Me and My Nine Iron

January 31, 2011

Gauging Matt Damon’s marketability

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 3:49 pm
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As I was researching for this post, I had planned it to be about how Matt Damon, while a respectable actor, doesn’t bring in the crowd like some of the other big names. This was because Hereafter was supposed to do great things with Clint Eastwood directing, a $50 million budget and this epic fantasy drama; it had all the pieces of a fall blockbuster. Instead, with Damon as the only recognizable name, it made its wide release debut at No. 4 with a measly $12 million, getting crushed by sequels Paranormal Activity 2 ($41 million) and Jackass 3-D ($21 million), spent just three weeks in the top 10 and needed considerable help internationally to finish at $62 million, a loss when you add in marketing expenses, etc.

I had planned to write about how Damon’s movies, while always well-rated, never live up to revenue expectations and how they need to tone the budgets down, but I was surprised at what I found.

Damon had a busy year last year, turning 40 and cementing his place among the A-list actors in demand. Worth noting is his stock is only rising. If three wide releases weren’t enough to keep him busy last year, maybe four (and an animation) this year will be.

But, let’s take a look at the past three years of work Damon has starred in and how they’ve fared at the box office.

Matt Damon Filmography 2007 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
Ocean’s Thirteen 6.9 85 311
The Bourne Ultimatum 8.2 110 443
The Informant! 6.7 22 42
Invictus 7.4 50 122
Green Zone 7.0 100 95
Hereafter 7.2 50 62

While he might actually be starting a downward streak with his last two, he should garner a healthy profit with a $30 million budget if he’s in a non-sequel, non-ensemble movie. It’ll be interesting to see how Margaret does, however, a movie that was filmed in 2005 but is scheduled to come out this year. Like Hereafter, it’s about an event that affects different people, and the names aren’t much more to get excited about.

But how does he rank with two comparable actors in Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg?

First, Affleck. Damon’s hometown friend is a triple threat as a writer/actor/director and has thrived with his personal projects (Gone Baby Gone, The Town). After their sixth movie together, Dogma, in 1999, they went their separate ways, and I’d have to say Damon had the better career and network of players. Damon had the widely successful Bourne series and Ocean’s series while working with Martin Scorsese and Eastwood. Affleck stuck with Kevin Smith and made three more movies with him. While his roles might be less glamorous than Damon’s (blame that on Gigli), he can still bring in the dough in your crime thriller.

Ben Affleck Filmography 2006 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
Man About Town 5.7 10 direct-to-DVD
Hollywoodland 6.6 14 16
Smokin’ Aces 6.6 17 57
He’s Just Not That Into You 6.4 40 178
State of Play 7.3 60 88
Extract 6.4 8 11
The Town 7.8 37 143

Until a couple of years ago, I couldn’t differentiate Wahlberg from Damon. I know, my apologies. To me, Mark was Matt’s lesser-known doppelganger, but today, I consider him one of the most versatile actors and a prize to cast in any genre.

Mark Wahlberg Filmography 2008 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
The Happening 5.2 60 163
Max Payne 5.4 35 111
The Lovely Bones 6.6 65 94
Date Night 6.4 55 152
The Other Guys 6.7 100 169

Wahlberg has the highest rate of box office success among the three (try 100% in his last ten), but overall, they’re all highly marketable with impressive track records. Damon stars in the most critically-acclaimed movies, but it would be a privilege to work with any of them. Ideally, if I were in the crime thriller genre, I would have all three star, Affleck direct and Wahlberg produce. Now, that’s an all-star cast and crew!

Maybe, Wahlberg one day.

BJ

ereafter 7.2 50 62
417 1,075
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January 27, 2011

Father “protects” his daughter

Last month in Germany, a 47-year-old man was so irate at a 57-year-old man for dating his 17-year-old daughter that he went to his house with a couple of buddies, had them hold him down and severed his testicles with a bread knife. The victim almost bled to death but called police just in time to save his life. The perpetrator, who is not releasing the names of the two friends who helped him, took his testicles, pled guilty to attempted murder and told police, “You said you couldn’t stop him – so I did. I saw it as my duty as a father.”

