Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Top Box Office Earners for September 2012

September is always a busy month in the movie industry, as the Toronto Film Festival and other movie showcases around the globe begin to introduce the big fall films that will likely compete for awards. Most studios release at least a few family-friendly films and the last of their comedies for the year before they begin releasing more dramatic fare as winter nears. A close look at the box office results for September 2012 shows a healthy mix of family films, comedies and even a few award contenders.

The number one earner in September was "Hotel Transylvania," an animated comedy featuring the voice of Adam Sandler as Dracula, who operates a resort for ghosts, ghouls and goblins in a realm separate from humans. Andy Samberg plays a teenage boy who stumbles upon the resort and quickly falls for Dracula's daughter, played by Selena Gomez. The overprotective vampire father does his best to discourage the relationship, resulting in plenty of hilarious moments.

The film earned over $42 million in the domestic market during its opening weekend, adding an additional $29 million overseas. It was far and away the biggest earner of the month, even though it was released on September 28, giving it only one weekend to top the tallies of films that had been released earlier in the month. Remarkably, it also earned more than "Resident Evil: Retribution," which came out a full two weeks earlier.

In second place, with only half the box office receipts of "Hotel Transylvania," was the sci-fi thriller "Looper" starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a mob assassin who is sent to kill old Joe (Bruce Willis), his future self. Though "Looper" opened with just under $21 million on the same weekend as Sandler's film, it is considered a strong take. The movie has garnered excellent reviews and has yet to open overseas, which means its ultimate box office numbers could increase substantially.

There was only one sequel, "Resident Evil: Retribution," that cracked the top earners for September. The fifth installment into the franchise, based on the popular video game series, it earned a total of just over $41 million, after banking $21 million during its opening weekend starting September 14. The film brings back Milla Jovovich as Alice, an ex-employee of the Umbrella Corporation, which unleashed a zombie plague on the world. Instead of taking aim at the undead who are trying to destroy the living, she goes after Umbrella Corporation executives who spread the virus in the first place.

In fourth place was the Disney rerelease of the popular 2003 film "Finding Nemo." This latest version is in 3D, which greatly increases the price paid per ticket. It launched the same weekend as "Resident Evil: Retribution," offering a much more appropriate film for younger moviegoers. It hauled in over $16 million, with a total take of $39 million over the remaining two weeks of the month. It stars the voice of Al Brooks as Marlin, a clownfish who teams with Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to try to find his only son after he goes missing.

Rounding out the top five films is "End of Watch," a gritty cop thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as Los Angeles police officers who stumble upon a myriad of cases including Mexican cartels, human trafficking, murders, domestic abuse, and more. The film has received very favorable reviews and is rumored to be a contender once the awards show season begins in earnest. It notched $13 million for its opening weekend, which began September 14 in a somewhat limited release. It was released to a much larger set of markets in subsequent days, leading to an overall tally of $34 million and counting.

Another big awards show contender is the Paul Thomas Anderson drama " The Master," which was only released on five screens when it initially opened on September 14. Despite the limited number of theaters, it managed to pull in $13 million during September, giving it a very strong per-screen average. This bodes well for the film, which has people whispering about Academy Award nominations for stars Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Movie Review - Atlas Shrugged: Part II

Ever since watching Atlas Shrugged: Part I, I couldn't wait to watch Atlas Shrugged: part II. In case you have no idea what these movies are about, they are based on Ayn Rand's epic ground-breaking novel, Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand published her novel in 1957. Since its publication, this novel has been the catalyst for inspiration and controversy ever since. I must confess that I had never heard of this novel before the movie came out. Now that I've watched both movies, I definitely want to read Rand's work.

Rand's theme in the novel is each person's individual achievement in the world and how success should be perceived in relation to the good of mankind. The author explores what would happen when the success and achievements of individuals is stifled and they are devalued-even made to appear as heartless, greedy individuals... all because they believed in the capitalism and the American dream-to work hard and succeed.

The characters are complex and Rand's theme may seem intellectual and possibly "boring;" however, as the novel translates to the movie, the characters come to life in a compelling way. The plot combines inspirational ideas, drama, romance and the mysterious character of John Galt. I loved the character of Dagny Taggart. She is a woman who knows what she wants. Not only is she beautiful, but she is also intelligent and gutsy. She stands up for her principles in a world devoid of men and women of true character.

Dagny embraces the values of capitalism and knows that this system is what can and will save the world that is on the brink of economic disaster. The Government and its micromanagement is not the catalyst for rebirth of a society built upon individual rights and the opportunity to follow your dreams for success. Your success can be shared with the world, but on your own terms and not because the Government wants to steal it from you. That is tyranny, not a free society.

The male lead character is Henry Reardon. His philosophy was to succeed in business and make money. He was not afraid to admit that he was in business to earn a living. Of course he wasn't a selfish man who didn't care about humanity. However, he realized that capitalism was the answer and it was his right to work hard and succeed in life. He would not bow down to the politicians and Government bureaucracy who wanted "to steal" from his business and devalue his rights as a businessman. The villains in the movie aren't your usual "evil" bad guys but rather wolves in sheep's' clothing.

