Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Sunday, September 18, 2011, 11:00 PM

Many readers were very pissed for a very long time that I didn't really dig "Thor." 

In fact, it became (yes) a Thor thubject for a lot of people, who insisted, especially after I panned the latest Transformers, that I was an elitist, which seems a strange thing to say about somebody who gave an "A" to "Kung Fu Panda."

Anyway, after several months to really think about it, I can now say...that I really didn't dig "Thor." It remains for me in that sort of Green Lantern-ish lump of second-tier super-hero movies, well back of your "Dark Knights" or your "Spider-Mans."

POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2011, 9:08 PM

Reuters reports that tribute pages on Facebook following Patrick Swayze's death were a major factor in convincing Hollywood that a "Point Break" remake could work. 

It's the same thinking, says Reuters, that led to plans for a remake of Swayze's "Dirty Dancing," also in the making.

Now if somebody could only explain why they remade "Footloose." 

POSTED: Monday, September 12, 2011, 8:44 PM

More fodder for the ongoing mystery of Hollywood releasing strategy:

This past weekend two movies, "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star," and "Creature," nearly set records for being the least attended titles in recorded history.

"Creature" drew an abysmal 6 people per screening, "Bucky" eight people. That includes, one presumes, Nick Swardson's relatives. The movie drew an critics score of Zero Percent on rottentomatoes.com, and that squares up pretty well with the terrifying TV commercials -- certainly among the worst ever conceived. I don't if the movie sets out to ridicule the mentally challenged (the height of irony), but the marketing campaign certainly made it seem so.

POSTED: Sunday, September 11, 2011, 8:24 PM

The week's DVD releases were better than average. Matthew Vaughn's cheeky "X:Men" prequel "First Class" is the big title, and it was certainly a step up from the franchise under Ratner. MIchael Fassbender made an amusing Magneto (pre-conversion), and he was half as much fun as Kevin Bacon's villain Sebastian Shaw, megalomaniac captain of his own groovy, 60s submarine, complete with bachelor pad.

 Joe Wright's "Hanna" was another eccentric actioner. Saoirse Ronan is a teen girl with extraoridinary powers of ass-kicking, the result of a rogue CIA experiment. Now she's being pursued by the woman (Cate Blanchett) who commissioned her, leading to teen-Bourne globetrotting adventure, and supporting work for Olivia Williams. Also Jessica Barden, who was so funny in "Tamara Drewe," and is good again here.

"Everything Must Go" is one of the indies that most sticks in my mind this year. WIll Ferrell has an offbeat role as a reformed alcoholic who falls off the wagon, losing his job and his house. His wife chucks his  stuff out on the lawn, where he decides to live -- a visual idea that never gets old. Ferrell plays it straight, has nice scenes with Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Biggie's kid.

POSTED: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 3:28 PM

The weird and unprecedented local release pattern for the highly enjoyable British sci-fi/horror/comedy "Attack The Block" gets weirder.

It's one week run in Cherry Hill ends today. Tomorrow it opens at the Regal Plymouth Meeting and the Regal Marketplace Oaks.

The studio seems not quite sure what to do with it. They know it's good -- polling at almost 90 percent on rottentomatoes.com -- so they want to give it a release. But they also know it has no marketable stars (Nick Frost is the biggest name), and is a bit hard to understand in its British vernacular. So now it's mall-hopping around the burbs. Why this movie isn't playing at the Rave or a Ritz is a mystery. 

POSTED: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 2:00 PM

I hate to keep blabbing on and on about the women-at-the-box-office thing, but "The Help" won the weekend again, beating back a couple of horror movies.

It's the first movie since "Inception" to reign 3 straight weeks, and in its fourth week, it's weekend BO actually INCREASED a percentage point, no doubt due to the holidays. It's stiffest competition came from "The Debt," starring 66-year-old Helen Mirren, more circumstantial evidence that Hollywood leaves money on the table by going after the male-youth demo at the expense of movies with an all-ages appeal to women. And the best holdover from the previous week was "Columbiana," Zoe Saldana's movie.

I think the help will lose it's hold on the number this Friday, when the crowd-pleasing "Warriors" opens alongside the star-studded "Contagion," but I'll bet "Help" keeps its srong word of mouth following. 

POSTED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 11:43 AM

Cornel West wrote an amazing op-ed for the Times last week, essentially arguing that MLK would have disliked his new statue -- "he never confused substance with symbolism" -- and would preferred to be remembered via an ongoing struggle for social change.

Within the piece is a withering takedown of contemporary pop culture, worth considering: "Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consiences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists."

Wow. Sounds like somebody's seen "Sex and the City 2."  

POSTED: Monday, August 29, 2011, 12:35 PM

Cult director Nick Refn ("Valhalla Rising," "Bronson") stopped in Philly recently to talk about "Drive," his new Ryan Gosling thriller.

I asked him about my theory that Hollywood, in its pursuit of the male demo 18-35, seems to be ignoring an apparent goldmine -- movies that have an all-ages appeal to women. He said it rings true, based on his personal experience. One of the first projects he pitched to Hollywood, he said, was a movie built around a female character -- he was told it wouldn't get funded, because it wouldn't make money.

That industry position gets harder to argue when you have a movie like "The Help" clobbering all comers at the box office, as it continues to do. Second straight week at number one, nearing $100 million, made for a reported $25 million. Compare than, say, to the new "Conan," dying an awful death, a movie that cost $16 million and will be lucky to make $20 million.

About this blog
Gary Thompson is the Daily News film critic. Reach Gary at thompsg@phillynews.com.

Gary Thompson Daily News Film Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected