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Mack Chico

By

2008/08/11 at 12:00am

‘The Dark Knight’ – fourth times a charm at the box office

08.11.2008 | By |

'The Dark Knight' - fourth times a charm at the box office
Stoner movie “Pineapple Express” fell a few hits short of knocking “The Dark Knight” out of his Batmobile as the Caped Crusader powered to his fourth straight weekend as the box-office leader.

Sony Pictures’ R-rated comedy about a pothead and his small-time dealer on the lam from the law and a ruthless drug lord after witnessing a murder scored $22.4 million for the weekend, for a total of $40.4 million since opening Wednesday.

Strong numbers for a movie that cost about $27 million to produce, but not enough to overtake Warner Bros.’ Batman blockbuster, which pulled in $26 million for the weekend and boosted its domestic total to $441.5 million.

That moved “The Dark Knight” ahead of “Shrek 2” on the all-time list, behind “Titanic” and “Star Wars,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking service.

“The staying power of this film is somewhat unprecedented,” he said, noting that the last movie to enjoy a four-week run at the top was “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which opened in December 2003.

“What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it’s a summer film and it’s taking on all competitors and prevailing in such a profound way,” he said.

Dan Fellman, Warner’s head of domestic distribution, cited several factors for the movie’s hold on the top spot, including repeat business, popularity among older and infrequent moviegoers, and a continued strong showing on Imax screens, which rang up $3.2 million this weekend.

He predicted that “The Dark Knight,” which stars Christian Bale as Batman and the late Heath Ledger as his nemesis, the Joker, would soon bump up a notch and eventually gross about $520 million.

“By next weekend, we’ll be in No. 2, ahead of ‘Star Wars,’ ” he said. That 1977 hit brought in $461 million; “Titanic” topped $600 million.

Though “Pineapple Express” didn’t manage to grab the top spot, Sony executives weren’t exactly crying in their bong water over the box-office performance of the raunchy comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Produced by Judd Apatow, who earlier brought to life such hits as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” the movie opened Wednesday at $12 million and sales more than tripled by the weekend.

“The $40 million for us was just like, wow, we couldn’t be happier,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of domestic distribution.

“Everything about this movie has just played out really well.”

Brandon Gray, president of box-office tracker Box Office Mojo, said “Pineapple Express” was doing better than might be expected, given that its subject matter had a narrower appeal than some of Apatow’s earlier offerings.

“For a stoner action comedy, it’s doing very well,” he said.

In other results this weekend, Universal’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” slipped to third from second with $16.1 million in ticket sales and nearly $71 million total.

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” a Warner Bros. movie that also premiered Wednesday, finished fourth with $10.7 million for the weekend and $19.7 million in all.

Universal’s “Mamma Mia!” dropped two spots to sixth but still took in $8 million, enough to push it across the $100-million mark in domestic ticket sales.

Despite some strong showings, this marked the third weekend in a row that box-office receipts were lower than comparable weekends last summer, Dergarabedian said. This weekend’s total was about $120 million, compared with $154 million for the same one last year, his data show.

His numbers also show that box-office revenue for the year is $6.14 billion, down from $6.17 billion for the same period last year. Attendance is off by 4.3%.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/11 at 12:00am

‘Tropic Thunder’ to be boycott

08.11.2008 | By |

'Tropic Thunder' to be boycott

A coalition of disabilities groups is expected as early as Monday to call for a national boycott of the film “Tropic Thunder” because of what the groups consider the movie’s open ridicule of the intellectually disabled.

The film, a movie-industry spoof directed by Ben Stiller, is set for release on Wednesday by Paramount Pictures and its DreamWorks unit.

“Not only might it happen, it will happen,” Timothy P. Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, said of the expected push for a boycott. Speaking by phone, Mr. Shriver said he planned to be in Los Angeles with representatives of his group and others to picket the movie’s premiere on Monday evening in this city’s Westwood district.

A particular sore point has been the film’s repeated use of the term “retard” in referring to a character, Simple Jack, who is played by Mr. Stiller in a subplot about an actor who chases an Oscar by portraying a mindless dolt.

Mr. Shriver said that he had also begun to ask members of Congress for a resolution condemning what he called the movie’s “hate speech” and calling for stronger federal support of the intellectually disabled.

“The most disappointing thing, the most incredible thing, is that nobody caught it,” said Mr. Shriver, who, as a co-producer of the DreamWorks film “Amistad,” is no stranger to the studio. He spoke of what he described as the studio’s and the filmmakers’ blatant disregard for the disabled even as they stepped carefully around other potentially offensive references, notably in a story line that has Robert Downey Jr. playing a white actor who changes his skin color to play a black soldier.

