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Entries in The Avengers (69)

Saturday
Aug222015

What's the best scene from summer movie season?

Team Experience will be sharing highlights of their summer viewing in a week but until then, out of curiousity... What would you name the best single scene of the summer movie season? Here are a bakers dozen of candidates that thrilled yours truly...

• Chez Andie. Magic Mike XXL 
The Opera House. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (and where the hell has this Rebecca Ferguson woman been all our lives?)
The Dream. Inside Out
• A Dangerous Dance. Tom at the Farm 
Furiosa vs. Max. Mad Max: Fury Road - That chained throwdown with Immortan Joe's harem as audience
Saving the Barn. Far From the Madding Crowd. Schoenaerts to the rescue!
Karaoke Night. I'll See You In My Dreams 
Birth of The Vision. Avengers: Age of Ultron. Damn but it's good to see Paul Bettany floating, mysterious, forehead bejewelled, and airbrushed red 
Laced Drink. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Elizabeth Debicki is everything, in OR out of focus
Nested Flashback. Ant-Man. Starring Michael Peña 
Commercial on Loop. The D Train Jack Black's James Marsden obsession begins
Stepmom Stakes ClaimRicki and the Flash. It's always special and too rare to see an actress challenge Meryl Streep to a duel in a face off scene. Go Audra!
Visiting an Old Friend. Grandma. It's been a good summer for Sam Elliott. See also: I'll See You In My Dreams

I wanted to list something from A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence but since the whole thing is brilliant short vignettes, it would take up half the list.

Please do share your favorites! 

Sunday
May102015

Avengers... and Saint Laurent? Round Two

Don't judge but I went to see Age of Ultron again. I picked the earliest show of the day on a weekday in a neighborhood theater that is generally empty for early showings because I wanted to see it free of mass frenzy / noise and a seat far away from the screen - completely different than last time. But get this. I walk in to a jam-packed theater and I spy like one empty seat way back 'guess I'll sit there,' Only to be stopped by a woman who tells me that this is a field trip for the high school and ALL of these seats are taken.

A HIGH SCHOOL FIELD TRIP ... TO SEE A SUPERHERO MOVIE. Who do I call about where my NYC tax dollars are going? How is this educational unless this is a business school and the students are studying Marvel's world-domination tactics?  (The only movies I got to see on field trips in high school were French ones for French class.)

WIDE RELEASE BOX OFFICE
May 8-10 Weekend
01 Avengers: Age of Ultron $77 (cum. $312.5) Review & Marathon & Podcast
02 Hot Pursuit $13.3 NEW Review
03 Age of Adaline $5.6 (cum. $31.5)
04 Furious 7 $5.2 (cum. $338.4) Review
05 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 $5.1 (cum. $58)
06 Ex-Machina $3.4 (cum. $15.7) Review
07 Home $3 (cum. $162.1) the rise and fall of Dreamworks
08 Woman in Gold $1.6 (cum. $26.9) 
09 Cinderella $1.5 (cum. $196.1) Review
10 Unfriended $1.4 (cum. $30.9) 

Five More New Releases
The D Train $.4 (1004 screens) Review
5 Flights Up $.2 (87 screens) 
Noble $.2 (175 screens)
Maggie $.1 (79 screens) Review
Saint Laurent $.03 (4 screens) Review

For what it's worth, despite a shitty seat and lots of noise and cel phone activity in the theater (argh) the movie was more enjoyable this time around after expectations had settled reasonably. Expectations are like that floating city, in this cumbersome analogy comin'atchawatch out!, in that the higher they rise the more billions of people die when they crash back down to earth unless Iron Man

... I lost the thread.

In fact, I was almost agog at how elegant Joss Whedon could make such a cumbersome thing. Which is to say that it's about as graceful as something this gangly and multi-limbed could hope to be on the day it's first learning to walk if you know what I mean. Should you ever see it again, clock how many disparate agendas the screenplay and direction is asked to address in virtually every scene and you suddenly won't be as bitchy about this "disappointment". The second time around the Scarlet Witch's arc is much stronger since the plot clutter dissipates but the Thor digression is still a f***ing mess and though the trip to Hawkeye's "safe house" is a much needed breather it's way too long, losing the action-packed momentum. And it doesn't help that the scene to rev you back up, the hijacking of "the cradle," is the weakest action setpiece.

Meanwhile in Limited Release
Saint Laurent, France's Oscar submission from last year, finally opened this weekend, too. It occurred to me the other day that in the rush of Oscar campaign madness last season (and two very fun trips to LA) I never shared the story about the time I went to that French party in Saint Laurent's honor.

Here I am speaking to Gaspard Ulliel, probably about his penis.

Well it does have a glorified star cameo in the movie!

