Box Office: 'Tomorrowland' Wins a Ho-Hum Memorial Day Weekend
Let's see ...
“Tomorrowland” with George Clooney opened to $32 mil (kind of meh) and finished first, “Pitch Perfect 2” fell 55% in its second weekend (not great, not bad) to finish second, and both “Mad Max 2” (in its second weekend) and “The Avengers 2” (in its fourth) fell about 45% (not bad). The reboot of “Poltergeist” opened poorly ($22.6 mil, fourth place).
As usual, the movies I most want to see are farther down the list: “Far from the Madding Crowd” (8th, $2.2), “Ex Machina” (11th, $1.4), and “Clouds of Sils Maria” (24th, $84K). Interestingly, the Apu trilogy, which I did see this weekend (yesterday at Pacific Place as part of SIFF) also made the cut, bringing in $16K. Glad to be part of that anyway.
The Box Office Mojo numbers here.
Cannes Winners, 2015
The fact that the Seattle International Film Festival (or SIFF) happens concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival (or Cannes) assuages some of the disappointment with not being in the south of France at this time of year. Instead I rely on the usual suspects (Jeff Wells, Sasha Stone) for their reports. Not to mention the final awards, which were announced today. They are:
- Palme d'Or: “Dheepan,” directed by Jacques Audiard, who has twice won “best film” at the Erik International Film Festeival (a.k.a. my annual Top 10 list) so I'm excited by this; I think Audiard is one of the best directors in the world right now. At the same time, the win is being called one of the great upsets in the history of Cannes. Further thoughts here. The movie below was supposed to win ...
- Grand Prix: “Son of Saul,” directed by Laszlo Nemes. Another Holocaust film that seems particularly resonant.
- Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien, “The Assassin.” I've never been a big Hou fan, but ... open mind. At least 3/4 open.
- Actor: Vincent Lindon, “The Measure of a Man.” I mostly know Lindon from the film adaptation of “The Moustache.”
- Actress (tie): Emmanuelle Bercot, “Mon Roi”; Rooney Mara, “Carol.” Both Wells and Stone raved about “Carol,” which also stars Cate Blanchett.
The jury presidents were Joel and Ethan Coen, while the jury included actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Sophie Marceau, Sienna Miller and Rossy de Palma; directors Guillermo del Toro and Xavier Dolan; and composer Rolia Traoré.
Do these awards mean anything? Ca depend. Past winners of the Palme d'Or have included great films (“Pulp Fiction,” “The Pianist,” “The Class,” “The Tree of Life,” “Blue is the Warmest Color”) and some awful/arty films (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”). But I love Audiard so I'm hopeful this year.
In “Dheepan,” a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior uses his skills to survive as an immigrant in Paris.
Is Every Line in 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' the Title of a Baseball Book?
Nearly. Follow the bouncing ball, kids:
- Take me out to the ball game (“A Book of History, Hits, and Heros” by Kevin Osborn; also many, many children's books)
- Take me out to the crowd (“Ted Turner and the Atlanta Braves” by Robert A. Field)
- Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks (“A Baseball Novel” by M.Z. Ribalow)
- I don't care if we never get back (“30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever” by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster)
- Let's root, root, root for the home team (“Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them” by Tim Hagerty)
- If they don't win it's a shame (“The Year the Marlins Bought the World Series” by Dave Rosenbaum)
- For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out (“The Cal Hubbard Story” by Mary Beth Hubard; also numerous books on the “three strikes” law in the U.S.)
- At the old ball game (“Stories from Baseball's Golden Era” by Jeff Silverman)
Yes, some lyrics are fudged (“to” instead of “with”; “we” instead of “I”), and the Hubbard book is really “Strike 3, You're Out,” but thought I'd go with it.
Anyone know others?
- Pres. Obama gets his own Twitter account and is greeted with fanfare. Also racist death threats. Glad the New York Times is reporting on this for a change.
- A great piece by Joe Posnanski on the rise of Bruce Jenner, how to score the decathlon, and why being really good in many things may be more fun than being the best in one.
- Joe again. This time he crunches the pitching/hitting numbers of the Royals and Indians (or Cleveland Spiders, as he calls them), which would indicate that the Indians are doing better. Except they're doing way, way worse. Conclusion? Defense matters. Also putting the ball in play.
- Any day that Joey Poz or Josh Wilker has a new book out is a good day. Here's Wilker's latest. Here's my thoughts on his first.
