Tower Heist

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Some fun titles are hitting shelves today, and not a single one of them rocked the box office. Of course, some of them never had the chance… but Tower Heist? Pretty sure that was intended to be a hit. Other releases this week include the Elizabeth Olsen stunner Martha Marcy May Marlene, the Korean action epic War of the Arrows, the bland Channing Tatum (redundancy alert!) thriller Son of No One, and more! As an added bonus one of the eleven entries below has been contributed by the highly educated and spry Landon Palmer! Can you guess which one? As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Retreat A couple dealing with marital issues heads to a remote island to save their relationship, but when a stranger washes up onshore with a fantastical tale of a worldwide plague the three of them enter into a deadly game of survival.This British thriller takes major cues from the superior Dead Calm, but it manages to create solid suspense, tension and uncertainty of its own. Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell give strong, convincing performances as the husband and stranger, respectively, but Thandie Newton doesn’t fare as well. Still, this is the kind of thriller that deserves better than to get lost in the shuffle. Check out my full review here.

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Drinking Games

Have you ever wanted to stick it to those smarmy white-collar crooks who raid pension funds and embezzle money from hard-working citizens? Well, you may never get this chance, but you can do it vicariously through the characters in Brett Ratner’s blue-collar revenge film Tower Heist, out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Though, since no one is going to try to rob a fat cat’s penthouse apartment (because if you’ve got the time, ingenuity and energy to do that, you’d be rich by now), why not relax a bit when you watch the film. And what better way to relax than with some of your favorite adult beverage to keep you company?

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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The Reject Report

There are only a few proven constants in the known universe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, mixing Pop Rocks and Pepsi in your stomach will cause you to burst from the inside out (actually, this one hasn’t been proven), and the Twilight movies make a crap ton of money. And here we are again, ladies and germs, at the period of the box office year when Twi-hards feast their ever-loving eyes on yet another one. But this isn’t just another Twilight movie. This is the beginning of the end, the first of a two-parter that finishes off the franchise for good. Or, at least, until they reboot. I’m guessing it’ll make some dough this weekend. Aren’t you? It’s the Reject Report, and teen angst is eternal. At least, that’s what teens tell me.

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Immortals Box Office

The Gods have spoken, and what they’ve said is, “We want your money, puny human movie goers.” It makes you wonder what kind of movies Gods watch. Definitely the works of George P. Cosmatos. Cobra and Tombstone and the like. You know, because he’s Greek. Moving on from that lead balloon attempt at humor, Immortals rocketed skyward, shocking box office analysts who had it pegged to debut somewhere between $15-20m. Instead, it ended up pushing that number on Friday alone, and it was clear early on in the weekend that the epic war movie was going to take the top spot on the chart. It even ended up topping the opening weekends of similar war epics like Prince of Persia ($30m opening weekend) and Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf ($27.5m opening weekend). It was, however, unable to beat 300′s 2007 $70.8m opening weekend, a number that allowed Immortals to even exist in the first place.

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The Reject Report

And it’s likely to fetch a whole lot more than a pail of water. In fact, regardless of whether your or I like it, the new Adam Sandler movie, awful as it may look, is primed to make another mint for the comedian. In fact, other than Puss in Boots, the lock Jack and Jill has in taking the top spot at this weekend’s box office seems pretty evident. Like the battle for #1 last weekend between Puss in Boots and Tower Heist, we’re looking at a round 2 of sorts here. Regardless who comes out on top, my money is on the movie featuring characters named Jack and Jill. In fact, you can take that one to the bank.

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Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

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The Reject Report

What? Tintin? I know what you’re thinking. “I know we had Daylight Saving Time this morning, Jeremy, but you’re taking this “time travel” business a little too far, aren’t you?” You’ve probably notice we’re still at the beginning of November and haven’t been transported magically to December 21st when The Adventures of Tintin gets its US release, and you’d be both observant and right. However, Tintin, world figure that he is, got his release in several foreign markets on October 26th-28th. The ignorant American that I am didn’t bother to address this until now. Well, here you go, foreign markets. It’s your day to shine. The Adventures of Tintin has already pulled in $125.3m in foreign territories, pretty much guaranteeing its worldwide success well before its North American release. The film is already generated income from over 5000 locations in 21 foreign markets, but most of its dollars have come from the United Kingdom and France so far. It made $21 million from France last weekend and $10.9m from the UK. Spain and Germany were also big markets for the film, pulling over $10m from the locations combined.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs a protest sign and a test so he can occupy something. All the big cities are taken, so he decides to Occupy Hollywood, but being one of the 99%, he can’t afford a plane ticket from Ohio to California. So, he occupies his local multiplex, squatting in the front of their biggest screen. There, he has a chance to check out the loosely-related Tower Heist and later drinks some spiked egg nog and wanders into a later screening of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. At least that’s what he’s telling the authorities.

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The Reject Report

Yes, we know. It’s a little early to be celebrating Christmas already. It’s actually a lot early to be celebrating Christmas, but what’s good enough for the weekend box office is good enough for the Reject Report. There is a Christmas movie hitting this weekend, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, and it’ll be looking to take dollars and laughs away from the other new release, Tower Heist. As much as we’d all like to see Brett Ratner go down in flames to the might of Harold & Kumar, that outcome might not be so foregone. Doesn’t matter to our Christmas spirit, though. We’ll still be singing carols and hanging out underneath the mistletoe. Alone. Practicing on the back of our hands. Oh, right, the box office.

