Here's the new poster for Tim Burton's Big Eyes, which is coming out on Christmas Day but still hasn't been screened for anyone yet (unusual for late releases at this time of year). If a movie hasn't been seen at this stage it likely means that there's not a lot of confidence in it behind the scenes- or for one reason or another, the studio just doesn't think it's going to be good enough for an awards run (they usually take their big awards contenders to a fall film festival to get the buzz going). We'll see though, sooner or later.
Another movie from Cannes is being submitted for this year's Foreign Language Film race at the Oscars, and that's Sweden's Force Majeure. A black comedy of sorts that's gotten pretty ecstatic reviews, and sure to be selected as one of the shortlist (which should be released by the Academy fairly soon). Many say this one could even be the frontrunner.
This weekend, the WWII action movie Fury came in on top with about $23 million, which is good, but slightly below expectations and tracking, which had it earning $25-$30 million for the three day frame. It's still a success for star Brad Pitt though, another one in his recent string of hits, but this movie may not hold well since it's not expected to have much (if any) awards buzz, and reviews (which hold bigger sway with adult audiences) were only fair. Gone Girl, meanwhile, slipped to No. 2, pulling in another $17 million to cross the $100 million threshold in just three weeks.
In third was the Guillermo del Toro produced animated flick The Book of Life, which also hauled in $17 million, while Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, No Good....(you know the rest) came in fourth, and the latest dreadfully reviewed Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me, was fifth with just $10 million (on the lower end of this rather endless series of adapted films).
- Fury- $23.5 million
- Gone Girl- $17.8 million
- The Book of Life- $17 million
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day- $12 million
- The Best of Me- $10.2 million
In limited release, Birdman got off to a flying start, opening on just 4 screens in New York and LA, but for a sizzling $415k, the biggest limited debut of the year behind The Grand Budapest Hotel. That's a massive $104k per theater average, but we'll see how far it can go from there, building on all the Oscar buzz for the film. Meanwhile, the Sundance hit Dear White People also made some noise, pulling in a $31k average for a strong start in specialty release this weekend. Next week the only wide releases are the horror film Ouija and Keanu Reeves' John Wick, while Lynn Shelton's Laggies and the Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour open in limited.
So we end our femme fatale week with the most devilish one of all, and that's Bridget Gregory in The Last Seduction, played with absolute relish and casually venomous glee by Linda Fiorentino. I think you'd have a very hard time ever finding another female character this uncompromising and rotten to the core- it's almost shocking to watch, even today. You can hardly believe her as she struts across the screen, improvising murderous deeds and deadly schemes with no conscience or second thought whatsoever, and fearlessly enjoying every bit of it too. Bill Pullman and Peter Berg are just two of the men who are duped by her in this (there are other victims in her wake though), and the movie doesn't cop out at the ending either, unlike many films did in the post-noir era, and frankly even at the peak of the noir era itself. This remains a movie villain for all time, as far as I'm concerned- Bridget Gregory could rattle Satan himself with her badness. Check it out.
Original 1994 Trailer:
So yeah, I may be done with posting the relentless amount of teasers being released for this movie after today (similar to the way I finally cut off Maleficent), but I guess that's what you do when your marketing campaign is targeting a demographic that spends all its time on social media. Anyway, here's one that seems to be an early scene in the movie, with Katniss gearing up for battle.
This movie, written and directed by Chris Rock, made a huge splash in Toronto this year, ignited a bidding war over distribution, and is now being quickly slated for a release on December 5th, in time for awards consideration. It got some very enthusiastic reviews, although I don't know if you can tell what makes it so special from this trailer- it looks funny, but apparently it's more than that, with some serious points to make about a variety of topics, including Hollywood, relationships, etc. Some referred to it as Chris Rock's Annie Hall, if that gives you a better idea of what it might be. Looking forward to seeing it though- I hope it can live up to the hype.
I can't recommend Body Heat without advising you to also see the Double Indemnity, just so you can compare. This is often considered one of the best movies ever made, and the film that created so many of the standard tropes used in noirs forever after- not to mention Barbara Stanwyck's alluring and deceitful Phyllis Dietrichson, one of the original femme fatales. Stanwyck in her day was considered the consummate pro- somebody who could easily move back and forth between screwball comedy, tearjerker, soap opera, and here she showed she could even be a spellbinding sex symbol who pulls Fred MacMurray into her web with ease. This film was written and directed by the great Billy Wilder, and co-written with Raymond Chandler of all people, from the book by James M. Cain. No true film buff can afford to miss this one- it's too iconic.
Original 1944 Trailer:
Chris Hemsworth stars in Ron Howard's new movie In the Heart of the Sea, coming out next March. It kind of looks like an action movie involving Moby Dick, so this is going to depend a lot on the visual effects, which to me don't look all that great in this trailer. Who knows though- Howard's last film Rush was really good, so maybe this one will work.
Here's the new trailer for Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, coming out at Christmas. I'm really not that interested in this movie- it just looks like pretty standard biopic survival stuff to me, although I do remember the lead actor Jack O'Connell from the U.K.'s teen show Skins. Good for him I guess, but otherwise this doesn't strike my fancy at all.
Moving right along in our femme fatale list, our next entry comes from a neo-noir that was actually a remake of Double Indemnity from 1944, one of the classics that set the mold for the genre. Most remakes never live up to the original, but surprisingly, this one really does stand on its own (some even say it's better than the first one- I'll leave that up to you to judge). The villainess here is Matty Walker, played by Kathleen Turner as a stunning seductress who uses all her feminine wiles to manipulate P.I. William Hurt into murdering her husband. The thing that makes this one stand apart from the original is the time in which it was made- what can be made explicit in 1981 was only allowed to be implied in the 40's, and obviously that's the sexual power a woman like Matty Walker employs to make men fall under her spell. Whether you prefer that to be implied or not will dictate which film you like more, but the sex scenes are very erotic and work really well in this updated version, and Kathleen Turner's slick, silky anti-heroine is one for the ages.
Original 1981 Trailer:
Up until now, Foxcatcher's only been promoted with a series of short teasers, but we finally have a full length trailer for this movie, and it looks awfully good, at least to me. It's been considered a major Oscar contender since Cannes, but there are those who wonder if it might be too cold and calculating for the Academy's tastes. It's possible, but they have responded to Bennett Miller's last two movies, Capote and Moneyball, so we'll see. Either way, the actor's branch should like it, as it's already been said to have three transformative performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. It comes out on November 14th.
The next Oscar host has been tapped and it's veteran awards emcee Neil Patrick Harris, who's made a run of it so far, having hosted the Tonys four times and the Emmys twice. The Oscars will air on Feb 22nd of next year, with the same producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron behind the scenes, making this their third year in a row producing the show, to mixed results with hosts Seth MacFarlane and Ellen Degeneres. I don't know- I realize that fans of NPH as a host come strictly from his Tonys stints, which I've never seen, but I did see both times he hosted the Emmys, and I was not impressed with either. It worries me some that he's not a comedian, but hopefully he can pull off a song and dance man kind of routine, ala Hugh Jackman. That's probably the best precedent for him. What do you think?