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The Rotten Week begins on a bit of a somber note today with the news of Paul Walker’s passing yesterday. It is a tragic thing to lose anyone, no matter the circumstances. Mack did a nice write up highlighting some of Walker’s on screen moments. If you were a fan of Walker, take a look.

In a slow, post-Thanksgiving movie week with only one movie headed toward a wide release*, we only make our way out of the furnace. Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.

*An additional reminder here for new readers. I tend to only focus on widely released movies as they will be the ones that are also widely reviewed. This is why a movie like the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, which admittedly looks great and will almost definitely finish in the nineties, is not included this week.

Out of the Furnace
I think we can all probably agree that the last decade or so here in America hasn’t exactly been a bucket full of rainbows and unicorn songs. Making our way out of a recession while cycling down a few foreign wars (to name just a couple of f#$%ed up things we’ve got going on) will have that effect on a nation. So it isn’t surprising to see themes of moral vs. economic vs. familial choice playing out on the big screen, and how those themes can converge for a character, leaving him almost no out. It’s somewhat reflective of what we’ve got going on here on the homefront. When left with a host of tough choices, what else is there to do but grab a rifle and go seeking justice from a meth-cooking crime ring who (possibly) killed your war veteran younger brother because he flaked on a loan (or whatever your particular problem is, this movie might not speak to everyone).

Out of the Furnace appears to explore that unhappy meeting place of "choice". For its grey-toned purposes setting up in the Rust Belt with Christian Bale getting out of prison and working (literally) a blue collar gig. His brother, Casey Affleck returns from war and gets mixed up with the area’s seedy underbelly all in a town depressed from the economic downturn. Honestly, even from the trailer, thematically it almost risks being overly heavy-handed. But I think director Scott Cooper is able to the toe the line, having Bale brood and then ass-kick his way to an ultimate end that probably isn’t necessarily uplifting. Hey, these are tough times, it isn’t always going to work out great for us in the end.

With a stellar cast (along with Bale and Affleck there’s Willam Defoe, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana and Forest Whitaker), a great director and a few positive reviews already logged in the book, we’ve got reason to believe this flick will score well with critics. Though it’ll almost surely fall below Cooper’s first effort Crazy Heart (91%), I can see it finishing well in the "Fresh" range of the Tomatometer. As for America? We’ve still got some work to do. The Rotten Watch for Out of the Furnace is 77%

Recapping last week:

Not a particularly strong week for the Rotten Watch. Starting with Homefront (Predicted: 51% Actual: 35%) which left me on the outside looking in with the score. I expected a bit more from my boys Statham and Franco, but the flick couldn’t deliver, falling short of my expectations. Kristy summed up this kind of disappointment in her review calling the flick "flat". What a shame, as the film’s two major players really should have been able to pick up some slack in the script. But it was not to be, and this prediction just misses the mark.

Meanwhile, keeping the theme of close-but-no-cigar Black Nativity (Predicted: 67% Actual: 54%) also fell short of my range. Critics seemed to feel the musical component of the film was strong, carrying the production through the weaker elements of the plot. This kept the score above the middle, but still short of my prediction. Because this wasn’t a widely reviewed movie (only sixty-three at time of post), there’s an outside chance of a few positive reviews trickling in over time and bumping this score within my ten percent range. Honestly, four more "thumbs up"s and I’ll be golden. So get to work critics. Like this movie so I can add it to the resume.

Next time around we see beautiful desolate Smaug and enjoy and Madea Christmas. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

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