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Eagerly anticipating this week ... (40-17)

Eagerly anticipating this week ... (40-17)
Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)


Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - Villeneuve's speculative sci-fi sequel is fascinating but flawed

A silver fox and burning-hot younger protagonist share this elegant poster for Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to Ridley Scott's great Blade Runner (1982), both based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). It is written by Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner) and Michael Green (Logan (2017)) and directed by Canadian master filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Arrival (2016)).

In Los Angeles in 2049, a modern blade runner is retiring old replicants. But his latest job makes him remember what he expects is a false, imprinted childhood memory and discover a secret that indicates that the borders between robotic and biological life are not carved in stone.

The new Blade Runner comes highly anticipated, mostly because Villeneuve proved himself as a sci-fi filmmaker to reckon with last year with Arrival. The film stays true to the cold, disturbing urban environment from the first film; the look is recreated and furthered with the latest technology very artfully, while the persistent rain, gloom and neon lights are kept.
Exciting concepts about life, identity, technology, sexuality and borders between humans and artificial intelligence are brought to vivid life. Ryan Gosling (Drive (2011)) is the blade runner hero here, and he is worshiped in countless long shots, not unlike in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and masterpiece Only God Forgive (2013), but somehow he is less compelling here as a very feeling machine. The film for a long while is good science-fiction with a nostalgic feel to it for those long familiar with the first film. Ana de Armas (Faraday (2013)) and Mackenzie Davis (Freaks of Nature (2015)) are good as Gosling's girlfriend, who is, in fact, a highly sophisticated program, and a prostitute, who enables their lovemaking scene, probably the film's most interesting, (although it finishes before the real action starts.)
Blade Runner 2049 is very long, and only in the last, very long act does Harrison Ford (Witness (1985)) show up. Apparently he has been holed up in an abandoned Las Vegas hotel with a possibly fake dog for some of the many years since we last saw him in this universe. The ambitious and complex story begins to crumble for me at this juncture. SPOILER There is a subtext which is that Ford may be Gosling's father, but the two seem to investigate this by beating each other up to a hologram Elvis performance that is quite unpleasant, if you are sentimental about the King. This development also brings to mind Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), (also about Ford's troubled, absent fatherhood of a powerful male), and it seems too much in some way. I exited the movie world here and began looking at it from the outside, questioning whether it was really a good idea at all to go back to the Blade Runner universe, and also whether or not reenlisting Ford so many years after was really necessary.
SPOILER Sylvia Hoeks (The Girl and Death (2012)) is Terminator-like as a mysterious replicant power woman, who seems to like Gosling for much of the film, but who in the end wants him dead. I find the third act confusing overall, and didn't much enjoy Gosling's graphic drowning of Hoeks either.
Jared Leto (Suicide Squad (2016)) is Niander Wallace, a disturbing replicant-producing industrialist, (think nightmarish Jeff Bezos of the future), who personifies the religious aspects of Blade Runner 2049, which are uniformly negative and fixed upon humanity itself.
Blade Runner 2049 is carefully and impressively made, as cold as the first film but far from as original, good or compelling. It puts its audience in a permanent speculative position that is fascinating to some degree but didn't quite make the cut for me. A great part of it is its ethereal, diverse score by Benjamin Wallfisch (Air Bound (2015)) and Hans Zimmer (Rango (2011)).

Related posts:

Blade Runner (1982) - R. Scott's visual extravaganza, great SF
Denis Villeneuve: 2016 in films - according to Film Excess
Arrival (2016) - Villeneuve, Heisserer and Adams head sensational sci-fi wonder
Incendies (2010) - Villeneuve's dreary and depressing, wildly overrated drama

Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: 150 mil. $
Box office: 159.8 mil. $ and counting
= Too early to say
[Blade Runner 2049 premiered 3 October (Los Angeles) and runs 163 minutes. One development began in 1999. Ridley and brother Tony Scott started working on one in 2007, seeking Christopher Nolan to direct. Shooting took place from July - November 2016 in Hungary, including Budapest, Spain, Iceland, Mexico and in Nevada. The film opened #1 to a disappointing 32.7 mil. $ first weekend in North America, where it fell to #2 in its second week. The film is opening in Japan and China on 27 October, and it will need very solid runs there and continued audiences globally to break even. - It is likely to become a flop theatrically, just like the first Blade Runner was. Blade Runner 2049 is certified fresh at 88 % with an 8.2 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Blade Runner 2049?


The A-Team (2010) - Carnahan and stars present a poorly made noise factory

Two major stars (Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson), a foreign medium-level star (Sharlto Copley) and an MMA fighter (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson) are apparently in the middle of nowhere, well-equipped with guns on this obviously photo-shopped poster for Joe Carnahan's The A-Team

Four dynamic US Army Ranger pals are the A-Team, who break out, when they are locked up, and take orders from a sneaky CIA-type to secure a money press from falling into the wrong hands.

The incomprehensible story of The A-Team lies behind its demonstratively shallow and brainless serving of macho action, which is apparently supposed to succeed based on lots of noise and the tone set, which is one of permanent overgrown teenage male swagger. Any relation to the real world is almost non-existing, and no one in the cast distinguish themselves here, playing characters that seem a veritable parade of idiots. The four heroes often find themselves in scenes, where they are sweating and yelling profusely, while dubious CGI effects inform us that they are in great danger.
A couple of scenes are lightly amusing, and The A-Team is completely unpretentious, - but these are negligible mitigating circumstances, when the film is this bad. It is written by Brian Bloom (Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016, video game), Skip Woods (Swordfish (2001)) and co-writer-director Joe Carnahan (The Grey (2011)), based on the same-titled 1983-87 NBC TV-series.

Watch a teaser for the film here

Cost: 100 mil. $ (110 mil. $ before tax credit)
Box office: 177.2 mil. $
= Big flop
[The A-Team premiered 3 June (Hollywood) and runs 119 minutes. Development began in the mid 1990s, and John Singleton was one point supposed to direct the film. Filming took place in Norway and in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, including in Vancouver, from September - December 2009. The film opened #2, behind fellow new release The Karate Kid, to a 25.6 mil. $ first weekend in North America, where it stayed in the top 5 for another 2 weeks (#3; #5) and grossed 77.2 mil. $ (43.6 % of the total gross). The 2nd and 3rd biggest markets were the UK with 15.2 mil. $ (8.6 %) and France with 9.1 mil. $ (5.1 %). Roger Ebert gave the film a 1½/4 star review, equal to its rating here. The poor box office performance killed plans for a sequel. Neeson in 2012 called the film 'confusing'. The A-Team is rotten at 47 % with a 5.4/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of The A-Team?


The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) - Unusual, surprising, gory, horrifying indie horror

The greyish body of a deceased young woman fills the cold poster for André Øvredal's The Autopsy of Jane Doe

A father-son coroner team receive a 'Jane Doe' [unidentified female corpse) from a house with more bodies in it with an investigative demand for answers asap. But their autopsy reveals shocking mistreatment, and the two are soon locked in by a major storm.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is written by Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing (Dead of Summer (2016), TV-series, both) and directed by great Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal (Trollhunter/Trolljegeren (2010)).
Øvredal impresses in his English-language feature debut here. Made on a strong Blcklst-featured script, the film is simply skillfully directed. Although there is lots of autopsy-related gore horror, SPOILER this still feels like a bare bones (no pun intended) little horror flick, which develops in a surprising supernatural direction; the deceased was an innocent woman who was not a witch but became one from being the victim of extensive anti-witch torture!
Brian Cox (RED 2 (2013)) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild (2007)) are believable as father and son, and both are really good here. - The Autopsy of Jane Doe is an unusual horror because we almost only spend time with two grown men in it. It is original and plays on several chords of its genre and also features excellent sound design. From a semi-comical beginning, The Autopsy of Jane Doe evolves into a surprisingly horrifying ride, - a real treat for horror fans and an obvious and strong horror movie night candidate.

