September 2007 Archives

I wasn’t surprised that David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises topped this week’s Box Office Power Rankings, but I was surprised by the margin. Even though the Russian-mob movie took fifth place in overall box office this past weekend (its first in wide release), its per-theater average and enthusiastic reviews gave it an easy victory.

Perhaps that’s a little less impressive when you consider that its new-release competition was box-office champ Resident Evil: Extinction (Rotten Tomatoes score: 26), Good Luck Chuck (Rotten Tomatoes: 3!), and Sydney White (Rotten Tomatoes: 39).

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

Two thoughts on the Box Office Power Rankings:

  • I believe I’ve been miscalculating and/or misrepresenting one element of the rankings. I’ve been calling the second box-office component per-screen average, when I now think that I’ve been using the number of theaters instead of screens. It probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference; movies on multiple screens per theater would be the beneficiaries, but smaller films have still done pretty well in this measure. It will be called per-theater average from this point forward.
  • I’m toying with the idea of trying to use the Box Office Power Rankings as a Best Picture Oscar predictor. The hypothesis would be that longevity, peak position, and peak score in the rankings might name the winner once the nominees are known. Alternatively, some aggregate score could be devised.

And in this week’s rankings, 3:10 to Yuma staved off The Brave One to retain its crown, assisted in large part by movie critics giving the Jodie Foster vehicle mediocre reviews.

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

Hung Out to Dry

'When the Levees Broke': Creating sympathy without empathyThe grief in Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the anger in it is misinformed, facile, naïve, misplaced, unfair, inconsistent, unsupported, or some combination of the seven.

To be clear, I do not begrudge the people of New Orleans for being pissed off at their municipal, state, and federal governments for their preparations for and responses to Hurricane Katrina, levee breaches, and flooding. When you’ve been through what they’ve been through, you’re entitled to your ire.

I do begrudge Lee, who had an opportunity to create either a poetic expression of loss, sadness, and fury or the definitive popular political document on the hurricane and its aftermath. Instead, he made something in between, a scattershot, muddled, formless four-hour documentary that is rarely illuminating and too infrequently poignant. It’s not just disappointing; it’s maddening.

It must be the fall movie season, because last weekend’s box-office champ brought in all of $14 million. What we’ll discover in the coming months is how the youthful Box Office Power Rankings (started in May) react to an autumn environment, with its decidedly different dynamic. My guess is that absent summer blockbusters, critical reception will carry more weight.

That hypothesis didn’t get tested this past weekend, because James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma did well with audiences and critics alike, topping our rankings and knocking Superbad from the number-one spot.

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

Sick sick sick movies.
Eat some people, fuck the dead.
'Ravenous': Have I told you about my condition?It’s time for haiku!

Are you Ravenous?
Do you see the potency
That human meat gives?

Guy Pearce, his cheekbones,
Gold-rush cannibalism —
What’s there not to like?

No Stock Footage


Andrew Bird: The mysterious production of musicThere is nobody like Andrew Bird in the world, a songwriter and a performer who makes his whistling, his glockenspiel, and his violin at home with guitars, drums, and vocals in detailed, pitch-perfect pop songs that never seem precious or forced, as eccentric as they are.

But when you’re as idiosyncratic as Bird is, that means there aren’t many people whose vision matches your own.

I’ll be brief this week, as we have some renovations happening behind the scenes here at Culture Snob.

Superbad, after spending the past two weeks in our rankings behind The Bourne Ultimatum, finally took the top spot over the Labor Day weekend ... by finishing second in all four of the criteria. Box-office champ Halloween took third place in the Box Office Power Rankings.

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

'Halloween': The robotic maniacWith Rob Zombie’s remake in theaters this weekend, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore why Michael Myers (or “The Shape”) worked so well in John Carpenter’s 1978 movie Halloween.

In this commentary track, part of Culture Snob’s Five Minutes series, I use the movie’s ending to discuss the transformation of Michael Myers from troubled child into bogeyman — from human to supernatural.