Trailer: Selma

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2012’s excellent Middle of Nowhere was made on a $200,000 budget and snagged director Ava DuVernay a Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Flash forward two years and with her latest feature Selma, she now she has a bigger budget ($22 million) and bigger star power backing her project (Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt) and, who knows, there may even be some more awards in her future.

Selma, fortunately, doesn’t go the traditional biopic route of following a historical figure from birth to death. Instead, as the title suggests, the film focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr. during a three-month stretch in 1965, with a focus on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, climaxing with the singing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It looks like DuVernay has lived up to the high expectations of her producers. The film looks stylish, the acting looks superb (a guaranteed Oscar nod for David Oyelowo who, by the looks of the trailer, has nailed the performance), and oh yeah… it’s a really fucking important story in the history of the United States that, upon inspection of the trailer, seems to have really captured the essence of the era.

The rest of the cast includes DCarmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Lorraine Toussaint, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Omar Dorsey, Andre Holland, Colman Domingo, Wendell Pierce, Keith Stanfield, Stephan James, Alessandro Nivola, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Wilkinson, and Oprah Winfrey. Selma hits theaters on Christmas Day.

Check out the trailer. Leave your thoughts below.

Trailer: The Cobbler

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The upcoming movie The Cobbler sounds like your typical high-concept, low-brow Adam Sandler comedy (think Click or Jack & Jill) until you realize that it’s directed by Thomas McCarthy, best known for the indie darling The Station Agent and the equally captivating The Visitor, which snagged Richard Jenkins an Oscar nomination. McCarthy has a knack for low-key dramas that don’t shy away from the darkly humorous aspects of our life.

So, the run down here: A non-screaming Sandler plays a cobbler who stumbles upon a magical machine that, when used on shoes, let’s Sandler’s character become the owner of the shoe whenever he tries the shoe on.

Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s something like that.

Anyway, the trailer plays up a few cheap laughs, but definitely has the somber (but not cynical) tone we’ve come to know from McCarthy when he’s behind the camera. Will this be more Punch Drunk Love or more Click? More The Station Agent or more Grown Ups? A supporting cast that includes Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, Dan Stevens, Ellen Barkin, and Method Man inspires a bit of confidence, but the premise? Eh, not so much.

Trailer: Focus

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If it seems like Will Smith has fallen off the face of the earth, well… you wouldn’t be too far off.

Other than an abysmal third Men in Black flick in 2012 and 2013’s After Earth, a vehicle for Smith’s son Jaden, we haven’t seen Will Smith lead a film since his duo of 2008 movies, Seven Pounds and Hancock. Considering it’s almost 2015, that’s a long time to go without Smith’s undeniable charisma gracing the big screen.

Directed by Glenn Ficcarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Bad Santa), Smith’s next film is titled Focus. While the plot itself doesn’t seem particularly original – the smooth-talking conman, the big heist, the femme fatale of questionable motives – I can’t help but be pleased to see Smith doing what he does best: making us wish we were as cool as him.

The movie looks slick and fun and maybe a bit mindless… which is all right by me if Smith can carry it.

Focus has a stateside release date of February 27, 2015.

Trailer: Dear White People (Red Band)

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Back in July, Kurt posted the first trailer for Dear White People, an amusing indie directed by Justin Simien from his own screenplay that was inspired by his own experiences at college. The film won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance and still is sitting at a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes after 10 reviews.

The film follows four black students at an Ivy League college as they prepare to deal with an upcoming off-campus party thrown by white students… in which the theme is blatantly mocking aspects of African American culture.

The original trailer for Dear White People was solid. This red band trailer is great. The film is sure to highlight the privilege and less overt 21st century racism of which most of white America is completely oblivious (or unconcerned).

The film hits theaters in a limited run on Oct 17, 2014.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Listen Up Philip

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There has been a void in my life HBO criminally and unexpectedly axed Bored to Death after three seasons. While I could suffer through one of those dreadful criminal investigation shows if I wanted more Ten Danson in my life (I do, but not that badly), Jason Schwartzman has only been popping up here and there, mostly in supporting or bit roles. There has been a seriously lack of Schwartzman in my life.

Later this year though, that changes with. With the release of Listen Up Philip, we get Schwartzman in a starring role as an author named Philip (very clearly based on Philip Roth, though nobody seems to be mentioning this) who tries to balance the publication of his second novel with his girlfriend (played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) and his budding relationship with his idol, a writer named Ike Zimmerman (also clearly based on Philip Roth’s alter ago, Nate Zuckerman) who has offered him a chance to stay at his summer home.

It looks good and interestingly, even has a bit role for Ernest Hemingway’s great granddaughter, Dree Hemingway, perhaps an intentional nod to the film’s literary inspirations.

Check out the trailer below. Listen Up Philip hits theaters stateside on October 17, 2014.

Trailer: The Homesman

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If you never saw Tommy Lee Jones’s 2005 directorial debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, do yourself a favor and get a copy of it. If you never watched his follow up feature, an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited (my review), then you’ve missed out on a masterpiece.

Needless to say, I’m eager to watch his next feature, The Homesman, which is his take on a classic western tale. He’ll also be starring in the film alongside Hilary Swank, who plays a woman who recruits Jones’s character to help her escort three mentally unstable women from Nebraska to Iowa.

If the plot doesn’t do much for you, maybe the rest of the cast will: Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner, James Spader, John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer (Streep’s daughter), and Jesse Plemons round out the cast.

While the film premieres at Cannes back in May, it hits theaters stateside on November 7, 2014.

Trailer: Young Ones

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A few days ago, Kurt posted the trailer to an upcoming sci-fi film starring Antonio Banderas titled Automata. It looked interesting and slick and gritty and, most importantly, it was filmed from an original screenplay (even if the story itself didn’t seem all that original).

Today comes the trailer for another original sci-fi film which appears even grittier. From writer-director Jake Paltrow (brother of Gwyneth), it’s titled Young Ones and I’m immediately sold by two points: its stars Michael Shannon and it’s described as a sci-fi western. From Rotten Tomatoes:

YOUNG ONES is set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet … The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth’s precious resources scrape and struggle. … From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that’s steeped deeply in the values of the American West.

Andrew O’Hehir of Salon described it as part Mad Max and part John Ford western. Even Geoff Berkshire of Variety, who was critical of the film, wrote that it was like a “cinematic graphic novel” and could likely gain a cult following, but had no chances of commercially succeeding.

I’m sold.

Young Ones also co-stars Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (who you might remember as the son from The Road). It drops into limited U.S. theaters on October 17, 2014.

Trailer: Sonic Highways

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Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is no stranger to filmmaking. Besides all of his band’s rather cinematic music videos, last year, Grohl directed the superb documentary Sound City (which still proudly boasts a 100% rating on on Rotten Tomatoes) about the San Fernando Valley recording studio that rocked the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Metallica and Nirvana. While it may have gone relatively unseen and won few awards, it’s unquestionably one of the greatest rock documentaries to ever grace the screen.

This year, the Grohl-led Foo Fighters have collaborated with HBO on a television show, titled Sonic Highways (like their upcoming album), that will chronicle their creation of their upcoming LP which was recorded in eight different recording studios in eight different American cities (Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, DC).

As described by Rolling Stone, Grohl says of the show and album: “This isn’t just the making of our most ambitious album. This is a love letter to the history of American music.”

Sonic Highways debuts on HBO on October 17, 2014.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

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This one is a punch to the gut. But, details aside, let’s take some time to remember the man, the legend, and share our favorite moments from his illustrious career.

Here’s a great scene from the awesome and underappreciated Death to Smoochy:

Be sure to share your favorite and most memorable moments!