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Trailers of the Week: The Counselor, Prince Avalanche, Thanks for Sharing, and More

Escape Plan (October 18)

Silver: What is there not to like about this?

Sylvester Stallone’s role is a concoction of every character he’s ever played. I see the obvious similarities to Lock Up, a little bit of Cobra, a dash of Demolition Man, some The Specialist, and traces of every other movie where he played a so-called “specialist” that just didn’t contain such an on-the-nose title (Assassins, Get Carter, Cliffhanger, Daylight, etc.). And of course Arnold, who should only make films with Sly from now on and is looking mighty dapper for an imprisoned man, with his salt-and-pepper hair and goatee.

But back to the basics. This is a high-concept prison break film, featuring the two biggest action stars of the ’80s and ’90s, who are infusing their geriatric and crotchety ways into roles clearly written for men half their age, and costarring 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Sam Neill, and Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan.

Seriously? Can I buy my ticket right now?

Yoshida: Silver Fox Arnold. Bespectacled Fiddy. Based on facial accessories alone, I’d be in on this. I had to watch this twice, because I didn’t pick up the whole “model prison is real prison” thing at first, but I like movies about people who can do weird technical Breaking Bad–grade tricks, like card counting and magic. Never mind, movies about card counting and magic are usually awful. (I’m so proud to finally get in on the Trailers of the Week 21 hate!)

It seems superfluous to have Stallone and Arnold’s aging muscles on characters playing people good at tactical ingenuity, but my guess is that they end up getting out by just punching through every single wall.

 

The Counselor (October 25)

Silver: Although this trailer is brief, and extremely vague, we see plenty of goodies to get excited over — a long-haired Brad Pitt; Penelope Cruz and Javier “Crazy Eyes” Bardem, the only couple on the planet who can rival Mr. Pitt and his wife’s union in both looks and talent; Cameron Diaz, reminding us that when she exerts some actual effort, she’s actually a good actress (see Being John Malkovich and Any Given Sunday); and an actual script by No Country for Old Men and The Road’s Cormac McCarthy (not “based on material by,” but actually written by the man). And although he’s not the subtle-blockbuster Alien and Blade Runner director he once was, a film directed by Ridley Scott is still something to take note of.

Yet … above all this, it’s the appearance of Michael Fassbender that really excites me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and for me and Mr. Fassbender, this could not be more true. I didn’t come to these feelings easily or willingly. The dude just happened to star/support in five films I thoroughly enjoyed over a two-year stretch — X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Shame, Haywire, and Prometheus — and then seemed to just disappear. Here he plays the title role of “The Counselor,” and the wry smile he gives Cruz after she asks him if he’s been bad is enough to fill my anticipation tank halfway. And I’m sure that said tank will overflow once I hear a few bits of dialogue in that almost hushed, but sound tone of his.

Yoshida: I can’t put my finger on why, but the Scott-Fassbender director-actor marriage is very exciting to me. Maybe it’s because Blade Runner will always be in my top 10 films of all time, and Fassbender made such a great, fascinating replicant in Prometheus. I didn’t really know anything about this film before this week, but the IMDb description reads, “A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.” I’m gonna go two-for-two on Breaking Bad references this week and posit that BRAD PITT IS SAUL GOODMAN!?! (Sorry, guys, I’m so excited for Breaking Bad.)

 

Jobs (August 16)

Silver: There are many reasons why The Social Network is my all-time favorite film —

Yoshida: All-time favorite film! REALLY, Silver? This is a new and fascinating fact to me!

Silver: — but reason 2b.ii is that I’m both engaged with the top-level “Mark Zuckerberg” story line, yet fully aware of, and just as engaged with, the underlying themes that both stand alone and add depth and significance to the surface-level story line. The piece takes the concept of “Facebook” and uses it as a tool to speak to broader and grander ideas.

So although there’s no doubt that the Steve Jobs story, and the narrative behind the creation and evolution of Apple Computer, are interesting, I just don’t see anything here other than a straight retelling of the events. Jobs feels like it has a lack of allegory, like Moneyball, a film that utilized the concept of Moneyball and analytics literally, instead of finding the poetry in the concept.

Without that extra level, and in spite of its likable cast, I simply don’t feel audiences are going to want to turn out for this one. If they’re interested in learning about Steve Jobs, they already have, or ultimately will, read the more comprehensive and revealing Walter Isaacson book.

Yoshida: OK. You managed to review this trailer AND name-drop Moneyball without a single mention of Aaron Sorkin? I never thought I’d say this, but I need Sorkin to divert his attention away from his truth factory at The Newsroom so we can get the bonkers, probably awesome Russian Ark of a Jobs biopic and skip over this Lifetime-movie, mirror-smashing “who AM I” silliness.

 

Adore (September 6)

Silver: I was really uncomfortable watching this, and would need much more than a few sentences (and probably some time with my therapist) to work through exactly why.

