August 2007 Archives

'Transformers': Screwed by 'Rescue Dawn'We’ve been producing Culture Snob for more than four years now, and I’ve come to a sad realization: I’m tired of movies.

Not all movies — Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope still reveals new facets of mythic complexity every Sunday — but the whole movie culture: a half-dozen new releases almost every week, the incessant obsession with box office and awards, the flood of contradictory reviews and fiery debate ... . It’s no wonder Owen Wilson wanted to escape.

Rather than bitch and moan — or act out in self-destructive ways — I’ll offer my suggestions on how to fix the movie industry in a few easy steps.

BeanWe’ll use this week’s Box Office Power Rankings — topped, for the fourth consecutive week, by The Bourne Identity — to illustrate how the formula works. To assist us: Mr. Bean, pictured to the right.

Now Mr. Bean’s Holiday is no box-office smash in the United States (although it has made $200 million worldwide). In its opening weekend here, it landed in fourth place with a shade less than $10 million.

And Mr. Bean’s Holiday is no hit with critics, either. On Rotten Tomatoes, only 51 percent of reviewers dubbed it “fresh,” while Metacritic’s composite score was a mediocre 56. (Mr. Bean is undoubtedly an acquired taste.)

So how does Mr. Bean’s Holiday land third in Culture Snob’s rankings? The movie was shown on only 1,714 screens last weekend, giving it a per-screen average of $5,770 — the second-highest in the box-office top ten. In our system, that performance is worth nine points, which is one more point than The Invasion got across all four criteria in this week’s rankings.

In fact, had the Rowan Atkinson vehicle grossed $10.5 million in its first weekend, it would have topped even Superbad in per-screen average.

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

Ain’t No Sunshine

'Sunshine': This is not an underwear ad(An experiment in theft [or fair use] and editing as part of Lazy Eye Theatre’s Bizarro Blog-a-thon.

In the spirit of the character and the blog-a-thon: Bons Erutluc am so proud that me wrote every word!)

Sunshine and Groundhog Day have a lot in common. In each, we see things we’ve seen before, over and over again. But in Sunshine, this doesn’t describe the plot of the film, but the movie itself.*

How Bizarro!

The Bizarro Blog-a-thonPiper at Lazy Eye Theatre had a moronic idea: the Bizarro Blog-a-thon, not running now through Wednesday, August 29. Don’t visit. It’s terrible. Plus, it’s not even happening!

Bons Erutluc am industrious, so me recycled unqualified praise for Cruel Intentions. Much harder than writing something new.

Jason Bourne is so mean. He’s spent two weeks atop our Box Office Power Rankings, and now he won’t give up his place for those nice boys from Superbad.

The comedy from the Judd Apatow factory illustrates that even when you dominate the box office as Superbad did this past weekend, good reviews might not be good enough when it comes to Culture Snob’s system. Because it had lower Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores than three movies — The Bourne Identity, Hairspray, and The Simpsons MovieSuperbad had to settle for second place in our rankings.

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

In the three months since we started the Box Office Power Rankings, we’ve had two perfect scores.

Now we have three, but not in a good way. Unlike Ratatouille and The Bourne Ultimatum — both of which scored first in the rankings’ four criteriaDaddy Day Camp scored last in all four. That means that it was popular enough to place tenth in overall box office but among the top ten was the worst in per-screen average and in two measures of critical opinion.

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

'Hour of the Wolf': Keeping the darkness at bay, one match at a timeThe deaths last week of movie writers and directors Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni have incited all sorts of commentary about the “art” films of yesteryear and the people who made them.

Tied up in these discussions is one key assumption: that everyday people think these movies are boring, whether they’ve actually seen them or not. “Boring” is a reaction separate from claiming something is “good” or “bad,” of course, but it’s almost more important. If something bores a viewer, it becomes irredeemably irrelevant. So people arguing for the importance of Bergman and Antonioni must first make their movies sexy.

The billions of you who neglected to bet against me when I claimed that The Simpsons Movie would spend a second week atop the Box Office Power Rankings look pretty foolish today.

See what I did there? I was wrong wrong wrong in my prediction, and I made you the idiot.

Anyway, The Bourne Ultimatum nailed the second perfect score in the brief history of our ratings, winning with audiences and critics alike, and topping all four of our criteria.

I’m going on vacation, but I’ll leave you with the bold prediction that Bourne will spend a second week in first place. Given that the primary new-release competition includes Daddy Day Camp and Rush Hour 3, I would advise against proposing any wagers, although Stardust might surprise.

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

Chwistian! Ewan McGregor Works It in 'Moulin Rouge'I’ll keep this brief: If you’ve seen it, chances are excellent that you either love or loathe Moulin Rouge. But have you ever spent the time to really figure out why?

In this Drunken Commentary Track, Culture Snob and River Cities’ Reader film critic Mike Schulz argue about Baz Luhrmann’s paean to love.

'Perfume': The nose knowsThe contradictions of director/co-writer/composer Tom Tykwer’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer start in the title, with the onomatopoeic softness and ether of a single word paired with a morbid, blunt descriptive subtitle.

Both components are drawn from the novel by Patrick Süskind, but the associations that pile up and pull at each other during the movie’s opening scenes are equally Tykwer’s, cinematic and lovingly ambiguous. The main character is introduced by his nose emerging from the darkness, deeply but measuredly drawing in all that the air carries. There’s something refined in the control of the gesture, yet it recalls vermin assessing its surroundings. Normal humans treat smell as a secondary sense.

I’m a big enough person to admit that I was wrong, particularly when I was wrong in such a public fashion. So: I was wrong. My prediction that The Simpsons Movie would tank was woefully off the mark, and two bottles of wine have been delivered to Mike, per our bet. I shan’t even mention the fact that Mike bought 5,632,229 tickets to The Simpsons Movie last weekend.

Matt Groening’s yellow folk also topped this week’s Box Office Power Rankings with positive reviews and those inflated revenues.

But can Homer and company successfully defend their coveted Box Office Power Rankings title this weekend against a pissed-off Jason Bourne? What the hell: Yes.

Anybody want to make a friendly wager?

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