Weekend Box Office: ‘Help’ Me, Irene

The box office was pretty tepid this week, but lucky for Hollywood PR types, they can use the Hurricane Irene roadshow to cover their losses. While the hurricane probably took a nice chunk from the overall box office, I doubt it did much to change the order of films vying for the top.

The Help was the winner for the second week in a row, turning into the powerhouse film everyone wanted it to be. This should do nothing but help Oscar buzz, as it will cross the $100 million mark next weekend (if not this week).

Colombiana was the most successful debut this week, taking in $10.3 million and claiming second place. I remember thinking the preview was interesting, but until now I forgot this movie even existed. Zoe Saldana seems like she is trying to build her name as an action star, and it may be working.

Coming in third with $8.7 million was Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the supernatural horror/thriller that used Guillermo del Toro’s writing/producing credit to maximum impact in the marketing…which turns out wasn’t much.

The other new debut was Our Idiot Brother, the Paul Rudd-headlined indie, which came in fifth place. It didn’t seem like it found an audience, making only $6.6 million, yet the film is already a financial “success,” gaining back it’s paltry $5 million budget.

Overall, none of the weekend’s new films were ever going to be major hits, and for now, we continue to lumber through the transition to fall’s strong roster of Oscar contenders.

All numbers courtesy Box Office Mojo.

Rehash: 08/26/2011

Each Friday we bring you the biggest film news and a smattering of the more interesting movie-related bits around the web! We call it Rehash! To get our thoughts on film news throughout the week, follow Jill on Twitter!

First we have a great infographic ad for the New York International Latino Film Festival:
Check out the whole series at Ads of the World (via Mental Floss).

If you haven’t seen it, Dan Tractenberg of The Totally Rad Show made an amazing short film, No Escape, based on the video game Portal. Whether or not you’re a fan of the game, it’s completely captivating:

Rope of Silicon brings us 10 lessons Hollywood can learn from summer 2011.

Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly gives us an early look at the Oscar race.

Empire posted some awesome new images from David Fincher’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Here’s one:

Matt Patches tells the rest of the Film School Rejects gang why he loves the first Mission: Impossible film as a great summer movie.

Patches also brings us a list of the biggest winners and losers of the summer. Marvel vs. DC! Men vs. Women! Harry Potter vs. Twilight!

And lastly, one of the most interesting articles I’ve seen on the departure of Steve Jobs, and poignant words from the man himself.

Have a great weekend everyone, we’ll be back on Monday!

Netflix Instant Pick: Newman and Redford

Every week we recommend something we love that is available via Netflix instant view, the greatest thing ever created! Enjoy!

One of the all-time best ( and perhaps sexiest) on screen duos is that of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. While they both have illustrious and varied film careers on their own, together, their on screen charisma is undeniable which elevates Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting to near the top of their respective filmographies.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was Redford and Newman’s first collaboration, and one of the great Westerns of all time. The film shows the two title characters and their exploits with The Hole in the Wall Gang in Wyoming, and then eventually Bolivia where they flee the law close at their heels. A very lighthearted take on the traditional outlaw film, I love the mix here of action and comedy, and the audience can’t help but feel like they are following Butch and Sundance on their amazing adventure.

Redford was an almost last minute casting decision, and one that was hated by the studio (Fox), who preferred Marlon Brando or Steve McQueen. It was a decision that certainly changed Redford’s career, and he has used the moniker Sundance ever since for both his estate, and the film festival he founded in Park City, Utah.

The Sting came just four years later, becoming the second pairing of Newman and Redford, and Butch Cassidy director George Roy Hill. It’s a classic con film with Redford as the up-and-comer and Paul Newman as the retired veteran called back for one last job. The two team up to pull a long con on Doyle Lonnegan (the amazing Robert Shaw) to get revenge for the death of Redford’s original mentor. The film became one of the biggest hits of the early 1970s, and won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Adapted Score.

