Has Brett Ratner finally directed an actually fun action film?
"Real Steel" knocks out the rest of the competition
Every time I look at the weekend box office numbers, I find myself terrified of what they may portend. This week, as reported in Deadline and elsewhere, the boxing robot movie “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman pulled in more than twice as much as George Clooney’s intelligent political thriller, “The Ides of March.” Does this mean that a rash of futuristic robot films will be getting the green light in the months to come while more complex films aimed at adults will be seen as too risky? Or am I underestimating the intelligence and thinking processes of studio executives?
The Disney/DreamWorks “Real Steel” is obviously the #1 film in the U.S. this weekend with a $29 M three-day total (in 3,440 theaters). The gap between that film and the #2 movie is alarming. Sony’s “The Ides of March” only managed to rake in $10.5 M for the weekend (on 2,199 screens). What gives, people? Since when are George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, great festival buzz, and a slew of great reviews not enough to lure more fans to the movies? Not to mention a killer ensemble that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. Hell, I did my part—I was at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood for the first show Friday morning. Are the masses too tired of the real-life political dramas we're living through to sit through this imaginary campaign?
The rest of the Top Ten for the weekend are all holdovers. At #3, the 3D “Dolphin Tale” earned another $9.1 M (at 3,478 theaters) while “Moneyball” (at, 3,018 theaters) moved to #4, bringing in $7.5 M. One of my favorites, “50/50,” came in at #5 (on 2,479 screens), adding $5.5 M to its coffers.
“Courageous,” the mysterious Christian drama that I still haven’t been able to find at any of my sinful L.A. movie houses, is at #6 (at only 1,161 theaters), earning $4.5 M during its second weekend. Already playing two weeks past the original plan, “The Lion King 3D” (at 2,267 theaters) moved to #7 on the charts, with $4.5 M (and a cumulative total of almost $86 M). Just behind Simba and friends is “Dream House.” The #8 film (in 2,664 theaters) managed to scare up only $4.4 M for the weekend (would it have been more successful if it opened a little closer to Halloween?). The universally loathed “What’s Your Number?” moved to #9 (in 3,011 theaters), taking in $3M, and the three-week old Taylor Lautner film, “Abduction,” managed to hold on for dear life to its place in the Top Ten, bringing in $2.9 M (in 2,591 theaters).
Check out that exponential difference ($29 M to $2.9 M) between the #1 and the #10 film in the country—with a bunch of new releases (“Dirty Girl,” “Texas Killing Fields,” “Blackthorn,” and “Take Shelter”) nowhere to be found on the chart. Not exactly a banner weekend for the movies, let's see what next week brings. Hey, anyone feel like dancing?
Now are you excited for 'Zoolander 2'?
Sony Pictures buys the rights to the upcoming bio of the late computer genius
Well, that didn’t take long! Deadline reports that the biography “Steve Jobs,” written by Time Magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson, has been acquired by Sony Pictures for a feature. The deal includes Mark Gordon (“Saving Private Ryan”) as the film’s producer.
Isaacson’s much-anticipated 448-page book had a Thanksgiving pub date but Simon & Schuster moved that up to October 24, no doubt to capitalize on the worldwide attention being heaped on the Apple co-founder, who died Wednesday at the age of 56. Steve Jobs cooperated with Isaacson on the book, sitting down to 40 interviews with the writer. Isaacson also had over 100 conversations with Jobs’ family members, friends, colleagues, and competitors. It's bound to be a riveting read, and Sony seems like the perfect studio to turn it into a movie, having recently adapted other nonfiction works into successful films such as “The Social Network” and “Moneyball.”
The question that is probably already swirling throughout Hollywood is who will play the eccentric and beloved icon? This won’t be the first time an actor dons Steve Jobs’ turtleneck. Apart from an irreverent animated appearance earlier this year on “South Park,” Jobs was a central character in 1999’s “The Pirates of Silicon Valley” that aired on TNT. He was portrayed by Noah Wyle (“ER”) in that film and Steve was so pleased with the performance that he invited Wyle to come to the Macworld convention that year to deliver the keynote….dressed as him, of course!
