Amir is on holiday so I've reclaimed my number-sharing duty for tonight. It wasn't a fair fight but Godzilla squashed Jon Hamm (in his first big screen leading man gig) at the box office. Godzilla had the second biggest opening of the year.
In other box office news: Belle (reviewed) which is now in its third weekend added over 100 screens and is nearing a 2 million dollar gross... not bad at all considering its low profile; Noah finally crawled past the $100 million mark as it heads out of theaters; Captain America: The Winter Soldier will topple The Lego Movie to become the year's top domestic grosser sometime next weekend; and the week's best per screen average outside of radioactive monsters was for Marion Cotillard as The Immigrant which is sadly only on 3 screens.
What did you see this weekend?
I only caught Godzilla in theaters and opted for my Jon Hamm fix via Mad Men (another fine episode that made me so angry they're splitting the season in half but more on that in the next episode of Mad Men at the Movies).
I also tried out Penny Dreadful's first two episodes and I am... intrigued but unconvinced. It's handsome enough to look at and some of the peripheral players are super vivid and amusing, particularly Billie Piper as a consumptive prostitute and Simon Russell Beale as an Egyptologist who is like what would happen if you made Harold Zidler gayer, fussier and yet more over the top. Among the three headliners which include Josh Hartnett (nice to see him again actually) and Timothy Dalton, Eva Green is the clear standout. She understands stylization and is so autoerotic and self-sufficient a performer in every way that she doesn't even need her co-stars or surroundings to be any good - I think largely of how completely brilliant she was in the otherwise lacking Dark Shadows - and she gets the big title centerpiece of the second episode, a seance, all to herself. But I'm still not sure about the show. Individual scenes range from meh to marvelous (the best being an unexpectedly tender frankenstein creation sequence) but it feels like it's trying way too hard for self-mythology even though its borrowed most of its mythology and we can obviously meet it halfway. I got a Carnivale vibe (and I don't mean that as a compliment). I'll give it one or two more episode before I make the DVR or skip call.
Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience
At today’s The Homesman press conference, Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank lived up to their public personas, the former as a well-meaning curmudgeon and the latter as diplomatic would be sweetheart. This dynamic was evident when Jones made the off-putting comment that editing is time consuming but “it’s not hard work” and Swank, spotting the possible faux pax in front of a room of international movie press, swooped in by clarifying maybe not for someone like him with his great mind and thoughtful vision, but she’d be lost and that editing is indeed hard work.
Well-trained in the art of dodging cringe-inducing questions, Swank managed to pivot from a meant-to-be-complimentary question about the disparity between her beauty in person and her plainness onscreen to an empowering impromptu speech about the subjectivity of attractiveness. She shared that some people have told her that they found her characters Maggie (Million Dollar Baby) and Mary Bee Cuddie (The Homesman), to be attractive because of their strength. Considering that the film tackles the issues of female subjugation and objectification, it was all the more uncomfortable when multiple professional journalists either commented on her physical appearance or prefaced their question with a comment on her physical appearance.
What did these reporters expect? She’s a movie star at Cannes promoting a film, the very definition of a glamorous day's work. And isn’t that a pretty tired narrative for Swank, dating back over a decade?
To Swank’s left, Jones bordered on ornery, not understanding a number of questions (giving unrelated answers or asking reporters to rephrase) or speaking in vague, sometimes dismissive, terms about cast and production (“The difficulty was the weather.” … “It’s not real research, we’re not curing polio.”). As for both directing and acting on this film, he deadpanned:
As a director, I can tell you that I do everything I tell myself to do.”
Dodging the more thematic and film-specific questions, Jones repeatedly answered “The movie speaks for itself,” without further explanation. On a rare upbeat note, Jones did spark to a question about the film’s music (plugging his son, the film’s music consultant) and went into a long-winded explanation about finding era-appropriate tunes and building wind organs.
In response to a HuffPo reporter’s line of questioning about women’s issues in the 1800s (when the film is set) relating to those of today, Jones said,
I don't think there's a woman in this room that has never felt objectified or trivialized because of her gender. There's a reason for that and a history of that, and I think that's an interesting thing."
A smattering of applause. Jones won back a few of the hearts he may have lost.
This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
If Hollywood's goal is to infantilize all audiences into impressionable insatiable snot-nosed consumers of movie-product (remember how easy it was for a commercial to make you all "gimme!" as a kid) they’re doing a great job this year. Though movie studios churn out plenty of all-quadrant dross every year that's aimed at pleasing children of all advanced ages and genders, it rarely goes this well. The year began in the shadow of Disney's unexpectedly unstoppable Frozen and the critical and commercial smashes keep coming. The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the two biggest hits of the year (thus far) and not undeservedly. They're like joyful corporate filmmaking - cash grabs, sure, but no robbery is involved since they give you your money’s worth. And here comes the third home run: Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014).
[Insert prehistoric monstrous rawr here]
Can my review just be wild-eyed hyperactive childish pointing? "LOOK!!!" No? Fine. A few slightly more coherent thoughts featuring hot soldiers, worried women, and monster smash-ups after the jump...
BFFs Jessica Chastain and Jess Weixler (best known for Teeth and The Good Wife but she plays Chastain's sister in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) hit the Cannes Film Festival. Great gowns, yes?
Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes...
The Blue Room and Amour Fou, two films in the Un Certain Regard section, examine the pitfalls of unrequited romance. A French modern noir, The Blue Room centers on an extramarital affair between a farm equipment rep and a pharmacy employee that leads to a murder investigation. A German Romantic period piece, Amour Fou also centers on an extramarital affair, though this time between poet Heinrich von Kleist and wife of a businessman Henriette Vogel which also leads to violent crime. The former film's narrative goes in and out of its protagonist’s recollections, while the latter follows its protagonist’s determined trajectory. Neither man actually loves his mistress, with one outrightly denying and the other unwilling to admit, but both end linked inextricably to their “beloveds” through tragic means...
The Film Stage Such exciting news. Looks like Luca Guadagnino (of I Am Love brilliance) finally has another feature lining up after many thwarted attempts. Not much is known about the thriller but he'll direct Tilda Swinton again but this time she's not the only major international draw: the cast also includes Ralph Fiennes, Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Cartoon Brew the producer of Legends of Oz, that animated flop, is mad and blaming everything but the movie for the movie's failure
Pajiba gets righteously angry about how lightly the media is reacting to this "prankster" who is attacking celebrities on the red carpet. His latest victim was America Ferrera at Cannes . Naturally superhuman Cate Blanchett is the person that was quickest to console her.
The Powder Room wonders why none of the gay superheroes are hitting movie screens (and the comments sections raises a great point that X-Men Days of Future Past could have totally used Northstar in place of Quicksilver and been the first to do so)
Playbill here's a fun list for those who love musicals: top ten signature showtunes for the original performer. Featuring Bernadette Peters, Babs, Sutton Foster and more
HitFix listens to the Godzilla score via ubiqutous Alexandre Desplat
Variety and Godzilla is crushing it at the box office but more on that and the review later today
The Guardian is reasonably fond of The Two Faces of January. I'm still so excited for that one despite the lack of excitement that greets it in general
Television Blend by now you've probably heard that the entire Twin Peaks series AND Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) are coming to Blue-Ray with tons of new extras. It's been so long since I've seen the show that I'd love falling completely into that world again for awhile