As expected, The Jungle Book beat all comers with a gargantuan $103.6 million debut, giving it the second biggest April opening to date (Furious 7 holds the #1 spot with $147 million). Unfortunately, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice continues to plummet, as its fourth place finish and $9 million take is simply sub-par.
Kevin Costner’s new action film Criminal also tanked with a disappointing sixth place finish ($5.85 million). Barbershop: The Next Cut fared much better with a second place debut and $20.2 million in ticket sales. The top 10:
1. The Jungle Book - $103.6 million
2. Barbershop: The Next Cut - $20.2 million proves this franchise still has legs.
3. The Boss - Melissa McCarthy’s latest comedy has made $40.3 million domestically since its release. This weekend it took in $10.1 million
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - $9 million this weekend and a total domestic haul of $311 million
5. Zootopia - $8.23 million
6. Criminal - Kevin Costner didn’t hit this one out of the park, as this action movie was dead on arrival. $5.85 million
7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - $3.26 million
8. Miracles From Heaven - $1.9 million
9. God’s Not Dead 2 - $1.7 million
10. Eye in the Sky - $1.56 million
There are so many balls in the proverbial air that may keep you guessing throughout The Adderall Diaries (R, 87 minutes), and though some detractors may view it as a bit too much, the film is buoyed by inspired performances from James Franco and Ed Harris and self-assured directing by first-timer Pamela Romanowsky.
Working from Stephen Elliott’s memoir of the same name, The Adderall Diaries isn’t a blow by blow rehash of Elliott’s work, as Romanowsky’s main goal was to explore a broader thematic canvas. In the film, Elliott (Franco) is a narcissistic writer with addictive tendencies, and slowly but surely his flourishing career and personal life is headed towards an inevitable abyss. Though he enters a passionate affair with a New York Times reporter (Amber Heard) while attempting to cover a murder trial (Christian Slater plays the criminal in question) and has a ride or die best friend (Roger Parrack) at his beck and call, Stephen’s inability to effectively process past tragedies and move forward continues to haunt him in the present. The rubber hits the road when his father Neil (Ed Harris), who he writes off as dead in his memoir, is very much alive and shows up at a book reading to expose his son’s seemingly unforgivable lie.
With the utilization of flashbacks, slow-motion sequences, and a pitch perfect score from composer Michael Andrews, Romanowsky effectively creates the suffocating world that engulfs Stephen, and even though some of his pain can be construed as self-inflicted, the filmmaker doesn’t cast a judgmental eye on our protagonist. Instead, we are called to look at how we edit our own memories to suit our personal stories. The central conflict of the film deals with Elliott and Neil’s attempts to claim dominion over the other, as both of them have a different perspective on their broken family (considering Stephen lied about his father’s passing, we are prone to believe Neil’s side of the story). Franco and Harris infuse the story with a tangible vulnerability, and their confrontations are nothing short of electric (and ultimately heartbreaking). Though Romanowsky displays a relative ease in navigating through Stephen’s labyrinthine journey, the film’s most intriguing puzzle comes from pure simplicity: place Ed Harris and James Franco in a hotel room and let the verbal sparring begin.
One would assume spending three years developing The Adderall Diaries, which included time at the Sundance Directors Lab, gave Romanowsky the depth and insight to that the film absolutely needs to work. Fractured storytelling, especially one that deals with the haunting complexities of memory, could have been handled as a purely cinematic experience, and under a different eye the movie could have been a showy exercise to showcase a budding filmmaker’s technical talent. While there are wonderful aesthetic choices (shooting on Steadicam, giving the film a grainy, surreal feel) that inhabit the world of The Adderall Diaries, the story isn’t mired in artifice. As Stephen begins to finally write from a place of truth, he reaches a place that exists beyond all those beautiful words. It’s arguable on how transcendent cinema can truly be, but at least Romanowsky understands where Stephen is going, as do we.
