Midnight in Paris

He achieved critical acclaim by shooting in England for Match Point. He won people’s hearts by shooting in Spain for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And he achieved his greatest financial success ever by filming in France for Midnight in Paris. For a filmmaker who people have often said has his best days behind him, Woody Allen has been doing pretty well for himself by taking his, some would say uniquely New York, perspective overseas. Not one to mess up a bad thing, Allen is currently shooting another ensemble comedy, this time in Italy, which will be called The Bop Decameron. And before he’s even finished with that project, there are reports that he’s already negotiating where to take his film crew next. According to THR, Allen is currently in negotiations with Bavaria Studios in Munich, Germany to set his next project in their city. Initially I would have thought that filming a movie in Munich was just a ploy for Allen to get paid to hang out during Oktoberfest, but apparently he is looking to start filming on this new film next summer rather than next fall. There is not yet any word on a title or plot summary, but at this early stage those sorts of things might not even exist. With the speed that Allen bangs these things out, it could be that the only thing he knows he wants to do next is go to Germany, story to follow. Whatever his recent process has been, I hope he […]

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The Reject Report

So now Harry Potter’s patronus is in the shape of a giant dump truck loaded with million dollar bills. Is there such a thing as a million dollar bill? There probably should be. And while you’re at it, go ahead and put Alan Rickman’s face on it. In J.K. Rowling we trust. Okay, I’m done with all that. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, the last film of the 10-year series, has demolished all kinds of box office records. After breaking advance day records with $32m in tickets sales, it went on to make $43.5m in midnight showings. It wasn’t a shock to anyone when the Friday numbers came in and Deathly Hallows 2 had beaten The Twilight Saga: New Moon‘s $72.7m opening day with its own $92.1m. But the young wizard wasn’t done there. No, satisfaction was not met at the defeat of New Moon, though we’re all pretty thankful for it. Deathly Hallows 2, and probably Warners had something to do with it, too, had its eyes set on that opening weekend. Another Warners film, The Dark Knight, was holding the #1 weekend slot for three years with its $158.4m three-day take. Now that Sunday’s numbers have come out, Deathly Hallows 2 has pretty much swept the floor with that record, too.

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The Reject Report

And around and around it goes. Kind of like the box office. It comes and goes, and sometimes you look around and wonder what exactly is changing? Well, the movies are getting bigger. The animation is getting slicker. And the sequels are starting to take over. They’ve even got PIXAR in their grubby claws this weekend. Cars 2 is the big Summer movie, the likeliest candidate to the the top spot, but where will it rank among the rest of Pixar’s slate? Does Bad Teacher have a shot at a big opening? Is Ryan Reynolds still flying around space or did he get eaten by the Super 8 monster? Okay, that last question probably won’t be broached, but we’ll hit on everything else in this week’s Reject Report.

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The Reject Report

In darkened theaters… In brightest lobbies… Yeah, I’m not finishing that. Instead I’m looking forward at what’s in those darkened theaters this weekend. We have Green Lantern. We have Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We also have the returning Super 8 looking to hold onto that nostalgia for one more weekend. One of these is sure to come out on top of the heap. The other two will be submerged into a vat of self-pity. Unless the winner is the penguin movie. Then all three films as well as American audiences should really take a hard look in the mirror and gauge their worth. But I’m not judging. It’s the Reject Report, and no evil shall escape our site. Lame.

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Ever since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, Woody Allen’s latest comedic look at relationships and cityscapes, Midnight in Paris, has been building buzz and making money. It was at Cannes that my fellow Reject Simon Gallagher saw the film and called it one of Allen’s best in years. On its opening weekend stateside, our weekly look at the box office reported that it had brought in a whopping $579,000 while only playing on six screens. I saw it in on one of those six screens opening weekend, and I was shocked to find that I was being rounded up and corralled like I was seeing a midnight showing of something huge. This was just a Woody Allen movie and I was seeing it on a Sunday afternoon, what gives? Turns out that something about this film is really resonating with people. I’m not immune to its charms either. It may be fainter praise coming from me than some, because I don’t rank Allen’s classics as highly as most, but this is one of my favorite films he’s ever done. In its fifth week of release, Midnight in Paris is still doing so well that Sony Pictures Classics has announced that they’re going to expand it to even more screens. So far it has made $16 million domestically, and this week it will be shown on 1038 screens, which is not only the most that it has been available on yet, this is the most screens that any Woody […]

