Oh yeah, I do. That’s funny. Do me a favor – how about I just start writing again, and we forget the whole basically not posting for the first half of 2012 thing.
As summer movie season gets rolling, I’ll have some reviews on the way, and with this year’s Cannes festival wrapping up today, I’m due to give a rundown of what made a splash at the Croisette. But let’s start out with something a little simpler to ease back into this. C’mon, who doesn’t like trailers?
The Great Gatsby
Hoo boy. One certainly can spot a Baz Luhrmann flick. If nothing else, this will be a feast for the eyes, but can it be more than that? Dear reader, you probably think I’m skeptical, because I’m not a big “Moulin Rouge” fan and besides, that’s just what I do, right?
Wrong! Bring it on, Baz! This project sounded dubious conceptually, but now that I’m getting a glimpse of the result, I’m sold. In a world where blasé middle-brow literary adaptations like “The Help” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” dominate the awards season hype, screw it – let’s give a shot of life (lush, pumped-up, pseudo-camp life) to a story that most people only know from their 10th grade summer reading list. I’ve never been as touchy as some people about infusing decades or even centuries-old material with anachronistic flair (see: my favorable opinions of “Marie Antoinette,” the first Guy Ritchie “Sherlock Holmes”); what’s wrong with a little non-diagetic fun? All right, the Jay-Z/Kanye might be going a little bit too far in projecting the decadence of 1920’s New York to modern audiences, but boy does Jack White’s cover of “Love is Blindness” work.
See, it’s not Luhrmann’s overwrought directing style that I’ve ever objected to when it comes to his past films. What I object to about “Moulin Rouge” is mostly the deus ex machina of Nicole Kidman’s death – I would have preferred at least a vague attempt to pretend the film was more than just a vehicle for some flashy, admittedly cool musical sequences. And what I object to about “Romeo + Juliet” is basically the horrendous acting. This time around? Both those problems should be solved. Luhrmann has all of Fitzgerald’s rich narrative to draw from, and we’ve got a perfectly casted ensemble including a much more experienced Leo, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, that woman playing Jordan who looks awesome, and dear lord that’s Amitabh Bachchan! This film has rocketed back up my must-see list.
After the “Quantum of Solace” stumble, I’m still dubious about handing the Bond franchise over to another prestige director with no previous action film experience in Sam Mendes. But if this trailer is any indication, Mendes certainly is bringing a keen eye for striking compositions to “Skyfall” – my personal favorite is Bond’s shadowy profile at 1:02, but there’s at least a dozen stand-out frames in this blunt teaser. From what little we see, Daniel Craig still looks in sterling form, and hopefully this film will see him cement his potential status as everyone’s second-favorite Bond (let’s be real, Connery is untouchable).
However, there is some troubling news that the franchise may have sold out Bond’s signature drink. After taking away baccarat and “Bond, James Bond,” how much can all this re-tinkering go before Bond isn’t Bond anymore?
If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be this excited about a Ben Affleck movie, I might’ve punched you. OK, twelve-year-old me wouldn’t have had the guts to punch anyone. The point is, Affleck proved with “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town” that he’s a nimble director when it comes to thrillers. But “Argo” will be his toughest challenge yet. The story is too good to be true, but apparently it is – the question is, can Affleck balance the comedic and dramatic tones called for by the opposing fake-film-crew/Iranian hostage crisis story-lines? It’ll be tough, but this trailer is a promising first look. The great supporting cast led by Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin helps as well.
John Hillcoat’s Western/mobster mash-up has already gotten generally positive reviews out of Cannes, and this genre-infused trailer is music to my ears, at least. Hillcoat’s “The Proposition” is one of the great modern Westerns, and from what I’ve heard “The Road” was effective – maybe a little TOO effective. Shia LaBeouf’s prominent involvement doesn’t exactly get me excited, but basically everyone else’s does: Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman (damn, that feels good to write). Looks like Pearce is trying his damnedest to steal the show, so I’m quite ready to see him and Hardy go toe-to-toe in a bit of late-summer escapism. Oh, and Nick Cave’s writing.
And if “Lawless” doesn’t give you your Prohibition-era mobster fix, there’s Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland,” “30 Minutes or Less”) and “Gangster Squad,” with another top-notch male ensemble. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi… I guess gangsters are in this year. Gosling’s looking to build on “Drive” and confirm himself as perhaps the Prince of Cool, while re-kindling his on-screen chemistry with Emma Stone. Sean Penn, meanwhile, continues to express insecurities about his nose through an ever-increasing series of ridiculous prosthetics.
This isn’t even a trailer in the traditional sense. It’s entirely possible that this is just a clip, and we’ll just see all of this in the film as is. But it’s as good a morsel to drum up anticipation as any more mainstream-style trailer that you could possibly make. I have no idea what’s going on, BUT IT’S AWESOME.
Joaquin Phoenix is in need of some serious career rehab, and a strong turn in a P.T. Anderson could do the trick – he’s certainly giving off a fascinating vibe of charisma and some kind of suppressed madness here. Like in Anderson’s last film, “There Will Be Blood,” the score by Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood looks to be front and center, and that’s a very, very good thing. I have no idea how scientology-esque cults are ultimately going to get involved in this, but a woozy, unsettling atmosphere has definitely been set.