Trance (March 27 — U.K. / TBD — USA)
Silver: I’m an ardent Danny Boyle fan (I even like The Beach), and him directing with Trainspotting and Shallow Grave writer John Hodge on an intimate crime caper is just what I’d want from him for his first film released post-Olympics (fun fact: The film was actually shot prior to Boyle’s work on the Opening Ceremony). And almost all of his signature stylistic touches pop up in this trailer: switching back and forth between film and video, unconventional camera angles during action scenes, the utilization of reflective surfaces. So what if the hypnotism element is a little cheesy? This looks like classic Boyle. And I, for one, can’t wait.
Browne: The hypnotism element is more than a little cheesy, Dan. I just get the sense this is one of those films that you're not supposed to find funny, but is filled with moments that cause muted laughter anyway. I'm sure it'll be good and hold my attention, because Boyle knows what he's doing, and the cast looks strong, but when they bring out the tarot cards two-thirds of the way in, I'm not going to be able to keep a straight face.
Only God Forgives — Teaser Clip (TBD)
Silver: Twenty seconds or 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Any glimpse at the reteaming of Ryan Gosling and Drive writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn is a welcome one. Drive is so good. So, so very good. For me, along with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy it was the best film of 2011. Though equally as good, it was much more visually restrained and deliberate with the camera moves than Refn’s previous Bronson and Valhalla Rising. And with a script containing minimal dialogue, the success of Drive was completely dependent on Refn’s ability to tell a story visually through the eyes and subtle gestures of its star. Similar to Drive, the conceit for Only God Forgives is just as eccentric: "A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match." What?! Yes, please! How can this not be great? Sadly, without a domestic release date set, I believe we’ll have to wait till next fall to see this pulpy opus, as it’ll most likely hit Cannes before dropping into our local movie theaters. Or I guess I could just buy a plane ticket to the south of France.
Browne: I don't have much to add here, because it's only 20 seconds, 12 of which aren't Gosling, so here's a video of Ryan on the Mickey Mouse Club singing a Jodeci song with J.C. Chasez and Justin Timberlake.
And here's a picture.
Pacific Rim — CES Trailer (July 12)
Silver: Aside from a few brief looks at the monster vs. robot action, there's not much new here. But the opportunity to see monster vs. robot action (old or new) is not a wasted one, since this is Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim. The freshest and juiciest morsel for geeks to chomp on, however, comes at the :29 mark. What is that fluorescent-green slime in the Jaegers' helmets? Is it some kind of equilibrium goop for the helmets? A modern cinema update on the oxygen-enriched pink liquid that Ed Harris had to swallow in The Abyss in order to submerge at great depths? When it comes to sci-fi, these kind of details are important; the kind of tidbits that ground and legitimize the fantasy for the audience. I can't wait to know and see more.
Browne: I don't know what it is. Maybe it's me getting older, maybe just an increased number of scary creatures that exist in movies these days, but there's pretty much nothing less frightening than "monsters." Perhaps it's Space Jam's fault, perhaps some blame goes to Monsters, Inc., and then there's Lady Gaga's legion of fans, but when I hear "monsters" in 2013, I almost smile. That isn't good for Pacific Rim. Also, as a friend just noted, the good guys kind of look like updated Power Rangers. Also not good. (NO SHOTS AT THE POWER RANGERS — YOU GUYS GOT ME THROUGH THE HARDEST OF TIMES.)
The Last Exorcism Part II (March 1)
Silver: It's right there in the title, folks, the LAST exorcism. By this rationale, shouldn't we have “exorcised” this demon after the 2010 original film was released? Clearly not. Because the hardest demon to subjugate is greed. And no entity is more possessed by greed than Hollywood. Regardless of how ridiculous and hackneyed this film looks, it was inevitable. There was no way that Hollywood's everlasting possessor wasn't going to get the best of the studio executives when the original $2 million film grossed $67.7 million (worldwide). We, the audience, are the only ones who have the power to vanquish this demon. How? Don't show up! Don't buy a ticket. Don't stream it on Netflix or purchase it on VOD. Just ignore it. And inevitably, films like this will go away. (But in true horror-movie form, they never really do go away. Do they? Five, 10, 15 years down the road, they'll just rear their mediocre heads again.)
Browne: No. Just no.
