This week at the movies, we have a pair of very belated, very different sequels (Bridget Jones’s Baby, starring Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth; and Blair Witch, starring James Allen McCune and Callie Hernandez), a ripped-from-the-headlines Oliver Stone drama (Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley), and a concert movie (Hillsong – Let Hope Rise). What are the critics saying? Let’s take a look.

Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) 78%

Bridget Jones’s Diary made rom-com magic out of Helen Fielding‘s bestselling novel in 2001, but the sequel, 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, failed to produce similar results. It might have seemed safe to assume we’d seen the last of Ms. Jones on the big screen, but lo and behold, all these years later, she’s back with Bridget Jones’s Baby. Reviews describe a third installment that delivers pretty much what fans would expect; although Hugh Grant has departed the cast, Renee Zellweger remains as charming as ever as Bridget, and Colin Firth is back for another appearance as her longtime squeeze (and potential baby daddy) Mark Darcy. Critics say this is the rare threequel that, while somewhat safe and fairly predictable, remains a surprising return to form over its predecessor — and may even be the best Bridget of the bunch.

Blair Witch (2016) 37%

Speaking of sequels to long-ago movies, here’s Blair Witch, a follow-up to the 1999 found-footage horror hit that eschews the side road taken by 2000’s ill-received Book of Shadows in favor of taking audiences back where they started. Which, in a nutshell, is the problem: Instead of taking the Blair Witch mythology in any substantially new or extra-terrifying directions, director Adam Wingard (working from a script by his frequent collaborator Simon Barrett) seems mostly content to settle for a loose rehash of the original story. Although the end results are still good for some jolts, and Blair Witch does manage to add a few wrinkles to the familiar narrative, critics say you can safely wait to watch this one in the dark from the comfort of your own home.

Snowden (2016) 61%

Oliver Stone is certainly no stranger to political filmmaking; in fact, his filmography contains some of Hollywood’s more provocative — and widely acclaimed — cinematic statements on American history and current events. But looking to the headlines isn’t always enough to guarantee an Oscar contender from Stone; in recent years, fact-based efforts such as World Trade Center and W. have fallen short of the lofty standard set by achievements like Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, critics say this weekend’s Snowden follows that downward slope, giving the fascinating story of the titular whistleblower (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a curiously muted dramatization that critics say is well-acted and topical, but occasionally too slackly paced. If it’s a great Snowden film you’re in the mood for, try checking out the Citizenfour documentary this weekend — but if you’re holding out for the next great Oliver Stone production, you might be a little disappointed.

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise (2016) 60%

They may not be household names yet, but the members of Australian contemporary worship band Hillsong UNITED have cracked the Billboard Top 10 with each of their last two albums — and now they’re getting their documentary due with Hillsong — Let Hope Rise, which purports to capture their “on-stage energy and off-stage hearts” while bringing new meaning to the phrase “theatrical worship experience.” Unfortunately, we can’t really speak to their success in that mission, because critics don’t seem to be rushing out to see it. As of this writing, Let Hope Rise has a pair of reviews, and they’re evenly split. Go on and Guess the Tomatometer!

What’s Hot on TV

High Maintenance: Season 1 (2016) 95%

Dreamlike, poignant, and often funny, High Maintenance successfully transitions from the web to the small screen thanks to sharp writing and an excellent cast.

American Horror Story: Roanoke (2016) 74%

Season six of American Horror Story takes a surprising turn away from prior AHS formats, revisiting the deliberate pace of earlier seasons on a spookier, smaller scale, even if the true-crime format feels overdone.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week -- The Touring Years (2016) , a Ron Howard documentary offering a new look at the titular period in the Fab Four’s history, is at 97 percent.
  • Miss Stevens (2016) , about a teacher whose inner turmoil dovetails with her chaperoning duties on a weekend school trip, is at 92 percent.
  • Command and Control (2016) , a documentary that raises questions about the stewardship of America’s nuclear weapons program, is at 92 percent.
  • Operation Avalanche (2016) , a Cold War thriller about a pair of CIA agents trying to root out a mole in NASA’s space program, is at 74 percent.
  • Tanna (2015) , the reality-inspired story of young South Pacific lovers caught in the middle of a tribal war, is at 73 percent.
  • Mr. Church (2016) , starring Eddie Murphy in a rare dramatic role as a chef who proves a fateful addition to a household in their time of need, is at 14 percent.

