For the first of my second-year tweaks to the blog, I’m going to enforce some kind of organization on to my posting of new trailers, which has pretty much been random up to now. From now on, I’m going to try a weekly system, updated every Sunday. I’d be happy to start taking bets on how long I can actually keep up this plan. This week, we’re going to run the gamut of human misery, from cheating wives and unexpected disease to the apocalypse. That’s why I’m labeling this inaugural round of Trailers of the Week the “Life Sucks” edition.
After the one-two-three punch of “Election,” “About Schmidt” and “Sideways,” Payne has taken his time developing his next project. It sure looks like the 7 years since “Sideways” have paid off; Payne’s darkly forthright sense of comedy and human drama looks like a perfect match for George Clooney’s impeccable timing and puppy-dog existentialism (having perfected that look of melancholic isolation in recent projects like “Michael Clayton,” “Up in the Air” and “The American”). “The Descendants” is sure to be a hot-ticket awards item; all three of Payne’s previous features garnered at least one Oscar nomination. I’m definitely looking forward to taking another ride on the Payne train (yeah, I went there).
There appears to be something in the zeitgeist about the end of the world and doomsday scenarios. Perhaps recent news events, from chaos in the Middle East to horrific natural disasters all over the glove, plus all that Rapture nonsense, are starting to bleed into our cultural consciousness. In any case, between “Melancholia,” “Another Earth” and “Take Shelter,” (and perhaps indirectly the grand, celestial pondering of the meaning of life in “The Tree of Life”), one has to wonder if 2011 is destined to be labelled the Year of the Apocalypse. “Take Shelter” certainly looks to be a suitably thrilling and psychologically freaky addition to this trend. The film, director Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2007 debut “Shotgun Stories,” already met with an enthusiastic response both at Sundance and out of competition at Cannes. Michael Shannon is certainly one of my favorite character actors; his scene-stealing performance as a brash modern variation of a mad prophet in “Revolutionary Road” remains one of the best of the past decade, IMHO. I’m excited to see what he can do in the lead here.
Loosely based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s own struggle with cancer, “50/50” has a fantastic cast and looks like it walks the right line between humor and pathos. Seth Rogen is another one of those guys where I wouldn’t mind him taking a break from appearing in almost every single comedy coming out of Hollywood, but I personally think Rogen works better as a scene-stealing supporting actor than as a lead, so I’m fine with him acting the goofball to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s straight man. This could be a dark horse contender to keep an eye on, especially the actors; I read that Anjelica Huston in particular wows, but we don’t really get to see much of her here. Director Jonathan Levine previously directed “The Wackness”, which met some mild indie success back in 2008. Here’s hoping he can create something similarly entertaining with a more high-profile project.