Trailers of the Week: Mud, Spring Breakers, and Red 2

Mud (April 26)

Silver: Scrumptious. My cerebral cortex is flooded with thoughts, due to the numerous mouthwatering elements seen in Mud’s trailer. Where to begin?

  • Writer/director Jeff Nichols’s previous film, Take Shelter, was the criminally forgotten film of 2011. With a much splashier cast, maybe this will be the vehicle to break him out.
  • Matthew McConaughey is on an incredible hot streak right now. 2011 and 2012 saw him gravitating toward darker roles, and in turn delivering some of the best performances of his career. His work in Bernie, The Paperboy, and Magic Mike was all outshined by his psychotic turn as Joe Cooper in Killer Joe, and his role in Mud appears to share some DNA with it.
  • The supporting cast of Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon (a vet from Nichols’s Take Shelter), Sarah Paulson, and Reese Witherspoon is oddly enough anchored by Ty Sheridan. Who? As the child struggling to form a meaningful and loving relationship with his father, he was the only memorable and entertaining part of Malick’s unwatchable Tree of Life.
  • Among them, the three primary producers of Mud have overseen such projects as 127 Hours, Win Win, Take Shelter, Donnie Darko, The Prestige, and Memento. That’s a pretty solid pedigree.

Nominated for the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Mud feels like the perfect counter-programming to the overabundance of mainstream fare bombarding us this spring.

Browne: I’m a little perturbed that both of the young boy actors didn’t get some love in the credits, but regardless I agree with your anchoring sentiments, Silver. I’m interested in McConaughey’s mysterious Mud character, but the two boys are what have me captivated. Like, does this take place over a summer vacation? Who let them go to that island alone? At some point, are they going to turn on each other? Their story is what I believe will get me to a theater to see this. Matthew and the crew don’t hurt, however.

Emperor (March 8 )

Silver: I’m not a fan of this trailer. Not because I found it to be dull, which I didn’t. It’s because I found it to be disingenuous. I was completely sold on a film in which Tommy Lee Jones chews scenery while playing General MacArthur in post-WWII, U.S.-occupied Japan, but then the trailer turns and focuses on some silly detective love story. Which, by the inclusion of Matthew Fox (who’s lost his Travis Bickle physique and reinstalled his doe eyes), feels like a flash-sideways from the dreadful Bai Ling–infused “Stranger in a Strange Land” episode of Lost. Oh well, I’ll just have to watch Man of the House in order to get my TLJ fix.

Browne: “This looks like the softest war movie ever. It’s like a Kidz Bop version of The Marshall Mathers LP. Why am I in this movie?” —Tommy Lee Jones

Spring Breakers (March 22: Limited/March 29: Wide)

Silver: Spring Breakers is clearly straddling genres. From the outset this scattershot trailer positions the film to be a (for lack of a better phrase) “girl power” tale, albeit a twisted one, about a group of college students who turn to a life of crime in order to pay for their spring break vacation. In this current cinematic landscape, odder concepts have seen their way to the big screen, so this conceit is not too far-fetched. Then, from stage right enters James Franco (channeling his Gary Oldman from True Romance), and these Alices begin to spiral down a rabbit hole, which positions the film as some kind of gang-life dramedy. My inability to fully comprehend what Spring Breakers is based on this trailer leaves me equally intrigued and uninterested in the film, and I can’t tell if my subdued amusement at the unfolding events is normal or just “old-man creepy.” Stay tuned.

Browne: In some ways, this is to 2013 what Magic Mike was to 2012, in the sense that the perv within hopes there is a good plot, but if not, WORSE THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. But it’s deeper than just my Bieber-ex crush (Gomez) and my Efron-ex crush (Hudgens) and my Pretty Little Liars crush (Benson) and the director’s wife (Korine) running around in bikinis and low-tops, toting guns. Beyond that, I get James Franco acting like RiFF RaFF and Gucci Mane acting like Gucci Mane. I think the thing going through the minds of loser twentysomething Internet obsessives like myself is, “Wait, did I write this? Because I know I’ve dreamed this exact film, at length, multiple times.” Excitement doesn’t begin to explain how I feel about this.

SELENA GOMEZ AND GUCCI MANE HAVE EACH OTHER’S CELL PHONE NUMBERS.

Small Apartments (February 8: Limited/ February 19: DVD)

Silver: Even glimpses of Dolph Lundgren as a Ken Doll–looking motivational speaker fail to inspire any enthusiasm for this film. Music video director Jonas Akerlund slides another bullet into the “lame crime comedies starring tired performers” gun chamber where it sits idle (but deadly) next to films like Big Trouble and Be Cool. The exceptions being Rebel Wilson, whose role appears to be even smaller than a cameo, and her Bridesmaids costar Matt Lucas, who’s certainly an up-and-coming comedy talent here in the States (he’s already a name across the pond in jolly ol’ England). Regardless, this is a pass.