Related post:

André ØvredalTrollhunter/Trolljegeren/Troll Hunter/The Troll Hunter (2010) - Øvredal's hilarious found footage kaiju horror comedy

Øvredal, Cox and Hirsch attend a Q&A for the film here - don't watch until after you've seen the film!

Cost: Unknown (but likely 1-2 mil. $)
Box office: At least 6.1 mil. $
= Uncertainty - but at least a box office success
[The Autopsy of Jane Doe premiered 9 September (Toronto International Film Festival) and runs 86 minutes. Øvredal was inspired by James Wan's great The Conjuring (2013) to do a similarly pure horror film. Martin Sheen was originally cast but dropped out. Shooting took place in March 2015 - ? in England in London and Kent. The Jane Doe is played by Olwen Catherine Kelly (Darkness on the Edge of Town (2014)) rather than a prosthetic corpse dummy. Forbes Magazine has estimated the film's budget at around 1-2 mil. $. The box office gross above is the total for the film's 19 international markets. Its North American gross is unlisted, perhaps it was very small as it only played a few festivals and had a limited release along with VoD roll-out domestically. Its biggest 3 markets were France with 1.2 mil. $ (19.7 %), Mexico with 1.1 mil. $ (18 %) and Brazil with 0.8 mil. $ (13.1 %). Stephen King has tweeted in favor of the film, saying that it rivals Alien (1979) an early David Cronenberg in visceral horror. Øvredal has two upcoming projects, Bright Skies and Mortal (2018), both fantasy projects anchored in Norway. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is certified fresh at 87 % with a 6.8/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of The Autopsy of Jane Doe?


Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) - Bobin, Woolverton and Disney's poorly constructed sequel

Johnny Deep as the Mad Hatter is most prominent on this packed, dizzying, highly detailed poster for James Bobin's Alice Through the Looking Glass

Alice returns home from the seven seas - and faces intransigent challenges. She walks through a mirror to a Wonderland, in which the Mad Hatter has grown increasingly mad, apparently because his family's death many years ago haunts him. - Alice must travel back in time to change this!

Alice Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to Tim Burton's good big hit 3D spectacle Alice in Wonderland (2010). It is written by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent (2014)), based on Lewis Carroll's (A Tangled Tale (1885)) characters, and directed by James Bobin (The Muppets (2011)).
The film begins well with the self-assured Alice's return to patriarchal ridicule, but somewhere along the way after this, the illusion that the film tries to build falls apart, despite radiant colors and effects.
Sacha Baron Cohen (The Brothers Grimsby (2016)) entertains a Werner Herzog-inspired accent here as the villain Time and possesses some strange, Transformers-like creatures. Johnny Depp (The Libertine (2004)) looks stranger than in the first film and now has frog-like eyes. He does well for the most part, but there are shots in which he struggles to find the right face, and this is understandable: The sappy story about Alice's having to save the Hatter's family, - of whom we only really get to know his unlovable father, - so that that same father can finally accept the Hatter wholeheartedly is muck.
The story is the main issue here, wobbling and just plain bad. SPOILER As the past sees the future towards the end, everything turns rusty in excremental browns, but why this happens - don't ask, for the film has no answer. Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre (2011)), who was a major part of why the first film was quite a thrill, is an adult woman now and much less compelling as Alice.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a major flop for all involved. Ouch.

Related posts:

Alice in Wonderland (2010) - Wasikowska is the perfect lead for Burton's visual wonderland
James Bobin: The Muppets (2011) or, Man or Muppet? 

Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: 170 mil. $
Box office: 299.4 mil. $
= Big flop
[Alice Through the Looking Glass premiered 10 May (London) and runs 113 minutes. Shooting took place in England from August - October 2014. The film opened #2, behind fellow new release X-Men: Apocalypse, to a 26.8 mil. $ first weekend, down 70 % from the first film's 116 mil. $, in North America, where it spent another week in the top 5 (#4) and grossed an abysmally low 77 mil. $ (25.7 % of the total gross). The 2nd and 3rd biggest markets were China with 58.7 mil. $ (19.6 %) and Japan with 26.7 mil. $ (8.9 %). The film was one of the year's costliest flops, resulting in a loss of around 125 mil. $. It was nominated for a Grammy and 3 Razzie awards. Bobin has not bee hired for another project since. Alice Through the Looking Glass is rotten at 30 % with a 4.6/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Alice Through the Looking Glass?


Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - Whedon disappoints with less fun, huge, ugly sequel

Most of the Marvel superheros are back for action on this poster for Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers are back at it, when the artificial intelligence within Tony Stark's global defense system runs amuck in a spree of destruction.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to The Avengers (2012), the second Avengers film, the franchise that gathers the characters for Marvel's individual superhero franchises, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and friends. It is written and directed by returning helmsman Joss Whedon (Much Ado About Nothing (2012)), based on The Avengers comics by Stan Lee (Epic Illustrated (1980)) and Jack Kirby (Sandman (1974-76)).
The plot here makes a virtue of trying to be all places at once, meaning that it wants to build progress on each of its many characters, but as a consequence it feels like it is no place really. The colorful, fun, pompous spark of the first Avengers film er lost here in a sequel that attempts to exceed the first film's originality in every department.
Avengers: Age of Ultron does have a bit of fun, (Don Cheadle (Flight (2012)) makes an appreciated dent in this languished department), and impressively detailed CGI effects, which are guaranteed to have been impressive if seen in 3D, as they seem designed for. But when seen in 2D, which most will do when they revisit this film after its initial release, the magic of all that work is also very limited.
The few good things about this superhero mega-movie regretfully drowns in an ocean of uninteresting destruction coupled with ugly, grey locations and sets, the lovely Elizabeth Olsen (Ingrid Goes West (2017)) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Albert Nobbs (2011)) wasted in non-characters with Russian accents, a terrible villain (I dare you to locate any of James Spader's (The Watcher (2000)) charisma in the robotic bore that is Ultron), pointless dialog and - naturally - gross overlength. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a seriously disappointing sequel.

Related posts:

Joss WhedonThe Avengers/Avengers Assemble (2012) or, Farty Latex Suits: Gather!
Alien: Resurrection (1997) or, Queen of the Goo Massacre! (writer)

Watch a trailer for the movie here

Cost: 316 mil. $ (gross)/267.4 mil. $ (net) + 180 mil. $ (marketing)
Box office: 1,405.4 mil. $
= Big hit
[Avengers: Age of Ultron premiered 13 April (Los Angeles) and runs 141 minutes. Filming took place in Bangladesh, Johannesburg, South Africa, Seoul, South Korea, Italy and in the UK, including in London, from February - August 2014. The massive 316 mil. $ cost of the film was diminished drastically by a 50.7 mil. $ UK tax cut. If the colossal marketing budget is drawn into the calculation, the film only ranks as a box office success. The film opened #1 to a 191.2 mil. $ first weekend in North America, the 3rd biggest up to that point, not beating The Avengers' 207.4 mil. $ or Jurassic World's slightly bigger opening. It enjoyed another week as #1 and a total of 5 weeks in the top 5 and grossed 459 mil. $ (32.7 % of the total gross) domestically, where it was the 3rd highest-grossing film of the year. Its 2nd and 3rd biggest markets were China with 240.1 mil. $ (17.1 %) and South Korea with 78.2 mil. $ (5.6 %). It became the 7th highest-grossing film to date and the 4th highest-grossing of the year worldwide. has calculated the film's net profits to 382 mil. $, also figuring in marketing costs, home video, VoD and TV earnings, making it the 4th most valuable film of the year. The next Avengers movie, Avengers: Infinity War, comes out in 2018, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Avengers: Age of Ultron is certified fresh at 75 % with a 6.7/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron?


