January 31, 2011

Box Office Weekend Wrap Up: Fans Make the Money

Anthony Hopkins in The Rite.
An interesting weekend at the box office, as many award winners drop from their reigning spots. Though, aside from critic-acclaim, the fans are really the ones bringing the numbers in for the big Hollywood actors across the big screen. All the top films have a big star, with a big fan base, which is probably the only reason any money is being made. The Rite, Anthony Hopkins’s newest exorcist-based film, took the top spot, making $15 million.

Aside from failed critic reviews, The Rite is likely bringing in audiences due to Hopkins’s golden acting skills, and his ability to truly horrify audience members. Though, our MRQE metric does not lie, ranking the film with only 45 points from the critics--this certainly is no Hopkins classic, and will quickly fall out of the top spot.

In the opposite corner is The King's Speech, which had a regal weekend both at the box office as well as on the red carpet. The film claimed the top honors at last night's Screen Actor's Guild Awards. Its star Colin Firth, won the Best Actor award, and the entire cast took home the Best Ensemble Cast award. Director, Tom Hooper, also took home the Best Director award at the Director's Guild Awards. On top of the honors, the stately film made $11.1 million at the box office, claiming the fifth slot, and bringing it's total gross to $72.2 million. All its honors continue to prove why this is one of the best pictures of 2011, and a sure bet for the top prizes at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Natalie Portman and Aston Kutcher’s not-so-romantic romantic comedy, No Strings Attached, dropped to second place with a $13.6 million weekend. Fans still seem to love seeing these two together, which is allowing the cash boxes to still flow. The Mechanic took the third spot with $11.5 million in sales. Jason Statham seems to attract audiences in three ways: his smooth British tongue, his cut body, and his realistic action skills.

Following up in fourth was actioner The Green Hornet. Seth Rogan--truth be told--is becoming an extremely successful movie star. He is developing a die-hard fan base that's continuing to rank his films in the top ten. Rogan & Co. grossed a slick $11.5 million this weekend, and the figures continue to rise.

Best Picture nominee, True Grit, just missed the Top Five, earning only $7.6 million. The Dilemma, a film shockingly still in the top ten made $5.5 million. Black Swan, the newest Portman cult classic (let’s just wait for Halloween kids), followed up with $5.1 million. The Fighter nabbed a cool $4.1 million, with audiences excited to see Christian Bale's critically praised performance. Bale took home a SAG award last night, and already claimed a Golden Globe earlier in the award season for Best Supporting Actor. Coming out last was Yogi Bear with $3.2 million, proving that a child could still persuade their parents to drag them to Warner Brother’s latest animation.

Next weekend, fans will be in for two big thrillers. The first is Leighton Meester’s The Roommate, which is far off from her role in Gossip Girl. Fans on a different level can check out the James Cameron-produced 3D Sanctum, an action/adventure, suspense/thriller about underwater caves and the element of entrapment. Maybe next weekend will be more shocking than this.

Box Office Top Ten (Fri, Jan. 28 - Sun, Jan. 30)

  1. The Rite (MRQE Metric: 46) - $15 million
  2. No Strings Attached (MRQE Metric: 52) - $13.7 million
  3. The Mechanic (MRQE Metric: 57) - $11.5 million
  4. The Green Hornet (MRQE Metric: 53) - $11.5 million
  5. The King's Speech (MRQE Metric: 85) - $11.1 million
  6. True Grit (MRQE Metric: 83) - $7.6 million
  7. The Dilemma (MRQE Metric: 40) - $5.5 million
  8. Black Swan (MRQE Metric: 80) - $5.1 million
  9. The Fighter (MRQE Metric: 76) - $4.1 million
  10. Yogi Bear (MRQE Metric: 44) - $3.2 million

How does the Box Office compare with audience anticipation? Check out what's currently trending on MRQE!

January 28, 2011

Movie Review: Life in a Day

Contributor Annie Badavas reviews Life in a Day, a project by YouTube, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin MacDonald. Life in a Day premiered at Sundance on Jan. 27, along with a live simulcast on YouTube.

Sometimes our lives flash before us without us even realizing. On July 24th, 2010, do you know what you did?

This was a question asked by filmmaker Kevin MacDonald (State of Play, The Last King of Scotland) ... and then, more than 80,000 people answered his question. Contributors from almost 200 countries around the world took the time to produce about 4,500 hours of footage. MacDonald teamed up with YouTube and producer Ridley Scott to compile the extensive "live clips" that were uploaded on the site on the same day. And, somehow they managed to break the videos down into a 94-minute 57-second feature film. The result was fascinating, and unlike anything ever seen in film before.

Life in a Day was released on January 27th, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as, streamed live on the YouTube channel. The emotional breakdown of many of the characters, whether that was sadness, joy, enthusiasm, hope, or envy, brought the audience along on a roller-coaster ride of enchantment. No one wanted the film to end. It was one of the most personal glimpses into what other peoples' lives were like.

The YouTube channel is no longer showing the full film; only the preview. If you missed the movie live, or at Sundance last night, Life in a Day will be released, an exact year after the making, on July 24th, 2011 at theaters across the globe. Critics are raving about this film, and I give it a solid 88 points on our MRQE Metric scale.

