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Golden Globes Turn 75: And My Predictions

Golden Globe

Ever since the Golden Globes were introduced in 1944, they’ve become one of the most prestigious awards on the entertainment circuit. Only the Oscar or the Emmy are more coveted.

Today will be the awarding of the Golden Globes. This year isn’t just any Golden Globes, but the 75th to take place.

A Very Brief History

Some of you may wonder how did the Golden Globes come to be? Firstly, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was founded in 1943 by Los Angeles-based journalists to give a more organized process of distributing cinema news to markets outside the U.S. The following year, they formed their own film awards, the Golden Globes, to give their opinions of who are the best of the year. While the AMPAS Academy consists primarily of professionals in their respective film field, the Golden Globes would be the decisions of these journalists.

The very first Golden Globes held back in 1944 consisted of six categories: Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting categories. Their decisions for the winners would be three for six with the Oscar winners. The Song Of Bernadette was chosen as the Best Picture winner while the Oscars went for Casablanca. Same thing with Best Director; Globes chose Bernadette director Henry King while the Academy favored Casablanca director Michael Curtiz. The acting categories almost completely matched each other as Globe-winners Paul Lukas, Jennifer Jones and Katina Paxinou would also win the Oscars later. Only Supporting Actor winner Akim Tamiroff from For Whom The Bell Tolls wouldn’t win an Oscar, despite being nominated.

Over the years, the Golden Globes would grow in popularity as their matches would be very close to that of the Oscars. They would also include cinematography categories temporarily and even a Best New Star category, which would be retired after the 1983 awards. The eighth Golden Globes would see the Awards giving separate awards for Best Picture and lead acting in both drama and comedy or musical. Something that still continues today. The Golden Globes would start to include awards to television starting in 1955: six years after the Emmy awards were created.

The Golden Globes would eventually become the second-most coveted film or television awards with only the Oscars or the Emmies being more coveted. It’s not to say it hasn’t been without its controversies, and not just because of hosting done by the likes of Rickyy Gervais et al. The make up of the Hollywood Foreign Press is often under question for their qualifications. Also their tendency to favor glitz and glamor at times have made people wonder at their choices. Even how in cases where one actress who did an interview for the HFP would later receive an award would get some people wondering. There was even suspicion at the 1981 Awards when Pia Zadora won Best New Star for her performance in Butterfly. Some claim that Meshulem Riklis, her millionaire husband at the time, paid the HFP to have her win. However nothing has been proven. Also it goes to show that there’s no such thing as an impartial judging body for any awards show. The Oscars and the Golden Globes are no exceptions to that. Nevertheless they still remain the most coveted.

And My Predictions For This Year

This year’s Golden Globes will be hosted by Seth Meyers. Some are saying he can be as controversial as Ricky Gervais tonight. This year’s Globes have fourteen categories for film and eleven categories for television. To start things off, here are my predictions for both the winners and their respective most likely upsetters in the film categories:

FILM:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Winner: 
Dunkirk
Most Likely Upsetter: Call Me By Your Name

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
 Lady Bird
Most Likely Upsetter: Get Out

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Winner:
 Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour
Most Likely Upsetter: Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
 James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Most Likely Upsetter: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Winner:
 Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Most Likely Upsetter: Sally Hawkins, The Shape Of Water

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Winner:
 Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Most Likely Upsetter: Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Winner:
 Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Most Likely Upsetter: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Winner: 
Alison Janney, I, Tonya
Most Likely Upsetter: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Director
Winner: 
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape Of Water
Most Likely Upsetter: Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture
Winner:
 Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Most Likely Upsetter: Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, The Shape Of Water

Best Foreign-Language Film
Winner:
 The Square (Sweden)
Most Likely Upsetter: Loveless (Russia)

Best Animated Feature Film
Winner:
 Coco
Most Likely Upsetter: Loving Vincent

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
Winner:
 “Remember Me”, Coco
Most Likely Upsetter: “Mighty River”, Mudbound

Best Original Score, Motion Picture
Winner:
 Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Most Likely Upsetter: John Williams, The Post

Those who know me well enough know I will predict the winners for the television categories but not predict the most likely upsetters. So my predictions for the winners:

TELEVISION:

Best TV Movie or Miniseries: Big Little Lies

Best TV Series, Drama: The Handmaid’s Tale

Best TV Series, Comedy: Black-ish

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Best Actor in a TV Series, Comedy: Aziz Ansari, Master Of None

Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy: Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Robert De Niro, The Wizard Of Lies

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie: Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Christian Slater, Mr. Robot

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie: Laura Dern,  Big Little Lies

And there you go. Those are my predictions for tonight’s Golden Globe awards. Winners to be revealed starting 8pm EST.

