Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trailer Curmudgeons, Vol. 8: Meryl Streep, Rorschach and a MOUNTAIN-CRESTING TIDAL WAVE

We've been out of commission for Thanksgiving and my birthday, which came right on top of each other, so here's FAN FAVORITE Trailer Curmudgeons to kick us off again.

Doubt (Dec. 12)


Todd: So it was while watching the trailer for this, which takes the mostly excellent and mostly somber stage play and apparently turns it into Notes on a Scandal 2: The Nunnening, that I realized the play is actually an Iraq War allegory? However, I'm apparently the last person to figure this out, so you can all just ignore me. Since Meryl Streep is obviously George W. Bush, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Saddam Hussein, does that make Amy Adams Colin Powell? And Viola Davis the U.N.? I guess God kind of plays the same role in both (well, He IS pretty typecast). Somehow, Meryl Streep is both overplaying and underplaying the lead role, which results in a performance that, judging from the trailer (which, yes, one should never do), uncomfortably bounces between two poles like some sort of manic-depressive she devil. Which, incidentally, is one of the few films Streep DIDN'T get an Oscar nomination for.

Libby: Please. All she needs is a Snidely Whiplash mustache and a cape. This is ridiculous.

The Reader (Dec. 12)


Todd: Maybe this country keeps starting wars because it knows we're running out of good stories to tell about World War II? I mean, let's be honest here, most of our other wars are depressing or dreadfully uncinematic or too expensive to mount movies about (which is why The Patriot had all of that, like, CGI cannonball action). So we keep going back to World War II, in the hopes that something new and original will jar itself loose this time. Doesn't look like they succeeded with this one, which boils elements of Apt Pupil (only they totally have Teh Sex), Judgment at Nuremberg and Schindler's List (it's always Schindler's List) into a film about, like, some guy telling his story to some lady and then she's shocked and questions everything she believes. I believe that's also the plot of Bull Durham.

Libby: Say this phrase aloud: "Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Cuba Gooding Jr." OK. Now say this phrase aloud: "Oscar nominees Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes." That's all I got.

Todd: I just want Winslet to win one so she can stop trying and make, like, a hi-larious comedy where she farts a lot or something.

Libby: Or ends up with Jack Black!

The Yes Man (Dec. 19)


Todd: I realize that Jim Carrey is always a, let's say, broad actor when he's doing crowd-pleasing comedy, but it looks like he was just so desperate for a hit (after things like The Number 23) that he just turned on the LAUGH MACHINE for this one, and it looks a little frightening. I keep expecting Bradley Cooper to start chortling throatily, hit a gong and yell, "Hey-o!" every time Carrey does anything. Still, the American public has spoken, and it wants to see wacky, over-the-top Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) or mid-range, just looking for a paycheck Jim Carrey (Fun with Dick and Jane, which was a huge hit because I guess everyone just wanted to see something misanthropic that Christmas?) than quiet, "I'm a good actor!" Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon, etc.). But, ugh, Murray from Flight of the Conchords and hipster goddess Zooey Deschanel are in this, and it's directed by one of the more underrated mainstream directors out there, Peyton Reed, so I suppose I'll see it, which is probably what everyone in America is saying right now for vastly different reasons.

Libby: I, for one, am glad that Jim Carrey's dad is getting work. I'm sure he's been out there struggling as an actor for ... wait. What?

Frost/Nixon (Dec. 26)


Todd: I like that Ron Howard and company have taken a pivotal moment in '70s pseudo-journalism and apparently turned it into a feel-good, nostalgic sports movie about a team of scrappy underdogs that takes on the ultimate foe (and wins! *SPOILER ALERT*), complete with The Who on the soundtrack and, like, a full fleet of character actors. Maybe Ron Howard was really in hot pursuit of the Bad News Bears remake and when Richard Linklater got it, he had a good cry and poured all of those dreams into this?

Libby: Todd told me this was a romantic comedy. I don't think this is a romantic comedy.

Watchmen (March 6)


Todd: Like all good nerds, I love Watchmen (especially the final chapter and that chapter where we learn Dr. Manhattan's backstory in piecemeal fashion and -- Libby is insisting I say this -- the Ghost Pirates), but I can't imagine America sitting through this and not being completely baffled. "Didn't they already do most of this on Heroes?" your mom will say, and you'll be so surprised she watches Heroes (she only does because she thinks Adrian Pasdar is sexy) that you'll miss, like, I don't know, Nite Owl hitting a guy or something. I want to be optimistic about this, since the cast is pretty great (and Jackie Earle Haley appears to just be giving us the greatest version of Rorschach ever from some other movie), but the Zack Snyder (sorry ... VISIONARY DIRECTOR Zack Snyder) gives me pause. His Dawn of the Dead was a lot of fun, but his 300 indicated that he doesn't really think much about the material he's given beyond, "What would be cool?" Which is a problem for this particular project. Just sayin'. Oh, and there's a lot of Big Blue Weenis in this movie. Your mom's going to find that particularly baffling. Or arousing. Depends on your mom.

Libby: I used to spend a lot of time trying to picture a movie created specifically to NOT appeal to me. Who would score it. What it would feature. Subject matter. It's nice that I don't have to think about that anymore. This is just pretentious nerd porn.

Todd: Like our marriage!

*drum riff*

Duplicity (March 20)


(Since Libby is such a huge fan of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson, we will reverse our usual repartee.)

Todd: I have seen the ads for this before! It is called Leverage, and it begins airing in a couple of weeks on TNT.

Libby: Once I thought that it would be such a good idea if they took Ocean's 11 and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and a bunch of other movies and made it into one movie and cast all of my favorite people in it, and they're all so pretty, and I don't care what they're saying because they're all so pretty and we're gonna go see this like 60 times in the theaters. Also, HUGE Tony Gilroy fan. Huge.