The film boasts both a great story and great acting, placing it near the top of my all-time best film list. I’ve watched it several times now, and each time I come away impressed by just how smart and entertaining this film is.

Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting are among the best films ever (Butch Cassidy is #73 on AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list), and the chemistry between Redford and Newman is something that has yet to be duplicated by any modern acting duo. Whether you watch them for the first time or the fiftieth, make sure to go check them out on Netflix Instant!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Sting

Netflix Instant Pick runs every Thursday on Filmhash. Past picks are here.

From The List of Shame, File #13: Nine to Five

While we have seen many films, there are many films that are held in high regard that we haven’t seen yet. As we cross them off our List of Shame, we’ll write about them here!

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’
And no givin’
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

Dolly Parton, “9 to 5 (And Odd Jobs)”

Nine to Five (or 9 to 5) opens with Dolly Parton’s boisterous anthem of the working woman. As we hear her belt out this Oscar-nominated theme song, we see a montage of women in pantsuits hightailing it in heels on their way to work. They’re eager, bright, and ambitious. And they’re all most likely working for an incarnation of the film’s villain Franklin M. Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman), the stereotypical nightmare of a boss, incompetent, sexist, and the bane of existence for any woman looking to break through the glass ceiling.

With an opening like that, I was expecting this film to be a lot like South Park, a comedic romp with a poignant social message to grab onto…minus Mr. Hankey. And for awhile it seems that is precisely what we are going to get. We are introduced to Mr. Hart’s “girls” a.k.a his personal assistant Dora Lee (Dolly Parton), the office’s can-do senior supervisor Violet (Lily Tomlin), and the recently divorced workforce newbie Judy (Jane Fonda). There are some great scenes leading off the film between Dolly’s Dora Lee, and Mr. Hart as she denies his sexual advances with her trademark Southern sweetness and wit. Tomlin drips with sarcastic comments and jabs at Hart’s bumbling incompetence. And Fonda’s bright-eyed bushy-tailed portrayal of a woman just getting her professional footing is endearing at first, but unfortunately becomes just as forgettable as the focus of this film come the second act.

I really did enjoy the first half of this film. But then things get a little too wacky. We are lead to believe that this film will focus on women’s rights in the workplace, and while I was expecting these gals to get revenge on their ass of a boss, the plot becomes so convoluted I can barely recollect where it started. After a bad day at the office, Dora Lee, Violet, and Judy head out for a drink to wallow in their misery. A drink turns into a night of smoking pot and fantasizing about the ways they each would like to off Mr. Hart. No harm there, people have thoughts just as bad when they’re sober. The fantasy sequences are silly, but I can forgive them this indulgence. It’s what comes after the next day in the office that sets the wheels in motion for the insanity to come. A box of rat poison, conveniently resembling the creamer used in Mr. Hart’s coffee, makes the ladies believe that they have poisoned their boss, accidentally of course.

Without going into specifics, the ladies end up kidnapping a body from the hospital they believe to be the dead Mr. Hart. It’s not. Back to the hospital they go. When they discover Mr. Hart in the office the next day, released from the hospital and fully aware about their “plot” to kill him he threatens to have them thrown in jail. Obviously, they’re not having any of it and decide to kidnap him and hold him for blackmail at his house (his wife, a lovable ignoramus, is away on vacation).

I could go on but there really isn’t any point. All the social issues this film could have addressed are condensed into a pithy 15 minutes towards the end of the film when the ladies institute a series of office initiatives including flex and share hours, and company daycare, while their boss is left tied up in his own house. Dora Lee, Judy, and Violet are all interesting enough characters thrown in wacky and unbelievable circumstances that surpass the scope of the film itself. Any wit or humor achieved in the film’s first 45 minutes is abruptly lost, and the story instead makes a series of weird choices that result in a story that seems to be a splice of two completely separate films-part screwball comedy, part espionage farce.

Even moments that are meant to be humorous, like Hart’s wife coming home from vacation to find her husband strapped to the ceiling in pseudo-bondage wear should have been funny, but just fell utterly flat. I think such a sequence could have benefited from a more frenetic pace where the audience senses there is much at stake for these characters. Instead the story lobs along and even resurrects a story arc from the very beginning of the film involving Jane Fonda’s ex-husband turned stalker. The result is a creepy encounter that just feels wrong given the hilarity that should be ensuing.

I’ve made frequent mentions of time in this review. That’s not a good thing. When you find yourself watching the clock during a movie there’s a problem. The only true beacon of light in an otherwise murky film is Dolly Parton. Nine to Five was her first screen role, and I wish better material was given to her. She is a truly gifted actress and if nothing else, this film will be historically remembered for her breakthrough performance.

List of Shame Files normally appears on Wednesdays. Previous entries are here.

Filmhash Epic Fall Movie Guide 2011

As it seems Fright Night is the swan song of summer, the autumn’s prestige and holiday pictures are right around the corner. In this post we’re going to cover the 36 fall releases we’re most interested in. Unlike summer where the focus is all on the big explosions, fall brings a wide variety of releases, and many of the films here find there way onto our end of year lists.

September
Seven Days in Utopia (trailer)
Disney seems to be cornering the market on inspirational sports films. Secretariat came out last fall, and this film looks like it could be the same crew. The movie is about a golfer who must spend…seven days in Utopia, Texas and learn some life lessons to regain his game. And who knows, it could be good. The last “good” golf movie was Tin Cup? We’re overdue. (Sept. 2) -R.S

Shark Night 3D (trailer)
I’ll admit, this film is only on here for two reasons. 1. I love how awesomely bad Deep Blue Sea is, and 2. I chickened out on Piranha 3D. And everyone knows sharks are way better than piranhas. And the trailer already has an epic quotable line: “We should be safe, this is a lake!” –“It’s a salt water lake.” (Sept. 2) –R.S

Contagion (trailer)
I’m mostly excited for this film because of it’s star power, namely Matt Damon and Kate Winslet. I also enjoy the work of Steven Soderbergh, so I’m curious to see how this fear-inducing, disease-ridden romp across international borders plays out. (Sept. 9)-J.M.
Warrior (trailer)
My love of film spans most genres, but two in particular I can never stay away from are war dramas and boxing movies. I loved last year’s The Fighter, but when I saw the trailer for Warrior, I grew surprisingly fatigued at the notion of another boxing (well, mixed martial arts) film so soon. Never-the-less, you’ll see me in the theater for this brother vs. brother story of redemption. (Sept. 9)-J.M.

Drive (trailer)
Thanks to Crazy, Stupid, Love for getting me over my Ryan Gosling-phobia. I am now prepared to watch Drive. I love films centered around film crew members, and heist/chase movies. And this is both, as Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman. (Sept. 16)-R.S.
 Abduction (trailer)
Even I can admit this film doesn’t look stellar, but it’s good news for Twihards who can rest assured that at least right now, Taylor Lautner will have some semblance of a career after Twilight. Poised to become the next action “It” man, Lautner plays a young man thrown into extraordinary circumstances when he learns his parents aren’t his own. Suddenly immersed in the world of espionage, he must navigate hoards of assassins long enough to discover the identity of his biological father. (Sept. 23)-J.M.
Moneyball (trailer)
Baseball movies are my favorite kind of movie, and I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. I was a big fan of the book, and I’m curious how they can turn a book fundamentally about the philosophy of statistics into a compelling film. (Sept. 23)-R.S.

50/50 (trailer)
Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in one of my most anticipated films of the Fall. Based on a true story, Gordon-Levitt plays a man coming to terms with a difficult diagnosis and how it will affect those closest to him. The buzz on this film has been amazing so far, I hope the momentum continues to build! (Sept. 30)-J.M.