January 27, 2011

Trailer Watch: Happythankyoumoreplease, The Adjustment Bureau, Red Riding Hood

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star
in The Adjustment Bureau.
With the frozen winter season upon us, one of the best past-times to avoid the chill is to go to the theater and check out what is hot at the box office. In the coming weeks, Josh Radnor will be breaking out in his directorial debut, Matt Damon will find his romantic side, and Red Riding Hood will no longer appear little, or innocent.

Director: Josh Radnor
Cast: Malin Akerman, Kara Mara, Josh Radnor
Release Date: March 4th, 2011 (Limited)

Happythankyoumoreplease was released at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and won the audience award for favorite drama. Now, a year later, Josh Radnor has been given the opportunity to take this film to the big screen in his directorial debut. With the taste of Blue Valentine, Juno, and Garden State, this romantic, inspirational, and comedic film has the potential to be a hit big at the box office this Spring. Happythankyoumoreplease is a film about a young boy who has been separated from his family on the New York subway. When Sam Wexler (played by Radnor) finds this boy, Sam takes him under his wing in hopes to find his family. Though, as the film progresses, a unique friendship and bond is created between the two. The lives of Sam and his close-knit group of friends are forever changed due to the influence of this small boy, and with separation and "goodbye" being the hardest thing to do.

The Adjustment Bureau
Director: George Nolfi
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
Release Date: March 4, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau is Matt Damon’s newest film, and although it does not allow him to break away from his cliche action role of government betrayal, this film seems to have a strong romantic zest. About a New York politician and his growing love for a ballerina, the film raises the question of, “What if you could not choose?” The Adjustment Bureau wants the audience to imagine what it would be like if they were truly forced into a path of their life where they could not chose, and unable to steer life in their own direction. As Damon fights for a life of his choice and puts those he loves in danger; the underlying suspense is in-ignorable of what may happen. Aside from personal high hopes for this film, in reality, the audience will likely be filled of die-hard Bourne lovers supporting their favorite leading man.

Red Riding Hood
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Amanda Seyfriend, Max Irons, Shiloh Fernandez
Release Date: March 11, 2011

Surprisingly, Red Riding Hood has somewhat of a haunting trailer. Between the digital effects, emotional music, and gorgeous landscapes, one falls in captivated by the screen before them. With a more mature, yet seductive twist, Red Riding Hood is the tale of the wolf, the girl, and “off to Grandmother’s house we go.” Though this time, the wolf is the one being hunted by the town he terrorizes ever full moon. Director Catherine Hardwicke seems to have managed to adapt this storyline into something more applicable for older audiences in a stunning, and enchanting way.

Head over to MRQE, for more trailers of recent and upcoming movies!

January 26, 2011

A 2001 Monolith Action Figure? Why Not!

This came across our radar from GeekChickDaily

Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, had it's fair share of associated toys and model kits, but how did they miss something so simple? Where MGM merchandising failed, ThinkGeek rose to it's feet, like the apes in the beginning of the film, selling the one item that's been left off the shelves for nearly 43 years: the Monolith!

Forget Batman and Iron Man action figures, this should be the toy that every kid wants. And, think of all the practical benefits: no bendable (and breakable) appendages, no pull strings that can choke your cat, and forget about worrying if your little sister will cut its hair. Just one black hunk of plastic--it's so simple, that we're kicking ourselves for not thinking of it first!

ThinkGeek is selling the Monolith for $12.99, and their product features list other benefits, but they do boast this warning: "May cause strange magnetic fields, action figure evolution, seeing things filled with stars, and/or more (or it might just sit on your desk doing nothing)." Buyer beware!

January 25, 2011

Oscar nominations announced, and we make our picks

The King's Speech leads with a total of 12 nominations.
This morning the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the upcoming 83rd Academy Awards. There are a few snubs and surprises in the mix, but certainly none as The Social Network and The King's Speech vie for the top prize. The King's Speech is the leader of the pack with 12 nominations to its title. True Grit, snubbed by the Golden Globes, grabbed 10 nods. And, The Social Network took seven.

Of the surprises, Winter's Bone, which seemingly came out of nowhere (at least from a general audience point of view), took nods for both Best Picture and Best Actor (John Hawkes). A Sundance gem, Winter's Bone, upon its limited run through theaters, received nothing but praise (MRQE Metric: 82). Guest blogger Matthew Putman sums up the beauty of this film, which you can read here. Javier Bardem's nod for Biutiful is also a surprise, and hopefully his nomination will get more and more people seeing this film.

From surprises to snubs, one of the biggest snubs is aimed at Christopher Nolan, who is not being recognized for his direction in Inception. A similar fate befell Nolan a few years back, when the Academy failed to recognize him for The Dark Knight. Nolan should be happy at the very least, with his nomination for Original Screenplay; plus the film itself is up for Best Picture. Inception picked up a total of eight nominations, also including Cinematography, Original Score, and Visual Effects.

Also snubbed is Andrew Garfield. Many critics expected him to land a nod for supporting actor, against Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. Ryan Gosling was also expected to be nominated for Best Actor for his stand-out performance in Blue Valentine. Gosling's co-star--and on-screen wife--Michelle Williams is nominated. Also, where's Mark Walhberg for The Fighter?

