November 2009 Archives


“There are movies that bring us a pleasure that’s neither definable nor defensible”: Link. Truest with youthful things

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Twitter Review: Grace

Primally repulsive and sad, ‘Grace’ is an honest, thorough metaphor for early motherhood, and clever and light with its icky cryptic horrors

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carol.jpgAs people tell us time and time again, box-office performance is in the eye of the beholder.

Box Office Mojo wrote that Michael Jackson’s This Is It, in its debut weekend, did “exceptionally well for a concert picture or music documentary.” On the other hand, Disney’s A Christmas Carol “stumbled a bit out of the gate.”

Guess which one made $30 million and which one pulled in $23 million in its opening weekend.

Yep. The stumbler made more.

The two movies are within a couple hundred theaters of each other. Michael Jackson had literally no new-wide-release competition, and as you might have heard, Michael Jackson died suddenly in June. Charles Dickens had to fight off Goats, aliens, and whatever Richard Kelly is selling in The Box. And again: A Christmas Carol made $7 million more than This Is It, even though it had significantly weaker reviews.

It also earned $7 million more in its opening weekend than The Polar Express, made by the same director with the same technique for the same holiday. But as Mojo helpfully adds: “Polar Express ... was muted by opening a few days after The Incredibles whereas Carol had no such direct competitor.”

The unstated premise here — and it is truly unstated in these weekend roundups — is the size of the gamble. A Christmas Carol cost $200 million to make ($35 million more than Polar Express, by the way), while the production costs of This Is It had been spent before the decision was made to turn those rehearsals into into a movie. So any revenue generated by This Is It is gravy, while A Christmas Carol has far to go before it’s in the black.

I’m no defender of Robert Zemeckis or these motion-capture animated things, but I refuse to consider a $30-million, non-Thanksgiving November opening a disappointment, either in absolute terms or compared to a postmortem cash-in. (Yeah, I know it was assembled with affection and skill, but it’s still a postmortem cash-in.)

Others might be harsh in their assessments, but cheer up, Robert! You did win the Box Office Power Rankings, and Michael didn’t.

Continue reading for the full rankings and methodology.


Ebert:Many readers hated “Knowing,” and many will hate “The Box.” What can I say? I’m not here to agree with you. Link

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drag-2.jpgSam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell exists mostly to remind the world that Sam Raimi made The Evil Dead and can still make The Evil Dead, which is good to know because Sam Raimi is re-making The Evil Dead.

But amid all the giggle-inducing grossness are a few grace notes — unnecessarily skillful business that reminds us that Raimi also made A Simple Plan. I’m going to talk about one of those bits.


Dog of Culture Snob is the cover model for Weezer’s “Raditude”: Link. It’s gone to her head, clearly.

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