May 1, 2016

WIWTW #45

I can't help but think that most production studios wished that they were Disney. With Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm under their umbrella, who can even hope to compete? Very few movies in Hollywood are ever sure things, but I think it's fair to say that most of the movies that Disney and the studios it owns put out are the closest to being sure things in the entire industry.

But seriously though, if The Jungle Book is any indication, Disney has a boatload of properties to draw upon without having to pull their hair out. We all know that studios hate risk and they love money and TJB is like the perfect marriage of that. Enough time has gone by for people to be open to a live action re-imagining of the 1967 animated Disney version and there's definitely interest in seeing just what exactly a live action re-imaging would be like. With the right amount of curiosity and positive word-of-mouth, Disney has succeeded spectacularly with The Jungle Book and the rest of these re-imaginings are definitely sitting pretty unless someone screws up big time.

Beauty and the Beast, Cruella, Tink, Dumbo, Mulan, Pinocchio, Genies, Night on Bald Mountain, The Sword in the Stone and quite a few more are pretty much all at least semi-announced as being in production and I have no doubt that they're all going to make a lot of coin. What's scary is that these are just the live action productions that are on the slate. Disney will end up owning all of us before you know it...

Now on to this week's WIWTW.

But first...
 

Some News (That I Actually Care About)

  • People seem to kinda dislike the new Ghostbusters trailer. Just kinda... @ScreenCrush
  • Box office report: Disney's The Jungle Book had no trouble in retaining its #1 spot and has added an additional $42 million to its coffers. Worldwide, it's now sitting at $684 million and it doesn't look like it has run out of steam just yet. The #2 slot went to The Huntsman: Winter’s War with $9.4 million and there's no doubt Universal wishes it could go back in time and erase it from existence. To make things worse, the John Wick spoof Keanu was just a smidge behind at $9.35 million which isn't too bad since its budget is only $15 million. It's Mother's Day that severely crashed and burned and I can't say that I'm unhappy about that. With only $8.3 million, I hope it spells an end to the endless Garry Marshall holiday-themed anthologies.
  • A great look at the possible death of the cinema industry. @New York Times
  • Rising star Alicia Vikander IS Lara Croft. Hope this is better than the last round of movies. @The Hollywood Reporter
  • It's rare to see a main actor get as seriously injured as this, so wishing the best for Dylan O'Brien and a quick recovery from his on-set accident. @The Hollywood Reporter
Video of the week:The new Viggo Mortensen trailer, Captain Fantastic (no it isn't a superhero movie)

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Number of movies watched: 10

Average rating: 5.80
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April 24th

 

Bonneville (2006)

Rating: 5/10

What is it: A road trip movie with three middle-aged women doing the road tripping

"Meh" describes Bonneville pretty well if you want to go down the efficient route. With Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Joan Allen along for the ride, this just seems like one big waste of talent. OK, well Lange is maybe not deserving of being said in the same breath as Bates and Allen, but to be fair she's not a nobody. She still strikes me as the weakest link here with what looks to me like a lot of "hair adjusting" and "hands covering face in sadness" acting. Besides that, attempts at humour fall flat as do the attempts at meaningful drama. While the ideas are there, director Christopher N. Rowley fails at getting us to care about Arvilla or feel her pain over losing her husband. This is one to forget and quickly. 

 

 

Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys (2008)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: A TV movie special meant to serve as the final episode of Trailer Park Boys 

There's no doubt that Trailer Parks Boys had been slowly declining since its beginning and that's true for most TV shows. Creator/director Mike Clattenburg wanted to end the show after season 5, but popularity forced his hand which is understandable. What can be said about this "finale" is that it does have its moments. It's far from being as honest or as funny as the early seasons of the show, but there's enough here to have a good time, maybe with a rum and Coke or two. Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys just unfortunately plays like a story that has already been done in TPB many times before and much better at that. There are worse finales out there, but one can't help but wish that TPB got a better farewell than this. 

April 25th

 

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: A DC animation that presents Aquaman's origin story

I knew next to nothing about Aquaman before watching Throne of Atlantis. As an origin story of Arthur Curry's eventual transformation into Aquaman, this isn't a bad movie. Orm the villain feels way over the top and weakly written though and even the rest of the Justice League characterizations feel a bit shaky with the only exception being Cyborg. At least the writers had the sense to get Wonder Woman away from being a re-skinned Thor as she was in Justice League: War. The humour misses its mark quite a bit as well, but again, it fares a bit better than JL:W in that regard. Pretty much everything is a little bit better than JL:W which is probably the best way to sum up Throne of Atlantis really. 

