Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'Lone Survivor' Rollout

Based on the book "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" by Marcus Luttrell.

Trailer doesn't quite click. The pieces don't snap together and a couple are missing. However, ' Lone Survivor' looks excellent. Universal likes it. Slated for a December 27th release.

Christmas this year is looking great. December sees 'Labor Day', 'Jack Ryan', 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', 'Grudge Match', 'Anchorman 2', 'Inside Llewyn Davis', the next 'Hobbit', 'American Hustle', 'Monuments Men', among others.


Poster for 'Finding Vivian Maier'

There's been some talk about this doc but no poster. Well, here one is.

'Finding Vivian Maier' may seem like one of those films you can skip. The title just doesn't have a hook. You can't really tell what it's about. But, rest assured, this is one of the most fascinating stories you'll ever hear.

Maier was a nanny for a family in Chicago in the 1950s. She had, as one would expect, a very quiet life. Never married, didn't have friends, had little money. She did, however, take photographs. Some of the best street work I've ever seen. Some of the best street work that has ever been shot. She also never saw most of her pictures. In fact, much of her film wasn't even developed and remained stored in boxes she took with her from job to job, city to city.

She created about 100,000 images. This, remember, was before digital imagery. Maier shot thousands of rolls of film, each containing 12 exposures. If you haven't seen her work, here's a few shots.

It goes on and on like this. One after the other. Is it thousands or tens of thousands? Astonishing.

You can see more at a site devoted to exhibiting her photographs.

The documentary is directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel. It will show at the Toronto International Film Festival and has secured distribution by Sundance Selects.


Abscam Never Looked This Good

David O. Russell hits it out of the park. And, that cast. Love it. Plus, gotta say, this movie has such a Scorsese vibe. Too good.

I even love the title. 'American Hustle'. Wow. Classic.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Again, Not Quite What You Expect

I like Neill Blomkamp's approach. He finds a fresh way of shooting and editing stuff. Like the shootout clip we got a couple days ago. Just when you're sure you know what's going to happen next, Blomkamp finds a way to get it done just a little different, and it comes as a refreshing surprise.

Same here. We've seen this sequence in trailers but not all the footage. What we didn't see is where the missiles come from. Fresh. Unexpected.


Admit It. It's What You Really Want To Do

Yeah, desk jobs...


Not Too Serious, Not Too Stupid, Just Right

I like '2 Guns'. And, I usually dislike pure action flicks. They're almost always so cheeky that it undermines the action -- makes goings-on so dumb that you can't take anything seriously -- or they work so hard to be taken seriously that it comes off dense, brackish, and (let's go all-in) odious.

Director Baltasar Kormákur did a nice job. '2 Guns' plays light and snappy when it needs to, solid down the middle when that's the way to go.

Love it. Should score.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Tight. Nicely Done

Usually, this kind of movie is so superficial it hurts. '2 Guns' may not be very deep but it doesn't seem superficial. There's a kind of subtext in these clips that gives proceedings weight you wouldn't expect, while the energy pops, keeps the fun level going, like you would expect.

Director Baltasar Kormákur has an easy way with the camera and handles the script well. Like, when actors talk over each other. There's a nice rhythm you don't get in product like this too often.

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg take things seriously. It's so common to see performances phoned in with storylines like this. Not so much, here.

Had my doubts but '2 Guns' is looking like a cool popcorn flick. I'll buy this one on Blu-ray.


He's Got Your Baby

I'm thinking we're seeing a trend in horror movies away from slasher/gore and toward taut suspense. That was certainly the case with 'The Conjuring' and 'Insidious 2' seems to be of the same ilk.

I can't find fault with that. Gore is just so crude. It's much scarier to wonder what's in the dark, what's around the corner, what made that sound, and of course, what's going to happen next.

I like it. For me, trailers for new horror flicks are better in most cases, more fun to watch, than entire horror movies from a few years back.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Scary Minute

Nicely done horror short by Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun, Segment from VHS 2 "Slumber Party Alien Abduction").


One Last Dive from jasoneisener on Vimeo.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Liking This

Looking very forward to 'Captain Phillips'. No robots, space monsters, car chases, men with capes or magic hammers or super powers, and no obvious VFX. Story will have a spine and, frankly, I want to see how the Seals handled this.

