Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tim's Trailer Talk, Vol. 1

I have decided to start doing weekly round-ups and thoughts on recent movie trailers. I reserve the right to skip a week if there is absolutely not a single trailer of interest or if I'm dead. Obviously, the former is preferable, unless there's a trailer for a new Aaron Seltzer & Jason Friedberg project, in which case I'll go with the latter.

Black Swan

Chances of me seeing it: 100%. I've seen all four of Darren Aronofsky's films to date and he's yet to make one that even approaches being bad, not to mention that his last film The Wrestler was his best ever and one of the best movies of the last ten years. If ol' Darren can get me riveted with something I care as little about as math in Pi and wrestling in The Wrestler I don't see why he can't pull off the hat trick with ballet. I'd see it even if it got horrible reviews, which I doubt will happen.

Chances of me liking it: 90%. It looks much more along the lines of traditional Aronofsky weirdness than The Wrestler, with some bizarre body horror shit with Natalie Portman growing feathers (possibly just in her head, but with a filmmaker this crazy who knows?), so I'll provide room for the possibility that Aronofsky's ambition could get away from him. But The Wrestler proved that he tends to get career-best performances out of his actors and Portman gives a better performance in this trailer alone than the entirety of the last half-dozen films I've seen her in, and the movie looks visually beautiful, intense, creepy, and lesbiany enough that I think it's poised to be one of fall's most fascinating offerings. I'm hyped.

New trailers for Narnia, documentaries, mockumentaries, lousy horror movies, and more after the jump...

Case 39

Chances of me seeing it: 10%. Oh hey, Renée Zellweger is apparently still starring in movies. News to me! Did any of you guys know that? This time she's starring in the bastard spawn of The Exorcist and The Ring, and bro did you see when that CGI bug came out of that guy's ear, whoa dude, I'm so scared right now!

Chances of me liking it: 1%. Fun fact — this movie was shot back in 2006, and is apparently so bad that the studio pushed its release date back over and over again for four years to finally land on October 1st, 2010, hoping to stave off the mockery for as long as possible. Watching the trailer, that seems 'bout right.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Chances of me seeing it: 99%. I saw the first two and have strong completionist urges, and it wouldn't be like me to miss out on a theatrically-released blockbuster fantasy epic.

Chances of me liking it: 40%. The Narnia movies aren't great. They're like xeroxes of xeroxes of The Lord of the Rings, the original scope and vision withered away to leave behind candy colors and obvious CGI animals, but they're on a boat voyage this time around so maybe it'll be like a kind of fantasy road trip movie. Not to mention that apparently (despite their appearance for a split second in the trailer) the older two Pevensie kids don't appear in the novel and will only have tiny cameos in the movie, and let's be honest, the fewer Pevensie kids the better. Prince Caspian actually held my attention pretty well when the Pevensies weren't on screen.

Fair Game

Chances of me seeing it: 90%. Big production values, heightened drama, topical story about Iraq and the Bush administration, award-winning stars playing real people; yes, make no mistake, this movie is going for Oscar gold! It'd be nice to be able to fully participate in the Oscar conversation when the time comes.

Chances of me liking it: 60%. From the trailer alone you can see that Fair Game is walking the razor edge of plunging into full-speed-ahead eye-rolling preachiness, as every Sean Penn movie that touches on politics threatens to do, and I dare you not to laugh out loud at Penn's "How dare you talk about my wife!" at 1:41, somehow simultaneously overacted and underacted. But he isn't the lead here, Naomi Watts is, and Naomi Watts is a pretty damn good actress and it's hard to deny that an act of unapologetic treason by Bush's White House warrants cinematic attention. Let's just hope they do it right.


Chances of me seeing it: 40%. I've never read Freakonomics and I have no immediate plans to (if anything is enjoyed by that many Americans then there's frankly no way that it's meaningfully intelligent or perceptive), but if I want to know what it's all about then I'll probably just pick up the damn book. Is this movie really necessary? It reminds me of the classic Onion article, "New Harry Potter Film Turns Children On To Magic Of Not Reading."

Chances of me liking it: 20%. The hopelessly quirky music and animations in the trailer don't bode that well, and the fact that Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me, the most overrated documentary of all time, is partially behind it bodes worse still. And is part of the movie really dedicated to the fact that white people and black people tend to have different names? Wow, amazing observation, filmmakers.

I'm Still Here

Chances of me seeing it: 70%. Well, I'm as curious as anyone else what Joaquin Phoenix's year of pretending to be insane was really all about. Not curious enough that poor or even mediocre reviews wouldn't deter me, though.