**To check out my interview with Romanowsky, go to Hollywood Outbreak’s sister site Deepest Dream. We also talk about The Adderall Diaries on this week’s CinemAddicts (starting at 37:25). Check out the media bar below:
Whether you’re in the mood for a family film or a straight edge action thriller, it’s a great week for watching movies. During the first segment we take a look at director Jeremy Saulnier’s (Blue Ruin) latest effort Green Room, an action thriller with tons of suspense, tension, and stomach churning violence.
Green Room centers on Pat (Anton Yelchin) the leader of a punk group called The Ain’t Rights (Alia Shawkat and Joe Cole are two of the members). Their latest gig is in a room filled with neo-Nazis in a remote bar in the Oregon backwoods. After unwittingly witnessing a crime, the band are held captive in the bar by Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), the cold-blooded and business minded owner of the establishment. Macon Blair, who played the lead in Blue Ruin, is Gabe, the guy who’s assigned by Darcy to “handle” The Ain’t Rights.
Both Anderson Cowan and I loved the film, and during the second segment we also gave our thoughts on The Jungle Book, a Disney film featuring the voices of Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, and Idris Elba. Check out our latest episode of the Hollywood Outbreak/Cold Cockle Productions podcast CinemAddicts below!
As a diehard Marvel Universe fan, my initial introduction to Doctor Strange came from my years of devotion to The Defenders, a superhero group that was too powerful for its own good. With the Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, the Hulk, and Doctor Strange serving as the first iteration of this argumentative crew, the Defenders’ raw power could arguably best the Avengers and the X-Men (a Netflix series of the group, featuring a different set of heroes, is in production).
Finally Doctor Strange, practitioner of the mystic arts, is getting his moment in the sun, with Benedict Cumberbatch cast in the coveted role. Directed by Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us From Evil), Doctor Strange follows the titular character’s origin story, as surgeon Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) has his hands temporarily crippled from an accident. This tragedy becomes opportunity, as Strange is introduced into an alternate dimension where sorcery reigns supreme. With Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Rachel McAdams as a fellow surgeon, Benedict Wong as Strange’s loyal right hand man Wong and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the evil Baron Mordo, Doctor Strange contains a highly talented ensemble. But will the film work on a visual and storytelling level? Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!!
Doctor Strange opens nationwide November 4.
Chrisley Knows Best, now four seasons into its success, was initially known for Todd Chrisley’s straight talking, tough loving manner (as Todd loves to say, “the struggle is real”). However, Todd’s family has also achieved their share of star status through the show’s journey, as son Chase Chrisley has his own podcast and is steadily maturing.
“I’ve definitely learned which battles to fight,” said Chase Chrisley. “I have more responsibilities now so I know if I do this, it will affect me here. I’ve just grown up and I’ve become more responsible and I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and show respect.”
As the patriarch, Todd Chrisley has nothing but love for his family, even if they make decisions which make his eyes roll. “I think in the four seasons I wouldn’t have expected some of them to fall in certain areas that they’ve taken falls in,” said Chrisley. “I’m still very proud that I have my five children and I love them dearly. We are certainly not entitled to any less pain, suffering, or confusion than any other family in the world. With our (family), we’ve just chosen to let you see it.”
In the audio clip below, Chase Chrisley talks about admiring his father’s loyalty and integrity:
Chrisley Knows Best airs Tuesday evenings on USA Network (10/9c).
To give an in-depth summary behind the story of The Invitation would do a disservice to its taut, unexpected, and ultimately nightmarish narrative, as director Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, Girlfight) has crafted a thriller of the highest order. Thus the less said the better, since being surprised and shocked is one of the many ways to enjoy this Los Angeles set nail-biter.
Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his loving girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi, who’s fabulous in Miles Ahead) are invited to a Hollywood Hills dinner party hosted by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and new husband David (Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman). A tragedy shared by Will and Eden continues to haunt the ex-couple, and the manner in which they separately deal with their grief presumably put a wedge in their relationship. Though the dinner party begins as a reunion of old friends (Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jay Larson play several of the invitees), two strangers (John Carroll Lynch, Lindsay Burdge) known only to Will and Eden bring an immediate unease to the gathering, and Will immediately suspects there’s something rotten in Denmark.
On the way to the party, Will accidentally hits a coyote, stops his vehicle on the hill, and immediately puts the animal out of its misery. Coyotes live side by side with many Los Angeles residents, and thanks to such films as Nightcrawler they’ve come to symbolize the predatory and ravenous nature behind the city’s bright lights. Kusama, working on a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi envisions a town that feeds upon itself, where cults and fads can be an all too seductive palliative for people looking for a quick fix answer. Though Will may be the only person who is correctly piecing things together, Kusama cooks her thriller to a slow boil, and there’s enough twists and misdirection to keep viewers guessing until the story’s shocking denouement.
Shot for just $1 million, most of The Invitation takes place in Eden’s spacious domicile. Thanks to several flashbacks and using the perfect residence for shooting, the movie’s claustrophobic feel doesn’t exist from any closed off spaces, but rather that mounting dread is palpable thanks to Will’s suspicion and the gradual creepiness behind an all too accommodating David and the subtly menacing Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch).
It’s an absolute travesty that Kusama, even with perceived misfires like Aeon Flux and Jennifer’s Body (I actually dug both films), hasn’t had the shot to direct another high profile film for the past 6-7 years. She’s directed her share of top notch television (The Man in the High Castle, Halt and Catch Fire), but big ticket film offers haven’t exactly landed on their doorstep. Blessed with top notch pacing and a precision for tightfisted storytelling, The Invitation is a celebration of a filmmaker at the top of her game, and if the powers that be learn to put two and two together, Kusama may have a few more dinner parties on the horizon.
The Invitation is now playing in select theaters and is available On Demand.
The Melissa McCarthy comedy The Boss was #1 at the box-office as it took in $23.48 million in its debut weekend. Coming in at second place was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with $23.4 million. With a budget of $250 million, Batman v Superman has amassed a worldwide gross of $783 million and will turn a profit for Warner Bros. Considering the hype surrounding the movie and Warner Bros. intention of injecting a healthy amount of momentum to their upcoming DC projects, however, the film has slightly performed below expectations and has been critically drubbed. Here’s this weekend’s top 10:
1. The Boss - Melissa McCarthy comedy received mixed reviews, but she’s essentially critic proof. $23.48 million
2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - $23.4 million
3. Zootopia - The flick’s worldwide gross is over $852 million. $14.3 million
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - The comedy turns in a respectable $6.2 million and has made $46.75 million domestically.
5. Hardcore Henry - $5.1 million
6. Miracles From Heaven - With just a $13 million budget, this faith based drama has performed well with $$53.8 million domestically. It made $4.84 million this weekend.
7. God’s Not Dead 2 - $4.3 million
8. The Divergent Series: Allegiant - Its domestic haul of just over $61 million is disappointing. $3.6 million
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane - $3 million
10. Eye In The Sky - Helen Mirren military thriller takes in $2.83 million.
Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier makes his English language debut with Louder Than Bombs, a family drama that centers on grief and the exacting toll it takes to pursue one’s passions. Isabelle Reed (Isabelle Huppert) was a celebrated war photographer whose life’s blood was centered on reporting conflicts around the world no matter what the cost. Though she dearly loved her schoolteacher husband Gene (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (Devin Druid), life in a sleepy New York suburb left her listless and frustrated, and eventually her death from a car accident was eventually ruled as not so “accidental.”
The non-linear narrative mainly takes place three years after Isabelle’s death, as Gene and Jonah are trying to keep her suicide a secret from Conrad, an introspective teenager whose days are spent playing video games (Elder Scrolls Online to be exact) in his bedroom and harboring a crush on a fellow classmate (Ruby Jerins).