Nice poster. Does the job, tells you everything you need to know.


Just A Cut Above

I see that it's a clip from 'Elysium' and I'm not exactly enthused. Footage from the flick has played just a tad flat and I wasn't looking forward to a stock combat clip. So, wearily, I click play and watch. Sure enough, the music is just this side of overbearing, the editing almost what you'd call action-mode-jammed, and dialogue and action are fairly normal.

But then, we get an interesting twist. Camera becomes just fresh enough to grab attention and what happens next is cool enough to raise eyebrows.

All in all, nicely turned. If Neill Blomkamp shot the whole thing this well it should be a lot of fun.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is This Getting Tedious? No. Right? Can't. Right?

Well, the next footage from Alfonso Cuarón's 'Gravity' is here and it's...more of the same nail-biting suspense. Again.

The whole movie is like this? 1) How can they maintain this level of juice? and 2) Just how much O2 do those suits have?

They got to get inside somewhere or the movie ends. Yes? So, looks like, by chance, they've landed on (literally) a space station, I guess it's The Space Station, ISS.

What are the odds, though, of hitting this object without being able to guide yourself? Perhaps, that's why Clooney's 'can is empty'. He used up his jet pack to point himself and Bullock at the ISS. Got it.

Fine. That's fine. The footage is stunning but there's stretches of logic and happy coincidences throughout the movie that enable these two astronauts to survive point to point. I don't care.

This might be a good time to stop watching these clips, though. Looks like we're going to get the entire movie 2 minutes at a time. (Okay, I don't care about that either. These clips/trailers have given my life meaning).


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

'47 Ronin' Trailer -- Yeah, Not What You'd Expect

Posters yesterday were 'edgy'. I was thinking this was a good thing. It looked as if we'd get a contemporary twist on the classic tale of the 47 masterless Samurai, however this trailer promises a fanciful CGI-fest. Not that that's not the way to go. Could be fun. It's just not what I had in mind. (Not that that was a good thing).

Keanu Reeves does play 'The One' again, though. That's fresh.


Talk About Writing Yourself Into A Corner...More New 'Gravity' Footage

Alfonso Cuarón (and co-writer Jonás Cuarón) have created something special.

It's fair to assume the events in the new footage occur in Act I of 'Gravity'. So, where does it lead? What could possibly happen other than Sandra Bullock's character dying in space? How will the movie sustain Act II? What active 'action' can the protagonist take other than to spin off into space? What, within reason, could possibly intervene and, if it's not reasonable, what could happen that won't leave the audience rolling their eyes?

Great idea. Ballsy to say the least. If the plot holds up this will be one of the most entertaining movies of the year. If it doesn't, well, it'll still be cool to watch...with the sound down.


Wow. Finally A Movie Worth Looking Forward To

Judging from the footage we've seen and this bit, there would seem to be little chance Alfonso Cuaron's 'Gravity' will disappoint.

Looks like the guy hit it out of the park. Great camera, great use of 3-D, great dialogue, and a situation that defies storytelling conventions.

Fantastic. Can't wait. Wow.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

'Ender's Game' Takes a Turn

It just looked so flat, that first footage. (Was it footage or a poster? I can't remember). It already seemed game over.

But, this trailer has a winning energy. Now, it's looking fairly game on.


4 Not-What-You-Expected Posters for '47 Ronin'

There's been an odd vibe around '47 Ronin'. Not much talk, not much traction. But, these posters are nicely done and hint at an edgier story than I was expecting.

This looks to be the classic story of the masterless Samurai but with a contemporary edge (there's something modern about an upside down woman bathed in green light, and the guy with the skull paint, nose ring, and gansta attitude is definitely street).

A traditional period piece this ain't.

Looks good. Waiting for a trailer.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Red Band 'Riddick'

'Riddick' doesn't do much for me. Mostly, it's because movies like this are too dark. Not tonally, just visually. You can't see what's going on because it's not lit well enough. I hate that. It's like bad projection from the 70s all over again even if you're watching on Blu-ray in your own home with great hardware and the lights down. You still can't see.

