'Express,' 'Quarantine' Climb Into Multiplex Over Leo's Dead 'Body'
Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially hideous this week at the movies. Today we see another fistful of titles tossed on the fall-release glut, none of which may have the stamina to outlast Disney's purse dog in a three-day race at the box office. We also have our refined eye on the weekend's most disappointing opening as well as our official art-house underdog, plus a few cherry-picked new DVD titles for the shut-ins among you. You know how this works by now: Our opinions are our own, but with free, near-gemological precision like this, why go anywhere else?WHAT'S NEW: Yesterday we broke down some of our problems with Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA operative entangled in the boilerplate "web of intrigue" when his sketchy boss (Russell Crowe) dispatches him to Jordan to zzzzzzzzz... Critics aren't behind it, and it's too late in the year for Warner Bros. to push this as anything more than the beach-reading it is. Which doesn't mean it can't finish in first place, of course — even though it won't. Beverly Hills Chihuahua will sprint out the stretch over Body's lumbering, wheezing frame, narrowly outgrossing Warners' $16 million for the week's biggest dogtrack upset. Warners will do much better distributing RockNRolla for Guy Ritchie and Joel Silver on a smattering of screens in LA and New York before going wide on Halloween, but that's pocket change below Universal's football biopic The Express (should open strong around $15.2 million), the B-horror Quarantine ($11.9 million), the family adventure City of Ember ($6.6 million) and finally in wide release, Keira Knightley nifty bodice-ripper The Duchess ($5.2 million). Eagle Eye and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist will skim off everyone's top as well with a combined $16 million for the weekend. Also opening: Mike Leigh's latest annoyance Happy-Go-Lucky; the quirky microbudget romance Good Dick; the gay family dramedy Breakfast With Scot; Daddy Yankee's gangland redemption saga Talento de Barrio; and the self-explanatory biopic Billy: The Early Years of Billy Graham. THE BIG LOSER: Equipped as it is for international support and a long life on DVD and cable, $20 million is still the low end of studio expectations for Body of Lies. It won't come anywhere close.
THE UNDERDOG: We'll be the first to admit that Ashes of Time Redux — Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai's revival of his 1994 martial arts epic — makes exactly no sense. Wong packs swordsmen, jilted lovers, defensive siblings and, naturally, Maggie Chueng into the parallel universe of the "jianghu," essentially a martial arts Middle Earth where vengeance seems to be the only thing more plentiful than primary colors. Luckily, Wong's legendary lenser Christopher Doyle is the guy with the camera; nonsense hasn't looked this good since David Lynch uncorked Eraserhead — itself the recent beneficiary of the kind of restoration that saved Ashes from certain doom in dilapidated warehouses around the Far East. Bigger Wong fans than we swear by this version; if we can trust them, so can you. FOR SHUT-INS: This week's slight new DVD releases include three different versions of You Don't Mess With the Zohan, Manoj's mint The Happening, last summer's sleeper hit The Visitor, the 30th-anniversary edition of Halloween, the 50th-anniversary edition of Touch of Evil, and the eagerly awaited second volume of The Smurfs: Season One. So are we being too hard on Body of Lies? Can The Express or Quarantine pull an October surprise on an unwitting Chihuahua? Can anybody explain Ashes of Time in 50 words or less? Weigh in below; what's your weekend looking like?