This weekend’s offerings inclue a sequel to an epic where everybody died, an adaptation of a TV character entirely unknown in North America and a CG version of a 50-year-old cartoon. Why the hell not, right?
Alan Partridge: Steve Coogan’s long-awaited Partridge movie asks the very important question: “What if the worst person in the world held the key to ending a workplace hostage situation?”
Bettie Page Reveals All: Mark Mori’s documentary about the ’50s fetish icon revels in its contradictions, and prompts Susan to have one of her own.
Like Father, Like Son: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new domestic drama follows the tensions between two families when they discover their six-year-olds were switched at birth. It’s really good.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Jay Ward’s time-traveling dog and his pet boy get their shot at contemporary stardom. Do they fare as well as Boris and Natasha or Dudley Do-Right? I dunno, I was at the 300 sequel.
No Clue: Canadian television sensation Brett Butt tries his hand at big-screen sleuth comedy. Glenn kinda wishes he hadn’t.
Particle Fever: Mark Levinson’s documentary finds a human angle on hard science, following a handful of heavy thinkers waiting for the Large Hadron Collider to unlock the secrets of the universe. Jose finds it as intriguing as I did.
300: Rise of an Empire: So, yeah. They made another one.
Pretty varied week, all things considered. But if you still haven’t seen Non-Stop, go do that.
This week’s NOW is out, and inside you’ll find my very last Oscars piece for the year — I promise — and a Top 5 dedicated to the work of Steve Coogan, whose Alan Partridge movie finally reaches Toronto tomorrow.
That’s pretty much it. It’s a quietish week. Ah, but you know what that means: Next week’s issue is going to be insane.
Rather than spend any more time thinking about Rob Ford sweating to his greatest hits last night, I think I’ll just direct your attention to something more engaging: Everybody Street, a terrific New York street-photography documentary that opens at the Bloor today for a limited run.
It’s really good. And yeah, there’s already a boom in New York street-shooter movies — Bill Cunningham New York opened last year, and Matt Weber: More Than a Rainbow comes down the pike pretty soon — but here’s the thing: They’re all really good.
It’s nice when that happens, isn’t it?
Aside from the show, the Oscars were pretty great this year — an unexpected horse race between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, with American Hustle left scoreless by the side of the track. Here’s my Monday-morning analysis of the event.
Oh, and in other heartening news: Non-Stop won the box-office weekend, earning $30 million to relegate Son of God to second place with $26.5 million and knocking The Lego Movie down to third with $21 after three weeks at the top. (I don’t think Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were too upset about relinquishing the throne, with a domestic gross of $209 million and counting.)
So, yeah. That went well for everybody.
It’s Oscar weekend, so we’re supposed to be all excited about watching the ceremonies on Sunday night. And I guess I sort of am, if only because it looks like either Steve McQueen or Alfonso Cuaron is going to win Best Director this year, and I love both of those guys.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter for live commentary on the Academy Awards, and to see where else I’ll be turning up on the global mediascape. (I’m doing a thing for The Ryersonian’s live Oscar blog this afternoon at 4 pm, for instance.) And maybe you’ll want to watch a movie over the weekend, so here’s the information you need on this week’s releases:
Non-Stop: Yes, it’s Die Hard on a transatlantic flight — or Snakes on a Plane without the snakes – but it’s also just plain good. Plus, it lets Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore share the screen without being in Chloe, so it’s got that going for it.
Omar: Paradise Now writer-director Hany Abu-Assad returns to the conflict with a moody, slow-cooker study of a young Palestinian activist caught between his friends and the Israeli secret service. Up for the Foreign-Language prize on Sunday.
Solo: This modest Canadian survival thriller may seem a little less impressive in the wake of Katie Aselton’s more complex (and more cruel) Black Rock, but it works on its own terms. And Annie Clark — of Degrassi, not St. Vincent — is very strong in the lead.
Son of God: Having cleaned up with their miniseries adaptation of The Bible, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey return to the trough with a feature-length study of the life of Jesus. Title kinda gives the plot away, though. UPDATE: Rad was not a fan.
Stalingrad: Overblown action choreography meets obvious melodrama in Feodor Bondarchuk’s IMAX 3D war movie, which was Russia’s official submission for the Foreign-Language Oscar this year. It is not very good.
And there we are! See you on the global mediascape …
In this week’s NOW, I chart my annual descent into the grim lineup of the Human Rights Watch festival, from which I have just barely recovered. Seriously, packing that much torture, mutilation and general despair into a single week seems like its own crime against humanity.
Lighter fare may be found in my coverage of this weekend’s Toronto Irish Film Festival, or in the requisite Oscar thumbsucker.
Or just delve into the miserable stuff, I guess. It’s not February until you feel like chewing your wrists open, after all.
Harold Ramis, dead at 69.
… because The Lego Movie is living the dream.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s CG delight held the top box-office spot in its third weekend of release, pulling in $31.5 million for a total domestic gross to date of $183 million. So, yes, awesomeness abounds.
Lord and Miller’s minifig army easily trounced the disappointing Kevin Costner actioner 3 Days to Kill, which opened with an underwhelming $12.3 million. Pompeii placed third with $10 million, just ahead of RoboCop, which made $9.4 million in its second week of release.
So there’s your lesson, aspiring filmmakers. Actually create something that makes people happy, and the world will beat a path to your door. Having Chris Pratt on hand doesn’t hurt, either.
Kind of a drab week on the studio front, so we turn to the indies for solace. Some of them even provide it!
Cheap Thrills: Pat Healy and Ethan Embry face off as old friends trapped in a hellish party game in E.L. Katz’ enjoyably nasty thriller, which does the frog-in-the-frying-pan thing very well indeed.
Fly Colt Fly: Legend of the Barefoot Bandit: Colton Harris-Moore’s teenage crime spree is re-enacted in both animation and live-action by brother filmmakers Andrew and Adam Gray … who don’t seem to have all that much to say about their subject, really.
Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve: The history of the Fed is recounted at length in Jim Bruce’s well-intentioned but crushingly dull documentary.
Pompeii: Spartacus meets Titanic in Paul W.S. Anderson’s cheesy swords-and-CG venture, and we all discover that Jon Snow only has that one face in other movies, too.
3 Days to Kill: Luc Besson tries to work his middle-aged magic on Kevin Costner, but McG is totally the wrong director for the job.
Tim’s Vermeer: Teller (of Penn and) makes a strong filmmaking debut with this documentary about an artist friend who’s out to understand the Dutch master. Rad has my back on this.
The Wind Rises: Rad‘s also big on Hayao Miyazaki’s latest, an animated biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Zero. The dubbed version is an accidental Looper reunion, which is weird.
And that’s everything! What are you guys doing this weekend?
In this week’s NOW, I chat with the eminently affable David Koechner about his role in the clever dark comedy Cheap Thrills, which opens in Toronto this week in advance of a nationwide screening next month in one of those Sinister Cinema dealies.
You should not wait five weeks to see this movie. Best to see it before the blood clots.