All for One/Alle for Én (2011) - Heide and Øgendahl's flawed but funny Danish crime comedy

The four male stars look game to make us laugh on the not very original poster for Rasmus Heide's All for One

Three dingbat friends are going to prison after a car theft but can avoid it by helping the police reveal a Dutch art dealer's secret drug business.

All for One is an enthusiastic crime comedy written by also co-starring Mick Øgendahl (All for Two/Alle for To (2013)) and directed by Rasmus Heide (The Christmas Party/Julefrokosten (2009)). Øgendahl has written an excessively verbally and language-oriented script, and some of the scenes of the slacker characters sitting around telling each other jokes just don't fly.
Jon Lange (Denmark 92/Sommeren '92 (2015)) as the group's 'straight man' is wobbly in his acting, SPOILER and the sentimental ending, in which his separated wife takes him back, is pretty thick. Mille Dinesen (Rita (2012-17)) is wasted, but Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner (1982)) is fun to watch as the well-cast villain, and Charlotte Fich (People Get Eaten /Mennesker Bliver Spist (2015)) is also good as the police mama, a role that riffs on her performance in the popular Danish police show Unit One/Rejseholder (2000-04).
Though flawed, All for One is fairly entertaining and will certainly make a Dane laugh.

Here is a video from the film's premiere

Cost: 19.5 mil DKK, approximately 3.1 mil. $
Box office: Unknown (but likely around 30 mil. DKK, approximately 4.8 mil. $
= Uncertain (but likely a big flop)
[All for One premiered 10 February (Denmark) and runs 81 minutes. The funding was supported by the Danish Film Institute, Den Vestdanske Filmpulje and TV2. Shooting took place in Aarhus, Jutland in Denmark. The film was a hit in Danish cinemas, where 368,110 bought admission. But the film doesn't seem to have had any life outside of Denmark; it is only listed to have been shown at the Hamburg Film Festival. The Danish audience will have generated around 30 mil. DKK, still not enough to rank the film better than big flop status. The 'rules' for hit or flop status are written differently in the state-sponsored movie business in small Denmark, however, and All for One have resulted in two sequels to date, All for Two/Alle for To (2013) and All for Three/Alle for Tre (2017). The film won the Audience Award Robert, the Danish Oscar equivalent. 1,951 IMDb users have given All for One a 5.7/10 average rating.]

What do you think of All for One?

Beach Rats (2017) - Hittman and impressive talent Harris Dickinson create a solid winner about a closeted young gay man

A deliciously manipulated, great poster for Eliza Hittman's Beach Rats

We follow teenager Frankie for a summer, in which he experiences a loss in the near family, does drugs and tries to navigate the expectations he perceives from his male friends with his own conflicting desire to be intimate with older men.

Four pulsating, large hearts go out to this intimate, impressively crafted portrayal of some of the difficulties of youth specific to being a young gay man. It is the second feature by writer-director Eliza Hittman (It Felt Like Love (2013)).
Beach Rats has a subtle but infectious humor but still takes its protagonist's struggle and journey dead serious. Harris Dickinson (The Medium (2016)) is fearless and phenomenal in the lead, and you never guess for a second that he is actually British. The film is fixed in a Brooklyn environment close to an amusement park and the beach, an evocative and somewhat nightmarish setting for the punches of youth, and Dickinson and his fellow cast members all ring absolutely true. In fact nothing in Beach Rats breaches complete realism, although some audiences will be more acknowledging than others of this, naturally.
Beach Rats is a sensitive story, which made me thank heaven that I am not a teenager anymore. Nicholas Leone's electronic score is used skillfully to underpin the emotions of our protagonist, and Hélène Louvart's (Dark Night (2016)) 16 mm cinematography distinguishes the film aesthetically and always serves the narrative commendably. Beach Rats is sensorily oriented and thankfully doesn't shy away from the corporeal focus of the story's center, but its probing of sexuality and bodies remains tasteful, also highly commendable. SPOILER The ending doesn't reach an ending of the journey of Frankie, - in fact it leaves him at a very vulnerable and unsure point, - and I wouldn't have minded it giving us just a hint of some possibly hopeful future for him.
Beach Rats may make you think of Barry Jenkins' great Moonlight (2016) and David Gordon Green's masterpiece George Washington (2000). I am already looking forward to revisiting it someday, and to see the next works by Hittman and with the very talented Dickinson.

