July 2007 Archives

G. LoveSome things are too embarrassing for public consumption, so the man born Garrett Dutton and known as G. Love exercised some control over the content of his new documentary and concert DVD, A Year & a Night with G. Love & Special Sauce.

When the director showed him his initial cut of the documentary portion of the DVD, coming it at roughly two hours, G. Love demanded that some material come out.

The running time was one concern, but image was another, G. Love admitted in a recent interview. “You’ve got to take this shit out,” he told the director. “I don’t want to come off like this.”

But don’t expect a scrubbed and polished portrayal of the shambling, Philadelphia-based bluesy hip-hop artist on the DVD, or in a conversation with him. If you want to be considered authentic, it’s important to let people see your flaws. As G. Love said of the DVD, “You can’t just paint your shit so it smells like roses. You’ve got to leave a little poop in there.”

So Hairspray knocked the rat off its pedestal after three weeks at the top, ranking second or third in all four components of the Box Office Power Rankings to sneak past Pixar’s latest offering.

But I’m more interested in The Simpsons Movie. I have a bet with Mike Schulz, our frequent collaborator on Drunken Commentary Tracks. Basically, I think the movie will Grindhouse bomb, and he thinks it will rule the box office with a force not seen since ... well, at least a couple weeks ago.

Our bet: Two bottles of wine to me if The Simpsons Movie grosses less than $20 million in the U.S. its opening weekend. One bottle of wine to me between $20 million and $40 million. One bottle of wine to him $40 million to $60 million. And two bottles of wine to Mike if it rakes in more than $60 million.

Continue reading for last week’s full rankings and the methodology.

'Hostel: Part II': Are we having fun yet?With its dismal first-weekend performance at the box office, Captivity offers an opportunity to bemoan (or cheer) the diminished commercial prospects for that genre we’re no longer allowed to call “torture porn.”

At The Exploding Kinetoscope, Chris Stangl recently argued (in the context of Hostel: Part II) that labeling something “torture porn”

“is a non-position that allows a critic not to engage the work. It’s critical name-calling.”

There are some interesting arguments here, but I reject the assertion that “torture porn” isn’t an appropriate and meaningful tag for the genre. And I don’t think the phrase is a dismissive put-down.

There are no surprises in the rankings for this past weekend, save one absence: Captivity. Opening on 1,061 screens (one quarter as many as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Roland Joffe’s thriller grossed less than $1.5 million — good for 12th place and therefore ineligible for this week’s Box Office Power Rankings.

With no serious new-release competition, Harry Potter’s box office and generally positive reviews propelled it to second place in the rankings. Ratatouille, buoyed by stellar notices and continued strength at the box office, took the top spot for the third week in a row.

And with no more anticipated blockbusters on the summer release calendar, Pixar’s latest is threatening to stay atop the rankings for several more weeks.

Continue reading for the full rankings and the methodology.

Possessed by Pain

Sandra Hüller in 'Requiem'Sometimes the biggest gift a film can give us is to force us back into the real world rather than letting us escape.

Many people watch movies as a respite from the stresses of life, but that often has a trivializing effect. When film is used primarily as a medium for entertainment, it follows that we derive pleasure from crime, violence, human suffering, and the like.

The German movie Requiem is about demonic possession, yet in spite of its subject matter, it’s a serious, wrenching piece. And because of its subject matter, it’s all the more effective, as the audience isn’t expecting to be challenged.

All About Me

In the week that marks the fourth anniversary of Culture Snob, Adam Ross at DVD Panache has featured this site as his Friday Screen Test. It’s a great opportunity to indulge your insatiable curiosity about me.

Many thanks for the invitation and the virtual ink!

The rats still rule in Culture Snob’s Box Office Power Rankings, with the critical acclaim for Pixar’s and Disney’s Ratatouille easily overcoming the box-office power of (and surprisingly un-bad reviews for) Transformers. Michael Bay’s robot movie landed in third place, also behind Live Free or Die Hard.

The week’s other major release, the Robin Williams vehicle License to Wed, barely managed to beat a trio of moldy oldies with its abysmal notices.

Continue reading for the full rankings and the methodology.

Run like hell: Robert Carlyle in '28 Weeks Later'In the opening of 28 Weeks Later, Don (Robert Carlyle) faces a dilemma: He can leave his wife to die and run like hell on the off chance that he might outrun the “infected,” or he can stay with her and face a gruesome end.

He runs like hell, and looks back to see his wife attacked.

This is the movie writ small, laying the groundwork for more impossible choices.

Edward Copeland at Edward Copeland on Film has tagged me, which must mean he doesn’t like me. Join the club, buddy!

People who have been tagged are required to reveal eight facts about themselves and to post and obey the following rules, which I’m copying from Edward’s site and to which I’ll add my own anal-retentive commentary, because somebody really needs to revise them for clarity and elegance.

We have our first perfect score in Culture Snob’s Box Office Power Rankings. Pixar’s and Disney’s Ratatouille (directed and co-written by Brad Bird) was certainly expected to top the rankings, but this is a bit of a surprise.

Why? Because to achieve the maximum score of 40, a movie needs to top the box office (in this case, over Live Free Or Die Hard); perform better per-screen than both its “big” competitors (Live Free Or Die Hard again) and limited-release prestige pictures (Sicko); and score better with critics than everything else in the box-office top ten (particularly Sicko and Knocked Up).

That’s a tall order, but the computer-animated rats were up to the task.

Continue reading for the full rankings and the methodology.

Beyond Sacred Steel

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Robert RandolphIn an interview, pedal-steel guitarist Robert Randolph once suggested that somebody would come along and be the instrument’s Jeff Beck or Jimi Hendrix.

When I asked him recently where that put him in the pedal steel’s development, the singer/songwriter/guitarist appeared to backtrack a little. “Somebody has to put me there,” he said of the class of guitar revolutionaries that includes Hendrix. “I wouldn’t put myself there.”

But based on his own criteria, that class is probably where Randolph belongs.

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