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Box Office or: How I Learned to Stop Going to Theatres and Play Catch-Up

Amir here, bringing you this weekend’s box office report, which looks curiously like last weekend’s box office report. Of course no one is surprised that Out of the Furnace didn’t have the power to blast off Catching Fire and Frozen. The reviews aren’t over the moon; its stars aren’t quite stars, but famous actors; and this time of year, if you’re not a franchise entry or an animated film, you better be an Oscar player with huge buzz to sell tickets. Furnace is none of those things, and this weekend isn’t particularly notable for big numbers anyway. The last time any film opened in the first week of December to what can be considered reasonably successful sales is The Golden Compass all the way back in 2007. The only other noteworthy release is Inside Llewyn Davis, which opened on 4 screens to a strong per screen average. I find it strange that the studio didn’t go straight for a wide release, given they’ve been building buzz since May, but there’s gotta be a reason I’m not a studio strategist. I’m sure they know best.

01 Frozen $31.6 (cum. $134.2) Review | Let it GoJonathan Groff
02 Hunger Games Pt 2 $27 (cum. $336.6) Review
03 Out of the Furnace $5.3 *new* 
04 Thor Pt 2 $4.7 (cum. $193.6) Review  
05 Delivery Man  $3.7 (cum. $24.7) 

I didn’t hit the theatres this weekend but for a preview screening of Spike Jonze’s Her, and looking ahead to the coming weeks, only American Hustle and Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street are films I’m eager to see. Otherwise I’ve been playing catch-up. It’s that time of the year again when we prep for our top ten lists and blind spots need to be covered. If I want to write my Team Experience Awards - yay! they’re coming in January - ballot with any sort of confidence, I need to watch everything from Fruitvale Station to Aleksander Sokurov’s Faust, from Short Term 12 to Joao Pedro Rodrigues’s The Last Time I Saw Macao. I’ve seen around 90 films so far this year, but a top ten list just can’t be compiled without Laurence Anyways and The Great Beauty, can it? We all have to be completists!

It’s in that spirit that we started our FYC series here, and in that same spirit that I want to share a few words on some films I think you should all watch if nothing at the multiplex entices you. Saudi Arabia’s Oscar submission, Wadjda, is an absolutely outstanding film. It’s a great feat of storytelling, an illuminating piece on women’s rights in the country that unravels with beautiful surprises and gentle humor, and it features what is undoubtedly one of the best female performances of the year by its young lead. Tim recently covered Ernest and Celestine in his column and it's the best animated film of the year by a country mile.


What film would you say we all have to watch before 2014 comes around?

If you follow me on twitter, surely you’ve seen me champion Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours before. It has remained my top film of the year since I saw it in the summer. Its evocative, incantatory images are still swirling around in my head. Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley may have missed AMPAS’s cut, but we all knew that was coming. When you get the chance to see it, grab it with both hands. There are few better ways to spend four hours than watch this expansive doc. Chad Hartigan’s This Is Martin Bonner comes across as a different, unique type of film, the likes of which we rarely see on the American indie scene these days. No best actor ballot should be made this year without giving a shot to the two brilliant leads in this film. Finally, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and Belgium’s Oscar submission, The Broken Circle Breakdown, both have their vocal supporters, but if you haven’t been convinced to see them yet, let me try to persuade you otherwise. The former is only trumped by The Heat as the year’s most entertaining film; the latter is an emotional roller coaster ride like nothing else I’ve come across recently.

What did you watch this weekend? And more importantly, what film would you say we all have to watch before 2014 comes around?

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Reader Comments (14)

I had a satisfied weekend, watching two very good movies: Enough Said and Captain Phillips. I liked both very much. The last scene of Tom Hanks in CP is really moving. But here's two weird things:
(1) They labeled Enough Said as "International Screen" although it's from US like so many other big studio films. This is how they justified putting Enough Said in a smaller room and having a smaller audience when they show indie movie here. I guess they have to explain to the boss why the gross is lower. "Oh it's an international screen, that's why not many people watched it."
(2) Two Catherine Keener movies in one day, I never thought that would happen. Though she's in Captain Phillips for approximately 3 minutes. Wonder why she did it, was it because she's friend of Tom Hanks or the director that she agree to do it for free or something? If CP gets an ensemble nomination at the SAG will she be one of them? I guess yes since I think she's featured in her own title card.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

"And more importantly, what film would you say we all have to watch before 2014 comes around?"

I would personally say Starred Up because it is different from my other top choices (Frances Ha, The World's End, and Spring Breakers) because well, it's a prison movie that is so aware of the tightrope it has to walk through and is an incredibly damming portrait of the British prison system, not its prisoners but the environment harbored by people behind desks. Great performances by the ensemble but stand-outs are Jack O'Connell and Ben Mendelsohn. Played at TIFF, getting a run in the UK, and unfortunately, I believe the only time it played in the States was in 2013 was Telluride.

That was fun when Out of the Furnace was built up by certain unnamed Oscar bloggers, some even throwing American Hustle on the bus (Something, something, Bale and Russell on the outs while Bale loves Scott Cooper) because of it for about 10 seconds.

This weekend, I saw The Past, that is not bad but it is definitely a step below A Separation, although the performances by the children and teenagers was absolutely engrossing. But I did find it a little strange that Bejo and Rahim, in a movie chiefly about their relationship, had them with so little screen-time together. The script gave them not much to go on in achieving that they could be caught up in an affair with destructive results. Also watched How I Live Now, which is only clinching my Saoirse Ronan Stan status.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG- My number one biggest regret of the year is missing Starred Up at TIFF. I've heard nothing but great words since.

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Had a delightful musical double feature this weekend seeing FROZEN and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. I've since listened to both of their terrific soundtrack a couple of times already.

Also, I obviously second your recommendation of Whedon's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. I don't know why I don't own it yet!

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Amir- It was one of my favorites there, and I saw it the same day as Under the Skin that I know will be a 2014 release by A24 Films. One film that I really want distributed in 2014 is Palo Alto by Gia Coppola. It's like the best parts of latter and early Sofia mixed together into a Raymond Carver with a YA target audience. My mother was asking about it today wondering why she hasn't heard about it because it was her favorite along with Starred Up.* I kept on figuring A24 would buy it up because they did distribute The Bling Ring and Roman Coppola's awful movie with Charlie Sheen. I've never rooted for nepotism so hard in my life and yeah, I love the Coppolas and don't care about the haters.

But back to Starred Up. What I like it how lean and tight it feels in about a 100 minute run-time. You feel like you've been with these characters, find out these little details and textures to them at the right dosage. The script works polemically as well without being too didactic. I've only seen Young Adam from David Mackenzie but I found this working in a different stratosphere.

*- It's true, I went with my mother to TIFF and yes, she watched Under the Skin with me right there. Next to me. Did she hate it? YOU BET!!!!!!!

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I'm definitely in 2013 catch up mode. In theaters, I saw Frozen and Philomena. At home I caught up with Leviathan, Simon Killer, Gimme the Loot and Crystal Fairy. I loved Frozen, occasional script issues aside. Philomena has two ace performances and some awkward tonal shifts but is otherwise a quite touching and lovely story well told. Of the four films I saw at home, the disarming Loot is probably my favorite. I suspect Leviathan would've been totally engrossing in a theatrical setting, where it's hypnotic style could really take over, but at home it lost some of its power, or so I imagine. Simon is a strong sophmore effort from Antonio Campos but I'm not sure its parts aren't greater than the whole. Crystal Fairy I actually haven't totally finished yet, but I'm digging it so far.

Everyone should see Post Tenebras Lux before the end of the year. In this time of thoroughly safe, mainstream Oscar-bait, a totally batshit movie like Lux can be a welcome change of pace. Plus, love it or hate it, it has some of the most indelible imagery of the year, and if you can get on Reygadas' wavelength there's a lot to dig into. It's my favorite 2013 film so far.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

CMG, I can't tell from your post whether you know this or not, but Tribeca Films bought Palo Alto and is planning a release next spring.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCC

I saw Le Week-End. Darker than expected. Lindsay Duncan is fantastic.

I also saw the Tim Hetheringhton documentary. So emotional.

If you describe yourselves as actressexuals you MUST go see Gloria.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I don't know if it's hit US theaters yet, but a 2013 must-see for me is Romania's submission for the Oscars, "Child's Pose" ("Pozitia Copilului"). Not exactly a masterpiece but close, with plenty of strong and intense scenes and dialogues, and featuring an amazing Luminita Gheorgiu.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

I had a weekend of catch-up, but more of the in-theater kind. I hit Enough Said, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, and All is Lost, several of which have been lounging around my local art house for a while. I know what you mean about the DVD's, though-I'm rearranging my Netflix queue as we speak.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

CC- Yeah, I just found that out after posting it because I was curious and thought I had to be wrong. Woo-hoo to be wrong!

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

How can one see MUSEUM HOURS? Is it available streaming? I missed it when it played this summer for two weeks at one theater in the Boston area. This happens so often with many smaller, indie, or foreign films, it's frustrating. I am jealous of folks who get screeners!

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Saw Frozen this weekend, and I thank God that Disney ACTUALLY made a film that could legitimately be called feminist for once - as in, not only are the villains all men, but the heroines save each other and don't need any stinking man to do it for them. And the music was lovely. Olaf the snowman's song was so delightful I nearly drove the other adults in the theater out from laughing so hard. And yes, "Let It Go" is just as wonderful as has been said.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Pam - Cinema Guild will release the DVD/Blu-Ray in 8 days.

December 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

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