I bring this up because I found a surprising number of friends who didn’t find the man’s actions heinous like I did. Yeah, a lot of guys will joke that they never want a daughter for that reason exactly, and it’s true no one really knows how they’ll react until they’re put into that situation, but c’mon.

For those curious, the age of consent in Germany is more lenient than in the U.S., where it varies by state. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Anyone having sex with someone under 14 is illegal.
  • A person over 21 having sex with someone under 16 is illegal.

So clearly, while the relationship might be frowned upon, the 17-year-old girl could date whoever she wants. Instead of getting mad at his daughter, maybe, he should castrate his own balls for raising her so poorly that she would choose that kind of a decision.

And the way that he did it, ugh. Okay, so you feel you have to take matters into your own hands because their relationship is protected under the law. How about going to his house with a couple of buddies, roughing him up and threatening him to end the relationship or else? I can tell you I wouldn’t take someone’s underwear off, hold his balls as I cut it and then take them with me. How gay is that?

Well, everyone’s different, but I hope no one I know would do such a thing, especially if they also envy being the 57-year-old guy carrying on the relationship. That’s just hypocritical.

What do you think? Is this father’s action in cutting off a man’s testicles in response to him having consensual sex with his teenage daughter justified or at least a little understandable?

BJ

January 25, 2011

Donald Trump for President

Filed under: On the 6 o'clock news — BJ @ 3:19 pm
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A couple of weeks ago, The Daily Beast posted an article about Donald Trump‘s possible presidential run for 2012. Every four years, Trump talks up a game like he’s going to run but never does. But because “the country has never needed help like it does now,” this time, he’s for real.

The brash billionaire has a firm position on several controversial topics, which include China, OPEC, the ongoing war and Korea, all of which I find ridiculous but not surprising given his void in political experience.

China

Trump wanted President Obama to call off last week’s State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao until China cleans up “the mess,” a dinner not had for the country in 13 years. Yeah, Donald, that will help with the strained ties between the two powerhouses. Did you miss the whole campaign about “change?” Trump describes the mess being China “stealing all our jobs” and how “we should tax Chinese products.” But how is that on China, who Trump blames? We as American consumers prefer cheaper products so why would you destroy the most important foreign relationship over something the American people want. Talk about being out of touch. You thought Jared Loughner was bad? Can you imagine how violent the liberals would get over something so much bigger and directly impacted than a local congresswoman?

North Korea

With regards to the attacks on South Korea and pursuing nuclear weaponry, Trump blames President Obama for not pressing China and China for not doing the following, “[China] can solve the North Korean problem with a phone call.” If only it were that easy, Donald.

OPEC

Trump says that if he were president, he would simply tell the 12-country OPEC oil cartel that they aren’t going to raise [oil] prices “and they would listen.” Would that be with a phone call too, Donald?

War in Afghanistan and Iraq

Trump claims he has “a strong opinion” about what the U.S. should be doing there, but he’s not ready to share it. Off of what information, Donald? From the news you read like me and everyone else? You, as well as the rest of the American people, have no idea what’s going on over there, and you don’t even have access to the pertinent confidential information to make those decisions unless you’re the President or Julian Assange.

South Korea

Trump argues that the U.S. should demand hard cash from South Korea for protecting them from the North. “They only signed a [trade] treaty when they needed our help—even though it was a one-sided treaty in their favor. Why aren’t they paying us for protection?” I have three things to say to that. A) Sounds to me like the U.S. signed a bad deal B) How about all the other countries that we willingly protect and C) How about all the other countries that we willingly give “hard cash” to?

I highly doubt South Korea asked the U.S. for protection. We are very capable of protecting ourselves. Yes, the U.S. may be obligated to protect every innocent country to preserve its public image, but then to go and send a bill for protective services that country didn’t even ask for is ridiculous. I’m curious to hear what he has to say about countries like Haiti, where we give millions of dollars to these countries annually as welfare.