Star Trek (May 8)


Todd: There was a brief time when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was my favorite movie of all time because I was not allowed to consume science fiction until very recently before I saw it so just the very idea of ALIENS?! WHAT?! blew my mind, despite the fact that it was fairly derivative and was just an excuse to give William Shatner a ski weekend, I think. That said, I'm pretty interested to see this, if only because I want to see if my hypothesis about J.J. Abrams (namely, that he really doesn't create characters, just types) is correct. If it is, this movie could be pretty awesome, because Kirk, Spock and McCoy aren't CHARACTERS, per se, they're just awesome dudes in space. And there's nothing wrong with that. Still, Abrams never met a character building moment he couldn't turn into DRIVING A CAR OFF THE GRAND CANYON, so this could end very poorly indeed.

Libby: Y'know, I used to spend a lot of time trying to picture a SECOND movie created specifically to NOT appeal to me. Who would score it. What it would feature. Subject matter. It's nice that I don't have to think about that anymore.

Todd: But what about the BIG RED MONSTER?!

Libby: Does Bugs Bunny do his nails?

Todd: No.


Up (May 29)


Todd: I have no idea why Pixar always opens its trailers with "DO YOU REMEMBER ALL OF THESE MOVIES WE MADE THAT YOU LIKED? WELL, WE'VE MADE ANOTHER MOVIE, AND PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE IT AS MUCH AS THOSE, BUT MAYBE NOT. OH, LOOK, THERE'S FINDING NEMO. HURRAH!" but they seem to feel as though they need to remind us of their pedigree when they're one of the few reliable brand names LEFT anymore. This is like if McDonald's was constantly saying, "Remember how much you liked the Big Mac? And the Egg McMuffin? Well, here's a fried goat's ear on a bun." Or something. Maybe Pixar has a giant inferiority complex, since they've mostly ceded the box office crown to the pop culture quotin' wackadoos over at Dreamworks (though I hear Kung Fu Panda was fun). At any rate, I also like how they apparently choose some new object to render in an insane amount of detail with every movie. Monsters Inc.: Fur. Finding Nemo: Water. WALL-E: Grime. With this, it appears that John Lasseter just threw up his hands and said, "You know what they haven't seen? Balloons!" and everyone just shrugged and said OK, because who doesn't like balloons? That said, you ever notice how the insanely detailed special features on Pixar DVDs make everyone an expert on what it's difficult to do in computer animation? Like, I don't think I've seen a review of this trailer where someone didn't nod sagely and say, "It must have been MURDER to render those balloons," as though they've ever used their computer for rendering, much less figured out where the hell they hid Spider Solitaire. But, yes, I will see this. Opening night. Because, dammit, I love balloons.

Libby: I guess I just spend most of my time rendering meat.

(Obligatory Gran Torino joke. Two jokes for the price of one!)

Libby: If I knew how to render my computer graphics, I would totally put Clint Eastwood from Gran Torino into the Up trailer. "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

2012 (July 10)


Todd: Do you suppose Roland Emmerich is really irritating to go on vacation with? Like, as his wife and kids are enjoying the sights of downtown New York or an ancient monastery or, I don't know, John Cusack's villa, is he just sitting there and saying, "I wonder what this would look like if you flooded it with a giant wave of water?" Whatever works, I guess. Anyway, he's finally made a movie geared almost entirely to the listening audience of Coast to Coast AM (which is apropos, since The Day After Tomorrow was actually BASED ON A BOOK BY ART BELL), which is constantly freaking out about how the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. My theory on this: They were going to keep making their calendar, but they were exterminated. Probably by Roland Emmerich. Also, more trailers should end with a plaintive cry that their titles should, nay, MUST be Googled for us to get the full import of what's going on. And it appears that the studio Google-bombed the term 2012 so that the first three results you get are the Wikipedia page (which screams in the summary, "a great year of spiritual transformation (or alternatively an apocalypse)," which describes so, so much of my life) and the studio Web site for 2012 and a site about how to SURVIVE 2012. This reminds me of when I used to haunt peak oil survivalist Web sites and there was a kid who liked to bow hunt and talked with some fervor about how when the end came, he would kill and eat the neighbor's dog. I wonder what he's up to nowadays?

Libby: Really? REALLY? No.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17)


Todd: I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was the only non-Prisoner of Azkaban Potter that was worth anything (Chris Columbus' first two movies tried too hard to shove everything into one picture, and Mike Newell's Goblet of Fire never was able to find a consistent throughline for one of the best books in the series). David Yates jumped up straight from TV to do some nicely moody work, which appears to have continued on this. He's going to need all the luck he can get though because the first three-quarters of this book are an awkward blend of romcom and the world's longest infodump ever (as Harry goes back into the past to see literally every formative event in the life of Voldemort). Of course, no one remembers that because J.K. Rowling killed off a major character at the end (can I spoil now? I'll play it safe), and that made Libby stay up all night to read and then cry the rest of the night, even though my sister was IN THE NEXT ROOM, and we had to go to the beach that day. They also haven't apparently fixed the whole thing where Emma Watson has more chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe than the constantly mugging, clean-shaven red tree sloth they've gussied up to play Ron.

Libby: I think I'm getting old. I just watched that trailer, and I thought, "Oh, look at how grown up those kids are. I remember when they were just yea-high!" I'm gonna go drink.

(Hey, did you guys know Clint Eastwood is SINGING in his new movie, Gran Torino?! No, really! It's the best thing since he sang in Paint Your Wagon (gonna paint it good). Go here and scroll down to Gran Torino and click Play. Enjoy!)

1 comment:

Justin said...

But...but...what does Wiener Cat think?

Also, I look forward to the next usage of the Big Blue Weenis label.