Trailers of the Week: 1, 2, 3, 4

Night Moves

Kelly Reichardt’s films aren’t brilliant in an obvious, flashy way, but they have a way of worming into your brain and settling in there for good. Her collaborations with Michelle Williams in particular, “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” struck a chord with me with their gentle humanism and view of nature as somewhere alternately tranquil and reflective or dangerously ominous. Eco-thriller “Night Moves” got a generally chillier critical reception at Venice last year, but it still had its staunch defenders, and from the looks of things here it seems impossible that Reichardt could be too far off her familiar form. The casting is slightly curious, but I’m very interested to see Jesse Eisenberg challenge himself to play something out of his smarmy-nerd type, and, well, I think we all need more Peter Sarsgaard in our lives.

Cheap Thrills

This is a bleak, black little concept for a movie, with potential to be really clever or really sadistic. I’m not sure why exactly this trailer gives me more hope for the former – maybe it’s the small scale of the execution, with just four main players leaving plenty of room to explore why each character might be putting themselves in such a nasty situation. Plus there’s just something resonant about the desperate lengths people will go to for money these days; again, it’s a good idea, but hopefully that’s not all given away in this teaser. “Cheap Thrills” just went out this weekend in limited release and on VOD if you’re interested.


Speaking of tight, theatrical execution – it’s rare to get a film that dares to strip down to essentially a one-man show, but Tom Hardy’s certainly one of the actors who would be up to the challenge. He dominated more or less every frame of “Bronson,” but that was a completely different sphere of over-the-top performance. I’m excited to see him take on the more nuanced, real-time emotion going on here. To me, the question isn’t whether Hardy will be terrific, but if the writing will be there to make the film stand out for any other reason besides the lead performance. The writing about the movie certainly isn’t there; “Reverberates with the power of universal themes,” Time Out London? Really?

Get On Up

And now for something completely different.

You might remember Tate Taylor as the director of “The Help.” He certainly hasn’t changed his style for his biopic of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown – “Get On Up” looks like the same kind of streamlined Hollywood period piece, with a mixture of innocuous humor and even more innocuous racial commentary (thankfully he’s at least brought Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer back along for the ride as well). What has me still interested here, despite not being a fan of “The Help,” is the magnetism of both the film’s subject and its lead actor. Chadwick Boseman earned some polite praise last year for his earnest portrayal of another real-life figure, Jackie Robinson, in “42;” but James Brown is certainly a much more fun role, and he seems to have thrown himself into the part with gusto to spare. Boseman’s likely to be a star by the time the year is out, and we know how much the awards circuit loves an actor impersonating a famous musician – can Boseman go beyond mimicry and be an Oscar threat? Certainly this is one of our big sight-unseen contenders.

Trailers of the Week: No, You’re Not on Drugs, Jared Leto is Back

Dallas Buyers Club

“Dallas Buyers Clubs” has been lurking on the circuit for a while, as critics and viewers waited to see whether the film would be just another notch in Matthew McConaughey’s continued career resurrection or a complete package. Rave reviews out of Toronto has everyone leaning towards the latter, with everyone insisting that the true-life tale of homophobe-turned-HIV-patient-turned-drug-smuggler Ron Woodroof is not just a baity performance piece but a genuinely touching account of redemption and survival. McConaughey’s scary physical transformation sure seems to be matched by an emotional dedication to the character – it seems like the whole key to his sudden rebirth has been that he’s started picking out roles that he can genuinely invest in, and good for him. This season’s Best Actor race is a tight field already, but factor in all the good vibes for his career turn-around and a nomination’s all but assured.

We don’t get to see as much as him, but I should think Jared Leto’s also a pretty safe bet. I don’t see how the Academy resists an actor playing an HIV-positive transgender woman (see: Felicity Huffman in “Transamerica,” Jaye Davidson in “The Crying Game”). The film itself sure looks to tug at the heartstrings – but as is always the question with these prestige pics, can it do so without feeling manipulative?

