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Entries in Much Ado About Nothing (6)

Sunday
Dec082013

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.

TOP OF THE BOX OFFICE
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?

Wednesday
Nov132013

True Oscar Stories: Hey Nonny, Nonny

Emma Thompson was nominated for Best Actress in 1993 for Remains of the Day in which she is very good but it really should have been for Much Ado About Nothing, in which she is utterly radiant, the classiest and most consummate romantic comedy lead the 90s could have ever dreamt up.

The following year, the Oscars made the same mistake nominating Winona Ryder for period drama Little Women instead of the post-collegiate comedy Reality Bites, which I'd argue is her single greatest screen performance if less iconic than her star turns in Beetlejuice or Heathers. 

The moral of this story: Even when they're great, comedies have such a tough time being appreciated in their time. Soon you'll be able to add Frances Ha (2013) to that infinite list of under-rewarded laughers!

Friday
Jun282013

Linky Together

The Awl has a good piece on the metaphorical zombies and in blockbuster cinema
My New Plaid Pants a delightfully unexpected list: 5 tertiary characters from Paul Thomas Anderson movies deserve their own spin-off. I totally forgot about Brad the Bartender with Braces in Magnolia!
Atlantic prompted by all the "legacy" talk of TV after James Gandolfini (RIP) & The Sopranos... "where is the female Tony Soprano?"
HitFix David Chases' full eulogy for James Gandolfini

Coming Soon Sir Ian McKellen has wrapped filming The Hobbit trilogy, never to return to Gandalf the Grey (or White)
In Contention's wondering about Foxcatcher in Sony's Oscar Hopeful slate
Hollywood Vin Diesel meeting with Marvel Studios. Hmmm, I can't really see him as any of the characters mentioned beyond Thanos 
Exploding Actresses on Tumblr. You will cry. Or laugh. Possibly both depending on the movie.
Antagony & Ecstasy has a well thought through piece on Joss Whedon's tossed-off Much Ado About Nothing

Today's Watch
Filmmaker IQ's John Hess on Aspect Ratio in cinema. 18 minutes long but well produced and worth it, if your understanding of Aspect Ratio is, like mine, limited to Almost Squares vs Various Shaped Rectangles and trivia knowledge of gimmicks like "Cinerama." Watch it, it's Edumucational!

The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio from FilmmakerIQ.com on Vimeo.

 

Belated Tony
Filmsploitation Check out this wonderful photo and quote from cinematographer Christopher Doyle about set photography and the making of Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together (1997) which I had just been thinking of for no apparent reason (since I used a different photo for The Film Experience on Facebook... a page you should obviously "like", duh)

And while we're on the subject... Happy (belated) birthday to Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Lust Caution, In the Mood for Love, Hero), our favorite Asian movie star who celebrated his 51st yesterday. His wife Carina Lau posted this picture of him eating cake. 

You missed the thumb Tony. Let me get that for you...

 

Monday
Jun102013

Box offices binges on "The Purge"

It's Tim, taking over Monday box office duties for Nathaniel while he's away, so if I've made some little formatting mistake, apologies in advance.

It says all there is to say about the cool state of the box office right now (nobody wants to put something out just in time to have Man of Steel cut its legs off next week) that the big story is a horror movie with toxic word of mouth hugely outperforming expectations. Truthfully, though, $34 million for the Ethan Hawke home invasion thriller The Purge is pretty impressive: it more than doubled the open weekend of Hawke's last horror picture, Sinister, while blasting past pretty much every comparable film in recent memory. That's what a drought in the marketplace will do for you: horror fans will turn out to see new wide releases if it's been a long time, even if the new release in question looks completely awful. I know whereof I speak.

Meanwhile, Wedding Crashers reunion/feature length Google ad The Internship has made exactly the non-splash that could be predicted based on how much nobody in the entire world was talking about the movie, though it's worth pointing out that it's not particularly out of line with the recent films Vince Vaugn and Owen Wilson have made seperately in the past few years. Also, Fast & Furious 6 broke the $200 million mark before Star Trek Into Darkness, which is a statistic that I don't think anybody would have willing to predict at the start of the summer.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN
01 THE PURGE $34.1 *NEW*
02 FAST & FURIOUS 6  $19.2 (cum. $202.8)
03 NOW YOU SEE ME  $19.0 (cum. $60.9)
04 THE INTERNSHIP $17.3 *NEW*
05 EPIC $11.9 (cum. $83.9)
04 STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS  $11.4 (cum. $199.9) The Dumbing Down of Star Trek
07 AFTER EARTH  $10.7 (cum. $46.1) M Night Shyamalan's Fall
08 THE HANGOVER PART III $7.3 (cum. $102.3)
09 IRON MAN THREE $5.8 (cum. $394.3) Reviewed & Podcasted
10 THE GREAT GATSBY $4.2 (cum. $136.1) Reviewed & Dreamt About

