The Backstreet Boys Are Opening A BBQ Restaurant, So Backstreet’s Back

The Backstreet Boys are back. And they’ve brought BBQ.


Watch Will Smith Perform His New St. Patrick’s Day Song

Will Smith whipped out a new diddy on St Patrick’s Day.


Fifth Harmony Announces The Group Is Going On Indefinite Hiatus

No more harmony for Fifth Harmony.


One Cirque Du Soleil Performer Has Died After Tragic Accident

Tragic befell one of the popular aerobatic teams during a show this weekend.



Thumb flowr 2018

Juno plus Lolita equals “Flower,” an indie drama about Erica (Zoey Deutch), a spunky-profane, sexually active, criminally ambitious 17-year old from the San Fernando Valley.  Directed and co-written by Max Winkler (son of actor Henry Winkler), the movie is a Frankenstein quilt of not-quite-there-ness. Almost nothing convinces—not the story, not the script’s view of human nature, not the dialogue, not even Erica, a young woman who’s at the center of every scene, and is presented as a force of nature who’s as beguiling and funny as she is relentless, even though, very often, she’s none of those things. The cast’s heroic exertions fail to save “Flower” from its own worst tendencies.

“Flower” starts with Erica performing oral sex on a local police officer as part of an ongoing blackmail scheme that keeps her and her two best pals, Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (May Eshet), in shopping money while adding to a fund to bail Erica’s absentee dad out of jail. Erica’s mother Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) is dating a nice single dad named Bob (Tim Heidecker). Bob’s teenage son, an overweight and painfully shy recovering drug addict named Luke (Joey Morgan), leaves rehab and moves in, prompting Erica to try to get to know him Erica-style, by making a lot of knowing wisecracks and then offering oral sex to chill him out. “I like sucking dick, it wouldn’t be a burden,” she assures him.

She does this sort of thing a lot. “Flower” expends quite a bit of screen time on Erica’s nonchalance about oral sex, playing it either for laughs (she keeps a sketchbook of all the penises she’s serviced) or pathos, always keeping things cute or sweet, never delving deep enough into Erica’s psyche to show how damaged a teenager must be to live that kind of life. The film is queasily fascinated by her sexuality, and sometimes veers perilously close to getting off on it (as in a sequence where Erica dances to loosen up Luke, at one point clinging to a pole like a stripper). This is a different proposition from exploring a teenager’s sexuality, as many superior independent films, not all of them directed by women, have done before.

From there, “Flower” turns into a teenage bonding story, with an unstable, ultimately grotesque undertone of voyeuristic fascination. Luke refuses Erica’s offer of a therapeutic hummer, telling her that he’s been a barely-functioning person since childhood, when he was molested by a man who happens to frequent the  bowling alley where Erica and her friends hang out. His name is Will Jordan (Adam Scott), but Erica calls him Hot Old Guy. Another blackmail scheme is hatched, driven not just by greed but a desire for payback—and in one of the only intriguing twists, it’s Erica who wants vengeance, on her possible future stepbrother’s behalf. Whether this is a perverse attempt at bonding or the result of Erica projecting her submerged anger against her absentee father and various johns is left unexplained—a rare example of restraint in a movie that otherwise never misses an opportunity to explain its characters to us.

Luke says no to Erica’s plan at first, but she keeps hammering away at him. “Shaking down a child molester is our moral obligation,” she insists. “If we don’t act now, then other little boys might get butt-raped like little Lukey over here, and then 15 years from now they’ll be popping pills and eating their feelings, too.” Reaching for a pop culture comparison, she asks Luke, “What would Batman and Robin do if they saw the Joker sticking his finger up little boys’ assholes?” Despite all the disgust she beams in Will’s general direction, she’s clearly infatuated with him, to the point where her crusade on Luke’s behalf starts to seem like a pretext to add one more drawing to her sketchbook.

