Director Nicole Holofcener reunites with her Enough Said star Julia Louis-Dreyfus for You Hurt My Feelings, which has screened at Sundance. The comedy is drawing satisfactory notices in Utah with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Look for distributor A24 to mount an awards campaign as the year rolls along.
Enough Said was able to nab Louis-Dreyfus a Golden Globe Best Actress nod in Musical/Comedy and that could certainly occur again. She stands the best chance among costars that include Tobias Menzies, David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, and Owen Teague.
Holofcener is already an Academy nominee for cowriting the adapted screenplay for 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? I wouldn’t count on a second writing mention. While critics are being kind, this has the feel of a Globe Predictions post with its lead’s chances. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…
It’s been a bumpy ride for Nickelodeon’s animated feature WonderPark, but it finally hits screens this Friday. Originally titled AmusementPark and scheduled for release last summer, the pic comes with a reported $100 million price tag. The film’s director Dylan Brown was fired by the studio in early 2018 due to various sexual harassment claims. Newcomer Brianna Denski provides the lead voiceover role along with familiar faces such as Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, and John Oliver.
The box office grosses for Park, considering its hefty price tag, might not be amusing at all. It doesn’t help that CaptainMarvel will be in its sophomore frame as it also appeals to family crowds. I believe this will make low double digits for its start and that would amount to a costly flop for Paramount.
WonderPark opening weekend prediction: $10.3 million
In one sense, Boots Riley’s SorrytoBotherYou is conventional with its pro-labor and anti-corporate message. How it gets there is wildly unconventional, often original, occasionally hilarious, and clearly from a new filmmaker making his voice and views heard. Riley comes from the world of hip hop and his political perspectives are unmistakable in short tracks. With nearly two hours to work with here, his words can’t possibly be as tight and controlled. This film is messy, but rarely a mess. Like the best music in the genre, it’s not easily forgotten. Similar to a bass line or lyric that won’t escape you, moments here have the same effect.
LaKeith Stanfield is Oakland native Cassius Green, who’s struggling to find a job that pays the bills. He lives in a garage with his artsy girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson). He owes lots of back rent to his uncle (Terry Crews) that owns the property. While the Golden State area looks current, the picture is set in an alternate reality. There’s a massive conglomerate that goes by WorryFree. We see ads on TV that promote a life of not paying bills and free housing. The catch? A lifetime contract of servitude. It’s absolutely an allegory for the director’s view of today’s workforce. While WorryFree seemingly appeals to many, this is not so for Cassius, Detroit, and lots of protesters.
Instead, Cassius finds work as a telemarketer and he initially finds it mundane and challenging. That is until a coworker (Danny Glover) imparts his secret of success. That recipe is using his “white voice”. Those voices are provided by recognizable faces for main characters including David Cross, Lily James, and Patton Oswalt. Cassius suddenly finds himself climbing the corporate ladder once the modulation happens. It leads him to gain the designation of “Power Caller”. That means moving to a swanky floor where only the Caucasian voice is allowed to be used. This also means he becomes a scab to his fellow workers and to Detroit. His financial rise soon puts him in touch with the leaders of WorryFree and its CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).
Once that partnership is forged, SorrytoBotherYou veers into genuinely unexpected directions (trust me on this one). Riley, however, never strays too far from the overall message. He’s got a fine cast to deliver it. Stanfield (best known for his supporting role in GetOut) is terrific and we’ve certainly never seen Hammer like this before. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments. One involves a passive aggressive argument Cassius has with friend and coworker Salvador (Jermaine Fowler). Another pertains to Steve’s unexpected reaction to Cassius’s reaction when a key plot point is revealed.
When we get to the third act, its unconventional tone gallops into an entirely new gear. It’s not totally successful, but I found myself admiring Riley’s kitchen sink approach to it. For viewers looking for something that’s often remarkably different, Bother hits those notes with enough frequency for a solid recommendation.
This Friday, the satire SorrytoBotherYou debuts in limited release after receiving many raves at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The pic is written and directed by hip hop musician Boots Riley with a cast led by Lakeith Stanfield (best known for TV’s “Atlanta” and last year’s GetOut), Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, Danny Glover, and Armie Hammer.
Bother has the potential to be a sleeper this summer. As mentioned, reviews are strong and it stands at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Could Oscar voters notice it? It could be a long shot but Stanfield and Hammer in particular were acknowledged by critics. Many feel the latter was slighted last year for his supporting work in CallMebyYourName.
Where the film could stand a legitimate chance for a nod could be in Original Screenplay- an award Jordan Peele won months ago for GetOut.
If you could envision a picture made in a factory for Best Picture consideration, The Post might be it. Two-time Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg? Check. Three-time winner and most nominated actress ever Meryl Streep? Yep. Two-time recipient Tom Hanks? Indeed. A historical context that has connections to what’s happening today? Present. Luckily, the film itself manages to be an often engrossing experience that is (surprise) quite well-acted and directed. Does it match the high mark of some other journalistic features that cover similar ground? Not in my view.
The Post opens with State Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) in Vietnam in the late 1960s and his growing realization that the conflict has no end in sight. Ellsberg has access to classified government docs and by the early 1970s, he wishes to expose the top secrets of the U.S. Government’s involvement overseas from the Truman through Nixon administrations. He first leaks some information to the vaunted New York Times, but attention soon turns to The Washington Post, which at this juncture is considered more of a hometown paper. That paper is run by Katharine Graham (Streep) and she’s the first woman to run such an operation. She inherited the Post after the deaths of her father and husband. While the film’s attention is mostly centered on the impending giant story that they may break, we also witness the difficulties Graham experiences as a woman working in a man’s world. This provides some of the best moments and more examples of Streep’s limitless abilities as a performer.
Graham runs in the D.C. social circles and she’s close with many of the figures her journalists look to expose, including Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). The paper’s editor is Ben Bradlee (Hanks), a hard charging type who doesn’t think of the corporate exposure landmines that go along with spilling these secrets. Graham must do so because her business is about to go up for public offering and President Nixon isn’t exactly warm-hearted when dealing with media types.
Therein lies the drama with The Post as Graham and Bradlee struggle to do the right thing. The pic clearly reveres it main subjects and the virtuous acts they took. It also adores the bygone and pre-digitized era of the news. There are lovingly crafted shots of the newspapers being developed for print and frenzied reporters furiously typing their copy to meet their deadline. We also witness occasional spurts of dialogue that border on preachy. Screenwriters Liz Hannah and Josh Singer craft a couple of monologues that could warrant a bright red MESSAGE signal across the screen while its actors are speaking.
That said, the story itself is inherently fascinating and it’s told in a well-crafted manner. There are plenty of actors who pop up in supporting roles, including a very nice performance from Bob Odenkirk as an editor who goes way back with Ellsberg and is instrumental in the paper’s expose. This is primarily the Streep and Hanks show, however. And in case you didn’t know, the two can act. Hanks is playing a part made most famous by Jason Robards in All the President’s Men (for which he won a gold statue). It is that movie that you may wish to draw comparisons with. The Post isn’t in that league, but few reach that level of greatness. The Post, rather,is exceedingly competent.
Jack Black is back kicking it again as Po in Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3, out next weekend. The threequel comes nearly five years after the second installment with a slew of famous faces voicing characters in the martial arts comedy toon. They include Angelina Jolie Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson, J.K. Simmons, and David Cross.
In 2008, the original Panda chopped its way to a fabulous $60 million opening on its way to a $215 million domestic haul. The inevitable 2011 sequel couldn’t quite match that performance with a $47 million premiere and $165 million take. Part 3, unlike its two predecessors, isn’t debuting in the summer so competition is less steep. That said, the five year old layover could lead to slightly dwindling returns once again.
Kung Fu Panda 3 will almost undoubtedly set one record: biggest animated opening of all time in January (it only needs to top the $19.4 million accomplished by The Nut Job two years ago). It should double that at least, but I’ll predict it has the lowest opening of the trio.
Kung Fu Panda 3 opening weekend prediction: $41.7 million
For my Fifty Shades of Black prediction, click here: