Casa De Mi Padre (March 16)
Rembert Browne: Will Ferrell is in a great place right now. This is the fourth wave of his career and perhaps the Era of Ferrell I'm most excited about. He has already had his rise to fame (SNL), his string of classics (Old School, Zoolander, Anchorman), and his Sandler phase (Kicking & Screaming, Semi-Pro). The key is that he successfully made it through the Sandler "I am just going to keep making movies because I can and I don't care if fewer and fewer people laugh because I got bills, son" period, remembered how to be really funny again, and is now getting weird and experimental. That's what Casa De Mi Padre, an absurd movie completely in subtitles, screams out to the public. "Get weird with your old pal, Will." I don't know what I'm getting myself into with this movie, but I genuinely can't wait.
Dan Silver: Although this new trailer raises my excitement level for Casa De Mi Padre to a ridiculous level, I can’t help but fear that the film’s conceit will not sustain itself for 90 minutes. It all feels like an SNL skit, and the trailer comes off like a Digital Short or one of Ferrell’s own Funny or Die videos. But it’s hard not to root for a film that is clearly making every effort to be unique. It’s also hard not to root for Diego Luna’s awesome mustache. Since it appears the filmmakers have painstakingly tried to emulate, embrace, and celebrate the Mexican Telenovela -- and despite Ferrell looking like he’s at his most silly/earnest -- the movie will most likely not have the same broad appeal of Ferrell’s other comedies. But if Casa De Mi Padre can capture the Foot Fist Way buzz-wave and audience, then maybe it could leave a lasting impression on the comedy landscape.
Friends with Kids (March 9)
Silver: Since the cast of Friends with Kids is made up of four of the primary actors from Bridesmaids, the easy way to start a post about the film would be to take the hackneyed local TV movie critic approach and call it the “inevitable sequel this past summer’s biggest comedy." But in fact, this film was most likely shot and in the can well before Bridesmaids was released. The other totally lazy way into discussing Friends with Kids is to make a forced Judd Apatow connection, since almost everyone seen in the trailer has been in or will be in an Apatow-directed or produced comedy. But I’d like to come at Friends With Kids with my pure excitement for the directorial debut of writer/performer Jennifer Westfeldt, who’s responsible for the lovely Kissing Jessica Stein (to this day, still one of my favorite movie titles). So here’s hoping Friends With Kids is more honest and heartfelt than its pedestrian rom-com trailer makes it out to be.
Browne: As long as Jennifer Westfeldt comes out with a statement (addressed to me) admitting that this story is loosely based off of Season 5 of Will & Grace, I will gladly support and enjoy this movie.
Silver: There have been many successful and high quality U.S. remakes of foreign films (the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs was turned into Scorsese’s The Departed, and Matt Reeves’ Le Me In was a solid foil to Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In), but if cinema history has taught audiences anything, it’s that if the director of the original is helming the U.S. remake…then run the other way. George Slulzer’s 1993 The Vanishing didn’t come close to capturing the intensity of his 1988 Dutch original, and Ole Bornedal lost all the nuance and scares when he remade his Danish Nightwatch for U.S. audiences in 1997. So for LOL, a Miley Cyrus starrer, and a Lisa Azuelos’ remake of her own French film, other than the obvious Britney Spears Crossroads comparisons, what else do you need to know? The French version looks so much better.
Side Note: For a trailer which relies so heavily on clichéd voice over (“This year. There comes a movie about breaking free.”), what does it say about the actual film when the VO guy doesn’t even read the title out loud? We’re supposed to assume he couldn’t read it without laughing, right?
Browne: Demi Moore is playing Miley Cyrus' mom. Based on looks, maturity, and number of racy Twitpics sent in 2011, the roles easily could have been flipped and I wouldn't have noticed.
Side Note: Ladies and Gentlemen, Daniel Silver just mentioned "Scorsese," "Miley Cyrus," and the movie "Crossroads" in the same paragraph. This has never happened before in the history of the written word. Someone get this man into an advance screening to LOL.
Detachment (March 16)
Dan Silver: Adrien Brody brushes the Predators tarnish off his Oscar and comes out of hiding to lead a killer cast of character actors in Detachment (yeah, he was in Midnight in Paris…but for like five minutes). Per IMDB Detachment is “A chronicle of three weeks in the lives of several high school teachers, administrators and students as seen through the eyes of a substitute teacher.” But from director Tony Kaye, the provocative director of the criminally forgotten and the emotionally charged American History X, I’m betting this film is going to be the cinematic equivalent of a punch in the gut. What more, in the trailer we get a glimpse of Isiah Whitlock Jr. so there’s a good chance they’ll be some shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit talking.
Browne: I can tell this movie is going to wreck me emotionally, in a way most of the other "good teacher comes into school, tries to save students" films could not. After the trailer, part of you assumes you've seen this plot numerous times, but there's something else about it that screams "I'm different. You need to watch me." I've never been a huge Adrian Brody fan, but that will undoubtedly change after this film.
Side by Side (TBD)
Browne: Keanu Reeves made a smart, cool documentary. I know you think I'm setting up a joke, but I'm not. Silver, please explain.
Silver:: A documentary film about the unfortunate, but inevitable death of 35mm films was inevitable (just two days ago, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy), I just didn’t think the guy to get it done would have been Keanu Reeves. But by golly, not only did Mr. Reeves produce Side by Side, he conducted many of the interviews himself. From the faces featured in the trailer (Cameron, Lucas, Scorsese, Soderbergh) to the lengthy list of additional noteworthy interviewees it’s clear that Reeves and filmmaker Chris Kenneally took this endeavor seriously and got ALL the right folks to talk. The trailer probably doesn’t do much to build excitement outside of the film geek/tech geek community -- I’m going to be very curious to hear the reaction from folks after it premieres at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival -- but for anyone who’s a film fan and might be interested in how films were and are made, this could be a thoroughly entertaining watch.
I Am Bruce Lee (February 9)
Silver: Filmic endeavors focused on Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali tend to poke their heads out every few years. But honestly, who cares? If you’re going to spend 90 minutes watching anything, I’d take Ali jabbering and Lee fighting over Kevin James talking with animals any day. And although the film clips and sound bites from Lee are all too familiar, I Am Bruce Lee might be worth watching if only to hear Taboo and Kobe Bryant wax philosophical about the man.
Browne: I was really getting into this trailer of alternating Bruce Lee clips and celebrities talking about what the man meant to them, until a quote rattled me out of my happy place:
Bruce Lee, Bob Dylan, Ali, Jay-Z, Tiger, Kobe, Jordan -- They all have the same spirit.
What does this even mean? What is their common spirit? Fame? Adultery? The ability to be immortalized on posters? I hope between now and the release of this film, this failed attempt at a powerful statement is cut from the final product.