The Adjustment Bureau

Due to an overwhelming need to embrace my inner hermit the last few weeks I have forgone my usual weekend gallivanting in favor of staying home with movies. It might seem as if I’m turning into a cat lady (I prefer dogs) who hopes to find solace in the virtual arms of Tom Hardy or Gerard Butler while I contemplate my Bridget Jones-esque death at the mangled jowls of a wild pack of voracious coyotes, but in all honestly there is just something comforting in spending Friday nights with a lover who is always in bed next to you – the remote control. I like to call my endless supply of romance, sex comedies, erotic thrillers, and documentaries “research” for this column, and that’s why it’s completely acceptable for me to leave my desk Friday at 5PM to watch whatever is inside that little red envelope. But this week I needed something different. Instead of a film about French sexploitation or sex in the Australian outback, I wanted a more mainstream offering. I desired a pretty film with the hint of romance but the full adrenaline rush of a psychological thriller. I also wanted to indulge my blazing Emily Blunt crush. Again, in the name of research.

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God, you gotta love Uwe Boll. Whether or not you despise his films like most of the online community, the man isn’t afraid of making headlines. Now he’s delivered one of my favorite stories in recent memory: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is a “piece of shit” and Lars von Trier is “retarded.” As one expects, Boll didn’t pull his punches when it came to discussing The Tree of Life, “I totally hated that movie because I feel as a filmmaker that besides the fact that Terrence Malick did some great visuals on some movies, also on The New World, like the opening of that movie was really good but then he completely lost it. I think Tree of Life is a piece of shit. I think Sean Penn is ridiculous in it, like walking around in the elevator,” and Boll really isn’t the first to take a jab at those Penn scenes, although he is the only person I know to equate Malick’s epic to feces.

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Drinking Games

Would you vote for Matt Damon for Congress? The people of fake New York sure seem to be ready to do so, as long as his toothy-grin politician character in The Adjustment Bureau can keep his pants on… and with Emily Blunt running around in high heels, that’s not an easy task. But something tells us that a mysterious force might keep him in check to make that happen. One of this spring’s speculative fiction films comes to DVD and Blu-ray, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and we give it a $1000-a-plate treatment with our latest drinking game.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray, we adjust our own futures, laugh at grumpy gingers, take a business trip with Ed Helms and that guy who said “Sheeiiiitt” on The Wire, fight back for the Wimpy Kid, find love in movies with unmarketable titles, figure out who Liam Neeson really is, and watch Channing Tatum get dressed up like a Roman soldier and make a complete fool of himself. It’s not exactly a busy week, but there’s still plenty to talk about. The Adjustment Bureau In a week that saw its share of competition for Pick of the Week (it really didn’t), it seemed that a ginger comedian would eventually emerge as the winner. Then I popped The Adjustment Bureau into the ole’ Blu-ray player and 106-minutes later, I was sold. This incredibly stylish, meticulously crafted adaptation of work by Phillip K. Dick is well acted, creatively conceived and impressively ambitious. Matt Damon plays a politician who meets the girl of his dreams, then uncovers a secret group of “adjusters” who are tasked with keeping the world “on plan.” Unfortunately for him, that plan doesn’t include him dating this girl (Emily Blunt). Unfortunately for them, he’s Matt F&*king Damon, and he’ll fight for the girl he loves. It’s a stylish love-letter to New York, a taught thriller and a resonant love story all wrapped into one. The Blu gets extra points for its Interactive Map of New York City that plays around with some of the concepts and locations explored in the […]

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This Week in DVD

One of the best aspects of DVD/Blu-ray is the ability to catch up on movies and shows that you may have otherwise missed when they first hit theaters. The best of this week’s releases fall into that category as small films that never quite got the exposure they deserved. Movies like Ceremony and Happythankyoumoreplease are fantastic celebrations of love, laughs, and life and should not be missed on DVD like they were in theaters. And while this week’s Pick is well known to its fans and others who grew up in the nineties it’s new to me on DVD and one of my favorite releases of the week. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Rocko’s Modern Life: Season One Rocko is a wallaby who’s moved from Australia to the United States and along with an oddball group of friends, acquaintances, and strangers struggles to make it through life’s absurdities. This is one of Nickelodeon’s most beloved shows from the 1990s and it’s finally hitting DVD in an official, complete season format. I had never seen the show prior to this DVD release and seeing as I never understood the love for Ren & Stimpy or Spongebob Squarepants I expected a similar reaction here… but this show is hilarious. The writing is sharp, effortlessly moves between parody and scatology, and most impressively, it walks the fine line between writing for kids and writing for adults. Children will find much to love in […]

