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: A Most Violent Year

Last week we featured the stellar white poster for the J. D. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost) directed New York City crime flick, A Most Violent Year. Now we have the trailer which shows Oscar Isaac getting a bit freaked out at being accused of criminal behaviour in his ‘honest business,’ and Jessica Chastian shedding single tears on more than one occasion. Albert Brooks is in there too. While nothing exceptional exactly jumps out here, I’m pretty happy there are directors like Chandor makeing films that would be right at home in the 1940s or 1970s. That is to say, I will be there will bells on when the film opens on New Years Eve.

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: 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.
Would you like to know more…?

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.