Like I said last week, Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 2 was bound to have such a massive opening box office weekend that it would soar above Skyfall and finally knock Bond back into second place. Wait, no, don’t go and check back, just trust me, that’s definitely what I said. Honestly.
With £15.85 million taken in its opening three days, the latest Twilight has the highest opening gross of any film in the franchise thus far. Bond experienced his sharpest drop off yet, down 47% on its third week takings, but even with the expected gradual decline in the coming weeks, it still looks set to overtake Avatar’s record box-office haul of £94million given that in just four weeks it has already managed to bank a cool £82million.
Twilight movies don’t tend to have the legs of many other blockbusters as the die-hard fan base flock to see it opening weekend, but with Skyfall finally on the wane and only mid-sized offerings being released this week, I’d be surprised if it didn’t hold on to top spot for a little while yet.
With Diwali occurring last week there was a strong showing from several Bollywood movies in last weekend’s top ten. Jab Tak Hai Jaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, was the most succesful taking an impressive£894,000 from just 85 screens to enter in fourth spot, while Son of Sardar (£214,000) and Thuppakki (£134,000) also came in eight and tenth respectively.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master experienced a sizeable resurgence as its nationwide release, following on from its limited London one, saw it shoot back up to sixth place. Pretty much everything else in the top ten of last week though has seen a massive drop off in revenue as Twilight and Skyfall really dominate cinema audiences. Argo has an acceptable 19% drop (see below for a new TV spot to entice you if you’ve not made the trip already) but The Sapphires (79%) and Here Comes The Boom (72%) both plummeted out of the top ten. Michael Haneke’s arthouse offering Amour however had an impressive opening weekend, screening at just 29 cinemas but entering at eleventh spot and taking in far more than movies playing on four times as many screens.
From this week’s releases, there’s several mid-sized offerings that should experience solid if unremarkable opening weekends. There’s no really big blockbuster release now until The Hobbit hits our screens in December and with Skyfall finally on the decline and Twilight with a fairly limited appeal, it’s a good time for mid-carders to get a release. Cinema attendances are up on this same time last year and while none of this week’s offerings will expect to necessarily knock Twilight off top spot, there’s several movies which will be looking to post some decent opening moolah.
Firstly there is the Coen Brothers-penned heist caper Gambit, which comes with a strong cast including Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and most crucially…..The Rickman. Secondly is gritty crime drama End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña in the leads, which I personally am really excited to see. Then last but not least though is romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence which was a big hit as the Toronto Film Festival and has had a fair amount of positive reviews since. All three will be expecting strong openings but I think it will be the latter which proves the most succesful, buoyed by positive word of mouth and a starry Hollywood cast.
If you want to check to see if any of these films are playing near you, you can visit Find Any Film and they’ll be able to help.
End of Watch *Pick of the Week*
A gritty noir-esque cop drama set in the sun-drenched streets of South Central LA. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as a pair of buddy cops who uncover a major secret regarding a local drug cartel and soon find themselves in way over their heads. End of Watch has been receiving rave review over the in the US where it has been billed in some quarters as the best cop drama since Training Day, a film which director David Ayer himself wrote and produced.
For further recommendation look no further than legendary director William Friedkin who said “[it] may be the best cop film ever”, and that man directed The French Connection, so he knows whereof he speaks. The story unfolds from the POV of the two cops, often utilising the footage from personal digital cameras they have attached to their uniforms. This gives the film a realistic and low-fi feel as we stalk the dangerous streets with the two leads.
The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pena has also come in for considerable praise. The two characters share the same sense of humour and exchange in what I believe is known as ‘top banter’ as they cruise around in their cop car. One is a cocksure prankster, the other a committed family man, but rather than simply playing out as a cliché mismatched buddy cop movie, their close friendship always feels entirely genuine. A raw and often violent cop movie that is every bit as entertaining as it is dramatic.
Some reviewers aren’t quite as sold as others, but there’s a sizeable number out there who are really raving about End of Watch and it looks to be one of the last must-see movies of 2012.
Kenji Lloyd says:
I’ve not yet seen End of Watch, but have heard nothing but good things about it, and can’t wait to see it, after finally arriving on our shores following its September release in the US. It topped the box office in the States, and it will be interesting to see if it can do the same again here. Jake Gyllenhaal has been one of my favourite actors for years, and with support coming from Michael Peña and Anna Kendrick, it’s equally unmissable viewing.
Much has been made of the fact that this is a film de Coen Brothers, but by all accounts, one shouldn’t let that get your hopes up to much. A loose remake of the 1966 Michael Caine starring caper, this modern-day re-imagening pits itself as a playful heist movie in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven, with a dash of Pink Panther tomfoolery thrown in for good measure. If the critics are to be believed, it fails dismally to reach the heights of either.
A British thief called Harry Deane (Colin Firth) plots to defraud his obnoxious and incredibly wealthy boss Lord Shabander (Alan Rickman) with the help of a talented forger (Tom Courtenay) and a brash Texan rodeo queen (Cameron Diaz). Despite Harry’s careful planning, things soon begin to rapidly unravel and the operation starts to go disastrously wrong. I mean, it doesn’t even sound like a Coen Brothers movie. It’s no surprise that they chose not to direct it themselves. It sounds like they knocked a quick script out in a weekend or so and then realised they’d made a terrible mistake, spell checked it through the once and then thought, sod it, let somebody else have at this one.
The plot is by all accounts a muddled mess and there’s a distinct lack of genuine humour given its bright and breezy nature, with fart gags and nudity relied up on instead of the Coen’s usual brand of eccentric wit. The cast all do their best to inject a bit of verve and warmth into proceedings, and it would appear that it’s only the big hitters along for the ride which stop Gambit from falling into absolute shocker territory.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 7% (ouch.)
Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell’s follow-up to the immensely succesful The Fighter is a rom-com with an edge. Alongside the offbeat humour and blossoming romance is a film looking at the effects that mental illness can have on a person’s life and those around him. It’s always a tricky balancing act for a director to combine light-hearted comedy with a serious message about psychological problems, and the critics seem divided over whether Russell achieves it or not.
The plot revolves around Pat (Bradley Cooper), a guy who lost everything after spending eight months in a psychiatric hospital for assaulting his wife’s lover. He is released into the custody of his parents and moves back into the family home. Pat remains unwaveringly optimistic and seems convinced he can reconcile with his estranged wife. Pat then meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a young widow with problems of her own, and the two soon strike up a friendship and devise a mutually beneficial plan in order to help each other out. Tiffany will help Pat get his wife back, if he will in turn help her compete in an upcoming dance competition. Both are trying to move on with their lives, though those close to them are still clearly not convinced they are back to their normal selves.
There’s very few critics who have been overly negative towards Silver Linings, the majority seem to give it an average rating, feeling it is uneven in parts, with the tone shifting awkwardly from comedy to serious in certain places, but it’s nonetheless an entertaining and heartfelt comedy drama. Several also suggest that the ‘Com’ element of the movie soon gives way and the ‘Rom’ element begins to take precedence. Though whether that’s a bad thing or not depends on personal taste I suppose!
Cooper is fine as an excitable but troubled leading man, but it’s Lawrence who has gained the most praise for her promiscuous and yet vulnerable performance, with several even tipping her for an Oscar nod. There are however a sizeable number of critics who are extremely keen on Silver Linings and are full of praise for its warm humour and sincere message. It certainly seems to have transcended the standard rom-com template and looks set to be a broad crowd pleaser.
Kenji Lloyd says:
Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best films of the year, and should be a big contender at the Oscars in a few months. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are electric in the leads, Robert De Niro is on top of his game as Cooper’s dad, and Jacki Weaver is her usual excellent self as his mum. And especially coming off the back of The Fighter, David O. Russell could well be looking at Best Director and/or Best Adapted Screenplay come January’s nominations. Definitely a must-see this weekend.
Ezequiel Gutierrez adds:
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is easily my favorite film of 2012 so far. It’s a true crowd pleaser with the best ensemble cast of the year. David O Russell does a great job with the source material and doesn’t shy away from presenting mental illness in a raw and sometimes humorous light. Jennifer Lawrence proves yet again that she was a fantastic actress before all this Hunger Games insanity. She more than holds her own against the likes of Robert De Niro who will no doubt garner himself a Best Supporting Actor Nom for his role. Bradley Cooper is a strong leading man as always and does a great job keeping the films more uncomfortable moments from feeling too melodramatic and over the top. You’ll also be talking about Chris Tucker and John Ortiz after leaving the theater. Great stuff all around! See it!
