Monday, September 30, 2013

Breakdown of Don Jon, Prisoners, Rush, (500) Days of Summer, and Jab We Met Podcast

 Scott and I return after a week hiatus to review five films that include three new releases, which are Joseph Gordon-Levitt's feature length directorial debut, Don Jon; the kidnapping thriller, Prisoners; and Ron Howard's car racing drama, Rush.  We also dip into the vault with a cult classic romantic comedy in (500) Days of Summer and our first Bollywood picture, Jab We Met.  It is a loaded show, and as always, if you like it then please spread the word.

Podcast Timeline:

Don Jon Review - 0:43

Prisoners Review - 16:55

Rush Review - 33:20

(500) Days of Summer Review - 44:43

Jab We Met Review - 57:02

Reviews Recap - 1:06:42 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Everett is Taking a Peak of What Saturday Looks Like


Yep, looks like I'll be busy and away all day.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Meatballs, Airplanes, Porn, and Race Cars Cloud Up the Box Office This Weekend

Scott serves up his predictions in a weekend that is filled with a diverse range of films when it comes to new releases.

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A very busy weekend is upon us, as we have looming over our heads and wallets three new wide release movies and one movie that is expanding nation-wide after opening in limited theatres last week.  The genres are different, which means two things; there will be little battle for demographics, and there is more choice for everyone.  It is the last weekend of September, so brace for the cool fall days, grab a coffee, and join me as it is now time to ponder just how well each of these movies will do.

This weekend makes my life extremely easy, in that I could not be more confident in picking what movie will take the first place trophy in the box office.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is situated nicely in the release schedule, as the over-saturation of animated movies from the summer has appropriately worn off.  There is next to no direct competition for it, which will mean a very good weekend for the sequel to the 2009 movie that grabbed $30 million opening weekend, on its way to $236 million worldwide.  There has been some good anticipation for the sequel, which has some decent Twitter activity behind it.  It will not be rocking out the numbers that Despicable Me 2 or Monsters University were able to get, but it will try to challenge Insidious Chapter 2 for the best September opening weekend of the year.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 Opening Weekend Prediction - $43 million

Opening in just over 2,000 theatres is romantic comedy Baggage Claim.  It stars Paula Patton, who has been getting some decent exposure as of late being in movies such as 2 Guns and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, but it is hard to tell if she is yet able to carry a movie by herself.  While Hollywood is usually pumping out predominantly white content, Baggage Claim looks to fill the gap for the minority market, which can definitely be lucrative (best current case in point is Instructions Not Included), yet for some reason studios seem reluctant in venturing down that path and perhaps it would not be a talking point if it was not so rare an occurrence.  While the movie looks generic, the trailers show a very energetic cast, and it may take double digit millions, which is an excellent start considering the modest budget of $8.5 million.

Baggage Claim Opening Weekend Prediction – $10 million

Another comedy opening this weekend, Don Jon, is written by, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon Levitt.  A definite rising star in Hollywood on the acting front, it will be interesting to see what he is able to bring forth from his roles behind the camera.  Gordon-Levitt plays Jon, a man who knows what he likes in life, and the content of his interests may actually put some movie goers on edge (Jon really likes pornography) and prevent them from purchasing admittance.  Aspects that will help the movie this weekend are the positive reviews it is getting (at the time of writing this it is at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes), as well as the interesting cast of Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza (hold me closer), and Julianne Moore.  This same weekend last year, Joseph Gordon-Levitt had Looper open to $20 million, though that would have been aided by Bruce Willis being in it, and Don Jon is the type of comedy that will not be for all audiences.

Don Jon Opening Weekend Prediction - $9.5 million


Expanding from limited release this weekend is Ron Howard’s Rush, a racing movie about the real life rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  It has done really well with critics, and was able to earn just shy of $40,000 per theatre when it was released in New York and Los Angeles last weekend.  It has gained some great buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival, which will help its chances out a lot.  As well, it stars Chris Hemsworth who is gaining some real traction for his career with his role as Thor.  Even though it has many factors going for it, it is just too crowded of a weekend and it will probably end up fighting for second place in a close four-way competition (between the new releases and Prisoners).

Rush Wide Release Weekend Prediction - $11.5 million


Just a few miscellaneous notes here for you.  Metallica Through the Never, an IMAX concert movie with a fictional story line thrown in opens in over 300 locations this weekend.  The critical reception for it is fairly decent, 83% on Rotten Tomatoes as I type this.  For fans of the band, it looks like a great way to part with a few dollars this weekend.  Also, completely non-Metallica related, The Wolf Of Wall Street may not be in contention for any Oscars this year.  The Martin Scorsese movie has been pushed back due to a three hour run time, and they are currently trying to make the Christmas day release, though that may not quite happen.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I May Be on Later, But Here is Everett to Distract You for Now

It'll be one of those days, but to maintain my posting streak, here is Everett to soak in your "aww"s.  Some other random people stumble into a few of his pictures, but in some cases it just makes it that much more beautiful..


















Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Prisoners Review: A Goofy Thriller Trying to Capture a Dark Drama

The arrival of the season that often unearths many award nominations is finally here, and Prisoners earned some early buzz around being a possible dark horse for some Oscar recognition.  The trailer hints at a picture that is a dark and disturbing drama about human nature along with some thriller elements.  But is that the movie we get?  Find out in my latest film review for Collective Publishing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Upcoming Content Plans for the Blog

You may have noticed that I've actually written a few things on the blog for the past few days, so maybe we can bust out the bubbly.  Except I'm not really a big fan of champagne, so you could shake up a bottle of Coke and we can party over that instead.

Anyway, I just wanted to address a current strategy I'm going to be implementing in hopes of furthering my writing career, and it makes sense my blog will be the place I do it, since it also happens to be responsible for me kicking off my writing career (it was the posts on here that landed me my first four gigs, and I've sold several articles from this blog).  It is now time to see if this trusty blog of mine can launch a few more things for me.

My desire is to land positions with both the Online TV Critics Society and the Online Film Critics Society, because both will allow me access to things I can't currently achieve without those certifications.  There is an application process that starts next year, but a major component of it is to have a large number of professional reviews written.  I have a few venues to sell my articles, but I also know the numbers required means I'll need more clients and editors.  It also looks like ghost reviews don't qualify, which knocks out one of my bigger sources of income.  The goal is to have the byline and be able to claim the reviews as my own.

This means that I'll be aiming to write several TV and film reviews for the blog for the next several months.  This is good for me personally, because the constant writing of reviews will get me stronger at the form, but also having another set thing to write every day helps towards me becoming more prolific.  It also hopefully will be an enjoyable thing for you since it means more content on the blog, and visitor statistics seem to indicate reviews are one of the more popular things on this site (with TV surprisingly being the more popular one, even though film is my preferred medium).

