I’m way behind on my movie trailers, so I thought I’d do a quick roundup of the interesting or otherwise recent trailers that I caught up on:
Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “Slumdog Millionaire” is the true story of Aron Ralston, the hiker who was caught under a boulder and had to cut off his own arm to escape. It’s an incredible story, but can it be cinematic? I’d guess Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (who adapted the book and also adapted “Slumdog”) found a way. The frenetic teaser trailer hints that it’s a movie contrasting everyday life with Life-Changing Events; i.e., the quicksilver pace of Ralston will likely be directly paralleled with his entrapment. James Franco, who is Everywhere and Everyone right now, plays Ralston. Lost amidst attention for this cultural polyglot is the fact that this is his first leading role in a major Prestige Film. (In 2008, the year Boyle’s “Slumdog” ran roughshod over the awards season, Franco delivered a career-best performance in “Milk.”)
Anyway, this one was always going to be high on my Must See List. But will it be compelling, or just an endurance test of cinema? I’m betting the former, and the teaser helped.
“THE NEXT THREE DAYS”
This is one of those trailers that helpfully sketches out the entire plot in advance. Want to know the basic three-act structure of the movie? Watch this thing. Want to be remotely surprised by this rather rote-looking “Russell Crowe’s wife is imprisoned, he thinks wrongfully, he starts Hulking out” action movie? Don’t click the link.
“LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS”
Look, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal! In a nicely-shot, nicely-lit, contemporary romantic dramedy! What the holy hell are the odds? The last time the dude made a modern pop movie was 2004’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” but since then it’s been all Prestige (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Zodiac”), moroseness (“Rendition,” “Brothers”) and Crap (“Prince of Persia”). Here, he and Anne Hathaway star in a romance with the birth of Viagra as their backdrop. (That’s not just a random chronological checkpoint. He plays a pharmaceutical rep.) It doesn’t look like anything new, but it is nice to see two toothy stars with talent enjoying the cheap and easy route of stardom. Also, the entire plot is sketched out in advance again, though you could have probably sketched it out midway through the trailer.
The bestselling pop-economics book is turned into a documentary with multiple directors crafting vignettes. With talent like Morgan Spurlock and Alex Gibbs, it’s obvious there’s going to be some good and entertaining stuff, but does it warrant a movie? Hard to tell from this. It just seems like somebody thought, “Hey, lots of people read the book, and lots of the stuff sketched out in the book could be interesting to see in real life, so let’s film that.” I’m not so sure if the connection between a book (where numbers and data can be more fully explored) and a movie (where the storytelling needs to warrant sitting there for however long), but at least it looks fast-paced and interesting.
Darren Aronofsky’s much-anticipated ballet movie has already gained buzz due to the fact that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis kiss in it. So, yes, that happens. But it’s also par for the course for Aronofsky, which is to say it’s unlike anything he’s ever made and viscerally interesting from the first image. Following a ballerina (Portman) who starts to get “Single White Female”-d by a new addition to the company (Kunis), the movie eschews the brutal simplicity of Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” for a more visually arresting middleground between that film and his grandest fantasy (“The Fountain”). This is one of the more exciting fall films for people like me, who have watched Aronofsky quietly churn out fascinating film after fascinating film. And as an added bonus, Portman looks to actually give a decent performance here, which is nice to see after years of uneven or unsteady roles (and the occasional top-notch turn). It looks damn good.