Trailer: Weiner

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He was supposed to be the hero the Democratic Party needed. Charming. Funny. Brash. A progressive white knight in a sea of political darkness. He was the party’s future. You could see his path to the White House.

Then, he had to go and tweet that dick pic.

The joke wrote themselves. A resignation from Congress and two years later, he then decided to run for Mayor of New York… and people have forgiven him. He was even topping the polls. People trusted Weiner again.

Enter Carlos Danger.

Look, if this is all a little confusing to you… that’s fine. It’d probably be better to see his fall, his subsequent rise, and then his mind-boggling second fall with fresh eyes.

If you’re only even mildly interested in politics, this looks to be an instant classic. The trailer looks dynamite.

Weiner will be in theaters May 20, 2016 and Video on Demand on May 26.

Trailer: Cash Only

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I fell pretty hard for Malik Bader’s Detroit set, ethnic Albanian crime drama Cash Only when I caught it at last years edition of Fantasia. It is gritty, high energy, and bleakly funny in a way that recalls Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher Trilogy (particularly the 1990s-shot first film).

Elvis Martini is in deep shit. His dilapidated Detroit apartment building is about to be foreclosed on by the bank, most of his tenants are behind on rent, and he’s in big debt to bookies in the dangerous Albanian underworld. The only light in his dark world is his nine-year-old daughter, Lena; he’s in debt to her school, too. Elvis finds some ill-gotten cash in an evicted tenant’s apartment and is able to briefly keeps the wolves at bay, but he soon learns that the money belonged to an even bigger wolf – one that wants his stolen money back. When Lena is kidnapped by the mysterious menace he’s accidentally messed with, Elvis has 24 hours to come up with $25,000 to save his daughter’s life: cash only.

Small distributor FilmBuff is giving the film a well deserved cinema and VOD release on May 13. The trailer is below.

Trailer: The Girl on the Train

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Paula Hawkins novel, “The Girl on the Train”, kept a helluva lot of pages turning last year. So many pages that the studios couldn’t wait to cash in on an adaptation. And here we are; only 18 months from publication and we’ve got a film with a great cast and what looks like a fairly decent budget.

Myself, I read about half the book and found the characterization (mostly of the main character) too annoying and distracting to bother continuing on with. But I wasn’t quite as reluctant to put the book tablet down once I found out a movie was coming out and starring one of my current favorite actresses in the titular role, Emily Blunt. She can pull almost anything into something watchable. Besides her, there’s Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow, Rebecca Ferguson (maybe the best part of MI:V) and Carlos rounding out an impressive cast.

The director I’m still on the fence about. He’s had a couple of critical successes and a couple of fairly unknown duds. The Help was a very well put-together, if Oscar-baity, film however and is really the only decent Jessica Chastain performance (that I’ve seen) – yeah I just said that. It will be interesting to see how the director moves away from light-hearted dramas into a full-blown, Fincher-esque thriller.

All of this to say that I guess I’m not overly excited about this. Make no mistake, they’ve got my money. I wanna see how this is pulled off; I just have my doubts is all. At any rate, the trailer is below; have a gander. The film opens wide on later this fall on October 7th.

Trailer: The Magnificent Seven

Oooh, MGM Logo!

Hit and miss action-director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur, Olympus Has Fallen) has gone and remade The Magnificent Seven.

The 1960 version was itself, of course, a remake of Kurosawa’s bonafide cinema classic Seven Samurai.

Sony Pictures has assembled a superb cast consisting of Denzel Washington (in full Yul Brenner black attire), Chris Pratt (doing his thing), Ethan Hawke (with a mighty beard), Vincent D’Onofrio (Onofrissance!), Byung-Hun Lee (no stranger to western remakes, with his villainous turn in Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good The Bad and The Weird), and Peter Sarsgaard (always welcome in anything, particularly as a bad guy) combined with a sizable budget have yielded a frothy, high octane unabashedly modern version of the story looking to capitalize on the star power and production values that this property, in all its incarnations, has always had. I could do without the crap cover of House of the Rising Sun, in the below trailer, but that is just personal taste, this looks like a solid popcorn western. Maybe this will be the one to break the curse of westerns at the box-office.

You know the story: A small frontier town of desperate townspeople employ the protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns who for a violent showdown that they know is coming.

