Friday, August 29, 2014

New poster for "The Homesman"

The Homemsan evidently had its American premiere today at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado.  A new poster was released yesterday to coincide with the occasion.


I'll be interested to see a few more reviews of the film in the coming days.  Currently it stands at a respectable 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.  The Homesman is set for a wide release in early November.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The Homesman" release pushed back a week?

Yesterday, the Hollywood Reported revealed that The Homemsan will be the centerpiece picture at the Hamptons Film Festival in October.  In the article, it states that the film will be released in cinemas on Friday, November 14, while previous reports have indicated a release set for one week earlier on November 7.  I suppose it won't really matter all that much to die-hard Meryl fans, as she pretty much just has a cameo, but I'd still rather have it sooner than later.  Regardless, it's great for the film to have a slot at the festival, and I'm looking forward to seeing it whenever it reaches a theater near me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New still from "Into the Woods"

A new production still of Meryl as the Witch in her upcoming film Into the Woods was unveiled today:


After seeing this, I can't help but picture Streep's character as a more grotesque version of Anita Morris in A Smoky Mountain Christmas: 


Coincidentally, Woods opens December 25th.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week two of "The Giver" in cinemas

The Giver will likely finish in sixth place at the box office this weekend.  Estimates put it at about $6.7 million for a domestic total of about $24 million.  With a budget at around $25 million and this already being the second weekend, I think this film will be hard pressed to surpass $40 million in the U.S.  Typically a film needs to gross at least double its budget to make a profit (at least domestically I think).  International roll out will take place over the next month, but I don't see that being a huge help.  Not that I would describe this a complete flop, but considering it's being distributed by the Weinstein Company, the film's performance in theaters will likely end up being a financial disappointment.  Hopefully I'll be off on my estimates.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Modest opening weekend for "The Giver"

Meryl's new film The Giver opened to somewhat disappointing results this weekend.  Optimistic expectations were that it would open between $15-20 million.  However, it could only manage a fifth place spot according to Box Office Mojo with just over $12 million.  It's not terrible, but unless there's fantastic word of mouth for this, I don't see it getting much better.  With a budget of around $25 million and considering production studios collect just over half of a film's gross when all is said and done...the Weinstein Company may be left with a bit of a dud.  And it may not necessarily be a good sign when Sarah Palin champions your film.  I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Film review: "The Giver" (2014)

Scooter and I caught a 7:00 showing of The Giver last night.  It was great to have him along as he was less familiar with the story, hadn't read the book, and came in with unbiased eyes.  I have read the book, am quite familiar with the story and was looking forward to seeing how director Phillip Noyce would negotiate capturing the adaptation of Lois Lowry's novel.

The story surrounds the young Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, and his isolated community that has attempted to liberate itself from all human suffering.  Daily injections to remove certain emotions, no pain, no illness, no color,  assigned occupations at the age of 18.  Jonas has been selected to become the Receiver of memory, as all recollections of history have been wiped out and contained in one man's mind, the Giver (Jeff Bridges).

Once Jonas begins his training however, he quickly realizes that he, his family and entire community are being done a disservice by having so many experiences withheld.  The last straw is when Jonas learns that a baby his parents have been taking care of temporarily is scheduled to be "released" (essentially euthanized) because he is not gaining weight quickly enough.  Jonas decides to take off with the child (Gabriel) and attempt to reach the outer boundaries of his community.

Meryl plays the Chief Elder, one of society's members who's responsible for behavioral restrictions placed on everyone.  After Jonas flees, she ultimately asks one of his friends, Asher (Cameron Monaghan), now a drone pilot, to "lose him."  Jonas eventually escapes with Gabriel to "Elsewhere", which releases all memories back to his community.



I came away from the theater being entertained, feeling drawn in by the suspense of the last act of the film.  Scooter and I both agreed however that there was insufficient background on what events lead to the creation of this communities.  The book itself is rather short and the events of the film seemed to progress a bit too quickly to seem plausible.  I understand the likely economic reasons the filmmakers made this into an almost science fiction-like young adult flick, but I would've been totally fine without the high-tech environment in which the characters existed.

Meryl does a great job at being a creepy authoritarian, and her role is greatly expanded from the book. With Jonas's growing awareness, the themes of individualism and the importance of free will are sharply contrasted with the Chief Elder's drive to maintain "order."  I enjoy the attempt to focus on these ideas, particularly for the tween generation, although like many other reviewers have already mentioned, I feel it may be a less resounding call to attention twenty years after the book's very popular debut.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday wrap-up

Joe and I are happy to have survived a three-day wilderness adventure in the Boundary Waters. A quintessential Minnesota experience that was beautiful but a LOT of work.  Needless to say, I was completely cut off from all "web" exposure, and of course there are several things to cover in regard to Meryl news.

Firstly, The Giver has arrived in theaters nationwide.  Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at an awful 29% based on 97 reviews.  I can't say that I didn't think this would be a critical hit, but I didn't expect it to to be received quite this poorly.  The real story will be told by box-office returns, and early estimates have it grossing around $12-15 million for its opening weekend.  Not bad, but not great.  I'm seeing it with Scooter tomorrow evening and I'll report back Sunday with my review.  

Secondly, Rob Marshall has answered some long-standing questions from concerned fans of the upcoming Into the Woods.  Big take aways: it sounds like they may actually be keeping the true adult, dark themes intact.  The Baker's Wife still has a tryst with Cinderella's Prince, and Rapunzel, although it appears that she does not die, still has a dubious end.

More specifically, the new song Stephen Sondheim wrote for Meryl as the Witch has been cut from the film. I originally had a disappointed reaction to this, but I feel that if deleting the song improves on the film as a whole...ditch it.  Reports from early screenings were that it was a bit slow, so whatever it was probably natural do excise new material, especially when the original is so close to perfect.

To accompany the news from Marshall, a new still of the Witch and Rapunzel (likely from the Stay With Me scene) was revealed.


Finally, upon reentering cellular service this morning, I was shocked and excited to see that Meryl was attached to a film involving former Indian Prime minister Indira Gandhi.  Turns out the role was not Indira, and the article was from the "Mocktale" section of The Times of India, which are "works of fiction intended to bring a smile to your face." Wrong.