Divergent (March 21)
Silver: What is going on? Is the jelly bean bowl on the inspiration coffee table that picked through that so-called creative executives in Hollywood now just simply licking their fingers for bits of the candy coating that fell off the Hunger Games–flavored bean? And then passing that off to us, assuming we don’t the know the difference between real candy and neglected scraps?
Or is there an artistic propaganda conspiracy at play, and is Hollywood attempting to prepare humanity for the impending apocalypse? An apocalypse in which the civilians lucky enough to survive will have to submit to a fascist dictatorship and either kill their kids for fun, genetically breed/enhance them, somehow find out they have magical powers, or simply rest the fate of the entire human race in their hormonal hands?
I’m well aware that all this is reading like your elderly neighbor screaming at everyone to stay off his lawn, but I simply am not, in any way, excited by any of these films. And this is saying something. Because if I hadn’t seen this trailer, and you told me that Shailene Woodley was going to reunite with her The Spectacular Now cohort Miles Teller, in a film directed by Limitless and The Illusionist’s Neil Burger, costarring Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Maggie Q, and Ray Stevenson, I’d ask you if the Alamo Drafthouse was going to be holding midnight screenings.
And yet, I watch this 1:16 and am just utterly numb.
Yoshida: I think this trailer premiered during the VMAs. I had some friends over to watch the show and we naturally just talked over most of it, but when this ad came on, one person kept asking, "What is this movie? What is this movie?" and I, fancying myself the trailer expert of the group, kept saying, "The new Hunger Games. The new Hunger Games." I was watching the whole trailer, too, as closely as I could in a room full of people, and my friend kept saying, "No, what is this movie, though?" and I kept saying, "The new Hunger Games," thinking she maybe just couldn't hear me. Then they showed the final title card, and it was something called Divergent, and I reached deep in my memory bank of some trendpiece I'd read a year ago about teen dystopia adventures and remembered that there was going to be a Shailene Woodley one, too, and this must be that thing.
All that said, I'd take a million YA apocalypse adventures over the wave of supernatural romances that is thankfully pretty much behind us. At least these girls are supposed to have a destiny greater than being implanted with a hybrid monster baby. I'll probably skip Divergent, but I know at age 12 I would have not been able to get enough of all these combat-heavy stories of teenage rebellion.
Dallas Buyers Club (December 6)
Silver: It may have officially come 17 years after he was first anointed, but there’s zero doubt (at least in my mind) that Matthew McConaughey is now Hollywood’s golden boy. Don’t you remember all the hype around him when he was picked out of relative obscurity to star in 1996’s A Time to Kill? He was the next big thing. But even though he had some shiny moments — U-571, Tropic Thunder, and my personal favorite, Reign of Fire — the promise that most saw in him wound up being buried under a pile of hackneyed dramas and rom-coms. It wasn’t till he slipped on Killer Joe’s cowboy hat two years ago that folks remembered this guy could actually act.
So we all should prepare ourselves, because this is the year of Senor Shirtless. He’s already delivered an award-worthy performance in Mud, one of the best films of the year. He’s been cast as the lead in the new Christopher Nolan film, and in two scenes, completely owns the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s next film, The Wolf of Wall Street.
And now this. Our first look at Dallas Buyers Club.
Normally, this would be the point where I go off on some tangent about how extreme physical transformation and playing a terminally ill patient was a calculated career move for award recognition. But I honestly don’t believe that’s the case here. Over the past two years McConaughey seems to be only taking roles he really cares about. Even in the heavier stuff like Mud, he looks like he’s having fun and seems more invested than in the past. He’s built up a ton of trust with me. So I’m going to choose not to be cynical here and place my faith in ol’ Wooderson.
Oh, one more thing. Emily, do my eyes deceive me, or was that Jordan Catalano (a.k.a. Jared Leto) in drag?
Yoshida: Does that explain his awesome hair?
This looks great, though skinny McConaughey is no less hard to look at onscreen as he was in the tabloids. This is one of those trailers that seems to be telling a really unique story that we haven't heard before, and you get excited that somebody took a chance on such an unusual premise, and then you realize it's based on a true story, which is really the only way anything not completely Save-the-Catty gets made. Still, very interested in this one.
We Are What We Are (TBD)
Silver: With its small-town setting and domineering, possibly delusional, patriarch, the film brings back memories of Bill Paxton’s terrifying Frailty. And who wouldn’t want to watch the always fun Michael Parks grumble his way through 90-plus minutes? But other than the allure of seeing Kelly McGillis in … well, anything (so glad you’re alive, Kelly. Welcome back.), and finding out more about the creepy, pale, blonde murderous sisters, what is it that’s going to make this film so special?
I understand why movies without a superhero or superstar have to rely more on pull quotes to attract audiences. But lately this tactic is much too commonplace, and in effect, entirely untrustworthy. Especially when it comes to horror films. You’re Next was an enjoyable, albeit extremely predictable, film. But it wasn’t even close to the genre-changing opus the film’s marketing led us to believe.
So I’m going to let We Are What We Are go when it’s released in the theaters and grab it on the VOD flip side.
Yoshida: So, do they eat people, or are they just really into chili? Was the original title We Are What We Eat until they decided they wanted to try to pick up some Independent Spirit awards? I might actually see this one in theaters, mostly because I want to believe it's like a soggier, ruraler, Sundance-approved The 'Burbs, and that seems like a pretty solid premise.
The Turning (TBD)
Silver: Let me set the scene. I’m dressed like Freddie Roman, standing on an empty stage in the dining hall of a Catskills resort, holding a microphone, and I play this trailer. Once it's over, I ask:
“How many directors does it take to make a Terrence Malick movie?
“Seventeen. One to make the intended movie, and then 16 to shoot completely different movies that will eventually be shoehorned to fit into one coherent narrative.”
[Cue rim shot.]
This isn’t being entirely fair. In truth, The Turning is a collection of 17 individually shot short films based on Australian writer Tim Winton’s work. And I have no idea how the film is going to turn out, but come on, this so looks like another plodding and incoherent Malick movie, right?
Yoshida: All I could think while watching this was that there must be something very uniquely beautiful about being Australian that makes you look up at the sky all the time with awe and wonder and think about the world and your place in it. I wonder if that's what non-American viewers think when they see a Malick trailer? Gosh, being American looks so dramatic and spiritual and important. Then I was happy to see that all your favorite Australian actors (which is, you know, most of them) get to actually be Australian in this movie, which is great! This is one of those ones that looks like I could potentially enjoy it, but I'll need someone I trust to vet it for me first.
Child of God — Teaser (TBD)
Silver: Let me be just another voice in the “How the hell does James Franco find the time?” parade.
This all-too-brief peek at Child of God is the second trailer we’ve seen for a film he’s written AND directed AND will star in within the last four months (the other being As I Lay Dying). And on IMDb, his OTHER film (yes, a third one he wrote, directed, and will star in) Black Dog, Red Dog is listed as being in post-production.
Which raises the question and subsequent theory — is Emma Watson really Hermione Granger? And if she is, does that mean her Time Turner really exists? Because I then believe she lent said Time Turner to Franco while they were shooting This Is the End. Which in turn allowed him to be in two places at the same time, and therefore the ability to be this productive.
Am I wrong? That’s what we’re all thinking, right?
Yoshida: You lost me at "all-too-brief peek."
47 Ronin — International Teaser (December 25)
Silver: Trailer critique no. 872: You know a film is going to be garbage when the lengthiest shot to appear in a trailer is the company’s animated logo.
Yoshida: Oh. Japan's getting this movie? That's embarrassing. Sorry, Japan.