The heroine is the movie’s least convincing character, and that’s a serious problem. Where every other individual in “Flower” seems like a person who could exist, at least in theory—and the exquisitely observed details of working-class life do much to sell the film’s world to us—Erica remains an abstraction, the sum total of her quirks, from that penis sketchbook to her pet rat Titty Boy, who eats Hot Cheetos and watches “Sixteen and Pregnant” with her and sometimes sits inside a carrying case resting on her stomach while she suns herself on a swimming pool’s diving board like Ben Braddock in “The Graduate.” She’s a bundle of attitudes and tics who never comes into focus as an actual teenage girl, however stylized or emblematic or larger-than-life she was intended to be. 

In the end, Erica exemplifies a female character type that critic Nathan Rabin dubbed the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” The character can be seen in 1930s screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby,” in such post-millennial films as “Garden State” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and in Jonathan Demme’s 1986 road film “Something Wild,” about a repressed Yuppie bore who loosens up after a free spirit lures him into a wild, sexy, dangerous adventure. (“Flower” fesses up to its “Something Wild” fixation by eventually having Luke and Erica don wigs the same color as Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels’ hair in Demme’s movie.) 

At its best, this kind of character can become the engine driving a film, even if she only makes sense as half of a couple. At its worst, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a phony life force: an intellectual screenwriter’s dirty-wacky fantasy. This film puts the Manic Pixie Dream Girl character at the heart of the story for its first two-thirds, only to dis-empower and marginalize her, reducing her to a prize to be claimed by the anguished, ruddy-faced Luke, who starts out emasculated and introverted but becomes bolder and more decisive as the storyline darkens and grows violent. “Flower” turns out to be a stealth male rescue fantasy. The damsel-in-distress thinks she’s the hero of the story, but she’s mainly the catalyst for a troubled young man’s catharsis, just like every other film in this genre.

“Flower” is cloying, simplistic, clueless, and indifferent to most of the suffering that it chronicles. It only comes alive in a handful of dramatic monologues that are likely the reason the actors signed on to do the movie (Scott and Hahn win Best in Show), but these are unfortunately hamstrung by intrusive underscoring that seems meant to take the sting out of a movie that needs all the sting can get. Deutch overplays Erica as a wisecracking femme tomboy, telegraphing every “outrageous” line and cheeky reaction, pushing her right up to the edge of caricature in a borderline-Nicolas-Cage-like way, as if trying to force the movie to become the bad-taste comedy-drama that it probably needed to be in order to succeed. It’s a bold play that doesn’t work, but it’s more compelling than anything the script or direction can offer. 

The ending is oblivious to the human cost of the wild schemes perpetrated by Erica, Luke and the others. This would be wickedly delightful if the film were a satire on disturbed, selfish people, but it shows no signs of having that sort of self-awareness. Mostly it’s incompetent. To say that the final scene is as chilling as anything in “Badlands” or “Natural Born Killers” would be high praise if “Flower” seemed even the slightest bit aware of how sociopathic it seems at that moment. If you could pour the worst tendencies of American independent cinema over the last twenty years into a gigantic soup tureen and let it simmer overnight, this film would be the unappetizing result. 


Michael Gershman Dies: The ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Crossing Jordan’ Cinematographer Was 73

Emmy-nominated cinematographer Michael Gershman died on March 10 at his home in Malibu. The cause of his death has yet to be reported. He was 73.

Known for his work on the Sarah Michelle Gellar-fronted cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Crossing Jordan, Gershman worked under the Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond as a camera assistant on numerous iconic films from the ’70s and ’80s, including The Deer Hunter, The Rose, Heaven’s Gate and Blow Out.

20th TV

Gershman was born in St. Louis on June 17, 1944 and came from a family that worked in the entertainment industry. His father, Edward Gershman was a producer on Mr. Magoo short films. He made his move to Los Angeles at 19 and worked for his uncle Wally Bulloch, who worked in camera manufacturing and animation.

As a protege of one of the most lauded cinematographers, he went on to work on Joss Whedon’s Buffy, which aired from 1997 to 2001 on the WB Network, which morphed into UPN and is now the CW. He not only worked as a director of photography but also directed 10 episodes. He earned an Emmy nod for cinematography for the memorable episode “Hush,” which was almost completely devoid of dialogue. In 2001, he went on to serve as a director and cinematographer of the NBC crime drama Crossing Jordan, which starred Jill Hennessy.

His other credits include The Golden ChildMidnight RunDie Hard 2, Say Anything… and Losing Isaiah.

Gershman is survived by his wife, Cecilia, as well as his daughters, Lauren and Abigail, and mother, Doreen.


Black Panther Stomps Tomb Raider in 5th Weekend Box Office Win

It was expected to be a close race at the box office this weekend between Marvel’s Black Panther, which had won the last four weekends in a row, and Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider reboot. That turned out to be true. However, while Tomb Raider was expected to dethrone Black Panther, that didn’t happen, with the Marvel superhero adventure winning for a fifth weekend in a row with $27M, taking down Tomb Raider, which debuted in second with a respectable $23.5M.

With this weekend’s big box office win, Black Panther becomes the first movie since Avatar to win its first five weekends in a row, dropping just 33.8% in its fifth frame, with a respectable $7,049 per-screen average from 3,834 theaters, a 108-theater drop from last weekend. This weekend’s tally was also good enough to push Black Panther over the $600 million domestic mark, becoming just the seventh movie in history to accomplish that feat. Its domestic tally now stands at $605.4 million, with an additional $577.1 million overseas for a worldwide tally of $1.18 billion

Black Panther hasn’t posted a decrease of more than 50% in its five-week run, which is impressive, and also puts it well within striking distance to keep climbing up the all-time domestic charts. The movie will most likely surpass Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($619.7 million) and The Avengers ($623.3 million) to become the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time at the domestic box office. Still, it will have some work to do if it wants to surpass Jurassic World in fourth place with $652.2 million, Titanic in third with $659.3 million, Avatar in second with $760.5 or the all time record holder Star Wars: The Last Jedi with $936.6 million. Regardless of where it ends up, its domestic and worldwide totals are quite impressive.

Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics (49% on Rotten Tomatoes), Tomb Raider still put up a solid showing with $23.5 million, debuting in 3,854 theaters for a solid $6,104 per-screen average. It fared even better internationally, taking in $102.5 million from foreign markets, for a worldwide total of $126 million, from a $94 million budget. The faith-based I Can Only Imagine put up a surprising showing with $17 million, more than doubling its $7 million budget, with an impressive $10,476 per-screen average, the highest of all wide release movies, from 1,629 theaters. Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time dropped exactly 50% in its second frame with $16.5 million in fourth place, while 20th Century Fox’s Love, Simon debuted in fifth with $11.5 million, earning a $4,788 per-screen average from 2,402 theaters.

Rounding out the top 10 this weekend is Game Night ($5.5 million), Peter Rabbit ($5.2 million), Strangers: Prey at Night ($4.8 million), Red Sparrow ($4.4 million) and Death Wish ($3.3 million), 7 Days in Entebbe debuted in 13th place with $1.6 million earning a paltry $1,943 per-screen average from 838 theaters. Flower earned $57,851 from three theaters for a $19,284 per-screen average while Ramen Heads earned $7,014 from two theaters for a $3,507 per-screen average and Journey’s End earned $6,350 from two theaters for a $3,175 per-screen average. Looking ahead to next weekend, five newcomers open in wide release, with Universal’s Pacific Rim Uprising, Open Road Films’ Midnight Sun, Paramount’s Sherlock Gnomes, Bleecker Street’s Unsane and Sony’s Paul, Apostle of Christ. Take a look at the top 10 estimates for the weekend of March 16, courtesy of Box Office Mojo.

1Tomb Raider
2Black Panther
3I Can Only Imagine
4A Wrinkle in Time
5Love, Simon
6Game Night
7Peter Rabbit
8Strangers: Prey at Night
9Red Sparrow
10Death Wish


‘Flower’ Blooms In Trio Of Pots; ‘Keep The Change’ Solid: Specialty Box Office

UPDATED at 12:10PM PT with more numbers and analysis. The Orchard sprouted a hit over the weekend, opening teen comedy Flower, starring Zoey Deutch, in just three theaters and grossing a rousing $57,851.

That tally yielded the highest per-theater average of the weekend, though right behind it was IFC Films’ The Death of Stalin, which came in with $18,143 per situation in its second frame even while expanding to 32 runs.

