With a lack of any better ideas for a post, I think it’s time to just go nuts and offer up some commentary on the rash of trailers for summer flicks that have been debuting recently. I’m not talking about “Green Lantern” and “X-Men: First Class;” I presume y’all know about the blockbusters whether you like it or not, thanks to the aggressive studio advertising clogging Facebook and IMDB and what have you.
We’ll start things off with some comedy. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE. The last collaboration between Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and director Michael Winterbottom yielded the highly underrated “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” a hilariously irreverent and off-beat adaptation of one of the most notoriously un-filmable books of all time. While that film did actually contain some biting satirical insight into the difficulty of remaining faithful to challenging source material in today’s “gimme the bottom line” film industry, “The Trip” looks to be more straight-up comedy, which is perfectly fine by me. Considering my penchant for dark British humor (i.e. “In Bruges,” “In the Loop”), we almost certainly have our first contender for the Funniest Film EMO already.
More quirky British comedy. “Submarine” did gangbusters at last year’s Toronto festival, but The Weinstein Company already had a pretty full 2010 slate when they picked it up, so they delayed the U.S. release to June 3 of this year. This coming-of-age comedy looks like a pretty solid debut from director Richard Ayoade and leads Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige. Hopefully it’ll be a little more “Thumbsucker” and a little less “Rocket Science;” original songs by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner should certainly help on that front.
30 Minutes or Less (Red Band trailer -NSFW)
Another proven winning combo here in director Ruben Fleischer and Jesse Eisenberg (“Zombieland”), with hysterical “Parks & Recreation” star Aziz Ansari added to the mix for good measure. This is probably the most mainstream thing I’m listing here, but this looks to be right up the “Zombieland”/”Scott Pilgrim” line of humor, which suits me fine. I’m a little tired of the now-ubiquitous Danny McBride forcing his mug into every single comedy that comes out these days, but I can deal with his scenes in return for some Eisenberg/Ansari odd couple madness.
The Devil’s Double
Dominic Cooper continues his quest to become a reliable leading man in Hollywood, pulling out the tried-and-true “I’ll play TWO parts in the SAME movie!!” gambit. It’s a little hard to tell where this film will go; I’m leaning towards “crock of shit,” given how inconsistent Cooper’s two performances appear: the role of Uday Hussein is clearly a fantastic one, with lots of flashy/insane mannerisms for the former History Boy to sink his teeth into, but god only knows what accent he’s using for the double Latif. We’ll probably end up with half a great movie, doomed by Cooper’s limited range.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
This paranoia thriller took the Best Director award at Sundance; looks to be the kind of low-budget suspense ride that I usually dig. I really have no idea what’s going on in the plot, but anything that gets EMO-winner and Oscar-nominee John Hawkes (clearly channeling some of his “Winter’s Bone” menace here, with a touch of superficial geniality) back to work gets my stamp of approval.
Mike Cahill’s feature film debut looks to prove, along with “Source Code” and perhaps even J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” that intelligent, idea-driven sci-fi is alive and well in the film industry these days. It’s really been a great run for the genre since “Moon” and “District 9” got things kicked off a couple years ago. This is easily one of the best trailers of the year: slightly freaky opener, haunting, poignant music, an edge given by those random harsh pops of feedback. All word out of Sundance indicates that the film delivers on the potential we see here.
Page One: Inside the New York Times
2010 was a fantastic year for documentaries; “Page One” is our first indicator that once again, the Best Documentary category at the Oscars will probably have the strongest lineup of any category. Since it remains my absolute dream job to work along A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis at the New York Times (yeah, right), I can’t wait to take an insider look inside my favorite news organization, and how the old media institutions are dealing with the incursion of new media like Twitter and YouTube. Brilliant idea to make David Carr, a brilliant arts and entertainment correspondent (he used to do the NYT’s Oscar coverage, and was easily the best on the web when he did) and all-around fascinating guy, one of the lead subjects of the film.
“Melancholia” has already been labelled “controversial” by the media based solely on the reputation of its director, Lars von Trier (“Dogville,” “Dancer in the Dark,” “Antichrist”), even though this film looks positively tame by his normal standards. Never been a fan of Kirsten Dunst or Kiefer Sutherland, but Charlotte Gainsbourg is phenomenally talented, so we’ll see. Not sure what’s up with the “mysterious planets emerging out of nowhere” theme going on this year.
Gag me. Please. The “inspirational black servant overcomes racism in the South” narrative was already stale in “Driving Miss Daisy,” and that was over TWENTY YEARS AGO. I mean, seriously; who is this clichéd crap helping? Sure, with talent like Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer involved, there’ll be some laughs along the way, but will it be worth the overwhelming schmaltz and irrelevant preaching? My early vote is for no.
Midnight in Paris
As last year’s “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” proved, even a stellar ensemble cast is no guarantee these days that Woody Allen can still churn out a winner (though God knows the man keeps trying). But with the names involved here, you just have to keep an eye out; there are at least some promising jokes and ideas floating around here, unlike the trailers for both “Tall, Dark Stranger” and “Whatever Works.” I’m particularly intrigued by Michael Sheen, messing a little with his usual screen persona by going for the charming douchebag character. Has Woody’s time rolled around again?
And we’ll wrap things up with another one of my favorite trailers of the year, which hits you in that way that only a well-done inspirational sports narrative can. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the traditional boxing underdog story split off into the MMA sub-genre, but other than the big funny red gloves, all the usual elements are in place. Tom Hardy was born for physical roles like this, and up-and-coming Australian actor Joel Edgerton (“Animal Kingdom,” the upcoming re-make of “The Thing”) looks like a great counterpart/sparring partner for the bashing Brit. Director Gavin O’Connor showed that he could hit all the right notes for a quality, if not classic, sports flick with “Miracle,” so I quietly remain extremely excited for this one to hit theaters on September 9.