Browne: I don’t like talking animals and this film had a talking dog, so that wasn’t a good start. Actually, a lot wasn’t good about this, except for James Mardsen, who I always think is funny. Rebel too. She’s great, but as you say, Silver, I might only be into the film as long as she was in the trailer. As I write this review, I’m already forgetting what this trailer was about. That’s not good. Maybe that’s on me, but maybe it’s not.

The Call (March 15)

Silver:

INT. Hollywood Movie Studio — Day

Producer: There’s a serial killer on the loose. He’s kidnapping and killing people. The authorities assume they’re on top of it, but are really being lulled into a wild goose chase. Only one lower-level, beautiful-but-tough female employee who’s had an unfortunate run-in with the killer in the past really knows how to catch him, and sets out on her own to take matters into her own hands.

Studio Exec: I’ve seen this a hundred times before.

Producer: But she’s a detective.

Studio Exec: That’s Murder by Numbers.

Producer: She’s a cyber-counterterrorist.

Studio Exec: That’s Untraceable.

Producer: She’s a 911 call center operator.

Studio Exec: SOLD!

The most horrifying moment of this trailer comes at 1:11, when a trained operator admits that she doesn’t know what do to. Yeesh. The only way I’m seeing this film is if it changes its title to Catwoman Saves Little Miss Sunshine.

Browne: Probable dialogue from the film:

Girl: Hello, is this 911?

Halle: Yes, what’s wrong?

Girl: I’m in the trunk of the car, I’m being kidnapped, help.

Halle: Do you know where you are?

Girl: Wait, is this Halle Berry?

Halle: Um, yes, but what’s impor—

Girl: “AHHHH NOOO, JUST KILL ME AHHADFHASKLDHFAKDFHASKSDJAFKLA

The End of Love (March 1 — Limited)

Silver: What was that? And why am I crying? Full-time actor/part-time writer/director Mark Webber appears to have put together and starred in a film aimed directly at the soft, gooey center of any young parent. Scratch that, any parent. Good lord. That kid. He’s like the Jimmy Stewart of 2-to-4-year-old child actors. He is so cute … and heartbreaking. The moments and emotion on display in this trailer feel so honest and genuine that I immediately Googled “Webber” to see if he was indeed a father. Not only is he a father, but the little boy in the film is his actual son. As a “young” father, all of this hits a little too close to home for me, which makes me both excited and scared to see this film.

Browne: Oh man. Oh wow. The things … in my belly … and my eyes … feel wet … and I need hugs … oh man.

And then, after all that, Shannyn Sossamon ends up being the one to make it all better? I think? Oh, man. Send help to me please. Wow.

I don’t even want to see this. I need to see this. And then go to therapy. Or something. Oh, man.

Upstream Color (April 5)

Silver: I’m a little upset. I was ready to go off on a rant about how the use of manipulative music, clever editing, and vague, random weirdness filling in as plot points in indie cinema is getting old (see: arbitrary shot of maggot at 1:40). But then this trailer ends with the title card, “From the writer and director of Primer,” and I just had to let all of those thoughts go. Shane Carruth’s 2004 Primer was excellent, and it’s been far too long since he’s brought us a new film. So this one quickly went from trite indie fare to eagerly anticipated.

Browne: I haven’t seen “Shane Carruth’s 2004 Primer” so I’m stuck at “trite indie fare.” There are certainly worse things, but right now it just feels like I spent two minutes taking a music-scored Rorschach test.

Red 2 (August 2)

Silver: My experience watching the first Red could not have been better. After disregarding its initial theatrical release, and chalking its success up to a fall box office anomaly, I soon found myself on a cross-country flight, trapped, because the Internet was down. My selection of Red on the in-flight entertainment console was simply my attempt to find a distraction for a portion of my interminable trip. Expectations were low, the film happened, and as the end credits rolled I was genuinely entertained. I’ve seen portions of Red on cable since then, but by no means did I feel its quality or “success” ($165 million worldwide off a $56 million budget, and that’s not accounting for marketing and distribution costs) warranted a sequel. The original writers remain, so it’s safe to assume that the clever, dry subversion from Red will remain. And from this trailer it’s clear they beefed up the first film’s best interpersonal moments by giving the trifecta of Willis, Malkovich, and Parker more screen time together. But gone is Red director Robert Schwentke, and stepping in is Dean Parisot. His visuals might not be quite as splashy as Schwentke’s, but he’s well suited for the job based on his work on Galaxy Quest, one of the better genre-mixing films of the last two decades. And if nothing else, we’ll all get confused again as to why we get so turned on at the sight of Helen Mirren wielding hazardous firearms (and when I say “we”, I really mean “me”).

Browne: Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Helen Mirren in the same movie? It’s like Spring Breakers, but their MOMS, AMIRITE?

But seriously …

Trade out American Apparel for Ann Taylor and these are the same films. Not sure who’s the Red 2 Gucci Mane counterpart, but one can only pray it’s John Malkovich, because that, my friends, is how you win Oscars.

Filed Under: Spring Breakers, Trailers of the Week, Upstream Color

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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