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When you hear the music for a horror film, you know you’re in for suspenseful strings and make-you-jump percussion while the music in a romance will swell in the moments leading up to that big proclamation. But for a heist film, the musical landscape is a bit more complicated. The music has to walk that line between action and suspense so it helps drive the action on screen while still leaving audiences on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen next. The music must lull you into the action as you find out about the heist and then keep your adrenaline pumping as that plan is carried out (or is at least attempted). Whether you are boosting cars in Fast Five or ideas in Inception, the music works to imitate the thieves themselves from the more quiet moments while setting up the plan to the all out action once you break into the necessary getaway. Tower Heist establishes its theme early (read: the opening credits) with subtle tones that sound almost like the buttons on an ATM or safe being pressed. Composer Christophe Beck is no stranger to heist films having also scored The Pink Panther re-boot back in 2006, but where The Pink Panther was a comedy, Tower Heist takes itself more seriously. Naturally a film with Eddie Murphy is not lacking in the joke department (the film’s trailer alone proves that), but when it comes to planning and carrying out the actual plan, Tower […]

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Josh Kovacs is, quite simply, outstanding at his job. Back-breaking early hours don’t faze the manager of the chi-chi Tower apartment building, one of the most glitzed-out residences in Manhattan, as he uses that time to beef up his knowledge of fancy cheeses and impressive wines in order to seamlessly recommend them to his high-end clientele. But Josh (Ben Stiller) isn’t just interested in impressing his residents (particularly penthouse owner Arthur Shaw), he’s also equally involved in the lives of his employees. Josh buys the Tower lifestyle hook, line, and sinker – obsessed with keeping his workers at the top of their game so as to provide the best experience for all Tower residents, an experience that will thus ensure longevity in the careers of all those Tower employees. It’s a machine that works, with Josh manning all the gears with a goofy grin on his face. But toss a wrench in that machine, and everything grinds to a halt. Josh’s life works when everyone does their job and does it well – whether that job be operating one of the Tower’s elevators or being a gracious resident. When money man Shaw (Alan Alda) is accused of bilking his clients out of millions of dollars, it stings Josh enough (after all, isn’t Shaw just a Brooklyn boy like Josh?), but when the deeper deception comes to light, Josh’s work ethic and mental stability both go soaring out the metaphorical skyscraper window. Shaw didn’t just play the old financial cup game […]

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Apologies to any shut-ins living in Portland (Oregon, not Maine) and Atlanta, Universal’s Tower Heist will not be coming to a television near you. It will, however, be coming to your local multiplex! Last week, a kerfuffle broke out over Universal Pictures’ plan to release Brett Ratner’s latest via their premium VOD platform just three weeks after the film opened in theaters. Though the film would only have been available via VOD to those in Portland (again, still Oregon, not Maine) and Atlanta and would have cost a steep $59.99, exhibitors promptly lost their minds over the move and vowed to not show the film at all. Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest theater chain, led the boycott, and was swiftly followed by Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres, and Emagine Theatres. It was clearly only a matter of time before someone backed down, and that someone is Universal. The studio will not release Tower Heist via the premium VOD platform, but that does not mean that they have abandoned the idea entirely, with a statement that calls this bump in the road “a delay (to their) planned premium home video on demand…experiment.” Despite the fact that it was exhibitors balking at the plan that clearly sunk it, Universal also said that they “continue to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive” and that they “look forward to working with [their] partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s sorry that it didn’t send flowers. How was it supposed to know that it was your birthday? It’s only a nightly movie news column.. We being this evening with an image of Joss Whedon directing the shit out of The Avengers alongside Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s part of a group of images that hit the web this week. In moving images news, reports are now saying that a trailer for The Avengers will drop on Tuesday, October 11. They just had to beat the new iPhone to the punch, didn’t they?!

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The relationship between film studios and movie theaters is an oddly contentious one. You’d think the two would be the best of friends as few entertainment experiences can rival watching a fantastic film in a well run theater, but instead the two parties seem consistently at odds. They’re constantly fighting over the percentage of gross profits each one should get, they’ve recently started bickering about who should foot the bill for the cost of 3D glasses, and now at least one studio is making a bold move sure to anger theater owners even more. Per the LA Times, Universal will be making the upcoming Brett Ratner joint, Tower Heist, available on VOD just three weeks after it opens in theaters. It’s limited to two markets for now, so only movie fans in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon will be able to order the film from the comfort of their living room couch for the totally reasonable price of just $59.99. Sounds high to be sure, but the average movie ticket in theaters is around ten bucks, so if you can find five more people interested in seeing Murphy, Stiller and friends in a Ratner film then you’re golden. You also probably have friends with poor cinematic taste.

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The entire setup for the Tower Heist trailer is solid and pretty damned timely. A staff at an incredibly schmancy apartment building are fleeced out of their pensions by the building’s wealthiest schmuck so they decide to rob him. But they’ll need help. Enter the moment the trailer stops dead in its tracks. You know you’re poison when a perfectly harmless action comedy (even one where Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick try to keep straight faces while Alan Alda tries to be unlikable), becomes a laughingstock just by inserting your image into the trailer. Guess who, movie fans. It’s your favorite comedian turned least favorite comedian and he ruins everything here:

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