Nebraska (November 22)
Silver: There are really only a handful of filmmakers working today whose films should be fervently anticipated as soon as they are labeled “in production.” Given Alexander Payne’s track record, he should be seen as one of them. Nebraska appears to contain simplistic visual similarities to Payne’s earlier work, like Citizen Ruth and Election — a character, centered in frame, facing the camera. And the decision to shoot in black-and-white looks like it will help deepen the intimacy of the story. Nebraska’s narrative scope will be smaller, perhaps, but knowing how Payne baits his audience with humor, and then wallops them with a sledgehammer of raw human emotion and interactivity, I don’t foresee this film being any less moving or effective than the grander and flashier The Descendants or About Schmidt.
Yoshida: Alexander Payne: He loves old people! Can’t get enough of ’em. I’m always fully supportive of Payne’s films in theory, but sometimes they just seem like too much work with too little payoff and too much lingering hopelessness. I love Citizen Ruth and Election without reservation, but I made the mistake of watching The Descendants on a plane recently, and arrived at my destination feeling hopeless, nihilistic, and totally primed for an awesome vacation. The use of black-and-white is an interesting choice, but it’s not that crisp, almost three-dimensional depth of shading we’re used to seeing in contemporary monochrome (The Man Who Wasn’t There, Good Night and Good Luck); it looks more like a Sunday morning does after you’ve gone without a cup of coffee for three hours.
I’m all for a late-career Bruce Dern comeback and I’m very interested to see what Will Forte does in this role. I’m just not sure I’ll have the stomach for this while it’s in theaters.
Grace of Monaco (November 27)
Silver: Here are three things that became abundantly clear for me after watching this:
- Frank Langella should narrate every movie trailer from now till the end of days.
- I missed seeing Tim Roth. I missed him a lot. I became much more interested in this film simply from seeing his name pop up onscreen.
- I don’t normally prefer films like these (prestigious fairy-tale bios), and as a result, will most likely skip this film. But say what you will about Nicole Kidman, I think casting her to play Grace Kelly was inspired. Kidman won her Oscar and had her rendezvous with big-budget and so-called mainstream fare. Yet after receiving a career shockabuku with Australia, she’s now settling nicely into the part of her career where she has nothing left to prove and can find a balance between those high profile roles and more daring ones, like her recent work in Rabbit Hole, Stoker, and The Paperboy. (Come on. Did you honestly think I could go a week without a Paperboy reference?) This one looks like it falls somewhere in the middle. But it’s like she glides through this trailer. And there are even moments when the lens catches her and I can see her resemblance to Princess Grace.
So for fans of hers (and I’m one of them), it’s exciting.
(Side note: It’s rather interesting that in 2013 “Aussie besties” Kidman and Watts are both playing royalty who suffered tragic demises.)
Yoshida: Dammit, Silver, I was so swept away by the storybook glamour in this trailer that I had completely forgotten about her horrific death! This looks more or less like a film version of a nostalgia-laden Vogue photoshoot, but as such, it does look mighty pretty. I’m not sure how much I like Kidman in the lead, but I guess she’s a better actress than January Jones, so it was probably the right call in the end.
Concussion (October 4)
Silver: SONS OF ANARCHY CROSSOVER ALERT: Robin Weigert’s Ally Lowen may only be a minor recurring character, but as SAMCRO’s lawyer, her role is pivotal. Recently her biggest case has been defending, and acting as intermediary for, the incarcerated Tara (Maggie Siff). And based on what we see in Concussion, if you were as disappointed as I was that Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunnam didn’t share a scene in Pacific Rim, then regardless of quality, Concussion could be the film for you. I don’t think what these ladies are up to falls under attorney-client privilege (CHEESY JOKE ALERT).
Yoshida: Wait … are you saying that there isn’t an intense Perlman-Hunnam psychosexual love scene in Pacific Rim? No wonder it underperformed!
(I am kidding. I have seen Pacific Rim. It is cool, but would have been better if Charlie Hunnam shared a scene with nobody.)
Oldboy — “Preparing Your Stay” Teaser (November 27)
Silver: I’ve made no attempts to conceal my concerns about this remake and the director helming it. So I find it rather significant that the more I see, the more I find my passionate reluctance morphing into cautious enthusiasm.
The specificity of its rhythmic composition is reminiscent of early Aronofsky. Requiem for a Dream, to be exact. Which, for me, is rather mind-blowing. I can’t recall the last time I praised the creativity of anything Spike Lee did.
But it’s impossible to deny here. As this Oldboy reveals more about itself, it’s clear that although there are some obvious and blatant homages woven in, it is slowly learning how to stand on its own. Who knows, it might actually be good?!
Yoshida: I still don’t know why this movie exists, but if it insists on existing it may as well be its own weird thing, it’s own specifically American thing, if possible. The style and visuals here are promising, but won’t be enough to justify it getting made. I don’t know how a twist could be more unsettling than the original Oldboy twist, but Lee had better have a different and just as head-spinningly horrific one up his sleeve if he truly wants to steer this away from Gus Van Sant Psycho territory.
Machete Kills — Red Band (October 11)
Silver: Back when I was in college there was a stretch of time when it seemed like I saw the Men of Honor trailer every time I sat down in the movie theater. The film looked awful, and yet, week after week, my buddies and I were subjected to its mind-numbing promo. One day a friend of mine turned to me and said, with a perfectly placed pause in the middle, “I cannot wait for this film to come out … just so we can stop seeing this effing trailer.”
This is exactly how I feel about Machete Kills. Can we just get this film into the theater already? This way I can stop rolling my eyes everytime I see Sofía Vergara and her boob guns (now crotch gun?) or Lady Gaga whispering her lines.
I love me some Trejo, but this just looks like one big bucket of awful sauce.
Yoshida: I wanted to write only one line about the Machete Kills trailer, but I couldn’t decide which line. So pick one of the following and then join me in never thinking about this film again.
- I did not see the first Machete. Do you think I need to watch it first before I buy my ticket?
- I have a general aversion to Charlie Sheen for obvious reasons, but I’ll make an exception for Mel Gibson.
- You guys, I think this may not be a completely serious action movie.
Great Expectations (October 11)
Silver: Was it me, or did this feel like a very long and boring trailer? Maybe it stems from the fact that this Dickens tale pops up onscreen every decade or so (sometimes more frequently), and therefore, there’s really nothing exciting about its narrative anymore. Not even this quasi-reunion of almost the entire Harry Potter supporting cast sparked something in me. I believe my threshold was met with 1998’s Cuaron version.
Yoshida: Say what you will about the Hawke/Goop/Cuaron version, it at least looked gorgeous and unusual, and Gwyn Gwyn didn’t run around telegraphing her character’s intentions. I couldn’t finish this trailer. As soon as HBC showed up looking like every illustration of Miss Havisham you’ve ever seen, I was mentally out; when Estella laid her head in her lap I had to stop the trailer. There are so many adaptations of this book out there that if you’re going to make another one in 2013 you gotta do something original.
Also, that inter-title font is wack as fuck.
Argento’s Dracula 3D (October 4 — VOD)
Silver: After years of saturation, how does one make a vampire movie appealing? Get the guy who made Inferno, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Opera, and Suspiria to apply his warped lens and buckets of blood to the Dracula story. And he should drag along Roy Batty for good measure.
Yoshida: Oh shiiiit. I’m pretty secure in the fact that no Dracula could ever top the gloriously insane Coppola version, but this has potential. Argento! Wolves! Rutger Hauer! This is where we should be conceptually with our adaptations of Great Expectations, by the way.
Silver: This may be the fifth glimpse I’ve had of this film. And still no formal announcement on a release date. So I’m going to just assume it only exists in the bits and pieces, albeit dynamic bits and pieces, I’ve seen on the Internet over the past few months. I’m just not going to believe this film is real until I see a formal trailer. Just not going to do it.
Yoshida: It’s out! It opened in South Korea last month! It’s been very successful! I am really looking forward to this film! Maybe the U.S. film industry powers that be are just freaked out and confused that there’s a big blockbuster action movie starring one of our very own golden boys (and girls — I see you, Alison Pill!) and it was made by a Korean director and based on a French graphic novel and we were just not prepared for it at all. I am, though. I don’t know how that train works or why it’s the last viable home for human beings on Earth, and I don’t care. I want this to be fun in all the ways Elysium wasn’t and deliver its Occupy apocalypse message with a wink instead of a robot arm punch.