What better way to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama by watching Oliver Stone’s W. this week on DVD? While a handful of middling studio releases hit home video this week (Nights in Rodanthe, Soul Men, Blindness), the Certified Fresh pick (and Oscar nominee), Frozen River, hits as well. Celebrate Black History Month with the latest from Spike Lee (Miracle at St. Anna) or go indie with the moving directorial debut of actor Giancarlo Esposito (Gospel Hill). Finally, peruse the week’s more eclectic offerings for a break from the norm — and a well-placed roundhouse kick or two (Chocolate, Street Fighter Extreme Edition, and Bruce Campbell in My Name is Bruce).

1. W. — 58%

The politically-inclined movie lover should take note of Oliver Stone’s latest, a shockingly tame envisioning of the early adult life of former US President George W. Bush. As Dubya, Josh Brolin turns in an astoundingly acute and yes, often humorous, portrayal of the Texan playboy-turned-Commander in Chief, and fellow cast members Elizabeth Banks (as Laura Bush) and James Cromwell (as George Bush Sr.) drew praise from critics. The problem, however, lies in relevance — Stone opts to ignore much of Bush’s Presidential choices in lieu of speculating a psychological case study of power ascendance and daddy issues, in the process neutralizing his too-subtle damnation of the former Prez. Learn more about Stone’s approach in a filmmaker commentary available on the standard release, with more materials (making-of featurettes, deleted scenes) found on Blu-ray.

Next: Spike Lee’s latest joint falls south of Fresh

2. Miracle at St. Anna — 33%

While his impressive track record boasts more fresh movies than the average director (he’s got a 75 percent Fresh filmography), Spike Lee has known the occasional flop. Unfortunately, Lee’s latest flick, Miracle at St. Anna, is one of those Spike Lee joints; an over-earnest World War II fable about an all-black squadron in Nazi territory, it careens back and forth between war actioner and mystical legend and runs well overtime. That said, Lee’s epic has something to say about black American soldiers in battle and their depictions (or lack thereof) in American cinema, and that’s worth watching for. Expect no additional bonus materials, however, unless you spring for Blu-ray.

Next: The schmaltzy Nights in Rodanthe

3. Nights in Rodanthe — 30%

Richard Gere and Diane Lane reunite (after starring as a married couple in the thriller Unfaithful) in this schmaltzy romance about two middle-aged strangers who meet at a seaside B&B. How much schmaltz are we talking, you ask? Perhaps these two words can give you an idea: Nicholas Sparks. The author of goop-fests like The Notebook and Message in a Bottle offers up another three-hankie romance full of sentiment that is only for those with the strongest tolerance for cornball contrivances. Featurettes, deleted scenes a commentary by director George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues) and more appear — but only on the Blu-ray disc.

Next: Remembering Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes…with Soul Men

4. Soul Men — 45%

If we are to remember the late comic Bernie Mac and the late musical legend Isaac Hayes, let it not be through watching Soul Men. The two artists, who passed away last year, deserve more of a send-off than this tepid R&B buddy comedy, though the disc fittingly includes separate tributes to the careers of both men. The film itself, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother, Roll Bounce) follows the reunion of two former singers (Mac and Samuel L. Jackson) who reunite for a concert; humorously delivered expletives and adult humor mar much of the proceedings. If that’s your cup of tea, so be it, though there are more fitting ways to pay tribute to the memories of two such well-loved entertainers.

Next: Blindness, from the director of City of God

5. Blindness — 40%

A city-wide epidemic mysteriously leaves the population without sight — save for one woman (Julianne Moore) — in Blindness, the latest film from Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener). As in his previous films, Meirelles tells a story of human conflict in a strikingly visual manner; that story, however, was too bleak and muddled for many critics. Although this allegory fell short of the freshness mark, the dynamics of post-apocalyptic society and the social cannibalism of Lord of the Flies may appeal to fans of science fiction. An hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary and deleted scenes bolster the DVD, which lacks what would have been an intriguing commentary track.

Next: Bruce Campbell goes post-modern in My Name is Bruce

6. My Name is Bruce — 38%

Fans of the Evil Dead films, Brisco County Jr., or Bruce Campbell himself should pick up this week’s DVD release of My Name is Bruce, a post-modern horror adventure in which a small town is terrorized by an ancient demon, and Campbell (as himself) must step in to save the day. Similar to the recent JCVD, in which over-the-hill action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself as hero in a fictional situation, Campbell pokes fun at (and celebrates) his own movie star status as a B-movie actor of yesteryear. Featurettes, a fake trailer (for the faux film within a film, Cavealien 2), an hour-long making-of documentary, and a feature-length commentary by Bruce Campbell and producer Mike Richardson all make this a must-own for Campbell fans.

Next: Chocolate: Are you ready for the female Tony Jaa?