I don't want this blog to transform into a purely pop culture and movie/TV review site.  There will inevitably be a lot of that content on here over the next few months, but I still wants this to be the place I offer a variety of different writings.  I enjoy doing the humour, writing advice, reflections on my career, thoughts on parenting, opinions on world news, and whatever other things pop in my head.  It just means that once again I'll need to be far more prolific on this blog, and post content more than daily.  We'll see how successful I end up being while also looking after Everett and doing the writing that I get paid to do (aka the stuff that makes writing my career).

Some of these reviews will be on episodes or films I've already ghost written, but now trying to get a byline for that specific work.  I'll just post links for the reviews that I do end up writing for a client that allows me to have a byline attached such as Collective Publishing and BuddyTV (and whoever else wants to pay for some Spicy writings).

The eventual plan is to transfer all my reviews and pop culture articles over to its own dedicated entertainment site.  This is something I want to monetize and actually be a business (that may also hire writers), so this is still quite a ways down the line as I need to prove to sponsors I have an actual readership that will make the site profitable.  I have some possible partnerships, but for the most part, there isn't much I want to say about it at the moment.  Other than that this is the proof I don't want to turn this actual blog into a review site, but it needs to serve that purposes for now.

This also means that the best way you can show appreciation to my work is to pass on the word.  If you enjoy the podcast or reviews or a specific articles, then please share it with others.  The more regular readers I can land then the better chance I have of my career growing.  Now, if you think I suck and just "hate read" me then keep the stuff to yourself in the hope you'll be able to cheer as this all goes down in flames.

You may remember a few months back that I wrote an article for Collective Publishing where I posted 38 mini-film reviews for pictures I'd ghost written reviews for but never had a chance to write under my name. I'm actually still backlogged on several movies, and a few of them I'd intended to write full reviews for this month.  I've now decided it is better to just get all the movies I've seen out of the way with another article of small reviews (besides, a few of them did get reviews in podcasts).  I plan to post a collection of one line reviews along with their star rating in the next day or so.  I also have ghost written a few TV shows this season already, and had planned to write new reviews for them too, but the dreaded backlog struck again.  I also will be posting an article of several mini-TV show reviews that will include the season premiere of Survivor, How I Met Your Mother and the new TV thriller Hostages.

Once I have those articles posted, I'll start publishing full written reviews for individual TV episodes and films.  To kick-off things off, the latest fully written review will be Prisoners for Collective Publishing tomorrow.  You can look forward to that.

Anyway, if you enjoy my reviews then you should have much to look forward to over the next few months.  Hopefully, by this time next year, there will even be a whole site dedicated to them and other writer's opinions as well.  And if you don't like reviews, then I aim to still offer up all the same style of non-pop culture writings that have been on here in the past, and keep this a fun place for the whole family.  Well, for a family that can handle the occasional swear and rants against the Conservative government.  But don't worry, the kids are probably distracted by Mike the Knight or that delightful squeaky sponge man.

10 Important Pieces of Bad Advice for Your Daily Life

After 36 years of doing this living thing, I've learned I'm quite adept at making mistakes.  So rather than wasting your time trying to espouse helpful tips, it makes more sense to deliver some really awful advice.  You can follow these if you dare, especially if your goal in life is to get trapped in a well or eaten by a bear.  Or you can see if you do already act upon some of these tidbits and discover that you're doing life wrong.

1.  When you're surrounded by an army of trees and can't get a sense of direction then follow the sun because it always rises over a lake.

2.  When you have urgent work to be finished and you must have complete focus then it is best to check out YouTube or turn on the TV as it gives off anti-distraction rays.

3.  Wild animals love for you to stick your finger into their eyes, and it may be the very best way to connect with nature.

4.  Any movie that has the tagline "from the makers of Paranormal Activity" always means you're about to see something provocative, fresh, and thrilling, so you should abandon all you're doing to go see it.

5.  Once a month check your home's electricity by sticking a fork into an electrical outlet.

6.  Any great conversation in history has involved one person texting to their other friends what they're eating, so always have a cell phone handy if you want memorable relationships.

7.  People may be allergic to your kind of shampoo, so try avoid showering when you can.

8.  Whistle.

9.  The person who just broke up with you was likely your very last chance at ever having happiness and fulfillment, so you should eat gallons of ice cream, shatter all your plates, cry uncontrollably in public, and never stop talking about your ex for the next several years.

10.  Most people don't trust perfection, so always half-ass whatever you do, because it makes friends.

Prisoners Breaks Through to Top Spot at the Box Office

 Another weekend has passed, and Scott has another dose of analysis of the results at the box office.

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Two movies entered theatres in wide release this past weekend, with one of them taking first place in the box office and the other barely making the top five by less than $50 thousand.  It was also the first week in the release of Lee Daniel’s The Butler that the movie did not finish in the top five, and has now domestically grossed $109 million.  Last week’s champion, Insidious Chapter 2, fell a hard 66% in weekend gross but still managed to come in second place with $13.8 million.

Landing in first place was Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, and Maria Bello.  On paper, the cast would indicate some strong acting as there are a number of awards nominations on each actor’s resume, including some Oscar nods for some.  The reality was exactly what paper would infer as it was a movie that was strong on the screen, resonating with critics and audiences alike.  It took home a very healthy $21 million, and it should be able to sustain in theatres a lot better than Insidious Chapter 2 due to the fact that it appeals to a more mature demographic that does not tend to always rush out opening weekend for movies of interest.  Sadly, this will most likely be its only weekend at number one due to the release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 next weekend.

And then there’s Battle of the Year.  If you read my weekend preview, it may have been obvious that I held little interest in the movie and believed it would do poorly.  Call me a soothsayer, because poorly it did do.  The movie about a rag-tag group of dancing baddies brought together under the tutelage of a washed-up coach managed to bring in $4.6 million.  Dance movies have not done really well lately, with the Step Up franchise seeing worse and worse opening weekends with each release.  I believe audiences could be drawn to such movies but I think having a captivating story is the first concern, not 3D dance scenes.  I could easily see this film falling out of the top ten next weekend.

While I may have bragged a bit about a good prediction for Battle of the Year, I should quickly nullify that moment of brilliance by admitting a huge miscalculation for Ron Howard’s Rush, which came out in limited release.  I had estimated a gigantic $90,000 per theatre, and it was able to muster $37,400 per theatre.  There are a few reasons for this large gap.  The first is that I knew it was debuting in 5 theatres and assumed that meant it was in 5 markets.  The truth was, it only released in New York and Los Angeles.  The second reason is that those two markets are the exact same markets that the late James Gandolfini’s romantic comedy Enough Said debuted.  Both movies have strong buzz around them, and some definite cannibalizing took place this weekend as they fought for similar demographics.