In a statement on Sunday, Chip Sullivan, a DreamWorks spokesman, said the movie was “an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations.” Mr. Sullivan, in the statement, added that the film was not meant to disparage or harm people with disabilities and that DreamWorks expected to work closely with disability groups in the future. But, he said, “No changes or cuts to the film will be made.”

Formal complaints about the content of films are not uncommon, but well-coordinated boycotts are fairly rare. The groups involved said that they represented millions of members and associates. Perhaps the most striking use of the tactic involved “The Last Temptation of Christ,” released in 1988. Religious groups that considered that movie’s depiction of Jesus blasphemous called for a boycott of companies owned by MCA, whose Universal unit made the film.

DreamWorks and Paramount have shown “Tropic Thunder” in more than 250 promotional screenings around the country since April, but significant complaints came only recently, when marketing materials for the movie caught the attention of advocates for the disabled. The tag line on one mock promotional poster on a Web site, since removed, read, “Once upon a time there was a retard.”

Over the weekend an ad-hoc coalition of more than a dozen disabilities groups — including the Arc of the United States, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the American Association of People With Disabilities and others — laid the groundwork for public protests to begin Monday.

The groups refrained from formally asking that viewers boycott the movie, pending informational screenings that were scheduled for their members at eight locations around the country on Monday morning.

But representatives of the National Down Syndrome Congress saw the movie at one such screening on Friday and immediately advised fellow advocates to expect a film sufficiently offensive to justify mass action.

“I came out feeling like I had been assaulted,” said David C. Tolleson, executive director of the Down syndrome group who saw the movie.

Mr. Tolleson and Peter V. Berns, executive director of the Arc of the United States, said on Sunday that they could not recall a similar coalition of disabilities groups forming against a film. Mr. Berns noted that some people had objected to the use of the word “retarded” in “Napoleon Dynamite,” a comedy released by Fox Searchlight and Paramount’s MTV Films unit in 2004.

“But there’s really been nothing near this magnitude,” Mr. Berns said.

In earlier interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Stiller and Stacey Snider, chief executive of the DreamWorks unit, said the movie’s humor was aimed not at the disabled but at the foolishness of actors who will go to any length in advancing their careers.

After meetings and conference calls with Ms. Snider and others, the studio altered some television advertising, but declined to edit scenes from the movie.

“Tropic Thunder” is likely to be the last movie released by DreamWorks before its top executives — Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Ms. Snider — formally announce their plans to become aligned with a new company to be financed by Reliance Big Entertainment of India. The three will continue to be involved with at least a dozen films at Paramount but are expected gradually to shift their energies to the new enterprise, which will probably distribute its movies through another studio.

Mr. Shriver said that he had spoken with Ms. Snider and others at DreamWorks about “Tropic Thunder” and came away convinced that they had no plans for mitigating measures.

Their response, he said, convinced him that the time had come for his group and others to strike a far more aggressive public posture on behalf of the disabled. “The movement needs to enter the public eye and not just be talking among ourselves,” he said.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/09 at 12:00am

Bernie Mac dies at 50

08.9.2008 | By |

Bernie Mac dies at 50

Bernie Mac, a stand-up comic who played evil-tongued but lovable rogues in films like “Bad Santa” and “Mr. 3000” and combined menace and sentiment as a reluctant foster father on “The Bernie Mac Show” on Fox, died on Saturday in Evanston, Ill. He was 50 and lived near Chicago.

The cause was complications from pneumonia, said his publicist, Danica Smith.

Mr. Mac, an imposing stage presence with a line of scabrous insults, parlayed his success as a stand-up comedian onto the big screen in a string of comedies that cast him in cameo roles, usually as wily con men like Pastor Clever in “Friday” and Gin, the store detective in “Bad Santa.” He also excelled as short-tempered misanthropes, notably in his starring role as Stan Ross, the nation’s most hated baseball player, in “Mr. 3000.”

In 2001, the Fox network took a gamble with “The Bernie Mac Show,” an unconventional family comedy with Mr. Mac portraying a childless married comedian who reluctantly takes in his sister’s three youngsters when she goes into a drug-treatment program.

The irascible Mr. Mac made a different kind of TV dad, “more Ike Turner than Dr. Spock,” Chris Norris wrote in a 2002 profile for The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Mac’s special style of tough love — “I’m gonna bust your head ’til the white meat shows,” he warns his surly teenage neice — set the show apart from other family sitcoms and raised a few critical eyebrows, but audiences saw enough of the character’s soft center to find the show touching.