What’s Your Number? (trailer)
I have to be honest, I wasn’t interested in this film at all until I read this article about Anna Faris in the New Yorker. The prescience of Chris Evans doesn’t hurt either. (Sept. 30)-R.S.

October
Ides of March (trailer)
I haven’t gotten vibes like this since The West Wing went off the air. Clooney directs, Ryan “Savior of 2011” Gosling stars, Clooney co-stars. And it has Paul Giamatti (who Toby was clearly based on), Marise Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman? Two please. (Oct. 7)-R.S.

The Big Year (no trailer yet)
Based on the book of the same name, this movie about a birdwatching competition brings out the big comedy guns with Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson. However, this being David Frankel’s second directed film after Marley & Me (also starring Wilson) doesn’t exactly inspire when Steve Martin’s career needs the least rescuing of the three leads. (Oct. 14)-R.S.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Sundance Premiere Clip)
Watch the linked clip, from the Sundance premiere. If you don’t want to watch a documentary about the 6-foot tall African American puppeteer who is Elmo, you have no soul.  (Oct. 21)-R.S.

The Father of Invention (trailer)
We here at Filmhash love Kevin Spacey, and can’t wait to see him play a disgraced infomercial king trying to rebuild his life. (Oct. 21)-R.S.

Anonymous (trailer)
I’m not sure I care who the historical Shakespeare really was, but I can’t help but be captivated by Roland Emmerich’s (2012) effects prowess used to digitally recreate Elizabethan England. Side note: This movie, about Shakespeare, features the tagline “We’ve Been Played.” Wow. Wow. (Oct. 28)-R.S.

In Time (trailer)
Suddenly, we’ve all become suckers for Justin Timberlake. Looking forward to see if he can pull off this science fiction film that plays with the value of a person’s time. (Oct. 28)-R.S.

The Rum Diary (no trailer yet)
Johnny Depp is the Hollywood avatar of Hunter S. Thompson, so chances are this between-blockbuster film will be a reprieve for him and a joy for us as well. Also chances are this movie will have some cool hats. (Oct. 28)-R.S.

November

J. Edgar (no trailer yet)
J. Edgar Hoover. Founder and first director of the FBI, collector and curator of secret information, possible paranoid and cross-dresser? Portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio? Directed by Clint Eastwood? Yes please! (Nov. 9)-J.M.

Melancholia (trailer)
In Lars von Tier’s sci-fi drama the end happens at the beginning when a planet collides with Earth, leaving two sisters to wrestle with their relationship amidst a catastrophic event. I was reminded slightly of Another Earth when researching this film, as both appear to deal with our encounters with space phenomena. My love for sci-fi films was rekindled with Another Earth, and it appears that Lars von Tier’s gorgeous-looking film will further fan the flames. (Nov. 11)-J.M.

Immortals (trailer)
Could this be the bizarre Zack Snyder-esque Clash of the Titans we all thought we wanted after 300? Not sure studios will ever catch that lighting again, but try they will. (Nov. 11)-R.S.

Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy (trailer)
I’ve never read this particular John le Carré novel, but he is one of the all-time great spy writers, and I’ve enjoyed several of his novels. Written as a contemporary piece, it is wisely being adapted as a period piece, and the principle cast includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Mark Strong. (Nov. 18)-R.S.

The Twilight Saga– Breaking Dawn Part 1 (trailer)
My name is Jill, and I’m a Twihard. Why do you make me say it! Anyway, as a fan of the series I am excited for Part 1 of the fourth installment for two reasons: A) shit goes down, and B) see A. I want to know if it’s possible to create a film based on a novel like Breaking Dawn, a novel so messed up it’s actually hard to believe it’s coming to the screen. Of course we have seen ‘messed up’ on screen before, but take into consideration the audience of Twilight: pre-teen, and teen girls with lovesick eyes for a glittery non-threatening vampire. And what they will be confronted with is a blotchy and bruised Bella possibly puking blood and delivering what at first appears to be devil spawn clawing at her innards. This could very well be the record breaking mainstream film with D-movie horror tropes. Game. On. (Nov. 18)-J.M.