Wrong (February 1 — VOD / March 29 — Theaters)
Silver: Did you see the film Rubber, about a psychotic rubber tire named Robert who kills people with his telepathic powers? Well, I did, and it was awesome. And yes, you read right, the film is about a car tire who has a name and murderous psychic powers (Rubber is currently available on Netflix streaming, and I strongly suggest you check it out). Wrong is Quentin Dupieux’s follow-up, and this peculiar and rhythmic trailer (which I’d say is the quirkier cousin to the similar, but much darker, Requiem for a Dream trailer) would have sold me even without the praise I heaped on Rubber. I did a legit coffee spit take when the great character actor William Fichtner (whose voice is almost unrecognizable here) said, “I had a very surprising dream last night. Your dog passed you by, in a bus. In a bus like a regular commuter.” And I can’t wait to hear more about subconscious video signals depicting latent memories from dog poo from the always hilarious Steve Little. No doubt this is going to be a weird film. It sure appears to be entertaining.
Browne: This is one of those trailers for which, 20 seconds in, you have to tell yourself you're willing to go down any road the action and plotlines take you (reminiscent of 2012's Seven Psychopaths). The trailer was weird, but it wasn't annoyingly weird. Or weird just to be weird. It was thoughtfully weird, calculatedly weird, with some sort of weird linear thought process behind all the weirdness. This is hard to pull off, because so much weird is bad. But this is good weird. And if you're weird, I think this is going to be great weird.
Silver: Jean Dujardin’s stubbly handsomeness and Tim Roth’s attempt to speak French don’t quite make up for my misinterpretation of almost anything going on in this trailer (I assume this film is about a spy sleeping with another spy, whose spy boss does not like it). But this thriller’s trailer is encouraging to me, mostly because I can only assume that Mobius’s director or casting director loves the same TV shows as I do. Why else would he feature so many solid supporting actors like Friday Night Lights's Brad Leland, The Wire's Wendell Pierce, and Rescue Me's John Scurti? And for those who are fans of Pierce and Scurti, their pairing as government agents is inspired. I’d like to see an Odd Couple–esque, clandestine government workplace comedy spin-off with just these two.
Browne: Bunk and Buddy Garrity were a phenomenal surprise to an otherwise confusing trailer. With that said, I am glad all roads came back to the idea of the Möbius strip. As an amateur mathematician and onetime taker of AP Physics, anytime the aforementioned disciplines make their way into the main plot of a film, I'm thrilled. It's still a mystery what this strip has to do with a film that seems to just be about good people sleeping with bad people, but I will seek out this film to find out. Excitedly.
42 (April 12)
Silver: Rem, back in September you noted that the use of Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn Go Hard” diminished what was otherwise a solid teaser for 42. I’m going to be curious to hear what you have to say now, because quite honestly, this trailer inspired the hell out of me. And I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s the baseball, maybe it’s the cast (Ford, Black, Meloni, Tudyk), or the behind-the-scenes talent (Helgeland, Tull, Burgess), but one thing's for certain, I’m just not willing to quickly admonish this trailer for its heavy-handedness. Nevertheless, I do have my issues. This is a very long and unfocused trailer that attempts to pack as many story points and emotional baggage into 2:34 as it possibly can. To me, this is not a good sign. It leads me to believe that the studio doesn’t exactly know how to sell this film to the public. And who’s to blame them? 2008's The Express was the last film to come out that looked anything like this, and it tanked so badly it almost buried the sports film genre. My other issue is less a concern and more a matter of personal taste. I’d previously mentioned that I was impressed with the overall look of the film (“The visuals pop off the screen like old Life magazines or Norman Rockwell paintings come to life”), but this time around, the glossy sheen of Hollywood “remake work” was off-putting to me. Granted, I tend to gravitate to films with grittier and looser camera work, but I find myself less and less impressed with the immaculate look of many period pieces that have come out in recent years. Even a film like The Natural looked and felt more real than what I’m seeing here. Regardless, I’ve come all the way around on 42 and am really looking forward to it.
Browne: My feelings about this film, after the second trailer, are the exact opposite of the first. This time, the music captivated me (the buildup to the Jay song, and the timing at which it was used, was fantastic) and the story began to lose some of the punch that it packed on the first go-around. Maybe it was the "Hollywood sheen" that you mentioned, Silver, but it also left me feeling as if they're attempting to over-dramatize an already dramatic story. This isn't a boring story, and I hope the filmmakers realize that they have a lot of drama to work with inherently. At some points in this trailer, 42 is reminiscent of Remember the Titans — for better, and other times, unfortunately, for worse.