“The success of my comedy has been not being afraid to touch on subject matters or issues that everyone else is politically scared of,” Mr. Mac told The Times in 2001. “It’s a joke, believe me. I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”

Mr. Mac incorporated aspects of his standup act and during each episode would break the fictional world of the show and address the audience directly. On one show, he swiveled in his chair and said, “Now America, tell me again, why can’t I whip that girl?”

“The Bernie Mac Show” show ran for five seasons, and Mr. Mac won Emmy awards as outstanding actor in a comedy series in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Bernard Jeffrey McCullough was born in Chicago to a single mother who inspired him, indirectly, to become a comedian. When he was 5, he told a television interviewer in 2001, he saw her sitting in front of the television set crying. “The Ed Sullivan Show” was playing, and when Bill Cosby began telling a story about snakes in the bathroom, she started laughing despite herself. “When I saw her laughing, I told her that I was going to be a comedian so she’d never cry again,” Mr. Mac said.

His mother died of cancer when he was 16, and he was raised by his grandmother on the South Side of Chicago. His two brothers also died, one in infancy, the other of a heart attack in his 20s.

At Chicago Vocational Career Academy, he was voted Class Clown by his graduating class. Already serious about his intended profession, turned down the honor “I said, ‘I’m funny. I’m a comedian, I’m not a clown,’” he later recalled. “My humor had changed from foolishness to making sense.”

After high school, Mr. Mac worked as a janitor, a mover and a school bus driver before finding a job at a General Motors plant. In 1976 he married his high school sweetheart, Rhonda who survives him, as does their daughter, Je’Neice, and a granddaughter.

Desperate to get started as a comedian, he told jokes for tips on the Chicago subway and worked comedy clubs, many of them off the beaten track. “When I started in the clubs, I had to work places where didn’t nobody else want to work,” he told The Washington Post. “I had to do clubs where street gangs were, had to do motorcycle gangs, gay balls and things of that nature.”

In 1983 he was laid off at GM and for a time his family had to move in with relatives. Plugging away at his comedy career, he caught the attention of Redd Foxx and Slappy White, who invited him to do off-the-cuff material in Las Vegas in 1989, and a year later he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search, a national contest, with his profanity-laced monologues on events in his own life and on black life in Chicago

In 1990, he was invited to do two shows with Def Comedy Jam, a tour featuring young black comedians that was filmed for HBO. Small film roles followed, in “Mo’ Money” (1992), “Who’s The Man?” (1993) and “House Party 3” (1994), as well as an HBO variety series, “Midnight Mac,” and a spot with the Original Kings of Comedy, a tour that showcased some of the most popular contemporary black comedians. The tour, which grossed an astounding $59 million, generated several HBO specials and a film by Spike Lee, “The Original Kings of Comedy.”

Mr. Mac made the move to television reluctantly. “The people come to see you, the person they fell in love with, but when they see you on TV you bvecome a whole other character, another person, and they become disappointed, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen to me,” he said.

Nevertheless, he appeared in a recurring role as Uncle Bernie on the UPN sitcom “Moesha” for several years beginning in 1996, and in 2001 he took the plunge with “The Bernie Mac Show.”

Praised by the critics for its fresh irreverent take on the family sitcom, it became one of Fox’s biggest hits.

The show coincided with a spate of films that made Mr. Mac, if not a box office star, a welcome comedic presence in films like “What’s the Worst that Could Happen?” “Ocean’s 11” and its two sequels and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”

In July, Mr. Mac, a fervent Barack Obama supporter, dismayed his candidate at a fund-raising dinner in Chicago. Delivering a stand-up routine, he told salacious jokes and drew a reprimand from Mr. Obama, who warned him, “Bernie, you’ve got to clean up your act next time.”

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/08 at 12:00am

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

08.8.2008 | By |

Rated: PG-13 for mature material and sensuality.
Release Date: 2008-08-08
Starring: Elizabeth Chandler (guión), Ann Brashares (novela)
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: NULL
Official Website: http://sisterhoodofthetravelingpants2.warnerbros.com/

Go to our film page

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Men who are film critics, such as myself, stereotypically aren’t fond of the movie genre known as ‘the chick flick’. We usually have to remove our male biased opinions towards them and see it for the cinematic work that they are. In this particular case, I must admit, ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2’ was an enjoyable and delightful film that engrossed me for its 2 hour duration.