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Summer Movie Spotlight: Superhero Movies

This was to be a triple-movie review I had planned to release shortly after the end of the summer.  The VIFF, feeling tired, and two illnesses kept it from publishing in due time. Even though most of the films here are on DVD, Blu-Ray or on NetFlix, I still feel this is a focus on summer movies worth publishing even now. Especially since many will be eligible for the technical categories of the Oscars. Hey, don’t rule them out.

And this one is on superhero movies, and rightly so as they’ve become the creme de la creme of the summer movie season. You can easily see why. Their popularity, their ability to bring in a wide range of an audience from children who love superheroes to action movie fans to thriller lovers. No doubt their the hype of the summer. I saw three such movies this summer– The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Ant-Man, and The Fantastic Four — and all three had something to say about them in either their successes or failures.

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

The Avengers returned opening up the summer movie season with Age Of Ultron.

The Avengers returned opening up the summer movie season with Age Of Ultron.

The Avengers blew us away in their first movie back in 2012. It even set a box-office record for the first ever movie to open with a $200 million weekend. It was right that there be another Avengers movie in due time. Sure enough the sequel came this summer and it was the Age Of Ultron.

It’s one thing to bring a set of superheroes together as one team but also to have one of the superheroes’ main villains to be the bad guy of this Avengers movie is something else. I wasn’t expecting Loki to be the villain. Another thing I liked about this is that in the first Avengers movie, it looked like Tony Stark was stealing the show too often. This time it appeared like there was less of a case of one hero trying to steal the show.

Overall I feel the story worked as it delivered the excitement one would normally expect from a superhero movie. You know that when Joss Whedon tackles a Marvel script, he will deliver. That and dazzling special effects of course. The interesting thing is that the ending leaves one to think that there will be a new generation of Avengers and the original Avengers have retired from their duties as a team. Nevertheless there is talk of the next Avengers sequel — actually the sequel is divided into two parts– and that all the original Avengers will be back. Should be interesting.

The box office results for Avengers: Age Of Ultron are quite interesting. Their opening weekend of $191.3 million made it second only to the first Avengers movie’s $207.4 million as the highest ever. Both would eventually be bumped down a spot six weeks later thanks to Jurassic World’s record-setting $208.8 million. Eventually it would gross a total of $459 million in North America and $1.4 billion worldwide. Its totals make it the eighth-highest ever in North America and sixth-highest ever Worldwide.

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron show some common traits of the first Avengers movie but have some noticeable differences of their own. Nevertheless they still deliver on excitement.

ANT-MAN

Paul Rudd proves in Ant-Man size does matter. The smaller the better.

Paul Rudd proves in Ant-Man size does matter. The smaller the better.

Last year Marvel was able to unleash a superhero ensemble no one had ever heard of, The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and they became household names. Marvel attempted to unleash another unknown superhero to the public named Ant-Man. Although it didn’t have the same buzz as the Guardians, it was impressive and succeeded in making it well-known to the public.

Ant-Man is no recent superhero of Marvel’s. Ant-Man has actually been around since 1962. Here was Ant-Man’s first crack at the big screen.  It follows a formula familiar to Marvel superhero movies intended to be the first one of the superhero. It creates a clever opening scenario involving an humorous introduction to the person who will become the hero as well as an opening scene of the person to become the villain. That is to be expected in such Marvel movies as they are shelling these movies out to people of various ages from children to adult sci-fi fans. However it risks being a disappointment if not done right. It was not exactly done wrong but I did feel the beginning emphasized on the humor too much and the scenes involving Scott Lang and Luis started the movie on a cornball note. There were even scenes where Scott–ant-sized as he just discovers the Ant-Man suit–gets himself in humorously troubling situations. I know it’s natural for Marvel to add humor to their films for family viewing and enjoyment but I felt they overdid it there.

I do commend director Peyton Reed and the four scriptwriters for creating a good story that knows how to entertain and thrill. I also admire the special effects team for creating dazzling effects that fit the film well. I also commend the good acting from Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Canavale and the other actors in the film. However I felt there was something missing in this film. I can’t exactly say what. Maybe because I can’t see of a superhero the size of Ant-Man being that believable. Whatever the situation, I felt it lacked a certain shining quality one would find in some of Marvel’s best movies like X-Men or even Guardians Of The Galaxy. Once again I reiterate Ant-Man was no disappointment. It was just lacking a certain flare.