7. Chocolate — 71%

If the phrase “the female Tony Jaa” doesn’t grab you, then you’re not going to be hooked by this Thai import. (And you also have no sense of fun — because it gets even better.) Chocolate stars newcomer Yanin Vismistananda as Zen, a young autistic woman with an uncanny knack for Muy Thai who puts her martial arts skills to work to pay for her mother’s cancer treatments, leading to a battle with the Yakuza. Plot-wise, it may not make much sense, but amazing stunt work is the leading reason to give Chocolate a go; director Prachya Pinkaew also made the landmark Ong Bak, which made a star of Tony Jaa, and he’s looking to do the same with his agile 22-year-old female star. Chocolate opened in theaters in limited release only last week, so those in major metropolitan areas might even still catch it on the big screen.

Next: The Certified Fresh (and Academy Award-nominated) Frozen River

8. Frozen River — 86%

Independent cinema often needs the most help reaching the masses, so here are a few more reasons to check out Frozen River this week: at 86 percent and Certified Fresh, it’s the best-reviewed wide release of the week, and features an Oscar-nominated performance by actress Melissa Leo. The drama, directed by first-timer Courtney Hunt (who is also up for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), follows a financially-struggling mother (Leo) who takes to smuggling illegal aliens across the Canadian border to make ends meet. Morally complex, this thriller is made all the more relevant by today’s economic climate — not just in its story, but in the behind-the-scenes drama of how an independent film reportedly made for less than $1 million made it to the Academy Awards.

Next: Giancarlo Esposito’s directorial debut, Gospel Hill

Actor Giancarlo Esposito (Mo’ Better Blues) makes his writing and directing debut with this independently-made drama about race relations and community in the fictional town of Gospel Hill, screened at the Oxford Film Festival last week. As in many Southern towns today, Gospel Hill and its denizens are still hurting from ills committed during the civil rights movement; in examining the lingering specter of segregation, Esposito (who also stars) aims to help heal the social wounds that still separate black and white communities. Esposito managed to nab colleagues Angela Bassett, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson and Julia Stiles for his passion project, which also stars Taylor Kitsch, Adam Baldwin, and the RZA.

Next: Do you need the re-released Back to the Future trilogy?

10. Back to the Future Trilogy

If you already own the time-traveling adventures of Marty McFly from the previously-released box set, or are waiting patiently for the trilogy to get its as-yet unannounced Blu-ray treatment, then you’ll probably want to avoid double-dipping with this week’s 2-Disc Special Edition. But if not, you might want to take advantage of this week’s re-release of all three Back to the Future films, available for the first time individually. While each film has its own substantial set of extras and a commentary track featuring producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton, only the first movie comes with an additional disc that highlights Back to the Future: The Ride; Robert Zemeckis and star Michael J. Fox only appear in Q&As. Personally, where the future of home video is going, we will need more.

Next: Street Fighter hits Blu-ray!

11. Street Fighter Extreme Edition Blu-ray

Despite the lack of any indication that the world particularly needed a Blu-ray release of 1994’s Street Fighter, here it arrives in an “Extreme Edition.” What’s so “extreme” about this High Def release, besides the sight of seeing Jean-Claude Van Damme about to spiral into B-movie obscurity (in high definition)? Nothing much, though we are extremely sad to be reminded that such respectable thespians as Ming-Na, Raul Julia, and heck, Kylie Minogue, cashed in to bring such iconic characters as Chun Li, Bison, and Cammy to life. A plethora of bonus materials are on display here to commemorate the cheesy action flick, which helped to kick off an entire genre (the disappointing video game adaptation) and — surprise! — arrives just in time to help promote Capcom’s new game, Street Fighter IV.

Until next week, happy renting!

This week in the UK cinema screens we have Kevin Smith‘s latest, the intuitively titled Zack And Miri Make A Porno. Marky Mark Wahlberg stars in the video game adaptation Max Payne. And riding high on the crest of the German new wave comes the trickily titled The Baader-Meinhof Complex. But what did the critics have to say?

Kevin Smith’s eighth directorial feature is Zack And Miri Make A Porno and features the klutz-du-jour of US comedy Seth Rogen as Zack, and Elizabeth Banks, fresh from playing America’s First Lady in W., as Miri. The old college buddies fall on hard times and with mounting bills, and their heating cut off, the pair decide that a quick and easy solution is to make a homemade skin flick, naturally starring themselves, doing the dirty on film.

Critics were divided, with most complaining that the crude language and vulgar humour was icky and juvenile, and many were disappointed that the film turned from a foul mouthed sex comedy into schmaltzy rom-com. But at 64% on the Tomatometer, Zack and Miri did have many fans who enjoyed assured performances from Rogen and Banks, as well as decent turns from the supporting cast featuring many Askewniverse Alumni. Special mentions for Justin Longs cameo as Brandon St. Randy, with Tim Robey from the Daily Telegraph calling for a spin off film for the gay porn actor.

Next up is Max Payne, the latest in a long line of movie adaptations of hit video games, and stars Mark Wahlberg as the eponymous New York detective. With many video game films falling by the wayside with shoddy productions, and two dimensional characters, how was Max Payne going to fare? Not very well as it turned out; with only one reviewer out of the seventeen counted today giving the film a Fresh rating and the film is currently languishing at 18% on the Tomatometer. Critics mainly grumbled about the poor script, rubbish acting and unrelenting violence on show, with what little character development there is giving way to flashy empty headed action set-pieces. Maybe Marky Mark should pick a Funkier Bunch of people to work with next time?

German drama The Baader-Meinhof Complex is made by the same producers of 2005 surprise hit Downfall, which recounted the last days of Hitler. The film deals with a difficult time in German history, and tells the story of the West German terrorist cell the Red Army Faction in the late 1960’s to 1970’s. At a very respectable 81% on the Tomatometer it looks like the critics weren’t put off by the heavy subject matter and unwieldy title. Indeed the film is praised for its attention to detail and intricate research that effectively recreates this period of history. With a great cast putting in excellent performances, impressive direction and a thought-provoking and gripping script, The Baader-Meinhof Complex is a worthy addition to the recent raft of German films that have been wowing cinema goers recently, including Downfall and The Lives Of Others.

Also worth checking out this week…

I.O.U.S.A – A potent and lithely constructed documentary about America’s financial crisis, I.O.U.S.A grabs you with figures but holds you with irreverent wit. 91% on the Tomatometer.

Quote Of The Week

“John Moore directs like a man playing an eternal pinball machine in Hell.”

Max Payne. Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times.

With Tuesday’s emotional events resulting in a new President Elect in Barack Obama, it’d be easy to forget that he’ll have to wait until January 20th to be sworn in and that there’s still another guy in the hot seat in the interim. Oliver Stone is one filmmaker keen to keep that guy to the front of people’s minds for the time being. Starring Josh Brolin as the titular leader, Stone’s W. – pronounced, naturally, “dubya” – is an intriguing look at the life and times of one of history’s most derided Presidents and one of the world’s most recognisable men.

RT sat down with Brolin and his on-screen First Lady Elizabeth Banks to learn more about the film, find out what it’s like to play a world leader and what Banks thinks of shifting between the directing styles of Stone and, in the upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Kevin Smith.

For those who aren’t quite so inclined to enjoy a spot of video, here are some of the highlights.

Josh Brolin – On working with Oliver Stone:
Oliver is just fascinated by what makes people tick and so am I. I love being around him because he searches through everything and swims through possibility. He and I both feel that there’s not a perfect take so we kept on trying to mix it up and you work on putting it together in the editing room.

Elizabeth Banks – On switching from Kevin Smith to Oliver Stone:
I was eased into [working with] Oliver because Kevin runs a very calm, relaxed set and Oliver’s sets are very frantic and fast. His mind’s going a thousand miles a minute and you have to be prepared – you really can’t come without knowing everything you need for that day.

Image Gallery for W.



W. is out now in the US and opens in the UK on November 7th.

This week in the UK cinemas we have Oliver Stone’s latest presidential dissection, the George W. Bush biopic W. with Josh Brolin in the title role. Also out is Pride & Glory, a US cop thriller with a stellar cast, and an adaptation of the Noel Coward play, Easy Virtue, starring Jessica Biel and British stalwart Colin Firth. But what did the UK critics have to say?

In a momentous and historical week when the USA got shot of President Bush and replaced him with a newer, shinier model, Oliver Stone’s latest film W. hits the UK cinema screens with some mischievous scheduling at play. Never shy of making incendiary political pictures, this is Stone’s third presidential picture, following JFK (84% on the Tomatometer) and Nixon (74% on the Tomatometer), but where does W. stand in comparison? At a rather bland, almost Fresh but not quite, 57% on the Tomatometer, it seems that W. doesn’t quite stand shoulder to shoulder with Stones previous political polemics. The critics enjoyed the performances in the film, with Josh Brolin being tipped for honours in the award season, and the stellar supporting cast putting in quality turns.

Reviewers also applauded the films warmth, humour and honesty in its portrayal of a man who, rather than being the embodiment of imperialist evil, was actually simply out of his depth. This approach angered others however, with many grumbling at Stone’s apparently toothless and even handed approach to the subject. The director was accused of pulling his punches with a flippant and neutral film that many are calling a missed opportunity. Made on a shoestring budget, and rushed out to meet its election time scheduling, the film has also been derided for its cheap production values and throwaway nature. So not classic Stone then; and another example of his fading powers perhaps?

