Category Archives: Uncategorized

HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK SEVEN

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Scores as of 12/12/17
Slim +38
James +32
Rob +24
Filmman + 12
Marco +6
Juan +2

HAGEBOC WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

  1. What will Star Wars: The Last Jedi earn this weekend?
  2. What will Star Wars: The Last Jedi earn from midnight/Thursday PM shows
  3. What will Ferdinand earn this weekend?

Answers are due on THURSDAY December 14th by 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!

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HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK SIX

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Scores as of 12/5/17
James +32
Slim +24
Rob +18
Filmman + 12
Marco +6
Juan +2

HAGEBOC WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 8TH, 2017

  1. What will The Disaster Artist earn this weekend?
  2. What will Just Getting Started earn this weekend?
  3. What will Coco earn this weekend?

Answers are due on Friday December 8th by 11:59 AM EST. Good luck!

HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK FIVE

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Scores as of 11/27/17
James +20
Rob +18
Slim +16
Filmman + 12
Marco +6
Juan +2

HAGEBOC WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 1ST, 2017

  1. What will Coco earn this weekend?
  2. What will Justice League earn this weekend?
  3. What will Wonder earn this weekend?

Answers are due on Friday December 1st by 11:59 AM EST. Good luck!

HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK FOUR

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Scores as of 11/20/17
Rob +18
James +14
Slim +8
Filmman + 6
Juan +2

HAGEBOC WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 24TH, 2017

  1. What will Coco earn this weekend?
  2. What will Justice League earn this weekend?
  3. What will Wonder earn this weekend?
  4. What will Roman J. Israel, Esq earn this weekend?

Answers are due on Wednesday November 22nd by 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!

HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK THREE

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Scores as of 11/13/17
Rob + 14
Filmman + 4
Slim +4
Juan +2

HAGEBOC WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 17TH, 2017

  1. What will Justice League earn this weekend?
  2. What will Justice League earn from Thursday PM/Midnight shows?
  3. What will Wonder earn this weekend?
  4. What will The Star earn this weekend?

Due to the time sensitive nature of Question #2, answers are due on Friday November 17th by 10:00 am EST. Good luck!

HAGEBOC 2017 – WEEK ONE

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2m2e7oz1Welcome to HAGEBOC 2017!  Please join me in celebrating the holiday season by guessing how much money Star Wars and a few Oscar-bait dramas will earn between now and early January!

No change in the scoring system this year (4 points awarded to the person with the closest guess, 2 to the runner-up.  A 2 point bonus for being within 500k.  Bonus questions are worth 1/2 point each).

Answers are due on Friday, November 3rd by 3:00 pm EST.  Good luck!

  1. What will Thor: Ragnarok earn this weekend?
  2. What will A Bad Moms Christmas earn this weekend?

Review: Suburbicon

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suburbiconGeorge Clooney’s second film as director in 2005 – ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ – was one of my favourite films of the 2000s. Concise, sharp, riveting and intelligently done; it was fully deserving of the critical praise and Academy Award nominations it got. At this time it seemed certain that Clooney would be a director of note for decades.

Alas the films he’s directed since have largely been critical disappointments and his latest film – ‘Suburbicon’ – is such a woeful misfire that one can only conclude that ‘Good Night, And Good Luck’ was a fluke exception to the rule.

Set in 1959 American suburbia, the home of middle-class Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is invaded by two thugs whose actions lead to the death of his wife Rose (Julianne Moore). Everyone in town is shocked by the event and supports Gardner and his family. But when Gardner’s young son Nicky (Noah Jupe) sees his dad & Rose’s sister Margaret (also Moore) fail to ID the two culprits in a police lineup it’s clear there’s much more to this than meets the eye.

Suburbicon fails on multiple levels. One reason is that it seems to treat the fact that seemingly affluent and content 1950s Middle America was – gasp! – in fact full of hypocrisy, contradictions and complacency as something fresh and insightful. Somehow Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov (working off an old Coen brothers screenplay) seem to have ignored the endless TV shows and films documenting this in recent decades that have made that assumption a well-worn cliché by now.

And in anycase, the film does virtually nothing interesting with this assumption as it’s all lazy surface-detail observations; apparently mentioning the central family is Episcopalian numerous times is as far as it goes for insight. The central character of Gardner is a total void as we never begin to understand his motivations as to why he behaves the way he does. Dealt with such an empty vessel of a character, Damon struggles haplessly.