Each member of the family has ways of coping with Isabelle’s passing. Gene, who initially had designs on an acting life, sacrificed for the greater good of the family and played house husband while Isabelle went on various assignments, often with a journalist (David Straitharn) who may have been more than just a colleague. With secrets of his own, Gene seeks solace in a relationship with a co-worker (Amy Ryan) who’s also Conrad’s English teacher. Jonah, a sociology professor and a new father, is all grown up, but after returning home to sift through his mother’s photographs, his cool exterior begins to crumble.
Louder Than Bombs‘ true power lies in the gradual uncovering of the complexities of human relationships. No one is exempt from heartbreak and loss, and along the way mistakes and even unwitting deceptions is part of that process. Through the effective use of voiceovers, pinpoint editing (the film effectively balances present day and flashbacks), and performances, Louder Than Bombs brings much needed cinema to a story that could have been easily categorized as a “movie of the week” experience.
Instead, we are immersed in each of these family members’ world, and depending on our own tastes, we may gravitate to one person’s story over the next. While we’ve come to expect solid work from Huppert, Byrne, and Eisenberg, it’s Druid’s raw performance as the emotionally complex and talented Conrad that is the absolute surprise. Saddled with pain and a bit of anger, Conrad makes a spontaneous decision to think outside the box and connect with his high school crush, leading to the story’s most revelatory moment.
Though director Joachim Trier, who penned the script Eskil Vogt, doesn’t dole out quick fix answers on how to deal with life and loss, there is a subtle sense of grace that rests deep within the shadows, waiting for the morning’s light.
Louder Than Bombs is now playing in select theaters.
****To check out our Hollywood Outbreak interview with director Joachim Trier below:
We also discuss Louder Than Bombs on this week’s CinemAddicts (starting at the 31:57 mark). Check out the media bar below to listen to the review:
Trent Harmon is the final winner of American Idol, and for the 25-year-old it’s been quite a run. The powerhouse singer, who’s made ends meet as a waiter in Mississippi, beat out La’Porsha Renae for the crown, and was obviously thankful for the honor.
“(American Idol) is a machine that pumps out superstars,” said Harmon. “I’m just blessed to be able to have that opportunity to maybe go be one. Idol is the real deal. You may not like Idol. You may laugh at it, whatever you want to do, it doesn’t matter. There’s a stage full of people today that can put that (notion) to bed.”
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, who described the finale as “overwhelming,” talked about saying goodbye to one of the most high profile jobs on television. “Even though I’ll be busy and I have to go to work in the morning, nothing will ever be like this,” said Seacrest. “This has been the most amazing launching pad for me personally and for so many of us and for that I’ll always be grateful and it’ll never be replaceable.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Harmon talk about what he thought about seconds before his name was announced as the winner of American Idol:
It’s a great week for movies, and on the latest episode of CinemAddicts we cover two stories that deal with grief and one narrative that is all about the GoPro.
First up is Demolition, which has Jake Gyllenhaal playing an investment banker who goes through an emotional tailspin after his wife’s (Heather Lind) untimely passing. Co-starring Chris Cooper and Naomi Watts, the picture also features a stunning performance from relative newcomer Judah Lewis.
Hardcore Henry is a first-person shooter style, GoPro shot action flick starring Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, and Tim Roth. Running at a brisk 96 minutes, this immersive tale should draw an immediate cult following.
If you want to see Jesse Eisenberg as someone other than Lex Luthor this weekend, check out the subtle yet haunting family drama Louder Than Bombs, the first English language speaking film from Joachim Trier. The story centers on how a combat photographer’s (Isabelle Huppert) death continues to effect family (Gabriel Byrne, Devin Druid, Eisenberg) in different ways. This New York shot feature is filled with excellent performances, and Eisenberg turns in a wonderfully measured performance as Jonah, the eldest son who initially serves as the family’s anchor.
Check out the latest episode of CinemAddicts below: