I live in Los Angeles and it’s been cresting near 100 degrees this week. My sleeping patterns are screwed. Thanks, global warming! I hear that’s man made.
WHEN THE POLITICAL THEATER IS MORE INTERESTING THAN THE FILM THEATER
Like many of you I watched the vice presidential debate. And like many of you, I got suckered into drinking during key phrases (mine was “Maverick”). That will not effect this column, but I think it’s fair to point out that what’s going in the realer world is definitely taking precedence over the box office. Granted, I don’t think the hurricane slowed down ticket sales that much (well, of course, except in the locations that were effected by Ike). This year, there’s more of sense of a horse race (at least it seems to me), or perhaps as I’ve crested into my thirties, I find myself more interested in politics than I might have been a couple years prior. Or perhaps the Internet has changed the way I get my information (I refresh Talking Points Memo all day long).
But this may also speak to the time period and the release calendar. In the post summer period, things are ramping up to the first week of November, which has become the official launch of the two month blockbuster Fall season. September and October (not to mention August) have historically been dumping grounds, though both can launch Oscar contenders. But the only film this week that could conceivably be nominated for anything would be Religulous, and that seems a long shot.
Instead, this week offers the multiplexes an enema. There are six films going wide, and none of them will do anything but hang around for two or three weeks. But when you’re still playing some summer films that are essentially done, or films like Igor, having that ginger-palate cleanser is welcome.
MGM has How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. They cut the worst trailer they could have for it, and the only thing they put out (besides stills of Megan Fox in a Wet T-Shirt contest) that might inspire interest was a fake trailer. I love Simon Pegg. Don’t get me wrong. I would gladly buy him drinks next time he came to L.A., and respect his talent and brio, and I respect him as a maverick – but he has yet to make an impression on American audiences who aren’t clued into his work with Edgar Wright (and to a certain extent Nick Frost). Without the trio’s seal of approval, a film that looks like a date movie may not be the best way to launch him as a star. Maybe post-Star Trek there will be some traction (or not), but given MGM’s anemic marketing of the picture, it’s surely to be on the Blu-Ray by February at the latest.
Miramax’s Blindness played Cannes and was laughed off screen, and no subsequent festival screening has gone any better. Director and maverick Fernando Meirelles may be a favorite for City of God and The Constant Gardener, but everyone has off films, and this seems to be a bed-shitter. Similarly, Flash of Genius has that small feel that might find it an audience on home video, but Greg Kinnear – as great n actor as he is – has never been one to get asses in seats. The story of a maverick who built windshield wipers, it’s cute quaintness would have gone over better in the Clintonian era of independent cinema. Not so much these days.
An American Carol is interesting, as the base might be motivated. They generally aren’t and word is that it plays partisan. Though the right loves to hate movies that they hate, rarely can they be counted on to turn out for their own. Such is likely the case here. Satire also works best when the oppressed viewpoint is expressing contempt for the ruling class. Since this is a Republican satire of Democrats (or, at least, it seems to be) it will likely not play as funny to anyone who is not in lock step with the belief system, and requires an outright contempt for people like Michael Moore. And that’s not change we can believe in (heh-heh).
The two picture that might do business don’t look exactly good, but at least have hooks. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist has Michael Cera and an attractive looking cast, while Beverly Hills Chihuahua should play to the kids, and might so get some Latino audience members snookered in (as much of the cast is). The former will likely open and drop, but Cera’s got a lot of goodwill going in, while BHC is a kids film, and should fill the hole of that for the next month or so.
Really, it’s hard not to be more interested in sports or politics.
OF COURSE A PAIR OF MAVERICKS ARE GOING TO PREDICT EACH OTHER
BHC takes the weekend? Happy? Is that change you can believe in? No? Well, there you go.
So let’s do this:
1. Beverly Hills Chihuahua - $22 Million
2. Eagle Eye – $16.9 Million
3. Nick and Nora were better in the Thin Man Series - $14.5 Million
4. A Night with Diane Lane (Growl! Maverick!) – $8.8 Million
5. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People – $5.3 Million
Though Blindness or one or another could top the $5. It’s a suck week. See you Sunday, campers.