Ant-Man didn’t have the same box-office success as the Guardians Of The Galaxy did last year. It made $179.5 million in North America but also scored an impressive additional $337.9 million internationally. The film’s success has prompted plans for a sequel in either 2017 and 2018. Rudd will be returning.

Ant-Man doesn’t have the same flare as Guardians Of The Galaxy but it is an impressive introduction to a previously unfamiliar Marvel superhero.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

The revamp of The Fantastic Four fell short of expectations and enjoyment.

The revamp of The Fantastic Four fell short of expectations and enjoyment.

If there’s one film that failed to live up to people’s expectations this summer, it has to be this year’s revamped version of The Fantastic Four. If you saw it yourself, you could easily see why it was a disappointment.

The opening scene where Reed Richards and Ben Grimm first meet in elementary school and develop a friendship opens the movie on a promising and intriguing note. However whatever intrigue one has in the story is put to the test throughout the movie. The story when the four eventually adopt their superhero personas appears to take forever. I even remember one time around the halfway point, I had to check my watch asking “Are they the Fantastic Four yet?” Even the moments in the story that attempted to stimulate excitement and intrigue didn’t keep me from asking that.

Even after the four have adopted their superhero personas, it appeared that they weren’t together and not yet the team of the Fantastic Four. The middle of the movie does make obvious that the four have their superhero personas and their elements of action to go with it but it left me confused. Even as the four do eventually meet together and do battle against Doom on another planet, I was still left wondering when the four became The Fantastic Four. I felt leaving it until the very end was not a smart thing to do.

It’s not fair to say it’s a terrible movie. When I saw it had less than 10% at Rotten Tomatoes, I wondered how unwatchable it would be. I was expecting a disappointment or a clumsy disaster. It wasn’t. It was very watchable as a movie. In fact I consider Vacation a way worse movie from this summer. Even the young actors of Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan and Kata Mara did nothing wrong and did well in their acting jobs. The problem is the movie made a lot of noticeable mistakes. The special effects of the film were excellent and one-of-a-kind but they could not hide just how off the story was.

You can bet that just before the movie’s release and even after, the bad news came out and in various forms. Later on I read stories of how the director Josh Trank lost interest in the project and that it caused problems in terms of finishing the story. If that’s the case, it shows. Even despite the lackluster story, I felt ten years was too soon to release a revamp of The Fantastic Four. I remember the first one. It was a fun story that was enjoyable and a thrill to watch. It appeared Marvel did the right moves. Here, it looks like it’s aiming for a darker story with less comedy which makes it less enjoyable than the first. I can understand the aim for more drama than entertainment but this is a movie that really tests our patience despite the top notch special effects.

The box office results showed how disappointing this Fantastic Four was. It cost $120 million to make but didn’t even make half of it back in North America: $56.1 million to be exact which is less what the two previous Fantastic Four movies made in their respective opening weekends. The foreign box office of $111.6 million kept it from being a complete flop. There was talk of plans to be a sequel at first but the box office numbers definitely will put it in question.

Yes, superhero movies were one of the tour-de-forces of the summer box office as has been in recent years. The Avengers: Age Of Ultron prove they’ve still got it, Ant-Man proves that introducing a new superhero is still a challenge and The Fantastic Four proves even Marvel is not infallible to shelling out flops. We’ll see how next summer’s crop of superhero movies fares.

My Top 10 Movies Of 2014

Hi. I know it’s been a long time for me to publish a blog. That’s a common trait of mine that if I do a lot of writing for one period of time, I tire out for a long time. That explains the lack of blogging. However I hope to get back to the process over the next while. I’m planning some more movie reviews and even a political topic or two.

Here, I’ll be posting my long-awaited Top 10 films list of the year. Here are the links to past years:

When it comes to reviewing movies, I’m not your typical ‘film snob.’ Most of the time I’m okay with the typical commercial Hollywood movies as long as it’s done well. I approach them with the attitude: “Okay I know it’s your job to sell big but give the audience their money’s worth.” I also have my own approach to the artsy film-fest fare type of films: “Okay I know you want to be creative and do your own inspired thing but don’t forget this will be shown in front of an audience. Don’t alienate them.”

That’s how I approach films. That’s also how I approach my Top 10 list. Bonus points are given to films that go beyond my expectations. With that in mind, here are my Top 10 films of 2014:

American Sniper appears to be the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) but it's a lot more.