I really wasn’t expecting to like it, so the fact that I did, makes it even more memorable. Sisterhood, based on a book by Ann Brashares, is a reunion for the actresses that have now made it ‘big time’ on their respective TV shows; Hondurean American America Ferrera stars in ‘Ugly Betty’, Blake Lively in the hot sexy Gossip Girls, Amber Tamblyn is widely known for Joan of Arcadia and Argetinian-Mexican American Alexis Bledel (who knew she was a hardcore Latin?) currently stars in Gilmore Girls. This year more than ever, television stars are making Hollywood look real good.

One of the great things about the film outside of the physical and cultural diversity of the cast, is the chemistry they share onset. They seem to really get what their characters are all about. It’s three years later and each of the girls are exploring their professional goals. Their only apprehensiveness is the potential estrangement from themselves that distance could impose on them. The four story lines are alluring enough to not lose you to lassitude.

Ferrera is the best actress of the group, evident when she spews out Shakespeare lines as if they were vernacular English. Tamblyn, with her caustic and mordant personality, provided the much needed comic relief from the emotional pounding the film takes with Lively’s character. Bledel, unfortunately was the weakest link and didn’t really provide enough believable gravitas to take the film to the next level.

As my colleague Alex Florez termed it, ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2’ is a ‘slice of life’ movie, and I believe it will resonate not only with tween audiences, but also with mom and dad adults. That combination will surely squeeze out a third part out of those magical jeans.

 

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/08 at 12:00am

Natalie Portman to remake Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’

08.8.2008 | By |

Natalie Portman to remake Dario Argento's 'Suspiria'

One of the hipper projects in Hollywood is shaping up to be the remake of Dario Argento’s psychedelic horror flick, Susipira, from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, George Washington). Bloody Disgusting just confirmed minutes ago that Natalie Portman will headline the film, which means she’ll hop into ballet slippers and battle a coven of beautiful, gossipy (foreign?) witches.

The actress’s shingle, Handsome Charlie Films, is producing. If you’ve seen the original, you’re probably wondering what the plans are for the soundtrack, but those details haven’t been announced. Here’s what Green told MTV about the project a few months ago…

“Supiria is a classic to me. I want to be scared. I want to be afraid,” he said to MTV. …”It’s an opportunity to take all artistic excellence and be inspired by what was a low budget Italian 70’s gore movie. Where the art world meets the violent and supernatural. I would love to get every geek that loves torture porn and every old lady in line to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ to come and have this insane experience.”

With its enchanting candy colors and surreal lighting, Dario Argento’s 1977 flick, widely cited as his best work, rivals Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou for its stained-glass color palette. The story dips into nightmare-logic as we follow an American student at an elite European dance academy who discovers it’s a front for evaaal. Argento’s inventive, deranged use of gore is outmatched by a harrowing, instrumental soundtrack by the band Goblin. While it’s not exactly a perfect film, with time Suspiria has arguably transcended the cult genre.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/08 at 12:00am

‘The Goonies’ to have sequel?

08.8.2008 | By |

'The Goonies' to have sequel?

A very, very, very good source – if I revealed his name, you’d know straight away this was a solid bit of news – informed me a few days ago that “the sequel Corey Feldman has been telling media will never happen”, one “Goonies 2”, is indeed… happening. 

Now I don’t know when it’s going to happen, because it has been on the drawing boards for a good decade now (“Star Trek” and “Transformers” scribe Robert Orci told me today that he was involved in a draft in about 1998), but it does seem to be inching forward.

So what have I been told? well, Warner Bros are finally going to give it the respect it deserves – this will be a large-scale theatrical release. It will not be a direct-to-video release.

(A source at Warner Bros has since confirmed this – saying they are developing it as a major movie, but won’t share anything other than that. Nothing we didn’t already know though)

We’ve been told that there are writers on the project – and they’re being paid rather nicely for their services too.

I’ve no idea what the script is about, nor do I know how far into the script the writers are, but we’re told that it’ll apparently involve some of the original cast – I doubt Josh Brolin will return though; and even if he was keen, would Warner want to pay him the hefty fee he now gets? Doubtful – and some new cast members. I can’t imagine ‘all’ of the original “Goonies” coming back, can you? I’d think Corey Feldman, Sean Astin and, er, Short-Round would be the most likeliest recruits for a reprise… if only because they haven’t disappeared off-the-map (Martha Plimpton where art thou? Keri Green… does she still act?). You never know, ‘Chunk’ might even get a call too.

