Wallowing In Movies
When I lived in Manhattan, in my bachelor days, I used to have days in which I'd do nothing but see movies, knocking off two or three at a clip. One day I saw 6 -- in 6 different theaters -- still a personal record.
Now that I'm married, and always have stuff to do, such days rarely happen.
But yesterday I took most of the day off. After checking out possible areas worth renting an apartment in in the Studio City area (we're out of our current apartment at the end of the year, because they are renovating all the apartments in the complex), we headed over to the multiplex.
And saw two movies. Not only that, but two very different, very good movies.
*** No Spoilers ***
"Dan In Real Life" is being sold as a family comedy; the commercials all seem to feature the scene in which Steve Carell is freaking out because his teenage daughter is driving badly.
Not only has this scene been cut from the movie, it makes no sense that it was in the movie in the first place, given when the story between Carell and his older daughter boils down to. But I digress.
The movie is more of a comedy for grown-ups, and I'm not even going to talk about the main storyline (since none of the ads bother to). Suffice it to say that Carell is put in an impossible romantic situation in the middle of a shore weekend involving his whole family, and how he deals with it is full of humor and pain and a lot of satisfying moments.
Writer-director Peter Hedges (who wrote What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy, and if you like those two movies you'll undoubtedly like this one) has a perfect feel for awkward moments between people, and for breathing life into characters and relationships -- even minor ones -- in just a few strokes. Tonally, this is pitch perfect throughout, and worth seeing.
Then we wandered into (okay, we snuck into, but we dropped $10 on the concession stand, so win-win for everyone except the studio that released it, but since I do work for them I should be seeing this for free anyway) Michael Clayton, which is also a good movie, though an odd one to pair up with Dan in Real Life, because it's hard to imagine the character of Michael Clayton and the character Steve Carell plays even having a conversation in real life.
But George Clooney inhabits Clayton well, and the story, which essentially explores people who do shitty things because they get paid well for it, is involving throughout. The plot falls a little short here and there (the ending in particularly feels a little rushed), but the performances are dead-on, and writer-director Tony Gilroy nails most of it.
Both films are the kind of movie that Hollywood should be making more of.
Over the weekend, SAW IV made an impressive estimated $32.1 million, while DAN IN REAL LIFE did a solid $12 million.
MICHAEL CLAYTON is hanging in, dropping only 24% while making another $5 million, though its per-screen average is under $2000 now.
THE DARJEELING LIMITED expanded, but didn't do all that well; the $1.7 million it made was only an average of about $2400 per screen. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL did almost a million, but it only averaged $3200 per screen, not that great.
The Kevin Bacon-starring RAILS AND TIES only made about $10,000 total in 5 theaters, while the Anthony Hopkins-directed SLIPSTREAM made only about $6000 in 6 theaters. So they won't be coming soon to a theater near you.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD made a very solid $73,000 in two Manhattan theaters.