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Some quick thoughts

November 7, 2006

As I try to clear my schedule over the next week or so to see Borat, a couple thoughts:

  • As you probably know, Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan won the weekend box office with $26.5 million. Many in the industry considered it a surprise because awareness levels of the movie were fairly low, and Fox even admitted that it was tracking behind Santa Clause III (further evidence that we are a nation of retards).

    But the most amazing thing about Borat’s box office is that it came on 837 theaters–which makes it only the second movie since 1982 to win a weekend with fewer than 1,000 theaters. That translates to a $31,607 per-theater average. According to, Borat had the third-best ever per-theater average for a wide release. Historically, it trails only Pirates of the Caribbean II and Spiderman in best per-theater average for a wide release. And those two movies ended up the sixth- and seventh-most successful movies, respectively, of all-time. It looks like Borat will not “be execute.”

  • I just started reading American Movie Critics, an anthology of film criticism from the silents until 2005. It’s already begun to give me an inferiority complex, but after having read only a handful of the essays, the book strikes me more as an anthology of the best film criticism, rather than the best film reviews. What I mean by that is that the editor Philip Lopate has picked out essays on film rather than focused reviews of specific films. It’s great writing, don’t get me wrong, but essays on film are not the bread-and-butter of professional film critics; reviews are. I suspect that is also a reason why Owen Gleiberman–to my mind, the best critic working today–is nowhere to be found, because his employer, Entertainment Weekly, very rarely affords him the opportunity to write film-based essays outside of his regular reviews. Newspapers, however, have a lot more space to fill (especially in the A&E sections), so folks like A.O. Scott from the New York Times have the opportunity to write not only a review of Sideways (not included in this collection) but an essay on why Sideways was the most overrated movie of 2005–which is included. It’s a great piece–and my brother would argue it cops his thesis that critics like the movie so much because they saw themselves in Paul Giamatti’s character–but it’s by no means a film review. There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but I’m curious to see if the rest of the book is like that. If it is, I’m sure I’ll be entertained but I’ll probably be disappointed. Since movie reviews age much more poorly than essays on film, I’d be more impressed by a collection of movie reviews that are still capable of engaging the reader months and years after the movie first came out. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the book as I continue reading…
  • I started watching The Wire seriously for the first time the other night–I know, I know–and holy mother of crap in the face, this show is good. Has any show in history more convincingly and compassionately juggled a cast of characters from vastly different social and economic backgrounds? Even the best ensemble pieces like this usually falter in one character; usually there’s somebody whose sole purpose is comic relief or who comes off like a caricature. But after watching four episodes of the latest season, I haven’t found a single character who didn’t seem completely real. Wow.
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    5 Comments leave one →
    1. Juan permalink
      November 8, 2006 10:05 pm

      The first half of BORAT is perhaps the funniest half a film I’ve ever seen. The second half is just good, but overall it’s a comedy classic. And THE WIRE is a great show, although personally I could use a little less “realism.” Yes, I know that in the real world nothing ever gets totally fixed, worked out or resolved. I don’t need to see that in movies and TV shows. What a cast, though! There’s a guy on there I consider just as good an actor as Morgan Freeman, yet I’d never heard of him before this. Amazing.

    2. Sue Garson permalink
      November 14, 2006 12:56 am

      Haven’t seen Borat yet & with all the hype, it’s bound to be disappointing. My screenwriter son loved it, 2 of my PhD shrink friends hated it, & I’d love to hear your take on Borat before we shell out the shekels (& the time) to indulge ourselves in this controversy. I value your opinion on this, Micah.

    3. bro permalink
      February 9, 2007 9:16 pm

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    4. February 13, 2007 1:53 am

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