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Film Preview: Saving Christmas (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Kirk is enjoying the annual Christmas party extravaganza thrown by his sister until he realizes he needs to help out Christian, his brother-in-law who has a bad case of the bah-humbugs. Kirk's fresh look at Christmas provides Christian the chance to see Christ is where He has always been: at the center of our Christmas celebrations and traditions."

Poster: B-

Review: Thematically, the design fits well into the film's advertising campaign. It's a bit heavy-handed, but no more so than the trailer.

Trailer: F

Review: Unless you're a rabid Christian who believes all other religions should be destroyed, you aren't likely to be all that impressed with this trailer. The anti-commercialized-Christmas rant, "Christ back in Christmas" mention and the moderate racism is entirely off-putting. The trailer's construction is slow, belabored, boring and underwhelming.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Homesman (2014)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A claim jumper and a pioneer woman team up to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa."

Poster: B / C / B

Review: (#1) See my comments in the Serena preview page on this initial poster, each a copy of the other. All that makes this design superior is coloration. (#2) The second is a bit more traditional, but also less colorful and as a result less attractive. (#3) About as visually distinctive as the first design, but re-positioned for all actors, which doesn't alleviate the irritation.

Trailer: C

Review: A dreadfully pedantic, slow trailer featuring bleak, uninteresting performances and a plot that makes sense, but teeters on the edge of traditionalism. None of which makes it very appealing to a modern audience.

Oscar Prospects:

Tommy Lee Jones' second directorial effort is likely to suffer the same fate as his first. Appreciation from critics, but ignorance from the Academy. Even with a cast like this, westerns just aren't Oscar catnip.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



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Film Preview: Beyond the Lights (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A talented young musician on the brink of super stardom struggles with the pressure of her new-found success."

Poster: C-

Review: Other than sex appeal, there is nothing to link this poster with the film itself, which won't help sell tickets unless you're looking for visuals over substance.

Trailer: B-

Review: The story isn't a new one, but could be an interesting one. The trailer creates the right balance between domineering mother wanting success for underappreciative daughter and rebellious daughter wanting something in the world for herself. That dynamic could appeal to a lot of audiences and with little new competition could be a hit.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Human Race (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

June 13, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "In THE HUMAN RACE a group of 80 people are ripped out of their daily lives and all re-appear in an undisclosed location. These people are from all walks of life: young and old, athletic and disabled, white-collared and homeless. The rules to a race boom in their heads, in their own voice and language, laying out what will become a horrific race of terror: 'If you are lapped twice, you die. If you step off the path, you die. If you touch the grass, you will die. Race... or die.'"

Poster: B

Review: The design is quite a bit darker than the bright setting of the trailer. That doesn't help the film establish itself as something different on the landscape, but it's less insultingly cheesy than other designs currently in production.

Trailer: D+

Review: Apart from the interesting, if limited, premise, this film looks like it's strung together with string cheese and bubble wrap. The hokey concept is reminiscent of Death Race, but far less competent in terms of effects, design and performance. That's not very hopeful considering how poor Death Race is in those regards.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

May 23, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "The story of an autistic youth named Ricky who, after a particularly difficult day at school, escapes into the subways. It's here that he starts his real journey, on a days-long voyage of discovery while, above ground, his mom frantically searches for him."

Poster: C / D+

Review: While I'm partly thankful that neither design chose to use the vertical split-screen technique as a framing device, I'm still not terribly impressed with the end result. The first design has a horizontal split, which certainly establishes some character personality, but doesn't do so with any creativity. The second design is significantly less interesting and almost entirely dismissable.

Trailer: C+

Review: Apart from being a seemingly loving portrait of New York City, there doesn't seem to be enough storyline in evidence to make an important or compelling offering.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Big Eyes (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

December 25, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s."

Poster: B

Review: It modestly captures the film's premise. Whether that becomes overly appealing to the mass audience remains to be seen. If it looks too much like a period biopic, people aren't likely to show up. As such, this poster probably isn't the best sales tool for those not familiar with the movie.

Trailer: B

Review: It's nice to see Tim Burton reverting to a genre that's frequently been more compelling for him. With Ed Wood, Burton tackled the crusty biopic milieu and created something fascinating. Here, the more conventional elements of the genre seem to be seeping in, but it's uncertain whether Burton's trademark lunacy will help or hinder or be hidden.

Oscar Prospects:

Some say this more traditional work from Tim Burton will be his best chance at Oscar nominations across the board. Critics have to love it the way they did Ed Wood for it to get very far. I could definitely see it cracking the Best Picture top ten if its universally loved, but I don't see it winning much of anything.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

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Looking at the Weekend: Nov. 7-9, 2014

It will be a glorious battle this weekend as Disney's big gun, the animated adventure Big Hero 6 takes on regular box office behemoth Christopher Nolan. Ultimately, I think both will do incredibly well. I give the edge to Interstellar since its previews have been compelling and nicely targeted to Nolan fans.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: I'm for sure seeing Big Hero 6 and may also see Interstellar. On the indie front, there are also two very strong possibilities in Brazilian blind gay coming of age story The Way He Looks and what's sure to be one of the top contenders for Best Actor, The Theory of Everything.
Peter J. Patrick: And the Oscar nominations go to...quite possibly all four of this week's major openings.
Tripp Burton: There are a lot of films this week vying for year-end awards, although none of them are calling me too hard.
Thomas LaTourrette: At last the Oscar films are starting to appear! Interstellar sounds interesting, if a bit flawed. Big Hero 6 sounds like a good animated film from Disney. However, The Theory of Everything with Eddie Redmayne's starring performance sounds like the film to see.

