Monday Morning Critic – 10.26

On tap this week:
— The Black Swan
— Rock star bravado
And slightly much more!

Several weeks ago I spent a couple days in Minneapolis for a work related function. One of the carriers we broker for had a conference and I was sent on behalf of the firm I work for. Nothing wrong with that, considering my way there was paid for, and the one exceptional thing about it was that I got to see Metallica one of the nights there at the Target Center.

One of the guys in the group I was put in had managed to score two free tickets in the club section and asked if I wanted to go. I’ve been listening to them as long as I can remember so I was game, and they didn’t disappoint. But there was one thing that stuck with me: Metallica might be the only band I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen plenty) that doesn’t do the clichéd “rock star” bit just to get more ticket sales the next time they arrive. They genuinely seem to care and love performing.

And it’s kind of cool. I’d never seen Metallica before, as I’m not a big concert-goer, but I’ve never seen a band that embraces being a “rock band” like these guys do. After a two and a half hour set in which they played to the crowd, going for more of their old classics then stuff off the new album.

Random Thoughts of the Week

Normally I’m not one to go see horror films, as I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but as a good cinephile you have to go outside your favorite genres. One film in the genre that seems to be the next horror phenomenon is Paranormal Activity. Since it finally expanded wide, I thought it would be my duty to track it down and see it on a night that had been populated with Trucker and Astro Boy already. It has gotten great reviews and has been positioned as the Black Swan of cinema 2009. And it led me to one conclusion immediately after I left the theatre:

It’s not that good. Listen to me now and believe me later.

It is derivative of The Exorcist and Poltergeist, except it cribs from Blair Witch, at best and there isn’t a whole lot of originality in the film. There’s a great hook and an intense, attention-garnering style to it but there’s not much to it once you leave the theatre. It’s definitely in the experience, and make sure you see it with a crowded house. The crowd will ratchet it up to the point where you can forget (and maybe forgive) its shortcomings.

But what’s amazing is how much steam this film is picking up. The theatre I was in was packed and most of the showings were sold out when I went. And it has probably another two months in theatres, including three to four weeks in the top five, so $100 million looks like a number it’ll hit (which is an insane return on investment for a film that cost less then $20,000).

It’s also amazing just how out of nowhere this film came. The Hangover is easy to predict as a hit; it was made cheaply but marketed insanely well. No one should’ve been surprised it became as big a hit as it became. But this is something else. Every ten years or so you get one film that just hits at the right time and makes everyone involved an obscene amount of money. This is it. The film has found the best time and place, with a big heavyweight like Steven Spielberg getting a hit for Dreamworks out of nowhere. If anything, that makes up for the last Indiana Jones flick.

If you ever want proof that a Black Swan can come out of nowhere, Paranormal Activity is it.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

This Is It – Michael Jackson’s last days

Skip It – Joe Jackson is buying his G4 already, but I refuse to see the last days of a pedophile who just happened to be a great musician.

Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day – The Boys Are Back!

See It – Ultimately this is going to be Troy Duffy’s time to put up or shut up. He crafted THE cult film of the 2000s with the original, now he gets a sequel with a bigger budget and a bigger theatrical outlay. If anything, we’re going to see lots of criminals get Irish Catholic justice and that’s never a bad thing.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.


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