The Weekend Warrior July 8, 2022
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, MURINA, FIRE OF LOVE, BOTH SIDES OF THE BLADE, THE SEA BEAST, THE SUMMONED
Well, this should be a fun weekend, because we get our second Marvel movie of the year – I’M NOT INCLUDING MORBIUS, DAMMIT!!!! – and then we still have a number of other movies doing well, particularly last week’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, and I guess Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick is never going away, is it?
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (Marvel/Disney)
It’s only been two months since I last analyzed the box office for a Marvel movie, and I did pretty good with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, predicting within a million dollars, which almost guarantees that this won’t happen again for the fourth Thor movie starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
Let’s see what I can say about the latest MCU movie that you don’t already know, since many have already seen the trailers and know that a.) Director Taika Waititi is back; b.) Natalie Portman’s Dr. Jane Foster is back and she becomes Thor; c.) Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is back from Ragnarok; d.) Love and Thunder’s villain is Gorr, the God-Butcher, played by Christian Bale, and Russell Crowe appears as Zeus, king of the Greek Gods. That’s really all you need to know, if you’re trying to avoid spoilers.
I mean, sure it might be helpful to mention that the previous movie, Thor: Ragnarok, opened in November 2017 with $122.7 million and ended up grossing $316 million domestic ($100 mil more than Thor: The Dark World) and $850 million worldwide. A lot has happened since then, including Thor’s appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and if you’ve read this column for a while, you’ll know that I do feel that the “Avengers bump” is a real thing, especially if you see how the sequels Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened compared to the previous films.
In the case of Thor: Love and Thunder, there’s presumably going to be a bump from the success of Ragnarok and the following Avengers movies, but there’s also the added fame that Taika Waititi has achieved from the movie he made in between, Jojo Rabbit, for which he won an Oscar. Since he had already directed a Marvel movie, that’s not quite the same as Chloé Zhao when she directed Eternals following her Oscar wins for Nomadland.
If we go back to the list of “talking points” above, we have to wonder which of those four factors might help Love and Thunder the most. Jane Foster becoming Thor certainly has many women excited, and that’s actually pretty good since Chris Hemsworth has helped make Thor a superhero that attracts women, and having more female representation in the action will get women more excited about this installment.
As expected, reviews are mixed to positive with just 71% at Rotten Tomatoes (at this writing) – you can read my review here – and yeah, those reviews are not nearly as glowing as other Marvel movies, including Thor: Ragnarok. That’s even below Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but that probably won’t affect much since many have already bought their tickets, particularly in IMAX, Dolby and other premium formats which means higher ticket prices.
The question is whether Love and Thunder might open similar to Multiverse of Madness with $187 million, and I think it will open lower. My reasoning for this is that the Doctor Strange sequel opened in early May with very little competition in the weeks beforehand, and it was able to get a ton of screens in all the theaters where it opened. Multiplexes might be a little hesitant of getting rid of sure things like Minions or Elvis so quickly and people are still going out to see Top Gun: Maverick. So there is definitely more competition for screens than there was in May, and that will keep Love and Thunder from opening over $200 million, as some might expect.
I was kind of up and down with my prediction for Love and Thunder, but I think it will end up somewhere in the $155 to 170 million range, doing particularly well as it takes over IMAX and Dolby screens from Minions.
Thor will win the weekend with little effort, as Minions has a bigger-than-normal drop after the bump from that TikTok craze last weekend. We’ll have to see how the bottom of the top 10 does and whether A24 expands Marcel the Shell with Shoes On into enough theaters to get into the top 10 or just waits for its wide release next week.
1. Thor: Love and Thunder (Marvel/Disney) - $157.4 million N/A
2. Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) - $46.3 million -57%
3. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) - $20 million -22%
4. Elvis (Warner Bros.) - $10.1 million -47%
5. Jurassic World: Dominion (Universal) - $8.2 million -49%
6. The Black Phone (Universal) - $6.4 million -48%
7. Lightyear (Disney/Pixar) - $3 million -54%
8. Mr. Malcolm’s List (Bleecker Street) - $450,000 -46%
9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) - $400,000 -27%
This week’s “Chosen One” is…
MURINA (Kino Lorber)
Opening exclusively at the Metrograph in New York City on Friday is Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s feature debut, which won the Camera d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. It’s just an amazing Croatian character drama that stars Gracija Filipovic as 17-year-old Julija, who lives on a remote island off the coast of Croatia with her mother and a deeply toxic father. When her father’s wealthy friend Javier (Cliff Curtis) visits, Julija’s father hopes to sell their island home, and she ends up becoming quite charmed by the older visitor, but that causes even more trouble between her parents.
