by Gabriel Valdez
First off, there were so many good trailers from Australia and New Zealand this past week that there will be a special edition of Trailers of the Week tomorrow, focusing exclusively on movies made Down Under.
Now, for the most obvious Trailer of the Week in our brief history:
Where to even start on Paul Thomas Anderson’s 70s crime comedy? Joaquin Phoenix is unrecognizable, and we haven’t exactly ever seen him as a pratfalling comedian before this.
Last year’s American Hustle played up the East Coast glitz and glam of the 70s. Inherent Vice looks like it’s playing up the seedier, Hollywood habits of the decade. What astounds me about Anderson are those little touches that cheap 70s movies have – when Phoenix clambers to his feet in a stairwell, the sound is horrible. His shoes clap the floor with every step. And it’s not that Anderson lets this detail pass – it’s that this is a detail he consciously seeks out in the first place.
I can picture him in the editing bay, insisting, “No, Joaquin’s shoes need to be louder, louder even than the dialogue, louder even than the gunshot!” I assume that’s how PT Anderson talks. It’s the attention to detail Anderson’s taken to both drama and horror; I’m excited to see him tackle a period comedy from a period Hollywood has chosen to forget.
Michael Mann was unstoppable a decade ago. He’d added The Insider, Ali, Collateral, and the movie adaptation of Miami Vice to a resume that already boasted Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, and Heat.
And then he disappeared. Well, not really. He’s still been producing. But as a director, the only movie he’s helmed since 2006 is Public Enemies, the middling Johnny Depp-as-John Dillinger film you probably forgot about.
So it’s big news when Mann returns to directing, confident again in his grainy-yet-sumptuous digital video style that feels like a brand of hard-boiled, 80s crime television that never actually existed. The cast? Chris Hemsworth, who has yet to prove himself outside of Thor; Viola Davis, who has proven herself in so many roles I wouldn’t blink twice if she was recast as Thor; and Wei Tang, an Ang Lee alum who showed her dramatic chops in Lust, Caution.
THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA
U.S. Trailer #1
The style of this film still enchants me, and that soundtrack is so evocative it can send chills up your spine inside a few seconds flat, let alone two minutes.
If we hadn’t declared an earlier clip Trailer of the Week a month ago, this would probably be up top, but I like to vary it up.
U.S. Trailer #3
This was intended to come out last year, but the Wachowskis delayed it so they could perfect the effects work (or the studio got cold feet, depending on which reporter you believe).
Either way, it looks like those extra months payed off. When Jupiter Ascending trailered last summer, it had awe-inspiring vistas and moments of spectacle, but the person-to-person action (especially Channing Tatum’s anti-grav boots) just didn’t look right. That appears to have been fixed in this most recent-trailer.
There’s not enough good sci-fi out today, especially featuring women. Mila Kunis wouldn’t normally be my first choice to anchor an effects-heavy sci-fi epic, but that was once true of Keanu Reeves as well. The truth is, the Wachowskis need lead actors with comic ability and easygoing charm to make their occasionally too self-serious mix of anime and opera influences more palatable.
I just hope she’s not always the damsel in distress and, like Keanu, gets to kick a little ass by the end of the movie as well. Maybe she takes the place of Sean Bean when he inevitably buys it.
U.K. Trailer #1
I’m just going to harp about the cast here: Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Sam Rockwell. They could all read the phonebook together, and I’d pay to go see that. I’m actually not a huge fan of the premise, but you can’t buy the kind of comedic timing Knightley and Rockwell possess.
We sometimes lament the days when Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn would command the silver screen, or when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks teamed together for a romantic comedy. We still have those kinds of talents, and this is a pair that can pull it off. My favorite comedic duo of the year already contains Rockwell (that’s Rockwell and Olivia Wilde in the one-less-cameo away from being perfect Better Living Through Chemistry), and if you’re looking for the reason Pirates worked so well, I hope you’re not thinking it’s Orlando Bloom’s timing with Johnny Depp that did it. It was Knightley’s, and any time you have two comedic powerhouses like these two joining together, it’s a must-watch.
I’ve now said that in approximately six different ways. I’m excited for Laggies.
THE GOOD LIE
This is the kind of heartwarming I’m wary of, but I also have a weird kind of faith in Reese Witherspoon. I don’t know why, since I’ve never actually liked her in any of her roles, but at the same time I trust her reputation as a cutthroat exec who only does projects she feels are worth her time.
So I have faith in her, but don’t get me wrong – if the two of us were trapped in the Andes after a plane crash, I wouldn’t willingly fall asleep for fear I’d never wake up again. I mean, I had to sit through Sweet Home, Alabama one whole time. How do you trust after that?
Anyway, this movie could be something honest and heartfelt, helping to educate and expand viewpoints, or it could be “watch the white person save the foreign people” feelgood schlock. There’s no way to tell at this point.
Worst Trailer of the Week:
“Slutcam games!” Girls in lingerie! Torturing naked women! Good job, Gavin Michael Booth, you’ve made Hostel for Dummies, and Hostel already was Hostel for Dummies.
This column has a rule – we’ll never rag on indie or amateur films for looking cheap or lacking the budget for effects or award-winning actors. Some of my favorite films are amateur, made for a nickel, and contain whatever friends and family the director could scrounge up.
That’s why Worst Trailer of the Week is never an indie film. But this week, in the words of Denzel, “I’ll make an exception.”
Look, I get exploitation, I like a lot of self-aware exploitation films that understand their genre – warts and all. I even like some exploitation films that don’t understand their genre at all, much for the same reason people slow down to look at car wrecks.
But The Scarehouse? This is one more bolt in the framework of posing women as victims and sluts and getting off on watching them helpless and tortured. We get enough of that in the damn real world; I hardly think we need this tripe to reinforce it.