  1. American Sniper
  2. Boyhood
  3. Selma
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Wild
  6. Whiplash
  7. The Imitation Game
  8. Birdman
  9. The Theory of Everything
  10. Gone Girl

Honorable Mention:

  • Still Alice
  • Ida
  • Foxcatcher
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Interstellar

My Top 10 Movies of 2013

I’m glad I waited until now to do my Top 10 list. Being at a house with access to Netflix allows me to see some I missed back when they were out. For early reference, here are my past lists: from 2002-2010, 2011 and 2012. Now here’s my list of the Top 10 Films of 2013 and five honorable mention picks:

Will Forte (left), Bruce Dern (centre) and June Squibb (right) go on what appears to be a surprise homecoming, only to not be in Nebraska.

MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2013

  1. Nebraska
  2. Dallas Buyers Club
  3. Twelve Years A Slave
  4. Gravity
  5. The Great Beauty
  6. Captain Phillips
  7. Blue Jasmine
  8. Her
  9. The Wolf Of Wall Street
  10. Frozen

Honorable Mention:

  • Blue Is The Warmest Color
  • Philomena
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • American Hustle
  • Before Midnight

2013 Box Office: Summer More Sizzle Than Slump

Movie (640x306)

The news involving the Hollywood box office for the most part has been pretty negative especially in terms of the annual total gross or all the action movie flops this summer. One thing that has been overlooked is the overall success of the summer. It actually did better than most people noticed. Or most journalists took note of.

Continuing from where I last kept track, July was actually a bigger month than most people noticed. Yes, the big news of the action flops of that month like The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Red 2 and R.I.P.D. What shouldn’t be overlooked were the big successes of the month like the minion power of Despicable Me 2, the goofball comedy of Grown Ups 2, suspense of The Conjuring and even the successful action-packed delivery of The Wolverine. Overlooked by most, 2013 produced the highest-grossing July ever with $1.291 billion: $20 million more than the previous July record set in 2008 and almost $220 million more than July 2012. Funny how the flops made bigger news than the successes.

August also continued the run of success for the summer of 2013. It opened with the success of 2 Guns, continued with the temporary success of Elysium, received surprise successes from We’re The Millers and Lee Daniels’ The Butler and ended on a bright note with the opening of One Direction: This Is Us. At the buzzer, August 2013 grossed $755.4 million: $16.4 million more than August 2012. 2013 is not the highest-grossing August ever as it’s been outgrossed by the Augusts of 2001 and 2007.

So if you want to give a rough estimate of comparing summers, by simply adding up the grosses from May to August of both 2013 and 2012, the summer months of 2013 grossed slightly more than $425 million more than the summer months of 2012. This is a welcome relief after the slumping of the first four months of the year. It doesn’t completely make up the deficit it had over the monthly pace of 2012’s total gross but it does help gain a lot back and reassure us that people still like to go to the movies despite how many forms of entertainment people have.

One thing is the successes and failures of 2013 can teach Hollywood a lot about shelling out movies for the public. I will admit that the news about the constant flopping of the big budget action movies did deserve to be made note of. In fact it continued with Elysium despite how good quality it was. One thing that should have also been taken note of was the low-budget successes that happened. Some of which had quite minimal expectations put on them. First example is the horror drama The Conjuring which made $136 million total all on a budget of $20 million. In fact it debuted at #1 in its opening weekend with a gross more than double its budget. Another example is the oddball comedy We’re The Millers. It never was #1 at the box office but it opened with a healthy opening weekend of $26.4 million and went onto a gross that currently stands at $132 million. This movie had to be the movie that had legs this summer. The most current example is Lee Daniels’ The Butler. That’s not your typical summer fare but it held the #1 spot during the last three weekends of the summer and just hit $100 million this weekend. Hollywood, take note.

It’s not to say that action moves were a complete dud this summer. It actually opened strong with Iron Man 3 and continued with Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z. However the first sign that the crowd was about to tire of this genre was when Man Of Steel didn’t gross as much as hoped. Sure, $291 million is still impressive and has it as the 3rd-highest grossing movie of 2013, but more was expected. I believe that was the first sign that it would be all downhill from here for this summer’s action flicks.

What should be noted is that the biggest winners at the box office were not necessarily the action movies but the animated family movies. Iron Man 3 may have been the highest grossing movie of 2013 so far but Despicable Me 2 is the second-highest. Its Minion Power took it to a total gross of just over $359 million. Monsters University holds as the fourth-highest of 2013 with $265 million. A third animated movie, Epic, also received an impressive total gross of $107 million.