In limited release, Frances Ha and Before Midnight are both purring along nicely (both were up from last weekend, in fact!), though neither they nor anything else came close to breaking into the top 10. The only prominent new film, Joss Whedon's modern-dress version of Much Ado About Nothing, put up a strong but not mind-blowing $34,388 per-screen average at five theaters, and didn't even crack the top 20, though its nationwide expansion on June 21 ought to improve its fortunes considerably, while giving all of us who don't live on the coasts a chance to see what Whedon's post-Avengers palette cleanser plays like.

Did you see anything this weekend? I didn't, taking advantage of the weather to do yardwork, though a friend and I are catching The Purge tonight. Like I said, horror fans are used to seeing things that we know are going to be utterly worthless.

Monday
Sep172012

TIFF: Oscar Talking Points and Personal Favourites

Amir here, wrapping up my coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.

I have to apologize for my absence yesterday on TIFF's closing weekend. A broken laptop charger prevented me any access to the internet. As you already know, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook snatched the coveted People's Choice Award. In keeping with my tradition of not watching films with set public release dates at the festival, I passed on the film in my original planning. And yesterday, when people lined up for the film’s honorary additional screening, I was in a different theatre watching my favourite actress Julianne Moore playing a rock star in What Maisie Knew

More including Oscar buzz and a Festival jury of one after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct242011

Next To No Ado About Something... Whedon's Shakespeare?

I woke to some potentially thrilling news this morning. It seems that somewhere before during and/or after The Avengers production Joss Whedon brushed up on his Shakespeare. He's completed principle photography on a movie no one even knew was coming.

Here's the announcement in pictorial form.


I can't make out which actor that is in the photo given the black and white and the goggles and the snorkel but the cast is like manna from Whedonverse heaven.

From Buffy The Vampire Slayer / Angel : Tom Lenk, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker and Riki Lindhome (well she was only in one episode of Buffy but still...); From Serenity / Firefly: Sean Maher and Captain Tight Pants himself Nathan Fillion (Love); From Dollhouse : Reed Diamond (YES!) and Ashley Johnson ; From The Avengers : Clark Gregg ; From The Cabin in the Woods : Fran Kranz ; And the newbies: Spencer Treat Clark (little Lucius from Gladiator all grown up), Brian McElhaney, Nick Kocher, Emma Bates, Romy Rosemont (from Glee), Paul M Meston, Joshua Zar and Jillian Morgese

"Hey nonny nonny"The ad rather cheekily ends with "based on a play" LOL. If it's the play than Joss has gone and made his own modern Shakespeare, following in the footsteps of... well everybody. But Kenneth Branagh in particular.

The last time Much Ado About Nothing hit the silver screen the year was 1993. The movie opened with a particularly ripe Emma Thompson eating grapes and dreamily reciting "hey nonny" before the film erupted into an uproarious everybody-get-naked! bathing credit sequence because Kenneth Branagh was directing on uppers. We're guessing. That movie is so fun. How will Joss's compare? Good luck to whoever has to follow in Emma's lighter than air but somehow still earthy footsteps (I'm guessing its Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick given their placement on the advertisement). If you ask me Much Ado is Emma's second best big screen performance ever. Given the consistent quality of her work, you'll understand that that's extraordinarily high praise.

But what this really means is that 2012 is shaping up to be the year in which Joss Whedon basically takes over the entire world: The Avengers, which he wrote and directed, hopes to dominate the summer box office; the long delayed 3D horror flick Cabin in the Woods, which he wrote, will finally arrive; he's announced plans to return to the web with an (unrelated) followup to Dr. Horrible; and now this surprise film!

Sigh no more, lady! I've learned to live with the constant regurgitation of Shakespeare but I can't say I wouldn't be blissed out if artists everywhere decided as one great collective mass that they wanted to give the old Bard a rest for a decade whilst they investigated the collected works of Tennessee Williams or Anton Chekhov instead.