- Matthew Weiner defends his “I'd like to teach the world to sing” ending of “Mad Men.” I still don't buy it. Someone on Twitter said it best, quoting Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”: All that for a crummy commerical.
- Historian Joseph J. Ellis on the books he reads, the authors he admires, his favorite books to assign. Also, what should the president read?
- The topic I keep returning to: What jobs won't be digitized away any time soon? And which will? “Nickel and Dimed” author Barbara Ehrenreich reviews two books on the subject under the hed “Welcome to Your Obsolescence.”
- I think Emily Nussbaum describes better than anyone how revolutionary David Letterman's comedy was to my generation in the 1980s.
- Like Jim Walsh earlier this month, Chris Riemenschneider counts off the great Minnesota bands that played Letterman. Showing my age, but I've only seen the first three on this list. Well, and the last one. What I love? Martin Zellar's voice, Gary Louris' voice, Mark Olson rocking out behind him, Jake Slichter killing those drums.
David Letterman: Puncturing the Culture Rather than Propping It Up
I think The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum describes his revolutionary appeal to my generation better than anyone:
For more than thirty years, David Letterman has been the guy working the talk-show host. But he's never hidden how tricky it is to move those levers, which has been his appeal to fans: in a job made for smoothies, he's kept showing us his flaws, those spikes of anger and anxiety, almost despite himself. Now that Letterman's a flinty codger, an establishment figure, it's become difficult to recall just how revolutionary his style of meta-comedy once felt. But back when I was sixteen, trapped in the snoozy early eighties and desperate for something rude and wild, Letterman seemed like an anarchist. His manner suggested that TV could puncture the culture rather than prop it up. My friends, particularly the guys, became his acolytes, quoting his catchphrases (“They pelted us with rocks and garbage”) and copying his deadpan affect.
The whole piece, “Good Night: David Letterman's last weeks,” can be found in the latest New Yorker. Or here.
I missed that first show, but not much from that first year.
Equality > Privacy
Jill Lepore has another much-recommended article in The New Yorker, “To Have and to Hold,” this one on the history of both reproductive rights for women and marriage-equality rights for gays and lesbians. Lepore's conclusion:
There is a lesson in the past fifty years of litigation. When the fight for equal rights for women narrowed to a fight for reproductive rights, defended on the ground of privacy, it weakened. But when the fight for gay rights became a fight for same-sex marriage, asserted on the ground of equality, it got stronger and stronger.
Basically: Equality is greater than privacy, particularly in the digital when there is very little of the latter.
Related: Way to go, Ireland!
I've been asking this question of friend and strangers for a while now: Which jobs do you think won't get digitized away in 10, 20, 30 years?
According to Barbara Ehrenreich in her review of two books, “Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford and “Shadow Work” by Craig Lambert, the answer is: Not many. She skips over the ones we've already lost (printer, photographer) to concentrate on the ones we're beginning to lose (secretaries, travel agents, customer service in general). She quotes an expert predicting that in 10 years, “90 percent of articles will be computer generated.” She writes about college grads floundering and the longterm unemployed giving up, and why that is:
All of this has happened by choice, though not the choice of the average citizen and worker. In the wake of the recession, Ford writes, many companies decided that “ever-advancing information technology” allows them to operate successfully without rehiring the people they had laid off. And there should be no doubt that technology is advancing in the direction of full unemployment. Ford quotes the co-founder of a start-up dedicated to the automation of gourmet hamburger production: “Our device isn't meant to make employees more efficient. It's meant to completely obviate them.”
Near the end of the piece, Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed,” gets apocalyptic:
If middle-class jobs keep disappearing as wealth piles up at the top, Martin Ford predicts, economic mobility will 'become nonexistent': 'The plutocracy would shut itself away in gated communities or in elite cities, perhaps guarded by autonomous military robots and drones.' We have seen this movie; in fact, in one form or another — from 'Elysium' to 'The Hunger Games' — we've been seeing it again and again.
As I wrote five years ago, in a review of a different movie, we're all cutters now. We just don't seem to know it. Or how bad it'll get.
Step away from the job or the girl gets it.
Trailer: Black Mass (2015)
Welcome back, Johnny Depp. Your third go-round as a gangster looks like a winner:
- Movie review: “Whitey: United States of America v. James G. Bulger”
- MSNBC article: Johnny Depp: American Original
- The Johny Depp posts