Trailer: De Palma

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“Being a director is being a watcher.” Indeed, in the decades of TIFF, it was not uncommon to see Brian DePalma in the regular public screenings at the festival taking in a variety of cinematic offerings. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow shot filmed untold hours of conversation with Brian DePalma and edited it into a 107 minute documentary on the stylized, love/hate director of Sisters, Body Double, Carrie, Blow Out, The Untouchables, and so many more . The film is set to play HotDocs film festival in Toronto next week, and a trailer has landed. Not suprisingly, DePalma has a lot to say about the state and business of film-making today. Have a look.

A24 is releasing the film on June 10.

(If you are in Toronto, Hotdocs is playing the film in three festival screenings: Sunday May 1, Monday May 2 and Friday May 6)

Trailer: The Birth of a Nation

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Nate Parker isn’t new to the business–although you may not recognize him by name. Since his starring role in 2007’s The Great Debaters alongside Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, he’s taken on numerous roles in films such as Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Red Tails, Arbitrage, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Then, a few years back, Parker decided to take his career down a different path. He’d write a movie. For those in the states who paid attention in high school history, you’ll likely recognize the name Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a rebellion against slave owners in 1830s Virginia.

To write a film on such a complex human being with some pretty serious violence was certainly a task in and of itself. Parker also was tasked with convincing investors to finance his project and then he also planned to produce, direct, and star in the film.

As the Hollywood Reporter describes it:

[What Parker heard when writing the film was] all the reasons a movie about Nat Turner wouldn’t work: Movies with black leads don’t play internationally; a period film with big fight scenes would be too expensive; it was too violent; it wouldn’t work without a big box-office star leading it; Turner was too controversial.

Ultimately though, he secured $10 million in financing from investors and lined up a pretty impressive cast that included Gabrielle Union, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, and Penelope Ann Miller. The film, titled The Birth of a Nation, was coming together.

If you recognize that title, it’s no coincidence. D. W. Griffith’s 1915 revisionist racist garbage portraying the KKK as heroes of the south shares the same title, which was “very much by design,” Turner confirmed in an interview.

The Birth of a Nation has already won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance before being picked up by Fox Searchlight. The film hits theaters stateside on October 7, 2016. From the early reviews out of Sundance (and the incredible trailer with the haunting Nina Simone vocals), I’d expect to see plenty of nominations for the film at next year’s Oscars.

Trailer: The Neon Demon

I‘m all in for Nicolas Winding Refn’s dark, glittery horror-fantasia of the global modelling scene, The Neon Demon. The film was just announced to play Cannes, and here is the trailer. It appears to straddle the line between accessible but arty Drive and flat out esoterica of Only God Forgives

When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

The film also stars Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Jena Malone and will be getting a regular release in June.

Trailer: Manhattan Night

Adrian Brody can get a lot of mileage out of his facial expressions and tics. Here he plays a reporter that gets caught in the web of a story involving a femme fatale, sexual obsession and blackmail – one that escalates in sleaze to threaten his job, his marriage and his life. The trailer for Manhattan Night just popped on line, and while there is a certain sleepy vibe to the whole affair, the fact that this kind of eroticized thriller is an increasingly rare animal might be enough to get me into the cinema. Also, the leading lady, Yvonne Strahovski, seems to be doing her darndest in channeling Rosamund Pike’s performance from Gone Girl.

Trailer: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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We just live in this world now. A world in which we’ll be getting a new Star Wars trailer about every four months or so. And I think most of us are fine with that. Perhaps the most exciting thing for fans with this awakening of The Force (that is capitalized is it not?), is the names of the directors being asked to help guide the projects. We’re finally going into some (hopefully) new directions, creatively speaking, with the series in names like Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) and Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street) taking the helm.

Also for the first time, we’re getting major studio versions of what we might call “spin-offs” from the series. It’s the same universe and larger over-arcing story, but new characters and personal stories that fit into the battle of dark vs. light that don’t necessarily revolve around the Skywalker lineage. Case in point, 2016’s Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla); cashing in on his ability to work with Kaiju in favor of All-Terrain Armored Transports.

Rogue One casts a whole slew of recognizable names including Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna and more! This international cast brings more than just interesting faces, it brings some newer ideas to the table as well such as old school martial arts.

As glossy as portions of this trailer are, it hints at a darker look at Star Wars as well; a grittiness if you will. I hope to see that sort of creative look and feel to the Star Wars universe over the next few years. When churning out a new Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future, there is certainly a risk of going into the Marvel (i.e. “vanilla”) territory. Hopefully, these names will be allowed to be a little bit more creative as time goes on. I think this trailer does flirt with that notion just a bit.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Rogue One: A Star Wars Story…