Pride & Glory is a cop procedural that brings together two of modern cinema’s more enigmatic and possibly problematic stars; Edward Norton and Colin Farrell. Norton’s last film was Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk reboot (a decent 67% on the Tomatometer), and Farrell has had a mixed year so far with the disappointing Woody Allen flick Cassandra’s Dream (49%) and the hilarious In Bruges (81% on the Tomatometer). So how would they do when they share the screen in Pride and Glory? Not very well as it turned out. At a measly 35% Pride and Glory has been dismissed by the critics for being a cliché ridden, predictable and hackneyed picture despite a decent turn from Edward Norton. Macho, derivative, generic and unforgivable are just some of the many adjectives used by the hacks to describe Pride and Glory, which means the film shouldn’t be proud, or expect to bathe in any glory at all.

Easy Virtue is a big screen adaptation of the Noel Coward play of the same name, which recently showed at the London Film Festival. Starring the stunning Jessica Biel as Larita, the glamorous American bride recently married to Ben Barnes‘ English gent John Whittaker, who is brought to 1920s England to meet the stuffy parents. Some critics enjoyed the films fizzy and breezy tone, along with performances from the stars who deliver the witty dialogue with playful ease. Others however were less amused, slamming the film for its lack of laughs, heavy-handed approach to the source material, and its smug and irksome soundtrack, which may have been better suited to the small screen. Currently standing at 53% on the Tomatometer, Easy Virtue has not been given an easy ride by the UK critics.

Also worth checking out this week…

Let’s Talk About The Rain — A loose and subtle French ensemble comedy of manners with solid performances and a few witty one liners. 77% on the Tomatometer.

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies – This clever spy spoof plays politics and movie conventions for laughs and features a great turn by Jean Dujardin as a smarmy-suave nouveau-Bond. 76% on the Tomatometer.

Quote Of The Week

“A detonation of flatulent, macho-sentimental gibberish is what this ugly and violent film positively farts out of the screen at you.”

Pride And Glory. Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.

This week at the movies, we’ve got presidential redemption (Oliver Stone‘s W., starring Josh Brolin), a lethal cop (Max Payne, starring Mark Walberg), a raunchy road trip (Sex Drive, starring Josh Zuckerman and James Marsden), and Southern sisterhood (The Secret Life of Bees, starring Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning). What do the critics have to say?

In last night’s presidential debate, both John McCain and Barack Obama spent plenty of time explaining how they’d be different from George W. Bush. So while it would seem the time wouldn’t be right for a big-screen biopic of the current president, Oliver Stone isn’t one to worry about such things, and critics say his W. is mostly compelling and sharp. The film, starring Josh Brolin in the title role, follows Bush on his journey from hard-partier to born-again Christian to the Oval Office, offering plenty of pop-psychological insight along the way. The pundits say Stone presents a largely sympathetic portrait of the man, and is ably abetted by his strong cast, particularly Brolin and Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney. Still, others say Stone can’t help but throw in some cheap shots, and the movie works better in parts than as a whole. At 59 percent on the Tomatometer, W. shouldn’t be misunderestimated. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for our rundown of memorable movie presidents.)

Oliver Stone assumes his new post as secretary of conspiracy theories.

Video game adaptations rarely make for satisfying pictures, and critics say the losing streak continues with Max Payne. Which is a drag, since the game, with its John Woo-esque action, neo-noir atmosphere, and pill-popping antihero is pretty cinematic in its own right. Mark Walberg IS Max Payne, a cop who’s searching for the killer of his wife while investigating several other homicides and trying to rid the streets of a particularly lethal drug. The pundits say Max Payne lacks emotional resonance, the plot is convoluted, and the action scenes are noisy without being kinetic (though there are traces of visual flair throughout). At zero percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes say this one’s mostly a Payne.

“This is neither the place nor the time to bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme!”

American Pie helped renew interest in raunchy teen comedies almost a decade ago, and a slew of similar movies have bombarded audiences since then. The cheekily-titled Sex Drive is the latest of these wild romps, focusing on a graduating high schooler (Josh Zuckerman) and his quest to shed his virginity before he steps foot on a college campus. He meets a stunning girl on the Internet and sets out on a 500-mile road trip to meet her… in his brother’s vintage Pontiac. At a tenuous 57 percent, critics are so far split on the comedy, with some claiming it’s merely unoriginal and offensive while others saying it manages to rise above the others of its ilk. They do all seem to agree on one thing, however: it’s raunchy, it’s ridiculous, and those who will see it probably already know what they’re in for.

“No, no, a lollipop is cool… it’s just that I wanted an inflatable Tigger.”

