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Meryl Streep Bombs As Aging Rocker in ‘Ricki and the Flash’

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Ricki

ricki-and-the-flash-high movie spoonIf you think that rock ‘n roll will save the world (and I can’t think of anything else that has remotely half a chance) and you are especially devoted to great bar bands that know how to boogie, then Ricki and the Flash is your kind of film.

But if you think great rock tunes from the 1970s and 1980s, no matter how joyful, can rescue the terrible Diablo Cody script presented in this over-laden Meryl Streep melodrama, directed by Jonathan Demme, then you’ve got a hard day’s night ahead of you, friend.

Just take this one scene as a warning: After being summoned from the bar scene in Los Angeles to reconnect with a depressed daughter in a mega-wealthy neighborhood somewhere in Indiana, Linda, aka Ricki, played by Streep, gets a little of the flirt on with her ex, a wealthy businessman named Pete, played by Kevin Kline.

After this flirty evening, Linda / Ricki wakes to find Pete’s second wife, Maureen, played by Audra McDonald, has arrived on the scene, back from visiting her ailing father. If you don’t understand this is awkward, the script hammers it home. Mauren, first off, is the precise opposite of Linda / Ricki. She is also younger, prettier, alert and smart, whereas Streep plays Linda / Ricki as a biker-mamma with grandma-jowls, who wears leather pants, jewelry and tattoos and who wakes late and hasn’t much smarts. She voted for George Bush twice, we are told. She also thinks ALS, the ailment that Maureen’s father has, is an acronym for Alzheimer’s disease. This is played for a weak laugh.

So, Linda / Ricki wakes up and goes to the kitchen where Maureen is making French toast and director Demme plays this scene this way: It is revealed that Maureen makes famously great French toast, so Linda / Ricki is angry and makes a rude comment. But, it turns out, Maureen has never been very good at making bacon, so Linda / Ricki is now greatly relieved, perks up an says something engaging and sweet. But the other shoe drops as Linda / Ricki is told Maureen does make one great cup of coffee. So, Linda / Ricki is now angry again.

The script hangs on these kinds of forced pretenses again and again, and every line is played for some heavy-handed passive-aggressive portent, which makes every line a complete fail. Most of the script is childish at best. In the first scene in which Streep meets her thirty-year old daughter Julie (played by her real daughter Mammie Gummer), Julie screams, “Why do you dress like a hooker?” then storms out of the room. Worse, she storms up a flight of stairs – just like a 13-year old retreating in anger to her bedroom. Sure enough, we hear a door slam and some music turned way  up.

In fact, age is a major issue with this movie. It’s about a woman who left her family 10 years ago, which means her children are around 20 – still young and vulnerable. But Streep is way too old for that. To be real at all, her children would be in their 30s — either that or Linda / Ricki had these children at a very, very old age. To make this film work, her children look to be in their mid-30s, but the script has them spitting out vitriol like petulant teenagers. Although her two sons are independent, grown up men, their dialogue is “I like mommy. She’s our mommy.” and “I hate our mummy; don’t you realize she left us, when we needed her?” Even though Maureen has been with the family for 20 years or so, she is still referred to as “the replacement wife,” and scripts that assume the audience is that stupid get boring very quickly.

What’s also missing from this movie is addiction. Ricki is his hard-rocker, who has a drink now and again — but in real life a woman who abandons her children to become a rocker in L.A. is masking serious addictions to drugs and alcohol. That would have made this movie real. But the issue here is whitewashed.

This is supposed to be a triumphant movie about “follow your dreams,” even if it means being a cashier at Total Foods by day and playing Tom Petty covers in an L.A. bar at night. This is supposed to allow us to forgive a woman for walking out on her children. This movie is like the Partridge Family on acid — except I think they had better scripts than this. It’s more like Mott The Hoople as envisioned by Walt Disney. In any case, the music in this movie is fun. But the movie is a complete embarrassment.

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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