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.

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Trailer: The Black Sea

What to make of the career of Scottish director Kevin MacDonald? He started out his career making documentaries until mountaineering doc Touching The Void became of of the highest grossing docs ever made. He went on to try his hand at Oscar Bait (The Last King of Scotland), Hollywood star vehicles (State of Play), Sword and Sandals epics (The Eagle) and Young Adult fiction (How I Live Now), all to mixed success.

Here MacDonald tries his hands at the sweaty submarine thriller, mixing elements of treasure hunting adventure and the horrors of men. It looks like solid entertainment somewhere in the middle ground, pop genre cinema with high production values, but not squashed by CGI. I am not entirely sure if Jude Law is miscast or daring as a rogue submarine captain who pulls together a misfit crew of Brits and Russians to go after a sunken Nazi treasure in the depths of the Black Sea. Greed and desperation over shares of the spoils turn the already fragile crew on one another in the cramped environment.
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Trailer: The Mule

This Australian drug smuggling movie seems to successfully mix comedy and dark thriller with more than a little body function. Hugo Weaving appears to be having a blast as the cop who detains a drug mule (played by co-director Angus Sampson) and holds him in a hotel room for a week waiting for him to pass the kilo of cocaine along via natures course. Meanwhile, the drug dealers at all levels (including LotR’s Denethor, John Noble) want their money and their drugs. The whole trailer has a great editing rhythm set to an electronic score. Cool synth scores are all the rage these days.

Trailer #2: Exodus

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A second trailer for Ridley Scott’s Moses biopic features more CGI, more Christian Bale screaming at the heavens, more sad Ben Kingsley and more bad eyeliner on Joel Edgerton. Despite its posh production value and sophisticated computer graphics, the whole thing is still rather yawn inducing.

Trailer: Inherent Vice

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This is way more comically broad that I expected it to be, but the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s 1960s set ‘beach-noir’ is zany and across the board hilarious. I’m going to call it here, this is Anderson’s The Big Lebowski, if this is any indication.

Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon and Eric Roberts are delivering the goods with no apparent safety net.

Have at it.

Trailer: Black Hat

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The world-hopping cinematography looks good as does the gritty-on-the-ground camera work, but the characters speaking and blunt cut-away graphics are borderline embarrassing. Will we ever get a good ‘hacker movie’? I hope it this is a case of a marketing department failing to sell the movie with any wit, over a case where the film is a blunt and silly as this trailer makes things out. We will not abide another The Net.

Set within the world of global cybercrime, the film follows a convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta. Formerly titled Cyber now titled Black Hat which actually means something, but isn’t much better of a title. The film has a release date of January 16, 2015.

Trailer: Predestination

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The Spierig Brothers’ (Daybreakers, Undead)latest genre romp has time travel paradoxes and Ethan Hawke on the brain. And it is very, very pretty. (And it is very, very good.) Have a look, there is almost no spoilers therein.

From the Robert A. Heinlen novel “All You Zombies” the story of a time-traveling Temporal Agent on his life-long assignment where he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

Trailer: Force Majeure

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This dark comedy of gender roles and familial morality from Sweden was a hit in both Cannes and Toronto. The trailer is cut with a wry precision and a sense of showcasing intimate conflict alongside epic scenery. I personally missed the film due to conflicts with other screenings, and because it is coming to Lightbox in Toronto later in the month, and indeed, Magnolia is giving the film a commercial release in select cities. From the TIFF Catalogue:

On a family skiing vacation in the French Alps, Tomas and Ebba are enjoying lunch with their two children when their meal is suddenly interrupted by thunderous booms emanating from the mountain above them. The complacent Tomas initially dismisses the possibility of danger — but when it appears that there may be an avalanche, he grabs his cellphone and bolts, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves. The remainder of the film monitors the fallout from this fateful incident, as husband and wife hotly debate what actually occurred, and what Tomas’s proper response should have been — a battle that eventually threatens not just Tomas and Ebba’s relationship, but those of the people around them.