Out this week is the trailer for The Town, Ben Affleck‘s directorial follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, and it gives good, gritty, blue-collar crime color, character and stakes. Top shelf stuff, this. Well polished, I mean. Not exactly startlingly new, plot-wise, though the melted-face nun get-ups and Rastafarian-Matrix-twins-meets-Ghostrider-skull-masks are a bit unnerving, and could spawn a mini-Halloween trend on particularly Northeastern college campuses. So many films reach in their marketing when they tout “From the studio behind/that brought you…” But the name-dropping here of The Departed by Warner Bros. is actually the rare such associative credit that doesn’t come across as crass and/or empty. That’s the target they’re aiming at, and they seem to have another authentic-ringing product, so they’d be stupid not to bang that drum loudly.
Yes, this is real, and not a Saturday Night Live sketch. I saw it with my own eyes, and then proceeded immediately to an emergency chemical wash station. Actually, scratch that… it’s brilliant in its own way. I can admit that. I admire the mind that conceived it and the oral persuasion that went into getting a client to pay (presumably top dollar) for it. I just don’t know about the target audience. I mean, who digs jean shorts, let alone mock-denim diapers? Outside of Kentucky, I mean.
I missed a couple long-lead screenings of The Extra Man (Magnolia, July 30), starring Paul Dano and Kevin Kline, which is billed as being about “a lonely young dreamer who fancies himself the hero of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel,” and what happens when he rents a room from a wildly eccentric failed playwright who serves as a social escort for the wealthy widows of Manhattan high society. As a general rule I tend to enjoy tales of warped mentorship — films that embrace the notion that there are sometimes truths and lessons to be imparted from young and old alike — but the above photo is off-putting on an instinctual level, for reasons one just feels in their bones.
I mightily dug co-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s American Splendor, but the above picture — the one being peddled in almost all the advance coverage — just smacks of being dandy and twee, overly affected. A look at the film’s trailer seems to confirm this — I could barely make it through two minutes of Kline’s haughty put-on. Basically though, unless an audience instinctively knows what is being looked up at (a sci-fi “happening,” or a horror film’s menacing killer), it’s never a good idea for a film’s first/dominant still photo to have its stars gazing upward. It communicates a movie stuffed from its own sense of self-satisfaction.
The teaser trailer for the sequel to last fall’s cleverly marketed mock-nonfiction smash hit Paranormal Activity is now online. And it’s probably a smart thing to play up the whole “you demanded it” angle (even though Paramount’s platform and shifting-city release plans were already largely predetermined), reminding audiences of the viral elements that helped in large part make the movie “theirs.” We’ll see if there’s another shadow left in this book of shared skittishness, though.
I generally dig the work of director James Mangold, but there was something bugging me, in back-of-the-mind, lingering fashion, about the impending Knight and Day, his summer action confection reuniting Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. And I finally figured it out. It’s the TV ads’ use of Muse‘s “Uprising.” Trailers that use really popular, of-the-moment music frequently (not always) have big tonal problems, and so the use of a surging chart hit or on-the-rise band, particularly in heavy rotation small screen advertising, is an empty signifier; it’s meant to prod and rouse and make the movie seem in thumping lockstep with the zeitgeist, when it’s frequently not, and sometimes the exact opposite. It’s a shortcut end-around figuring out a more effective and honest way to sell the narrative, in other words, a not infrequent sign of makers’ (or at least distributor’s) remorse. One wonders if Cruise (or Mangold, for that matter) even knows who Muse is.
Also, there’s the matter of timing: against the backdrop of a seriously depressed economy, will people feel too on edge and tapped out to summon compassion for this issue? That is, will they take the Tea Party biscuit, and lump meaningful education reform in with “things we don’t have the time and money for right now”? Or maybe it’s all faulty science, these standardized markers of national shortcoming in all arenas save adolescent confidence? For more information on the movie, click here.
Something about the very premise for Dinner for Schmucks (Paramount, July 23), starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, seems inherently off. Ignoring the quasi-ethnic specificity of the title, and the befuddlement it will create in swathes of the country, have we really arrived at a place where basically the plot for She’s All That can be transported to the corporate world, with yuks expected to ensue? I entirely expect that Rudd’s higher-ups and fellow employees (Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, Larry Wilmore, et al) will ultimately be played for jerks, and the butt of some jokes — that’s the “reversal” that’s ingrained in studio product — but what is at all amusing about the notion of a company where this sort of culture thrives? Ignoring that, is it any way realistic in the current economic climate, even in a bio-domed, alternate-comedic world — that a company’s power brokers have this much time to devote to fiddlesticks fucking around? It feels off in a big way, i.e., out of step with the zeitgeist.
I was going to post something on the Don McKay trailer, but… yep, the moment’s passed. Intriguing (to-scale) cast, perhaps a couple too many reveals, but a nice end point. Wait… does this qualify?
A decidedly NSFW trailer for Gorman Bechard’s micro-budget indie horror flick One Night Stand, which likely won’t be confused with Mike Figgis’ film. Good concept, but will it have enough psychological heft to make it truly unnerving? I had deeply held problems with Hard Candy, but at least it also had the benefit of some strong, committed performances, in particular Ellen Page’s turn.
The gut-level fit of ensembles mean almost everything for Hollywood studio laffers, and John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke make for a sweet cocktail of laughter in the trailer, now online, for high-concept comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, releasing in March from MGM. It seems like The Hangover cross-pollinated with Dude, Where’s My Car? and a pinch of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
2009 is still fading, but one of the better titles of 2010 looms on the horizon. 44 Inch Chest, which is sure to lead to a rash of accidental rentals and VOD purchases in the years hence, is the debut feature from Malcolm Venville, and a collection of whiskey-soaked voices if ever there was one. Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt and Stephen Dillane star in the film, whose tagline (“The measure of revenge”) makes matters clear, even if its title doesn’t.
A jazzy, profane exploration of the male ego’s breaking point from the writers of Sexy Beast, the British movie centers on a collection of pals who kidnap the younger French lover of their friend’s wife, who has been cheating on him. This craziness is ignited by Joanne Whalley, whose performance is described as exuding “Helen Mirren-like sensuality,” which, I freely admit, did cause me to yelp out loud in amusement, if also go watch the fun-looking trailer. So… mission accomplished, publicity packet writer. 44 Inch Chest plays in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre from January 15 through January 28; for a list of other theatrical engagements, extending into February and March, click here.
The fingerprints of workaday director Shawn Levy are all over the new trailer for Date Night, opening April 9, 2010 from 20th Century Fox, and starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Written by Josh Klausner, with an uncredited production rewrite by Aline Brosh McKenna and Simon Kinberg, the movie is a domestic comedy turned action flick in which a married couple seek to escape beatings and bullets after impersonating another couple in order to snag a reservation at a tony restaurant. Everything on display here is by-the-numbers — did anyone actually clap with delight or feel the slightest twinge of surprise when presented with Carell on a car hood? — with angled reaction coverage that doesn’t quite match. And is it just me, or does all the dark alleyway slapstick stuff give a taste of The Out-of-Towners? No, not the original… the wince-inducing 1999 remake. James Franco‘s appearance made me smile more than anything other than the moment of mouth-guard truth that opens the trailer.
Not quite the bubbling-over, madhouse comedic version of Nicolas Cage that I was hoping for, but here’s a R-rated, naughty-language clip from Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, which releases in limited fashion from First Look Studios on November 20 (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.) before rolling out across the country in at least three waves in the ensuing weeks. Just be sure to lie about your birthday, kids.
The trailer for Salt, a Fugitive-esque espionage thriller re-teaming The Bone Collector director Phillip Noyce and Angelina Jolie, is online, in advance of being pegged in theaters to the forthcoming 2012, and it more or less whets one’s appetite for summery popcorn thrills. The slow-peddled opening coda nicely establishes its hook, the action is well cut together, and Jolie can obviously do smoldering intrigue, ass-kicking, and on-the-lam wheeling and dealing in her sleep. Nice use of a breathy lingerie interstitial, too. Does that sort of thing still matter to teenagers not yet getting any, though, what with the ascendancy and saturation of online porn these days? I guess it’s more or less ingrained in the blood of a certain generation of action trailer editors. But I have to say I’ve never really understood the whole jumping-off-a-wall-to-punch-someone-in-the-face thing, absent martial arts fantasia. Is it about leverage, or what? Clearly I need to take part in more brawls in narrow alleyways. Salt opens July 23, 2010, from Sony Pictures.
Make a note on your Golden Globe song ballot now; Paul McCartney has penned an original tune, “(I Want To) Come Home,” for the upcoming Everybody’s Fine, starring Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. Written and directed by Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine), the film tells the story of a widower who embarks on an impromptu holiday road trip to reconnect with each of his grown children, only to discover that their lives are far from the picture perfect ideals he’s been peddled in their infrequent updates.