History lesson: Up to 40% of Haiti’s budget comes from foreign aid, U.S. being the biggest donor. We give millions of dollars to them annually and have given them $1.5 billion to date, with President Obama pledging $1.15 billion for the earthquake relief. Who would ever work or better themselves, as the third-world country is wisely not doing, when they’re constantly given free money?

History lesson II: I take it for granted that people have a general understanding of South Korea and its global position today, but everyday, I find myself surprised at how ignorant white America is and how I shouldn’t assume they know.

True stories:

  • To this day, white people assume I’m Chinese, as they do every Asian.
  • I was once asked, at work of all places, if I’m from South Korea, as opposed to North. Assume that everyone here is, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. We just call it Korea.
  • I recently read an online comment that said, “Korea has a government?” Dude, have you been living under a rock? We’re one of the most developed nations in the world, and we’re at least included in the top group economically and politically. In fact, our technology, namely electronics, is at least two years more advanced than the U.S., with cell phones and TVs that would make 12-year-old girls drop their skirts for one. You know how we have advertising in the tunnels of subways on a limited basis? They have that all over Korea. Same goes for the jumbotrons and flashing lights at Times Square; it’s present all over the country.
  • Trump thinks we can’t defend ourselves against North Korea. If you don’t know that, you probably don’t know the history of Korea, which alone should make you unfit to be President, as North Korea is currently one of the major foreign topics.

As if that convincing platform wasn’t enough, Trump claims that he’d represent the appearance of a model President more than the President himself. Because even the beach can’t sway the Donald from slipping into some swimming trunks and flip-flops.

Trump has already confided in friends that he will announce that he is running in June, when the new season of The Celebrity Apprentice ends. He’ll likely have to beat out Sarah Palin in the Republican primary, who many would never vote for. But unlike Palin, Trump has never even run for office, and his platform doesn’t even sound half-smart. Looks like it’ll be the last three presidential elections all over again – unpopular and picking the lesser of the two evils.

BJ

January 23, 2011

Untitled Spider-Man Reboot

If you haven’t heard yet, Spider-Man 4 is coming out in the summer of 2012. Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), who made his presence known at last week’s Golden Globes with his botched presenting, replaces Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Emma Stone (Easy A) takes Gwen Stacy from Bryce Dallas Howard and Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) has a monumental sophomoric directing task, taking over Sam Raimi‘s wildly successful trilogy.

The story goes Sony was in talks with Raimi to make at least three more films, but Raimi dropped out due to time constraints that he felt he wouldn’t be able to get Spider-Man 4 out by what would have been May of this year. This makes no sense because it loses over a year to be released with the new crew, but that’s the route Sony decided to take.

Filming began in Los Angeles last month, and this week, coverage of the shooting (bad choice of word, CNN?) was posted all over the internet showing a close-up of the new costume and web-shooter.

Video

Pictures

It’s interesting to note that in the almost four years since Spider-Man 3 was released, here’s all the work Raimi and Maguire have done. Not that they ever need to work again. The trilogy brought in $2.5 billion at the box office.

Raimi – Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Maguire – Brothers (2009)

BJ

January 21, 2011

Pickelback

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 5:04 pm
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I’ve never even heard of this outside of my friend, who had been raving about it the past couple times we hung out. We hung out again last night, and this time, we went out of our way to find some pickle juice. They didn’t have it at Rite-Aid but had some individual packs at 7-Eleven. Go figure.

What is a pickleback, you ask? A shot of whiskey, usually Jameson, followed by a shot of pickle juice – any kind will do, I’m told. Sounds gross, I know, but when you’re promised that you won’t get a hangover the next day, wouldn’t you at least try it?

Side note: I’m told the electrolytes in the pickle juice is key; not sure if a shot of Gatorade has the same effect. I’m also told that it’s pretty dangerous how much you can take down via pickelback, and after my own study, I concur.

