Category Archives: movies

“Hidden Figures” Stays at #1; Most New Releases Bomb

As the Martin Luther King Jr. Long Weekend rolls on in the US, the three-day weekend numbers have started coming in, and to be honest, there are some real surprises when it comes to this week’s new releases. Here’s what went down:

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Hidden Figures held on to the top spot at the box office for the second weekend in a row, bringing in an estimated $19.6 million. The reviews and accolades have certainly helped this film find a wide audience, and it should continue to do well as we head into Oscar season.

Horror film The Bye Bye Man had a surprisingly strong debut, landing in second place with an estimated $14.5 million, an especially stellar showing considering the absolutely horrible reviews the film received.

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“Patriots Day” Looks to Top the Box Office This Weekend

Things should get interesting this weekend, as a bevy of new releases are storming theatres. Will any of them top the box office? Here are our predictions:

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The most high profile new release this weekend is Patriots Day starring Mark Wahlberg in a film about the tragic Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Wahlberg + Boston should equal a strong film and a decent showing, especially at this transitional time in the U.S.. Audiences need heroes to cheer for and Patriots Day should be able to service those needs. Look for a first place showing with $21 million.

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“Rogue One” and “Hidden Figures” battle for the top of the box office

It was a tight race at the box office this weekend, as the reigning champ had to take on a strong showing from a new release. Here’s what went down:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story appears to be the winner of the weekend with $21.97 million, raising its total to $477 million. BUT, new release Hidden Figures came on very strong this weekend and, as of Sunday night, is currently sitting at $21.8 million. So it’s a tight race, and come Monday and the box office actuals arrive, things could wind up very different.

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‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ Looks to Suck the Life Out Of ‘Rogue One’

It’s a brand new year, and there are some brand new movies looking to get your dollars this weekend at the box office. Will any of them muster up enough force to knock down the current champ? Here’s our predictions:

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Underworld: Blood Wars is the most high profile new release this weekend, the fifth entry in a franchise that’s surprisingly still going strong. Somewhat, anyway, as the previous instalments have only done ‘ok’ in terms of box office returns, though they haven’t crossed that magic $100 million mark in North America. There’s an audience for this latest film, but it may be one that decides to watch it at home rather than in theatres. Look for a third place debut for Underworld: Blood Wars with $15 million.

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“Rogue One” wins the weekend, becomes second biggest film of 2016

The three days estimates are in for this weekend at the box office, and there weren’t too many surprises. Here’s what went down:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story held on to the top spot for a third weekend, bringing in an estimated $50 million to raise its total to $425 million, making it the second biggest film of 2016, behind only Finding Dory, another Disney film, which ended its run with $486 million. There’s a very likely chance that Rogue One will cross the $500 million mark before it ends its own run in theatres.

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Andy Burns’ 5 Favourite Films of 2016

This is in no way a definitive best of list, since I didn’t see nearly as many films as so many others did in 2016. Instead, I’m running down (in no specific order) the five films that made an impact on me as I watched them. The ones that left me thinking about them when the final credits rolled. I have no doubt many will disagree with at least one of the films on my list…so let’s kick off with it, shall we?

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1) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice The Ultimate Cut – the haters gonna hate hate hate, and there was certainly so much to take issue with when Zack Snyder’s finished cut of the first big screen meeting between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel was released back in March. An incoherent script was the biggest problem, though many had issues with the dark tone of the film as well. While the lalter was a decision that will forever be up for debate, the former is corrected ten-fold with the Ultimate Cut, a three hour version of Batman v Superman that fleshes out character motivations, introduced new characters and gives Henry Cavill so much more to do. Snyder delivers epic filmmaking with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s my superhero film of the year.

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2) Captain America: Civil War – the Russo Brothers directed this third Captain America film that is in so many ways vastly superior to last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. They manage multiple characters and gleefully introduces Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not to mention Chadwick Bosman’s Black Panther). While the ending feels somewhat anticlimactic to me, this is still dramatic filmmaking that manages to tell a contained story while still pushing the MCU to its next big event (in this case, the upcoming Infinity War film).

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3) La La Land – you can read my review from last week over here, but I don’t mind repeating myself by telling you what a beautiful film this is. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are brilliant as young lovers in this outstanding musical that feels contemporary while still pulling on nostalgic heartstrings as well. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

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4) Hell or High Water – I walked out of this film last summer knowing I’d seen one of my favourites of the year. Chris Pine and Ben Foster are outstanding as brothers determined to pull off a heist and screw over the banks that that had played hard and fast with the 99%. Jeff Bridges is the small town cop who is chasing after them. What I thought going in was a Western wound up being a crime film set in the West, and that’s a very different thing. Here’s hoping Hell or High Water and its leads aren’t forgotten at Oscar time.

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5) Blood Father – amazingly, I watched this Mel Gibson film on December 30th, allowing it to make my list just in time. In Blood Father, Gibson plays an ex-con on parole who is forced back to his old ways when his missing daughter calls for help. Gibson is fantastic in the role, a reminder of what a chameleon-like actor he is. This is a sensible crime film filled with believable characters and some heavy scenes of violence. It’s by far my favourite action movie of 2016.

Lots Of Love For “La La Land”

This Christmas Day was a little bit different for me. It was the first as an officially separated dad. Last year, while my former Queen and I had already decided to part ways (amicably, by the way – she’s a good lady and we get along great), we were still living in the same house with our little princess, and while we spent the afternoon apart, we still had the morning and evening together. This year, the three of us did morning presents together and then I went on my way, as the two gals had church and the Queen’s family to visit with.

How would I keep busy? This year it seemed important to have a place to be, for at least a few hours, anyway. Last year, in the separate time, I went to visit former BBP writer P-dawg and his family, where we partook in the traditional Jewish Christmas meal – Chinese food. With my buddy off and away, this time out my hangout partner wound up being my mom. The two of us decided to take in a movie, the biggest buzz film of awards season – La La Land.

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“Rogue One” Holds Strong; New Movies Flounder

It was a huge holiday weekend at the box office for one holdover, while three new releases didn’t really resonate with audiences. Here’s what went down:

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story held on to the top spot over the three-day weekend, bringing in an estimated $70 million. By the end of Boxing Day, the film will be sitting well past the $300 million range after just over a week in theaters. While it won’t reach the numbers we saw with The Force Awakens, Rogue One is still on its way to $400+ million gross.

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Trailer Time – “Alien: Covenant”

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Well, here’s a great Christmas present for you today – the first trailer for Alien: Covenant has arrived!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Have Yourself a Dystopian Christmas


Well. It’s been some year, hasn’t it? Vilified and maligned, 2016 has been the honey badger of years. But even as we give it the award for zero caring, speeding onto the charts with a bullet is young 2017. Watch that one. It’s gonna be a doozy. In the disjointed reality of gleeful holiday cheer as the world breaks an axle and goes careening into the ditch, I give you a Christmas list for surviving troubled times. Give these to friends, or give ’em to yourself. Santa doesn’t care either. He’s hiding in a bunker, sweating as the ice melts, wondering if Trump’s tax break will finally enable him to install A/C. At least now he can bust that pesky elf union.

VODKA


America, it’s time to embrace Russia’s favorite drink. Your President’s about to hop into bed with Vladimir Putin, and that’s some shipping no one needs to picture. So have an ice cold drink to steel your resolve. There’s a billion different flavors of vodka now, and the easiest part is they’re pretty much all horrible. So pick anything. You couldn’t do worse than, oh I don’t know, an election.

BRAZIL


Legendary windmill tilter, director, and Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam dropped Brazil on the world in 1985, one year after the fateful arrival of 1984. He doubtless wanted it to come out a year earlier, for the sheer Orwellian synchronicity of it all, but Gilliam being Gilliam, he was late to his own party. The movie is stunning, visually brilliant and a scathing satire which blends eighties society with the dystopian bureaucracy of 1940s fascism. It’s George Orwell’s prophetic totalitarian novel 1984 in a funhouse mirror. Jonathan Pryce (superb as the High Sparrow in the last season of Game of Thrones) stars as Sam Lowry, a hapless bureaucrat trying to sort out a paperwork snafu that led to the execution of the wrong man. He runs afoul of the bureaucracy himself and falls in with the rebels, led by handyman Harry Tuttle (a hilarious Robert De Niro, over a decade before Analyze This). There’s two cuts of the film, a studio edit dubbed Love Conquers All, and Gilliam’s cut, running over 40 minutes longer at two hours and 20 minutes. In Gilliam’s superior version, love conquers considerably less.

ANIMAL FARM

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Speaking of Orwell, his other classic novel is a fine pick to mull as we enter the uncharted waters of countless conflicts of interest and gobbling at the trough. Written as an allegory for Stalinism in Russia, there are plenty of parallels to be found in the animals’ struggle to run their own farm. Napoleon and his fellow pigs stage a revolution over the human farmer Mr. Jones with the help of all the farm animals, but soon they’re enriching themselves and putting down the other beasts. A great short read, and the 1954 animated version packs a punch, too (better than the more recent 1999 version).

TEQUILA


Cuz you’ll get tired of vodka. And also, once Donald engages in a full-on trade war with Mexico, as the wall (fence) goes up from sea to sadly bemused sea, tequila could be a fabulous investment. Cash in your retirement savings and buy Patron. Even if the market skyrockets and Trump is the best president ever, you’ll still be able to sit in your underfunded nursing home with no drug plan and liquidate your portfolio. And tequila just erases everything.

DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB


Lest you worry, it’s a non-stop love-in with Russia for the next four years, Trump’s explicitly said he wants to start a new nuclear arms race to bolster American power. He could be full of it, or we could be entering a new phase of multilateral rearmament with China, North Korea and the Saudis joining the fun along with Europe, Russia and hey, maybe Japan can join, too! Kubrick’s early farcical masterpiece is a hilariously bleak and wacky take on an out of control military-industrial complex, bent on global immolation through  bureaucratic stubbornness and insanity. Peter Sellers is brilliant, playing three separate roles as a British colonel, the American president and an ill-disguised former Nazi rocket scientist. As an added bonus, it’s black and white, just like everything in contemporary life!

A BOMB SHELTER


Kind of a companion gift to Strangelove. Keep it well stocked and enjoy these books and movies in its cozy confines. Maybe pick up 10 Cloverfield Lane to watch while you’re down there.

MAUS


Art Spiegelman’s classic comic allegory of the Holocaust is equal parts touching and terrifying. In this surreal story, the Nazis are cats and the Jews are mice. But the narrative is deeply personal, a young comic artist describing his fraught relationship with his survivor father, as it delves into their history and his father’s darker experiences. It’s truly an outstanding story.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE


Margaret Atwood’s speculative sci-fi masterpiece might yet prove eerily prescient. Especially if Vice-President Mike Pence ever gets to sit in the big chair. American society’s freedoms are dissolved by an authoritarian coup, and before you know it, Christian fundamentalists have taken over the government. Women basically become chattel for marriage and procreation. It’s a dark and unsettling vision, told with cool precision. The book is receiving a new adaptation which will appear on Hulu next year, so that’s gonna be one to watch for sure.

TIME TRAVEL


The latest book from James Gleick delves into the cultural history of the twistiest of wishful scientific endeavors. The author of Chaos (another mind-bending field of sciencey pursuit) returns with a playful look at time travel in literature, pop culture and philosophy. But how’s it dystopian, you ask? Figure out the mysteries of time travel and you could be the hero of our age, going back in time and shooting, well, someone. Several someones? Time travel’s tricky stuff. Maybe stick to the tequila portfolio.

If you want to dig further into our dysfunctional maybe future, you might dig all the way to China. There’s The Hunger Games and the now-on-Netflix Brazilian mashup 3% (which is quite good). Children of Men will really bring you down, and I haven’t even gotten into the vast swathes of zombie metaphor for modern collapse.

Maybe everything’s gonna be hunky dory. Or even great again. But I wouldn’t bet on it. So enjoy your egg nog and the folks around you. Next year the American government goes full gonzo reality show, and you won’t like the guys producing the scripts. Merry Christmas!

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