Tag Archives: Steve Carell

Trailers of the Week — True Stories

FOXCATCHER
Nov. 14

Steve Carell’s often hinted at some deeper pathos in his comedy. It’s what makes characters like Michael Scott on The Office compelling. His asinine comedian of a boss spoke to Scott’s lack of confidence, his social maladjustment. He tried to correct this through behaving, through women, through spending every cent he had, and found in every iteration, he found no real comfort.

It was only when he started to grow up and become comfortable with himself that others became comfortable around him, started rooting for him rather than against him. That Carell may deliver one of the better performances of the year in Foxcatcher isn’t a surprise. It’s that it took so long for someone to put him in a dramatic role like this, playing an historical character, that’s the real surprise.

(This isn’t really the first trailer. It’s about the 7 millionth, but it is the first “official” trailer.)

WHIPLASH
Out in select markets, expanding soon

Whiplash has been engineering one of those frustrating holiday releasing strategies. Is it in limited markets? In previews? Expanding? Yes, yes, and is molasses a releasing strategy? Technically, it’s already out, but it better start expanding far more if it wants to capitalize on the buzz that’s been going around about it. All I know is it looks brilliant. I know a very few folks who have seen it already and describe it as the defining role of J.K. Simmons’s exceptional career.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA
March 13

I’m not sold on Chris Hemsworth yet. He’s fun to watch as Thor, but his other projects really haven’t launched.

I should be sold on director Ron Howard by now, but I always have reservations going into his movies. With the exception of Apollo 13, his films that aren’t designed to be hits (The Missing, Frost/Nixon, Rush) tend to be better than the ones that are (Ransom, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code).

It’s ironic that Rush is one of Howard’s better films. Hemsworth was fine in it, but the role wasn’t exactly a stretch for him. He played it in very broad strokes and it never felt like he reached the level of his costars. Personally, I’d rather see his Rush-costar Daniel Bruhl in a role like this.

It also makes me wary that this isn’t a Moby Dick adaptation. It’s based on the “true events” that inspired Moby Dick. In fact, a youthful Herman Melville is one of the characters here, played by Ben Whishaw. That’s always dangerous territory. It’s also off-putting that the whale in the trailer is some flame breath or an EMP-burst away from being a Pacific Rim kaiju.

Actually, Ron Howard’s “Pacific Rim: Colonial Edition”…I’m beginning to get the Chris Hemsworth casting now.

Do I have a whole host of worries about In the Heart of the Sea? Absolutely. Does it look good anyway. Yep.

UNBROKEN
Dec. 26

This isn’t Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, but for the vast majority of viewers, it will be. That alone leaves me rooting for it. Since most women filmmakers don’t enjoy the ability to step into a fully-financed studio film, if she’s successful, she may change Hollywood’s minds on backing female directors.

All of that is immaterial to the film itself, however, and the film looks damn good. All its trailers have come across as a bit schmaltzy, but coming out in the holiday season, that’s how they’ve got to appeal. It doesn’t look like the film itself will subscribe to that. Instead, this looks like an old-fashioned, rousing, biographical picture. That’s exactly my cup of tea. It is based on a true story, and is probably going to stick to the facts of that story a little more closely than Ron Howard’s Whaleformers above.

Needless to say, I’m rooting for Unbroken for a lot of reasons.

WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?
No date set

Yakuza send-up gone mad, Why Don’t You Play in Hell? follows a gangster who wants his gang war revenge on film, starring his daughter, and done before his wife gets out of prison. Because why not?

Japan might have the best film industry in terms of skewering its own genre standards. That’s a fancy way of saying they make the best comedies. This doesn’t mean every one is a hit, but I’ve heard good things about Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and the trailer hints at a movie that knows precisely the overbloodied gangster movie tropes it wants to lampoon.

DYING OF THE LIGHT
December 5

When you click on a trailer with Nicolas Cage’s name attached, you’re already thinking “Worst Trailer of the Week.” And Dying of the Light certainly starts out with that potential. As it develops, though, you start to see where it could go and it’s another Nicolas (Nicolas Winding Refn, in this case) that makes me view the trailer through another filter. The writer-director of Drive and Only God Forgives is producing, with hit-or-miss writer-director Paul Schrader, well, writing and directing this time out.