Based on a best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees chronicles the tale of a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who flees her troubled home with her caretaker (Jennifer Hudson) and takes refuge with a trio of sisters (played by Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, and Alicia Keys). Based on its current 46 percent Tomatometer rating, this may unfortunately be a case where the story works better on paper than it does on film. Though the performances are mostly considered solid, critics are taking issue with the movie’s overt sentimentality, drawing fire for being everything from “maudlin” and “manipulative” to “too pat” and “drenched in sugar.” Bees seems poised to jerk some tears and wrench some hearts, but audiences may find this batch of honey to be a bit too sweet for their tastes.

“One reason I’m such an accomplished apiarist is that I have no problem finding the queen.”

Also opening this week in
limited release:

  • Frontrunners
    , a documentary about a campaign for student council president at an exclusive high school, is at 82 percent.

  • Azur and Asmar, an animated parable about two boyhood friends on a quest to rescue a fairy, is at 75 percent.

  • Abel Ferrara‘s unconventional Christ story Mary, starring Juliette Binoche and Forest Whitaker, is at 73 percent.

  • Barry Levinson‘s What Just Happened, an inside-baseball Hollywood comedy starring Robert De Niro, is at 57 percent.

  • Madonna‘s directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, starring Gogol Bordello‘s Eugene Hutz in a tale of flatmate mischief, is at 43 percent.

  • Finally, props to RE4P3R for coming the closest to guessing Quarantine‘s 61 percent Tomatometer.

    Recent Oliver Stone Movies:

    A video game, a novel, and even the current commander-in-chief all get the big-screen treatment as Hollywood banks on known brands to make multiplex cash registers ring in hopes of a fourth consecutive up weekend compared to last year. Mark Wahlberg leads the way in the actioner Max Payne, Josh Brolin steps into the role of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone‘s W, and Queen Latifah heads up the drama The Secret Lives of Bees. Each film targets a different audience so there should be breathing room in the marketplace. Also debuting is the teen comedy Sex Drive which is not expected to be much of a contender.

    Following seven consecutive sub-$12M openings, Fox finally will have a hit on its hands with the stylish thriller Max Payne which finds Wahlberg stepping into the role of the title character of the popular video game. The PG-13 film should be the studio’s first number one hit since March’s Horton Hears a Who and will appeal to teens and young adults thanks to a slick marketing campaign that is generating interest with the target audience. Reviews will be irrelevant. Wahlberg draws respectable numbers in action movies so as an anchor, he has the goods. A stylishly exciting look, a popular star in the lead, a commercially-friendly rating, and a built-in audience already familiar with the brand all join forces for what should be a solid top spot bow. Attacking 3,200 locations, look for Max Payne to debut with around $20M.

    Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne

    With three months left in his eight-year stay in the White House, President Bush stars (sort of) in a major wide release for the second time thanks to director Oliver Stone who takes a friendlier approach than Michael Moore did. The narrative feature W stars Josh Brolin as Dubya and chronicles the ups and downs of his adult life. The PG-13 film also stars Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, and Thandie Newton. Early reviews have been very strong, although the film critics community is not known for having many fans of Number 43 in the first place. Stone is known as a filmmaker who likes to present history through his own viewpoint so Republicans may write off the film without even researching how fair and balanced the pic really is. Blue-staters are more likely to take interest. Lionsgate should score points with politically-minded adults thanks to its purchase of a :30 spot on CNN during the first commercial break after Wednesday’s night final presidential debate. Aside from putting a big W pin on Obama’s lapel, you’re not going to find a much better way to reach the target audience here. Thanks to the unique idea of making a fictional film on an unpopular sitting president, curiosity should help boost business. Of course there are many that are just plain turned off by films that deal with serious politics and those will never be sold on this. Opening in 2,030 theaters, W might debut with roughly $10M this weekend.

    Josh Brolin in W.

    Queen Latifah, the other former rapper with a new film this weekend, leads an all-star cast that brings book to screen in The Secret Lives of Bees. The PG-13 film also stars Dakota Fanning, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, and Grammy winner Alicia Keys in the story of a 14-year-old girl escaping her past in 1964 South Carolina. Bees will skew heavily female and African American audiences will make up a large portion of the turnout as well. Though based on a best-selling novel, it is not expected to reach Tyler Perry territory at the box office. With Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) directing and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith producing, the film has some behind-the-scenes starpower as well. Competition for the Fox Searchlight release will not be fierce since the marketplace has almost nothing at the moment for black women and most films aimed at adult females are aging. Latifah’s guest role on Saturday Night Live’s recent Sarah Palin-Joe Biden debate skit should help since the film’s advertising has been attached to the online videos of the popular sketch. But mixed reviews will prompt some fans to take a pass. With the fewest theaters among the new releases, The Secret Life of Bees will enter about 1,400 locations on Friday and could collect around $7M.

    Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah in The Secret Life of Bees

    Prepping a theatrical run just to raise its eventual home video profile, the R-rated comedy Sex Drive arrives telling the tried and true tale of a young man on a quest to lose his virginity. James Marsden and Seth Green join a group of mostly no-name actors which means that the target audience of older teens and young adults will find little reason to shell out top dollar to see this in theaters right away. Competition will be a major factor since Max Payne, Quarantine, and Eagle Eye are all offering more for the money to the same age group. Opening in about 2,400 locations, Summit’s Sex Drive should score a limp $4M debut.

    Sex Drive

    After two weeks on top, Beverly Hills Chihuahua will have to give up the number one spot to Mr. Payne. But another weekend with no competition for the family audience will mean that a strong hold could put it in the runnerup spot. A 35% fall to about $11.5M could result giving Disney a robust $69M to date and a likely invitation to the $100M club.

    Quarantine opened better than expected last weekend but will fall hard like most fright films do. No new terrorfests hit theaters on Friday, but Marky Mark does plan to steal away plenty of young adults. Look for a drop of 55% to about $6.5M putting Sony’s ten-day total at $24.5M.

    Warner Bros. saw an underwhelming turnout for its Middle East political thriller Body of Lies which debuted to less than $13M. A 45% decline to around $7M should occur raising the cume for the expensive Ridley Scott vehicle to a weak $25M after ten days. Rival actioner Eagle Eye, which takes place in America and has proven to be far more popular, could drop by 40% to roughly $6.5M and lift Paramount’s total to a stellar $80M.

    LAST YEAR: Sony’s vampires-in-Alaska thriller 30 Days of Night claimed the number one spot opening to $16M on its way to $39.6M. The Tyler Perry flick Why Did I Get Married? held up well in its second frame dipping 43% to $12.2M for Lionsgate. Two more holdovers followed – Disney’s The Game Plan with $8.2M and the Warner Bros. drama Michael Clayton with $6.7M. A pair of new releases followed. The sports spoof The Comebacks bowed to $5.6M while the Casey Affleck thriller Gone Baby Gone opened to $5.5M. Final grosses reached $13.3M for the Fox comedy and $20.3M for Ben Affleck‘s directorial debut. Also launching was Disney’s 3D release of The Nightmare Before Christmas with $5.3M and a potent $9,451 average, and the Reese Witherspoon flop Rendition with just $4.1M for New Line. Final tallies reached $14.5M and $9.7M, respectively.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya,

    With the presidential race
    getting down to the wire, and Oliver Stone’s long-awaited
    theaters this week, we at RT thought it would be the perfect time to present
    you, the electorate, with a list of some of our favorite movie presidents. So
    register to vote, hum “Hail to the Chief” to yourself, and check out our ode to
    the finest in cinematic statecraft.

    Merkin Muffley

    more info…

    Merkin Muffley

    Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    (1964, 100% Tomatometer)
    Played by:

    Peter Sellers

    Why we’d vote for him:

    He’ll excel at foreign relations, deftly ameliorating international crises
    to keep the peace, then turning right around and destroying populations just
    to remind everyone who’s in charge.

    Jordan Lyman

    more info…

    Jordan Lyman

    Appears in:

    Seven Days in
    (1964, 100%)
    Played by:

    Why we’d vote for him: In the movies, presidents act with
    integrity and are respected accordingly. Not so in the superior Cold War
    thriller Seven Days in May, in which a commander in chief makes a gutsy
    geopolitical move — an arms-control pact with the Soviets — and risks a
    military takeover for his trouble.

    President Skroob

    more info…

    President Skroob

    (1987, 56%)
    Played by:
    Mel Brooks

    Why we’d vote for him:
    looks pretty good even when his head is on backwards, and he’s survived a
    self-destructing spacecraft, which means he’ll not only be very TV-friendly,
    but there’s also not much our enemies can hurl at him that he won’t be able
    to recover from.

    President Skroob

    more info…

    Abraham Lincoln

    Appears in:
    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    (1989, 84%)
    Played by:
    Robert V.

    Why we’d vote for him:
    Along with figures like Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc, Abe
    is whisked from the past to contribute to a high school history project. As
    the capper to Bill and Ted’s memorable presentation, Lincoln vastly improves
    his Gettysburg Address for the knuckleheads of San Dimas High School: “Be
    excellent to each other… and party on, dudes!”


    more info…

    Thomas “Tug” Benson

    Shots! Part Deux
    (1993, 63%)
    Played by:

    Why we’d vote for him:
    just going to come right out and say it. We would be foolish not to put
    this man in office, based on his plan for Iraq alone: fly our enemies and
    their families to Minnesota and teach them all how to skate.