As well, Clooney’s is aiming for the skewered crime-noir that original writers and his regular collaborators the Coen brothers are famous for but he’s simply not up to the task. Especially in the early segments, his direction is telegraphed and heavy-handed and what should be an intense and compelling crime mystery feels tedious and dreary. The home invasion scene early in the film is one of the least-interesting types of those scenes I can recall and feels twice as long as it should be.

But the film’s biggest error is a subplot awkwardly inserted in (which has no real connection to the main plot and could’ve easily been excised from the film) is about the arrival of a black family in the all-white neighbourhood. Reactions go from initial bemusement and shock (the local postman presumes the wife is the house maid) to outrage and a violent and vicious mob.

This subplot is so cartoonish and relentless that its impact is zero. An early scene of a town meeting where local residents voice their disapproval at non-whites being part of their town feels like a meeting of overt virulent racists from the KKK as opposed to what many 50s white suburbanites would be like. The film’s racial commentary is so heavy-handed that it makes ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?’ seem like a subtle take on race relations.

There are a few positive aspects to the film. A scene where in response to Nicky’s displeasure Margaret turns from a sweet and sunny persona to someone full of deviousness and manipulation is well done and acted. Also the scene where an insurance investigator (well played by Oscar Issac) interrogates Margaret is atypically riveting. And the 1950s style and visuals are pleasing on the eye. But in truth this film has very few pleasures or satisfaction to offer.

There has been talk in social media that the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Damon & Clooney’s associations with the disgraced producer ensured this film was doing to be DOA at the box office when it opened and perhaps that’s true to an extent. But even if that scandal hadn’t occurred ‘Suburbicon’ would’ve sunk anyway as it doesn’t succeed on any level.

Movies Opening and Streaming in New Jersey and Surrounding Environs and Worldwide – Weekend of October 28th, 2017

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Jigsaw – I’m not a horror movie fan, but you can’t deny the staying power of a movie where people cut their limbs off that has lasted eight installments. But then, Medea is on her second Halloween movie already, so there’s that, I guess. And yes, I’m still at the point where I can watch Medea much more easily than I can watch people cutting off their own limbs. Is this one even about people cutting off their limbs, or are they treating it like romantic comedies? Does Jigsaw have a kid with someone he’s torturing or something?
 
Suburbicon – I have to admit I’m a fan of Clooney’s directorial efforts. I don’t remember much about the Gong Show movie but I can’t really remember why (maybe it was because Sam Rockwell was in it?) and Good Night, Good Luck was so well done, and I was so impressed that Clooney directed it, I still remember it fondly. I’ll have to revisit it soon. This stars Damon and has a home invasion and black humor, apparently, thanks, likely, to the fact the Coens co-wrote it. I can’t imagine the low-key direction of Clooney will mix well with the Coens, but what do I know? And I’m wondering if the current Weinstein imbroglio is going to harm Damon’s career – more than his current movie choices have, of course. But it’s currently at 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and Ebert reviews gave it a 1.5, so maybe the Weinstein kerfuffle won’t make any difference.
 
Thank You for Your Service – What is this? Ah, a movie based on a book about service members returning home from service. Will it delve into the reasons for the war in question? Or does the marketing team not want to incur the wrath of trolls who would bag the movie for getting political? Who knows. If this is your kind of movie, I hope you get something important out of it, and it enhances your life somehow. Who’s Miles Teller? What has he been in?
Notable Streaming Releases –
 
Creep 2 – Our own James says Creep 2 is pretty excellent, it’s doing great on Rotten Tomatoes, and the first review I read says Creep 2 is ‘strange and wonderful’. It, however, stars and was co-written by Mark Duplass, so this is all I will say about this movie, as I will not be seeing it. But if you’re gonna watch this, hope it’s as good for you as it was for James and the reviewers.
 
Stranger Things 2 – By far the biggest event of the weekend. I can’t add anything to this part of the post that hasn’t been discussed already. But I will say that man, you have to be awfully cynical (or under 25 because, you know) to think Stranger Things is, you know, bad, and not the masterfully-crafted homage it is to all the things that made entertainment so fun and interesting and watchable in the 80’s.
 
The Center Will Not Hold – I decided to add this one because it’s a fantastic look at a fantastic woman, Joan Didion, directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne. A fantastic look at a certain time and place through the lens looking through the eyes of a national treasure and one of the most important American writers ever. It’s uplifting and enlightening and tragic and worth it. Watch it.

