Silver: What’s not to like about this? Really? I honestly can’t find a thing. The cast is amazing. The tone is reminiscent of early Apatow, when his films danced down the razor-thin line between comedy and drama, and then (sorta) knew when to end. A.C.O.D. looks to contain as much heart as it contains laughs. (That line was the most douchey, pull quote-y sounding phrase I’ve ever composed. I’m a little ashamed, but I'm sticking to it.)
I must admit, I’m a little disappointed that the amazing Mary Elizabeth Winstead didn’t make it into the parade of top-billed performers. It might just be me, since I appear to have been the only person to have seen Scott Pilgrim in the theater (twice), but I think she has earned at least a mention alongside these performers. If only based on her performance in Smashed.
Also, it’s near impossible for me to see Adam Scott and Richard Jenkins playing father and son without picturing Derek’s ripped abs playing atop an a cappella version of “Sweet Child of Mine.”
Yoshida: Yeah, that's the only thing that sticks out at me at the end of this otherwise serviceable trailer — why is Mary Elizabeth Winstead the head-tilting "beautiful girlfriend" shown to us for exactly half a second, and Jessica Alba is the one with speaking lines who makes out with Adam Scott in the kitchen? Is MEW just too hideously unattractive to be believable in such a passionate situation? Don't get it.
Aside from that, this looks fantastic. The older generation of the cast (O'Hara, Lynch, and Jenkins) are all people I could spend six movies with in a row and never tire of, and as an A.C.O.D. myself, I'm sure there will be lots of things in this film that will send me home with an invigorating feeling of mild panic as I drive home in the rain. (I'm not sure why it's raining in Los Angeles in this hypothetical situation — maybe because it was raining after I saw Silver Linings Playbook and had a similar experience.) There's a slightly janky edge to this film that makes me want to root for it even more, especially because according to IMDb, writer/director Stu Zicherman is "known for" writing Elektra, and everyone deserves a second chance.
Oh, and why are terrible trailer voice-overs coming back? I thought it was just Jobs, but it appears to be spreading.
Don Jon — Trailer B (September 27)
Silver: Don Jon’s first trailer did a good job of establishing the film’s tenor, Levitt’s character, and the porn-obsession element. And although I enjoyed that trailer more, the supped-up focus on the ScarJo/Levitt relationship will ultimately help the film have a broader appeal.
I’m really rooting for Don Jon to succeed. I never watched 3rd Rock From the Sun, and paid little attention to him in film like 10 Things I Hate About You (which was a good movie) and Halloween H2O (which was not). So my first real introduction to him was in Brick. I respected the hell out of him for having the guts to topline a tiny idiosyncratic piece like that when he could have been looking to break out with much more mainstream fare. I’ve trusted his choices ever since.
Yoshida: It's no "My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn," but it'll do. This trailer at least confirms my suspicion that Scarlett Johansson's research for this role consisted solely of watching every one of Drea de Matteo's scenes in The Sopranos.
Disney Nature: Bears (April 18)
Yoshida: Just want to say before I watch this that there's no way this film's target audience will be referring to this film as "Disney Nature: Bears." It will be "Bear Movie," and it will be whined at peak volume until said target audience's guardians finally relent and shell out for a third screening. OK, proceed.
Silver: Yes, Disney owns ESPN, and yes, ESPN owns Grantland, but you’d have to be dead inside not get a little stirred or choked up by this. Nature docs are like surfing docs. They have their own style and cinematic language. They both spend equal amounts of time telling a story as they do visually expressing an emotion. The grandeur of a 20-foot wave or a grizzly bear on its hind legs; these are images that if captured and presented in the right way are immensely effective and speak for themselves. I didn’t see the chimpanzee doc that Disney Nature released, but heard it was great. I won’t be missing this one. In fact, I’ll be seated right next to my 4-year-old son on opening weekend.
Yoshida: BEAR MOVIE. BEAR MOOOOOOVIEEEE. BEEEEAAAAAR MOOOOVIIIIIIEEEEE.
The Wind Rises — Film Festival Trailer (TBD)
Silver: I honestly don’t know how else to say this, but Hayao Miyazaki is the truth.
Yoshida: PREACH, SILVER.
Silver: To label him Japan’s version of Don Bluth and Pixar blended together would be doing him an immense disservice, and yet, from my American-centric point of view, those are the filmmaking entities I’m always reminded of most when I experience one of Miyazaki’s films. Yes, “experience,” that’s the right word. From Porco Rosso to the more well-known Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, each of Miyazaki’s film envelopes and transports. But it’s Miyazaki’s characters and the journeys they take that have captivated audiences on a global scale.