Hugo (trailer)
Martin Scorcese. 3D. Sasha Baron Cohen. Kids movie. These things seem completely opposed to one another, which means I have to see it. Doesn’t hurt that the trailer is completely charming. (Nov. 23)-R.S.


The Muppets
(trailer)
This definitely seems to harken back to the classic Muppet films of old, and that can’t be anything but a good thing, especially when we know that this is a passion project for Jason Segel. (Nov. 23)-R.S.

The Descendants (trailer)
We’re big fans of director Alexander Payne’s Sideways and it’s exciting to see him return to familiar territory. Clooney plays a father trying to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife suffers an accident. (Nov. 23)-R.S.

The Artist (trailer)
I’m excited by the idea of this movie, and the trailer is fascinating, but I don’t think audiences will take to it (or maybe I’m still too disappointed by The Good German, which was one of my most anticipated films of 2006). (Nov. 23)-R.S.

December

A Dangerous Method (trailer)
David Cronenberg directs Viggo Mortenson, Michael Fassbender, and Keira Knightley in a film based on the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung (Fassbender), his mentor Sigmund Freud (Mortenson), and Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), the woman who comes between them. (Dec. 9)-R.S.

The Sitter (Red Band trailer)
This movie is in incredibly poor taste, but the ridiculous neo-yuppie names of the kids, Slater, Blythe, and Rodrigo, has me sold on the concept.  (Dec. 9)-R.S.

Young Adult (no trailer yet)
The second collaboration between Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, this film is about revisiting your high school days. I’m not a Cody-hater (I even enjoyed Jennifer’s Body) and I’ve absolutely loved Reitman’s first three films. This is high on my list for the season. (Dec. 9)-R.S.

The Iron Lady (trailer)
One of my favorite actresses playing one of my favorite politicians? How am I not already in line for this? (Dec. 16)-R.S.

Sherlock Holmes 2: The Book of Shadows (trailer)
I remember liking the first one well enough, as the enjoyableness of Robert Downey, Jr. and the steampunk aesthetic are more than I need to see the sequel. I also look forward to the addition of Noomi Rapace. (Dec. 16)-R.S.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (trailer)
I was once apart of the growing faction of Dragon Tattoo dissenters who thought that an American remake of the Swedish gem was a superfluous undertaking. Yet the more I see of David Fincher’s side of the story, the more intrigued and giddy I become. We are being promised a different experience this time around, an R-rated drama for “adults,” I might add, that will most likely leave audiences divided. The trailer says it all though-fast cuts, and Trent Reznor’s and Karen Oh’s rendition of “Immigrant Song.” Chills. (Dec. 21)-J.M.

Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol (trailer)
I have deep issues with Tom Cruise, but the combination of JJ Abrams and Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles jumping to live action make this difficult to pass up. Also, it’s a just a fun trailer. (Dec. 21)-R.S.

The Adventures of Tintin (trailer)
Based on the world famous (except in America) comic by the Belgian luminary Hergé, this film is co-directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Writing credits come from Steven Moffat (the current Doctor Who show runner), Edgar Wright (director of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Daniel Craig provide performances, and they are all backed by a promising John Williams score. This may have the best pedigree of any film this year!  (Dec. 23)-R.S.

We Bought a Zoo (no trailer yet)
Matt Damon, Thomas Haden Church, Scarlett Johansson, and Elle Fanning star in this Cameron Crowe film adaptation of a memoir of a family that literally bought a run down zoo in the English countryside. (Dec. 23)-R.S.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (no trailer yet)
The next film in line to deal with 9/11 themes involves a young boy determined to discover information about a key left by his father and find the corresponding lock in New York City. We’ve had few films tackle the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and most that brave the rough waters are met with hostility. It will be interesting to see if ten years is time enough to take a historic look back. (Dec. 23)-J.M.

War Horse (trailer)
Based on the children’s novel about the love between a boy and his horse torn apart by World War I. While having said a lot about World War II, this is Speilberg’s first foray into WWI storytelling, making me excited to see a tale of this ‘forgotten war.’ (Dec. 28)-R.S.

Ryan’s Most Anticipated Films

  1. The Adventures of Tintin
  2. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. The Ides of March
  4. The Iron Lady
  5. The Muppets

Jill’s Most Anticipated Films

  1. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  2. The Iron Lady
  3. War Horse
  4. Young Adult
  5. Melancholia
  6. (Twilight: Breaking Dawn)

Weekend Box Office: Everyone Drinks, Nobody Wins

Aside

I think it’s safe to say Summer is officially over at the box office folks. After a dismal weekend of returns for new films like Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night, I, for one, am ready for the Fall onslaught of Oscar contenders. Although Fright Night was a real treat, and I’m disappointed it’s not getting the attention it deserves. There’s nary a glittery vamp in sight, I promise! Go see it!

A sampling of the Box Office (Box Office Mojo):

The Help with $20 Million

Planet of the Apes with $16 Million

Spy Kids with $12 Million

Conan the Barbarian with $10 Million

Fright Night with $8.3 Million

One Day with $5.1 Million

Review: Fright Night

Fright Night is a remake of the 1985 film of the same name, and though I haven’t seen the original in a long time, I feel as though a successful remake formula could be thus: 1. Don’t remake the best films and 2. When you do remake a film, put your own stamp on the material.

Its unique voice is what makes the new Fright Night so much fun. From the script upward the film has a sense about it that is one part scare, one part tongue- firmly-in-cheek. The film was written by Marti Noxon, an alum of both Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men. Noxon brings a wonderful voice to the film, especially through the dialogue. Her creativity and unique ideas really shine through, elevating Fright Night into one of my favorite movies of the entire summer.

Besides the battle plan featured in the film’s climax, Noxon’s most interesting contribution may be in the location. The new incarnation is set in a suburb of Las Vegas, as Noxon was inspired by her trip there during the last presidential election. She writes:

You’d think I would have been contemplating the greed and ineptitude that led the nation to this sorry state, but instead my mind was fixed on one dogged thought: “God, this would be the greatest place to be a vampire. Sinners aplenty just down the road, a transient population that works all hours of the night and day … and all these abandoned homes. You could pick people off and who would ever be the wiser?”

She cites additional inspiration coming from the Amblin films she grew up with, like ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and Jaws. All of these films bring the fantastic and danger to the mundane world of the suburbs, and Fright Night captures this better than any American film in recent memory, including Super 8. In fact, I imagine replacing the film’s soundtrack with the most recent Arcade Fire album would be a fascinating experiment.

The other thing that makes this film one to be seen are the performances. Colin Ferrell is terrific as Jerry the neighborhood vampire, and the actor’s charisma is used to great effect. Jerry is so much fun to watch, as is the scene-stealing David Tennant (Doctor Who) as the vampire expert Peter Vincent (a stage magician in this incarnation). Tennant’s particular sensibilities are a perfect fit for the role, and he provides much of the comic relief in the film’s last third.

I also applaud Fright Night for bringing back the old school evil vampire. Jerry is malevolent, unrelenting, and insatiable. There is nothing redeeming (or sparkly) about him. He, like the shark in Jaws, is a force of nature to be reckoned with, not reasoned with or interviewed. It’s also refreshing that with these ‘chaste’ Twilight vamps running around, Fright Night brings the sexy back, showing Jerry as having an intense physical reaction to being near his prey, especially in the olfactory sense.

Fright Night is easily the surprise of my summer, one I wasn’t even anticipating (it didn’t even make our summer movie preview). Yet I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I recommend it if you’re looking for a retro fun monster movie.