Silver: Emily, I truly appreciate you stepping in while our buddy Rem gallivants around trying to explain this great country of ours. I think it’s going to be fun to mutually open up and poke around each other’s geek medicine cabinets as we dissect these fun-size cine-treats. They are, after all, THE reason the Internet was invented (right?).
Yoshida: That and Friendster, basically. Glad to be here, Silver. Let’s watch some commercials!
Anchorman: The Legend Continues (December 20)
Silver: It’s odd. My disdain for this trailer in no way outweighs my immense anticipation and deep-seated conviction that the final product will be tremendous.
But let’s be honest, this trailer is not what any of us were expecting, and to be quite honest, after all the anticipation and hype around this sequel, not what we deserved.
The members of the News 4 Team are primarily seen on their own, and not interacting with each other. Veronica is all but an afterthought. And other than establishing the 24-hour news network conceit, and “the ’80s,” the crux of the trailer appears to focus on setting up Meagan Good’s character. Which is fine, and I giggled at the Kristen Wiig/Steve Carell back-and-forth, and at Paul Rudd’s underwear modeling bit, but I would have liked to have seen something a little more familiar. More business between “the guys.”
And I’m curious to see what the “Alternate Trailer” in front of World War Z contains.
Regardless, as I said above, I’m still all in on this, and know it’s going to be great.
Yoshida: If you are feeling any trepidation/lack of impulse to immediately swallow your entire fist after watching this trailer, I’m going to blame that shot of Baxter drinking from a straw before the chorus of “Don’t Stop Believin'” kicks in. A shot of a dog whimpering, covering its face, or otherwise doing people things to punctuate something humorous a human is doing sends a message that the movie doesn’t actually have jokes. This is almost definitely not true in the case of the Anchorman sequel, so I’m going to chalk it up to lazy trailer editing. FOR NOW.
The Lego Movie (February 7, 2014)
Silver: Subversion is the metaphoric scalpel that surgically bifurcates the adult sensibilities from so-called “kiddie content,” and allows that content to resonate with both parents and children. It’s why, to this day, I can enjoy the original Muppet Show on a completely different level, and it’s what keeps me from falling asleep when my 3-year-old son wants to watch yet another episode of Phineas and Ferb.
Writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller dexterously employed that kind of subversion with their first feature, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and then stepped past subversion into meta territory with their second film, 21 Jump Street.
So here’s a hopeful read on The Lego Movie. Lord and Miller have taken their slightly skewed sensibilities and have produced their first truly adult animated feature film. Want to talk about subversion? These guys appear to have taken one of the most storied and successful kids toys of all time and crafted a movie around it that is actually not geared toward the kids that currently play with it at all, but rather to the adults and former Lego-heads who are more accustomed to the comedic rhythms of R-rated comedies and shows like Parks and Recreation.
I’m genuinely intrigued by this film, and am eager to see more.
Yoshida: Oh, dear. I never saw Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, so I’ll trust your read on Lord and Miller’s animation sensibilities, but regardless of the talent and script I am fundamentally against this movie, so let me push up my glasses for a second and tell you why. The appeal of Legos (and I LOVE Legos, have you ever been to a Lego convention? Oh my god, GO TO A LEGO CONVENTION) has everything to do with the limitations of the medium, the kind of pathetic humor in low-res re-creation of recognizable human experiences or pop culture images; action-packed, emotional situations as reenacted by a bunch of chunky little figurines with benign smiles. It’s the same appeal as 8-bit music and video-game re-creations. But with the limitations also comes tremendous freedom to build, really, whatever you have the bricks for. Everyone knows that building off the instruction books is for suckers. One birthday I got a big poolside set from the pink, girls-oriented “Paradisa” collection, but I was always trying to find ways to turn it into a space station.
I don’t even like the new-age minifigures with more expressive faces, for the same reason I was irrationally distracted that there was fog and condensation in Tron: Legacy, so there’s no way I’m going to see a movie with minifigures being voiced by Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman. Reappropriation of the medium is fun when it’s done by hobbyists in suburbia; making a Hollywood production out of it kind of defeats the point. I’m all for stop-motion animation still being a relevant thing, but this is a pass for me.
Drinking Buddies (July 25 — VOD; August 23 — Theaters)
Silver: On the surface this is the type of generic indie I love to say looks intriguing and I look forward to skipping in the theaters and finding it on cable one lazy Saturday. BUT Drinking Buddies has five things going for it that other common-place emo-indies don’t: four of my favorite actors in lead roles, and beer. I am absolutely going to be seeing this when it comes out.
Yoshida: I’m going to choose to overlook the obvious male (and, let’s be honest, female) fantasy indulgence of having Olivia Wilde play a hot babe in a hoodie who MAKES BEER FOR A LIVING, because, holy shit, Olivia Wilde in a hoodie making beer and having complicated emotions with Jake Johnson. I feel absolutely pandered to and I don’t mind at all.
Burn (Now Playing in Select Cities & iTunes)
Silver: The term “cinema verité” refers to a type of documentary filmmaking that captures life unfolding, not a doc that contains current elements, but primarily focuses on an event/issue/person from the past. Think Hoop Dreams or The Cove (vérité), not Man on Wire orThe Tillman Story (historical).
At their best, vérité films introduce and embed the audience in a new world, and emotionally connect them with the subjects. Taking into account my singed eyebrows, Burn certainly appears to do both.
Yoshida: This looks pretty rad. I was wondering how I was going to be able to connect to a world as remote from my own experience as the Detroit fire department, but then the one guy compared it to slaying dragons and I was like, “Oh yes, I know about that.”
Free Birds (November 1)
Silver: I blame J.J. Abrams, his minions, and all their high concept/sci-fi yarns for the fact that the first thought I had after screening this trailer was, “I wonder how they’re going to treat the science of time travel.” This is a kids movie about turkeys! Why would I think that?! Damn you, J.J.!
And speaking of minions: It now seems like every other animated film has to contain a hoard of like-minded bumbling simpletons, merely activated for undemanding comedic fodder, merchandising, and potential sequel marketing materials. It started with the green space aliens in Toy Story (“The Claw!!”) and evolved into Gru’s minions in Despicable Me, but come on Hollywood, enough already. You’ve squeezed all the juice out of this fruit. Think of something else.
Yoshida: Silver, in this uncertain journey of trailer deconstruction that we are embarking on, it’s important for you to know something important early on. When it comes to computer animated features (yes, including Pixar films), my tolerance is lower than a freshman on orientation weekend. 99 percent of the time, I just don’t get these movies. Aside from WALL-E, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille (kind of), all I see is dead eyes and cold surfaces and celebrity voice talent. Anyway, this looks extremely unpleasant and I don’t envy anyone with a child who will have no choice but to spend money on this.
The Spectacular Now (August 2 – Limited)
Silver: I am so overwhelmed it might be safest for my emotional state to meekly list the reasons why this film is so going to be worth your time.
- It’s directed by James Ponsoldt, whose Smashed was intensely raw, and the no. 1 underrated and forgotten film of 2012. I’m giddy to see how he handles the nuances of the teenage interpersonal dynamic in this coming-of-age tale.
- It’s written by (500) Days of Summer’s Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber.
- Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. I truly believe that these two could fall in love. I kept seeing shades of Lloyd Dobbler and Diane Court from Say Anything in both of their performances (especially in the moment in the car, an almost bizarro Diane-breaking-up-with-Lloyd moment). They both look great.
- The supporting cast. Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Bob Odenkirk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Andre Royo (Who? Bubs from The Wire. He’s the teacher), and …
- Kyle Chandler speaking in platitudes. When he says, “I’ll tell you something. I don’t live in the past. I live in the now, because that’s what it’s all about,” close your eyes and tell me you don’t hear Coach Taylor. And he looks good all disheveled.
I can usually only take one “the whimsy of youth and nostalgia for the innocence of a true first love” porn movie a year. So between The Way, Way Back and this, I’m simply going to be a sappy pile of mush this summer.
Yoshida: There are few young actresses whose rise to great roles and critical acclaim I am prouder of now than Shailene Woodley, and if you’ve ever seen an episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager you probably feel the same way. This looks sweet, but like last year’s similarly themed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it will probably be a cable watch for me. Though it looks more nuanced and emotionally mature, I can’t yet entrust the people who wrote (500) Days of Summer with my $16 yet.
Killing Season (July 12)
Yoshida: What is that giant caterpillar doing on Travolta’s face? Is this a Hunger Games spin-off? Help me understand, Dan.
Silver: Here are just a few reasons why I can assure you that Killing Season is not worth your time.
- It’s directed by Mark Daredevil Steven Ghost Rider Johnson. The dude is literally one schlock-fest away from Stephen Van Helsing Sommers G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- It’s written by Evan Snow White and the Huntsman Daugherty.
- The “Weird John Travolta Facial Hair and/or Haircut” Rule (From Paris With Love and Battlefield Earth). And by the way, the bizarre Eastern European accent doesn’t help.
- But more than anything: this film opens on July 12, and this is literally the first time any of us are hearing about it. Talk about being dumped into the theatrical wild strictly for write-off reasons.
Crystal Fairy (July 12)
Silver: So this is the unused George-Michael Bluth episode from the fourth season of Arrested Development? Right?
(P.S. Gaby Hoffmann is all grown up, huh?)
Yoshida: Drug movies always give me pause, because if they get too self-aware and forcefully “Wooo drugs” kooky they lose the transportative magic they’re usually going for. A good drug movie shouldn’t necessarily make you wish you were on drugs. This looks freewheeling and low-fi enough to have some potential, as long as it’s more in love with its characters than the substances they’re ingesting. I give post-AD Michael Cera more leeway than I probably should, because Scott Pilgrim.
After I watched this I went to Google Sebastián Silva to see what else he’s done, and this appears to be his first widely released project besides being a pretty damn quintessential WPDG. (Warby Parker Dream Guy.)
The Wolf of Wall Street (November 15)
Silver: As good as this trailer is, the more I watch it, the more I wish The Wolf of Wall Street was made 30 or 40 years ago when De Niro and Pesci could have played the Leo and Jonah Hill roles. Because it’s quite obvious that for those of us craving another Scorsese “opus de immorality and depravity,” the wait is over.
Martin Scorsese’s choice in music is always a good sign of if he’s throwing heat. Not only in his films (“Layla” in Goodfellas), but also in his trailers (“Gimme Shelter,” “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” and “Comfortably Numb” in The Departed ). And Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” seems to perfectly set up this film’s tone and tempo. It’s hard to imagine this trailer without it.
And how good do both Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt McConaughey look? Is this the film that’ll finally get Leo his first Oscar win, and McConaughey his first nomination? Based on their quasi-beatboxing, I’d vote for them.
Yoshida: Look, we all agree that it sounds awesome, but does anyone want to talk about whether it’s secretly smart or obliviously offensive that “Black Skinhead” is the music in this trailer? Anyone? No? OK.
It’s not like it’s the weirdest thing in the trailer or anything. (Can’t wait, by the way.)
Smurfs 2 (July 31)
Silver: Just NO.
(P.S. Is there something wrong with Brendan Gleeson? What in the world is he doing in this? Can someone go check on him, and get back to me? I’m worried.)
(P.P.S. It’s really really REALLY sad that this is now the final credit on the great Jonathan Winters’s filmography.)
Yoshida: I refuse to watch this. Does that mean I’m fired already?