It’s been a little while since I updated this particular feature, but that’s to be expected – once we actually made it to the winter crush of quality films, all the trailers coming out were either long-in-advance summer teasers (see the near-identical trailers for “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness”) or reminders of the steaming pile of excrement that Hollywood dumps on us every year between January and March.
Finally, though, we’ve built up enough intriguing candidates to merit a look. Normally I do this on Sundays, but I’m afraid I’ll forget again if I wait. So. Enjoy.
Leading up to his supposedly imminent retirement, Steven Soderbergh has been on something of a mad rush, cranking out genre films like nobody’s business. Honestly, I still haven’t caught up with any of his recent films (“Contagion,” “Haywire,” “Magic Mike”) but all of them had their staunch defenders. “Side Effects” looks the closest to “Contagion” in its bio-thriller material (and the return of co-writer Scott Z. Burns), and Soderbergh has certainly assembled another intriguing ensemble cast, including his newest muse Channing Tatum. Since Tatum can apparently do no wrong these days, I’ll withhold comment, but I’m still dubious about the man’s dramatic chops. Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, though? No doubts there.
Plus, we’re already got one of the best tag lines of the year here: “In some instances, death may occur.” Nice.
Speaking of auteurs making genre entertainment, remember when Danny Boyle WASN’T a perennial Oscar player? Well luckily he does too. “Trance” doesn’t look like it’ll be garnering the critical acclaim of “Slumdog Millionaire” or “127 Hours,” but boy it looks like a mess of fun to me. The hypnotism angle here is patently ridiculous, but with Vincent Cassel as a villainous art thief and Boyle’s signature eye-popping camerawork? Who cares? It looks like a bizarre mashup of “The Beach,” “Total Recall” and a John Grisham novel. And somehow I mean that as a compliment.
Unfortunately there’s no U.S. release date yet for “Trance,” although it’ll be out as early as March 27 in the U.K.
And now for something completely different.
If you’ve never seen or heard of Michael Apted’s “Up” films, this trailer basically summarizes this astounding project: in 1964, a group of British schoolchildren were interviewed for a television documentary, and every seven years since, Apted and his crew have returned to interview them again. The original notion was to prove the resilience of class difference in Britain, and the films have more or less done so: pretty much all of the subjects have maintained the same social status that they and their parents occupied fifty years ago. But the “Up” films have ended up capturing so much more than that – by revisiting these movies, we can see entire lives played out on film. It’s like reality television, only with genuine human interest and respect and rather than callow commercialism. Each entry usually neatly summarizes the previous ones as well, so it’s easy to just jump into the series if “56 Up” is your first look (if you are ever motivated to check out some of the older installments, start with at least “21 Up” – that’s when the series’ thematic power really starts to kick in).