This new trailer, on the other hand, is beautiful to watch. Nice lighting, well-defined action, easy to watch, and well done in every other way that matters. Didn't care before but, now, I'm looking forward to this movie. Take my money.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Reminds Me Of 'Jurassic Park'

The VFX in 'Jurassic Park' were ahead of their time. My jaw dropped. I could not believe what I was seeing. Those dinosaurs looked better than anything that came before and, in fact, most of the stuff that came after. Even today, often, CGI doesn't look as good.

It was quite a ride and, I believe, the reason for that is simple. Steven Spielberg demanded it. He pushed the tech of the day to the limits and constantly asked if there was any way to clean it up, make it more real, make it better. It was the passion of the director that made T-Rex so scary. Other less involved directors did not (and do not) get similar results. 'Jurassic Park' came out in 1993 and even twenty years later we see cheesy effects in movies all the time.

The CGI in 'Pacific Rim' may not be as revolutionary as those in 'Jurassic Park' but, still, you can see the influence and high standards of the director, Guillermo del Toro. These monsters are something to behold and they do look better than I would have expected.

Wonderful work by ILM both technically of course, but also artistically. Yes, this is beautiful. 'Pacific Rim' sets a new standard.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just Looks So Good

My kind of movie. Reminds me of Oliver Stone's 'Savages' but so much more vibrant. 'The Counselor' is amped.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Too Action-Packed And Too Melodramatic And So So Good

New trailer for Ron Howard's 'Rush' is an odd blend of loud racing shots with super slo-mo rubber burns, screaming engines and tearing metal, squished with oh so intense talking-head character bits, all jammed together quick quick cut. It's good, no doubt about that, but does it belong in the same trailer?

Who knows...

The observation, however, leads me to wonder why I even noticed such a thing. It's because I was watching so closely. I can't think of another recent film I've been so wound up to see, that looked so good in trailers. Howard appears to have delivered a compelling drama loaded with race sequences that, second to second, will leave the audience breathless. Really, he could could have made 'Rush' either pure character-centric with a sprinkling of racing, or pure racing-centric with a dash of melodrama and it would have worked either way. 'Rush' has both.

I'm thinking that, as soon as you get to know and like the people in this movie it will cut to a racing sequence, and as soon as you get into the racing action and want to see more it will cut back to a dramatic two-shot. Then, you'll get completely caught up in that and...cut to: Next cool shot.

As such, this is a jangly trailer for a movie I'm very much looking forward to. 'Rush' should score. Word of mouth will probably be excellent.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

'Fruitvale Station' Resonates

Yeah, I know it's won festival awards but those don't really impress. It's footage that strikes a chord and you can tell 'Fruitvale Station' is special.

How to say it? This movie has that rare genuineness. Every shot shimmers with it and the actors involved feel how important a statement the film is. It's in their eyes. It's in every frame.

Director Ryan Coogler is one to watch. This guy will be a force.

'Fruitvale Station' is must-see, can't-miss.


A Sean Penn Action Movie?

You bet. That's Sean Penn in 'The Gunman'.

Not that I have anything against the idea. I can't wait to see Penn in action mode. It's just disorienting to look at this picture. Is there really enough political gravitas in 'The Gunman' for Penn to chew on?

Script is by Pete Travis who has only done TV and the plot is fairly stock. From IMDb: "An international spy must clear his name in order to save himself from the organization that he used to work for."

However plain and direct the story may sound though, Travis apparently infused the screenplay with something good enough to entice Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, and Ray Winstone to join Penn.

Directed by Pierre Morel (Taken, District B13) who has a way with the camera, lighting, and editing.

At this point, just based on the above, 'The Gunman' looks must-see, can't-miss. Due 2014.


Monday, July 15, 2013

'12 Years A Slave' Trailer

What strikes me is how true this plays. In the hands of another director we might have gotten somewhat more theatrical awards bait. This, however, looks like a must-see.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Based On A True Story, Looks Good

I like the vibe of 'The Frozen Ground'. Based on the killings by Robert Hansen who, many feel, kidnapped women, released them in the Alaskan forest, and hunted them with a rifle.

Nicolas Cage is the detective with John Cusack as Hansen. Yes, it's got the makings of a standard police procedural but it doesn't play that way. Both Cage and Cusack are engaged. Perhaps their performances are fueled by the fact this is a true story but, whatever the reason, 'The Frozen Ground' doesn't come off by-the-numbers.