Review: Blade Runner 2049

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Okay, a few things to get out of the way: I have seen the original Blade Runner, but it was a long time ago and I don’t remember much of it. That might have helped some while watching Blade Runner 2049, the long-simmering sequel, which is all about replicants, bio-engineered beings that resemble humans in almost all ways but are not, though in what ways we really don’t know.

There’s a title card that tells us that replicants in the year 2049 are new and improved, and always obey (this is sort of like Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot). The older models, the ones who did not obey, are hunted down by blade runners. One of them is Ryan Gosling, and he’s a replicant. The opening scene has him “retiring” an old model, then finding another one buried on the property.

It turns out this replicant had a baby. In the world of this film, it is earth-shaking news that replicants might be able to breed. The head of the company that makes them, a weird cat played by Jared Leto, wants this baby, who would now be about 28 years old, found, so he can figure out how it was done. Gosling, working for the police, is also assigned to find it. So we get a classic noir tale, as Gosling follows clues wearing a knee-length trench coat and a day’s stubble (replicants can grow facial hair, I guess) to figure out who that baby is grown up to be.

Though the film is structured as a noir, of course it is also science fiction. Turns out we have flying cars in 2049, and I hope I live long enough to get one. Of course, the world is a bleak place. The cities are still like the original film, with huge advertisements and holograms (one of them is for prostitution and is naked about fifty feet tall). For companionship you can have a hologram for a partner, as Gosling does (Ana de Armas), who he can talk to, but physical contact is tough.

Leto’s assistant (Sylvia Hoeks), also a replicant, is the bad-ass who is chasing down the baby and creating mayhem wherever she goes. We also meet a woman who is responsible for creating the memories that are implanted into replicants, and a human prostitute who fills in for de Armas to make sex possible (this reminded me of the scene in Her where this attempted). The future is not so bright.

The trailer gives away an important plot point that is used as a surprise in the film–the return of Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, who was the original Blade Runner. If you’ve been arguing about whether Deckard was a replicant or not, the film answers it definitively. We also get a brief return of Sean Young, who is really nothing but CGI.

I’m kind of avoiding saying whether I liked the film or not. I did, but I’m not sure why. The look is tremendous. Roger Deakins is the cinematographer–will be finally get his Oscar? The sets are beautiful in their bleakness, while Leto’s inner chamber is awash with reflected light off of a pool that is mesmerizing. But a few things bother me–the rules of what replicants can and can’t do bother me. They are created, without souls, but little seems to separate them from humans. They can bleed, feel pain and emotion (some are always crying). I would have liked more specificity.

Also, since the lead character is basically an android, what does he want? The first thing you learn in writing drama is that a character must want something, and must be always trying to get it. Gosling, because he plays a non-human who is programmed to do his job, is simply following orders through most of the film. At a certain point he takes on the ability to do his own thing–how did that happen? Replicants can also clearly love–he loves his hologram, for instance. How does that interfere with their obedience?

This film creates a lot of interesting questions and doesn’t answer all of them, which is okay. The lack of box office (the first film didn’t do great business, either, not in its first release) would suggest that any further sequels are unlikely, even though they are set up. I suppose fans will just have to argue about this one for thirty years until Blade Runner 2082 is released.

Movies opening and streaming in Connecticut – Weekend of October 21st, 2017

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Theatrical releases

Boo! 2: Tyler Perry returns as Madea in this sequel to the 2016 hit, Boo!  It should easily open at the top of the box office this weekend.  I haven’t seen any of this series, but they’ve been uniformly successful.

Geostorm: Gerard Butler stars in this environmental disaster epic filmed way back in early 2014.  Following some negative test screenings, Warner Brothers reportedly pushed Director Dean Devlin aside and brought in Jerry Bruckheimer and television helmer Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd) to try and salvage it.  The budget ballooned north of 120m and it will be lucky to close its run at 25m domestic, so uh, nice try I guess.

Only the Brave: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller and Jeff Bridges star in this firefighter drama from Director Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron Legacy). Given the problems happening in the Western United States right now, it’s not entirely surprising that audiences aren’t turning out for this.