In the land of 3D IMAX, The Wizard of Oz released in 318 locations and made $3 million dollars, an outing that was strong enough to land it in ninth place in the box office.  It was able to out-perform some other 3D re-releases, such as Finding Nemo and Jurassic Park and showed that it really is a timeless classic.  The power of such a movie is to be able to encourage all age ranges to pony up the money for a ticket, and that is exactly what this franchise is able to do.  Seeing the Yellow Brick Road in action on the big screen is on my personal wish list, and I am cursing the fact that I was not able to see it on the IMAX screen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 Observations from My Morning Walk with Summit

Apparently, it is important to have an introduction paragraph before jumping into a top ten list, so here you go.

1.  The outside seems to not have been notified that I'd still like to wear my shorts right now.

2.  There appears to be a law that I've been oblivious to that states it is optional before 6 am to check for pedestrians walking past your driveway before you back out onto the road.

3.  Early in the morning, residents in the neighbourhood like to re-enact scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.  The bags being dragged to the backyard must be props, right?

4.  Squirrels are kind of stupid.

5.  A quiet street before the sun comes up can never be lit enough after you've just seen a movie about nasty beings wanting to drag dog walkers into the sewer.

6.  I realized how great a guard dog that Summit can be when he tried to bolt after hearing a snapping twig.

7.  An early morning walk is an amazing time to get the mind racing and coming up with countless story ideas, and it is also a great time to remember that I should really listen to my wife about bringing a voice recorder with me.

8.  City bylaws about noise restrictions don't matter when Amanda Marshall is on the radio. Everyone must know her money is riding on this dark horse, baby.

9.  Sometimes it is very important to get up really early so you can sit in your car.  I assume after an hour it is turned off and you just go back to bed.

10.  The secretive teenagers hanging out in the dark park must be planning community service events and contemplating ways to help the poor, because clearly, them being there is for the greater good.

Yep, this is my neighbourhood.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

No Breakdown Podcast This Week, but Here is a Cute Everett Picture Instead

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the Breakdown isn't going to be posted this week.  Hopefully, this will be the last time ever we have to cancel an episode of the Breakdown, but sometimes the fates just don't want two guys to be chatting it up about movies and sipping coffee in the one guy's stay-at-home office.  Fates can be jerks. And very specific.

The Breakdown will return September 30th, and hopefully, continue on without interruption until a giant meteorite wipes us all out.

I apologize for all those that expect movie ramblings by two guys who like to call themselves film critics, and also like to drink far too much coffee in a recording that works better without bathroom breaks.

To make up for this fact, here is some cuteness.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Prisoners Tries to Abduct the Top Spot in the Box Office

 It's now time for the critically acclaim movie season, and it is kicked off with one movie that is garnering a lot of buzz.  Scott predicts how much that buzz will mean in the box office this weekend.

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The awards season is now officially upon us.  The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has come and gone, and this weekend starts the roll-out of movies that bring with them buzz and curiosity around possible awards nominations.  Fans of blockbusters had their four months in the sun, and now the next few months offer a great deal to those who appreciate movies that allow for an element of audience intelligence and that may cause movie goers to ponder philosophical, emotional, or social issues.  It is a time where storytelling, not primarily special effects, is on full display.  There still will be standard theatre fare, but adult audiences who crave mature content have been starved for the past few months and are lining up at the trough to begin their gorge.

Warner Bros. thriller Prisoners premiered at the Telluride Film Festival where it built up its buzz, and then ended up as a runner up for the People’s Choice Awards at TIFF.  While not everyone is in agreement that it is a shoe-in for some nominations, it seems to be widely accepted that it is a film in consideration.  It stars Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, and Jake Gyllenhaal (all three have an Oscar nomination under their belt) in a movie about the abduction of two young girls, with Jackman’s character taking the law into his own hands to find his missing daughter.  I have read articles comparing the quality of this thriller to that of Se7en, and that is very high praise to live up to.  Currently it has a rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a high rating will help this type of movie as its target demographics pay attention to how movies are being received.

One huge positive for Prisoners is the fact that fans of thrillers have been literally starved as of late.  The last three movies in wide release to declare themselves ‘thrillers’ (Paranoia, Closed Circuit, Getaway) were rejected by both audiences and critics and are most likely already forgotten just a few weeks after their release.  With no immediate competition in a genre that is overdue for a solid offering, Prisoners should have no issues at all taking first place in the box office this weekend as Insidious Chapter 2 will most likely take a drop of 65-70% in its weekend gross (that’s based off the front loaded opening weekend, but could be proven wrong if it repeats the consistent holding that the first Insidious was able to achieve… the smart money is on ‘heck no… heck no, it sure as shit will not do that’) .  With a much anticipated animation coming out next weekend, Prisoners time to shine is now and the only lingering question will be if it has what it takes to secure Oscar nominations in a few months.

Prisoners Opening Weekend Prediction - $18.5 million


Battle of the Year, at least based off the trailers, is about a washed up basketball coach who is out of the game, who is then brought back to instruct a dance team of un-coachable misfits not just about sports, but about life and how to be a man.  Also, let’s throw in the cliché that the reluctant coach will have his own demons to battle.   Stop me if you have heard this scenario before.  If you haven’t, please stop me anyways.  I don’t want to seem as though I am downer on dance movies, but this is just all the various tropes of an underdog movie repackaged and set to a beat.  We could guess easily how the movie will play out, and if you can’t then just watch Disney’s Mighty Ducks and you will get a solid idea.  Audience appreciation for dance movies does not seem as strong as when Step Up came out, and considering the exceptionally low amount of activity for this movie on Twitter I can easily imagine this movie will be quickly forgotten.

Battle of the Year Opening Weekend Prediction - $5.5 million

In limited theatres this weekend is Ron Howard’s Rush, which is based on the racing rivalry between Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda.  Rush has achieved great critical reception (91% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this) and has a lot of interest around it.  For such a high profile movie it is hard to believe that this is actually an independent film, the first independent movie in decades for Ron Howard.  It opens in wide release next weekend (a release strategy that Metallica Through the Never will be employing next weekend), but for this weekend let’s play the guessing game that we sometimes do with anticipated limited release movies.

Rush Limited Release Weekend Prediction - $90,000 per theatre

Also in limited release is The Wizard of Oz, which is coming out for 3D IMAX screenings in 318 theatres.  The timeless classic will be a great treat for audiences of all ages, as the story has left an imprint on each generation since its creation.  Perhaps at this moment I am just going off the rails and getting carried away, but let’s do some predicting on this film as well.  This is territory that I have not yet tread on, so some grace would be greatly appreciated.  If we look at recent re-released fan favourites in 3D in Finding Nemo (opened to $5,700 per theatres) and Jurassic Park (opened to $6,700 per theatre) we are able to get a decent base line.  Because audiences of literally all ages were cramming theatres to see the recently released Oz the Great and Powerful it may be fair to say there could be a much more varied audience for The Wizard of Oz, which should put it at a higher average.

The Wizard of Oz 3D IMAX Opening Weekend Prediction - $9,000 per theatre


Lastly, it should be mentioned that Enough Said will be released in limited theatres this weekend.  Enough Said stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini and is a romantic comedy that is experiencing great critical reception.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is best known as Elaine on Seinfeld and Gandolfini’s portrayal of mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos is where he established his name.  The trailers look great, and this may be a tremendous way for us to remember an actor who has left an imprint on the changing landscape of television.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Now Seems Like a Perfect Time for Another State of the Blog Address

It's time once again that I admit my blog content output has been about as rare as a Facebook status praising the latest Nickelback song.  Then of course I follow the drought by writing an intricate and wordy essay about how things were out of my control but I've now mastered my obstacles and will be serving up some hot and tasty new content.

Then you wait a few months until I do it all over again.  Are you bored yet with this game?

Me too.

The blog hasn't been a complete dead zone, but instead, it has essentially been my friend Scott's blog with my occasional one line introduction to his posts and my weekly, "Hey look at my latest Collective Publishing" write-up.  Not really a place that I can claim is the home of all my thoughts and writings.

But that will change now.

Hopefully.

Though I can understand if you have some doubts, since as I already admitted, we've played this game before.  I'm sure you'd rather check out the latest Grand Theft Auto instead, because I hear it is quite popular.

Now, I could have just skipped this State of the Blog address, and got to original content creation, and maybe that is what you'd have preferred, but I didn't want to just jump into posting articles and ignore the fact my actual own posts have been on hiatus for most of 2013. It has been the sparsest year on the blog since I relaunched it back in 2010.  I thought I should at least be open about things.

Well, first there is this.   I'm not cowering in the fetal position and only sustaining myself on the crumbs I can wrestle away from ants.  But I'd also have a 14 inch nose if I tried to get away claiming that there hasn't been some high anxiety and near emotional breakdowns.  I already explained in the past post that I believe part of it comes with the territory of being a creative type, and I just need some helpful kicks to the side of the head to remind me that doing creative work usually does a decent job of keeping me out of such ruts.  So, I should do things like write on this blog.  But there have been a few other causes for the party bag of anxiety and self-doubt.

Emily's work situation has changed this fall, which means I'm home with Everett far more.  This means more time pushing toy cars and watching building block tumble than getting actual writing work done for clients during the day.  My writing times have been limited to early morning, evening, Everett's nap, and when he is distracted by shiny objects (I'm lucky he has largely adopted his father's traits).  It has led to a constant game of beat-the-clock with deadlines, but also a feeling of being buried deep into the mountain of client and editor requests.

But I'm not really complaining about the situation, because it means I get to spend my days with this guy.


Seriously, I can't whine too hard when one of my top priorities is having fun with. . .


Okay, have I posted enough cute Everett pictures to make up for my much extended absences?

Besides you may have noticed that Emily's return to work hasn't even been a month yet, and my sporadic appearances on the blog have been much longer.  So, I can't blame it all on the new work situation.

A large portion of the stress has come from major changes and issues I've had with a few long term clients.  There was one specific client I've been producing content for over a year now, but when it came to renewing the contract we hit a few snags.  Mainly, I thought it was time to discuss a few changes, and they didn't.  It led to far too many talks and discussions over the summer, and it has left me now with a very different relationship with them.  It isn't over, but they aren't going to be a main source of income going forward, most likely.

For some reason, this type of thing happened a lot this summer.  It partly came from some businesses taking huge financial hits and so they didn't have the cash flow like when I first signed a contract with them.  There also was the issue that I thought it was time for things to be a bit different, and some were far less receptive than I had hoped.

I'm being vague here, but I'm sure most of you can guess I'm largely talking about money.  My time has become far more valuable in the past year, and mortgages and bills have remained, so I've put a higher value on what I do.  As I think I should, because most of my work has generated positive results for the companies that I write for. 

It isn't all about money.  Part of it also has to do with creative control, and my desires to work on new projects and take on different challenges.  In some cases, these clients just weren't ready to go in that direction.  I was once the guy who wrote an essay on medieval history as if I was a knight ready to go on a journey, so doing things the traditional way tires me quickly.   I'm in a spot where I either want some great challenge or have flexibility in my content and style.  This would be one of the major reasons that Collective Publishing is a great place to write, because they pay decent and I've got almost complete creative control over my content.

So, I've lost a few clients and I've had some drastically altered relationships with others, and that stuff is stressful, since a lot of it was out of my control too.  In the case of the one client I mentioned, they also were trying it implement some changes that just would have made for some really bad career moves for me (like sign a no-compete clause that would have made it so I have to write exclusively for them in their given field).  My time has been eaten up trying to salvage things, but also create plans to avoid this type of thing in the future.

I like writing for clients and getting my stuff published in magazine and online sites.  Part of my enjoyment is ego, because it is always a warm fuzzy to be accepted and know someone paid to have my writings in their publication.  I like my ego getting pampered, since he can be quite needy.  But as I've been doing this for a few years now, I'm starting to care less about placating my ego, and more about paying bills and my mortgage.

I do plan to write for clients my whole life.  I continue to want to be published in magazines.  I also hope to eventually get a book and novel published the traditional way.  But not all these things are my top priority.  Instead, it is to be able to continually make a living through what I love -- writing.

This means I've started to plan and formulate strategies for some projects that allow me to have more creative control but also generate an income.  A few of things will be directly linked to the blog, which means I really need to start writing on here on a regular basis.  I don't want to reveal too much at this point, because many of these super secret projects are quite a ways away.  I'm hoping for them to be launched between 6 to 12 months, even that may be overly optimistic.

I also don't want to keep on teasing things like books and short stories and super secret projects and then not deliver on anything.  I'll try not to mention anything more about them until there is actually something to say.

On top of all that stuff that has been occupying my time, I have a family life that I'm trying to be engaged in.  There is actually some events swirling around in that department too, but I'll talk about that in another post (and no, Everett isn't getting a sibling).  My wife is incredible, and has been an amazing support, but the sad fact is we haven't got to spend a lot of time together.  This is still something I'm trying to master while dealing with all the other things I've spent several paragraphs ranting about.

I did get to spend almost two weeks in Vancouver and Vancouver Island with my family back in August.  Something I had planned to blog about and show pictures and all the other things, and then I successfully didn't.  But it kind of looked like this.


I've thrown the trip into the pile of things that were most definitely blog-worthy, but my hiding away from the International House of Spicer caused it to be sabotaged.  Maybe I'll write something about it later, but at this point, I would rather just try to concentrate on moving forward. 

There has been a good deal of news and pop culture over the last several months that could have used my rantings.  Maybe there will be a time when I feel like talking about them, but for now, they'll be lost in the abyss of things that could have been.

My point is that I'm now declaring a relaunch again.  I'm hoping to at least be creating daily content and sometimes more than that.  I want to get the traffic back up to 2012 levels, because as I said, I've got projects and plans to launch.  But I also said I wouldn't talk about those until I have more to say.

Speaking of things to say, I don't have anything else.  So, I'll leave you with this pilot.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Great Works of Fiction with Giant Plot Holes

Any credible writer of pop culture needs to spend some time nitpicking beloved works of fiction.  This week in my Collective Publishing pop culture column, I look at great pieces of entertainment that got away with some giant plot holes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

James Wan Conjures Up the Top Box Office Spot for a Second Time

Scott looks back at a busy weekend that not only had two new wide releases in the theatres, but also had the wrap up of one of the most prestigious film festivals, TIFF.

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For the second time in two months director James Wan has had a movie enjoy an opening weekend north of $40 million.  While that accomplishment is quite impressive, what is more impressive is the fact that both movies were horrors, which don’t often enjoy such success.  While the Toronto International Film Festival closed its doors, Wan was ending the pre-Oscar season with a bang with Insidious Chapter 2.  Also opening this weekend was the comedy The Family starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfieffer, which exceeded my predictions and came solidly in second place.

Opening a horror film on Friday the 13th is never a bad idea, and it really paid off for Insidious Chapter 2, which grossed $40 million at the box office.  Wan’s last movie, The Conjuring, set a record for the highest opening weekend for an original supernatural horror and he almost set the record for the highest September opening weekend of all time, falling short of Hotel Transylvania by $2 million dollars.  The success for the sequel to the 2011 Insidious was helped by the popularity of The Conjuring, an ad campaign that got audiences excited, and a near freakish amount of buzz on Twitter. 

While the opening weekend was very solid, it is appearing that Insidious Chapter 2 will be a legacy movie for Wan.  The Conjuring had scored an impressive 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Insidious Chapter 2 was unable to keep that pace as it seemed to land in the middle ground for a lot of people and is currently sitting at 38%.  While Insidious held well with audiences (it took four weeks before it saw a week to week drop of more than 30%), it is doubtful that the sequel will have the same lasting appeal.  After having a great opening night of $20 million, it suffered a significant drop of 34% on Saturday and 50% on Sunday.  There is a good chance that it will face a drop of 60% in its second weekend.  While I may be sounding down on its chances for its continued success, the main fact for us to remember is that it opened to $40 million on a budget of $5 million and stood as a reminder to the big budget studios that large production budgets are not the only way to make money.  The way Wan has been talking in interviews, this may be his last horror film as he is looking to transition his career starting with directing Fast and Furious 7.

Landing in second place in the box office was The Family, a movie about a mob family in witness protection in France that opened to $14 million.  For some, that number may seem like a very poor weekend considering the movie has Robert De Niro in it.  However, De Niro has had a number of movies suffer from horrible opening weekends (back in April, The Big Wedding only grossed $7 million opening weekend) so this movie shows there is still some drawing value for the legendary actor.  It also helped that the cast was bolstered by Tim Burton’s Catgirl herself, Michelle Pfieffer and Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up this past weekend and left us with lots of interesting things to talk about.  We got an instance of a blogger getting frustrated with texting during the press and industry screening of The Sacrament and called 911 to report it.  This came after complaining to organizers, but the rules of no cell phones do not apply to press and industry screenings and nor should they.  If you are in town to buy the distribution rights to a movie and want to beat other people to the punch, you need to be in direct contact with your co-workers.  In a setting such as this, it is an exhibition but also a market place.  I am all for no cell phones in theatres, but during an industry screening with possible distribution rights on the line I can understand the importance of the device.

More relevant than the awful misuse of essential emergency services, we got a better understanding of what movies are the true powerhouses of the year.  Gravity, which opens in a few weeks and stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, gained a lot of attention although it was outshined by 12 Years a Slave, which won the People’s Choice Award for best picture.  On the other end of the success spectrum, August: Osage County ended up falling short of expectations and now seems to be out of the Oscar chit chat.  Nicolas Cage gained a lot of attention for his performance in Joe, showing once again that he is indeed a talented actor if given the right roles.  And lastly, Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club has him as a front runner for best actor and is having a career year with roles in Mud, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Breakdown Goes Back to School Podcast

Scott and I hit the book this week, as we return to our desks and rooms lacking air conditioning when we review and discuss four pictures about the school life.  After our reviews, we also look at the implications of a possible rating system coming to China.

Content Timeline:

1:05  Let Me In review

16:11 Election review

27:30 Dazed and Confused review

37:06 An Education review

48:29 Implications of Rating System Coming to China

1:00:02 Recap of reviews


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Mob Battles the Supernatural for Box Office Supremacy

Witness Scott die a little inside as he tries to no spend the entire article tearing apart Insidious Chapter 2, and having to admit it will likely win the weekend.

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After coming off of the weakest box office weekend for the entire year, two wide release movies will take their chance in theatres in hopes of pumping some energy back into audiences throughout North America.  One of them an action/comedy in The Family and the other a supernatural horror flick in Insidious: Chapter 2.  At this point I will attempt to shed all bias against the second movie mentioned (be it the ever so righteous condemnation that I believe it deserves for highlighting and exemplifying all things that are outrageously wrong with modern horror films, or the discrimination by relation for being a sequel to a movie that made me want to attempt turning my jaw inside out and use my new and more awesome mandible to commence chewing my own face off) and play fair with all parties.

First up is The Family, which stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer as husband and wife in a mob family who is relocated to France by witness protection.  That’s a definite heavyweight star pairing for this movie as there are ten Oscar nominations (including three wins for De Niro) between the two leads.  I do not think, however, that the star power will be enough to entice audiences.  Pfeiffer does not seem to have the drawing name that she used to, and De Niro has not been particularly frugal with his choice of movies lately, which may have decreased his stock. 

It is sometimes a bad sign when a movie has no advanced screenings for critics.  When it happens I get the feeling like the studios know that they may have a dud on their hands and are trying to keep the negative reviews from the public for as long as possible.  Up until Wednesday of this week there were still no reviews for The Family and, sure enough, when they started to roll in they were primarily negative.  At the time of writing this, The Family has only 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.  When we pair that with the fact that the day before its release it had 136 tweets about it we start to get a grim idea of how this movie will perform.

The Family Opening Weekend Prediction - $7.5 million

For the second time in two months, director James Wan is releasing a supernatural horror film.  Two months ago it was The Conjuring, and now it is the follow up to his 2011 horror Insidious.  People who paid attention to a minor detail at the end of the first movie (nothing huge, just the lead male character strangling someone to death with his bare hands) may be a little confused as to why the trailers for Insidious 2 show no lingering effects from the first one (nothing huge, just a curiosity as to why the male lead is not behind bars, or depending on the state, the subject of a lethal dose).  Minor plot hole aside, there is an undeniable buzz around the sequel and some are looking at it to be the next horror franchise.  Compare the sub 200 tweets that The Family gets in one day with the 80,000 tweets Insidious Chapter 2has collected the day before release for some context.

Wan’s last movie, The Conjuring, set the highest opening weekend in history for an original supernatural horror movie ($41 million opening weekend) and ended up as the tenth highest grossing movie of the summer ($135 million domestic).  James Wan is becoming a name that people equate with horror, and there is a lot of energy and excitement around his career right now.  The performance of The Conjuring has added a lot of potential to Insidious Chapter 2, and will most likely over-ride the mediocre critical reception at the moment.  Insidious took in $13 million its first weekend and came third in the box office.  It is pretty much a given that the sequel will run away with its opening weekend, but by how much is the really hard question to answer.  It is set in a weekend that usually does not do well, with two of the last three years having a Resident Evil movie take first place.  In 2006, The Exorcism of Emily Rose opened to $30 million, so it is quite possible for a supernatural horror to make the most of its scheduling.

Insidious Chapter 2 Opening Weekend Prediction – $38 million

Lastly, in amongst the limited release movies of this weekend is one that stands out and deserves a bit of recognition.  Blue Caprice is a movie that is based off of the events of the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002.  It is the feature film directorial debut of Alexandre Moors, and is currently receiving much critical praise.  Whether or not it will ever enter serious awards conversation is secondary to the gripping look into violence and insanity that it appears to offer up.  If anything, it may offer some insight into why some people make the progression to anti-social behaviour, and it appears to do that without glorifying the acts or creating an anti-hero.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hey Look Up There! Is That a New Blog Post!


No wait, I think it might just be a plane.

This picture does reveal how long it has been since I've last posted something of Everett.  You may have noticed he decided to grow up some and scrap that whole baby vibe he once gave off.  I sort of miss it, but toddler Everett is pretty much a bundle of fun too.

This photo is from our trip on Vancouver Island, which maybe at some point I'll get around to writing about a bit more.  For now, "Look!  A plane!"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

10 Completely Misunderstood Works in Popular Culture

In this week's Collective Publishing column, I seek out to burst some bubbles and possible totally change how you see your favourite works.  I look at 10 artistic works that don't mean what you think.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Riddick Tops a Powerless Box Office Weekend

Scott serves up analysis of what turned out to be a pitifully weak weekend at the box office.  He also is kind enough to offer up some hope for the future.

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After a wait of nine years, Vin Diesel returned to his role as Richard B. Riddick in the movie Riddick, which took first place at the box office with a domestic total of $19 million.  It was a particularly dismal weekend at the theatres, with the three day total being $84 million.  The last time we had a weekend this quiet was the first weekend in February, which saw the debut of Warm Bodies (opening at $20 million) and Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head (opening at $4 million).  That weekend in February was up until now the lowest grossing weekend of the year with $88 million, so what can we look at to account for an even worse gross in the past few days?

One possibility is the return of football, which offers a strong reason for people to stay home.  The weekend after Labour Day has the tendency to be a reliably weak time, and many would point to the gridiron as the reason for that.  A result of it being a traditional dud is that the quality of movies released is usually a lot lower, because studios do not waste movies with a lot of potential on a slow weekend.  Another possible answer for the low gross is what I just mentioned… the quality of movies released both this weekend and the weekend previous.

Riddick ended up on the lower end of expectations, with some (myself included) believing that it had a chance to make it well into the mid $20 million range.  If we couple the terminal nature of this weekend in history and the fact that Riddick did not come from a franchise with the strongest foundation, then we see why it had the outing that it did.  Pitch Black brought in $53 million on a budget of $23 in 2000, and The Chronicles of Riddick grossed $107 million worldwide, falling well short of a profit on a budget of $120 million.  Riddick saw the return of Karl Urban as Vaako, the former leader of the ‘Necromongers’ (nope, I did not make that name up, though I suspect perhaps one of the writer’s ten year old children came up with it) whom tangled with Riddick  in The Chronicles of Riddick and was ultimately dethroned by the bald bad-ass.

We have not to worry, though.  We are sledging through the second quagmire of uninspiring movies right now (the first being the doldrums of the early winter months), and the end is in sight.  Soon we will be facing an onslaught of movies with hopes of award recognition.  Not only that, but there are also some blockbusters scheduled for the last few months of the year that should have us a bit excited and give entertainment to those who don’t get geeked up for the Oscar contenders.  We get Ender's Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  If comedies be your drug of choice, the anticipated Anchorman: The Legend Continues sees the news gang reunited for more adventures.  Family animation?  That’s coming as well, with the main buzz being around Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Into horror movies?  There’s the latest emerging horror franchise and second horror of the year for director James Wan in Insidious: Chapter 2, and for the curmudgeons that revel in the good ol’ days of horror there is an intriguing remake of Carrie coming out soon starring two insanely talented actresses in Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.

 I could go on into other genres, but I think I made the point.  I should note that I personally am not excited about all of the movies I mentioned, but that’s the great thing about the release schedule for the fall… it seems to have offerings for all.  There is a lot to be offered to all different fans of cinema, so while the skies are grey right now, let us focus on the sunny days that are to come.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Breakdown of Blue Jasmine, You're Next, Dear Zachary, and Moon Podcast

Scott and I return this week with reviews on four movies that include Woody Allen's latest comedy, Blue Jasmine; a black comedy that is a homage of home invasion pictures, You're Next; a gut-punching documentary about a murdered friend, Dear Zachary:  A Letter to a Son About His Father; and a sci-fi thriller, Moon.  After the review, we both pick an actor that is wrongfully hated and explain why they're much better than people give credit.  Another fun show for the film buff that likes lively discussion and some looks at film history.

Podcast Timeline:

Blue Jasmine Review - 1:12

You're Next Review - 13:50

Dear Zachary - 26:24

Moon - 35:25

Actors with Undeserved Hate - 45:55

Review Recap - 59:39








Saturday, September 07, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life



It is September 7th, which means it is my yearly tradition of announcing on the blog that the most beautiful and wonderful woman in the entire world has another year of grace and wisdom to add to her life.  I couldn't imagine where I'd be and what my life would be like without Emily as my wife, because she has been my inspiration, encouragement and butt-kicker.  I need all those things, and I can never thank or love her enough.  So, Emily I've already said and written a few things privately to you today, but in the public forum, I want to declare once again that you are my muse and that I am forever jubilant I get to call you my wife.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Riddick Battles Films from the Not-Too-Distant Past at the Box Office

Scott changes things up by including some older films in his predictions of the box office this weekend.

