Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekend Box Office

The Egg, Numbers, and I.

Happy Easter everyone! I thought I saw Moby when I was shopping for groceries, but it was just an egg. *dreamy sampled rimshot* Meanwhile, at the boxoffice, pretty good weekend! The number one movie was Rio, a holdover from last week. Coming in just behind it, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family. Can't we all agree that "Madea's" is the only possessive that title needs? Anyway, maybe Tyler and Madea can split the  $25 million that it brought in.

At #3, Water For Elephants with $16 million. I don't know anything about this movie past the fact that there were weird, weird casting notices for months about it last year.  I'm convinced that if I had been carney folk, I'd have gotten work. If you don't like elephants, you might have seen African Cats instead, a Disney nature docudrama narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. $6 million only, but the cats don't ask for a piece of the backend.

Speaking of Disney, their Bollywood entry Zokkomon came in at #90 with a $117 per screen average. Critics like it! I hope it does well in whatever heather country it's aimed at.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The End of the Monarchy

Just wanted to give a shout-out and spread the news - my old acquaintance Richard Cheese and his band will be playing at the Royal Wedding reception. This will, I suspect, bring down Western Civilization. And it's about time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekend Box Office

Oh, numbers, flying down to numbers, flying down to numbers where's there's rhythm and rhyme.

I fear there is no way to make this interesting. Two new movies opening in the top ten this week. At #1, generic 3D CGI spectacular Rio takes $39 million. At #2, generic pre-sold horror property Scream 4 pulls down a respectable $19 million. There's still a Dimension Pictures? Who knew?

Just off the chart at #11, Robert Redford's The Conspiritor makes $3.5 million. Oddly, it was all in $5 bills.
And pennies! Because Lincoln, you see.

What, too soon?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jesus Christ, Warhorse

I'm giving up a couple of hours sleep a night for "hell week", that final 6 days of rehearsal before a big musical. In this case it's the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center Performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. I have a few small parts in the show, but there are no small parts, just small priests and small apostles. And little old men who are certain they've seen Peter somewhere.

This ain't library art - it's our real Jesus.
 It's odd. The show was quite radical for its time. In addition to telling the story of Christ's last days through the scandalous medium of ROCK MUSIC, it also questions His divinity and dares to cast Judas in a sympathetic light. It's a hit single that became a concept album that became a hit Broadway show in the space of a few years (add another couple of years and you have a movie) and in every incarnation JCS infuriated a pretty large segment of the religious community. I suspect that the only reason that there weren't riots over this show is by the late sixties, we were all a little rioted out. If the whole ball of wax was conceived today, perhaps as a hip-hop version starring Usher as Jesus, there would be blood in the streets.

And yet now, it's going to be a community theatre production, playing 2:00 Sunday matinees to what we actors privately call "The Walker Brigade", that predominantly 55-70 year old crowd that holds season tickets. A bit surreal, frankly. And they're going to be grooving along with the music, because some of them were in college when this thing first hit the scene. This show is familiar to them. Probably they'll leave humming the tunes.

Incidentally from what I've been seeing, the show still has the capacity to shock. I have been sneaking into the back of the house during scenes when I'm not onstage. Believe me, it's quite a story when you look at it closely. The bible really knocks the rough edges off the whole Jesus/God/Judas thing, and JCS delights in forcing you to re-examine what people in that extraordinary situation must feel like.

So in the end the show promises to be a balancing act - the old and the new, the comfortable and the shocking, the cross and the switchblade. I wish I could see it myself but I'm busy for the whole run. Let me know how it is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekend Box Office

Might as well face it, you're addicted to numbers.

4 new majors premiering this week, all disappointing. Maybe the studios were counting on that pre-Easter boost but it failed to materialize, because there never was such a thing. In any event the top movie was a holdover from last week, Hop. Following that, at #2, Hanna with a slim $12 million.

At #3 the apparently un-awaited Russell Brand remake of Arthur which also made $12 million; #4 brought us Soul Surfer, the story of a surfer who gets trapped under her board and has to cut off her own arm to survive. James Franco plays the girl, and -- oh wait, Franco is in something else, and Surfer made $11 million. 

At #6 with only $9 million is Your Highness, a noble attempt to tap into the medieval stoner comedy market. It also features Natalie Portman in a thong. I'd pay to see that! If I hadn't already seen it in the trailer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend Box Office

Hop over to the numbers for more info!

At least, a movie to exploit Easter! Hop, the CGI extravaganza, pulls down $38 million and takes the number 1 spot. Behind it, Source Code, a confusing thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaall despite the fact that no one really wants to see him in a movie. It only made $15 million. And at #3 it's Insidious, which made $13 million. Which is not so good.

Debuting at #13, interestingly enough is The King's Speech with a little over 1 million. It appears that the gimmick is this is the PG-13 rated version, with all the b-b-b-bad language taken out. Oh Weinstein, you card! Well, I hope the post-production turns a profit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Playing First String

As soon as you can, get a hold of an episode of Secret Service. I wish I could trust you to simply go out and do it based on what I'm telling you, because the pleasure of this show is in the discovery. But sadly, you need more.

Secret Service was the last Gerry and Sylvia Anderson "Supermarionation" production. Like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett, the characters are all played by puppets. In this one, they tried an interesting but insanely wrongheaded strategy - sometimes it will be a puppet in a miniature set, but for some long shots, they used human body doubles for the puppets in full-size sets. It was a way of saving a little money on miniature sets, and now and then you'd have to show a character running, and it's simply easier to make a real person do that than a puppet.

Still, puppets are lousy actors and using them for closeups is just loony.

And that's not even considering the premise of the show, which would have been insane under any circumstance. It's the adventures of Father Stanley Unwin, who works for B.I.S.H.O.P (British Intelligence Secret Headquarters, Operation Priest) as an undercover spy. Unwin is voiced by Stanley Unwin, who also plays his full-size doppleganger, but only in long shots. Unwin works with his parish groundskeeper Matthew, another agent, and here's where it gets weird. Unwin has a device which can shrink people to a fifth of their size. For missions Matthew is reduced and Unwin carries him in a specially designed suitcase to various situations where he can observe or sabotage enemy actions.

This notion that this thing made it out of a pitch meeting is proof A: of miracles and B: that the late sixties was the golden age of hallucinogens.

As it happens, the size Matthew shrinks to is about the height of a Gerry Anderson show puppet. Though sometimes, they have to put him in scenes with other puppets so they use camera tricks. All right, I just can't go on without giving myself a headache. They only made 12 half-hour episodes, so it's pretty breezy watching if you don't go nuts. If you're a fan of special effects or dubious narrative strategies, rush out and watch this one.