Focus Features’ 7 Days in Entebbe went out to over 800 theaters on Friday with a so-so $1.63M start, while Good Deed Entertainment’s Journey’s End debuted in two locations, grossing $12,700.

Classical music doc Itzhak expanded to 19 runs in its second weekend, conducting $37,500, while SPC’s The Leisure Seeker with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland camped in 49 theaters in its second outing, taking in $149K. Also in Week Two was Focus’ Thoroughbreds, which collected $470K. Best Foreign Language winner A Fantastic Woman widened to 190 theaters grossing over $203K, while other Oscar winners put up largely tepid numbers (though The Shape of Water did crack $100M overseas after a stellar China bow).

Writer-director Max Winkler’s Flower got a little help from its friends, according to its distributor, The Orchard. “Endorsements from major celebrities helped bolster multiple sellouts in all locations and a fantastic mix of diverse audiences,” the company said today. The Orchard picked up the feature about a rebellious, quick-witted, 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. “We felt it was a unique voice,” said The Orchard’s Paul Davidson earlier this week. “Though it’s now a year later and the world is a different place, the themes of female empowerment and young people making their way in the world is very timely.”

Flower will go to 60 locations in the top 20 markets next weekend ahead of a national expansion March 30.

Fellow Tribeca debut Keep The Change, by writer-director Rachel Israel, had a solid start in an exclusive run. The romantic-comedy by Rachel Israel took in $13K, pointing to promising theatrical prospects. “We believed in this heart-warming romantic comedy starring non-professional actors on the autism spectrum from the start, so we are extremely gratified that rave New York reviews and audience enthusiasm will now assure this landmark motion picture a robust national expansion,” said Wendy Lidell, Kino Lorber’s SVP of Theatrical/Nontheatrical Distribution & Acquisitions. The feature will add locations in the coming weeks.

The widest of the weekend’s specialties was Focus Features’ 7 Days in Entebbe with Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl. The drama-thriller, based on a true story of a 1976 hijacking, grossed $1.63M in 838 theaters for a so-so $1,945 average. Focus looked to its 2017 release The Zookeeper’s Wife, which it successfully rolled out last March, as a template for 7 Days. Starring Jessica Chastain along with Brühl, Zookeeper opened in 541 theaters, grossing $3.28M ($6,079 average). It went on to cume $1.57M.

Good Deed Entertainment opened British war drama Journey’s End in New York and Los Angeles Friday. The WWI feature, starring Paul Bethany and Sam Claffin, grossed $12,700, averaging $6,350. “We’re encouraged by both the extremely positive critical and consumer reactions,” said Kristin Harris, VP, Acquisitions and Distribution, for Good Deed. “Having witnessed theater-goers sitting in emotional silence well after the end credits have rolled, following the last, powerful moments of Dibb’s film, we feel strongly that positive word-of-mouth in conjunction with the calculated rollout strategy we’ll be executing will ensure that Journey’s End continues to find and connect with its audience.”

IFC Films’ Death of Stalin continued its dominance into a second frame. Starring Steve Buscemi, Son Russell Beale and Jeffrey Tambor, Armando Iannucci’s political satire grossed $580,576, averaging $18,143. Stalin had IFC Films’ second-best multi-screen opening last weekend (behind only 2014’s Boyhood), grossing $77,524 in four theaters, averaging $45,327. This weekend’s numbers placed it in the top 20 overall. 

IFC Films said Sunday that the film “continued to sell out multiple shows in its expansion building on strong word of mouth and excellent reviews.” The film will head to the top 50 markets next weekend.

Greenwich Entertainment’s Itzhak expanded to 19 runs Friday. The doc about violinist Itzhak Perlman, which was directed by Alison Chernick, grossed $37,500, averaging $1,974. In its debut in two locations, the film took in $14,442, averaging $7,221. Itzhak’s two-week cume is $53,796.

Sony Classics doubled its reach for The Leisure Seeker in its second frame, grossing $149K in 49 locations ($3,041 average). The title starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland opened in 28 theaters last weekend, grossing over $119K ($4,270 average). It has cumed nearly $327K.