His last film was the execrable The Canyons, a movie so wretched I broke out the word ‘execrable’ to describe it. A Bret Easton Ellis performance art project starring Lindsay Lohan, porn star James Deen, and in which the movie itself was secondary, Schrader was the hapless director used in a Producers-like plot to create the perfect modern train wreck. Ellis’s success was contingent on Schrader’s failure, but that doesn’t mean Schrader should be forgiven his directorial decisions on The Canyons.

All this is a way of saying Dying of the Light is a high-risk, moderate-reward kind of venture. I have more confidence in Winding Refn to get something good out of Schrader than Ellis, and the trailer surprised me by looking like something I’d watch. Given the amount of crap I give Nicolas Cage (despite honestly liking him in many roles), it’s nice to highlight a performance of his with true potential.

Worst Trailer of the Week:
SEX ED

Haley Joel Osment! Jokes about this Internet thing! Crappy comedies about lazy-ass guys whose lazy-assitude is rewarded with beautiful women just because that’s the way the world works, right?

It’s like the early 2000s all over again.

He gets drunk and throws up on someone! I’ve never seen that before! Look, when even Steve Zahn moved past this stuff, it really should’ve signaled the end, guys. Please don’t make Haley Joel Osment our new Steve Zahn.

Here’s some Chris Hemsworth to wash the taste of whatever that was out. I might start pretending he’s really Thor stripped of his powers in every film. It already makes Red Dawn a much better film.

Chris Hemsworth In the Heart of the Sea

Trailers of the Week — Bollywood Wins

Happy New Year

I’m planning a heist and I’m looking for some volunteers. I’ll ask you a few questions to see if you’re qualified.

We’re in a pinch and we’re being chased, do we:

A) Give up?
B) Keep running?
C) Dance like we’ve never danced before?

Let’s say we’re cornered. We’re up against a wall. Please rate how much your fighting skills defy the laws of physics on a scale of 1 to 10. Bonus if steam comes out of your ears when you get angry.

OK, last question. You have been spurned by a great love. Is the only cure for your lamentations heaps of ice cream, or to burst into song?

(Trick question, that last one. Both answers were right.)

Happy New Year looks like unbridled amounts of fun in the way only Bollywood can make it, from humor that crosses the language barrier to lavish set design and a grab-bag of genres ranging from drama to kung fu comedy. I wouldn’t mind if a few more dour U.S. films managed to tap into the zaniness that Bollywood lives and breathes.

Trash

I’m a fan of modern Dickensian stories about children who make a difference. I’m also a fan of Rooney Mara as one of the most important actresses working today. Even in a low-profile year like 2013, she still delivered three of the year’s best performances in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Side Effects, and Her. And Martin Sheen needs no introduction.

I don’t mean to take away from the three children at the center of this story either. The movie’s going to succeed or fail on their efforts, no matter what Mara or Sheen do. Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Reader) has one of the best track records in the business when it comes to working with young actors.

The Overnighters

We’ll finish out with what looks like a powerful documentary. There’s nothing to say about the state of this country when it comes to the working classes that hasn’t already been said a million times. We’re caught in an age of corporate neo-feudalism.

You’ve probably heard statistics quoted right, left, and center at you if you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to economic politics, so let me just bring one single fact into play. We may see news of an improved economy, but 130% of economic gains since the 2008-09 recession belong to the top 2% of earners. That’s 130%, so it’s not just the gains made since 2009 (that would equal only 100%), but it’s also the gains made by the elite into what little the working classes already had in the deepest throes of the recession.

No statistic more clearly highlights to me that the Great Recession – while cured on paper – continues for the vast majority of Americans.

WORST TRAILER OF THE WEEK: None

There is no worst trailer of the week this week. Nicolas Cage can only work so much, people. Honestly, nothing looks that bad aside from some straight-to-DVD and super-indie work, and we have a rule here: We’ll criticize a filmmaker for making bad work, but we won’t criticize him or her for having very few resources to start with.

ROSEWATER

And yes, I realize the Rosewater trailer came out this week and that it’s not in our best trailers section. While I applaud the story being told and I’m a huge Jon Stewart fan, I have some deep reservations about the quality of the craft behind the film itself.

If there’s a Daily Show alum whose trailers you should be paying more attention to, it’s Steve Carell and his dramatic turn in Foxcatcher.