Chances of me liking it: 35%. Once you get past the humor of the intentionally melodramatic filmmaking, is crazy Joaquin really going to be enjoyable to spend the length of a feature with? Remains to be seen.

Little Fockers

Chances of me seeing it: 40%. Ugh, I don't know. I liked Meet the Parents back in the day, I'll admit. Meet the Fockers less so, which bodes poorly for this late third entry. My completionist urges might flare up at any moment though, like a cancer that drives me into theaters to watch shitty movies.

Chances of me liking it: 5%. The thing about Meet the Parents is that there was actually a meaningful conflict at the heart of it — Ben Stiller getting married to Teri Polo depended on him giving a good impression to Robert De Niro. Major life changes for the protagonist hinged on the weekend we saw in that film. It was, in its own small way, important. Now that Stiller and Polo are happily married and have kids, I mean, who gives a shit? Stiller can tell De Niro to fuck off and the credits would roll with no meaningful impact on his life.

Love and Other Drugs

Chances of me seeing it: 50%. This one is strange. The trailer looks like a pretty generic romantic comedy sort of flick, but if you look closer you'll see that it's directed by Edward Zwick, i.e. the director of Glory, Legends of the Fall, The Siege, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, and Defiance, an endless stream of war movies and epics with grand ambitions and sweeping cinematography. Love and Other Drugs sticks out like a bizarre sore thumb in his filmography as surely as if Woody Allen decided to do a sci-fi action thriller. I'm just kind of curious to see what the deal is, so that, combined with the fact that Anne Hathaway is probably my favorite A-list actress these days, may persuade me to watch.

Chances of me liking it: 40%. If I go it'll be because the reviews are good, and if the reviews are good it's probably because the movie's good, so the chances of me seeing it and liking it are intrinsically linked.

My Soul to Take

Chances of me seeing it: 20%. Wes Craven has made a few good movies and a lot of crap in his four decades as a one-man horror factory, and my first impression is that this is of the latter category. I can't quite tell from the trailer if it's a psychological thriller or just another dead teenager slasher. Still, I'll keep a potentially open mind on the small chance that good reviews come in. And while this doesn't affect the quality of the actual film, has a trailer had a more poorly-chosen final song ever?

Chances of me liking it: 15%. Again, the odds of me liking it are closely linked to the odds of me seeing it at all, because there's no way I'll watch My Soul to Take sans surprisingly strong reviews.

The Next Three Days

Chances of me seeing it: 70%. Prison break? All right, I can dig! I spent the first part of this trailer really confused, thinking "wait, haven't I seen this trailer before?" until I realized I was thinking of the trailer for the Hilary Swank Oscar-bait Conviction, a movie where you break your loved ones out of jail by going to law school and proving their innocence, when everyone knows that you're supposed to break your loved ones out of jail by getting advice from Ra's al Ghul and using a gun.

Chances of me liking it: 50%. I enjoy a good thriller as much as the next guy, if not more, so there's nothing left to do but wait and hope that this movie can keep the plot taut enough, the action exciting enough, and the morality gray enough to deliver the thrills. I also hope that Elizabeth Banks can muster up the gravitas to anchor her part of the story, because her Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W. was goofy at best.

Nice Guy Johnny

Chances of me seeing it: 0%. Kill me now.

Chances of me liking it: 0%. Fuck this twee bullshit.

The Virginity Hit

Chances of me seeing it: 60%. I have seen many, many comedies about high school nerds trying to purge their virginities, and it's a subgenre that ranges widely in quality all the way from my favorite comedy of the last five years (Superbad) to one of the absolute worst films of the last five years (I Love You, Beth Cooper). I'm open to the idea that any similar film that comes along could be one of the funniest of the year or a piece of crap with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but I'm inclined to check it out if the reviews are at least decent.

Chances of me liking it: 30%. I have actually watched and enjoyed a couple of director Huck Botko's past mockumentary films, but the thing is that they were like ten minutes long. Who knows if he can maintain humor for the length of a feature. The only laugh I had in the trailer was at "you look like a child pornographer," but with this genre it's possible that the film has more funny parts too filthy for a theatrical preview. The fact that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are producing could either give it extra polish or mean that Botko's insanity has been neutered into something mainstream.

And the week's winner is: This one is an easy call. Black Swan, hands down. It's the only film that looks like it has genuine artistry and originality behind it, the only one that looks daring and bold and I can't predict one thing about the resolution of from watching the trailer. I've been disappointed by many films in my day but none from Aronofsky yet, and I have high hopes that Black Swan could be one of 2010's best offerings. I suppose second place would have to go to Fair Game, but it's a distant second.

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