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Culture Warrior

You’d be hard-pressed to find two filmmakers who are more wildly different than Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. One is a notably prolific and economic filmmaker who still releases one movie a year well into his senior years, while the other is a perfectionist who labors over his films and has thus far released, on average, barely more than one movie per decade. One has an unmistakable public persona, while the other is a notorious recluse. One makes films about life in a great city, while the other turns his lens to nature and the experience of the rural. One is as much an atheist as his characters, while the other is a spiritualist who searches for “God,” whatever that may be, through the lens of the camera. Allen and Malick are, in many ways, perfect opposites. But after watching the strong new work by each of these talented filmmakers this past weekend, it became apparent that, at least in the shared thematic preoccupations of Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Malick’s The Tree of Life, these two ostensibly dissimilar filmmakers may have more in common than meets the eye.

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The Reject Report

Oh, yeah. It’s a verb now. It’s not easy for anyone to open a period piece with no A-list names and the only brand loyalty coming in the form of its director and producer. It’s even difficult for J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, which would indicate why Super 8 underperformed in its opening weekend. Don’t get me wrong. $37m is a great opening. When you consider the sci-fi/family drama/coming of age story reportedly cost $50m, that $37m seems even more impressive. Analysts, myself included, were estimating in the $45-55m range, and much of that stemmed from Spielberg and Abrams, who is directing his first film that isn’t part of a large franchise with this one. We obviously overshot the estimate, but maybe some of us just wanted the film to perform better.

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The Reject Report

Imagine Brad Pitt standing on a desolate road holding a gun on director J.J. Abrams. Sitting in front of Abrams is the mystery box, that figurative enclosure in which Abrams stores the secrets of his latest project. Brad Pitt screams a phrase we haven’t heard him scream since 1995, and as Abrams reaches into the box to reveal what’s inside (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head), a shot rings out. Abrams drops dead, but it isn’t Pitt’s gun that fired. It’s Judy Moody who is standing behind Pitt and who, as of now, is NOT having a bummer summer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lame story with a stupid ending. You try writing these intros out every week. Let’s get to the number, okay?

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The Reject Report

Could have been a B-. Maybe even a C+. The point being X-Men: First Class rose to a somewhat acceptable occasion, about what was expected. Especially by analysts who realized the film wasn’t being backed by Hugh Jackman, the first time in the franchise, and was comprised of an entirely new cast. Add into that mix the idea that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were both such colossal disappointments, and it seems X-Men: First Class did rather well despite all it has going against it. It still opened larger than 2000’s original X-Men, but the film still came in fourth among the franchise’s debuts.

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The Reject Report

And I hope they’re teaching math. But this class is probably more about learning skills like flinging energy beams from your eyes or learning how to hone you telekinetic abilities. I kind of wish I had some of those right now. That way I’d know exactly how many audience members will be attending X-Men: First Class this weekend, and my numbers will be a bit more accurate than they were this time last week. Thanks a lot, Kung Fu Panda 2. Regardless, it seems pretty evident First Class will come in #1 this weekend, as it opens unopposed. That is, if you consider the gargantuan second weekend Hangover Part II is likely to have. Still, I’m sticking with my guns. First Class all the way, but its debut might not be as astonishing as some would hope. Let’s look into that more right now.