Collaborating with composer Dario Marianelli on the orchestrations, McCartney tackled a song the evening he first viewed the film, and crafted an intimate tune that complements the themes of the movie and serves as a final grace note to its moving story, according to a Miramax press release. Reflecting on his reaction to the film, McCartney said, “I could
definitely identify with Robert De Niro’s character because I have
grown-up kids who have their own families.”
The film’s trailer hints at some melancholy, but the font for the title and credits — not to mention the preview’s closing song choice — ultimately convey that this isn’t awards-type fare, but rather peppy, Hallmark-sentiment, minor-chord, emotional string-plucking. No shame in that game… I’m just saying. Miramax Films releases Everybody’s Fine nationwide on December 4.
Although I typically loathe anything that would give IGN any additional traffic, five minutes from the opening of the sequel to Troy Duffy’s 1999 shoot-’em-up The Boondock Saints is now online, definitively proving its actual existence. More later in the week regarding the movie, which is… something. Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day opens on October 30 in limited release.
I’m not inclined to want to see Channing Tatum hugging people (and that’s why I skipped this summer’s G.I. Joe, I tell myself), so I come to the trailer for Dear John from a fairly skeptical or inwardly sighing place. And yet I have to say, despite director Lasse Hallström only recently breaking out of movie jail with 2007’s slick, enjoyable The Hoax, and despite Dear John on the surface seeming to share much in common with his most treacly American studio output, the trailer honestly works.
Based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name, Dear John centers on a soldier who falls for a college student (Amanda Seyfried) from a conservative family while home on leave. I’m not totally sold on Seyfried as a romantic lead, but in movies like Fighting and Stop-Loss,
Tatum has proved his chops as an able peddler of sullen and/or swallowed charm. And I don’t
mean that as a put-down. I totally get his appeal; he comes
across as a guy’s guy, and someone that girls can fix/save/win over,
all while rubbing his pecs. Mostly, though, there’s an integrity to the quiet emoting here, as well as something not often glimpsed in movies — an honest kiss, seeded with apprehension. Ace usage of Snow Patrol’s “Set the Fire to the Third Bar” certainly doesn’t hurt, either. Sony’s Screen Gems releases Dear John on February 5, 2010.
The trailer for the dark comedy Serious Moonlight, written by the late Adrienne Shelly and helmed by Cheryl Hines, in her feature directorial debut, has dropped, and it neither rankles, connects nor particularly registers as anything more than a mid-level femme-programmer. The film centers around a career woman (Meg Ryan) who
kidnaps artfully detains her husband (Timothy Hutton) when he tries to leave her; Kristen Bell is the other (younger) woman, and Justin Long is a scuzzy interloper of some sort.
No harm, no foul, but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of real, churned-up emotion here. This is just a sort of frothy domestic revenge fantasy for the white equivalent of the Tyler Perry set, no? With maybe a pinch of the arthouse crossover audience that helped make 2007’s Waitress a respectable hit for Fox Searchlight. And all the AARP-ers that keep Henry Jaglom employed. Not judging, just saying. I actually enjoyed The Deal, but it’d be more interesting to see Ryan navigate away from unlucky-in-love roles and tackle something really nasty — a bitch on wheels like Kevin Spacey’s character from Swimming with Sharks, say. Otherwise, there’s only small degrees of difference that separate this from more desultory tripe like My Mom’s New Boyfriend, which couldn’t escape a direct-to-DVD sentencing despite the presence of Ryan, Antonio Banderas, Colin Hanks and Selma Blair. Which brings us back to this film’s release pattern… Serious Moonlight will be available to 50 million households through Magnolia’s Ultra VOD program in early November prior to its December 4 theatrical bow.
The trailer for Toy Story 3 , which opens next summer, June 18, has dropped, and does it look like a winner? Yes, yes it does. The first half of the trailer works on two levels — using flashbacks to both establish the passage of time integral to the story within the movie and also remind filmgoers of their own nostalgic attachment to the first two Toy Story films. This is the sort of honest swing in adolescent feeling — wild joy laced with melancholy — most children’s movies don’t attempt to conjure, but that Pixar typically does so well. The second half of the trailer is more antics-oriented, and characteristic of what’s used to bait the LCD set. Still, it’s a nice blend.