Mr. Nobody

Speaking of resurrections, apparently we’ve decided to give this whole “Jared Leto acting” thing another shot. Although, the circumstances behind “Mr. Nobody” are a bit odd –  it debuted in 2009 at the Venice and Toronto festivals to overwhelmingly favorable reviews (and even some raves) and earned a release in Europe, but for no discernible reason didn’t get American distribution until this year. Considering its level of acclaim and fair share of recognizable Hollywood actors, that’s really inexplicable. But no matter – “Mr. Nobody” looks to satisfy those who were frustrated by the bombast of “Cloud Atlas” with a smaller-scale sci-fi investigation of the way our choices resonate across our lifetimes (devoted readers might recall that I thought the pure bombast was actually the only thing keeping “Cloud Atlas” afloat, but sure, let’s try again).

Kill Your Darlings

The trailer for this Sundance favorite is a bit disjointed, but somewhere in there’s a moody depiction of Beatnik-era New York – and the plethora of intriguing young acting talent is certainly enough to keep an eye on this one. Daniel Radcliffe is on a mission to leave his Harry Potter days behind him, and he might just do it – I’m actually starting to think he might end up with the best career of that whole bunch, although Emma Watson was pretty spectacular in “The Bling Ring”. But he certainly seems to challenge himself with his roles more than Watson does – there’s no real consistent through-line from Harry Potter to “Equus” to Broadway musicals to young Allen Ginsburg, but there he goes. Meanwhile, Dane DeHaan was basically the best part of Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” – keep an eye on this guy. Ben Foster I’m always happy to see, and he should have plenty of fun with the eccentric William S. Burroughs. Jack Huston (as Jack Kerouac), Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh – a tremendous cast all around and a fascinating true story that I personally know nothing about.

The Double

I couldn’t quite decide how I felt about Richard Ayoade’s debut film “Submarine” – an odd little coming-of-age film that felt like Wes Anderson filtered through Mike Leigh. But I love love love this brief but very atmospheric look at his follow-up feature, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s short story with pitch-perfect casting on paper. Jesse Eisenberg plays the dual lead role of a nebbishy office worker who starts to be replaced by a charismatic, asshole doppelganger that no one seems to notice looks exactly like him. That’s basically an ideal personality split for Eisenberg, who combined both halves so well in “The Social Network.” Mia Wasikowska also strikes me as a great fit for one of Dostoevsky’s idealized, sweet but distant romantic objects. The film has gotten solid reviews out of Toronto, but as a Russian literature lover this one will be a priority for me.

Escape from Tomorrow

So this one needs some explanation. “Escape from Tomorrow” was filmed, astoundingly, almost entirely on location inside both Disney World and Disneyland. And director Randy Moore did it all without the company’s permission. As you can imagine, it’s unlikely that Disney Studios would be too thrilled about a fantasy-horror flick criticizing the soul-sucking insanity of its own ubiquitous entertainment, so the entire production was cloaked in secrecy, right up until the film’s furtive debut at Sundance. Critics found the film uneven in execution (rather unsurprising, considering the technical limits of such guerilla filmmaking) but obviously fascinating if only as an artifact – this is a movie that really shouldn’t exist. And most people assumed that would be the end of that; surely Disney would never let the movie actual secure distribution and see the light of day.

Yet here it is, with a limited release slated for Oct. 11, and still Disney’s lawyers sit silently. Considering the company’s history of tightly controlling the image of its copyrighted material, this is staggering. Do they think Moore’s film would hold up as critical commentary under the fair use exception of copyright law? What about trademark infringement? Or the violation of Disneyland’s clear terms of use, which prohibits filming?

It’s possible that they think, in fact, that legal action would just bring unwanted attention to the film, and would prefer to just let it fade away in limited release. So pass the word around – I want everyone to start talking about this movie, if only to see what the hell Disney does next. Should make for fascinating discussion in my copyright class.