Wall Street 2

It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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This Week in DVD

Merry Christmas everybody! And yes, I do mean everybody, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. It’s the gesture and thought that are important here people, not the details of your own beliefs or attitudes. No different from saying ‘Good morning’ or Have a great day!’ And to prove I’m not all about the specifics of Christmas… I’m not recommending any new releases for purchase this week! See? No crass commercialism intended! Of course, it helps that most of this week’s titles are average at best… This week sees Oliver Stone’s Wall Street sequel (Money Never Sleeps), the first in M. Night Shyamalan’s Night Chronicles series of low budget horror films (Devil), Angelina Jolie’s latest action romp (Salt), Emma Stone’s smart high-school comedy (Easy A), and a handful of below the radar foreign titles including Map Of the Sounds Of Tokyo, Beautiful Kate, and The Horde.

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s time to draw in a big yawn and look over this week’s slate of releases. If you’re the type who heads down to your local Blockbuster (assuming you still have one) and loads up on rentals for the weekend, you might have yourself a good time — plenty of movies worth that once-over this week. But luckily, and somehow inexplicably, the week of Christmas brings us very little to spend quality dollars on. The best recommendation I could muster relates directly to the world of Family Guy, and my track record should show that I’ve never been a fan. It’s no South Park, but it did get the nod of approval from George Lucas to make fun of that really famous space opera. That has to count for something, right? That’s how we’re rolling This Week in Blu-ray…

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The Reject Report

Holy bungee jumping outhouse, Batman. $50 million can buy a lot of stitches for the painful stunts and soap for the gross ones. That’s how much money Jackass 3-D made this weekend, a new record for any October opening. We knew it was going to be big, and there was all likelihood it would end up coming out on top this weekend. However, now, in 2010, a decade after the original show premiered on MTV, the Jackass boys are riding stronger than ever. This could say so much about our nation. Do we like watching people humiliate, hurt, and horrify themselves for 90 minutes? Or is Jackass 3-D a welcomed release, the ultimate form of escapism that only comes our way every four years? This raises another question. Would the Jackass films be this successful if they were to come fast and furious like the Saw or Twilight series? Does that four-year gap between Jackass films help build the excitement for the next all the more, or does the gap stifle the sating of a public that would feast on it 24/7 if offered to them? The underlying, real-world implications and what this says about our culture (along with how this makes other countries view us) aren’t my forte. I’ll leave that to Landon. I’m just here to talk numbers, thank you.

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The Reject Report

Now I lay me down to sleep, yadda yadda yadda, Wes Craven’s still making movies. His latest hits this weekend, it’s in RealD, so you know it’s good, and it’s headed up against two films that probably have 100% less dismemberment and graphic violence against teens. Those movies, Life As We Know It and Secretariat (okay, there could be a subplot about that horse trampling some teens, and that would win it a few more fans), will more than likely favor better than My Soul to Take, but the real question is if any of them have the strength to take Fincher’s The Social Network off its friend-requesting mountaintop.

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The Reject Report

Okay, that’s just silly. If that headline were true, The Social Network would have pulled in something like $3 billion this weekend, and not even James Cameron could pull off those kinds of numbers. The way it stands, more like 4 million friends went to see David Fincher’s latest film, but that’s not a number to scoff at. It’s not groundbreaking by any stretch. It’s not even Fincher’s best opening to date. That remains the $30 million Panic Room was able to pull in its opening weekend. Nonetheless, The Social Network drew solid numbers, and the film is going to look like anything but a bomb once the awards considerations start rolling in.

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Culture Warrior

I was living in New York in September 2008, and took some time a couple of days after the stock market crash to visit way downtown Manhattan and see what was going on. The quietude was shocking, as the alarms being sounded on cable news networks made it sound like I shouldn’t be surprised to see brokers peddling on the street, people running around on fire for no apparent reason, or CEOs segway-ing off of cliffs. As I rarely visited the Financial District, I had no idea whether or not this was normal. Maybe the crash had invoked a necessary meditation or speechlessness, a rare time of reflection for capitalists-run-amok. But the truth was that such panic wouldn’t be visible on the street amongst the common folk (houses around the country owned by low and middle-income families told that story), rather the chaos was happening inside the buildings themselves. Oliver Stone’s latest entry into his “W” trilogy dealing with major 21st century American events (alongside World Trade Center and W.), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is an attempt to inquire on the conversations that may have gone on in those buildings.

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The Reject Report

While the Fantastic Fest festivities continue in Austin, the real world, the one not waiting on the edge of its collective seat to see Tim League get punched in the face by Michelle Rodriguez, carries on. With it, the Hollywood box office and all the money it made this weekend. It wasn’t as profitable a weekend as was anticipated, but something had to come out on top. This weekend, Michael Douglas, Oliver Stone, and The Beouf were able to soar higher than those 3-D owls. While it wasn’t able to pull in $20+ million this weekend, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was able to give Oliver Stone his biggest opening to date. It’s also the second highest opening for a film featuring Michael Douglas and the highest opener he’s had in the lead. It didn’t live up to potential, but it’s hard to throw the “bomb” label at Wall Street. $19 million is a respectable opening even if Shia LaBeouf has had better days.

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The Reject Report

Greed is good. Greed is legal. Yeah, we’ve heard all that malarkey before, and it’s obvious. Why else would studios release their films on more than 3000 screens in one weekend? That almighty coin that keeps Hollywood turning and those glorious things we call motion pictures hitting left and right ad nauseum. We’ve got two such films this weekend and two that aren’t opening quite as big. Both of the biggies are pulling in hype based around their respective brand loyalty, but they each have something new to offer, as well. It’s Shia LaBeouf Vs. the talking owls here at the Reject Report. Let the best squawker win.

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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 by now. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of August going to the local library, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of macaroni to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in September. Don’t let Machete scare you. If you watch movies, this guide’s for you.

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Those silly French, they do love to name-drop in their Cannes line-up. Twenty ten will bring names like Jean-Luc Godard, Woody Allen, Steven Frears, Oliver Stone, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and more to the world’s most glamorous film fest, the 63rd Festival de Cannes.

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John Travolta with an RPG, school children sitting amongst rubble, and a family portrait featuring Labeouf and Douglas round out this week’s posters.

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Greed. Is. White-haired. And Shia Labeouf is on a motorcycle a lot.

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susan_sarandon_wallstreet

The still-scorching red head will be bringing some motherly love to the production and hopefully making sure that Michael Douglas doesn’t use as much hair gel as he plans on using.

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WallStreet2FrankLangella

Apparently it’s now called Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, and legendary actor Frank Langella will be joining the cast in a pivotal role.

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carey-mulligan-1

If there is an ‘it’ girl of 2009, it will be Carey Mulligan. You can take that to the bank. And now she’s adding some firepower to her 2010 film slate as well.

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bardem-header

Who’s up for a topical thriller about the perils of Wall Street? Good, because Oliver Stone is working on one right now.

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