After three shots of Jameson, you would normally be buzzed, if not be drunk. I kid you not, I felt like I didn’t even drink. And that’s exactly how you feel after every pickelback. The salty, potent taste of pickle juice eliminates any signs of liquor being drunk, not just the pungent whiskey taste but also in body. Three shots of pickle juice, despite its unbelievable magic, became a bit much so I took the fourth shot without it and the fifth and sixth shots with half a shot of the elixir.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I had six shots of whiskey and was perfectly fine. But believe you me, I was pretty damn close to fine. Two hours later, I had a raging headache, the painful, unavoidable kind you get for trying to sober up awake and not passing out in your drunken stupor. Either that or it was the void after the fourth shot, where I feel the alcohol found its opening to do its damage.Two hours after that, after I washed up and had the runs…twice…possibly from the pickle juice, I felt the way I did after the third shot, like I didn’t even drink.

After just seven hours of sleep, at least two less than I usually get, I woke up without an alarm and with a smile on my face. The pickelback had worked.

BJ

January 15, 2011

TRON: Legacy IMAX 3D Review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 2:36 pm
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I emphasize the IMAX 3D because it costs $18.50 to watch this type of movie at Irvine Spectrum. Quite the premium, and nothing even pops out at you like you would expect. It just adds to my belief that 3D is a gimmick designed by producers to go 1.5x in box office revenues for the same amount of people, and we the masses fall for it. For the record, my friend wanted to see it in IMAX; I was indifferent. It’s a very subtle feeling that you’re in the room with them, which can also be done with LED TVs.

Nevertheless, it’s an amazing sequel to the 1982 original that really achieves the highest on-screen treat to the eyes and ears. It stays true to the original by playing the same games, only now the stages are bigger and the games are faster. Of course to one-up the Light Cycle game, all you have to do is make the stage multi-leveled. Genius.

I was really surprised to see such a fan base out of people who didn’t see the original, as the plot can be confusing, a little unorganized and quite frankly, unappealing. Never doubt the American people flocking to see loud action. Let me tell you that it’s so much more satisfying seeing the prequel first, as this one assumes you know about programs and users and the laser that gets you into the grid. Also, I knew Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) got out of the grid at the end of the first movie so I was curious to find out how he got stuck before the start of this one, which they creatively explained.

Garret Hedlund, who also stars in Country Strong, gave a fine performance as Kevin’s son, Bridges was Bridges (read: badass) and Olivia Wilde, who’s set to have a big year as the lead in four movies this year, was hot as Quorra. The costume and makeup were apropos, and electronic music duo Daft Punk delivered a notable score.

Can’t wait for Tron 3, with Cillian Murphy, who was uncredited as Encom board member Edward Dillinger, the potential villain.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BJ

January 12, 2011

The Warrior’s Way preview

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 1:40 pm
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I never got a chance to preview this movie, but I just wanted to rep a Korean-made movie in The Warrior’s Way. Released last month, it marked the writing-directorial debut of Sngmoo Lee, who cast Dong-gun Jang in the lead role alongside Kate Bosworth (21, Superman Returns, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!). Jang is one of the hottest Korean actors (His stock, not his looks. Well, his looks too.), having starred in two must-see Korean films, Friend (2001) and Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004). Both movies became the highest-grossing Korean movie of all-time, and Tae Guk Gi even became the 75th highest-grossing movie in the world that year, making more than Garden State and Hotel Rwanda combined.

Unfortunately, little promotion, little appeal for this Western fantasy and most importantly, a weak cast led to a non-existent audience, debuting at No. 9 in the box office with $3 million. That was the only week it spent in the top 10 against a generous $42 million budget for a first-time director. Whoopsie. I’ll probably go see it at my local dollar theater if it even comes out there for the sake of seeing a Korean-made American movie, but here’s to hoping Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t follow down the same box office path as this one.

For an inside scoop of Lee and Jang at work, check out these photos provided by IMDb.

