Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report.
Captain America defeated Noah to the top spot. There has to be a joke in there about America and freedom and jingoism and religion but I haven’t seen the former film yet, so I’ll hold my tongue. Captain America’s opening doesn’t meet the high bar set by any of the Iron Man films or The Avengers but it set a new record for Apil releases and the reviews are arguably the best ever for the Marvel franchise. With the recent announcement that this multiple phase, universe recreation charade is going to drag all the way until 2028 – by which time this youthful, cynical, belligerent writer will only be a cynical, belligerent writer – Marvel is going to need the good reviews to avoid fatigue. Or at least pretend like it’s avoiding fatigue, depending on whom you ask. Arguably, the bigger story of the weekend is the continued success of God's Not Dead. The film now has $32m in the bank and I have yet to come across a single person who's actually seen it. There's God's miracle right there.
01 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $96.2 *new* Review / Marvel Posterized
02 NOAH $17 (cum. $72.3)
03 DIVERGENT $13 (cum. $114) Review / Jai Courtney
04 GOD'S NOT DEAD $7.7 (cum. $32.5)
05 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL $6.3 (cum. $33.3)
The only other wide-ish release of the weekend was Frankie & Alice, the Halle Berry go-go dancing vehicle that finally came off the studio shelves after a four-year delay. Remember when some of us predicted Berry’s second nomination for this one? LOLZ. On the limited side of things, the biggest story was obviously Under the Skin, Jonatha Glazer’s long-delayed follow-up to Birth. Considering the festival hype and the irritatingly, reductively prominent coverage of Scarlett Johansson’s alien sexiness, the film didn’t do that well per screen average. It’d be interesting to see how the studio decides to expand the film. Unbelievably, up here in The Great White North, Skin doesn’t even have a distributor yet. I was lucky enough to watch it at TIFF though and I’d be happily lured back into darkness by Scarlett Johansson no matter the grotesque consequences.
The other releases this weekend didn’t really get audiences (or critics) all hot and bothered but by way of completism, we’ll list their names: The Unknown Known (Errol Morris working in a similar vein to Fog of War), Dom Hemingway (Jude Law with a few extra pounds and a dash of violence), Afflicted (for horror fans, of which I’m not one) and Watermark (an environmentalist documentary which I’ve actually seen; I wasn’t a big fan overall but it’s message is admirable and well-argued and the cinematography is GorgeouS with a capital G and also a capital S for emphasis.)
What have you watched this weekend?
Amir here, to welcome you back to Team Top Ten, our monthly poll by all of the website’s contributors. For our first episode in 2014, we are looking at The Greatest Working Cinematographers in the (international) film industry. As long time readers of The Film Experience are surely aware, the visual language of cinema is something Nathaniel and the rest of us are very fond of discussing. Films and filmmakers that have a dash of style and understand cinema as a visual medium always get bonus points around these parts. We celebrate great works in cinematography on a weekly basis in Hit Me With Your Best Shot, but it was time to give the people behind the camera their due.
More than 50 cinematographers from all across the world received votes. If the final, somewhat American-centric, list doesn’t quite reflect that, chalk it up to the natural process of consensus voting. Cinematographers like Agnes Godard, Oleg Mutu, Mahmoud Kalari, Rodrigo Prieto and Eric Gautier all had their fans, as did Hollywood stalwarts like Dante Spinotti and Robert Richardson. Furthermore, Harris Savides’s name was attached to several ballots, with the unfortunate note that if he were still alive, he’d be on the list. That would have certainly been the case, so here’s Glenn Dunks with an honorable mention for Savides, and then on to the top ten:
“Does anybody doubt that Harris Savides would appear on this list if it weren’t for his death in 2012 at the age of 55? I would even hazard a guess that he could have been number one. I distinctly remember wanting to know who this man was and what his career had been after witnessing Birth. The way he mixed golden hues of UWS high society with the chilly silver of a New York winter captivated me. That film alone with its graceful tracking shots and magnetic opera sequence would be enough of a game changer if it weren’t also for his prior film-defining work with Gus Van Sant on Elephant, Gerry and Last Days. He would later work with David Fincher (Zodiac), Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) and his last great collaborator, Sofia Coppola (Somewhere and The Bling Ring). A mighty force taken too soon.”
