Fury flattened all other movies in wide release and is projected to take in around $23 million in its debut weekend in theaters. The Brad Pitt-starring World War II action-drama, set largely within the cramped confines of an M4 Sherman tank rolling across Nazi Germany, comes in at the lower end of pre-release audience tracking expectations. But it caps off a recent run of cinematic success for Pitt (a producer of the multiple Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and star of last year’s sci-fi disaster hit World War Z). Fury also features Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, and Logan Lerman as a shell-shocked army crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
“The relationship and camaraderie of the cast is really poignant in the film, which is also very visceral and action packed,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony, the studio behind Fury. “We’re feeling really good about it. It’s a very good opening for us and it’s a movie that we’re so proud to be a part of.”
Director David Fincher’s venomous adaptation of Gone Girl slipped to No. 2 in its third week in theaters (passing the $100 million mark domestically in the process with a projected take near $18 million). While producer Guillermo Del Toro’s mythic animated adventure The Book of Life claimed the third box office spot, estimated to earn around $17 million in its first weekend.
The Best of Me, an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ 2011 novel starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, fared worst of the new films in wide release. The romantic drama fizzled with critics and appears to be on track for a $10 million opening, on the low end of the spectrum of such bankable Sparks movie adaptations as The Notebook and 2010’s Dear John.
In limited release, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman took flight in just four theaters, hauling in an impressive $415,000 to become one of the biggest specialty film debuts of the year. The industry-skewering dramedy features Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero movie star attempting to mount his comeback as a Serious Actor on Broadway (the movie expands into 18 new markets next weekend). Writer-director Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children continued to struggle in its transition to wide release. The ensemble Information Age drama—whose cast includes Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, and Ansel Elgort—is expected to pull in just over $300,000 after platforming into 608 theaters this weekend.
1. Fury – $23.5 million 2. Gone Girl – $17.8 million 3. The Book of Life – $17 million 4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – $12 million 5. The Best of Me — $10.2 million
Come November 7, one of the most anticipated movies of 2014 will be hitting theaters. In fact, it most likely is the most anticipated movie of the year for most as Christopher Nolan offers up Interstellar, his first movie since ending his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises and I think we’re all quite interested in seeing what life after Batman is like for the director that seems to be able to merge thoughtful filmmaking with big budget features.
In speaking with Entertainment Weekly recently, Nolan’s wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, said of Interstellar, “I do not think Chris could have or would have made this film 12 years ago when we didn’t have kids… Whenever I read that Chris’ films are ‘unemotional,’ I don’t agree, but I do find this one to be more emotional. And a lot of it has to do with Matthew’s performance.”
Matthew McConaughey stars as one member of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage. What exactly all of that means or entails I’m not so sure, but Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway are two additional members of the crew and will be along for the ride, letting us know how this all turns out, though both won’t be going up into space.
Chastain plays McConaughey’s earthbound and in speaking with EW says she cracked the code to just how emotional the film is one day on set saying, “One day, I noticed this girl. She was really shy and sweet. I went up to her, and she told me her name. And she was Chris’ daughter. All of the clues fell into place. You had to be a little bit of a detective, and when I figured it out, I was incredibly moved: Interstellar is a letter to his daughter.”
For Nolan, he said of the screenplay written by his brother, Jonathan Nolan, there were a few things he wanted to change. EW‘s article gets into that a bit with Nolan giving reason for some of the changes saying, “When you take an audience as far away from human experience as possible, you wind up focusing tightly on human nature and how we are connected to each other. The film tries to be very honest in that appraisal.”
One other change was to change McConaughey’s child from boy to a girl. “For me,” Nolan said, “The whole movie is about what it means to be a dad.”
So, while you wait to crack the code for yourself, I’ve included several new pictures from Interstellar below along with two new trailers. Look over them slowly, you still have a little time to wait.
Brad Pitt leads WWII drama to top at box office; Nicholas Sparks’ tearjerker ”The Best of Me” at No. 3
Brad Pitt’s World War II tank thriller Fury blew away the competition in its Friday debut, racking up $8.8 million at the box office and handily ending Gone Girl’s two-week run as the No. 1 movie in the country. The animated kids’ flick The Book of Life, meanwhile, showed a strong pulse in its first day in wide release, tallying $4.9 million. And the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic tearjerker The Best of Me opened to a lackluster $4.1 million Friday, on track to come up short of pre-release expectations for its opening weekend.
Fury rolls into multiplexes with an A- Cinemascore and stands as director David Ayer’s (End of Watch, Sabotage) strongest opening to date. The film features Pitt as Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a world-weary tank commander leading his crew (Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman, and Michael Peña) across war-torn Nazi Germany.
