Contraband (January 13, 2012)
A film should be applauded for knowing what it is and not trying to over-extend itself — sometimes just being 90 minutes of fun is worth the price of admission (see every Fast and Furious movie). With a trailer packed with snappy visuals, booming music, and bad-ass dialogue, this Mark Wahlberg thriller — in which he plays a now-legit ex-con dragged back into crime to help his family — looks to be one of those movies.
John Dies at the End (2012)
In Don Coscarelli’s film Bubba Ho-Tep Bruce Campbell starred as a dying guy who might or might not have been Elvis, and Ossie Davis played a wheelchair-bound man who believed he was J.F.K. Oh by the way, they were also battling a murderous Egyptian mummy. So if the title of Coscarelli’s latest film seems to give away too much, you can probably rest assured that it doesn’t.
Thunder Soul (Expanding October 7)
In the 1960s the Kashmire Stage Band — made up of students from Kashmire High School — was a national funk sensation. In the vein of the Buena Vista Social Club, Thunder Soul reunites the members of that group for one last go-round.
One for the Money (January 27, 2012)
With too-cute dialogue, lots of mugging, a Gerard Butler doppelgänger, and doo-wop music, the trailer for Katherine Heigls’ latest makes One for the Money seem like it could be the sequel to any one of her previous outings. Not a good thing.
Freak Dance (TBD)
The UCB’s Freak Dance sends up dance movies like Footloose and Step Up. Although the concept feels a little stale, we’re excited to see UCB founding members Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, and Amy Poehler together on screen.
Sarah Palin: You Betcha (September 30)
In the trailer for Sarah Palin: You Betcha, notorious Nagra-wearing documentarian Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney) is told that it would probably cost $20,000 to book an interview with Alaska’s favorite daughter. So instead of paying what would most likely amount to most of his film’s budget, he went to the Land of the Midnight Sun to harass Palin’s family, friends, and former co-workers.
The Swell Season (TBD)
What does fast, unexpected fame do to a person (or couple, or band)? This the question posted by The Swell Season, a documentary about Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, the two previously unfamous musicians who won Best Original Song at the 2007 Oscars for their work on the film Once.
Joyful Noise (January 13, 2012)
In Joyful Noise, Queen Latifa and Dolly Parton butt heads for control of their competitive church choir. The lackluster trailer feels like it was patched together from different films’ leftovers — “The only way to win the competition is for someone to change their tune” — so it’s hard to believe this one will do much to resurrect Parton’s big-screen career (she hasn’t starred in a film since 1989’s Steel Magnolias).
New Year’s Eve (December 9)
In order to fully grasp what’s going on in the trailer for this inevitable half-sequel to the unbearable (but successful) Valentines Day, one would need to be strapped in like Alex from A Clockwork Orange, because if you blink you’ll miss the one of the many famous faces of the paycheck-cashing cast. Similar to VD, NYE uses a secular holiday as a frame for a series of interweaving, overly sentimental love stories — two strangers trapped in a broken elevator, a magical scavenger hunt through New York City, etc. Good lord.
The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (October 7)
Here it is, the one trailer more ghastly than the one for New Year’s Eve.
Six Days to Air: The Making of South Park (Sunday, October 9, Comedy Central)
One of the many reasons South Park has flourished for 14 seasons (the fifteenth one begins this Wednesday) is that each new episode is conceived, written, animated, delivered, and aired in a span of just six days. This doc shows us how they do it.
I Melt With You (December 9, 2011)
Mark Pellington’s angst-fueled, drug-riddled, mid-life crisis film I Melt With You reunites four buddies for a birthday celebration that turns sour when a dark mystery from the past creates tension.
Norman (October 21)
In Norman, Cougar Town’s Dan Byrd plays a troubled high school student who pretends to have cancer and takes care of his dying father. The cast — Byrd, Emily VanCamp, and Richard Jenkins — appears to elevate the film above the run-of-the-mill indie teen melodrama.
Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project (October 7)
The sparse trailer for this doc teases a revealing portrait of one of the infamous mogul, but as director Barry Avrich says in his narration, Harvey is a man whose career “has been totally reliant on exposure”. So it’s tough to believe that this doc will shed much new light.
Daniel Silver is the Director of Development for ESPN Films. Follow him on Twitter at @Danielsilver11.