    James Dale

    more info…

    Dave Kovic
    (1993, 97%)
    Played by:
    Kevin Kline

    Why we’d vote for him:

    Bill Mitchell? We probably wouldn’t vote for him. But Dave Kovic as his
    look-alike stand in? Who wouldn’t? Dave’s got charisma and integrity, he
    loves kids, he’s got chemistry with the first lady, and he carved an
    impressive $650 million out of the budget to save a homeless shelter.
    Sounds like a winner to us.

    James Dale

    more info…

    James Dale

    (1996, 49%)
    Played by:

    Why we’d vote for

    optimism (“Why can’t we all just get along?”) and cheerleading (“I want the
    people to know that they still have two out of three branches of the
    government working for them, and that ain’t bad”) recalls President Taft’s
    golden era of lazy pacifism. Now all he needs is a gnarly walrus mustache.

    Thomas Whitmore

    more info…

    Thomas Whitmore


    Independence Day
    (1996, 63%)
    Played by:
    Bill Pullman

    Why we’d vote for him:
    only can Whitmore improvise a killer speech to rally the troops, his
    similarly hands-on approach of flying an F-18 Hornet against alien scum is
    the first time a president has led combat in over 150 years.

    Air Force One's James Marshall

    more info…

    James Marshall

    Appears in:

    Air Force One

    (1997, 78%)
    Played by:

    Harrison Ford

    Why we’d vote for him: Marshall’s refusal to negotiate with
    terrorists would serve him well in today’s political climate. Also, what’s a
    better campaign slogan than “Get Off My Plane”?

    President Lindberg

    more info…

    President Lindberg

    Fifth Element
    (1997, 69%)
    Played by:
    “Tiny” Lister

    Why we’d vote for him:
    only does he know how to delegate responsibility effectively (he commissions
    the heroic Korben Dallas to dispose of the ultimate Evil), but really, look
    at the guy. Would you mess with him? Yeah, neither would we.

    Tom Beck

    more info…

    Tom Beck

    (1998, 44%)
    Played by:

    Why we’d vote for him:

    He’s articulate, good with the press, spiritual, and full of bite-sized
    chunks of wisdom. Oh, and he helped us avoid complete and utter extinction

    The President

    more info…

    “The President”


    Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
    (1999, 54%)
    Played by:
    Tim Robbins

    Why we’d vote for him:
    extreme measures would make for some interesting CNN segments; after Dr.
    Evil sets up a moon base, the president starts itching to make contact with
    Earth’s single natural satellite with a nuke.

    Mays Gilliam

    more info…

    Mays Gilliam

    Head of
    (2003, 29%)
    Played by:
    Chris Rock

    Why we’d vote for him:

    Clearly, Gilliam’s long-held policy of “no sex in the champagne room” would
    make him a fair but just official.

    The President

    more info…

    “The President”

    (2003, 64%)
    Played by:
    Bob Thornton

    Why we’d vote for him:

    This president appeals to both party tickets. His cowboy demeanor mirrors
    Dubya’s, while his sleazy come-ons to the British officials will ring true
    for Clinton admirers and other horny Democrats.

    Dwayne Camacho

    more info…

    Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert

    Appears in:

    (2006, 72%)
    Played by:
    Terry Crews

    Why we’d vote for him:
    Political junkies have long argued what experience is ideal for a
    president. Governorship? A senatorial career? In Idiocracy President
    Camacho followed a different path to the White House; prior to occupying the
    Oval Office, he was a six-time Smackdown champion and legendary porn star.
    Though his administration is plagued by famine, base desires, and general
    dystopia, Camacho’s State of the Union address is pretty lively, filled with
    profanity-laden tirades and gunplay.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Simpsons Movie

    more info…

    Arnold Schwarzenegger


    The Simpsons Movie (2007,
    Played by:

    Why we’d vote for him:
    pragmatic approach to field knowledge (from what we gathered, “knowing stuff
    is overrated”) would get rid of pesky external factors like “doubt” and
    “comprehension” when planning wars and disaster scenarios.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Simpsons Movie

    more info…

    George Walker Bush

    and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

    (2008, 54%)
    Played by:
    James Adomian

    Why we’d vote for him:

    General voters say Bush looks like a dude you can share a beer with. Turns
    out he’s also not above partaking in a quality smoke sesh. As modern-day
    heroes Harold and Kumar will attest, having a hazy diplomatic discussion of
    civil rights and daddy issues is routine for this tortuously funny

    Still feeling patriotic? Check out our

    Bill of Rights-influenced Total Recall
    . Or
    click here
    for the full column archive.