Ones on 1 is a monthly feature in which I write about a selected film that reached number one at the box office for precisely one weekend. This month, we examine the film that took the crown on August 2, 2009: Funny People.
Five years removed from its theatrical run, it seems particularly insane that a film like Judd Apatow’s Funny People was given a wide release. It’s hard to even recall a recent independent movie that has aimed for the same kind of specific, rambling ambition. There may not be another movie like it, and that is both to its credit and detriment. It isn’t terribly unique on a micro level, but when looking at the big picture—and all the bits, conflicts and ideas it throws into its 146-minute stew—it reveals just how strange and admirable this whole undertaking was. This could only be made by someone who had already reached the top of the mountain, and by the time Funny People came out, Apatow was on an unparalleled roll. This film ended that roll, but it clearly wasn’t for lack of trying. Continue reading →
Ones on 1 is a monthly feature in which I write about a selected film that reached number one at the box office for precisely one weekend. This month, we examine the film which took the crown on November 17, 1991: Cape Fear.
Since his rise in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Martin Scorsese has always been one of the most respected filmmakers in the world. However, Scorsese the commercially successful filmmaker is a relatively new phenomenon. His four most successful films (The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator) have all come in the last 10 years. In the ’80s especially, he was seen as a brilliant filmmaker who made box office failure after box office failure, with the lone exception being 1986’s The Color of Money. Other, intensely personal projects like Raging Bull, The King of Comedy and The Last Temptation of Christ all failed when loosed upon the general public. He was always a brilliant director, but as the ’80s turned into the ’90s, most were ready to accept that his work just was never going to really click with the public at large. Continue reading →
Welcome to the first edition of Ones on 1, a new monthly feature I will be doing for the blog. The basic premise is simple: on the first of every month, I will write about a random film that was number one at the box office for precisely one weekend. That may sound like a broad topic, and it is, but the goal will be to choose films that achieved that peak, but didn’t quite belong there. Every Sunday, film journalists look at the box office standings, and most of the time the “winning” film is the most obvious choice. Ones on 1 will shine a light on some of the misfits who found themselves in a very exclusive, blockbuster-filled club. On that note, it feels appropriate that the first installment of this feature will examine the single most successful documentary of all time: Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. That’s right: to this day no documentary has been more financially successful, and it made headlines upon its release for being the first film in that genre to top the weekend box office. In the spring of 2004, it won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival. This is an insane level of success and attention, but just ten years later it seems almost nobody thinks about it anymore. Most wouldn’t even call it the best Michael Moore movie. This was a documentary that burned impossibly bright, then quickly faded away. Continue reading →