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Perhaps this weekend really is the sign of the transition from summer, where we had high budget blockbusters slamming their explosions over our heads, to Oscar season.  And in any transition, there can be bumps in the road.  I am referring to a very uninspiring weekend in theatres, where we do have a franchise in Riddick (starring Vin Diesel), which has some fans excited but leaves others feeling this is a good weekend to forego the theatre experience and save those dollars for the plethora of films coming out soon enough that can capture our imaginations and provoke our thoughts and emotions.

Riddick is the third movie about the title character, with the first one being Pitch Black (2000) followed by The Chronicles of Riddick (2004).  One might first believe that this must be a financially viable franchise for them to be returning after such a break.  The truth is the first movie did turn a bit of a profit, bringing in $53 million worldwide on a budget of $23 million, the second movie, however, was a bit of a different story. They went all in on The Chronicles of Riddick, putting $120 million into the production.  The gamble did not pay off, as only $57 million was made domestically, and a worldwide total of $107 million.  Smart heads prevailed with Riddick as the budget comes in at $38 million, and is all the more appropriate seeing how high budget movies of the past few months have been struggling.

One reason I heard for the nine year gap since The Chronicles of Riddick was due to the arrival of a bundle of joy for actor Vin Diesel.  Because of the type of character Riddick is, Diesel did not want to have to bring himself to a dark place while at the same time celebrating the new life of his child, and wanted to ensure his life was positive at that time.  Two things come from this.  The first, a lot of respect from me for the prioritizing of his responsibilities.  Sadly, my respect is not legal tender (yet) so this has no tangible weight for Mr. Diesel.  Secondly, and much more tangibly, Diesel’s career is re-igniting right now, and that is bound to help the success of Riddick.  Earlier in the year Fast and Furious 6 raked in a gargantuan $787 million.  The timing of Riddick may be as good as it possibly could get.

Riddick Opening Weekend Prediction - $25.5 million

Because it is a bit of a slower weekend, I am going to make a prediction on Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Its first two weeks of release saw it at number one in the box office, and it dropped to second its third week after suffering only a ten percent decrease in gross from the previous week.  What assisted it last week was the fact that the only real competition was One Direction: This is Us, and screaming teenage girls are not the market that would be bolstering The Butler’s ticket sales, so there was no real audience loss to the competition.  As well, it was a long weekend before the end of summer, which can give people a reason to spend a bit of money and see a good movie.  This weekend, I predict it will take a drop of 25%, though it could probably get up as high as 35%.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Weekend Prediction - $11.1 million

And also of interesting note is the fact that the theatres will once again be screening This is the End, an apocalyptic comedy directed by and starring Seth Rogan.  It originally came out on June 14 and looks to be attempting to make it to $100 million domestically with it currently sitting at $96 million.  One could see a bit of a second wind in its performance last week as it went from averaging $1,200 per theatre to $3,019.  I am completely at a loss as to how to format a prediction on a situation like this, so please grant me a bit of grace on this one.  I am predicting $2,500 per theatre, and I believe it is in over 2,000 theatres but I have not been able to confirm that.  Shooting from the hip on this one…

This is the End Weekend Prediction - $5 million

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

'Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star' Film Review: A Film Conspires with the Fates to Crush Your Soul

I wish no ill will upon the actor Nick Swardson, and I hope he has a long and healthy life.  As for his film career, his greatest performance was the two minute in Click where he is an employee at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Based off Scott's review it doesn't look like Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star will be the film to win me over.  But I've already made my thoughts on this picture pretty clear in the past, and the past article should give you a good idea how much I desire to see if I agree with Scott.  If you ever wondered if this film was as bad at the trailer looked then Scott will set it all straight in his review.

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Do you ever feel like life could never get any worse?  That each new week brings a punch to your gut, driving your sense of self-esteem and dignity lower and lower.  And in those times, if ever you have been there, perhaps you have felt the urge to curl up fingers into fist, wave them towards the heavens and defy fate and divine intervention in a rebellious dare to bring it on.  You can take whatever comes, because you are living through the worse.  Defiant, you tempt all things terrestrial and celestial to give it their best shot to stifle you even more.  They don’t answer… they cannot.  Your life is already too rotten to reduce into any more chaos.

And then Netflix throws its hat into the ring.

I am speaking from personal experience.  On one particularly bad day, I tempted me some fate, yelled bring it on, and the challenge came in the form of Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star.  I did accept said challenge, only to find that my self-worth took a hit at approximately one minute and sixteen seconds into the film when I ultimately realized there would be no redeeming qualities to this film.

The film stars Nick Swardson as Bucky, a farm boy who finds out his parents were porn stars and decides to follow his destiny by moving to California to be a porn star as well.  His calendar was pretty much wide open and his parents were supportive, so it was an easy choice for him.  Christina Ricci co-stars as a waitress who befriends Bucky, and walks alongside him as he refuses to give up on his dreams.

Where should I start?  The fart noises?  The fake buck teeth?  The prop semen?  The fact that I never once laughed, and that every time I was aware that I should be laughing my view of humanity got more and more grim?  It was more than an agonizing affair, as all one can do is stare at the clock in a countdown to freedom from the shackles of this film written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert, and Nick Swardson.  Even though the movie is so base level, it is the skit character performance of Swardson that really brought the pain.  I am sure Swardson has areas of talent, but not for a role like this.

I am done now.  There is nothing that can be extracted from this film that will enlighten anyone.  There is no hope for the down and out that will come from experiencing Bucky Larson’s pornstar adventures.  There was nothing of worth that I found through this trial of will and perseverance.  It’s like doing ‘connect the dots’ after someone’s already done it… it’s pointless.  Sure, because it was on Netflix it did not cost me any money, but it did cost me time.  I could have spent money on it and then found a ten dollar bill on the street.  All signs point to me not being able to find an hour and a half lying around anywhere to make up for this.

The only time I ever gave a movie zero stars was when I saw Cannibal Holocaust because of scenes where they killed animals (literally, it was not special effects) and eviscerated a big ole turtle.  This time I was the one eviscerated.

Embarking into the New Golden Age of TV

Nostalgia may trick you into thinking they don't make TV shows like they used to, but a few hours on one of the retro TV channels will show you that is a good thing.  There have been some classic TV series throughout the years, but we currently live in a time with a wide selection of riveting, thought-provoking, and entertaining scripted shows.  In my latest Collective Publishing column, I explain why we're in a new golden age of television.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Many Movie-Goers Turn to International Films at the Box Office this Weekend

Scott's recap has an international flavour as he talks about the success of a British boy band and a Mexican picture.

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This past weekend, British boy band One Direction was able to take first place in the box office with their concert film One Direction: This is Us.  It was able to prevail over fellow newcomers Getaway and Closed Circuit, but that was easily predictable as neither of those movies were considered to be strong contenders.

One Direction: This is Us
was directed by Oscar nominated Morgan Spurlock and shows the members of One Direction both on stage and off.  It was able to make $17 million domestically opening weekend, and an estimate $33 million globally.  Currently it has already beaten the worldwide gross of Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D from last year, and is one third of the way to catching the global total of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’s total of $99 million worldwide.  While that sounds great, the concert film is likely to see a rapid drop by next weekend as it has been steadily dropping since its release just a few days ago.  It may be hard for some in Hollywood to admit that the boys of One Direction have out-profited Jerry Bruckheimer in theatres this summer.

One of the interesting stories that came out of this past weekend was the continued performance of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which was down only eleven percent from last weekend and pulled in $14.7 million.  That is a great sign for the docu-drama that stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey in a movie about a White House butler who works for a number of different presidential administrations.  The Butler is currently sitting at a gross of around $80 million on a budget of $30 million, and is a hopeful indicator to Hollywood that there is money that can be made in movies for mature audiences.

While I could spend some time talking about the lackluster performances of Getaway ($4.5 million opening weekend) and Closed Circuit ($2.5 million opening weekend) it would be a better use of my time to mention the Mexican comedy Instructions Not Included, which debuted this past weekend and hauled in an impressive $7.5 million on a budget of $5 million.  What is most impressive is that Instructions Not Included was only shown in 347 theatres this weekend and was still able to land in fifth spot in the box office, beating out movies like Elysium and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.  It had the highest average per theatre with $21,614.

Also of note, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine saw an increase of 1% from last weekend despite playing in 104 fewer theatres.  It has now been able to crack the $20 million mark, and came in eleventh spot this weekend with $4 million.  It stars Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and is a story about a collapsed marriage and the rebuilding process that follows.  Blue Jasmine seems to have done well due to well-casted and recognizable leads, the name value of Woody Allen, great critical reception, and decent word of mouth.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Fun Size Review: Serving Up Fun in Very Small Doses

I jokingly asked Scott if he'd write a review for the film Fun Size.  I knew teenage comedies weren't his thing, and I assumed he'd tell me a creative way to shove one body part into another.  Instead, the little trooper watched the movie and had this review to me in less than 24 hours.  I now feel obligated to see this movie and offer my own thoughts.  That will have to wait.  For now, here is Scott's review of a teen comedy from last year that most of you probably were unaware got wide release.

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If you were ever dreaming of a movie that was a cross between Adventures in Babysitting and Baby’s Day Out set around Halloween with socially conscious teenage girls who rely on the help of nerdy boys (who could completely ruin their reputation if they be seen with such scallywags), then you may believe that Fun Size is the movie for you.  And basically it is, but solely because it fits that specific list of criteria that few (if any) other movies fit into.

Fun Size
is a story of Wren (Victoria Justice) who has recently lost her father due to death (I cannot quite remember how he died), has a mother who is robbing the cradle with a fellow named Keevin (not a typo), with a little brother who no longer speaks (a cliché device for a character if ever there was one), and a friend named April played by Jane Levy.  Wren hopes to go to the Halloween party of ever so dreamy Aaron Riley, but her plans get put on hold when her mother asks her to take her brother out to gather his Halloween candies from the neighbours.  Along the way, she loses her brother and is tossed into situations of shenanigans on the path to getting him back.

It may seem as though I am not giving a lot of respect to the plot of the movie, and truth be told I am not.  It is rather formulaic, and moves along at a predictable pace with characters that are hard to have much feelings towards as they seem mostly unrelatable.  The movie should be geared towards young folk, but disperses some sexual humour that parents may find inappropriate, such as a scene of a totally consensual yet altogether awkward breast grabbing for a predetermined time of twenty seconds.  It is a standard case of missing the mark for its intended audience.  The movie also happens in a world where people find a young child out on their own and, instead of calling the police, involve them in their misadventures of revenge or bring them into a night club for some dancing.

While a movie like this is usually fodder for scathing comments (and perhaps it does deserve some), I would rather focus on some of the positives that keep this movie from being a generic waste of time and/or money.  Fun Size does have a few moments and aspects of a good movie, and I feel that it should get some recognition for those as most movies of similar quality have mediocre qualities at best.

The casting may not be great across the board, but there were some quality decisions that made for a few relatable or enjoyable characters.  Chelsea Handler did a good job of playing Wren’s mother, who was at a crux in dealing with the full emotional remains of her late husband’s passing.  Jane Levy was great as a social status obsessed friend, and she can be a bright spot in many a suffering movie.  Most recently she brought some fun to Evil Dead as she battled the apocalypse with one hand and a chainsaw, all while quitting the drugs cold turkey and going through withdrawal.  The best casting was for the dual mothers of Roosevelt (the nerdy friend of Wren’s) played by Kerri Kenney and Ana Gasteyer, who were both hilarious in witty caricature roles.

There were also moments where the film seemed to rise above the early standards it set for itself, and brought scenes of terrific humour.  There were around five times where I was not only smiling, but laughing deep from my potato and egg filled belly.  It was in those moments that I had a strong hope for what may lay around the next corner for our protagonist.

Unfortunately for the cast and crew of Fun Size, laughing five times at a movie and then forgetting most of the premise the next day (such as how the father died) does not equal a quality film.  While it does have moments of personality, charm, and wit, those moments are scattered throughout with very little piecing them together.  As stated earlier, if you are looking for a movie that is a cross between Adventures in Babysitting and Baby’s Day Out set around Halloween with socially conscious teenage girls who rely on the help of nerdy boys, then Fun Size is the movie for you.  If you are simply looking for a decent movie, pick any film at random and the chances are good that it may be a better use of your time.

Rating *1/2

The Breakdown of Cult Classics Podcast

Scott and I change things up this week, and look at four motion pictures that are considered cult classics.  We look at four different genres with films that many hold on top.  We're reviewing Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller, Blade Runner; the comedy about twentysomethings stuck in dead end jobs, Clerks; the horror picture that made found footage popular, The Blair Witch Project; and the summer fling dance picture, Dirty Dancing.  We will also be looking back at the grosses of major blockbusters and debating what this means for the future of summer pictures, as well as weigh in on our thoughts on Ben Affleck as Batman.

Because it was requested by some loyal listeners, here is a timeline of each review so you can fast forward to a specific one you want to hear.

2:52 The Blair Witch Project

14:56 Blade Runner

25:06 Dirty Dancing

34:19 Clerks

44:02 Analyzing Blockbuster Grosses

1:02:31 Thoughts on Ben Affleck as Batman

 1:07:07 Recap of the reviews