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The Reject Report

You have to wonder if Warner Brothers is getting a little nervous about Zack Snyder taking on the Superman franchise next. Not only was his latest film, Sucker Punch, trounced by critics, its “sure-fire” walk to the #1 spot in this weekend’s box office was done away with. It wasn’t the latest blockbuster that beat the sci-fi, action movie out. It wasn’t even a comedy vehicle for someone like Adam Sandler. It was the second film in what is sure to be a lucrative franchise for Fox, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid sequel. Sure, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules beat Sucker Punch for the coveted #1 spot. You have to wonder, though, how much of this was the result of Wimpy Kid being such a strong film and how much was the result of Snyder’s latest getting all kinds of poor word of mouth. Diary of a Wimpy Kid opened pretty much in line with expectations, slightly higher than its 2010 predecessor but nowhere near eye-opening. It didn’t even crack $25 million. On the other hand, Sucker Punch performed much poorer than expected. That $30-35-million estimate for the film seemed possible after its $8-million opening Friday. Then its numbers dropped liked a defective blimp. $6.7 million on Saturday and and estimated $4.2 million on Sunday. Likewise, Wimpy Kid’s $7.3 million on Friday rose to over $10 million on Saturday. In fact, Sucker Punch was the only film in release this weekend whose Saturday numbers were poorer than […]

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The Reject Report

Red punch. Green punch. Chilled punch. Spiked punch. We’re big big fans of all kinds of punch here at the Reject Report. We also really like suckers. Just in case anyone out there is in the mood to send us a package of goodies. Sucker Punch, on the other hand, we’re not so sure about. It’s already getting a “love or hate” stench about it, but how that results in box office dollars is another matter entirely. It’s sure to be #1 this weekend, but by how much will take a bit of analysis. Check out how we see it and the other films playing out this weekend. And a preemptive thanks for all the punch and suckers you’re all going to send.

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The Reject Report

Unless that man went from Midnight Meat Train to The Hangover to The A-Team to Limitless. Quite a career Bradley Cooper is making for himself, one that keeps coming with the hits this weekend with the #1 film Limitless. I’m sure there was more at work behind the film’s opening weekend numbers. Robert De Niro might have something to say about anyone claiming Cooper was the sole reason for its success. Neil Burger, too. Regardless of what did it, the film got pushed into the top spot. Limitless didn’t exactly break any kind of bank here. It’s still a long way down on the list of Cooper’s biggest openings, but for a film that only cost a reported $27 million, didn’t have any brand recognition behind it, and wasn’t exactly flashing ad space every five feet, it performed reasonably well.

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The Reject Report

You can blame South by Southwest for that, too. While we’re getting loads of cinematic gold thrust upon our senses and very little sleep, the rest of the movie world is still spinning. It’s time to take a gander at how everything looks to be playing out at the box office this weekend, but in a capsule form. The new films are Paul, Limitless, and The Lincoln Lawyer. None of them look to make much of a statement with how well they’ll play at this weekend’s box office, but none of them look to bomb, either. The big winner is likely to be Battle: Los Angeles once again despite the lack of love it’s getting from critics. Audiences want big action. They want it loud, and Battle: Los Angeles definitely delivers both. Character studies don’t make bank unless the word King or the word Speech is in their title. Just ask Michael Bay through his gold, diamond-encrusted cell phone how well big, dumb action sells to the masses. He’ll have a story or two to tell.

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The Reject Report

Literally. The entire city literally came to life and fought its way to the top of the box office this weekend. Not unlike Fightin’ Around the World with Russell Crowe but with less Australian accent. Yes, while that idea may lead to an amazing film, it probably wouldn’t end up doing as well as Battle: Los Angeles did this weekend. It may not have opened quite as big as some analysts were expecting – some had predictions of the film opening in the low $40-millions – it did do quite well for itself. In domestic sales, it has already reach the halfway mark of its reported $70-million budget. Not much indication how the film, which is very Amurrican, will play overseas, but Sony can stand proud knowing their domestic opening weekend is considered a grand one.

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The Reject Report

That’s right. It’s a battle in here sometimes. Two or three or maybe even four films enter. One film leaves. Which film is it going to be this weekend? The science fiction endorsement for the Marines? The Twilight-esque take on a werewolf classic? The Disney computer animated film from the guy who directed 2002’s The Time Machine. Hint: it’s not gonna be that last one. They’re all in here, and they’ve taken their corners. It’s time to see who’s going to knock some aliens out of the sky and who’s going to be wearing a hood of shame.

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The Reject Report

Of course you can’t really fit many dollars in your hand. Even if you’re rocking Benjamins, the most you could fit in one hand would be a couple of hundred thousand. Rango made a whole lot more than that this weekend even if it wasn’t able to manage $40+ million. In fact, Rango gave Johnny Depp his highest weekend outside of the Pirates series and a collaboration with Tim Burton. Considering he makes a new movie with Burton every other month, that may not seem like such an accomplishment. It was also able to break into the 10 highest March openings of all time, sliding in between Robots and Wild Hogs. You know, those marks of groundbreaking cinematic achievement. Even with this nice of an opening weekend and the overall positive buzz it’s been able to generate, Rango will have a hard time matching its $135-million budget in worldwide sales let alone what it brings in domestically.

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The Week That Was

We do this every week. Because no one has time to read every great article we post here on Film School Rejects and be a productive member of society, the weekends provide us an excellent opportunity to get caught up on all the stuff that happened over the last seven days. This week we wrote a big helping of reviews, more than a few excellent, insightful editorials and as always, we were there when news broke to provide the necessary context (and snark). From Johnny Depp as a Hunter S. Thompson lizard to Oscar winners to solving your existential crisis with kids movies, this week that was had many twists and turns — all of which you’ll be glad you followed. So get set to get caught up with The Week That Was.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets an added dose of tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA to make it through all the movie-watching he endures. He bats about .500 in his screenings, really liking some but struggling through others. After a visit to the wild west of Rango, he finds his fate adjusted by a mysterious fleet of men with stylish hats. Then, he realizes how ugly Number Four really is before staying out all night, drinking with Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer… who looks a lot like Number Six.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know. How will you know what to watch this month? Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of February drinking tiger’s blood, wandering the Oscar red carpet, and copying by hand every copy of Below The Line in order to keep you informed about what’s coming out in March. You watch movies, so this guide’s for you.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movie, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a cursed trust fund baby, Matt Damon in a killer fedora, a gawky video rental store employee trying to get the girl, and Hunter S. Thompson in lizard form.

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The Reject Report

Reject Reports. Adjustment Bureaus. A talking gecko. You’d think we were shilling for an insurance company this week. Not the case, and Johnny Depp as Rango is infinitely more adorable than the Geico lizard. That might have something to do with the latter’s Cockney accent. Also on board this week are Topher Grace making a move to top billing and a Beauty and the Beast for the Twilight crowd. Of course, a blind Neil Patrick Harris might be cuter than anything the other three films have to offer. Let’s see who’s in line to make some cash.

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The Adjustment Bureau, loosely adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, takes on one of science fiction’s stock themes. Fans of Lost, for example, or Minority Report or The Matrix will recognize the classic struggle between fate and free will at the heart of the picture, the clash between the universe’s plan for us and our desire to carve out our own destiny. It’s familiar, quasi-religious territory rendered with stylish flair by writer-director George Nolfi and cinematographer John Toll. Set in a Manhattan rife with dapper henchmen in fedoras and swanky buildings with long marble foyers, captured in sweeping camera movements and symmetrical compositions, the film has the look of a production of weighty, spiritual import. Yet that stylistic edge services a love story that starts flat and never gets going. It’s a forced and altogether empty conjoining of two moderately likable, exceedingly bland individuals that inspires none of the deep, transcendent passion required of a narrative so immersed in spirituality.

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George Nolfi‘s directorial debut, The Adjustment Bureau, isn’t exactly extreme sci-fi. While that may disappoint the Phillip K. Dick faithful followers, it’ll most likely be the key element that swoons over those looking for a love story. That’s what The Adjustment Bureau is first and foremost: a love story set in the real world. Besides the main antagonists who are, of course, The Adjustment Bureau, everything is fairly rooted in reality. The bureau represents the only true sci-fi element of the film. Like the best science-fiction, their presence is raises questions about fate and free will. What they do is set up as more of a grey area plan rather than a villainous world-dominating scheme, which is something that seemed important to Nolfi. Here’s what writer-director George Nolfi had to say about reality, style, the charms of John Slattery and his constant use in the film of, “Son of a bitch.”

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Here comes another dour, science fiction infused love story. Alright, so those aren’t exactly running amok these days, are they. Which is perhaps the reason why George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau seems so interesting.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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