So that sums up the summer of 2013. Action-packed, animatedly-charming and surprises out of left field. For every box office dud, there were hits. The bad news of the summer action flick would lead to good news of this summer’s total gross. Hollywood should learn from this summer and prepare not simply for a better summer but a smarter-planned summer for 2014.

2013 Box Office And The Big Budget Flops

Movie (640x306)

Last week I wrote about the current situation at the box office in terms of the monthly totals. This time around I’ll be talking about another box office issue of this year, especially this summer. Big budget movies going up in smoke.

The box office has had big movies for years with special effects, dazzling action scenes, directed by reputed directors and starring A-list stars and they’ve paid off well more often than not. The summer is normally the best time to have such big movies loaded out in release.  This year it seems like the big budget movies are having their weakest year in a long time and it look like the hype of the summer movie season hasn’t done much to help boost it. How bad have they been doing? Here’s a list of the most notable big budget movies to fare poorly:

  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Stars: The Rock, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis – Production Budget: $130 million – Box Office Total: $122.5 million
  • Oblivion – Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman – Director: Joseph Kosinski – Budget: $120 million – Box Office Total: $89.1 million
  • After Earth – Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith – Director: M. Night Shyamalan – Budget: $130 million – Box Office Total: $59.7 million
  • White House Down – Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx – Director: Roland Emmerich – Budget: $150 million – Current Box Office Total: $68.4 million
  • The Lone Ranger – Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter – Director: Gore Verbinski – Budget: $215 million – Current Box Office Total: $81.3 million
  • Pacific Rim – Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi – Director: Guillermo Del Toro – Budget: $190 million – Box Office Total: $68.3 million

Now that’s just for the big budget movies that are now out of the Top 10. This weekend was unique because of two big budget movies with dismal opening weekends:

  •  R.I.P.D. – Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon -Director: Robert Schwentke – Budget: $130 million – Opening Weekend Total: $12.7 million
  • Red 2 – Stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich – Director: Dean Parisot – Budget: $84 million – Opening Weekend Total: $18.1 million

To think last year they were cracking all those John Carter jokes. Looks like John Carter‘s got some company this year. This also puts into question a lot of other big budget movies still to be released this summer. Yet to be released is The Wolverine, 2 Guns, Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, Paranoia and Getaway. The production budgets for those movies has not yet been released by Box Office Mojo but you can bet they will all face the pressure of making it all back, if not #1, at the box office.

It’s not to say all big budget movies have done poorly. Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man Of Steel, The Fast and The Furious 6 and Man Of Steel have fared very well. Even animated movies with big budgets like The Croods, Epic, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 have been successes if not box office-toppers. Even Turbo opening this weekend at $31 million shows strong signs it will make its $135 million back before its run is over.

I guess it’s not exactly about shelling out bloated overhyped movies during the summer but just a job about doing the right moves. I know that every year faces the pressure of outgrossing the year before and 2013 faces that same expectation the record-breaking big shoes of 2012 to fill. I guess it’s just another study Hollywood has to undertake in preparation for both the summers of 2014 and 2015.  Also Hollywood should be reminded that you don’t always need a big movie to top the box office In fact this weekend’s #1 movie was The Conjuring with $41.8 million: more than double its budget. Pay attention, Hollywood.

WORK CITED:

BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com>

My Top 10 Movies Of 2012

If only I was a professional film critic, I’d be able to see all the movies and DVDs before year’s end to make my Top 10 list of the year. But I’m just an everyday schmuck like you who has to wait until the movies hit the theatre or come out on DVD to see them. Thus once again a delay this late in my Top 10 list. Maybe one year I’ll finally be an official film critic. You can always hope.

Anyways without further ado, many of you have already seen my lists of my Top 10’s from 2002 to 2010 and of 2011. Now I finally have my list out of the Top 10 of 2012 and five honorable mention picks:

MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2012

Zero Dark Thirty

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
  4. Argo
  5. The Life of Pi
  6. Les Miserables
  7. Lincoln
  8. The Master
  9. Searching For Sugar Man
  10. Amour

Honorable Mention:

  • Django Unchained
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Wreck-It Ralph

Baby Boomers: Still A Draw To The Box Office

Maggie Smith stars in Quartet, a film of aging musicians that did well with critics and scored well at the box office too.

Maggie Smith stars in Quartet, a film of aging musicians that scored well with critics and the box office too.

“Initially you’re overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.”

