“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is facing a rocky start ahead of its Friday release. It holds a bleak Rotten Tomatoes percentage.
Maria Cavassuto writes: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is facing a rocky start ahead of its Friday release. The tentpole has met with lukewarm reviews and holds a bleak Rotten Tomatoes percentage (which continues to change as more reviews roll in). The last installments fared far better for these caped crusaders, with “Man of Steel” holding a 56% Fresh rating and “The Dark Knight Rises” holding a Fresh 87%.
“I am gobsmacked by just how dull this movie turned out to be.”
— Mike Ryan of Uproxx
Although there are a few positive reviews for Zack Snyder’s film, most are calling out the film for its messy, less-than-spectacular promised clash of comic-book titans.
Variety‘s Andrew Barker says this epic standoff never develops fully, and instead “the life-or-death battle between the two icons ultimately comes down to a series of misunderstandings.” Barker also believes Henry Cavill’s Superman pales in comparison to “the winningly cranky, charismatic presence even when out of costume” of Ben Affleck’s Batman. Visually, the film is a win. For Variety’s full review, click here.
Eric Kohn of Indiewire echoes some of Barker’s points by calling this messy and “cacophonous” showdown “basically one long teaser for the next installment.” Kohn also pointed out that while the film “doesn’t lack for inspired visuals” because “it’s filled with motion-heavy sequences rich in light and color,” a good deal of the story “reeks of the usual routine.”
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone thought this was a step up from “Man of Steel” but nowhere near Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” franchise. However, even though “Batman v Superman” is probably a dream for most comic-book fans, the “kick-ass revelation” is the “wowza of a Wonder Woman,” played by Gal Gadot.
“This is one job he wishes was all a dream.”
“There was an over-inflated sense of how well this film could do. Its only chance now is to gain awards traction.”
— Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations
The strikingly literate biopic about the Apple co-founder was brilliant she noted, but after Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale passed on the title role, it lacked a major star, limiting its commercial prospects. In the end, Pascal, whose job was already threatened by a string of flops like “After Earth” and “White House Down,” couldn’t justify the risk.
Fast-forward nearly a year. Pascal is out of a job, “Steve Jobs” has debuted to rapturous reviews, and the film is a strong Oscar contender. It’s every bit as good as Pascal thought it would be, but the then Sony chief’s wariness also appears to have been entirely justified.
“Steve Jobs” was too brainy, too cold, and too expensive to make it a success. Moreover, Michael Fassbender, the electrifying Irish actor who replaced Bale as Jobs, lacks the drawing power to open the picture.
Too ‘brainy, too cold, too expensive’ to make it a success? Oh, please. I prefer John Nolte’s analysis:
Everything other than the father-daughter story is subplot, and this wouldn’t be terribly interesting even if it were true. But it’s not true. Sorkin made it all up. Also fabricated is the central conflict between Jobs and Wozniak. Missing is Jobs’ legendary ability to inspire greatness from those around him. Jobs was no angel, few successful people are, but this still feels like a smear job.
Basically, Sorkin used the name Steve Jobs and the historical beats of the man’s life to tell a fictional story about a bunch of rich white people, their personal problems and eccentricities and hang-ups….(read more)
After racking up the year’s best per-screen average in its opening weekend and doing strong business in limited expansion, “Steve Jobs” hit a stumbling block in its national release. It debuted to a measly $7.3 million, only a little more than the $6.7 million that “Jobs,” a critically derided film about the iPhone father with Ashton Kutcher, made in its initial weekend. Going into the weekend, some tracking suggested that the picture would do as much as $19 million.
So what went wrong?
Universal believes that the picture can recover. Studio executives note that it is popular in major urban markets like San Francisco and New York, and argue that the film’s A minus CinemaScore means word-of-mouth will be strong. If it can stay in theaters until Golden Globe and Oscar nominations are announced, they believe it can rebound.
“We are going to continue to support the film in the markets where it is showing strength and we’re going to continue to do it aggressively and proactively,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “The critics are there for it and the buzz in these markets is strong.”