For the Sony pic, I’m guessing the producers will go straight to the top of the A-list. Would someone like Leo DiCaprio be willing to take on yet another titan of American culture? I can see Daniel Day-Lewis but I’m guessing he’s too old since much of the action will take place when Jobs was co-founding Apple in his 20s. I know! How about Michael Cera? He might have just the right amount of nerdiness, charisma, and gravitas for the role.
Who would you cast in the sure-to-be-huge Steve Jobs movie?
Sean Hackett's directorial debut is a gem
As America has gone to war over the past few years, a number of films about soldiers returning home after their service have hit cinema screens. Whereas most of these films are decidedly heavy affairs (fare like "The Lucky Ones" or "Stop-Loss"), Sean Hackett's directorial debut, "Homecoming," takes a somewhat lighter approach to the subject of military leave.
The independent film stars Brea Grant as Estelle Szymanski, an Army medic on leave and back home for just 18 days. With only a short amount of time together, Estelle's mom tries to cram all the stuff they're missing into less than three weeks, and Estelle's best friends (Hackett and Tom Fox Davies) attempt to feel normal with their old friend. It's funny and sweet and sad and very original. Estelle's story may focus on her, but it's wise enough to speak to the experience of many other soldiers. It's, in short, a wonderful debut from Hackett.
The film has shown at a number of festivals in the past year, including the Central Florida Film Festival, the Sidewalk Film Festival, the Columbia Gorge Film Festival, and the Kansas City Film Festival (where it won Best Narrative Feature). The film does not currently have a release date, but it does have a very active Demand It campaign, where moviegoers can demand that the film be brought to their city.
The first trailer for "Homecoming" has arrived today, and it captures both the heavier stuff of the film, and the type of unique and honest twist that pops up frequently in the film. Check out the trailer for "Homecoming," thanks to /Film, after the break.
Actress will star in 'Lonely Hunter'
Filmmaker Deborah Kampmeier has chosen Jena Malone to portray classic American writer Carson McCullers in her upcoming biopic, "Lonely Hunter." Southern Gothic writer McCullers is most famous for her novels "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" (from which the film derives its names) and "The Member of the Wedding." McCullers also penned poems, stories, plays, and her own unfinished autobiography. One of America's most important writers of either sex, McCullers' work is often (quite correctly) lumped in with works by William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote. She also led a somewhat tragic life, marked by illness, alcoholism, and heartbreak. To say she is deserving of a big, grand biopic is an understatement.
Kampmeier is best known for her stunning misfire, the Dakota Fanning-starring "Hounddog." Hopefully, "Lonely Hunter" will only share the positive bits with "Hounddog," such as her attention to detail when it comes to the minutiae of Southern life. According to THR, the film will cover thirty-five years of McCuller's life, and it is expected that Malone will portray her throughout the film.
The writer and director of the film herself explained her pick of Malone, saying that "Jena's vulnerability, curiosity, and passion are perfect for Carson." Malone has certainly worked steadily over the years, having started her Hollywood career at the age of 12. She currently has four films coming up, including "Jack and Diane" and "The Wait."
Now, if we could just get a Flannery O'Connor film in front of a camera...
Director Chantal Akerman takes on Joseph Conrad's novel 'Almayer's Folly'
By Kat Murphy
After getting up early and driving for three hours, perhaps the first film you watch in the Vancouver International Film Festival should not be Chantal Akerman's "Almayer's Folly," all two-plus hours of it. Akerman is not the liveliest of directors; her style is lengthy staring, to frame a scene and contemplate it with lacerating intensity, as though seeing clearly could be an acid test for truth.
Here, in her first narrative feature in seven years, she takes on Joseph Conrad's first novel, which unfortunately I have not read; I'm assured that Akerman is wrestling its meaning to the ground, making the novelist's fiction about a corrupt white colonialist living and dying in Malaysia her own.
In any case, tired as I was, this provocative director's exploration of cultural, ethnic and gender powerplays held me captive for much of its long running time, though it seemed to me that Akerman's central issues ran out of steam pretty early on. It's just that her visualizations are often amazingly rigorous, so rigorous you are mesmerized, almost shamed into sticking out extended scenes which handsomely emphasize white-imperialist-corruption-of-brown-people-at-home-in-nature significance.