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2014 Summer Season Preview Wrap-Up: June

June 6, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Oscar Prospects: What I said: "Poor. Just like audiences don't care if Tom Cruise stars in a new movie, the Oscars don't seem to care if he's in one either. Most of the films he's been in in the last few years have failed to muster support for Oscar nominations, so don't expect much here. If it does show up, only the sound and visual effects categories are possibilities."
Oscar Results: As I suspected, the landscape doesn't look good, especially for a film that was considered to be such an under-performer that the studio changed the title of the film for its home video debut.
Box Office Prediction: $80 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: "Mediocre. Although science fiction has been doing well at the box office, Tom Cruise has had trouble tapping into that market. Other than guaranteed successes in franchises, Cruise's original films have been successful, but not much so. This is around the average of his non-tentpole efforts and although he's got a prime Summer position, there's too much before and after to keep him in the money for long."
Box Office Results: $100.2 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] Weak. Tom Cruise hasn't been a box office titan for some time, but his films always perform adequately. This one exceeded most expectations, though it wasn't the level of hit the studio really wanted.

The Fault in Our Stars

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Trailer Watch: Foxcatcher, updated (2014)

New Trailer (#4) / New Poster (#4)

Foxcatcher, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for link to the trailer, more posters (if available) and other commentary not featured here.

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Trailer Watch: The Hunger Games, updated (2014)

New Trailer (#5)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for link to the trailer, more posters (if available) and other commentary not featured here.

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Weekend Preview: Nov. 7-9, 2014

Below are nine previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: Why Don’t You Play in Hell (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 7, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud."

Poster: C+

Review: If you've seen the trailer, this poster doesn't make a lot of sense, but enough to be understandable. This looks like the kind of poster that might accompany a film like Diary of the Dead. It's not a bad thing, but it's ill-fitting, which doesn't make it a good thing.

Trailer: C-

Review: If you're a fan of the zany martial arts films that feature supernatural or loony elements that make you question your own sanity, this might be your movie. If you aren't, then it will look like an idiotic, Quentin Tarantino-inspired parody.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Way He Looks (2014)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 7, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel."

Poster: C+ / C / B- / B

Review: Four conventional designs exist for an unconventional film. (#1) The first is very reminiscent of French designs employed in recent years. (#2) Next, we have a poster that pulls a single scene from the film, adds a little distortion and tries to pass it off as art. (#3 & #4) These two posters use a hand-drawn technique that has bothered me in recent years, but work surprisingly well here. Not because it's not a lame indie hallmark, but because instead of live characters on drawn backgrounds, this tries to mix it up by drawing some elements of the characters themselves. There isn't a lot of difference between the two, but the closeness and familiarity in the fourth poster is more appealing than the distant qualities of the third.

Trailer: B

Review: Apart from being a forward-thinking narrative, the film doesn't look too different than your garden variety young-love indie projects. A fascinating, compelling story should overcome any visual shortcomings and the trailer suggests that's possible.

Oscar Prospects:

Brazil's entry into the Best Foreign Language Film competition at the Oscars has very strong reviews and positive word of mouth. If it can make it to the final shortlist, it could very well be nominated. A win doesn't seem likely at this juncture.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



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Film Preview: Open Windows (2014)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 7, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "An actress named Jill refuses to have dinner with Nick, a fan who won a date with her in an Internet contest. In return, a guy named Chord, posing as Jill's campaign manager, helps Nick to follow in the footsteps of the actress from his own computer. Nick starts a game in which he realizes that he is only a puppet into the maniacal plans devised by Chord, to hunt down the star."

Poster: B / B / B- / B- / C- (3) / C+

Review: (#1-#4) The first four are largely unique designs that employ the computer-oriented design elements that play out in the film's premise. They are busy designs, but not so distracting as to be offensive. (#5-#7) These interesting, but bland designs pit the film's three characters against one another at laptop screens. Their minimalist design might work if there weren't better designs in employment. (#8) This one doesn't fit very well with the other designs, but it's interesting enough to pique the curiosity of its viewer.

Trailer: C

Review: The concept of malicious hackers manipulating the lives of people with video cameras is nothing new. Adding in the voyeuristic creepiness of a hapless fan doesn't spice things up enough to make them interesting.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



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Poster #8
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Film Preview: On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 7, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Inspired by Bruce Brown's 1971 documentary, "On Any Sunday," chronicles the international sport of motorcycle racing."

Poster: B-

Review: The bonus is that it's colorful and features various types of motorcycles in action poses. That will push the film into familiar territory for its incredibly narrow target audience.

Trailer: B-

Review: I suppose if you're familiar with the groundbreaking documentary On Any Sunday, this might have some appeal for you. For everyone else, you have to be a fan of motorcycle competitions and racing to really care about watching this.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 2, 2014) Original

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