything going for them but were considered disappointing and have been forgotten in the decades since. Once such example is the 1991 drama ‘Regarding Henry’.

At first glance it appears to have everything going for it. A quality cast headed by Harrison Ford at the peak of his popularity, a highly-acclaimed veteran director in Mike Nichols and an original script by a certain up-and-coming young screenwriter called J. J. Abrams.

But the critical reaction to the film was muted at best and with only moderate box office the film quickly disappeared from public consciousness. Looking at the film over 25 years later, does the it deserve a better reputation?

The narrative centres on Henry Turner (Harrison Ford), a self-satisfied corporate lawyer who is enjoying living the wealthy good life in Manhattan with his wife (Annette Bening) and daughter. However a chance involvement in a store robbery leaves him shot multiple times and with brain damage. He begins a slow road to recovery and his mental capacities are severely reduced… but his humanity seems to have returned.

The prime problem ‘Regarding Henry’ has is that while it has the veneer of sophistication and intelligence, far too often it takes the easy way out with obviousness. For example we know automatically when we first see Henry Turner that he’s a slimy, soulless lawyer because he has the Gordon Gekko slicked back hair (and smokes as well). And of course in his opening scene we see him skilfully defending a hospital corporation against the claim of mistreatment of a poor patient that we know is true. Indeed every single aspect of his personality and life suggests someone with no redeeming features.

On occasion the film is more deft at illustrating Henry’s shallowness. There’s a scene where he genuinely reconcile with his daughter after an earlier fight but because of his lack of empathy it only reveals his coldness and his narcissism. But these are generally few and far between.

But the main overriding reason the film struggles is because of the simplistic mindset coming from Abrams’ script. Instead of delving into the issues surrounding a wealthy family dealing with their main breadwinner losing all of their intellectual capabilities, the film seems to believe that Henry’s brain injury and reduced intellectual capacity is actually a good thing for him. As absurd as this concept is, it almost was obliged to go down this path because he was portrayed as such a cartoon villain in the early scenes.

Watching ‘Regarding Henry’ I had the same reaction virtually every Mike Nichols film I’ve seen from his post-1983 period: well-made and obviously helmed by an intelligent director but an insubstantial and inconsequential work. As I observed about his him on the film he made before this one – Postcards From The Edge – the reverence with which he’s treated even today rests almost entirely on his first four films made in the 1966-1971 period.

The contradictions in Nichols’ director appear regularly throughout. On one hand, considering a narrative that very easily could’ve lent itself to excessive sentiment and mawkishness, Nichols is impressively understated in how he handles the emotion of the plot. But what replaces it? Too many scenes are dispiritingly corny and simplistic (including the finale) which one would find it hard to believe would’ve been helmed by the him in the early stages of his career.

As for the acting, Ford is adequate in a fairly atypical role but he doesn’t provide much more depth to his character than the already superficial script does. In one of her early roles Bening (a Nichols regular) is her usual impressive self and makes something out of a fairly thin character. And the late Bill Nunn provides badly needed life to the film as Henry’s therapist.

For all its flaws, because of its all-round professionalism, pleasant New York locations and relatively decent budget (being a fairly prestigious Hollywood production in its day) ‘Regarding Henry’ is a fairly pleasant timewaster. There are many worse films that one could watch from 1991. But rewatching it underlined that the original critical assessment of it being a soft and disappointing film were on the mark.