TOP TEN GREATEST WORKING CINEMATOGRAPEHRS
10. Dion Beebe
“Who on Earth is Dion Beebe?” felt like a common question in the early-to-mid-2000s when the Australian cinematographer stormed onto the Hollywood scene. Whatever it was that director Rob Marshall had seen of his prior work that gave him enough faith to turn to him for Chicago I’m not sure – Australian films Praise and Holy Smoke! were hardly indications to hire him for a lavish musical – but beautiful work it was. Still, if his further collaborations with Marshall on Memoirs of a Geisha (for which he won an Oscar) and Nine (for which he should have been nominated) suggests perhaps little more than a handsome craftsman, then it was his sensual and sensorial work on Jane Campion’s In the Cut, visually representing erotic tingles with images, and Michael Mann’s digital masterworks Collateral and Miami Vice that proved he was a bold and innovative one, too. – Glenn Dunks
This post was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. Nathaniel is on vacation but it is reprinted here with their permission
"On the left" Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) warns a stranger as he jogs past him at The Mall in Washington D.C. Moments later, "On the left" again. "On the left" And a wave of quiet laughter starts rolling in the theater as it dawns on the crowd - the super soldier, better known as Captain America, is lapping this man repeatedly. It's the perfect soft joke to open Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It's not hilarious, really, but it's warm and good natured... neighborly even. Which could also describe this fish-out-of-water superhero. Steve Rogers isn't of our time. He's 90 years old, actually, but he still looks like Chris Evans because being frozen in a block of ice for 60+ years is apparently it's own kind of fountain of youth. [More...]
This weekend sees the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the third film in Marvel's Phase 2 of movies seemingly designed to introduced an expanding roster of comic book figures into a multi-film universe for the rest of human history. Confirming this latter point, Marvel film impresaro Kevin Feige mentioned (jokingly? seriously?) in an interview published this week that his brain trust has a line-up of films planned, potentially, up to 2028. Now, whether anybody genuinely things that having that kind of long game planned out is remotely practical, if Marvel is just thinking out loud, or if they're genuinely just that hubristic, nobody can say at this point. And cannot say for 14 years. But the fact that Feige can even joke about it says that Marvel plans to be in it for the long haul.
So it's undoubtedly premature, but with CA: TWS coming in as the ninth film in the overall series, it gives us the exact right number of titles so far to run the series through the Film Experience's patented Posterized system.
Here's abstew on one of TFE's very favorite actors
This past Wednesday saw the limited release of the British film Dom Hemingway about a safecracker that is recently released from prison after serving 12 years. The marketing material is also quick to point out that he's played by Jude Law because it's not immediately apparent.(The film also stars The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, as his...daughter! Well, at least she's not the love interest. At least, I hope not.)
Sporting a couple gold teeth, the craziest mutton chops not normally seen outside of a Civil War reenactor, and more girth than usual (Law gained 30 pounds for the role and it's not even Oscar bait!), the role is certainly a departure for the man that was once Dickie Greenleaf. (Although he's still kinda sexy as Dom. Am I crazy?)
Even in his early roles it was often noted that Law was a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star. Although he's been named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive before, he's hardly an actor to rely solely on his good looks. Throughout his career he's been allowed to embrace the character actor aspect of his roles and experiment with his appearance along the way.
Let's take a look back at some of his most memorable looks!
...is there anything you can't do?
Well, I'm not sure I'll make a very good nun.
If you have any problems, I'll be happy to help you...
Great Moments in Screen Bitchery #235, Eleanor Parker as the Baroness in The Sound of Music (1965)