This is definitely a must-see movie, especially if you value your freedoms and believe in the Constitution and what our Founding Father's wanted for America. For details on the movie: Atlas Shrugged: Part II

Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/blog.html. She is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. Joanne and her husband, John own and operate Mustard Seed Marketing Group, LLC http://www.mustardseedmarketinggroup.com, they are Ind. Distributors with Shaklee and they are Empower Network affiliate members. They are network marketing coaches who teach that you don't have to be an SEO guru or a social media specialist to make their system work for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Five Reasons to Adore Mission Impossible 4

- Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. He reprises his role effortlessly, as effortlessly as he escapes through the maximum security prison cell in the first scene of the movie. Cruise in MI series is definitely the best rival of Daniel Craig 007 for the title of the most suave and gorgeous action star of 21st century Hollywood. If Daniel Craig had his extraordinary moments of composed physical eloquence in Bond movies of late, Cruise cruises with his deft and nimble physical prowess and unparalleled charm. At 50, Ethan in MI4 moves, shakes and rattles the whole police force of Moscow and hums all along the steep walls of Al Burj Dubai, making the audience mesmerized as to how at 50, someone can look and stunt that good!

- The script, which is very tight and multilayered as a fine tuxedo. The movie moves from Moscow, to Dubai and finally to Mumbai and all the while, action sequences, smart dialogues, brilliant suspense sequences and realistic characterizations make the action more believable for mature audiences, a forte which Bond movies have being cashing in of late.

- The dangerous stunts performed by the actors, especially Cruise. The free solo climbing with battery charged gloves with the approaching dust storm, or the combat sequences in an Indian car manufacturing plant with the arch villain Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), even the martial art techniques of Ethan's attractive sidekick Jane Carter (Paula Patton)

- Paula Patton as Jane Carter. A new find indeed, she sizzles with her curves and personality. Stealthy, sharp, smooth, seductive and compassionate, she fits the role of a capable IMF agent pruning the loose ends left by Ethan in his feverish quest to hunt down Hendricks and his NY nuking plans.

- The gadgets yet again, putting gadget creator Q of James Bond to shame. Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) dishing out some mind-blowing gadgets which walk the thin red line between the weirdly unbelievable plasma guns of Men in Black and the boringly un-fascinating concoctions from Discovery Science Channel. Starting from the invisible 3D screen which mirrors a video image, or the trademark Mission Impossible face masks, to the battery operated gloves clinging Ethan precariously over the breathtaking Burj Dubai and the retinal camera of William Brandt ( Jeremy Renner) relaying visual information to Dunn's Macbook.

The gadgets are more stunning and subtle, the stunts are more unbelievable, the story is intricate and extensive without being rushed, and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt carries the Mission Impossible franchise to yet another lofty milestone, leaving behind a trail of spectacular action in Moscow, Dubai and finally Mumbai, India.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My View On - That's My Boy (2012)

The other day I watched the new Adam Sandler movie 'That`s My Boy'. I didn`t expect too much due to the fact that lately not many good comedies have come out. Even so, the film was reasonable. It had good jokes and an interesting story.

Here is what the official site says about the film: "While still in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd (Andy Samberg), and raised him as a single parent up until Todd's 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd's world comes crashing down on the eve of his wedding when an uninvited Donny suddenly shows up. Trying desperately to reconnect with his son, Donny is now forced to deal with the repercussions of his bad parenting skills."

And this is my summary. Donny, played by Justin Weaver and then, as an adult, by Adam Sandler, is a teenage boy who gets involved with his teacher Mary McGarricle, played by Eva Amurri Martino and then by Susan Sarandon. Their unusual relationship leads to a pregnancy, situation which puts the teacher in jail and makes Donny famous all around the country. I wasn`t fond of the fact that the movie started in a rather promiscous way, but, as the plot developed, the characters and action became funnier.

The film focuses on the story of Donny and his son Todd, played by Andy Samberg. Eventhough Donny tried to raise his son, he is overwhelmed by the situation, thing which led to Todd leaving his father and becoming a succesfull Wall Street investor. In the meanwhile, Donny gets in trouble with the IRS and tries to find his son in order to cash out and save himself from jail.

The two men meet in the circumstance of Todd`s wedding to Jamie, played by Leighton Meester. Donny is presented to be the old best friend of the groom, situation which doesn`t sit well with either of the two. In my view, this is the moment in which the movie gets really interesting. Adam Sandler plays a good part even though his age is no longer a friend of him. I recommend you see 'That`s My Boy` if you are a fan of Sandler and you want to relax on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blame It On The Movie

A couple of months ago after watching a rather strange, yet superb offering from Greek cinema titled 'Dogtooth'; I decided to browse the IMDb website to see what other people thought of the film. Eventually I came across a thread on the message board which was discussing disturbing films; being a dedicated follower of controversial cinema I read on and found that a number of people had mentioned a film called Murder Set Pieces and so, after reading how 'horrific', 'sick' and 'extreme' this film was supposed to be, I added it to my 'LoveFilm' rental list!

A few days later, I was on the 'LoveFilm' website checking to see which films I was waiting for, when I noticed that amongst someone's review for Murder Set Pieces were the words 'You won't get to watch this film, as it's banned in the UK and cut by 20 minutes in the US' in big, bold lettering. Highly irritated, I decided to check whether there was any truth in this and after some research, I discovered that the film was in fact rejected by the BBFC in 2008, thus making it illegal to supply the film in the UK. Apparently, this was a film that in the BBFC's words 'may encourage a harmful association between violence and sexual gratification' something which is apparently 'reflected in research and consistent with public opinion'. And which members of the public might they be exactly?

This was not the first time that I, a grown woman, was being told what I could and couldn't watch (two summers ago I had planned to watch A Serbian Film at Frightfest, until it was pulled due to BBFC cuts). Apparently I am responsible enough to vote, have a mortgage and supervise a classroom full of children, but when it comes to planning my Sunday night in front of the TV, I am far too stupid to be left to my own devices and clearly need some assistance. Why was it that as a university educated adult, with the ability to make financial, political and religious decisions, I was having my viewing habits dictated by people who had never met me, knew nothing about me, yet chose to lump me under the term of 'the general public'? It was because my choice of films were those that fell into the category of movies which had the potential to harm- now I was always under the impression that it was humans who harmed other humans? I don't ever remember a case of a person being bludgeoned to death by an axe wielding video cassette!
Yet the concept of the media having a harmful and corrupting effect on the general public is nothing new. In the past we have seen a whole host of films, computer games and songs demonised because it was thought they had some influence on a particular crime. In the 1970s it was reported that gangs of teenagers dressed as 'Droogs', were committing acts of violence similar to those depicted in A Clockwork Orange, and many say that this, along with alleged death threats, are what led to Stanley Kubrick banning his own film.

The early 1990's saw copies of Child's Play 3 removed from the shelves, after it emerged that the stepfather of one of Jamie Bulger's killers had rented the movie; yet it was never confirmed whether either of the boys had actually watched it.

More recently the computer game Manhunt became the latest target, after it was alleged that the murderer of Stefan Pakeerah- who was stabbed to death, had mimicked behaviour from the violent computer game. And who can forget the 1984 Video Recordings Act with its notorious Video Nasties; films apparently so vile, so violent and bloody that they were considered harmful to watch, on the grounds that they could deprave and corrupt (anyone who has actually seen one, will know that the majority of them are most likely to either send you to sleep or have you wet yourself with laughter).

What is worrying is that few people seem to challenge this perception that life imitates art, (and yes I am aware that many of the texts I have referred to here can only very loosely be described as art!!). What is startling is not the fact that more and more films are crossing boundaries, dealing with taboos and pushing the limits, but that the real problems behind violent crime, anti-social behaviour, promiscuity and immorality are often ignored. When will we start to talk about bad parenting and a decline in community values? When will we acknowledge the fact that sometimes violence does not have a reason, that we can't blame the media or society and that in fact some people are just downright evil?

Did Jack the Ripper remove the intestines of Annie Chapmen because he had just watched Cannibal Holocaust? Can the murder and sexual assault of the victims of the Moors Murderers be blamed on the killers having a penchant for films such as Saw or Hostel? No, these horrific acts happened because the killers were sick, twisted and evil; period. Perhaps a film, DVD, computer game can give ideas, but the evil needs to be in the killer's mind already; a serial killer will maim and dismember regardless of whether they watch a violent film, because they are cold, calculating and often mad. We cannot censor, ban or withdraw a text simply because it might give someone 'ideas'. Where will we draw the line? Are we going to ban school children from studying Macbeth because if features violence and murder or The Colour Purple because of the rape scenes?

Any sane and remotely intelligent person knows that it is not right to copy the acts they may see in the Saw films, in the same way that a person who may enjoy watching extreme films is not necessarily a pervert. I love controversial and so-called disturbing films; I have grown up on a diet of Uwe Boll, David Cronenberg, and Larry Clark. I have sat through The Human Centipede, Irreversible, Martyrs and such like. As a child I was obsessed with horror films and throughout my teens and adulthood, I have set out to watch every film dubbed disturbing, sick, and ultra-violent. But I don't go out and commit random acts of violence, I don't get turned on by watching these films, they don't make me want to go out and rape, murder, or eat other people, why- because I am not a lunatic! Because I am intelligent enough to know right from wrong, because I am one of the many sensible people who can watch a film and know that it is just that- a film.

I overheard a comment from a fellow teacher at my school recently, apparently one of her Year 9 boys has been getting into lots of fights recently because he seems to be playing too many violent computer games; umm no, he isn't doing too well in school because his parents couldn't care less about his education and he is a little trouble maker. I'll end on this note; there is no freedom when it comes to choosing which film to watch- censors, governments and councils have all made sure of that and yet it remains that anyone can choose to become a parent... I'll let you decide how that works.