I'm feeling it. I'll see this.


Sneak Peak at Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman's 'Transcendence' Production

A sci-fi actioner with Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Rebecca Hall, and Paul Bettany.

Seems, not too far in the future, computers will transcend the abilities of the human brain and, well, somebody's got to do something about it.

Directed by first-timer Wally Pfister, who was DP on the Dark Knight flicks, The Prestige, Moneyball, Inception, and lots of others. Produced by Christopher Nolan. Sure to be a slick production.


Quiet, Beautiful, Powerful

Frankly, I did not expect much from 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' but this first look has changed my mind. And why not. Director Justin Chadwick has turned in subtlety observant pieces: The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader. Writer William Nicholson certainly brings it: Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Gladiator.

The first trailer is poetic. It stops you. And, just like that, in just over a minute, this movie went from maybe-check-it-out-sometime to must-see. Wouldn't dare to miss this one.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fantastic Trailer for 'Out of the Furnace'

Absolutely love the look of this. Beautiful camera work. And, the feel -- it's like a true story.

Great cast -- Christian Bale, Forest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, and Willem Dafoe. Wow.

Directed by Scott Cooper who did 'Crazy Heart' with Jeff Bridges.

Poster has a great tag: "Sometimes your battles choose you." That ain't bad.

Must-see, can't wait.


Flat Buzz But Great Reviews

I thought 'Pacific Rim' was a great idea. Giant robots fighting monsters from the other side of the universe -- had never been done, sounded like fun. Then, I heard about the whole 'drift' thing and the way it takes two psychically bonded pilots to control the Jaegers. Something about that seemed off -- fresh, new, but a bit too complex and subtle an idea for a summer popcorn movie. I had my doubts. Buzz flattened and I think it's because of the drift concept. People weren't interested in such an involved idea. It came off too touchy-feely.

Things were looking grim for 'Pacific Rim'. At one point they were forecasting a $30m opening weekend.

At the same time, though, footage was some of the best I've seen. That, plus the fact that the monster design is, how to say this?...innovative, scary, while maintaining an organic realism that makes your jaw drop. The monsters looked awesome. The robots were good, but sort of same ole same ole, but the monsters rocked. I was looking forward to seeing 'Pacific Rim' again.

Even if PR doesn't do well in the US, I'm thinking it will rake overseas. The European and Asian markets love stuff like drifting. They live for touchy-feely. Makes us squeamish, they eat it up. And, robots fighting monsters plays huge, especially in China and Japan.

Reviews are rolling in and they're over the top. These guys loved the movie. They're totally wowed by the monsters and fight sequences. Hopefully, buzz will pick up and PR will do some (domestic) business. There's still time. It could happen.


Way Way Works

Not usually my cup of tea but this clicks, despite being a TV ad. I'll see this movie.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

'Oldboy' Trailer...Better Than I Hoped

With the weird poster yesterday and the fact that Spike Lee directs I wasn't keen on this remake. (I didn't know what to make of Josh Brolin in this role, either. Just didn't click somehow). However, you'd never guess Lee directed this film and Brolin is totally dialed-in.

Camera/framing, editing, choice of color palette, all look excellent. Lots of forward motion. Good trailer.


We're-Going-To-Need-A-Bigger-Helicopter Trailer for 'Sharknado'

That's right. A tornado filled with sharks. I dare you to watch this without giggling. Dare.

Coming to a boobtube near you.


Sinbad-esque Trailer for 'Seventh Son'

Poster doesn't work but, wow, this trailer does. Reminds me of the Sinbad movies, which I loved as a kid.

Trailer has bite, gets to you. Usually, these fantasy flicks are so much fluff -- I just ignore them -- but 'Seventh Son' resonates with themes everyone can relate to. Editing is tight, love the movement. Action is compelling and CGI looks great. Complete package.

Plus, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore...can't complain. I'm there. Take my money (and get a better poster).


Stop Cutting Wires!

I like this. It just works.


Exquisite New Trailer for 'Filth' -- aka -- The Best Thing You'll See Today

James McAvoy is so on these days. His performances are watchable, don't bore you, hook the audience without trying.

'Filth' is looking like the best thing to come along in a while.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

2 Trailers for 'Lovelace' But Only 1 Worth Watching

Ours is very skippable. The good one is for the UK market. It's very good. Very skippable vs. very good. I'm skipping the skippable one and posting the good one.

If the movie is as good as this trailer 'Lovelace' is a must-see.


Monday, July 08, 2013


Poster for Spike Lee's take on 'Oldboy' doesn't inspire. It's good, no doubt about that, however I'm not sure what this look has to do with this type story. It's odd in the wrong way. And, Spike Lee? Is he right for this? I wondered about him directing as soon as the announcement was made but this freaky poster only makes me wonder more.

Granted, it's too soon to tell. I do like the title design and this detail, though.


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

'Pacific Rim' Delivers Its Best Trailer Yet But I'm Still Not Sure. So Not Sure

There's just something off about 'Pacific Rim'. Perhaps that's because the plot has such a fresh twist, however that wouldn't explain the odd feeling I get watching trailers. This latest is no exception. It's put together well -- the best, most compelling one yet to be sure -- but watching it I'm...confused. It's like a deep philosophical exploration jammed together with a robot movie and, somehow, that leaves me wondering.

I hope the flick scores. Surely, we could use an injection of intellect during the summer months. (See what I mean? I'm talking about a robots-vs-monsters-from-another-dimension movie and use turns of phrase like 'injection of intellect'. That's weird).

As I was saying, yes, I'd like to see smarter popcorn CGI crash-bang summer movies. We get so much glimmering fluff every year... However there's something about the conceit of melding your mind with another pilot in order to control a giant robot and the inherent implications regarding identity, surrender of personal freedoms and privacy to keep society free, and general mental/emotional mumbo-jumbo in 'Pacific Rim' that gives me pause.

That said, I freaking love the monsters. Wow, they did a good job with those. Can't wait. I might have to turn the sound off whenever there's dialogue to avoid existential brain-freeze, but -- can't wait.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

'The Conjuring': Very 70s, Very Sure

Looking forward to 'The Conjuring'. Everything I've seen has that feel, that solidness you get when the conceit is played seriously, and the acting isn't hammed up or self-conscious. There's a commitment here and we don't see that much these days, not since the 70s really -- back when audiences hadn't been subjected to every editing shock technique a million times and were still willing to get involved in a ghost story that didn't rely on extreme gore or VFX tricks.

These clips have a smooth flow, unhurried feel, and the camera remains relatively still. The action doesn't come off over stylized and a lot happens out of view, which hands things over to the audience's imagination -- something of a lost art in movies anymore.

Another plus is Vera Farmiga's care in selecting projects to be involved with. Hopefully, that bodes well for this screenplay. Also, though James Wan directs, the title has an elegance lacking in words like 'Saw' or 'Insidious'. It would seem they're going for something different.

This might shake up the status quo. If 'The Conjuring' scores we'll see more quiet, linear, sensible, and hopefully character-rich creepshows.



'The BoxTrolls' Primer-Slash-Trailer

I love Laika Studios. 'ParaNorman' and 'Coraline' were better than good. They're like Pixar but not as clean cut, with more swish, and more fun.

'The BoxTrolls' is exactly my cup of tea.


Monday, July 01, 2013

'Pacific Rim' Featurette -- or -- You Kaiju, You

I had my doubts about 'Pacific Rim'. Still do. I'm thinking the depth of character they're going for might not be attainable in a summer blockbuster (especially a pure genre monster flick) without coming off too involved or even hokey to the target audience. That's neither here nor there, really. We'll see.

But, gotta hand it to Guillermo del Toro. He and his team designed and rendered some very cool looking monsters. Possibly the best CGI yet. I can't remember seeing anything like this before.

After seeing this featurette I'm thinking 'Pacific Rim' has a shot at huge box office.


Trailer for 'Afternoon Delight' Tries So Hard

I'm just not 'feeling the pole' here. Looks good, looks like they did a great job, but this trailer is stand-offish.

Thing is, I like anything with Juno Temple, and director Jill Soloway picked up the Directing Award, Dramatic at Sundance for this flick, so I'll blame the way this trailer plays on editing.

Besides, any movie that has the line "Feel the pole" can't be bad.

Here's Jill Soloway's 'Meet the Artist' video from Sundance.


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