Trailers of the Week: Looper, Epic, and Red Hook Summer

Red Hook Summer (August 10)

Silver: As a filmmaker, Spike Lee is at his best when he’s not directing a film he wrote. Clockers, 25th Hour, and Inside Man are Spike’s best work because in these films he’s a hired gun, and has no other options but to act as a pure storyteller. His tendency to veer into self-righteousness is kept in check by his producers (Martin Scorsese on Clockers, Edward Norton on 25th Hour, and Brian Grazer on Inside Man). Sure, there are exceptions — films that he’s written and directed like He’s Got Game or even Bamboozled work because it’s evident that Spike has something personal to say and visualized how he’s going to say it, and is not just preaching. Based on the trailer, I believe Red Hook Summer to be one of the exceptions. It feels very “Spike”, with its melodramatic music, flash cuts to handheld 16mm, and shots of forlorn folks looking directly into the camera, but what intrigues me is that Red Hook Summer appears to be a coming-of-age story. It’ll be interesting to see how Spike sees “today” through the eyes of children. I have no doubt that this film will be divisive and in some way filled with controversy (Spike wouldn’t want it any other way), but this one looks like it’ll be worth the time.

Browne: Seeing the lineup of Spike’s past films gives me the chills because I go through periods of time where I forget how important he is. He wants you to remember he’s not gone, evident in the listing of six films and his face toward the end of the trailer. So yeah, it’s good to see you again, Spike. Also, way to bring along Lester. I’ve missed him too.

Here Comes the Boom (October 12)

Silver: Rem … why can’t I hate this trailer? I so desperately want to hate this trailer as much as I hated Paul Blart: Mall Cop and The Zookeeper (I write ashamedly, as I have now admitted to having seen what equates to cinema eczema). I never watched The King of Queens, so my first introduction to James was as the ne’er-do-well but lovable Albert Brennaman in Will Smith’s underrated Hitch. He was adorable and hilarious as Smith’s sidekick, and should have been destined to shine as the second banana in movies shot during his summer hiatus from his newly minted hit CBS sitcom. But for some reason Adam Sandler felt like he should give James the career his tragically deceased buddy Chris Farley should have had. (Just think of how much better ALL of Kevin James’s films would have been, starting from I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, if they’d all starred Farley. Hilariousness.) So I want nothing more than to hate on all Kevin James film. And maybe it’s the “do it for the kids” or the manipulative classic sports-movie tropes, but I just can’t help but want to go see Here Comes the Boom. I doubt it’ll be Happy Gilmore mixed with Hoosiers, but the little tickle that popped up in my throat while I watched this trailer at least told me it was potentially worth one choke-up.

Browne: Just get a Kickstarter, bro. I’m so over this.

Arbitrage (September 14)

[Trailer embedding disabled; watch here]

Silver/Browne:

Dear the late 1990s,

We found that time capsule you lost. And along with a few Mike Myers films, this Richard Gere “adult thriller” fell out. Outside of watching it ironically, we really don’t have any use for any of it. What would you like us to do?

Sincerely,
Dan and Rembert

Epic (May 17, 2013)

Silver: Wow. That was impressive. With Pixar being the exception, I don’t believe many animation studios (we can officially call them that now) set out to produce films that can appeal to both kids and adults. And I don’t blame them; it’s much easier (and obviously lucrative) to make Fern Gully than it is to make The Secret of NIMH. But when it’s done properly, there’s nothing as immersing or transporting. With the use of the foreboding “The Lightning Strike” by Snow Patrol (thanks, Shazam app), this trailer teases a potentially darker and grander (dare I say “epic”?) adventure than most animated fare. The narrative world appears detailed and lush, and the action looks kinetic and fun. Too bad we have to wait almost a year for this film. And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it delivers and is indeed more Don Bluth than it is Dreamworks Animation.

Browne: This is awesome. This feels like a film version of the 200th level of a video game. Also, LITTLE COMMUNITIES. I LOVE LITTLE COMMUNITIES. Fire ant colonies? SWOON. Babies using big words in the nursery when the adults go away? YES PLEASE. I can’t wait to see this.

Frankenweenie (October 5)

Silver: So, back in 1984 Tim Burton used to work for Disney, and he made a short film titled Frankenweenie, which was an homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life. Disney deemed the short film too dark and disturbing for kids, so they fired Burton. Burton then goes off and becomes a successful director with a distinctive and unique visual style, but over time, sells out on big-budget Hollywood fare and slowly loses any type of individual style. So it’s kind of ironic that it took not only the project that got him fired but the studio that fired him to (apparently) revive Burton’s creative juices and remind us all why he was such a heralded director. Also, I’ve been getting a little tired of the whole Burton/Depp “thing,” and at least per IMDb, Depp is nowhere near this film. But other trusted Burton names are — Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), and Catherine O’Hara (The Nightmare Before Christmas).

Browne: It’s a shame this trailer came after Epic, because it just knocked all of the animation wind out of my sails. Between Epic and watching The Lion King this week on ABC Family, I was back on the animation bandwagon, but Frankenweenie is trying its hardest to turn me into a human lover again. Poor Tim Burton. You never want to say a guy peaked last millennium, but I’m afraid it might be true.

Alex Cross (October 19)

Silver: How much better would the final season of Lost have been if the plot of Alex Cross was used as Jack’s flash-sideways/purgatory-but-not-really-purgatory? A very male-looking Madea and one of the Brothers McMullen chase after a psychopath Jack, who has snapped after Kate and Aaron ran away with Sawyer. Then, in the end, they all wind up back on The Island (Madea back to looking like a proper lady), and in a series finale twist, Robert Townsend randomly shows up, turns the frozen donkey wheel, and everyone wakes up trapped in a snow globe inside Bob Newhart’s trailer, on the set of Hollywood Shuffle. That would’ve blown everyone’s minds.

Alas, Alex Cross is a real movie, in which Tyler Perry takes over the role made famous by Morgan Freeman (because Tyler Perry is always the obvious choice to replace Morgan Freeman). But one thing is for sure: After stinkers like xXx, Stealth, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Alex Cross is well-deserved action movie purgatory for director Rob Cohen.

Browne: Alex Cross Can Do Bad All My Himself.

Robot and Frank (August 24)

Silver: This is a film about a cantankerous geriatric and his best friend, who just happens to be his robot caregiver, robbing people. Tell me again why I wouldn’t want to see this?

Browne: This is a film about a cantankerous geriatric and his best friend, who just happens to be his robot caregiver, robbing people. Tell me again why I wouldn’t want to see this?

Looper – International Trailer (September 28)

Silver: With every new detail and plot point revealed, Looper permeates deeper into my geek DNA. It’s getting to the point where it’s no longer a symbiotic relationship, as Looper’s potential awesomeness now feels more like a virus that I’m not going to be able to shake until I finally see it on September 28.

Writer/director Rian Johnson is a true talent. He’s shown us this with both Brick and The Brothers Bloom, and with Looper he appears to be taking the inevitable leap into mainstream genre filmmaking. But he’s doing it on his terms — a high-concept sci-fi action thriller. And not just that, but also a film that appears to shy away from traditional “futuristic” elements in favor of a more dirty, raw, and “logical” landscape. It’s a gamble, for sure, as none of this has historically paid off at the box office. But with Levitt, who’s going to be fresh off The Dark Knight Rises domination, maybe we’ll see that translate into a broader appeal for the film. I’d love nothing more than to see Looper succeed.

Browne: I’m usually anti-”too many trailers,” but I’d take something from this film once a week until its September 28 release. It’s going to be so good, and that was true even before Emily Blunt was hanging around, shooting pickup trucks with shotguns. There are so many reasons to be excited about this.

Total Recall (August 3)

Silver: Here’s how I am going to fool myself into believing that Total Recall is not another unnecessary remake, bloated with superfluous action, executed by a hack director:

1. As a fan, I want to continue my support of the Colin Farrell “comeback.” I even bought a ticket to Fright Night.

2. Brian Cranston’s in it. He usually chooses good roles. Follow his lead.

3. Ummm …

There really is no 3.

And I don’t think the previous two are strong enough to overcome my trepidation after seeing what appears to castoffs from I, Robot running around.

Browne: You bought a ticket to Fright Night? Does HR know this?

Silver Lining Playbook (November 21)

Silver: Ballroom dancing? Come on! Silver Lining Playbook had me sold, but then planted completely unwelcome seeds of doubt. When I was coming into my own as a film nerd, for me, there was no one better than David O. Russell. To this day, three of my top 20 favorite films are his: Spanking the Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, and Three Kings. But his last two pictures have either been completely self-serving garbled messes (I Heart Huckabees) or fine but completely formulaic pieces of Oscar fodder (The Fighter). And when I started the trailer for Silver Lining Playbook, here’s what I thought I was seeing: an intimate character piece, populated with quirky characters, which was going to be somewhat unsettling. Or as I’d built it up in my head, a return to form for the once great writer/director David O. Russell. But by the end, here’s all I came away with: It’s a film about two social outcasts who come together to challenge their public perceptions by competing together in a ballroom dancing competition … oh, and did I mention? These two recluses are male and female and they fall in love. “Blah,” right? I like both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence very much, so I sincerely hope this film is more Flirting meets Kings than I Heart the Fighter.

Browne: Welcome back, sweet prince:

Filed Under: Looper, Total Recall, Trailers of the Week

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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