-Evelyn Greenslade from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

In the last two years, it seems like movies are mostly set out for the Echo or Millenial generation but also intended to attract Generation X and today’s children too. It seemed like the Boomer Generation was a movie crowd that had many years and decades in the sun in terms of movies and its now past. But not so fast. They’re still leaving one last impact that been especially present in the last two years. I’ve noticed it in three films from the past while and even a current release. It’s positive there will be more to come but it does face challenges.

It’s hard to exactly pinpoint what birthyears define a generation. There are common assumptions of what years consist of the Baby Boomer generation but I was commonly told it was the generation that began just after World War II had ended. The most common birthyears I have seen associated with the Baby Boomer generation are from 1946 to 1964.

The Baby Boomer generation is a generation that has made an impact in many ways but is especially noticeable on its impact in movies. We first saw it in the 70’s when they went to see thrillers by Spielberg and Lucas and dramas from Scorsese and but also experimental movies like Clockwork Orange and Pulp Fiction. They’ve also made their own sets of stars like Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, Geena Davis…I could go on. Baby Boomer filmmakers, actors and audiences have contributed to the changes greatly in both Hollywood film and films of other format. Even Baby Boomer women left their mark as many showed they didn’t simply have to be in front of the camera but behind the camera too.

Even as they were getting older as the late-80’s came, they still showed that they were a viable audience market worth major focus and continued to have films and movies with them in mind. They also showed that an actor or actress can get older in age like their 30’s and 40’s and still be a big draw. They also changed family movies in the late 80’s/early 90’s too as the movies directed to their children would also have to include elements in which parents could watch and enjoy too.

Then it appeared at the turn of the millennium, it would be handed to the younger generations like Generation X and especially the Echo/Millennial generation mostly comprised of their children while most boomer actor would be relegated to supporting roles. It was thought that they would now have to make way for them. Even now with the Boomers getting older and many entering into their Golden Years, it appears the core audience for movies is now the Millennial generation mostly composed of their children or children of the generation after them. Even though the Boomer generation no longer has that decades-old grip on movies they used to, they appeared to still have a spark in them that allowed for films to be released with them in mind.

I believe the first trigger was back in 2007 with the hit movie The Bucket List. Directed by Rob Reiner and written by Justin Zackham, this featured Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two men with terminal lung cancer giving themselves goals to achieve before they ‘kick the bucket.’ The movie was a hit achieving $93 million at the US box office and $175 million worldwide. The box office success sent the message that Boomers and the generation before them were still a marketable film crowd and that younger generations can also be entertained by movies featuring older movie stars. Hey, didn’t we like Grumpy Old Men back in the 90’s?

The first movie that caught my attention to this was a British movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The movie was directed by 64 year-old John madden and its ensemble cast consisted mostly of British actors in their 60’s and 70’s like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy. The movie was about older retired people who come to live at what they think will be a nice hotel in India. Instead it turns out to be dingy. Over time they discover more about themselves and many learn that their life doesn’t have to end in their golden ages. They can start a new life. One can free their soul. One can even finally meet Mr. Right. The movie did very well grossing $46 million in North America and $134 million worldwide.

There was a second British movie also based on aging that scored well: Quartet. This was the directorial debut of American Dustin Hoffman. The movie starred Maggie Smith, included Ton Courtenay and Michael Gambon, and is based off of a hit British stage play. The movie is situated in a retirement home for former professional musicians. The home has always had financial issues but has always kept themselves going by teaching to young people and holding an annual gala. The gala has had its issues as many of its top former musicians have died over the years. Their best hope is to have a famous quartet as their main attraction. Their best hopes rest on soprano Jean Horton who actually is an ex-wife of one of the other quartet singers and both failed to heal the bad terms between them.  The movie was not just about healing relationships. The movie was also coming to terms with aging and dealing with the changes; especially since the artistic giftedness that once made their greatness withered away with age. The movie scored very well with the critics and made $55 million worldwide at the box office.

You may have noticed that not every star actor in the movie is a Baby Boomer. Not Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Michael Gambon. Nevertheless the theme of aging is a common theme Baby Boomers can relate to especially since the first wave of Baby Boomers–born in the first few years following World War II– have now entered into their 60’s and are dealing with the issues with aging and also attempting to overcome the obstacles associated with it.

Hollywood has noticed that too and they even sent out a more commercial movie about getting older called Parental Guidance. Since it stars Bette Midler and Billy Crystal, you know it would be a comedy. It’s not necessarily about aging but about the role of grandparents who come into the lives of their daughter, her husband and grandchildren. The movie is about grandparents trying to raise the grandchildren while the parents are away. They have a wide array of obstacles to deal with like new technology, children’s behavior, modern methods of parenting and psychology, a musically gifted granddaughter making social sacrifices, a new job pursuit and above all the role as grandparents. This was a unique movie upon release as it appeared marketed to Baby Boomer grandparents, Generation X or Echo parents and the current generation of children. The critical consensus was not too pleased with parental Guidance but it made 4477 million at the US box office and almost $120 million worldwide.