Our predictions:

Best Actor: Colin Firth totally owns this; he's been winning awards left and right.

Best Supporting Actor: Strong performance by Christian Bale, but we're thinking Mark Ruffalo.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman performed her heart out, but Annette Bening will likely take it home.

Best Supporting Actress: Tough call, especially with the wild-card (Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom). We're going to go with Helena Bonham Carter, though it really is anyone's game. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo have an equal shot, with amazing performances in The Fighter and The Kids are All Right, respectively. Hailee Steinfeld has more work, and years ahead of her.

Best Director: Honestly, no Chris Nolan? David Fincher is a good bet, as The Social Network keeps landing more and more fans (yes, that's an intentional Facebook pun). But, that's not to say we're thinking film will land the top prize.

And, as for the big prize, we want to hear from you. Below are the nominees, along with their current MRQE Metric, comment below and let us know your pick for Best Picture!

Black Swan - 80
The Fighter - 75
Inception - 81
The Kids are All Right - 79
The King's Speech - 85
127 Hours - 82
The Social Network - 85
Toy Story 3 - 90
True Grit - 83
Winter's Bone - 82

Head over to MRQE for a complete run-down of all the nominees!

Watching online content on your TV with Veebeam

The Veebeam and its USB antennae.
At my house we use the web to discover and learn about online entertainment content that we want to watch (think: Netflix Instant and Hulu), but then we prefer to watch the content on our TVs. We have tried several different ways to get content from the web to our TVs; and, until now, the best way has been to directly connect our Mac Mini to our TV with HDMI cables. But, if you don’t have the spare cash lying around to buy another computer that lives attached to the TV (or lives off of your laptop)--and you don’t want to connect and reconnect every time you want to watch TV--a new piece of hardware called Veebeam provides a simple and quality solution.

The Veebeam connects to your TV via standard, or HDMI cables. A small USB antennae plugs into your laptop for when you want to watch on your TV. You install the Veebeam software on your laptop the first time you use the device, and then you are good to go!

The Veebeam broadcasts whatever you are watching on your computer to your TV using Wireless USB, not Wi-Fi. The company claims that the wireless USB offers many advantages over Wi-Fi including, "more bandwidth, better security and less interference over short distances."

The Veebeam picture is as good as whatever I am watching in my laptop, and the sound is also outputted through your TV.

Other uses could be for corporate conference rooms, when you have a monitor but not a permanently attached computer.

I will note the first Veebeam I got was a lemon and I needed to return it, and the product launch was delayed due to software issues, but hopefully the production bugs have been worked out. I am 100% happy with the device now .

The Veebeam is priced at $99 for Standard or $139 for HD. Available at Veebeam.com.

January 24, 2011

Box Office Weekend Wrap-Up: Portman Part Two

Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached.
After the huge success of Black Swan, which is still raking in money at the box office, Natalie Portman’s newest role, along side co-star Aston Kutcher in No Strings Attached, made a cool $20.3 million this cold winter weekend. Not a bad span for the Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee.

Making another powerful impact this weekend was The Green Hornet. Seth Rogan is still killing villains and making millions by doing it. Grossing just over $18 million, The Green Hornet has now totaled $63.4 million on a $120 million budget. Unlike No Strings Attached, which had a humble budget of $25 million and has almost surpassed their expenses this weekend along, The Green Hornet may continue to sting and potentially bypass their budget in the following weeks.

The Dilemma, making just under $10 million, is surprisingly holding the number three spot. Audiences seem to be looking for another laugh-out-loud film that doesn’t have the dry and out-dated humor of something like Little Fockers.

The King’s Speech, one of our favorite films of the year here at MRQE, reigns at the fourth slot, with $9.2 million, totaling almost $59 million in sales. Colin Firth’s exceptional portrayal of King George XI, has won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film has now surpassed its competition, The Queen, which grossed only $56.4 million.

Still having a powerful allure to audiences nationwide is True Grit. The Coen Brother’s film, which is supported by a strong cast of Josh Brolin, Matt Damon, and Jeff Bridges made $8 million this weekend, totaling $138.6 million in its box office span. True Grit remains as one of the highest grossing films in the box office right now.

Though, Black Swan made just over $6 million this weekend, creating an $83 million dollar total. It is quite surprising that Portman’s big win at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in her role, as the "swan queen" is not bringing in more audiences than expected. However, it's equally surprising that Portman follow up such a noteworthy film with a mediocre romantic comedy. Was it bad timing on behalf of her agent or a case of misjudgment?

The Fighter and Yogi Bear both made just over $4 million dollars this weekend. Its uncertain if either of these films will last any longer on the big screen. Let’s just hope that Mark Wahlberg's and Christian Bale’s next roles are as inspiring as “Irish” Mickey Ward and brother Dickey Eklund.

Finally still barely making an impact at the box offices is TRON: Legacy. This film is probably going to slip out of the top ten next week with anticipation of Jason Statham's The Mechanic and Anthony Hopkins' The Rite.