New and notable streaming

Wheelman: Well-reviewed Frank Grillo-starrer that looks like a action movie version of Locke.  Definitely seems worth a watch. (Netflix)

1922: This may come as news to some, but 00’s almost-leading man Thomas Jane is still making movies!  This is his third Stephen King adaptation (following The Mist and…Dreamcatcher) and it’s based on a novel I’ve never heard of, but hey – he’s supposed to be really good in it so it might be worth checking out. But probably not. (Netflix)

 

 

Movies opening and streaming in Connecticut – Weekend of October 13th, 2017

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Theatrical releases

Marshall: Chadwick Boseman is future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in this legal drama from long lost Director Reginald Hudlin. Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens and James Cromwell co-star. RT: 86%

Hudlin has actually had an enormously successful career in television and comic book writing (he actually ran BET for some period of time) but he’s still probably best remembered for his early 90’s comedies like House Party and Boomerang.  This is his first feature in 15 years.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman: True story about how the relationship between a psychologist (Luke Evans), his wife (Rebecca Hall) and their lover (Bella Heathcote) resulted in the creation of the superhero, Wonder Woman. RT: 87%

We’re two-for-two here with Directors who are making a return to features after an extended break.  Like Hudlin, Robinson has primarily been doing television work in recent years and hasn’t directed a film since 2005’s Herbie: Fully Loaded.  Yes, the director of a forgotten Lindsay Lohan film has made one of the better reviewed films of the year.

Side note: I really enjoyed Robinson’s short film, D.E.B.S. (a clever, sapphic Charlie’s Angels parody).

Happy Death Day: Great premise (Groundhog Day…as a horror film!), a perfect release date and in a nice surprise, an above average quality film should open #1 this weekend. Frankly, it would be a little embarrassing if it didn’t.  RT: 68%

The Foreigner: This Jackie Chan / Pierce Brosnan action picture is somehow opening wide (I’m unsure whether STX is aware that it is not 2002) but hey, good for them I guess. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye) is behind the camera, although that doesn’t mean much nowadays. RT: 56%

New and notable streaming

The Meyerowitz Stories: Noah Baumbach’s latest stars Adam Sandler (in a widely-praised performance), Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. RT: 91% (Netflix)

The Babysitter: McG (Charlie’s Angels, This Means War) directs this teen-centric horror picture starring Bella Thorne. The screenplay made the 2014 Black List, which is something, I guess. RT: 60% (Netflix)

Security: Antonio Banderas made a DTV, non-comedic version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and it really doesn’t look that bad. Bonus: they were able to pay Ben Kingsley’s quote!  RT: No Reviews (Netflix)

Not a film, but…

Mindhunter: David Fincher and Charlize Theron produce this Netflix drama about the early days of the FBI’s Criminal Profiling Program. Fincher also directs the first two episodes. RT: 96% (Netflix)

Opening in Connecticut – Weekend of 10/6/17

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Blade Runner 2049: Well-received sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.  The film’s opening is going to be disappointing based on the budget (some 170m), but I’d expect to see it re-released during Awards season.  The film’s failure to attract audiences under 30 makes me think this might have been better positioned, branding-wise, as a new property set in the same universe (ala Prometheus) rather than as a direct follow-up.

Personal interest factor: 9

The Mountains Between Us: Almost exactly 20 years ago, Fox released David Mamet and Lee Tamahori’s The Edge, a terrific thriller about two men attempting to survive the wilderness (and each other) following a plane crash. While there are some superficial similarities between that picture and this weekend’s Kate Winslet/Idris Elba starrer, I’m doubtful whether anyone will remember this in two weeks, let alone two decades.

Anyone wondering why Kate Winslet would want to lock herself into four Avatar pictures only needs to look at how this is performing (critically and financially) for the answer.

Personal interest factor: 2

My Little Pony: The Movie: This probably would have done gangbusters as a DTV title released at the height of the MLP renaissance. For the life of me, I have no idea what Lionsgate was thinking going wide theatrical with it in 2017.

Personal interest factor: 0

Opening in Las Vegas, September 29, 2017

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Battle of the Sexes (73) is reviewed by our own Marco below. I saw it, too, and it’s a good movie but not a great one.

American Made (65) looks like it might be fun, but seems like a rental. When Cruise plays characters like this, a pilot turned smuggler, he’s at his best. Doug Liman directs.

In another of a series of unnecessary remakes, Flatliners (30) will make no one forget the original, which was a decent sci-fi effort. I’m waiting for Ellen Page to fulfill the promise of Juno, and so far it hasn’t happened. She’s been mostly making indie films, which is noble, and I suppose she did this film to subsidize them.