Parental Guidance may have been a hit but it’s not to say that aging Boomer stars still face challenges in Hollywood movies. Recently there was the movie The Big Wedding which featured an ensemble cast starring older stars like Robert de Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams along with younger stars Ben Barnes, Katharine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried. The movie was written and directed by The Bucket List scriptwriter Justin Zackham. The movie was seen by the consensus of critics as unfunny and predictable. The box office didn’t fare well either grossing a total of $21 million so far.

Even the artistic film industry faces challenges as well. There was the French Language film Amour about an aging couple dealing with their love for each other as the wife suffers a stroke and is left terminally impaired. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture and won Best Foreign Language Film but achieved less than $7 million at the US box office and $20 million worldwide.

The past twelve months have showed that the aging populations, especially the aging Baby Boomers, are still a marketable and profitable movie crowd despite the majority of movies focused on the under-30’s. It’s fair to say that the film industry has done a good job in turning out movies with them in mind but it still faces a lot of challenges in the present and in the future. It’s not just the aging crowds that want to see movies but the aging actors that still want to act and aging stars that want to prove they still have it. Only time will define what works with them and what will continue to draw them to the cinemas.

Movie Review: Frankenweenie

DISCLAIMER: Okay I know this is a delayed review but I have lacked ambition in the last while with so much happening. Now I’m glad to be back and posting.

You’ve heard of Frankenstein? How about Frankenweenie? Tim Burton goes animated but can it charm like his other movies?

Victor Frankenstein is a creative boy growing up in New Holland. An only child who spends a lot of time with his dog Sparky making films and doing science experiments, his parents wonder if he’s able to make friends. His father encourages him to play baseball. it turns out to be a bad decision as Sparky chases the ball and gets hit by a car. Victor is heartbroken but not down. He still remembers the science class where his teacher Mr. Rzykruski showed the power of electricity on a dead frog. He digs up Sparky one day in hopes of bringing him back to life via electricity. It works!

However secrets don’t stay secret for long. Victor’s classmate Edgar wants to learn from Victor how to bring the dead back and even promising to keep it as a secret, albeit with fingers crossed. The two perform the experiment and the goldfish are revived but invisible due to doing something wrong. Edgar shows the other students and that sparks interest in reanimation of their own.

The children get the chance to learn about reanimation as Sparky goes missing around town. They discover Victor’s reanimation technique in the science room and attempt reanimating of their own on dead animals: Nassor on his mummified hamster, Edgar on a dead rat he found, Toshiaki’s turtle Shelley, Bob’s sea monkeys, and a dead bat Weird Girl’s cat found. The experiments go badly wrong. Edgar’s dead rat becomes a were-rat, Bob’s sea monkeys become amphibious monsters, Shelley is covered in a huge growth formula and becomes like a huge monster turtle, Colossus becomes a giant monster and Weird Girl’s cat bites the dead bat while electrocuted becoming a vampire cat.  This is especially hellish as New Holland is preparing to have its town festival.

Victor finds Sparky but notices the monsters causing havoc around the town fair. In the meantime the parents are angry at what the children have learned and Mr. Rzykruski is fired. The townspeople blame Sparky for all this madness and chase him to the town windmill. It’s all up to Victor to make things right. He does succeed in the end with results both surprising and thrilling.

One thing people will like about this animated movie is that it has the familiar charm of Tim Burton’s movies. Right at the beginning when you think ‘not another story about a creative boy who has trouble making friends’, you’ll know why. The main reason why Victor can’t make friend is because he’s one of the few normal kids while almost every other kid acts like they belong in a haunted house. This is very much a trademark of Burton and nothing new. Sure he’s done animated movies before and Halloween-style characters seem to be his specialty but he succeeds in keeping it enjoyable and entertaining. The story of Frankenweenie succeeds in being charming, haunting and entertaining.

Frankenweenie is something of Burton’s own but this animated version is not something fresh. Frankenweenie was originally a live-action 30-minute film Burton did back for Disney way back in 1984. It was intended to be both a spoof and a homage to the monster movies of the 1930’s. However this did not sit that well with Disney as they originally fired him because the movie was considered too disturbing for kids. Funny how 28 years have passed and Disney actually welcomed him back to remake Frankenweenie.

Mind you it’s not just about Tim Burton’s style of filmmaking and storytelling that makes it so appealing. It’s the way that it will oddly remind you of many of the monster movies of the past. As has been stated before, this is both a satire and a homage to the 1931 movie of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. There are additional tributes in the movie too: Elsa’s pet poodle has a hairstyle similar to the Bride Of Frankenstein; Nassor has a voice and face resembling Boris Karloff; Mr. Rzykruski is inspired by Vincent Price. Even with its stop-motion animated style all in black-and-white, it has its charm with it being entertaining to today’s kids. Adults will also find it enjoyable too.

Frankenweenie is not just another animated movie. It’s a movie from Tim Burton that offers a lot more. Fans of monster movies will like it and admire it.

2012 Box Office – With Three Months To Go

NOTE: This blog was meant for the beginning of October but was put on hold because of my writings for the Vancouver International Film Festival. And just right after the VIFF concluded, my RAM dies on me. Now that things are back to normal, I can post this.

Another three months have passes. Two months of summer heat featuring a September that usually slumps but they still want to give people reasons to go. Meanwhile people eyeballing the box office stats are hoping 2012 will be a record-setting year. Already I talked about 2011’s grief as well as the upswings of January and February, March and April, and May and June. Even if the months didn’t set records it still added to 2012’s consistency. The big question is how did July to September stack up?

July had the big struggle of trying to cope with the shootings that happened in the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. Despite the tragedy, it did not deter moviegoers. The month started off strong with Ted being the sleeper hit of the summer and one of the biggest hits of the month. Strong showings by Brave and Magic Mike and a strong Top 10 ending by The Avengers also started the month off well. The following week saw a healthy opening for The Amazing Spider-Man followed by a good opening with Ice Age: Continental Drift. The tragic shooting in Aurora didn’t prevent The Dark Knight Rises from achieving the third-highest grossing opening weekend ever. The monster success continued into the following weekend. Overall this year’s July ended up being only the sixth-highest grossing July ever and almost $200 million less than last July. It’s unknown whether the shooting in Aurora had much to do with the drop but I’m sure most people knew this was a one-in-a-billion incident.

August showed some slight improvement. Action or adventure movies ruled the month as it began with The Dark Knight Rises continuing with its reign on top and the remake of Total Recall debuting at #2 in the first weekend of August. The following weekend saw The Bourne Legacy on top with some comic relief at #2 in the form of political goofballs in The Campaign. The following weekend had The Expendables 2 open on top but not without family movies like ParaNorman and The Odd Life Of Timothy Green opening strongly that weekend. The following week was weak in debuts as Premium Rush was the strongest debuter that weekend and it was only #8. The Expendables continued to be on top. Overall 2012 grossed more than $40 million more than August 2011. It stands as the second-highest grossing August ever with only 2009 being the highest.

In September, there’s always the mark of the slowdown of the movie season with the summer wrapping up and the remaining weekends having lukewarm results. The Possession opened the month on top that Labor Day weekend and continued to be on top the following week. The third weekend in September featured more excitement with strong debuts from Resident Evil: Retribution on top and the 3D re-release of Finding Nemo opening strongly in second. The fourth weekend saw three debuting movies on top–End Of Watch, House At The End Of The Street and Trouble With The Curve–but their opening weekend grosses were between $12.2 million and $13.1 million. It was the fifth and final weekend of September that added more excitement with the animated Hotel Transylvania opening with $42.5 million–the biggest opening weekend ever for a September release–and Looper in second with an opening of $20.8 million. September ended with a total of $532.4 million, almost $75 million less than last year’s September.

So with nine of the twelve months of 2011 completed, it appears that 2012 is poised to be a record-braking year: $240 million more than last year and $363 million ahead of 2009’s record-setting pace. However don’t get excited too soon. We should not forget that these last three months were what helped propel 2009 to the record and the milestone of being the first $10 billion movie year. That quarter’s total gross of over $3.5 billion is still the highest total gross for that quarter. 2010 failed to overtake it and just missed the record. And 2011 was on record-breaking pace by $120 million but a weak fourth quarter even with a Twilight movie failed to break the record. A fourth quarter of over $3.15 billion will finally do it. So let’s hang tight.

Also you notice I left October out. As I said at the beginning, this article was meant to be published weeks ago so that’s why it’s not there. Plus with Box Office Mojo not complete in totaling up October, I think waiting is a good thing.

WORKS CITED:

“Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/

“Quarterly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2012. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/quarterly/