Saturday, August 11, 2007

Trailer Madness: Kites, Dolls and Hit and Runs

Is it just my imagination or are the fall trailers coming faster than one can keep up with. Isn't August supposed to be a slow month? You may have seen some of these elsewhere but here they are all collected for your viewing and discussion pleasure

Beowulf emerges from the development waters under the direction of Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) who once made charming 80s films like Romancing the Stone and Who Framed Roger Rabbit and now has a real fetish for stop motion capture. This looks visually arresting but also highly creepy. Exactly how many times can Angelina Jolie look like a plastic videogame character onscreen before she ceases to exist offscreen [sorry. That sounds like the premise of a really bad sci-fi horror film -ed.]? Even creepier is the vision of Robin Wright Penn plasticized... though I couldn't say why exactly. Help me out here in the comments.

Lars and the Real Girl has such a capital Q Quirky premise that one hopes they get the tone exactly right as it plays out in full feature form. In trailer form the premise sits there stubbornly, refusing to be either funny or sad or fascinating or disturbing or, better yet, a collision of multifacted tones. I'm still curious though.

The Kite Runner, based on the well loved novel of the same name, is shepherded to the screen by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) whose past work has left me cold because it's trying too hard to warm. Plus there's the bothersome schizo feeling that he both overcooks and underdramatizes his topics. Many people have high hopes for this one come Oscar time and it could be very moving indeed. But it might prove a touch alien for AMPAS' full embrace.

Be Kind Rewind
is the new comedy from the ingenious clutter happy Michel Gondry (Science of Sleep) . Watching this trailer one understands that the premise (video clerks recreating famous movies in truncated low budget form) is a complete match with the director's goofy hand-made aesthetic. Question: too much of a good thing or just right?

Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck, looks like Mystic River redux but two hours rather than two minutes might give it its own identity once it opens. That earlier film played well with Oscar voters but this is a trickier proposition. Though Oscar loves an actor-turned- director, Affleck doesn't demand automatic respect like Clint Eastwood and his lead is his brother Casey Affleck rather than Great Actor Sean Penn (this is not to knock Casey who has obvious talent...just to point out that prestige is a different commodity). Still it's easy to imagine the jostling for supporting honors (Ed Harris? Amy Madigan? Amy Ryan? Morgan Freeman?) if the film is a critical hit.

Reservation Road On this one, I'm torn. Terry George's follow up to Hotel Rwanda might go the distance but it could just as easily be one of those secondary fall films that gets one or two key nominations but not much else (like Little Children?). One thing seems sure from the trailer: it's a story of two fathers (Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo) at odds. My guess is that they're the leads and their wives (Mira Sorvino and Jennifer Connelly) are the supporting characters. We know however that Oscar don't play like that. Oscar Category Fraud is on its way, mark my words.


Glenn Dunks said...

The Kite Runner looks painful. I think it's the voice over more than anything.

I am currently predicting big things for Gone Baby Gone (for whatever reason. I guess I just really want Affleck to pull through)

And am I the only one who sees the big massive flaw in Be Kind Rewind? If Jack Black can erase video tapes then wouldn't that mean the video camera they're using to recreate the videos not work. And that the videos they create wouldn't work either. And that nobody watches videos anymore!


maybe it's a period piece?

Michael Parsons said...

I have to say that this Oscar season is unclear. Perhaps it is far too early to tell how things will go, but I would not be surprised to see a smattering in the nominations this year.
Lets hope so, as diversity is a fantastic thing.
The Kite Runner could be a contender, I think the lead actor could be a surprise (he was very good in United 93).

Lets hope they explain the magnetism of Jack Black in the film, because I thought that too.


how about explaining why Jack Black is in every other film these days.

I don't dislike him but i dont really get why it's always him. i mean even Margot at the Wedding???

Anonymous said...

I think Amy Ryan looks standout in the Gone Baby Gone trailer. Total transformation deglam - too bad no one in Hollywood knows who she is already.

Unknown said...

Is it wrong that I don't find much to love in any of these trailers? 'Reservation Road' looks a little too hokey and predictable for my tastes, and I like each of the respectable names in the cast and I adore George's 'Hotel Rwanda'. But the whole trailer really felt false, (and utilizing Damien Rice's brilliant voice for the end bit really took me out of the moment.) Ironically, the one performer who looks to garner some steam after this film was Sorvino, who still looks radiant and looks as though she might bring some energy to the part.

-Kite Runner, I never had much of an interest in reading, and the trailer didn't do it for me either. Another Forster film that looks to strike out.

-Lars I'll catch, but it's definitely a little offbeat.

-Gone Baby Gone didn't do it for me.

-Beowulf is too... I don't know. It didn't grab me.

-Be Kind Rewind looks to be about the only one of these that I'll definitely be making a trek out to catch.

Yaseen Ali said...

I have misgivings about every single one of these trailers, and I fully agree with you about the creepy look of Beowulf in particular.

I don't know how long the filmmakers can stretch out that gimmick in Lars... Real Girl. Ditto for Be Kind Rewind. At least both films have great casts (Emily Mortimer, how I love thee!)

The Kite Runner seems to fill the "essentialize and package exotic/foreign culture" slot for this year in the tradition of The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha, etc, while the trailer for Reservation Road has to be one of the most poorly-edited I've ever seen in my time.

Watching Gone Baby Gone is going to feel more obligatory than anything.

Ben said...

I think all of these look either hit or miss, but based on the trailers:

Beowulf: OK, Zemeckis. Why motion-capture the actors JUST TO ANIMATE THEM AS REALISTICALLY AS POSSIBLE? That's what bugged me about Polar Express... Put real actors into a largely-CG landscape and you'd get similar results without creepy-ass kids.

Lars: This year's Little Miss Sunshine, methinks. Quirky with a capital Q indeed. Stellar cast, though.

Kite Runner: Horrible by-the-numbers trailer for a film that'll likely fall through the cracks this season. But I like Forster a lot (for me, Stranger than Fiction was only second to Children of Men last year), so we'll see.

Be Kind, Rewind: Michel Gondry can do no wrong. As long as he gets around that hole in the plot that everyone's mentioned.

Gone Baby Gone: We'll see how reviews go on this, I think. The studio needs to handle it really carefully to build momentum and buzz.

Reservation Road: Acting nominations out the wazoo (I'm sure they'll manage to push one of the couples as leads [Phoenix and Connelly] and the other as supporting [Ruffalo and Sorvino]), but doesn't this look like a glossed-over Americanized 21 Grams?

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't they just make a live-version of Beowulf?? If they were going that far??

Glenn Dunks said...

They have make live version Beowulf and Grendel just last year I believe. But Zemeckis has a hardon for motion capture.

The Reservation Road trailer gives way too much away though. I have a feeling Mira Sorvino will be the Anne Hathaway/Sandra Oh(!) of this movie. The other three will get acclaimed and get nominations and wins and all she'll get stuck with are lousy ensemble prizes.


or it could be The Connelly that gets pushed aside. I mean at this point Sorvino's take on a longsuffering wife will be a lot fresher than Jennifer "always crying" Connelly.

she mixed it up a little last year but still... she's played too many weepy women. Time for something to really test her range.

adam k. said...

Yeah Connelly got shoved aside last year when she was actually good, so I'm betting she gets the "Oh" treatment. Although I think what'll happen is they'll put her in lead so it does look that bad when she's not nommed.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see JConn in, like, a romantic comedy? Part of me knows, though, that she'd never do one.

adam k. said...

**"so it DOESN'T look that bad when she's not nommed"**


Glenn Dunks said...

It is weird that Connolly was such a non-factor last year (for LC not BD obviously). Nobody even seemed to entertain the idea of her being nommed.

I would like Sorvino to make a comeback though. I like her for some reason.

Anonymous said...

re: Connelly

It depends on how closely they stay to the book, because she could go either way. Sorvino really can't, unless they drastically changed stuff (and from the trailer, it looks like they didn't). What it does look like in the trailer, though, is that there will be no way in hell to convincingly push Ruffalo in supporting. That would be like pushing James McAvoy for Last King of Scotland or Jamie Foxx for Collateral as supporting characters...

Of Focus' big four (Eastern Promises; Reservation Road; Lust, Caution; Atonement), Reservation Road is the one I'm anticipating the least, though. The book's spare prose really helped it immeasurably - looks like it could be too literal on screen.

J.D. said...

But McAvoy was nommed for the BAFTA supporting, and Foxx everything supporting, so...

Glenn Dunks said...

I think Arkaan was being facticious.

Anonymous said...

reservation road looks more like mystic river redux than gone baby gone. child dies, vengeful father...