It’s still hard to see how the film turns a profit. Read the rest of this entry »
Kevin Jagernauth writes:
…Running 25 minutes long, it’s a nice look into the making of the Edith Wharton adaptation. Scorsese and his lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis frame the featurette with conversation regarding its production, including anecdotes from cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi (who details Scorsese’s process, though Jay Cocks penned the script), production designer Dante Feretti, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. Set aside some time, and give it a spin….(read more)
Still no Blu-ray release of ‘The Age of Innocence‘
Cain Rodriguez writes: This year marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s transcendent gangster classic “Goodfellas,” and while the director’s grand stature in cinematic history is in no doubt, that doesn’t mean there are no under-appreciated gems hiding in his filmography.
Point of fact, this year also marks the 22nd anniversary of the little discussed adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel, “The Age of Innocence.” To convince you of the sensual beauty and magnificence of the period piece, Milad Tangshir has crafted a nearly 20-minute-long video essay on the virtues of the 1993 film.
“I don’t particularly say ‘Oh this is a wonderful story for today’s audience.’ I have no idea what a good story for today’s audience is. I really don’t know. I just hope that if it’s honest enough and emotionally compelling, there might be some people out there that it will address.”
— Martin Scorsese
Titled “Hidden Behind Lace,” Tangshir’s video essay not only breaks down Scorsese’s visual style and offers analysis, but also includes clips from interviews given by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, co-screenwriter Jay Cocks, production designer Dante Ferretti, and Scorsese himself.
[Check out Edith Wharton’s classic book “The Age of Innocence” at Amazon.com]
It’s a loving tribute to a film that’s been unfairly overlooked since it was released in between the much more commercial “Cape Fear” remake and “Casino.” Read the rest of this entry »
“What I did was almost 50 years ago and it’s about 4,000 times easier today to con people than when I did it.”
Frank Abagnale’s early life story has been told many times. A former conman who specialised in impersonation and forgery, he was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. His story has also been told as a book, a musical and is drawn upon in TV series White Collar.
“When I did the things I did, I did them all between 16 and 21. I’m 64 years old now. When I did it I made $2.5m over a period of five years. If I was stealing identities today, I’d be looking at more like $20 million, or $50 million”
At the age of 16, Abagnale posed as a pilot for Pan Am Airlines in order to wangle free flights. He later pretended to be a doctor, before masquerading as an attorney — just some of the eight different identities Abagnale claims to have assumed. Throughout this time he became a master forger of cheques, defrauding banks of millions of pounds.
He was arrested at the age of 21 in France and spent six months in prison there, six months in a Swedish jail and was then deported to the US (not before he’d escaped from the aeroplane intended to transport him). After serving five years of his 12-year sentence, he was paroled on the condition that he helped the FBI uncover cheque forgers. He has since made a career as a security consultant, working closely with the FBI for almost 40 years, and launching his own company Abagnale & Associates.
[Check out Frank’s book “Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan” at Amazon.com]
Abagnale talked to Wired UK about his past life as a conman, identity theft, the criminal opportunities made possible by the web and the efforts made by governments to fight cybercrime.
How would the technology available today have affected your ability to con people in your early years?
What I did was almost 50 years ago and it’s about 4,000 times easier today to con people than when I did it. To forge a cheque 50 years ago, you needed a Heidelberg printed press, you had to be a skilled printer, know how to do colour separations, negatives, type-setting… those presses were 90 feet long and 18 feet high. There was a lot of work involved in creating a cheque. Today, you open a laptop. If you are going to forge a British Airways cheque, you go to their website, capture the corporate logo and put it in the top right corner. You then put a jet taking off in the background and make a really fancy four-colour cheque in 15 minutes on your computer. You then go down to an office supply store, buy security cheque paper and put it in your colour printer.
Fifty years ago, information was hard to come by. When you created a cheque you had no way of knowing where in reality British Airways’ bank was, who was authorised to sign their cheques and you didn’t know their account number. Today you can call any corporation in the world and tell them you are getting ready to wire them money and they will tell you the bank, the wiring number, the account number. You can then ask for a copy of the annual report and on page three are the signatures of the chairman of the board, the CEO and the treasurer. It’s all on white glossy paper with black ink — scanner ready art. You then just print it onto the cheque.
Technology breeds crime and we are constantly trying to develop technology to stay one step ahead of the person trying to use it negatively.
Can you give me some examples of how technology breeds crime?
If I’m in the airport in London and I take out my iPhone and take a picture of you walking through the airport, I can use PittPatt — an application that used to be used by the FBI but has been bought by Google — for facial recognition. If you are on Facebook [or you are identified by your image online somewhere else, for example a company website] I can find out who you are within seconds. If you happen to tell me where you were born, your date of birth and that kind of information then I’m 98 percent of the way to stealing your identity.
So I tell a lot of the young people that you never want to put a frontal photo of yourself on your Facebook page. Use a photo with a group of friends or doing sport, but never a straight-on funnel photo of yourself.
Another example is a scam involving apps that allow you to scan and deposit cheques using an iPhone. A few weeks ago we had a man out in Kansas City who sold his home and was paid with a cheque for $583,000 (£386,000). He asked for a glass of water and then scanned the cheque with his phone to deposit it into his bank account. When the lady came back, he told her that he’d changed his mind and would prefer for her to wire him the money. He then handed the cheque back and so the buyers then wired him another $583,000. Sometimes I wonder where these people were forty years ago when I needed them!
I think people often develop these tools and then they don’t think about the negative side of them. I wish they would spend a bit of time thinking about how their technology could be used for bad purposes and then try and eliminate that possibility.
Would you say that the art of conning people in the pre-digital age, where you have to charm people and look them in the eye, has died?
Yes. In the old days, a conman would be good looking, suave, well dressed, well spoken and presented themselves real well. Those days are gone because it’s not necessary. The people committing these crimes are doing them from hundreds of miles away. The victim never meets them so it doesn’t matter what he or she looks like. It doesn’t involve charm any more, it’s simply a matter of knowing how to use a computer and get into systems and so on.
Do you have any respect for some of the capabilities?
No. They are breaking the law. But I do understand that some of them are extremely creative. A lot of what happens is our fault. For example, I’ve been involved with the FBI for 37 years. Every case involving cybercrime that I’ve been involved in, I’ve never found a master criminal sitting somewhere in Russia or Hong Kong or Beijing. It always ends up that somebody at the company did something they weren’t supposed to do. They read an email, went to a website they weren’t supposed to. So they opened the door that allowed the person to get in. It’s not that these people are that talented but they wait knowing that with a company of 10,000 employees someone is bound to open the door. They just wait for that door to be open.
How do you make companies understand this?
When I go into companies, I throw [USB] sticks on grounds saying ‘confidential’. And then I can see all of the people who pick those sticks up and plug it into their computer. When they do that, they are greeted with a message that says “this is a test and you failed”. Then I explain that I could have easily got into their system. Most of the time when there’s a security breach at a company it’s because someone was doing something they were not supposed to do. You always have a human link that’s the failure. Read the rest of this entry »
John Stossel writes: I’m annoyed that so many Hollywood celebrities hate the system that made them rich.
Actor/comedian Russell Brand told the BBC he wants “a socialist, egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth.”
Actor Martin Sheen says, “That’s where the problem lies … It’s corporate America.”
And so on.
On my TV show, actor/author Kevin Sorbo pointed out that such sentiments make little sense coming from entertainers. “It’s a very entrepreneurial business. You have to work very hard to get lucky, mixed with any kind of talent to get a break in this business. I told Clooney, George, you’re worth $100 million — of course you can afford to be a socialist!”
It’s bad enough that celebrities trash the only economic system that makes poor people’s lives better.
What’s worse is that many are hypocrites.
Investment capital? They’re loaded.
Film studios? They are promising to build the world’s fanciest.
As for movie stars, few are more dazzling than Li Bingbing, who was an honored guest here on Tuesday at the annual U.S.- China Film Summit.
But China’s ambitious new film entrepreneurs, dozens of whom gathered in the Los Angeles area this week for the summit meeting, the American Film Market and other events, are still searching for something that has largely eluded them: a homemade global hit.
“We have 5,000 years of history. We have lots of stories,” said Yang Buting, the chairman of the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association, who spoke on a panel at the gathering on Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »