Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Trailer Review Rodeo: 'Death Wish', 'Wonder', 'Suburbicon' and More


Apparently, just because I have irregular internet access and in a new location every three days, the studios do not stop popping out movie trailers. Here are my thoughts on a few of the ones that have arrived the past few weeks.

1. Duck Duck Goose (Spring 2018):



Last year I stated that animated movies were having a huge quality renaissance and many of them rivaled live-action pictures for thought-provoking and creative stories. My claim extended to the belief that this spark for compelling original stories was coming from more than just Disney, Pixar, and Laika and that stuff deemed for kids had lots to offer for adults too. Apparently, it is those other studios' agenda to prove me wrong.

2. The Limehouse Golem (September 1):



The murder mystery thriller is one of those subgenres that I often get excited about despite the finished product often being a bit disappointing. Yet knowing this, here I am ready to dig in for this latest period piece mystery thriller. I love the visual sense that has a gothic feel mixed with a Victorian setting with a color palette that gives it a bit of a dream-like feel. I also love Bill Nighy, and Olivia Cooke seems set to be a huge star. I am always a sucker for blending fictional characters with real-life figures (interested to see how Karl Marx fits in), and the story of a serial killer before Jack the Ripper is an interesting one. This looks like it could be a smart and twisty mystery for adults, and a great start to the fall movie season. Of course, I assume I won't have a chance to see this until it comes to Netflix in a year or so.

3. Wonder (November 17):



Wonder is geared for a big Oscar run, but it seems a little more thoughtful, too focused on authentic characters, and have some real human performances to be labelled Oscar bait. I know this one will make me cry, and sure it may be manipulative, but I sense a lot of the emotions will be earned here. I really like the bits here between the kids, and obviously, Jacob Tremblay is in the hunt for a Best Actor statuette. I think he has a strong chance of at least getting a nomination for a Golden Globe if not an Oscar. Feel-good stories are great when they feel grounded and have a worthwhile story to tell, and everyone here seems ready to give something memorable. My guess is it will be a pretty solid box office performer with the average movie goer, which will be a huge help for it Oscar run. I am looking forward to seeing this one, which is not something I expected before seeing the first two trailers.

4. mother! (September 15):



I'll admit that I don't entirely know what is going on here, except that Jennifer Lawrence's character has a bunch of unwanted strangers in her home and her husband Javier Bardem may not be who she believed. Even if this trailer did not have some great creepy visual, interesting incorporations of some dark fantasy elements, and a top notch cast playing some eerie character, Darren Aronofsky is a director that commands anticipation no matter what movie he is crafting. It his big return to horror that has the same surreal and dark imagery of his terrific Black Swan that makes this one of the can't miss movies of the fall. I just beg my Brantford Cineplex to pick this one up, please.

5. Same Kind of Different as Me (October 20):



So, does Greg Kinnear just do big studio Christian heart tuggers, now? Probably not, I bet he will do small studios ones too.

6. Keep Watching (Fall 2017?):



For a few years, I've heard about The Strangers reboot/sequel, but it now feels like that plan has just been renamed Keep Watching. It has almost the same premise of a group of creepy masked individuals terrorizing a family that has to fight back to survive. Of course, that is also the premise of almost every home invasions movie ever, and with a few exceptions, like the terrific Hush, the movies are indistinguishable. This one also feels like The Strangers because it has a similar eerie answer when the tormentors are asked why they are terrorizing this family, "Because it is fun." Kind of hard to not to see the similarity to "Because you were home." Either way, this feels like something I've seen many times before, and I hope it has something up its sleeve to avoid its generic feel.

7. Goodbye Christopher Robin (October 13): 



I love A.A, Milne's two collection of children's stories Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, because it so wonderfully embodies the mind of an imaginative child with it innocence, naivety, mischief, curiosity, and gentleness. It is a balance of being comforting stories mixed with a sense of adventure. Milne did such an impressive job really getting into the mind of a child, which has helped make it one of the enduring collection of children stories (Disney probably helped a tad too). The upcoming biopic of the famous author is intriguing because it has that sense of wonder and whimsy, but also shows a man traumatized by the war and needing these childhood stories to heal himself. It also has a tender and complicated relationship with his son who ends up being one of the main characters in the stories of Hundred Acre Wood. Domhnall Gleeson is wonderful casting, because he has the dramatic heft to handle those moments of a man wrestling his past but also a natural kind-hearted spirit that shows a man able to write the iconic stories. Margot Robbie has proven to always be terrific as well, so hopefully she is given some substantial scenes. It will be interesting to see how the movie weaves his traumatic history with the creation of the iconic bear. This looks like another one that may earn it tears and be a solid feel gooder this fall. This trailer gives me a lot more anticipation than the first one that at the time made the movie feel a bit more derivative and manipulative.

8. The Hitman's Bodyguard (August 18):



I have really dug the marketing campaign for The Hitman's Bodyguard, and it has a fun Lethal Weapon like action mixed with comedy vibe except this one leans much heavier on comedy. Maybe it is more of a Midnight Run? This time around this trailer seems to be trying to hint that Salma Hayek has a bigger role than past trailers have promised. My feeling is the success of female lead pictures this year has made the studio want to capitalize on that demographic to beef up the box office. My guess, is she is still just a typical wife character that stays at home while the boys play, except she curses way more.

9. Death Wish (November 22):



The original Death Wish came out in 1974, during a time that crime in New York was rising and also many minorities were moving into the city. Those two things don't coincide, but the city was dipping into poverty and the citizens were petrified of crime. The 1970s was a time where there was a great mistrust of government and authority, but one of the big things was the feeling that the police were not doing enough to protect the average citizen from skyrocketing crime. It was movies like Death Wish and Dirty Harry that were playing like visceral fantasies were vigilantes didn't follow the rules and did whatever they could to fight crime. Things have changed a lot since the 1970s, especially that now a lot of the fear surrounds cops abusing their power to kill and the misguided vigilante with a gun who shoots the unarmed black man. It was this change of tide that made me nervous about a Death Wish remake and making me believe the producers behind it were tone death. My fears were increased when Eli Roth was attached, because he has a history of making movies that play on fears of xenophobia and fears of the "other" like Hostel and The Green Inferno. The trailer has now furthered my belief this is a big misstep in the studio constant obsession with using known properties to launch a franchise. The music and tone makes this look like a fun romp action picture, but it is still a white guy with a gun going around executing people and trying to make him look like some kind of hero. Maybe there is some layers and an attempt to make Bruce Willis' character complicated and tormented, but the grindhouse obsessed Roth has never proven to me to be a nuanced and complex storyteller.

10. First They Killed My Father (September 15):



Combination of the notorious out east wifi that I am constantly been battling and the duties of the family tripping father has now made this piece stretch over two days now, so I am going to try to wrap this up soon, so we can all move on with our lives and this avoids being posted a week from my writing this (Saturday morning now). This is clearly one of Netflix's big grabs for that Best Picture Oscar nomination that has eluded them and has already gone to competitor Amazon Studios last year (Manchester by the Sea). I haven't heard a lot of buzz for this even though it looks haunting and powerful without using the token imagery from typical "message" movies. I really like Angeline Jolie's visual sense as a director even if she has a narrative she constantly returns to telling. Loung Ung's memoirs are powerful and I think there is still a lot to be explored during the genocide perpetuated during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The big issue will be having strong characters and having moments to breath during the heavy and dark material. The colourful a d bright visuals does a lot to set a contrasting tone to the story that will be told.

11. Suburbicon (October 27):



Wifi is driving me crazy and the small living space means I'm trying to create words while trying to ignore varying renditions of 'Let It Go' in between sibling Royal Rumbles, so it is time to tap out on this piece. I needed to say that the George Clooney directed, Coen brother written and Matt Damon starring quirky suburb thriller is right behind The Last Jedi as my most anticipated of the fall. It of course is very different, even if both will have great supporting roles from Oscar Isaac (who will be playing very different characters). The key here is how well Clooney can balance the satirical elements with the man raging against the mob thriller story. This one is brimming with personality and some intriguing characters. But once again, I find myself not entirely confident I'll actually be able to see it this year as it isn't a guarantee to be Brantford bound.

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