Also in week 2 is Focus’ Thoroughbreds, which had 15 additional runs over its debut. Thoroughbreds grossed $470K averaging just $837. In its launch, the feature took in $1.22M in 549 locations, averaging $2,229. It has cumed $2,267,000.

SPC kept Foxtrot in 6 locations in its third weekend, grossing $52,650  for a $4,388 PTA, which is only a small decrease from the last weekend. In its second frame, the title grossed $29,757 in six theaters, averaging $4,960.

Sony Classics added 34 runs for its Best Foreign Language Oscar winner A Fantastic Woman in its seventh weekend, grossing $203,711 ($1,072 average) bringing its cume to just shy of $1.5M.

Other Oscar titles held in decently. Best Picture winner The Shape of Water grossed $800K in 758 locations ($1,055 average), bringing its cume to $62.68M. Darkest Hour took in $105K ($789 average) in 133 locations, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri grossed $265K in 282 theaters ($940 average). A24’s Lady Bird grossed $73,800 in 88 locations, averaging $839. It has cumed $48.85M.


7 Days in Entebbe (Focus Features) NEW [838 Theaters] Weekend $1,630,000, Average $1,945

Flower (The Orchard) NEW [3 Theaters] Weekend $57,851, Average $19,284

Journey’s End (Good Deed Entertainment) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $12,700, Average $6,350

Keep The Change (Kino Lorber) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $13,000

Ramen Heads (Gunpowder & Sky) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $7,014, Average $3,507


The Death of Stalin (IFC Films) Week 2 [32 Theaters] Weekend $580,576, Average $18,143, Cume $843,967

Itzhak (Greenwich Entertainment) Week 2 [19 Theaters] Weekend $37,500, Average $1,974, Cume $53,796

The Leisure Seeker (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [49 Theaters] Weekend $149,028, Average $3,041, Cume $326,984

Thoroughbreds (Focus Features) Week 2 [564 Theaters] Weekend $470,000, Average $837, Cume $2,267,000


Foxtrot (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [6 Theaters] Weekend $52,650, Average $4,388, Cume $175,824

The Young Karl Marx (The Orchard) Week 4 [8 Theaters] Weekend $7,901, Average $988, Cume $94,147

Double Lover (Cohen Media Group) Week 5 [1 Theaters] Weekend $485, Cume $164,392

Loveless (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 5 [ Theaters] Weekend $47,730, Average $1,110, Cume $379,474

The Party (Roadside Attractions) Week 5 [80 Theaters] Weekend $63,040, Average $788, Cume $600,623

Samson (Pure Flix) Week 5 [34 Theaters] Weekend $19,500, Average $574, Cume $4,675,031

A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [190 Theaters] Weekend $203,711, Average $1,072, Cume $1,495,730

Forever My Girl (Roadside Attractions)  Week 9 [37 Theaters] Weekend $17,975, Average $486, Cume $16,291,941

The Insult (Cohen Media Group) Week 10 [12 Theaters] Weekend $17,668, Average $1,472, Cume $932,230

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12 [38 Theaters] Weekend $12,016, Average $316, Cume $840,916

Hostiles (Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures) Week 13 [102 Theaters] Weekend $52,000, Average $510, Cume $29,700,847

Phantom Thread (Focus Features) Week 13 [92 Theaters] Weekend $245,000, Average $1,038, Cume $20,907,000

I, Tonya (Neon/30West) Week 15 [160 Theaters] Weekend $110,385, Average $690, Cume $29,744,035

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 16 [758 Theaters] Weekend $800,000, Average $1,055, Cume $62,688,637

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 17 [118 Theaters] Weekend $128,304, Average $1,087, Cume $17,743,161

Darkest Hour (Focus Features) Week 17 [133 Theaters] Weekend $105,000, Average $789, Cume $56,311,000

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Week 19 [282 Theaters] Weekend $265,000, Average $940, Cume $53,888,624

Lady Bird (A24) Week 20 [88 Theaters] Weekend $73,800, Average $839, Cume $48,851,065

BPM (Beats Per Minute) (The Orchard) Week 22 [2 Theaters] Weekend $1,792, Cume $125,080

Faces Places (Cohen Media Group) Week 24 [10 Theaters] Weekend $4,712, Average $471, Cume $934,594

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