Read what Lewis Bazley thought of the film here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 89%
This follow-up to the well-received Nativity from 2o09 sees David Tennant replacing Martin Freeman in the lead role. Unfortunately it appears that Nativity 2 fails to live up to the surprising expectations set by its predecessor. The story sees Tennant’s Donald Patterson take a teaching post at St Bernadette’s school and enter his band of loveable tykes into a national ‘Song for Christmas’ competition. Donald lives in the shadow of his famous conductor brother Roderick , and a new dimension is added into the contest when Roderick also enters with the pupils from a extremely posh private school. Donald leads his pregnant wife and the troupe of kids on the long road trip to get to the finals. A journey which proves far more eventful than he perhaps had hoped.
Ohhhhhh the critics haven’t enjoyed this one bit. While the kids themselves appear to be the bright spot of the movie and Tennant is game and gives it plenty of gusto, the consensus appears to be that the attempts at humour consistantly fall flat. Like the first Nativity, this sequel is mostly improvised, with the hope presumably baving been that this would capture the loveable amateurism of the kids. However on this occasion it fails to work and instead leaves the whole film appearing slightly shoddy and the plot slightly undercooked. The dreaded festive ‘turkey’ moniker has been dropped in many reviews I’ve read which can never be a good thing. I imagine if you have kids under ten they may well enjoy it, but the rest of us appear best to stay well away.
You can read Joe Cunningham’s review here and eat up all of the coverage, including interviews and premiere coverage, here.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 33%
A French-Canadian comedy film about a 40-year-old slacker who finds out that thanks to a series of sperm donations he made when he was younger, he has unwittingly fathered 533 children. Meanwhile, his current girlfriend is pregnant but fears he isn’t ready for the responsiblity. Things get even more complicated when 142 of his offspring begin to sue the fertility clinic to find out who the mysterious donor, codenamed ‘starbuck’, really is.
It proved incredibly succesful in its native Quebec and it would appear (so says Wikipedia) that an American remake is planned by Dreamworks Studios with Vince Vaughan in the lead. An immature irresponsible manchild, however will Vaughan manage?
The critics seem strangely divided on this one with some claiming its overly sentimental and too formulaic, whereas others praise it for being un-sentimental and witty. So make of that what you will. Overall it’s been warmly received and it could be a decent outside bet for anyone fancying a feel good comedy over the weekend.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 72%
Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean’s masterpiece is re-released into selected cinemas this week and if you have never had chance to witness it on the big screen, which I imagine is most of us, I suggest you seek it out as soon as you can.
Epic in terms of both scale and story, Lean’s film chronicles the experiences of the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier who fought in Arabia during the First World War and grew to become highly sympathetic to the plight of his newfound Arabian comrades.
Peter O’Toole is magnetic in the lead role and Lean and cinematographer F.A. Young produce some breathtaking camerawork throughout. Scenes such as the frenetic train ambush and Omar Sharif’s introduction where he emerges out of the heat-haze on the horizon, are going to look sublime on cinema screens. Catch it at cinemas now while you have the chance.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 98%
The House I live in
The latest documentary from Eugene Jarecki, director of Freakonomics and Why We Fight, casts a critical eye over America’s War On Drugs and the impact it has had on American society as a whole.
According to the official blurb:
For over forty years, America’s “War on Drugs” has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs in America are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before. Filmed in more than twenty U.S. states, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN captures heart-wrenching stories at all levels of America’s drug war – from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge. Together, these stories pose urgent questions: What caused the war? What perpetuates it? And what can be done to stop it?
It’s an angry and scathing attack on the wasteful and futile nature of the War on Drugs and critics have been extremely positive about the film’s thoroughly researched and clear message. A definite one to seek out for any fan of documentaries.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 95%
Also Out this week:
Ernest and Celestine: The animated story of an unlikely friendship between a bear and a young mouse.
Salt of this Sea : A powerful Palestinian movie looking at a refugee’s determination to return to her homeland.
Cinema Komunisto : A historical documentary looking at the cinematic illusions created by Tito’s Yugoslavian film industry.