It’s been a decade since the last film in the series, but given Pixar’s esteemed track record and the heavy rotation of the huge stack of DVDs they sold, I don’t see how this entry does any less than previous movies ($361 and $485 million worldwide, respectively), only more. Eschewing any sort of long-lead tracking or impression mumbo-jumbo, I’d peg its earnings at $550 million, about evenly split Stateside and internationally.
Sure, America Olivo’s breasts were on display to a much greater degree in the recent Friday the 13th remake, but Bitch Slap, in which she stars with Julia Voth and the high-foreheaded Erin Cummings, appears to provide them with another ample showcase. Old as dirt is the red-band trailer for the movie, which comes across like a budget version mash-up of The Spirit, The Devil’s Rejects, something straight-to-video starring Tiffani Amber Thiessen and a Girls Gone Wild project directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. But it’s new to me, don’tcha know, so there you go. I don’t expect any sort of commercial punch-through for this movie, but it’ll be interesting to see if it’s winky-winky “smart” enough, a la the Crank flicks, to attract a cult audience on DVD. Despite the “Fall 2009” tag on its web site, I have it on solid authority that Bitch Slap is now pegged for release January 8, 2010 through Freestyle Releasing.
I still halfway think that this is some sort of fever-dream hallucination, and I’m going to wake up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette, but the red-band trailer for The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, the sequel to boorish writer-director Troy Duffy‘s blustery fraternal shoot-’em-up, and an orgiastic assemblage of genre clichés seen hundreds of times before, is up and online, and now comes word that the film will even receive an October 30 theatrical release through Apparition, Bob Berney’s new distribution company. Nothing much new here (slow-mo gun discharges, squib-happy stuntwork and the like) to indicate this will play outside of the hand-clapping, beer-swilling, already converted small cult audience, and I don’t know that a Peter Fonda cameo is the key to unlocking commercial relevance, but to-scale props for the musical cue use of The Skids’ “The Saints Are Coming.” Totally obvious, sure, but it works.
Adolf Hitler takes news about the new Avatar trailer pretty harshly…
So I for some reason watched the trailer for September’s I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, which is desperately in need of a red-band clip, and I don’t think I laughed once. Or even smiled knowingly. I mean, I’m all on board with the notion of politically incorrect, carousing-guys flicks, and as if it was in doubt, the mega-success of this summer’s The Hangover proved there’s an audience for R-rated movies with copious amounts of nudity and strong sexual content. But the trailer seemed to leave out actual punchlines, just in favor of simple plot explanation, and filler dialogue. It mostly just made me wonder why Jesse Bradford wasn’t a bigger star, honestly. Not because of any manifested talent, necessarily. Just that he really has the look of a star — the proper jawline, stubble, smoker’s voice, gift with a crooked grin, etcetera. If I was his agent, I’d get that kid in a movie with Colin Farrell, stat, as bad-boy brothers working some scam.
I think since this is a film blog, I’m contractually obligated to post something about the trailer for Avatar, James Cameron’s first non-underwater film in, what, 15 or 20 years or something? I’ve watched the mostly wordless, two-minute clip twice, and… what? It’s fine. Totally fine, I guess. I just don’t have a strong geek impulse. But it works, beat by beat: eyes opening, some cool/bad-ass facial scarring, gun-toting robots, a solid musical selection, grand-scale action stuff. I just don’t know about the rastafarian, Manute Bol-esque Smurf elves. We’ll see: the jury is still out with regards to movement and emoting. But please, stop with all the Delgo comparisons. There have been more of those made than people who actually saw Delgo, which grossed under $512,000 on 2,160 screens in its first weekend of release.
I’ve watched the trailer for Capitalism: A Love Story, documentarian Michael Moore‘s new film about the American financial collapse and ensuing bailout, twice now, and it feels like a meh type of thing, a shrug. The film may be a bit more pointed, barbed, focused, but this plays like Moore lite, to be honest. M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” is a good musical choice, if only to match the gun-cocking blurb from one of the interviewees, but the use of clips of a smirking President Bush — three times — feels like a bit of an emotional cheat, like trading on the (deserved) ill will of his cronyism and bluster, the phony excuses for war in Iraq, the botched Hurricane Katrina relief, etcetera. Sure, the guy was asleep at the wheel, and/or suffering from a case of senior-itis certainly the last year-plus of his presidency, but he didn’t actually engineer the economic downfall, did he?