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The Reject Report

What the hell does that even mean? Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate that phrase for all it’s worth, as the Reject Report this week is going to be a little lean this week. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hits theaters far and wide, and that’s it, folks. No one dared step up to the May 20th date for counter-programming, because, really, how do you counter-program Johnny Depp? You don’t. That’s how. Even the limited releases this week don’t have anything noteworthy to brush upon. So shiver those timbers, and when you find out what that means, let me know.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Louder Than a Bomb director Greg Jacobs and get an update on how Cannes is shaping up from Simon Gallagher. Plus, Eric D. Snider from Film.com and our very own Matt Patches enter the squared circle of our Movie News Pop Quiz. Then, we spend less than 15 minutes defining art. Take that, thousands of years of philosophy. We get the job done here at Reject Radio, so kick off you shoes and stay awhile. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Editor’s Note: Our Cannes coverage kicks off hard and heavy here, so everyone welcome Simon Gallagher and forgive him his British spellings that slip by the editing process. Also, all Cannes reviews are best read with a glass of champagne. Day one on the Croisette and we’re already opening with a name as big as Woody Allen. For the second year in a row, the director who never seems to tire of making films, and who can still occasionally make exceptional ones, has a film showing on the Croisette. Following last year’s inclusion of You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, the 64th Cannes festival opened this morning with the New Yorker’s latest – Midnight in Paris – a screening that for me came laced with both excitement, and an underwhelming sense that I was about to see essentially the same Woody Allen film I’ve been watching for the past decade or so. It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing Allen muse on the nature of love and relationships, or seeing him create a slightly grotesqued portrait of himself (this time taken on by Owen Wilson), I just think there is only so much enjoyment to be had when a filmmaker so obviously resists the urge to evolve through his art, no matter how good it is. But I had no reason to be suspicious, as it seems that Allen has taken it upon himself to debunk the idea that he generally makes and remakes the same film, throwing a […]

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With a little less than a week to go until I land at Nice Airport and get the hugely unglamorous Hack Bus into Cannes along with my boys from ObsessedWithFilm.com to begin FSR’s official Cannes film festival 2011 coverage, now is surely a prudent time to offer my thoughts on the biggest and brightest films showing on the Croisette this year. You already know what films are showing, so I won’t exhaustively trawl back through the list, but I wanted to take the opportunity to announce what I am particularly excited about. This also gives me the opportunity post-festival to look back at happier, simpler times when my optimism at seeing four films a day wasn’t yet destroyed by watching three incredibly boring flicks in a row, followed by a blockbuster during which I fell asleep (as happened in 2009). Anyway, lesson learned, and this year I’ll be packing as many natural amphetamines as possible. If you’re heading out there look for me, I’ll be the guy with the grinding jaw, the sallow eyes and the notepad full of doodles/plans to change the future of cinema. So anyway, here’s what I’m looking forward to most.

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So, we now know most of which films will screen in the two major competitions at Cannes this year, and a few out of competition titles as well (including one huge shock for me). Here’s the list in full — great to see The Beaver, and a host of huge-name directors in competition like Von Trier, Almodovar and Miike — and you can expect my commentary to follow soon. Opening Film Midnight In Paris (dir. Woody Allen) Out of Competition The Beaver (dir. Foster) La Conquete (dir. Xavier Durringer) The Artist (dir. Hazanavicius) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (dir. Rob Marshall)

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Woody Allen built a legendary career and a pretty hefty catalogue of films by making movies set in New York. His movies not only told the stories of people from New York talking like New Yorkers while walking around New York, they also just seemed to have some extra New Yorky something going on with them. Recently he has started making movies set in London, and while they are never really panned by critics, all anybody can ever say about them is that they don’t hold up to classic Woody. With this film we see Woody trying his hand at Paris, and from the trailer alone I find myself looking forward to a Woody Allen film more than I have in a long time. Midnight in Paris combines three things that I’m always a sucker for: Owen Wilson rambling about things in his charming drawl, scenes of people walking around and experiencing Paris, and Rachel McAdams. Really, it feels like Woody heard that I wasn’t too interested in his movies lately and made this just to get my attention. And look at that cast, that’s nothing to sneeze at. I should also say that I found myself laughing more in this little trailer than I have during his last few full-length features put together. But that may just be because I feel pandered to. Watch the trailer below and decide for yourself where you think this one will fall in the pantheon of Woody:

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Editor’s Note: In a fashion that is very unlike what you’d expect from us, we begin our Cannes Film Festival coverage early this year. In fact, this will mark the first time we’ve ever covered the event — previously, the only thing standing between us and Cannes was our unwillingness to wear ties. And a giant ocean. In order to pull it off this year, we welcome guest blogger Simon Gallagher, best known for his work at ObsessedwithFilm.com, as our special Cannes 2011 correspondent. We look forward to his excellent coverage of all the action taking place along the French Riviera. So, time is creeping on, and with the May 11th Opening Ceremony to this year’s Cannes Film Festival looming on the not too distant horizon, now is probably a good time to run through what’s going on in the world of Cannes so far. I’m positively bursting with pride to be bringing this news to you, and also to be given the opportunity to cover the festival for Film School Rejects – and to anyone worried I won’t fit in: fear not, for I also have a beard.

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