En route to ceding the top box office spot to Fury this week, Gone Girl—David Fincher’s adaptation of former EW writer Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestselling crime pot boiler—has racked up an impressive $100 million domestically after three weeks in release.
In third place, 3-D fantasy-adventure The Book of Life features vocal performances by Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, and Diego Luna to spin a Mexican folkloric tale inspired by the holiday Day of the Dead.
The new films took a bite out of the gory $70 million vampire origins story Dracula Untold, which suffered a 65 percent attendance drop-off in its second weekend (collecting $2.9 million in box office receipts). While Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, the Steve Carrell-starring adaptation of the 1972 kids’ lit classic of the same name (which also opened last weekend), took in $3.2 million Friday to round out the top five.
1. Fury — $8.8 million 2. Gone Girl – $5.5 million 3. The Book of Life — $4.9 million 4. The Best of Me — $4.1 million 5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — $3.2 million
Limited Release: Oct 17, 2014; Rated: Unrated; Length: 108 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter and Jason Schwartzman; Distributor: Tribeca Film
I can’t think of anyone under 40 who plays arrogant, self-absorbed jerks more convincingly than Jason Schwartzman. I have no clue what the actor’s like in real life, but if he’s not a complete prick, he deserves an Oscar. In his latest showcase of lacerating misanthropy, Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip, Schwartzman is Philip Lewis Friedman, an insufferable and once-promising New York novelist whose new book is met with indifference. He’s like Rushmore‘s Max Fischer, only a little older, a little crueler, and a lot more jaded. After refusing to promote his novel on principle, Philip accepts an offer from one of his literary heroes (Jonathan Pryce, channeling Philip Roth) to move into the elder author’s upstate cabin to write. He leaves behind his long-suffering girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss, excellent) and heads north, but he’s just as miserable there. Especially when his dwindling finances force him to take a gig halfheartedly teaching creative writing at a local college. As uncomfortably funny as the film is, it isn’t really a comedy. It’s a character study of an unlikable narcissist whose obliviousness to other people’s feelings happens to be hilarious. I could have done with less of Perry’s jittery handheld camera and fewer storytelling devices borrowed from his betters (Eric Bogosian’s deadpan narrator will be familiar to fans of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums). But at least he’s picked the perfect leading man to give his savage tale some snarky, smart-ass bite.
Rated: R; Length: 118 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Lane Garrison and Kristen Stewart; Distributor: IFC Films
The depiction of Guantánamo Bay as a banal, ugly hole of a place waiting to be condemned makes for a compelling first half hour in this military drama. Then freshman writer-director Peter Sattler’s naive morality play kicks in—a rookie Gitmo guard (Kristen Stewart)—befriends a detainee (A Separation‘s Payman Maadi)—and the movie becomes a series of histrionic attempts to be, as Stewart’s character says with a pout, ”Just not as black and white as they said it was gonna be.” For real.
Details: Limited Release: Oct 17, 2014; Rated: R; Length: 105 Minutes; Genres: Comedy, Drama; With: Billy Crudup, Felicity Huffman and Anton Yelchin
Billy Crudup stars in William H. Macy’s thoughtful directorial debut as Sam, an ad executive whose life is blown apart when he loses his only child in a school shooting. Within two years, Sam is (barely) working as a housepainter and drinking enough to float the boat he now lives on, until the discovery of a trove of songs his son wrote and recorded seems to offer him a chance to reconnect with the boy he lost and leads him to another one (Anton Yelchin) in need of a father figure. An ill-judged twist pitches the story sideways, but Crudup’s performance holds the center. His pain isn’t soggy or showy; it just feels true.
Young Ones is a well executed drama held up by a quartet of very strong performances, including Michael Shannon and Nicholas Hoult, though its story is a bit thin.
A fairly thin story elevated by an impressive cast
“Young Ones” is a Screen Media Films release, directed by Jake Paltrow and is rated R for some violence and language. The running time is .
The cast includes Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Last week, I reviewed Autómata, which was a post-apocalyptic science fiction film that presented nothing new in terms of ideas or themes. It treaded on familiar territory and made it a bore to watch. Science fiction films need to reflect human nature in an interesting way to be successful, otherwise they become very easy to tune out. In comes Young Ones, a film that uses a near future of a massive water shortage to explore man’s pride, greed, and struggle for survival. The film is not wholly successful in its ambitions, shifting away from its themes midway through into a more traditional revenge film, but with the help of a quartet of terrific performances, the film is never something Autómata was: boring.
A rather subdued Michael Shannon plays Ernest Holm, the patriarch of a family who is clinging onto a 20-acre farm, despite a drought that has dried up his and the surrounding land. He and his son Jerome (Kodi Smit-McPhee) now sell rations to the other people who have decided not to leave their desert homes. He tries to be honest about his business affairs and will not give in to paying under-the-table money to the water company for them to irrigate his land. No-goodnik Flem Lever (Nicholas Hoult), however, will go that extra distance. He wants Ernest’s land and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it, starting with cozying up to his daughter Mary (Elle Fanning).
The film is divided into three chapters, each following a different character. The first, following Ernest, is where we get the most thematic exploration. He is a former alcoholic who is strong in his convictions. He genuinely wants what is best for his family, but he is unwilling to compromise the land which once provided him with sustenance. He would rather wait it out and pray for the rain, despite all signs pointing to that being a bad idea. This makes his clash with Flem very intriguing, as it becomes a battle between pride and greed. I was on edge, wondering who was going to win out in the end.
The second follows Flem. This is the segment where his greed comes back to bite him in the ass. He gets in over his head, dealing with people he thinks he can handle, thinking he is smarter than he actually is. Seeing someone achieve their goal and showing the direct repercussions of it immediately afterward is something I find very interesting. Typically if someone gets what he or she wants in a film, it is the ending, and we do not get to see where the story goes after that. The segmented nature allows for a totally different shift in story, which can be a great benefit.
It is the third chapter where the film does not fully come together. This one follows Jerome in his discovery of how Flem has betrayed his family. It is the most familiar of the three sections and throws out all the thematic stuff I found so interesting in the first two. This is also the chapter that felt the most stretched. We know where the climax is going to happen, and writer/director Jake Paltrow pads out the running time a little too much before we get there. He wants to pull the tension like a rubber band until it snaps, but up until that point, the thriller aspect of the film has never been a focal point.
I do not think I can overstate just how good these four primary performers are. I like seeing Shannon in a more normal guy role. He can play crazy better than anyone, but seeing him as a real guy with real problems was very engrossing. Hoult, an actor who has never done anything for me, steps up his game to be appropriately threatening when he has all of the cards he needs and panicked when everyone else has better hands. Those two particularly play off each other well in their confrontations.
Smit-McPhee believably becomes a force when he finds out Flem’s true self, and Fanning understands young, irrational love very well. It was very odd to see her and Hoult have intimate scenes together, considering she is 16 and he is in his 20s, but thankfully, the scenes never get too graphic. It still made me feel weird knowing the age gap. I also want to give a special accommodation to Liah O’Prey, who plays a girl helping Jerome sneak into a heavily secure city. She just had a presence about her I found very interesting. She’s in the film for about five minutes but leaves a massive impression.
Paltrow uses some familiar story beats here, but he executes them so well it did not matter. I got caught up in the drama, even though I knew what was probably going to happen. He, along with director of photography Giles Nuttgens, makes their environment properly desolate and empty. It was a world I bought into almost immediately. It is not too different from our own, but with some updated technology here and an odd piece of clothing there, he makes it his own. Nathan Johnson‘s score is sweeping in a way we do not hear in movies anymore.
This is not a great piece of cinema, but it is a thoroughly entertaining one. It gave me some things to think about, which is what a movie should do. It made me think about how far I would go in my need to survive. I probably would not go as far as these people (I’m pretty weak), but seeing this character drama is still engaging nonetheless. It did lose me a little in the third act, but the film had built up enough goodwill up until then that I can forgive it. I look forward to seeing what Jake Paltrow has next. I also hope Liah O’Prey is in more movies.
'Young Ones' (2014) Movie Review Young Ones is a well executed drama held up by
a quartet of very strong performances, including Michael
Shannon and Nicholas Hoult, though its story is a bit
'Wolves' (2014) Movie Review
The werewolf movie, starring Lucas Till and Jason Mamoa,
is dull, uninventive, and bluntly stupid, making it one
of the worst films I have seen this year.
'Fury' (2014) Movie Review Fury is wildly intense and loaded with
fantastic performances, but it will leave you scratching
your head thematically if you choose to look too deep
into its meaning.
'The Judge' (2014) Movie Review The Judge is a rather sloppy and formulaic
melodrama made tolerable thanks to performances from
Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.
'Whiplash' (2014) Movie Review Whiplash
boasts two stand-out performances from Miles Teller and
J.K. Simmons in a movie that is sure to make your heart
'Autómata' (2014) Movie Review
The sci-fi thriller, starring Antonio Banderas, treads
on such familiar territory, both thematically and in its
story, that not even great practical effects can save
'Kill the Messenger' (2014) Movie
I admire Kill the Messenger greatly for its
old school approach to storytelling, setting out to tell
the story of Gary Webb and his important mid-'90s
investigative reporting, but it's also a film that ends
up hitting just wide of its mark.
'St. Vincent' (2014) Movie Review
It would be easy to call St. Vincent overly
sentimental and perhaps it is, but it's more than that,
serving as an acting showcase for Bill Murray that
really comes together in the end.