I’ve always respected Miyazaki for sticking with animation. It’s the medium/tool that allows him to be most effective. What intrigues me about The Wind Rises is that the film appears to be one that, with any other filmmaker steering the ship, could have been a big-budget and glossy live-action period war drama. There are no mystical worlds or creatures, just human drama. So I’m excited to see what Miyazaki does with a much more grounded narrative.
Yoshida: I can't really overstate how excited I am for this. I would be excited about pretty much whatever Miyazaki put out next — he's on my permanent short list of living geniuses, alongside Wong Kar-wai and, like, Björk — but the fact that this is such a departure from the more fantastical Ponyo and Howl makes me so happy, because his ability to transport and create wildly inventive creatures and visuals is matched only by his intimate understanding of the most mundane human phenomena. I think of Satsuki and Mei exploring the house in Totoro, or more recently, Sosuke's stressed-out mom downing a Sapporo and then fixing some magical ramen in Ponyo, as some of the most simple yet universally true images ever put to film.
Dealing critically with pre- and postwar Japan has raised some nationalist hackles back home (where The Wind Rises has been no. 1 at the box office for four weeks), but this makes me hopeful for something as unwavering as Strong Candidate for Most Depressing Film Ever Grave of the Fireflies, which Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli produced back in 1988. Given Miyazaki's known love of flight, and the horrific use to which Japan put it in World War II, I don't expect this to be anything less than devastating.
C.O.G. (September 20)
Silver: David Sedaris fans of the world rejoice! Your beloved author’s first feature-film adaptation is here (the film is based on one of Sedaris’s short stories from the book Naked). I, for one, am curious to see how Sedaris’s sense of humor, which works so well on the page, translates to the screen. The film is chock full of Broadway theater transplants and solid character actors (I see you, Corey Stoll), so I think it’ll come down to how first-time writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez does. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in Drama at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival. So that has to be a good sign, right?
Yoshida: Peter Russo and Spencer Little Liar in a film written by David Sedaris? Sure, why not?
300: Rise of an Empire — International Trailer (March 7)
Silver: It’s remarkable how a mere 60 seconds can completely turn me off to a film. The gratuitous and exaggerated imagery showcased feel almost as superfluous as this gratuitous and exaggerated sequel. In cinema years, eight years is a lifetime (yeah, 300 was released in 2006), so it’s no surprise that this trailer heavily features Game of Thrones’s Lena Headey, speaking in a very Cersei-like accent. And how about these two disingenuous, intentionally misleading title cards: “From Producer Zack Snyder” / “The Director of300 and Man of Steel.” The translucence here is awe-inspiring. Warner Bros. should just stand on the street and mug people.
Yoshida: Oh, ladies of 300. I know you got bills to pay, but neither of you deserve this. (I'd propose a "How We Fix This" for Eva Green's career except I have absolutely no idea how we would at this point. And that bums me out.)
Fading Gigolo — Film Festival Trailer (TBD)
Silver: On July 29, at 3:17 pm ET, I tweeted:
Can someone please tell me how I just found out about FADING GIGOLO today?! Woody Allen playing John Turturo's pimp?! http://t.co/vo72UBAQEO
— Danielsilver11 (@Danielsilver11) July 29, 2013
So here’s how I came to that tweet. I was on one of my all-too-typical IMDbPro-Rabbit-Hole lunch breaks, in which I ask myself, “Hmm, what’s person X working on? And without typing their name into the search box, what’s the shortest route I can take to get to person X by starting from any of the films listed on the home page and only clicking through titles and other people?”
Yoshida: Man, there are so many good IMDb games. Remind me to tell you about the one I invented that's like Balderdash except with movie taglines instead of word definitions. Anyway, continue:
Silver: In the process, I always tend to look at the films listed as "In Production" on people’s pages, just to get a sense of what’s coming up. And the July 29 tweet appeared shortly after my clicks brought me to Sofia Vergara’s page (I’m not telling what steps brought me to her).
You know when something’s so hot it almost feels cold? That’s sort of where my emotions are for this film. I’m so beyond eager to see Woody Allen play not just a pimp, but Jon Turturro’s pimp, that my emotions remain oddly in check.
I nearly had a heart attack simply after the first line of this trailer: “I was at my dermatologist today. And she was with her girlfriend, and they came to the conclusion that they both wanted to have a ménage. And she asked me if I knew anybody. And I said yeah, it’ll cost you a thousand bucks.”
Anytime Woody Allen starts a statement with "I was at my dermatologist today," you know whatever comes next is bound to be good.
Can we please get a release date for this now?!
Yoshida: As Molly put it earlier this week: "Who hasn't dreamed about a night of passion with Barton Fink, Herbie Stempel, Jesus Quintana, Coach Billy Sunday, or Pino from Do the Right Thing?" It was a rhetorical question, I think, but the answer is nobody. Not one person. Now I'm just going to start training for the inevitable drinking game centered around Woody Allen's utterance of the word "ménage."