Trailers of the Week: About Cherry, Life of Pi, Man of Steel, and More

About Cherry (September 21)

Silver: Aside from some inevitable nudity, and as nice as it is to see Roller Girl back in the world of porn, is there really any reason to see this film? The entire story is laid out here in 2:14 (sans the “give me three guesses, and I bet you one of them is right” ending).

Browne: It wasn’t the worst two-minute undergraduate film-class short I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely not the best.

Chasing Mavericks (October 26)

Silver: I’m not a surfer, but I love surfing films (Riding Giants, Step Into Liquid, and of course North Shore). As such, I’ve become familiar with them, and always thought Jay Moriarity and Frosty Hesson’s quest to conquer one of the world’s most treacherous surf spots would make a great feature. And with Curtis Hanson (a surfer who just so happens to have also directed L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys) and some of the world’s best “surfing-on-film” folks connected, Chasing Mavericks was a film I was quite looking forward too. Until now. This film looks like a TV movie of the week. Pretty surfing shots aside, the story line feels paint-by-numbers, and the acting uninspired. Now this might just be a shoddily constructed trailer, and since the tale of the Mavericks is one ripe for adaptation and should have been a layup, I’m willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt. But based on this trailer, Chasing Mavericks looks like an epic fail.

Browne: How did you just skip Blue Crush, Dan? That’s one the rudest omissions ever. Luckily, you made up for it by calling this film an epic fail. Wow, this looks bad.

Middle of Nowhere (October 12)

Silver: The best part about Middle of Nowhere’s impending release is that I can finally stop yammering on about it to anyone who will listen, and people can finally see this wonderful piece of work for themselves. This is a special, special film. I can only wager a guess that my experience of seeing it in a darkened theater could only be comparable to what audiences in the ’60s and ’70s felt as a new John Cassavetes unspooled before their eyes. And much like Cassavetes’s work, Middle of Nowhere is a deeply affecting film where the pursuit of true human emotion and interaction is evident in every single moment and frame. And to make yet another brash statement, Emayatzy Corinealdi’s performance as Ruby in Middle of Nowhere should stir up memories of Ellen Burstyn in Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I really don’t want this one to get buried in the sandbox of other high-profile, star-driven dramas released during awards season. So please, on October 12, if this film is in a theater anywhere by you, give it a chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Browne: Writer/director Ava DuVernay is extremely good at what she does, that being telling stories. She did that in 2011’s I Will Follow, which I was floored by, and it looks like the same will happen with 2012’s Middle of Nowhere. I, too, will be going out of my way to see this as soon as possible. It looks fantastic.

Man of Steel — Jonathan Kent and Jor-El Teasers (June 14, 2013)

Silver: In true superhero teaser form, these two trailers reveal no plot details, but still effectively set up a film with insanely weighty themes. But even in the absence of story, there is still plenty to take away from these two clips.

The influence of Christopher Nolan, David Goyer (writer), and Emma Thomas (producer/Mrs. Nolan) is evident from the first frame to the last. Most notably in Zack Snyder’s grounded, and almost crude, visuals. A startling juxtaposition to the vapid Michael Bay–esque eye-candy he ejaculated onto audiences with 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch. (And, I’d like to add, especially with Sucker Punch. What was that movie?) And yet, when he was hired I was one of his biggest supporters. Similar to my feelings about Spike Lee, I felt Snyder needed a good producer to reel him in, force him to restrain his style, and focus on the story (enter Chris and Emma). It’s exciting to see visuals in a superhero film that resist the urge to be polished and pure. What we see in this teaser is closer to the vérité-esque visual approach Snyder took with his remake of Dawn of the Dead. (Arguably, his best and most re-watchable film.)

What we see of Clark is also very reminiscent of another Nolan/Goyer motif, as it appears that, for at least part of the film, we’ll see Clark on some kind of a self-imposed exile/quest. And as we’ve come to understand, “The world is too small for someone like Bruce Wayne” … I mean Clark Kent … “to disappear, no matter how deep he chooses to sink.”

Browne: I’m embarrassed to say it took me a solid 10 minutes to figure out what was going on with these two trailers. I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but in case you’re also slow, Superman has two daddies and they are being played by Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner. For those of you who were confused, you’re not alone, and you’re welcome. As for the rest of you, I apologize for wasting your time.

Life of Pi (November 21)

Silver: I’m not a fan of Ang Lee. For me, his films play as bloated pieces of Oscar fodder, where attempts at understated performance and emotion fail and result in exaggeration and scarce emotional equity. I view Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as the exception, not the rule, when it comes to his films. And yet, after seeing the arresting visuals in this trailer, I’ve allowed myself to overlook all of this. Life of Pi looks b-e-a-utiful. Kudos to Lee and his DP, Claudio Miranda; the images are crisp and the colors vivid (even on a computer screen), and they seem to coalesce to form a world that is both stark and surreal. The underwater shot of the boy watching the ship sink gave me chills. I’ve not read the book, so the plot is still a mystery to me, but with my not-so-stellar opinions of Lee set aside, this gorgeous-looking mash-up of Titanic, We Bought a Zoo, Castaway, and Lifeboat is one I’ll definitely be seeing on opening day. And, dare I say, in 3-D.

