News from June 17, 2001

Sorry, Ma, I Won’t Be Home For Chanukah

Those biding their time until Eight Crazy Nights, Adam Sandler’s animated holiday musical, gets released, are going to have to wait a little while longer. Sony has quietly moved the film out of its prime December 14th opening and stacked it on the dreaded “2002 TBD” list.

Weekend Breakdown

As expected, Angelina’s over inflated and lopsided breasts took the weekend, as the troubled production of Tomb Raider blasted its way into the top spot of the charts. Universally horrid reviews and the rare phenomenon of a steadily declining take from Friday to Saturday to Sunday will kill any chances of a prolonged run. Should the weekend estimate of $48M hold, it’s daily take will have fallen from $17.6M to $16.7M to $13.9M. Chances for a franchise are looking slim.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire will soon be joining its real life counterpart at the bottom of the ocean floor soon. Despite a massive marketing push including a number of tasty treats available at your local supermarket, it’s $20M estimated opening gives Disney their worst opening for a summer animated flick in… well, as far back as I can find.

Shrek didn’t really take the pounding it was expected to. Its 22% drop is the lowest of the top ten films and is poised to become the film to beat this summer at the box office. Swordfish and Pearl Harbor took their expected 33% dives. Evolution took the biggest tank this week, losing more than 50% of its first week take. The Animal, Moulin Rouge, What’s The Worst That Could Happenr and The Mummy Returns round out the top 10.

One encouraging sign in the strength of the independent and foreign made films. The Ben Kingsley starrer Sexy Beast opened to a $20,000 per screen average, putting it at the top of that list. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, despite little publicity, opened on four screens to a $12,750 PSA, third in the nation. The Anniversary Party added five screens in its second weekend and has already grossed $427,000 in ten days on only 16 screens. startup.com has already done better than most documentary releases, having grossed $775,000 in six weeks on 35 or less screens each week. Best news of all for the independent film scene is that Memento saw their box office take rise 8% in its fourteenth week of release despite losing 46 screens, bringing its take so far to $18.5M. Not bad for a film that the filmmakers had to put out themselves as no distributor wanted it. The one misstep this week was Songcatcher, the oft delayed Janet McTeer music based drama, which first premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, which opened on seven screens and brought forth only $42,000.

Requiem For A Dream DVD Review

Our first ever DVD review comes from Sir Lunchbox, who tackles the complex imagination of Darren Aronofsky…

Requiem For A Dream having been my second favorite movie of last year (right behind Quills), I was obviously very excited for the DVD release of this film. What I got when it finally saw release was even better than I had hoped.

Adapted by director Darren Aronofsky and author Hubert Selby Jr. from the latter’s book of the same name, Requiem’s atmosphere is as harrowing as the journeys of addiction faced by the characters within. Backlit by an exceptionally haunting score by Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet, the film takes you on a visually stunning journey of addiction, be it to diet pills or heroin.

From the look of the disc itself (an image of a televisions color bars), to the foldout poster included (featuring snapshots from the movie, quotes, Darren Aronofsky’s forward to the novel, and an introduction by the idiot that runs Ain’t It Cool News), to the menus and extras, Requiem is a wonderful DVD experience. I’m not going to go into specifics in regards to the sound and video quality, as with the absolute shite I have for equipment, it really wouldn’t make too too much of a difference, but I will go into specifics on the extra features.

First off we have the menus, and MAN are they incredible. Perhaps to one who has not seen the film, they may not make a whole lot of sense, but the infomercial stylings of the menus are absolutely perfect for the DVD. The first of the featurettes on the disc is “The Making of Requiem for a Dream” a very unconventional behind the scenes documentary. Instead of narration and interviews a la HBO First Look, Requiem’s documentary is actually just home video footage spliced together with commentary recorded over by Aronofsky. Unfortunately do to the home video nature of the footage, most dialogue is very difficult to hear, but the commentary track clears all that up. Adding to the unconventionality of the documentary is the incredibly abrupt ending.

Up next we’ve got the short “Anatomy of a Scene” TV Spot which provides some more behind the scenes details on some of the shooting. The next (and final) featurette is “Memories, Dreams And Addictions,” an interview of Requiem’s author and co-screenwriter Hubert Selby Jr. conducted by Ellen Burstyn. While having very little to do with the movie itself, the interview sheds a lot of light on the life of Selby and his reasons for righting Requiem.

Aside from the featurettes we have the pretty standard extras. Starting with the deleted scenes, which were excised for great reason, and are mostly not anything you’d watch again, except perhaps the outtake of Marlon Wayans doing his Jar Jar Binks impersonation, or the extended version of the Hubert Selby Jr.’s scene in the film. The optional commentary track for the deleted scenes provides us with Aronofsky’s opinions on the cuts. The theatrical trailers and TV spots are also included here, and were of great interest to me, as I’d never seen any of them before (or after) seeing the film. The cast and crew information provides just that – information. Short biographies and filmographies are provided for the principle cast.

I’ve yet to watch the film with the second commentary track (Director of Photography Matthew Libatique), but found Aronofsky’s commentary to be quite insightful, if somewhat dry. Being as how it is hard for a single commentator to remain interesting for the length of a feature, I say Aronofsky has done a commendable job. This DVD is definitely worth checking out if you are even the slightest fan of cinema, if not for the movie than for Burstyn’s performance alone (She was robbed of the Oscar by Ms. Julia “can’t act” Roberts and her hype machine).

Movie: 5/5

DVD: 5/5

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