April 26th

 

The Jungle Book (2016)

Rating: 7/10

What is it: Disney's live action re-imagining of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

It'd be easy to write off Disney's attempts at remaking the stories they've already told as simple cash grabs, but it's clear that some major work and heart went into the production of The Jungle Book. First of all, the CGI animal characters are simply astounding to look at and they're all appropriately voiced by some of Hollywood's finest. I was most worried about Neel Sethi as Mowgli though. While I don't think his performance was 100% ideal, he got the job done. The only real negative I can think of is that a fair amount of the film feels episodic and just meant to check off items on a checklist, but that's a minor issue. Jon Favreau also seemed afraid to commit to his song numbers which weakened those scenes in question.

 

 

Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993): Best Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 7.5/10

What is it: A biopic of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin

A lot of biopics suffer from being simple checklists of some person's life. Searching for Bobby Fischer thankfully finds a way to present itself in a way that doesn't even feel like a biopic which is refreshing. Sure it follows the life of Josh Waitzkin, but SfBF is a wonderful tribute to the game of chess that feels realistic, but also fascinating. Max Pomeranc does a great job as young Waitzkin which is crucial lest the film fall into "ruined by the kid" territory. Ben Kingsley is a real standout as is Laurence Fishburne. Never falling into artificiality or melodrama, Steven Zaillian has crafted a meaningful and powerful picture of how one boy's talent can affect those around him while also romanticizing the game of chess. 

April 27th

 

Poodle Springs (1998)

Rating: 6.5/10

What is it: An HBO produced Philip Marlowe detective film

James Caan plays an older version of Philip Marlowe in Poodle Springs and he totally makes it work against my better judgement. He's got a sly sort of humour that fits, has a fair share of bad ass moments, but I was disappointed that Marlowe's admission of feeling fear (most likely due to age) wasn't used more than once. Anyway, for once you can actually understand what's going on and the production captures the 60's feel quite nicely. There are a couple of editing/cinematography blips that reveal its TV movie roots, but other than that PS looks great. At the end of the day, this is one of the Raymond Chandler adaptations that does Philip Marlowe justice.

 

 

Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day (2009)

Rating: 6/10

What is it: The second of three Trailer Park Boys movies

Remember when I said that Goodnight to the Bad Guys was supposed to serve as a series finale to the TPB TV show? Well, that was true until Countdown to Liquor Day came out a year later. Like GttBG, CtLD has its moments and there are some real good and greasy ones. Just like the first movie though, Clattenburg seems to make everything bigger for the sake of being bigger since it's a movie. There's also a disappointing amount of juvenile humour which really isn't funny unless you really like your car chases with urination. John Dunsworth (aka Jim Lahey) really brings out the big guns though and is without a doubt the best part of this "finale." 

April 28th

 

A Good Marriage (2014)

Rating: 5/10

What is it: An adaptation of a Stephen King short story

The premise of A Good Marriage is an interesting one and I don't want to give it away since it's part of what makes A Good Marriage thrilling. Or at least it's an attempt at being thrilling because the reality is that AGM is far, far away from being anything close to thrilling once you actually watch it. It all begins with the very weak foreshadowing which all but reveals the truth of who Bob Anderson (Anthony LaPaglia) really is. Joan Allen does her best, but her character flip flops as needed between weeping pity party and in control badass. There's not a single instance of unpredictability and for a thriller that's a death sentence. I like the idea behind AGM but I definitely don't like the result.

April 29th

 

Open Road (2013): Worst Movie of the Week Award

Rating: 4/10

What is it: A Brazilian/American road trip movie with a runaway teenager

I didn't think Open Road was going to be good, but I was hoping for something a bit better than what I got. The crux of the issue is Julia Camara's script which features all manner of awful, awful sounding lines. It also doesn't help when you have inexpressive Camilla Belle playing the main character. Andy Garcia is almost OK though (despite having to embarrass himself more than once) and Juliette Lewis is just shockingly shortchanged. The story itself is predictable fluff that also happens to be rich in melodrama. Even the editing seems amateurish if you can believe it, hindering the film more often than not. The twist (if you want to call it that) is also obvious no less than 100 miles away. Maybe even 1000 miles away.

April 30th

 

Toronto Stories (2008)

Rating: 5/10

What is it: An anthology drama film with 4 stories set in Toronto

I don't necessarily have a problem with omnibus drama films. It's in their nature to usually have a greater purpose, something that ties all the stories together and this is where they usually fail. That's certainly true for Toronto Stories unfortunately which fails to get its message through due to its plodding nature. The individual stories have maybe the odd scene or two that are good, but it's hard to believe that they could all be as uninteresting and uncompelling as they are. Some of the acting and writing definitely falls into the weaker side of the spectrum too. My favourite story I suppose is the one with the window washer, but it suffers from being way too rushed.