Lee
Jang

BJ

January 10, 2011

True Grit review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 3:50 pm
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The second eponymous adaptation of a ’60’s novel may be the first true Western from the Coen brothers, but it’s not a far stretch from the number of period pieces and rural shooting scenes on their resume – Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Ladykillers, No Country for Old Men. That’s over a third of their work.

The storytelling and dialogue is amazing as usual for a Coen film, and the cast is excellent. Jeff Bridges, who worked with the Coens in The Big Lebowski, and Matt Damon provide some classic one-liners, and then 13-year-old Hailee Steinfeld holds her own as the precocious girl full of vengeance.

Critically, the Coens are well-recognized, but I feel like they don’t get anywhere near the love that a James Cameron or a Christopher Nolan get from the general audience. People don’t get excited about a forthcoming Coen film as they do with the other heavy hitters, and I hope that changes because they easily deserve being in this elite class and might be better than some of them. (Future post topic?)

The L.A. Times predicted this would be the second-highest grossing Western film of all-time, behind only Kevin Costner‘s behemoth $424 million Dances with Wolves (1990), and I found it among the year’s best.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Coen brothers collaborated with Carter Burwell for the 15th time, which I believe is all of their films since they began directing in 1984. It’s an outstanding score and unfortunately, due to the use of church hymns, is not eligible for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards. (The award for Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment was retired after 1973.) Here is their chillingly good theme song, which plays throughout the movie.

BJ

January 7, 2011

Fast food review

Today’s edition of Fast Food Review is dedicated to Chick-fil-A’s new Spicy Chicken Biscuit. Until Saturday, Chick-fil-A is offering the sandwiches for free, which don’t come out until Monday. It’s as plain and small as it looks in the picture, but hey, it’s free. Make your required reservation at your local store here.

First impression: Dinky. A size I wouldn’t be surprised to find in a McDonald’s sandwich. Smells nice and spicy, though.

First bite: My mom kept saying how spicy it was. I wasn’t feeling any of it. Perhaps, the Chick-fil-A sauce augmented the spiciness, and I was cooling mine in ranch.

Verdict: When I finished, I can see how the portion could be just enough to keep one satisfied in the morning, although I capped my breakfast off with some sushi rolls. The most disappointing thing about it was how the entire biscuit crumbled with every bite. I’m not crazy about biscuit to begin with so I’d rather get a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, but if you must have a breakfast item, I’d go with the Chicken Breakfast Burrito, which is delish.

Until Monday, Blockbuster Express is offering a free movie rental at any of its kiosks. Click here for the promotion code, details and locations. Shoot, I didn’t even know they had kiosks, but you better believe I’m taking advantage of this promotion the way they robbed me with every $5 rental.

BJ

January 5, 2011

The Fighter review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 12:05 pm
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The biographical sports film of professional boxer Micky Ward and his half-brother, Dicky Eklund was solid. I loved how it was shot like a documentary, which reminded me of how The Social Network took on the defining angle of the deposition. Probably the only thing that I would criticize, as with any sports film, was the actual “sport” part itself. People praised this movie for making the action more believable than other movies, but the boxing was hardly realistic with all the pretentious heavy exchanges. That being said, I understand that’s necessary to make a movie watchable so it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Mark Wahlberg trained for this role for four years as production stalled. He also refused a stunt double and almost had his nose broken multiple times (whatever that means) during the fight scenes. But the star of the movie was Christian Bale. He lost 60 pounds for this role, looked disgustingly frail and was spot on with the spooky mannerisms of a drug-addicted fiend. He has my vote for Best Supporting Actor while Wahlberg was a lock for a Best Actor nomination when he took the role (see Million Dollar Baby, Ali, Raging Bull).

Sports Illustrated called it the best sports movie of the decade, and while I don’t watch many sports movies for its predictably and aforementioned glittery action, I found it a highly enjoyable piece about a local boy with family issues making a comeback.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BJ

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