Chimpanzee

One of the most difficult Oscar categories for pundits (let alone regular folk) to predict is the one for feature documentary. And this year more than ever it’s going to be hard to pick the five nominees, because changes to the rules of qualification and voting have given the race an extra element of complication: there is no precedent for how things turn out with this particular selection process in place. In a way, it’s a wide-open field with no certainty that higher-grossing films or more issue-oriented titles or discernibly cinematic works have the greater chance at a nod. Some expected the number of contenders to be cut in half as a result of the new rules; instead it grew, much to the chagrin of branch leader Michael Moore. And until the annual shortlist narrows them down to 15, we have 130 eligible films to choose from. But most of those docs aren’t plausible nominees. Many of the kind that Moore gets upset about for paying for a screen rental to qualify aren’t likely to go all the way. So they qualified. Now they have to be good and popular enough for people to notice.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Shuffle Every time Lovell falls asleep he awakens at a different point of his life. His thirty year old mind and memories remain intact as a ten year old, a ninety year old, and anywhere in between. Things get even more complicated when he discovers his wife has died under potentially mysterious circumstances, but can he use his uncontrollable life-hopping ability to make things right? It’s tough making science fiction films on an indie budget, but writer/director Kurt Kuenne (Dear Zachary: A Letter To a Son About His Father) takes a sci-fi concept and uses it to tell a very human story. Loss, redemption, and forgiveness are just a few of the themes shown to transcend time, and the film explores them with beauty, humor and vitality. [Extras: Trailer, festival video diaries, making-of, black & white version]

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The Reject Report - Large

No one was expecting this. The chances The Avengers had of breaking the opening weekend box office were slim. They were there, but few thought it was anywhere near reality. There’s a lot of egg on a lot of faces today. Not only did The Avengers beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s opening weekend take of $169.1m, it left every film that has ever been released in its dust. The first film to ever break $200m in its opening three days of US release – That’s to say nothing of the $441.5m it’s already made overseas – this is a milestone in Hollywood’s history that everyone thought would come one day. Not many thought it would happen in 2012.

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The Reject Report - Large

Cue the Don Henley, because the boys of Summer have arrived. The girls are here, too. We don’t want to sound like Moviefone over here. Boys, girls, aliens, piranha. They’re all being represented this Summer, and the first of many earth-shattering weekends is upon us. As with opening weekends of Summer’s past, the team over at Marvel have it all to themselves, this time with the culmination of years of tiring work. Will all the work be for naught? Hell naw. The Avengers is going to completely rule this weekend. The only question is what, if any, records will it be breaking. You take a look. We’re going back to Henley for the time being.

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The Reject Report - Large

Movie fans can feel it. The Summer movie season is in the air, and we’ll be analyzing what it’s opening attack has to offer. For now, though, we’ve got four new films squaring off to soak up as much pre-Summer sun as they can, some of them sure to be more successful at that than others. Here’s a hint: the movie set in foggy Baltimore in the 1800s won’t be getting much sun. Another action film for the adult crowd and an animated yarn have better chances, but it’ll end up being the romantic comedy hitting that top spot here just before we’re flooded with superhero blockbusters. It’s the final Reject Report before Summer hits, and the flood of new movies this weekend is just one more indication that the industry has no urge to slow down now.

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Think Like a Man

Okay, we won’t be starting off this week’s Reject Box Office Report by talking about The Hunger Games, but that will be the last time it appears in headlines. You know, until its inevitable 3D converted re-release. No, this week we’ll be talking about men. Zac Efron. A cute chimp in the wild making some nice, breezy cash for Disney. That’s a different topic for a different article. These men have swarmed and flanked around the battle-weary opponent, and they struck gold in the process. The head of this charge was Think Like a Man, the reason Screen Gems and producer Will Packer have such a stronger bond as of today. It’s Packer’s biggest debut for the studio, taking over the $28.6m showing for Obsessed in 2009.  Add to that the film has an extra weekend coming up where it can coast a bit before getting blasted by The Avengers, and this movie with its $12m budget is going to have some pretty damn good strength. Add to that the home entertainment sales. The party at Screen Gems last night was heard in Vegas.

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The Reject Report - Large

A chimpanzee, Zac Efron, Steve Harvey, and Katniss – Not Jennifer Lawrence – all have their palms on a brand new Dodge Challenger. Hemi. The last person with their hand on the car wins it, and, unfortunately for Katniss – Still not Jennifer Lawrence – who could afford 10 Dodge Challengers right now – the game’s been going for four days straight. She’s exhausted. The other players are all fresh, and a few of them have heavy fan support. Who will walk away with this magnificent car or the claim of #1 at the box office if you’re into the whole analogy thing? One things for certain. The chimpanzee was already distracted by a low-hanging branch. Let the contest begin.

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For most of its slim 78 minute runtime, Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield‘s Chimpanzee focuses on the daily minutiae of a large group of chimpanzees living in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest – their eating habits, sleeping patterns, and how they interact on a social level. It’s not particularly exciting, but it is interesting and it does serve an important purpose when the film finally gets to the meat of its story – it serves to lull its audience into a false sense of safety. Centered primarily on a three-year-old chimp named Oscar and his mother Isha, the film certainly benefits from its built-in “awww” factor, because baby Oscar is both adorable and engaging. Despite the fact that his family unit includes other baby chimps, there’s no question as to why Fothergill and Linfield trained their film on young Oscar, even before we get to the heart of the story (which requires a focus on Oscar) – he’s a star. A G-rated film from Disneynature, Chimpanzee provides a charming slice-of-life look at Oscar, Isha, and their family group’s daily existence that should amuse family members of all ages. While it does come packaged with some overly-humanizing narration work by Tim Allen, the film eventually turns into a production with an eye-opening plot and a very incredible story to tell. Though the threat of the “evil” chimp Scar and his band of “soldiers” is ever-lurking, and a bit too much time is spent hammering home the point that baby Oscar is […]

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