Browne: AHHHHH.

AWWWW.

This is about to be Avatar-gorgeous. LOOK AT THIS GILDED, AQUAMARINE WHALE:

Battle of the Year in 3-D (January 23, 2013)

Silver: I’m so embarrassed. The “big things” I envisioned for Sawyer (a.k.a. Josh Holloway) after he escaped “The Island” did not include him playing a washed-up basketball coach pulled out of his wallowing to lead a bunch of scrappy misfits to the B-Boy Battle of the Year International Championships. If I were making excuses for this film, I’d say, “Right down to its female ‘expert,’ the film contains overt traces of 1989’s camp classic Best of the Best. So Battle of the Year could be so bad it’s good. (‘Johnny NOOOOO!’) And it’s directed by Benson Lee, whose 2007 documentary Planet B-Boy is not only gorgeous, but in my opinion, the definitive record of b-boy culture. So much so that three shots from Benson’s doc were lifted and used in this trailer (starting at 1:48).”

But why try and make excuses? Nothing can override the sadness I feel watching Holloway make the requisite inspirational speech when I know the purpose of it is to motivate his “team” to dance better.

Browne: NOPE.

I really hope Coach K doesn’t show this trailer to Team USA, or we’re losing to Tunisia.

The Oranges (October 5)

Silver: The tensile strength of my devotion for all things Hugh Laurie is certainly going to be tested after seeing this lackluster trailer, even with a supporting cast who could make a reading of the phone book interesting (at least for a few hours). And this is coming from a guy who bought tickets to Flight of the Phoenix and Street Kings just because Laurie was in them, and yes, they were both awful.

Browne: You’re CRAZY, Silver. This trailer is awesome. I like every single person in this cast. You’re CRAZY. I’m making up for my lack of understanding Cloud Atlas by watching this over and over again, patting myself on the back for understanding the plot. Keener! Meester! SHAWKAT! I love seeing all m’girls in one film. You’re CRAZY, Dan.

Jack and Diane (September 28 — VOD / November 2 — Theatrical)

Silver: I was quite ready to label this one as predictable, dispensable, emo-indie fair, but those stop-motion animations got me intrigued. Turns out those ghastly visuals are the work for the Quay brothers, an animation duo who’ve received a BAFTA and numerous awards and nominations at various film festivals (including a Palme d’Or nomination at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival for their work on Street of Crocodiles).

But still, what do such disturbing images have to do with this star-crossed lovers tale? The excitement garnered by the film’s employment of the Quay brothers quickly faded as I read the ridiculous last line of the film’s summary on IMDb: “Diane must struggle to keep their love alive while hiding the secret that her newly awakened sexual desire is giving her werewolf-like visions.” Werewolves? Really? I’ll watch the YouTube reel of the animation sometime after the film’s release, but I’m right back where I started; I’m choosing to fully ignore this ridiculous-sounding film.

Browne: So, here’s what I just learned about Jack and Diane:

Stars: Juno Temple, Riley Keough, Kylie Minogue
Film By: Bradley Rust Gray
Animation By: Quay brothers
New Music By: Múm with Kylie Minogue

Yeah, I’m not convinced this isn’t a spoof. These all sound like aliases/fake people. I’m most certainly not spending money to see the joint venture between Mr. Rust Gray, the brothers Quay, and Múm. No chance.

Cloud Atlas (October 26)

Silver: I’m very rarely left speechless, but I really don’t know what to say or where to begin when discussing this epic trailer. (At 5:41, can this even be considered a trailer?)

I feel like I have a grasp on the film’s thematic core: Our destinies join us inter-generationally, and the only control we have on our future is how we live and interact in the present. Or as Susan Sarandon’s voice-over states more eloquently, “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.” And the narrative landscape and visual execution are as vast as I’ve ever seen in a single film — countless time periods, and actors not only playing multiple roles, but multiple genders, ethnicities (yes, that was Jim Sturgess as an Asian man), and hairstyles (I like Tom Hanks’s bald gangster look).

A film this ambitious would be a challenge for any filmmaker (Cloud Atlas has traces of Aronofsky’s unwatchable The Fountain), much less for three. Yes, this film is directed by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski. Tykwer is a talent, but has never tackled anything on this scale, but the primary concern for me are the Wachowskis. After the overstuffed, excessively intellectual and ultimately boring The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, I don’t know if I trust them to deliver an entertaining and coherent film. Their sweet spot seems to be in high-concept, highly visual films with simple narratives like Bound and The Matrix (and I’d even add Speed Racer to that list, but I think I’m the only person who liked it).

Browne: I thought it was a rom-com, and then it turned into Apocalypto. That’s all I got.

Filed Under: Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, Man of Steel, Trailers of the Week

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert