Farming magic from the mundane - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Farming magic from the mundane

8-1-2013AndrewCommentaryBannerShortA few interesting trailer came out within the last couple of days.  The first is for David O. Russell's follow-up to Silver Linings Playbook in American Hustle.  He's built a stable of actors who are willing to deal with his on-set temper and the results have treated him well so far.  Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and many others will be returning in this tale of excess from 30 years ago.  I'm digging the vibe, even if plot details are sparse from the trailer, so I hope that Russel's resurgence continues on.

Another trailer is interesting in the same sense that it looks insufferable and edging into bad decision-making.  Bad Grandpa, building off of the Jackass brand, is taking the masochistic bent of the series into Borat's territory of mixing staged stunts with real people.  If it were just an old man (in this case, Johnny Knoxville in old man makeup) getting himself hurt I wouldn't bat an eye.  But one of the set pieces involves his "grandson" cross-dressing for a beauty pageant and then stripping to a garter and gyrating to Warrant's "Cherry Pie".  You can judge for yourself from the trailer, but the concept alone is mining territory that I'm not sure the Jackass crew has the delicate touch to get involved without becoming reprehensible.

The high point is the trailer for the latest adaptation of James Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  There was a film adaptation done in the '40s but until now no modernization has been attempted.  Ben Stiller is directing and, while I understand that some people were hesitant about the choice, his ratio of hit to miss is a lot better than most.  More so, Stiller has a good everyman quality that he has used to great effect before.  I'm completely sold on the film after seeing this trailer, and it was the sad look in Stiller's eyes that he shares in both his "real" life and imagining himself as a mountain climber that sealed it for me.

I'm also happy about the worldwide success of Pacific Rim.  The film hasn't exactly lit the box office on fire here in America, but it's set to have the highest opening ever in China.  There's been a lot of talk lately about how special effects spectaculars will become the standard now that Hollywood profits are so tied into overseas success.  While that's some cause for worry, if it frees up American studios to start focusing on more personal dramas and the quality stays around standards set by Pacific Rim and Man of Steel then we'll be in great shape.  If nothing else, any result that gives Guillermo del Toro clout to pursue his goals with as little interference as possible is ok by me.

Finally, just look at how adorable some of the greatest directors looked as children?  I'm caught up in Styajit Ray's smile.

Tomorrow Kyle and I recorded a podcast going over the second half of Oliver Stone's career.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. I was really surprised with how good Secret Life looks. When I heard he was starring in this I thought it would be mediocre at best but Stiller as a director like you said has a much higher hit/miss ration than Stiller as an actor. It looks like it could be something special at Christmas.

    • I’ve always liked Stiller’s everyman quality as an actor. The first Meet the Parents is good, the rest just need to be studiously avoided, and putting different facets of that on-edge yield great performances like in The Royal Tenenbaums. It looks better than even I was expecting, so here’s to hoping!

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