Box Office Top Ten (Fri., Jan. 21 - Sun., Jan. 23):
  1. No Strings Attached (MRQE Metric: 51) - $20.3 million
  2. The Green Hornet (MRQE Metric: 51) - $18.1 million
  3. The Dilemma (MRQE Metric: 39) - $9.7 million
  4. The King's Speech (MRQE Metric: 85) - $9.2 million
  5. True Grit (MRQE Metric: 83) - $8 million
  6. Black Swan (MRQE Metric: 80) - $6.2 million
  7. The Fighter (MRQE Metric: 75) - $4.5 million
  8. Little Fockers (MRQE Metric: 32) - $4.4 million
  9. Yogi Bear (MRQE Metric: 44) - $4.1 million
  10. TRON: Legacy (MRQE Metric: 57) - $3.7 million

January 23, 2011

A Bright Winter

There is a repeating theme to my blogs of film criticism, but luckily for me it seems that filmmakers have reached a level of creativity which is keeping up with my fantasies of cinematic possibilities. I have discussed my reaction to large budget 3D movies, and how they seem to be on a whole revolutionary in production, but boringly reactionary in dramatic vision. So, for the moment with the limited time I have to go to the cinema, I am focusing on personal, psychologically intriguing, lower budget films. If I were to look over the history of digitally made independent film, it wouldn't be until the last several years that I would have thought that we are living in a unique platinum age of D.I.Y. cinema. Now, the film that moved me most isn't exactly a garage film, as it had a budget of $2 million, it still managed to have the grandeur of a David Lean film, with the desolation of Grapes of Wrath. This movie is the much talked about Winter's Bone, which is not alone in this year's innovative recognized films, as Blue Valentine, and my favorite Black Swan certainly exceed expectations. Winter's Bone did something for me which leaves me with more clashing of emotions than most art does. I felt like I was simultaneously seeing the sparse modern depression of rural America (which I see near my Catskills home), a tragic mystery in Aristotelian classical form, and a MoMa photography show of Lee Friedlander, where the sharp angles and intersections of leafless trees embody the the intensity of a Pollack. Whether the film is perfect or not is not the important thing however for me. It is an important film, because like so many good films, it allows me to image of future filled with such possibilities.

This article was guest written by Matthew Putman, a physicist, composer, entrepreneur and occasional film and theater producer. More on Matthew can be found at www.matthewcputman.com.

January 21, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Cinema's 10 Best Bio-Pics

Biographies are a way for someone to experience or have an eye into the life of someone else. For hundreds of years, people have been imitating and impersonating influential figures. These films usually revolve around an accepted historical person that has come to fame through popular genres. From powerful politicians to cartel carriers, bio-pics usually all have one thing in common--high intensity and a dynamic allure of consumer appeal. Audience members want to feel connected to these people and as if they can seep into someone’s life for a ninety minutes pan. 2010 was a huge year for bio-pics, from The Social Network and 127 Hours, to The King's Speech and The Fighter, all four of these films explore extraordinary men that were deeply influential during their time. So, where do these movies stand with the top ten best-reviewed bio-pics of all time? Read on below.

10. Malcolm X (1992) - MRQE Metric: 85
Spike Lee co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the legendary film Malcolm X in 1992. Highly-praised by Roger Ebert, this biographical picture stars Denzel Washington in his most powerful role to date. Playing the legendary Muslim-American political figure, Washington takes the audience on a ride in and out of a life of illness and racism; all through the experience of extreme pain and hate. Washington was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, though he was “robbed of” this title, says Lee. Washington lost to Al Pacino.

9. Shakespeare in Love (1998) - MRQE Metric: 86
Shakespeare in Love is an interesting portrayal of the life of William Shakespeare as he was writing Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare in Love went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow). This critically acclaimed film leaves audiences inspired by love. There is a light air and beauty which is carried throughout the film allowing emotion to seep through the movie reels.

8. The Social Network (2010) - MRQE Metric: 86
The Social Network is not only one of the best films to come out of 2010; it can be considered is one of the best bio-pics of all time. It tells the tale of what happened to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, on the lonely Harvard campus, and how he turned a small social networking site into a $50 billion business. Breakthrough-star Jessie Eisenberg guides the audience, with the support of a strong line-up of cast members, to see what really (well, might have) happened throughout the creation of Facebook. An exceptional film that all audience members of the modern day can relate to, this is a must-see film for generations to come.

7. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - MRQE Metric: 86
Bonnie and Clyde is a notorious film about a notorious fugitive couple that traveled across the central United States doing highly illegal things, such as killing almost a dozen police officers. This criminal dynamic duo were well-known robbers and outlaws that were at the peak of the “public enemy era” from 1931 to 1934. Starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, as Bonnie and Clyde, respectively, the film reached massive success on the American market due to the fast-past crime thriller being so well directed by Arthur Penn. This film is considered a landmark in Hollywood for redefining many taboos against an older generation, including sex, scandal, and violence--all things that had been unseen on such a raw level before on the big screen. Just like Bonnie and Clyde, in real life and in film, borders and rules were broken.

6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) - MRQE Metric: 87
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an enchanting French film about, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine. The film focuses on Bauby, as he suffers a stroke and is in a coma for almost three weeks. Director Julian Schnabel won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival; a rightly deserved award. The sincere and open interpretation of one man's struggle with a locked-in syndrome, nominated and won this film for many awards across all international borders.