But there you have it, after years and years of rumours – and even some attempts to get the film up by original director Richard Donner – “The Goonies 2” will soon be a reality.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/07 at 12:00am

Elegy

08.7.2008 | By |

Rated: R for sexuality, nudity and language.
Release Date: 2008-08-08
Starring: Nicholas Meyer
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: NULL
Official Website: http://www.onpictures.com/peliculas/elegy/index.htm

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Elegy

Catalan film director Isabel Coixet won various Goya awards in Spain (equivalent to the Oscars in the US) in 2006 for a small English spoken film called ‘The Secret Life of Words’ (La Vida Secreta de las Palabras) starring Tim Robbins and Canadian actress Sarah Polley. An ironic event since her native tongue isn’t even Spanish. Now, two years later, Coixet is at it again, in the Anglo-Saxon language, as she teams up with screenwriter Nicholas Meyer to bring to the big screen ‘Elegy’, starring Ben Kinglsley and Penélope Cruz.

The premise, based on Philip Roth’s short novel ‘The Dying Animal’, tells the story of the relationship between literature professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), who is renowned for his cultural pedigree and Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz), his young and sensual Cuban student who falls in love with him.

But there is more here than just sexual play, the narrative essentially centers on how Kepesh deals with the fear that Consuela may leave him because of his age (thought to be around 55 or 60). Kingsley gives a charming and engaging performance that could be his best work in years. Cruz complements him beautifully as she plays the part of the erotic muse to perfection. Great dialogue, fabulous acting by a strong supporting cast (Dennis Hopper and Patricia Clarkson), along with unexpected sub-plots keep you absorbed for the entirety of the film.

A note, if you’ve been watching summer blockbuster Hollywood films one after another, the normal pacing of this film will either be a drastic change for you or a sight for sore eyes. I’ve noticed that after sitting in a dark theater consuming films the likes of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Mummy’, you become rather impatient with mid-tempo cinema. ‘Fight through it’, I say ardently! Elegy will be worth your troubles.

 

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/07 at 12:00am

Johnny Depp confirmed for Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’

08.7.2008 | By |

Johnny Depp confirmed for Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland'

After it was announced that Tim Burton would direct “Alice in Wonderland 3-D,” a take on the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, fans assumed that Johnny Depp would somehow have to be involved. Burton and Depp have previously collaborated on six previous films, including “Sweeney Todd,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Now, Entertainment Weekly is reporting that fans’ suspicions are absolutely true. But whether he will play the rumored Mad Hatter is still unknown.

A source revealed that the film will be live-action until Alice (Mia Wasikowska) jumps down the rabbit hole and meets the loopy tea party host. Even if Depp does take on the Mad Hatter, there is still the question of whether he will have to do any acting or simply lend his voice for the computer-generated part of the film.

At this point, the new movie is set to begin filming early next year for a 2010 release. Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) penned the script.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/07 at 12:00am

Lethal Weapon 5?

08.7.2008 | By |

Lethal Weapon 5?

Hollywood tracking board TrackingB.com reports that Shane Black, who wrote the first Lethal Weapon movie, has written a spec script for Lethal Weapon 5 without telling anyone. The site adds that he contacted franchise producer Joel Silver and said that he wanted to continue the story.

This time, homicidal Riggs (Mel Gibson) is about to retire, but pulls Murtaugh (Danny Glover) out of retirement to solve one final case, before they both officially head off into the sunset.

TrackingB.com says that Gibson and Glover are down to return, but no deals have been signed.

The first film was released in 1987, the second in 1989, the third in 1992 and the fourth in 1998.

Alejandro Arbona

By

2008/08/06 at 12:00am

Pineapple Express

08.6.2008 | By |

Rated: R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.
Release Date: 2008-08-08
Starring: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Judd Apatow (historia)
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/pineappleexpress/

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Pineapple Express

The title “Pineapple Express” refers to one plot element that turns out to be perhaps the movie’s most influential character: an especially potent kind of marijuana. It’s Pineapple Express that Saul Silver (James Franco) sells to Dale Denton (Seth Rogen), a sample that only Silver has. And it’s Pineapple Express that Dale is smoking when he witnesses a murder. And it’s due to drug cartels warring over Pineapple Express that that murder takes place. Now the killers, played by Gary Cole and the Puerto Rican actress Rosie Perez, spot the Pineapple Express that Dale dropped when he fled in terror, and they set out to kill Saul and his customer.

“Pineapple Express,” the movie, is an unexpected and interesting combination of three different genres, only one of which comes across in the synopsis I just gave you. It’s a hilarious comedy; it’s a buddy picture, about two friends adventuring and bonding; and, as you can gather from the above paragraph, it’s a crime story that eventually becomes excessively violent. That may just be this movie’s biggest surprise: that a Judd Apatow-produced comedy with the usual cast and improvisational style – usually associated with comedies about boy-men growing up like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” – suddenly climaxes in shootouts, explosions, dead bodies and tons of blood. But, jeez, they sure do make that violence funny.

 

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