Related posts:

Moonlight (2016) - Jenkins and McCraney's powerful and personal coming-of-age romance drama

Dickinson gives a so-called selfie interview for Verge in this video

Cost: Unknown
Box office: 457k $ and counting
= Unknown
[Beach Rats premiered 23 January (Sundance Film Festival) and runs 95 minutes. Hittman won the Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance for the film and is working on her next feature now. Beach Rats is certified fresh at 82 % with a 7.1/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Beach Rats?


mother! (2017) - Bring a flask with you to this one!

The freaky, yet beautifully rendered, painted poster for Darren Aronofsky's mother!

A couple live in a large, isolated house in the country, where she spends her days fixing the house and caring for him, as he attempts to write another novel. Now a stranger pays them a visit, and their life comes apart at the seams.

mother! is the 7th feature from New-Yorker master writer-director Darren Aronofsky (Pi (1998)). It is easily his wildest and most traumatic film to watch since his tough-as-nails drug addiction-themed masterpiece Requiem for a Dream (2000).
mother! is an instance of a perfect conversation and disagreement-sparking mystery, because it invites many kinds of interpretations. As a film, it struck me as if Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965) was meeting Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage (1973), perhaps in a bar that also had Lars Von Trier's Antichrist (2009) and Melancholia (2011) sitting up, ready for a fight.
mother! is a star-studded movie, and probably a poor sense of knowing what the film would be has lead to some very poor audience reactions to it. - Expect a just somewhat conventional horror or mystery thriller, and you'll be disappointed. - Expect another fierce, empowered - and empowering - Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games (2012)) vehicle, and you may leave it positively furious. mother! is a prestigious, high-budgeted art film, essentially, and we don't see many of them come out, which may also account for some of the raging reactions. It is also a very negative film, because it grows out of creativity based on negative emotions.
Lawrence gives another good performance, - although I couldn't help but wonder, if she would have been even better equipped for it, if she had been a mother herself. Javier Bardem (Goya's Ghosts (2006)) adds another eerie, troubling performance to his history of credits as Him, and Ed Harris (A Crooked Somebody (2017)), Michelle Pfeiffer (Up Close and Personal (1996)) and real-life brothers Brian Gleeson (Logan Lucky (2017)) and Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd (2012)) are effective as the intolerable, rude and outrageous outsiders that make it into Lawrence's home.
As stated the film can be read in a multitude of ways, but one is as a statement about the socio-societal subjugation of women, - here even a modern, privileged woman, - also in some way elevated through her own extreme attachment to her home and role as something of a servant to her husband. The more or less intended demeaning behavior and insults that Lawrence bears are so replete that I couldn't help but be thankful that I wasn't born a woman. SPOILER As the plot unspools in something like cataclysmic insanity towards its end, - that will have some remembering the heated rallies of the 2016 US election and other cult-ish mass movements through history, - the mistreatment of Lawrence intensifies to a violent crescendo that brings the awful The Killer Inside Me (2010) to mind and was too much for my taste. Not least because I know that there is a small minority of men in the world who will enjoy this sickness.
mother! is made sparing no expense, it seems, with another (for me and many others in the cinema I saw it in) surprising major star appearance towards its end, an elevated fondness and use of the CGI effects that Aronofsky has become intimate with through The Fountain (2006), Black Swan (2010) and Noah (2014), - his only film I haven't yet seen, simply because it doesn't look too interesting.
Prepare to be provoked, shocked, mystified and above all else made uncomfortable, - in short, given a good spin for your money, when you head out to see mother!.

Related post:

Darren Aronofsky: Black Swan (2010) or, Manic Dance

Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: 30 mil. $
Box office: 35.9 mil. $ and counting
= Too early to say
[mother! premiered 5 September (Venice International Film Festival) and runs 121 minutes. Aronofsky was working on creating a children's movie (!), when he had the idea for this film and reportedly wrote the screenplay in 5 days. The cast rehearsed for 3 months prior to filming. Lawrence was paid 8 mil. $ for her performance. Filming took place in Quebec, Canada from June - August 2016. Lawrence has described the film as an allegory of "the rape and torment of Mother Earth", while Aronofsky has called it a "psychological freak-out", a "punch", and a "punk movie" made on "a lot of anguish". The film opened #3, behind holdover hit It and fellow new release American Assassin to a disappointing 7.5 mil. $ in North America, where it fell to #5 in its second week and then left the top 5. It has grossed 17 mil. $ domestically so far, far below expectations for a Lawrence, Aronofsky or Bardem movie of this magnitude. While many critics have lauded it, audience scores were disastrous, and mother! is one of very few major releases to receive the "F" CinemaScore by audiences. Aronofsky has blamed the reaction on modern people's rejection of science. mother! is fresh at 67 % with a 6.7/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of mother!?


Anomalisa (2015) or, Depressed Adult Male

Lead Michael Stone looks himself in the mirror dejectedly on this poster for Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa

Our protagonist Michael is a guru for the service industry and comes to Cincinnati to give a lecture but finds himself in a mentally disturbed state.

Anomalisa is an existential romance-drama written by Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York (2008)), based on his same-titled 2005 play, and co-directed by Kaufman and Duke Johnson (Mary Shelley's Frankenhole (2010-12)). It is made in fascinating, almost masochistically time-consuming stop-motion animation, which is done very detailed and vividly.
The story of Anomalisa is relentlessly downbeat; the theme of alienation dominates everything; the lighting, Michael's sudden infatuation with Lisa, a woman he meets in the hotel, and the day after. It happens in a dispiriting tone of near futility in any kind of human relation, which is the feeling that encapsulates the very melancholic Anomalisa. It doesn't indicate that Kaufman has gotten any better, or lighter, mentally.
Ultimately a question of temperament, taste and tolerance will decide whether you'll love Anomalisa to death or mostly shrug it off like a miserable cold, as I more or less felt about it.

Related posts:

Charlie Kaufman: Adaptation (2002) or, Charlie Kaufman's Fictional Life (writer)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) or, The Gong Show Killer (writer)
Being John Malkovich (1999) - Jonze, Kaufman and Malkovich's great triumph (writer)

Watch a trailer for the film here

Cost: 8 mil. $
Box office: 5.6 mil. $
= Huge flop
[Anomalisa premiered 4 September (Telluride Film Festival, USA) and runs 90 minutes. In the play, David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan also played the parts and sat on different parts of the stage and didn't move, only interacting through dialog. The film version should be identical, only different in terms of its media and that the action actually takes place. The film started as a short that got off as a Kickstarter campaign that gathered 400k $, enabling funding for it as a feature to come together. The puppets were created with a 3D printer, and production lasted for two years. Paramount bought the worldwide distribution rights after the film's Toronto screening. It opened #34 in 4 theaters to a 135k $ first weekend in North America, where it peaked #18in 573 theaters and grossed 3.7 mil. $ (66.1 % of the total gross). The 2nd and 3rd biggest markets were the UK with 321k $ (5.7 %) and France with 167k $ (3 %). The film was nominated for the Best Animation Oscar as the first R-rated animation to achieve this, but lost to masterpiece Inside Out. It was also nominated for a Golden Globe, 4 Independent Spirit Awards, and was the first animation to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival. Anomalisa is certified fresh at 92 % with a 8.4/10 critical average at Rotten Tomatoes.]

What do you think of Anomalisa?

Eagerly anticipating this week ... (39-17)

Eagerly anticipating this week ... (39-17)
John Trengove's The Wound/Inxeba (2017)