5. Schindler's List (1993) - MRQE Metric: 89
Shot entirely in black-and-white to bring us into the era, Schindler’s List is a film that's hard to get through without a box of tissues in hand. It's also a truly captivating and emotional portrayal of life under the Nazi regime. This heartfelt film about the pain that Holocaust victims and survivors experienced, and the man that strove to save as many lives as possible, is the most honest portrayal of this time period. Most historians have willingly proclaimed just how intelligent, classic, and driven Steven Spielberg’s take of Nazi Germany truly is.

4. Goodfellas (1990) - MRQE Metric: 90
From Robert De Niro, to Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas stands as one of the most quintessential match-ups of actors ever. Goodfellas explores the life and times of organized crime mobster, and FBI informant, Henry Hill. From beginning to end, audience members awe at how sly these gentlemen are. With low voices, big guns, and plenty of money, drugs, and women, this New York crime family gets what they want. These bad boys do not take ‘no’ for an answer and do not bow down to anyone. Director Martin Scorsese portrays to perfection this mischievous lifestyle.

3. Raging Bull (1980) - MRQE Metric: 91
Raging Bull is not only one Scorsese’s most successful films; it is probably one of the best movies to come out of the 1980’s. Actor Robert De Niro’s role as a highly respected boxer, Jake LaMotta, conveys both a powerful performance in and out of the ring. The deep desire of success and grit of blood and tears, leaves the audience members bring hit back and forth on a roller-coaster ride of emotion throughout this classic film.

2. Amadeus (1984) - MRQE Metric: 92
One of the best music bio-pics ever, Amadeus is an exemplary film about the life of Mozart. This tale about a musical genius and the struggles he faced throughout his life, allows audiences to be captivated by writer Peter Shaffer’s ability to bring truth and emotion to such a dry period of time. This film was extremely risky to make, though, Amadeus projects everything from magnificent and true, to painful and heartbreaking.

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - MRQE Metric: 93
This 1962 classic, Lawrence of Arabia, gives a fantastical view of the glorious desert landscape that replicates the Allies' mid-eastern campaign during World War I. This film is expressed by a primetime replication of T.E. Lawrence, played by Pete O’Toole, in a role which made him a big-screen movie star. Known to be one of the best bio-pics of all time, this honest, emotional, and gut-wrenching story of the famed British soldier fighting for his life, leaves audiences--after a barren three hour and forty minute runtime--in an awe-inspired state

January 17, 2011

Box Office Wrap-Up: The Sting has Stung!

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in The Green Hornet.
The highly-anticipated, The Green Hornet, delivered a powerful sting at box offices across the country, over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Bringing in over $34 million in sales, The Green Hornet--while not doing much for the critics (MRQE Metric: 50)--did impress audiences with its new, modern-day action hero motion picture.

Seth Rogan, the plump funny guy, transformed flawlessly into his role as brawny action-figure, producing a strong performance with sidekick Kato (played by Jay Chou). This dynamic duo had a sturdy on-screen relationship that made audiences believe they truly were trying to save the world, one villain at a time! Though, with a budget of over $100 million to produce, it will be interesting to see if the Hornet can continue to sting audiences around the country.

Also released this weekend was Ron Howard’s The Dilemma. And, unlike Hornet, Vince Vaughn’s newest film created only a small-ripple of buzz, and followed-up with only a small drone for Universal, grossing just over $17 million in revenue.

Coming out in third, with an $11 million weekend net, was True Grit. This true-to-story Western follow-up on the Coen Brother’s resume has now generated a total of almost $130 million. Going strong and continuing to attract audiences, True Grit is going to clench the big screen for many more weeks.

Season of the Witch made only $4 million, and it reigns true that Nic Cage can still (surprisingly) get audiences into the theater. Though, these audiences must be devoted fans. Being that Season of the Witch is not a very well done film (MRQE Metric: 35)--and with other more impressive titles in the box office--Cage is the only thing attracting audiences.

Still pulling in strong at the box office is The King’s Speech and Black Swan, both coming in with less than $10 million over a three-day period, but holding steady. The stars of each picture, Colin Firth and Natalie Portman, respectively, both walked away from the Golden Globes last night with an award in hand for their performances. This may continue to help The King’s Speech and Black Swan to generate solid revenues.

Though, one of the surprising wins this weekend at the Golden Globes was for Paul Giamatti’s role in Barney’s Version, which opened this week in limited theaters. Giamatti won the award for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. The film, however, did not even break into the top-ten studio sales for the M.L.K. weekend, so maybe Giamatti’s win will help produce a more concrete revenue next week.

Since films like The Rite, The Mechanic, and The Roommate are all coming out soon, something needs to startle the box office goers into this new-realm of low-budget, low-name films. Based on her win, Portman's Black Swan follow-up, the rom-com No Strings Attached (also staring Ashton Kutcher), will likely put a dent in the box office next week.

Box Office Top Ten:

  1. The Green Hornet (MRQE Metric: 50) - $34 million
  2. The Dilemma (MRQE Metric: 43) - $17.4 million
  3. True Grit (MRQE Metric: 83) - $11.2 million
  4. The King's Speech (MRQE Metric: 85) - $9.1 million
  5. Black Swan (MRQE Metric: 80) - $8.1 million
  6. Little Fockers (MRQE Metric: 32) - $7.1 million
  7. TRON: Legacy (MRQE Metric: 57) - $5.7 million
  8. Yogi Bear (MRQE Metric: 44) - $5.3 million
  9. The Fighter (MRQE Metric: 75) - $5.1 million
  10. Season of the Witch (MRQE Metric: 35) - $4.5 million

January 15, 2011

Live from the 2011 Golden Globe Awards

From glittering gowns to tailored tuxedos, the Golden Globe Awards are always one of the most glamorous nights of the year for the entertainment industry. Yet, this 2011 Golden Globes Award show may have a muted red carpet due to the extraordinary list of films that have been nominated. From The King’s Speech, submitted for seven awards, the highest compared to any other film, to Black Swan--one of Natalie Portman’s best roles to date--this is going to be an exciting award show; and we cannot wait to see who the big winners are.

Our best bet goes to The Social Network coming out on top. This film has six nominations and will likely win most. The cast of The Social Network became overnight celebrities, and the film's chances are "due in part to Aaron Sorkin's screenplay, Jesse Eisenberg's and Andrew Garfield's performances (hell, even Justin Timberlake was amazing), and David Fincher's direction -- all at the top of their game," says MRQE's Matt Lissauer. The public appeal of this film, due to the personal connection most audience members have to the $50 million digital database it was based off of, has lead this film to having successful running sales at both the box-office and now on Blu-ray and DVD.

The Fighter, another film nominated for six Golden Globes, may not win many of its awards, but has left a huge impact on audiences. A cinematic biography of the legendary boxing career of "Irish" Micky Ward, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale’s dynamic relationship is exceptionally captivating across the big screen.

Another film likely to win an award or two is Inception. Christopher Nolan produced an incredible film through the support of lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio. This film--a trance of perceptions--is an invasion of dreams vs. reality. Though, quite surprising that DiCaprio was not nominated for his performance, the film is likely to win Best Screenplay.

In general, Sony Pictures Releasing, with fourteen nominations, will win most of these awards, as they are the production house behind films like The Social Network, The Tourist, and Burlesque. Though its ironic that Sony may be racking in so many awards, because The Tourist and Burlesque were trashed by critics across the border, after each failed to live up to the big name cast anticipation. Also ironic, is that True Grit was snubbed! This film is soaring at box offices and critics are loving it for the Coen brothers' honest interpretation of the 1969 Texan classic.

Alice in Wonderland and Love and Other Drugs--two excellent films--can each potentially receive awards, as well. One of Johnny Depp's and Jake Gyllenhaal's strongest roles, respectively, both of these gentlemen are going head-to-head for the title of “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.”

Head over here to see all the nominees, and as the streets of Los Angeles are buzzing with everyone from celebrities to directors, agents, and film/television executives, we look forward to giving you a complete update on the winners (and losers) of the 2011 Golden Globe awards Sunday evening.

January 13, 2011

MRQE Connects with the New York Film Critics Circle

The New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner was this week, and MRQE was invited. Our presence there was more than just the fact that we are headquartered in New York and a part of the city's film community. In fact, for the past two months we have been working closely with the now-former Chair, Armond White of the New York Press, in bringing the illustrious Circle into the 21st Century.

We partnered with NYFCC to relaunch their website (www.nyfcc.com) as a destination site for film buffs and movie fans. Built on WordPress, their new site includes social media integration, a blog section, and connection to MRQE.com for users to access reviews from NYFCC members for all films current and classic, as well as award winners. We are very proud of this and hope that movie-goers will find this a very useful resource year-round.

“The new website will be a much richer resource,” says White, New York Film Critics Circle Chair 2009 - 2010, “it will not only only feature our awards but will be a much richer resource year-round, showcasing our members' writing and helping film-goers plan their movie-going every weekend.”

The blog and social media integration will help instill more user interactivity as compared to their old site. In the coming weeks and months, we hope that all members of the NYFCC will use the blog to provide interesting and thoughtful film commentary, as they do from their own columns and blogs. It's also now very easy to follow Circle members who have Twitter accounts. We are working closely with the Circle and helping them achieve this goal.

Being at the dinner was indeed very thrilling for us. Not only is it an honor to be working with such a group of influential people, but to then be in the same room with such great actors, directors, and writers as those who were honored and those who presented, was a great experience. We bore witness to a minor controversy, hobnobbed with the famous, and ate some pretty decent roasted chicken.

Be sure to check out the relaunched NYFCC.com and make it another destination for movie reviews. Also, head over to their Awards page to see this year's winners, including The Social Network, which took home the top prize.

January 10, 2011

Box Office Wrap-Up: A Country-Western Weekend

Nic Cage stars in Season of the Witch.
After an unexciting trip to the box-office, it seems Season of the Witch and Country Strong were the only new films worth seeing this winter weekend. Though, "worth seeing" is a tentative phrase--neither of these films truly grasped our attention here at MRQE. Unimpressed and bored with each, let’s hope next weekend is better.