Was it simply the subject matter — two mothers sleeping with each other’s sons (and not in an SNL kind of way)? Or was it that, combined with the fact that most mothers don’t look, or carry themselves, like Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, and I subconsciously (or as I am knowingly writing this, consciously) am jealous of the two lads, and ultimately dismayed at my own character by this response? Or is it something or something(s) else? (TMI?)

Regardless, aside from laughter or tears, it’s rare to actually be affected in another way during a film, and even rarer to be emotionally provoked during a trailer. I respect and trust both these actresses’ tastes, and Watts is even a producer on the piece. So even though I’m a little scared to see Adore, I am intrigued.

Yoshida: Not in an SNL kind of way? C’mon, Silver, this is begging to be parodied as the Les Cousins Dangereux–esque provocative arthouse bodice linen pantsuit ripper that it is, right down to “FROM THE ACADEMY AWARD–WINNING WRITER OF DANGEROUS LIAISONS.” This looks like camp perfection. I guarantee you they’ll be doing midnight screenings of this in 10 years.

 

Prince Avalanche (August 9)

Silver: I’ve devoted a lot of time in this weekly sharing session to labeling certain trailers for the smaller, more quaint cinema endeavors of two people conversing about love or drugs in a diner as “emo,” “self-righteous,” and overall forgettable pieces of Bantha droppings. That is, generally useless until it randomly pops up on cable during one of those “Why am I still awake at 3 a.m.?” nights or lazy Sunday afternoons.

But there are certain signs that indicate a film, normally described in the above manner, rises above any mocking and is actually worth the price of admission.

Here’s what I saw in the Prince Avalanche trailer that made me feel it’s one of these films.

  • A top-of-the-title star donning strange hair. (In this case, it’s not top-of-head hair, it’s Paul Rudd’s top-of-lip hair).
  • The appearance of a talented under-30 performer who’d been hyped to be the “next big thing” after a slew of meaty performances in awards fodder, but opted to take on smaller, more personal, and offbeat projects.
  • An odd, but oddly intriguing, plot.
  • Eccentric dialogue, primarily about the human condition or self-realization, captured by overly active handheld cameras.
  • A title card specifically noting who provided the music for a film.
  • A quirky, cutesy, smile-worthy, jokey button to the trailer.
  • (And of course) slow-motion shots of the leads doing something, anything, which seems cathartic in some way.

Yoshida: Boo. This looks like the first film out of college by some 22-year-old bro who idolizes David Gordon Green, not the next feature by David Gordon Green. Or something that’s been on the shelf since the circa-2007 wave of quirky Little Miss Sunshine knockoffs. I’d blame the trailer, but that mustache is unforgivable.

 

Hell Baby (Ultra VOD, July 25 / Theaters & Premium VOD, September 6)

Silver: I’m a fan of Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, and Keegan Michael Key, but the horror spoof concept/genre/whatever now feels like a fruit that’s just got no more juice left to squeeze out of it. I’m much more interested in Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant’s blasé, cigarette-smoking, horny Italian exorcists. Between The State, Viva Variety, and Reno 911!: Miami (sans Balls of Fury), Lennon and Garant have created some of the most hilarious characters and set pieces. So I trust them implicitly, and truly hope that this film is more focused on their characters, rather than the well-worn husband/wife hor-com antics in the house.

Yoshida: Couldn’t agree with you more. Lennon and Garant would be the only reason I’d potentially drop the seven bucks to VOD this, but god bless to all involved.

 

Thanks for Sharing (September 20)

Silver: Despite its charming conceit, intriguing cast, and solid pedigree (director Stuart Blumberg also cowrote The Kids Are All Right and the underrated The Girl Next Door and Keeping the Faith), all I kept thinking during this trailer was …

  1. Wow, Tony Stark is going to be pissed when he finds out Bruce Banner is sleeping with Pepper Potts.
  2. I hope Pepper and Bruce are careful, because who knows what kind of destruction, injury, and/or mess could occur if Banner Hulks out during “the act.”
  3. But how cool a setup is this for a Hulk vs. Iron Man spinoff?

 
I know. This isn’t fair to Thanks for Sharing. But honestly, as good as Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow are, can anyone name three other films each of these two have been a part of in the past four years? They’ve certainly been busy, and in some solid pieces to boot, but the Marvel universe is just so overbearing.

This one does look good, though.

Yoshida: This trailer feels like it’s about two separate movies; every time it would switch to the other couple I had already forgotten they were in this film, too. The weird thing is, as much as I love Ruffalo and the Goopster (I know, I know) and have an aversion to all things Alecia Moore, I’m actually more intrigued by the P!nk/Gad story line, which has to be one of the weirdest cinematic pairings of 2013. I feel like I may really like P!nk the actress, though maybe I just want her to get into something that keeps her from releasing more shouty music.