by Gabriel Valdez
This was a hell of a week for trailer announcements. Joining some really intriguing action flicks are horror movies from India, Ireland and – of course – the U.S., a crime film from France, and two very different portrayals of the French fashion industry.
THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT
It’s hard being a kid. Standing up for counter-culture and the social outsider is one of the most important things movies can do – I guarantee you films like The Craft, Pump Up the Volume, and Heathers got me through some very rough patches. So The Sisterhood of Night might seem an odd headliner, but it’s the project I most want to highlight. What films like it once communicated to me, I hope this film can communicate to others.
This got its start on Kickstarter. That actually may be one of the most viable ways to support movies made by women (such as writer Marilyn Fu and director Caryn Waechter here) when the studio system refuses to drop its boys’ club attitude toward filmmaking.
Some of the most exciting new cinema in the world is coming from India, whose long-successful film industry has been involving grittier presentations of social commentary as of late. Sunrise looks to confront issues of child abduction and prostitution (a government study in 2007 estimated 53.22% of Indian children face sexual abuse), and the trailer is soaked in just as much style as our own best film noirs.
Nobody does crime movies quite like the French do crime movies. Jean Dujardin, who boasts an Oscar for his performance in The Artist, plays a judge who spends his life trying to dismantle an international drug ring. Director Cedric Jimenez is fairly new, with only one prior film under his belt, but if the trailer’s any indication, he’s not afraid to swing for the fences.
This might actually be the best-made trailer of the week. The opening sequence would last too long but for that sound design. Jesus, that sound design. And once you’re done with that, the trailer just assaults you with a punk sensibility toward your ears and eyes (don’t watch this with headphones on). Another movie that got its start on Kickstarter, this is how you announce that your film is meant to be something both visceral and unique.
This is the other side of horror, and this trailer builds mystery and suspense in a frighteningly suggestive way. I have no clue what the plot is, but I am quite confident of the emotions the filmmakers seek to evoke. A few more trailers jealously guarding their plot from you – like these last two – would certainly make moviegoing a fresher, more mysterious experience.
It’s always season for biopics, and director Bertrand Bonello is a director with a history of crafting challenging portrayals of his subject matter outside the mainstream. In the last 15 years, he’s made challenging films covering pornography (The Pornographer), brothels (House of Tolerance), and adapted a Greek myth about transexuality into the Brazilian countryside (Tiresia).
DIOR AND I
On French fashion, there’s also a fascinating documentary coming out on Dior’s new artistic director and the history of the seamstresses who quietly realize these fashions. This may not matter to everyone, but Dior has remained more or less practical in their designs over the years, maintaining a blend of artistic statement and actual wear-ability that a lot of fashion has ceased prioritizing.
I don’t want to be excited for The Rock’s disaster movie, but this just looks too fun. That and I’m a sucker for anything with Carla Gugino in it. I hope The Rock and Paul Giamatti get a chance to buddy up for a long stretch of this movie, because that’s a buddy pairing made in heaven.
A lot of people are excited for this trailer, but I found the quiet, suggestive first entry much more exciting. I’m a bit disappointed to be shown just how much crazy CGI action is in the movie, how zany Clooney is meant to be, and how much of a chase is involved. The first trailer suggested a film about ideas. This one suggests Race to Witch Mountain (speaking of The Rock and Carla Gugino) with a bigger budget. That’s not a bad thing, I just liked the direction the first trailer hinted at and this one chucks the mysterious restraint it suggested right out the window.
I like the idea of an elderly Sherlock Holmes struggling with Alzheimer’s attempting to solve one last mystery, especially when the actor’s Ian McKellen. I’ll be in the seats on concept alone, despite its trailers failing to hook me.
This looks more narratively interesting than filmically great, but Charlize Theron in a Gillian Flynn adaptation sounds too promising to not mention. Flynn, of course, wrote the novel and screenplay for Gone Girl (read the review). Here, her work is adapted by a director, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, whose repertoire is mixed at best.
I’ll be honest – I’d be more interested in seeing a Thai family trying to survive a Thai coup than in seeing an American one – I think we’re at the point where white American audiences are open to that. And, as much as I love him, Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan are not the guys to be headlining this. I like the casting of Lake Bell, who ought to shine in this kind of film, but Wilson and Brosnan playing what appear to be Wilson and Brosnan archetypes – what, exactly, is the tone they’re going for in this?
This is here for no other reason than John Erick Dowdle, who directed two very underrated found footage horrors – Quarantine and last year’s As Above, So Below (read the review). If Dowdle ever figures out how to adapt his fine sense of POV choreography to third-person storytelling, he’s going to be a terrific director. That’s a big “if,” however.
WORST TRAILER OF THE WEEK
PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2
Eli Roth-produced clown horror Clown, and an indie horror movie about a house of girls called Girlhouse (where do they come up with these titles?) really gave our winner a run for its money this week, but in the end, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is why we can’t have nice things.
Other trailers of interest include:
Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton are a terrific comedic pairing, even if the plot for 5 Flights Up – they try to sell a Brooklyn apartment – sounds a little dry.
Watch the trailer for Ben Kingsley switching into the body of Ryan Reynolds in Self/Less only if you want to have the entire movie spoiled for you.
Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer #4,815 doesn’t sway me from my determination to root for James Spader, because he’s James Spader, although it does hint at a romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner – my guess is it’s a set-up for both of them leaving each other for James Spader.
Your Nicholas Sparks entry for the year, The Longest Ride (snicker), stars a baby Eastwood and Alan Alda, so there’s that. Oh damn, too bad the romance isn’t between them. That’s a missed opportunity.
My hopes are not high for Danish Western The Salvation, but Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green are the basis for a standout cast – trailers have looked all over the map, but the latest is the best.
There’ll be a feature on upcoming independent comedies later this week, since this is already the longest Trailers of the Week yet.