The excitement that did come out of the box-office is the success of True Grit. Creating $15 million from the weekend alone, with a $110 million total, True Grit has potential to stay on top for a while. People love True Grit for the performances of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and the Coen brothers' victorious production of a great modern Western. And it is refreshing to know that Western remakes can actually be done well; strong work Coen brothers.

Little Fockers, the second place winner of this weekend, took in almost $14 million, ensuing in a $124 million total. Little Fockers is proving that audiences are still faithful to the Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers series--though, with this current film, that faith to the Fockers is questionable. With an overused laugh track and often-failed humor attempts, Little Fockers, released on the same day and date as Meet the Fockers in 2005, created nearly a third of what the Meet the Fockers release did six years earlier.

Surprisingly, Season of the Witch became the third highest grossing film from this weekend; but is it Cage that's attracting audiences into the theaters or just the allure of something new? Season of the Witch made almost $11 million from a three-day span alone. Cage’s latest endeavor is a true contrast of both horror and history. This film barely shook our MRQE Metric with only 35 points, ranking it in the field of Chase Crawford’s forgettable film Twelve.

With no surprise here, Country Strong--aside from its solid cast of Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester, and Tim McGraw--only received a cool MRQE Metric of 45. Initial excitement and buzz came from Paltrow’s country singing debut, and Tim McGraw’s hopeful and continued attempt at acting in his on-screen job as Paltrow’s husband and manager. Ironically, the only thing Country Strong successfully produced was a crying shame out of any audience goer at a $7.3 million weekend total. From Paltrow’s train wreck of a character, to McGraw’s heart-felt, over-emotional role, this country-western film may only please that true country fan, ya’ll.

Looking ahead, we cannot wait to see The Green Hornet. From crime to media affairs, this highly anticipated film is on the top of our list. We just hope Seth Rogen brings in the same audiences he did for Pineapple Express–a cult classic for any Southern California modern day hippy.

Box Office Top Ten:
  1. True Grit (MRQE Metric: 83) - $15 million
  2. Little Fockers (MRQE Metric: 32) - $13.8 million
  3. Season of the Witch (MRQE Metric: 35) - $10.7 million
  4. TRON: Legacy (MRQE Metric: 57) - $9.8 million
  5. Black Swan (MRQE Metric: 81) - $8.4 million
  6. Country Strong (MRQE Metric: 45) - $7.3 million
  7. The Fighter (MRQE Metric: 75) - $7 million
  8. The King's Speech (MRQE Metric: 85) - $6.8 million
  9. Yogi Bear (MRQE Metric: 44) - $6.8 million
  10. Tangled (MRQE Metric: 77) - $5.2 million

How does the Box Office Top Ten compare to our user tastes? See what's currently trending on MRQE!

January 7, 2011

Internet Connected televisions, and...

I returned today from CES, the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Whereas last year, the talk of the show was 3D television, this year is featuring Internet-connected televisions, often featuring app stores to allow for web powered content to display on TVs, such as weather and sports scores, but also including the ubiquitous Netflix widgets and other filmed content options.

The problem they are all trying to solve is this: in a world where content is increasingly available and delivered via the Internet, how can that experience be integrated into the television? The incumbent content distributors - the cable companies - want to integrate and channel the available Internet options through the set-top box, maintaining their primacy as the content gatekeepers and keeping your monthly cable bill getting paid.

Does anyone really want to check-in on Facebook on their TVs? My sense is that like the 3D TVs at last year's CES, the new crop of Internet connected TVs will not be an out-of-the-gate "must have," but will rather slowly infiltrate the living room as TVs get replaced; and TVs last a long time these days . . .

So, how will Internet-delivered entertainment get from your computer to the TV? Via HDMI connections from your computer to the TV? Add-on boxes such as the Roku? New devices such as the VeeBeam? All of that and more?

How do you watch Internet content on your TV?

January 6, 2011

MRQE Rewind: The 5 Best (and 5 WORST) Films of 2010

The best films of 2010 were all ironically about men--whether they involved a nearly paralyzing speech impediment, a physical struggle to regain memory, a battle of ownership on a social media domain, or the basic search for love--leading men held a huge part in the box office this year. While on the parallel, the worst films of this year had absolutely nothing to do with gender. What made these films bad was that the humor was down right bad--from the mockery of pop culture to failed romantic and family comedies, the humorous films of 2010 we here at MRQE have already forgotten. And, regardless of how some films failed to even tread water at the box office, the films that did succeed were incredible and memorable; and the leading men will leave a lasting impression on any film goer of 2011.

The 5 BEST Films of 2010

5. Marwencol – MRQE Metric: 84

This truly beautiful film, directed by Jeff Malmberg, illustrates the tale of Mark Hogencamp, a man brutally beaten outside a bar leaving him in a coma with no memory. The strong comparison Malmberg creates, from the war happening in Hogancamp’s front yard (set in WWII Belgium), to the fantastical life in Hogencamp’s backyard--playground and fields filled with Barbies and G.I. Joe soldiers--is a stunning paradox. How Malmberg established such a soft, yet true documentary of art and identity allows the viewer to ponder Hogancamp’s artistic talent. A great film to watch, Marwencol is truly one of the best movies to come out this year.

