Spring Breakers — Red Band (March 15 — Limited / March 22 — Wide)
Silver: I’ve been more curious about this film than I’ve been excited. All the trailers/promos haven’t helped dissuade my apprehensions that this was anything more than a barely legal circus of exploitative debauchery. I’m no prude. When expectations are set properly (Russ Meyer or Roger Corman, for instance), I’ll strap on my mayhem helmet and run headfirst into the depths of cinematic dystopia. And I anticipated something with a little more depth from Harmony Korine, writer/director of Julien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely. This latest red-band peek turned me around some. Before the now-expected barrage of visual iniquities gets unleashed, the first 1:13 of this trailer are actually quite compelling. Franco’s self-reflexive monologue is the first indication that Spring Breakers might have some metaphoric meat on its bones, and I like how the theme of control, over oneself and others, is hinted at. For my taste, this is a much more effective and engaging look at a film I was most likely going to pass on.
Browne: It's either going to be a classic or just a miserable film. I don't see much middle ground with Spring Breakers. One thing I have to applaud, no matter the end result of this film, is this decision:
6 Souls (April 5)
Silver: When I know a film’s been shelved for a prolonged period of time, I like to play a little game where I try to date the film simply based on its trailer. 6 Souls was a tough one. I immediately placed it somewhere around 2009 or 2010. Back when Jonathan Rhys Meyers was considered above-the-line talent. The presence of Julianne Moore was vexing, and I had not heard of the film’s directors. I was stumped. So I went to Moore’s IMDb page and was reminded of the gaping hole of mediocrity in her filmography between 2006 and 2009, post–Children of Men and pre–A Single Man. It was a time when former Academy darlings were toplining generic thrillers and horror films: Hilary Swank in The Reaping, Kate Hudson in The Skeleton Key, and Moore in such roles as Callie, the token female lead in the Nicolas Cage opus Next, or in the nap-inducing Blindness (a rare Fernando Meirelles misfire). Then I looked up the directors, Marlind and Stein (which sounds more like a skincare-product manufacturer than it does a directing duo) and noticed that they were able to prep, shoot, wrap, and release an entirely different film before this one even sniffed a kernel of popcorn (that film was Underworld: Awakening, released January 20, 2012 — that’s over a year ago). So needless to say, the only folks excited about the release of a film well past its expiration date like 6 Souls are the finance people Radius, and the film’s distributors, because they can now finally write the film off.
Browne: And that is how you ether a film.
I love it, Dan, when you "play a little game" that involves "guessing" how a film came to be and results in outlining, and then solving, all the mysteries that surround the release of a horrible film. I love that, Daniel Silver.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (April 26)
Silver: It’s more or less expected in Hollywood that filmmakers who’ve had small yet noteworthy critical success will at some point be given an opportunity to explore their range as directors in bigger, broader, and more widely released films. If said film fails, worst-case scenario is banishment to Hollywood limbo (better known as Lifetime Original Movies), but in the best of cases, it’s back to the indie world to stir up some noise and start the sequence all over again. The true talents, and dare I say “artists,” like Mira Nair, are the ones who make their mark, and their living, by taking full advantage of this cycle. Nair’s smaller films like Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, and The Namesake are beautifully shot and acted, and are intimate character pieces; but her grander efforts, Vanity Fair and Amelia, although visually beautiful, were mostly vapid, lacking focus and the sense of humanity inherent in her other films. Although the narrative of The Reluctant Fundamentalist feels large, and the stakes high, the film appears to be grounded in the experiences and emotions of a few characters. Seems like a perfect fit for Nair. Really looking forward to this one.
Browne: I couldn't help but feel like this movie should have come out six or seven years ago (yes, I understand the book wasn't even released until 2007), but if done well, which this looks to be, it most certainly should hold up in 2013. Also, as a Jack Bauer stan, it's fantastic to see Kiefer Sutherland back in action. Not surprising, however, to see him involved in a project about suspected terrorists. Everyone has a lane.
About Last Night (February 14, 2014)
Silver: Let’s try to sort this out:
1975: David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago premiers off-Broadway.
1986: Ed Zwick directs a script by Denise DeClue and Tim Kazurinsky (Sweetchuck from Police Academy) titled About Last Night... based on the Mamet play. The film was a box office success, but primarily remembered by countless teenage boys (until the release of Striptease) as “the film where Demi Moore takes her top off.”
2012: The ensemble romantic comedy Think Like a Man becomes one of the year's early box office success stories when it grosses $92 million (domestically) off a $12 million budget. That film is based on a book by comedian Steve Harvey.
2013: Three of Think Like a Man’s cast members — Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, and Regina Hall — are selected by director Will Gluck (Friends With Benefits and Easy A) to star in a remake of the 1986 About Last Night , the adapted version of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversion in Chicago. The first trailer for the film appears on the Internet around Valentine's Day, 2013 a FULL YEAR before the film’s actual release date.
So what’s the takeaway here? Answer: Michael Ealy and Kevin Hart should stick to rom-coms, and even go so far as remaking all the Brat Pack films. First up, Pretty in Pink, with Hart as Cryer’s Duckie and Ealy as Spader’s Steff.
Browne: The only thing you forgot was the part of the story where Michael Ealy allegedly dated Halle Berry and was the eye candy in the Beyoncé "Halo" video, subsequently becoming the most desired and envied man of all time. Other than that, you got everything right.
Stand Off (April 21)
Browne: Hey Dan, say something intelligent about this Brendan Fraser movie starring Brendan Fraser that somehow just popped up on my computer screen, giving all of my browsers new, interesting viruses.
Silver: I was immensely confused by this trailer. For the first few moments I wasn’t sure if Stand Off was a traditional gangster movie or a comedy (the appearance of Brendan Fraser caused that confusion). The trailer eventually settles in around the 47-second mark, and Hotel Rwanda’s Terry George’s name appear in the back end credit block as co-writer/director. So I’m going to just assume this is simply a shoddily produced trailer and that, despite Encino Man, this film is actually worth a try.
Kiss of the Damned (TBD)
Silver: We shouldn’t let the Cassavetes name on this film fool us (it’s written and directed by Xan Cassavetes, daughter of John and Gena Rowlands and brother of Nick). Kiss of the Damned looks like a watered-down version of an Abel Ferrara vampire movie. Oh wait, that movie already exists (see The Addiction). I’ll just go rent that.
Browne: So, I should not like this film. Because I never like these films. Because I hate vampires, vampire culture, and biting people who do not want to be bitten. But this looks weirdly awesome. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the sex, and maybe it was the sex music, but I was captivated through the entirety of this trailer.
And this is coming from someone who loathes True Blood, something with sex, music, and sex music.
I can't figure it out, but after one trailer, I'm weirdly all-in.
Silver: This is another one of those shelved films but WHO CARES! It’s a Western, about a gunslinger hunting down his victims who’ve come back from the dead as zombies, and that gunslinger is played by mother-frakking Wesley Snipes, rockin' the coolest salt-and-pepper beard I’ve ever seen. The fact that the entire film looks like it was shot on a deserted stretch of desert the size of a football field, where pieces of sets/scenery were shifted around and carted in and out depending on need, gets me even more excited. As long as Wesley gets to gurgle one-liners and kick people’s asses, I’m all-in on this film. At one point in this trailer, Snipes even wields a Blade-like sword. Rembert, please tell me you're as geeked-out as I am? And by the way, have you ever played roulette?
Browne: Unfortunately, I'm not. I wanted Wesley to bounce back, but not like this. Even though the plots are very different, it just feels like a straight-to-VHS Django copycat. Who knows how I'd feel about this had Tarantino's movie not come first, but I can't separate the films right now. Not yet.