I’ll usually try to see everything playing at the Metrograph (within reason), but this one was a really wonderful surprise. I wasn’t sure where it was going as we first watch Julija and her father scuba diving, she in a very revealing bathing suit that seems to be getting her unwanted attention from her father. There’s definitely some questionable behavior going on, but her father just gets worse and worse as he spends more time around his friend Javier, who seemingly had a relationship with Julija’s mother at one point. (It’s interesting that this is one of two foreign films this week which has a love triangle aspect, although this had more going on for it than Both Sides of the Blade, which as you’ll read below, I didn’t enjoy so much.)
More than anything, this is a showcase for the very talented Ms. Filipovic, who does a great job holding onto the camera’s gaze without nary a word. I’ve long been a fan of Curtis, and he’s just as great here as a man who ends up being an unwitting catalyst for Julija to finally rebel against her oppressive father.
This is a fantastic debut by Kusijanović, beautifully shot with just terrific performances from all four main actors. I actually may see it again with it conveniently playing at my nearest movie theaters, but I do hope that others give it a chance, because it’s a film that belies its foreign roots to tell just a terrifically dramatic family story.
BOTH SIDES OF THE BLADE (IFC Films)
Claire Denis’ latest film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival aka Berlinale back in February, and then played at Lincoln Center at “Rendezvous with French Cinema” (I think) as Fire, but its name has been changed to something far more interesting that might help it not be confused with this week’s Fire of Love. This weekend it opens in select cities, including the IFC Center in New York.
It stars Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon (Titane) as Sara and Jean, a couple whose relationship is thrown into disarray when her ex, Françcois (Grégoire Colin), returns and wants to get into business with her current partner.
What I didn’t mention above is that I actually walked out of the screening at “Rendezvous,” because this movie typifies what I absolutely loathe about French cinema, and that is the seeming need to fill every frame with people jabbering on about feelings with very little concern for plot. Partially, why I’m mixed on Binoche as an actor is that she seems to do a lot of these, and she’s a fine dramatic actress, but she may just do too many of these kinds of movies.
We meet her character and her partner Jean (Lindon) when they’re out frolicking in the sea, and they’re obviously very close and loving, although he clearly has dealt with some problems, including time in prison. Things get tougher when her ex François shows up and wants to hire Jean to be part of his agency, though he also still has eyes for Sara.
That’s pretty much it for the plot, and the movie is basically two hours of talking, talking, and then a lot of shouting, and the big problem is that her character just seems so detestably wishy-washy and unable to decide between the two men. There’s also a subplot involving Jean’s son, Marcus, which really doesn’t go anywhere either, but it seems to be there to just make Jean more relatable. But the bigger problem is the lack of any forward movement on the story as we get into one overly melodramatic after another or Binoche has a racy love scene with one of the two men (which I can’t say anything bad about because Binoche looks amazing despite being older than me!).
I’m not sure what happened with this, but it feels like one of Denis’ weaker efforts. In fact, and it’s hard for me to say this, considering how long I’ve been a fan of Ms. Denis’ work, this is possibly one of Claire Denis’ worst films ever.
FIRE OF LOVE (NEON/National Geographic)
Sara Dosa’s documentary, which received quite a bit of acclaim at this year’s Sundance, where it won an award for its editing, hits theaters on Wednesday (today). Narrated by Miranda July, it takes a look at French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who travelled around the world filming active volcanoes and learning everything they could about them. Dosa’s film cuts together footage from their vast archival collection of film as it tells the romantic story of this couple who have found a “hobby” in common that they can share. I don’t have a ton to say about this movie, which I saw a few months back at “New Directors New Films” at Lincoln Center. It’s a decently-edited bit of documentary storytelling that keeps you invested throughout.
THE SUMMONED (XYZ Films)
Hitting VOD on Thursday is this directorial debut thriller from Mark Meir, which involves a couple going to a self-help retreat at a remote cabin where they try to coexist with a couple other celebrities under the aegis of the mysterious Dr. Justin Frost. Elijah (J. Quinton Johnson) is there with his country superstar girlfriend Lyn (Emma Fitzpatrick) along with actress Tara (Angela Gulner) and wealthy womanizer Joe (Salvador Chacon).
I only knew J. Quinton Johnson from his role in Last Flag Flying (and maybe I saw him when I saw Hamilton on Broadway, not sure), and I’m not quite sure I love him as an actor. As the film opens with him and Fitzpatrick heading to a place where they’ve been “summoned,” I couldn’t help but think this was heading into Get Out territory. Once they meet the other characters, I thought, “Okay, this could be interesting,” but it never really does get particularly interesting. I’m not sure if it’s just because the writing is weak or Meir just didn’t have the right cast, but it never really takes off, and maybe I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t really as “horror” as I thought it might be. (It does eventually get there, but I’m hesitant to get into what happens, since I’m sure the movie works better not knowing where it’s going.)
Unfortunately, this is an ensemble piece where the only one even resembling a stand-out is Angela Gulner, who is quite funny and brings some levity to what could have been a rather dour film otherwise.
I wish I liked this more, but I’ve seen so many movies that deal with this sort of thing much better, including The Invitation and Ready or Not, and this one not only doesn’t make much sense but it also sufferers from the hugely and quite inappropriately bombastic music that doesn’t really match what’s happening on screen. (In some ways, the music seems to be trying to make up for the lack of any real horror or thrills on screen.)
There’s something just so pretentious about The Summoned that makes it quite disappointing, and it’s not something I would necessarily recommend to everybody… or anybody, for that matter. I’m sure some people will like this, but I’m not one of them.
DREAMING WALLS: INSIDE THE CHELSEA HOTEL (Magnolia)
Like many movies over the last month, I previously saw this doc directed by Maya Duverdier and Amélie van Elmbt at the Tribeca Festival a few weeks back. I was definitely intrigued at its look at the Hotel Chelsea on 23rd Street, because it’s such an iconic New York City landmark, and I even had a friend who used to live there, so I’ve been inside it many years back. The doc deals with the years-long renovation of the residential hotel and how it’s affected the artists who have lived there through it. I really wasn’t crazy with what the filmmakers did with this one, because it spent a lot of time with people who just aren’t very interesting and thought they could make a movie about them. It really takes a lot for me to completely just not like a documentary at all, and Dreaming Walls is one of those rare examples, because I had such high expectations and this doc did not meet any of them whatsoever. This will also open at IFC Center and other select theaters as well as be On Demand.
THIS MUCH I KNOW TO BE TRUE (Mubi)
Andrew Dominick’s second documentary about Nick Cave, following 2016’s One More Time with Feeling, deals with the songs Cave and Warren Ellis put together for their studio albums, “Ghosteen” and “Carnage.” I actually saw this one a couple months ago at a special screening, unaware that it would be on Mubi this month, and though I’ve been a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fan since the ‘80s, I really wasn’t that into either of these albums, and because of that, I really couldn’t get into this movie.
THE ROAD TO GALENA (Vertical)
Joe Hall’s drama which hits theaters and VOD Friday stars Ben Winchell as Cole Baird, a man who has a beautiful wife and successful career at a major DC law firm, but he’s trapped by his surroundings and unable to achieve his life’s dream. It also stars Will Brittain, Aimee Teegarden, Alisa Allapach, and more. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to watch this with everything else I had to watch/write.)
THE SEA BEAST (Netflix)
Big Hero 6 director Chris Williams’ newest animated movie will hit Netflix streaming on Friday after a couple weeks playing in select theaters. It features the voices of Karl Urban, Dan Stevens, and Jared Harris, as well as Zaris-Angel Hator, whose only previous movie credit was Morbius. The latter voices Maisie, a young girl who stows away on the ship of a legendary sea monster hunter. I wish I had the chance to see this in a theater, because the animation is so well done, and the movie has a pretty big scope to it with all the open seas adventure and sea monster battles that I’m sure it would fare decently on the big screen. (To be fair, Netflix did play this for two weeks at the Paris Theater here in New York City. I just didn’t have time to get up there to see it, and it took me a few weeks to watch it on Netflix.)
GIRL IN THE PICTURE (Netflix)
This documentary directed by Skye Borgman (Abducted in Plain Sight) looks at the death of a 20-year-od stripper named Tonya Hughes, who is a victim in a 1990 hit and run in Oklahoma, when they discover that she’s been living under an assumed name. Also, her child gets kidnapped, creating a mystery that lasts for decades.
Also hitting Netflix is the new limited series BOO, BITCH, starring Lana Condor and Zoe Coletti as two high school seniors trying to live their best life until one of them dies and becomes a ghost.
Now that I’ve had a chance to see the new “book” from my favorite local theater, I can tell you that the “Road Trip: American Cinema from Coast to Coast” series is going to be pretty amazing. Brian de Palma’s Blow Out (1981) screens again on Friday, as does Jim Van Bebber’s Deadbeat at Dawn (1988). On Sunday, Frederick Wiseman’s 3-hour doc Central Park represents New York, and there’s a lot more to come.
“Late Nites: Miami Heat” will show Miami Blues, starring Alec Baldwin, on Thursday, and The Mean Season and Wild Things on Saturday. “Playtime: Bicycles and Balloons” will screen Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. “Pioneers of Queer Cinema” also continues through the weekend with a mix of films, of which I haven’t seen.
“Messaging the Monstrous” continues with the “Horror of Place” subseries through Monday, screening The Cremator and Under the Shadow, and on Saturday, the next sub-series “Gender and Horror” begins with screenings of Dan Curtis’ Trilogy of Terror and Burnt Offerings from 1975 and 1976. Brian de Palma’s Carrie on Sunday, as well as Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971). In other words, there’s lots of great horror on display at the Museum of Modern Art in this series that will run through September.
The recent Mifune retrospective did so well at Film Forum that they’re bringing some of the great Japanese actor’s movies back for Mifune Redux, including Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, and many more.
Starting on Friday is “So Sexy It Hurts: Erotic Thrills from ‘80s and ‘90s Hollywood,” which will run through July 14. The series will include Brian de Palma’s Body Double (1984), Adrian Lyne’s Flashdance (1983), Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion (1984), Basic Instinct, Showgirls, American Gigolo, WIld Things, and more.
A new 4k restoration of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors: Blue (1993), the first part of his “Three Colors trilogy,” starring Juliette Binoche, will premiere on Friday. (White and Red will follow, starting on August 5 and 26, respectively.)
Showing as part of “Films of the Dead: Romero & Co.” this weekend is Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (also from 2004!), both which can be seen as double features with the OG Night of the Living Dead. Oh, Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Don’t Die is also playing as part of that series. Also, on Saturday and Sunday, Baz Luhrmann’s directorial debut Strictly Ballroom will also screen as part of “Musical Matinees.”
Satoshi Kon’s Paprika and Perfect Blue continue to pay on the weekend as Waverly Midnights/Late Night Favorites, and David Lynch’s Inland Empire and Mulholland Dr. continues to play as does Brian de Palma’s Sisters. They’re joined by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver this weekend, playing once a night.
Some good ones this week, including Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in 35mm through the weekend!
As part of its “Recent Restorations,” BAM is screening La Piscine and Bronco Bullfrog on Thursday.
I also should point out that the Village East will be showing Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon in 35mm on Monday July 11, as that seems to be a regular thing there. Mark Moorman’s The Day the Music Died will also screen all weekend. Yoshifumi Kondō’s Whisper of the Heart from 1995 will also screen next week, so maybe I’ll give the Village East its own section soon.
11th HOUR CLEANING (Screen Media)
FAIR GAME (Dark Star Pictures)
Next week… the literary drama Where the Crawdads Sing from Sony and Paramount/Nickelodeon’s animated Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.
Box office data provided by The-Numbers.com.