4. The King’s Speech – MRQE Metric: 86
One of Colin Firth’s best performances, The King’s Speech is a modern look at King George IV’s speech impediment. Nominated for multiple Golden Globe Awards (and a sure bet for this year's Academy Awards), The King’s Speech honors a cast whose on-screen relationship create a powerful and wise glance at a historical man’s personal struggle. Helena Bonham Carter, a gift to see on-screen, plays the role of soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth. Carter’s character throughout the film enhances the connection between the speech therapist, Lionel Logue, and the King. From the struggles, to the war outside, to the internal torment Firth’s character faces, nether actor or character seems to break perfect stride as the film ascends. Not a moment of The King’s Speech should be missed; it's a pleasure to see from opening breathe, to King’s true final speech.

3. Another Year – MRQE Metric: 84
A truly classic film of marriage and divorce, Another Year, written and directed by Mike Leigh, brings in the organic British remedy of love. This fascinating tale of ordinary people and their trips and trails in life--similar to that of Love Actually--allows the audience to relate to the masterful performances by Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville. Both characters’ passion, yet mediocre love, their son’s struggle for love, and the relationships among their friends, allow a “melancholy but forgiving” message that life, love, and death for these characters is not a fear, but a realization. Everything that happens in between these stages of life is just life. Another Year, aside from its deep reminder of the highs and lows of life, is a memorable and timeless film.

2. The Social Network  MRQE Metric: 86
The highly anticipated film, The Social Network, portrays the birth of Facebook at Harvard University. Praised for its casting and marked "the movie of the decade," David Fincher’s film tells the story of how a small viral network became a billion dollar business. With "finger’s being pointed" and a generation being defined, The Social Network explores how this highly profitable business unfolds from Mark Zuckerberg’s point-of-view--played effortlessly by Jessie Eisenberg. Great for audiences of all ages, The Social Network seemingly became a movie classic overnight. With international praise reigning true, Fincher’s notable tale is a “must see film” for anyone living in the modern age.

1. Toy Story 3 – MRQE Metric: 90
A dynasty of films, Toy Story 3, has truly lived up to its 2010 anticipation. From Buzz to Woody to the rest of the animated gang, this happy-go-lucky movie has fantastically rounded out the Toy Story Trilogy. Now released on DVD and Blu-Ray, viewers will love this film for its light-hearted jokes, and more honest taste of true Pixar talent. Toy Story 3 weaves the tale of Andy going off to college, and the fate of each toy. Yet, with an underlying theme of survival and love, Toy Story 3 has become the perfect final installment of the toy’s lives.

The 5 WORST Films of 2010

5. The Back-up Plan – MRQE Metric: 32
As Jennifer Lopez tries again to break into the realm of romantic comedies, her acting--and this film, in general--fall quite short. The Back-up Plan, written by Kate Angelo and directed by Alan Poul, speaks of a women’s biological clock desperately ticking. Though as the film progresses, it seems as if the audience members' clocks were ticking too. Simply another 90-minute platform for Lopez to move around the big screen, the transparency of this film speaks as "just another romantic comedy." This quite unmemorable film is likely to be on found in airplanes' on-demand features and stay-at-home television movie night.

4. Little Fockers – MRQE Metric - 32
Some films should not have sequels, and this is one of them. Little Fockers, with the similar cast of Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, should have stopped at Meet the Fockers. This film, now with the titular "little Fockers," proves that jokes can only go so-dry and laugh-tracks so-long. Without any more density than that of the second film, this was an unnecessary addition to the Focker’s series. And, aside from impressive supporting role faces of Barbara Streisand, Jessica Alba, and Harvey Keitel, this was a quite forgettable film. Let’s just hope Paul Weitz and John Hamburg feel the same way.

3. Furry Vengeance – MRQE Metric 29
Not one of Brendan Fraser’s strongest roles, Furry Vengeance is a typical film about the power struggle between man and animal. As a real estate developer (played by Fraser) moves his family from Chicago to Oregon, many problems stem from the relationship Fraser has to that of the local woodland creatures. The animals develop a control issue as Fraser attempts to cultivate the forest land around them. So, the animals begin to fight back in light-hearted and youthful ways. While a true family comedy, this eco-friendly glance into forest life and the cuddly creatures that inhabit it, does not live up to any great expectations.

2. The Nutcracker in 3D – MRQE Metric 27
As if everyone and their mother have not yet seen The Nutcracker, this film simply pushed that meter over the top. Not a great idea on director Andrey Konchalovskiy’s part, this dreamlike tale of a Viennese Christmas simply carries the plot far too much. And aside from Konchalovskiy’s best efforts to make his nearly “twenty year long dream come true,” he may have been the only person who interpreted any satisfaction from this film. A great recommendation would be to stick to the classics on this one and avoid the modern 3D glance at this traditional holiday tale.

1. Vampires Suck – MRQE Metric 25
True to the second part of this title, the pointless mocking that filmmakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer create is unnecessary and simply not very good. And, although, we here at MRQE are usually quite fond of most vampire films, this was not one that gave any light to the allure of the Twlight Saga or the mystery that men like Dracula once created. The MRQE radar barely moved, and true to our critics' choice, this is not a film we recommend. The acting was dry and the plot has been seen before, so avoid this laugh-free film.

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