He was actually quite chatty and for all my significant qualms about the movies length and its last half hour when we jump forward to Yves Saint Laurent as an old man (and lose Gaspard in the process), he's terrific in the movie and it's quite memorable (the movie I mean -- get your minds out of the gutter). I still remember certain brilliant sequences vividly. Anyway, I would have mentioned this much sooner but distributors like to strike when the iron is cool and it's just now hitting theaters. The highlight of this party was meeting Brenda Vaccaro and Jacqueline Bissett - they were freaking hilarious (which I was not expecting) and teasing each other about recently meeting Idris Elba (at a different event). My point is this: I'm now desperate to see them in a buddy comedy.

Sadly I lost my phone in LA and with it many notes about these tiny celebrity run-ins. *sniffle*

But let's get back to the present tense. I saw Age of Ultron and a few eppys of Grace and Frankie and otherwise I played with friends who were visiting from out of town.

What did you see this weekend?

Friday
May082015

Where My Links At

Before We Get Started...
First image of Emily Blunt from Sicario which will premiere at Cannes.  She plays an FBI agent pushed to her limits. I'm not quite sure why I decided to get so excited about this movie but I did so I'm running with it.

 

Links
THR Natalie Portman gears up for promotion of her Cannes entry A Tale of Love and Darkness, calls Oscar a "false idol"
/Film Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon's Big Little Lies project will be a limited series for HBO now. With Michelle Pfeiffer's hubby writing it! Since it's about three women can La Pfeiff be in it, too? Just suggesting! Free advice; we got it right here.
MNPP Alex Garland (Ex Machina) starts lining up a lucky female cast for his next trippy Annihilation - Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton? Wow.
In Contention Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt's By The Sea, a marital drama set in France in the 1970s, gets a release date: November 13th. Should we add it to Oscar charts?
Dissolve Juliette Binoche to play Pearl S Buck in a biopic. 
EW features Hateful Eight on its cover. I feel robbed. Unless it's a fold-out this is only Hateful Three: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L Jackson.

 

Dissolve ...okay I spoke too quickly. There are also character posters of the other ones
Pajiba "Pants-Igniting Things Oscar Isaac Is The Absolute Best At" 
TMZ Tyson Beckford losing his towel to promote that Magic Mike rip-off Chocolate City 

Still cherry-picking good Age of Ultron links because there are interesting articles out there!
Sound and Nerdery Terrific read on the complexity of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, especially focused on Age of Ultron (which has taken so much flack for her portrayal)  
CNet on Joss Whedon's twitter exit. Why we should care when celebrities leave social media
Esquire Age of Ultron reviewed by a 9 year old:

If you like movies about robots who make jokes, or movies about girls singing lullabyes to the Hulk, or movies about cities that float into the air for no reason, Age of Ultron will be right up your alley.

I like movies about all those things except the cities floating in the air part. Never dug that. Not even in The Empire Strikes Back

Exit Video
Today's intriguing watch. A trailer for the Netflix series Sense8 by the Wachowski siblings.

It looks to have a very confusing sci-fi premise (what else is new with them?) about 8 people in different cities being mind-connected or something. But Doona Bae (yes) and Max Riemelt (very sexy German actor who you might have seen in Free Fall, streaming on Netflix) star. Plus Daryl Hannah (!!!!!!!!!). Plus they throw some gay-leaning group sex into the trailer so... why the hell not try it out in June? You can always abort the binge-watching if they show doesn't grab you. 

Tuesday
May052015

Links: And Alice Faye's Centennial

The Dissolve Emily Blunt is finally revving back up her career. After Sicario she's headlining Bronco Belle
Guardian Ryan Gosling, ever the good sport about internet memes, finally eats his cereal, and a cancer fund is created to memorialize the meme creator
Empire the very busy young actor Will Poulter case as Pennywise in the new  version of Stephen King's "It"
Awards Watch I was the special guest on their latest podcast defending my first wave of predictions, particularly why I got behind Sicario and am hesitant on Carol.

Film Actually 20 most anticipated performances (I keep forgetting about Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong)
In Contention speaking of Foster, he's got a new film Comancheria, just picked up by CBS Films. Think they'll change the title before release? I'm taking bets.
Playbill If you've never seen Broadway darling and sometime TV & film player Kristin Chenoweth in concert, do NOT miss her tour. I've seen her like four times live and she's magic. It starts in August and she's hitting 17 states so see if any shows are near you!
MNPP who wore it best (skin suits edition): The Vision or Robbie Williams? 
The Dissolve has a cute Gremlins filled video about the history of the PG rating.  
Variety the rapping Granny from The Wedding Singer has died at 101 years of age 
Previously TV Joe Reid guests for a RPDR recap of the "prancing queens' episode. good stuff 
/Film Joss Whedon explains that messy Thor in the pool business from Age of Ultron (the more we hear about the making of the movie the more disastrous it sounds from an executive interference level; this can't be a good sign for the movies going forward.) 

It's the Black Widow's World. Marvel Just Doesn't Know It Yet.
Washington Post on "Black Widow's Feminist Heroism" - a great response to the weird outrage criticisms despite her film-rescuing place in those movies
Think Progress on further linked e-mails which show Hollywood's absolute sexism and stupidity about female heroes, they think Elektra and Catwoman are the best that can be done? Yikes!
Pajiba also Jeremy Renner doubles down on his sorry not sorry douchery about calling Black Widow a slut
Polygon would watch ScarJo's Black Widow Romantic Comedy via SNL. (as would I)  

Showtune(s) to go ~ Happy Alice Faye Centennial
When I revisited the Oscar nominated In Old Chicago (1937) a couple of years ago  I was a bit dismissive of Alice Faye, a major 30s film star (who isn't so well remembered today) who played Tyrone Power's conquest.  After more investigation the appeal has become far more obvious and since May 5th is her Centennial you definitely have 5 minutes to give her major voice - that's a memorably warm deep contralto. Here she is in two incarnations as a pre-code bad girl singing about 'Fooling with The Other Woman's Man' in Now I'll Tell (1934) looking like a visual inspiration for Madonna's future Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy. And then in a more traditionally romantic Technicolor light in Weekend in Havana (1941) with John Payne (Tyrone Power and then John Payne? lucky girl) singing "Tropical Magic"

Sunday
May032015

Podcast (Season Debut): Furious Ultron 7 

The Podcast is Back!

For this season's spoiler-heavy debut episode, Nathaniel is joined by Joe Reid and Anne Marie Kelly who share their feels about the Furious 7 and its home franchise from corny sentiment to Michelle Rodriguez's biceps. We also talk Joss Whedon, crowded and empty theaters, and the various intermittent joys of The Avengers: Age of Ultron from Elizabeth Olsen's elaborate hand gestures to Mjölnir getting around.

Running Time - 42½ minutes
00:01 Intro and "Previously On..."
02:00 Avengers moviegoing: geek behavior, costumes, crowds
09:00 Age of Ultron
33:00 Furious 7

Please to enjoy and continue the conversation in the comments. You can listen at the bottom of this post or download from iTunes.  

Furious Ultron 7

Sunday
May032015

Avengers Assemble... Your Loot! 

As expected Marvel's latest evil plot for world domination was a significant success at the box office. The US opening took in an estimated $187.6 but that's just the beginning of its gross and in addition to what it's already earned overseas ($340 million). Even though its launch wasn't as successful as its predecessor, it should still end the year comfortably with crazy big grosses. How high can it fly? Expect a big drop-off domestically next weekend since audiences and critics seem grumpier this time. I personally don't think that's so much about the movie itself as it is about the increasing ubiquity of its genre. It will be harder and harder for these films to wow people as their ranks have grown so swiftly. The special becomes the standard and so forth. 

In 'it's about time' news, Furious 7 had a big percentage drop and lost 500 theaters. In far more curious news Cinderella one of the year's leggiest hits somehow rebounded (second run houses?) to return to the top ten despite losing more theaters. 

WIDE RELEASE
01 Avengers: Age of Ultron $187.6 NEW Review & Marathon
02 Age of Adaline $6.2 (cum. $23.4)  Trailer discussion
03 Furious 7 $6.1 (cum. $330.5) Review
04 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 $5.5 (cum. $51.1)
05 Home $3.3 (cum. $158.1) the rise and fall of Dreamworks
06 Cinderella $2.3 (cum. $193.6) Review
07 Ex-Machina $2.2 (cum. $10.8) Review
08 Unfriended $1.9 (cum. $28.5) 
09 The Longest Ride $1.7 (cum. $33.2)
10 Woman in Gold $1.6 (cum. $24.5) 

Limited releases were fairly quiet this week though Far From the Madding Crowd opened with $172,000 at 10 locations and Clouds of Sils Maria got a nice expansion and should soon cross the million dollar mark.

What did you see this weekend?

Saturday
May022015

Age of Ultron... And Marvel's Very Long "Connected" Movie

This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Movies really ought to be seen (and reviewed for that matter) on their own terms. But what if their very terms are -- "it's all connected!?" I had the exhaustive if qualified pleasure this week of attending "The Ultimate Marvel Marathon," in which select theaters across the nation played back-to-back screenings of all 11 of Marvel Studio's films. Those take you from Iron Man (2008) through to the latest superheroic orgy of mayhem known as The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Between the screenings (20-30 minute breaks) were interstitials selling the television program "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" that frequently reminded us that it was 'all connected'. Does the latest film The Avengers: Age of Ultron satisfy all on its own? My early guess -- only time will tell -- is "not so much" but then, is it really intended to? 

Seeing the movies back-to-back threw their problems into sharp relief: the movies are ultimately formulaic, disinterested in women, and have weakly conceived villains (an oddity given that good villains are such a comic book staple). They also betray an unfortunate tendency to end with a battle in which large inanimate objects frequently collide or crumble, mistaking mass destruction as the highest form of entertainment when the figurative character beats as well as, yes, literal character beatings are nearly always the most pleasurable moments.

On the plus side, the marathon was a great reminder of why blockbuster culture has been stampeding all over more intimate cinematic triumphs for a long time now. [More...]

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