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Looking at the Weekend: Aug. 22-24, 2014

Can Sin City: A Dame to Kill For build on the niche demographic that made the first film enough of a success to warrant a second and turn this into the #1 film of the week or will the football-themed drama When the Game Stands Tall take the top spot. It could also be the romantic drama If I Stay, which if the trailer's any indication, will be beloved by fans of weepies.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: What can I say? I'm a fan of the weepie. Are You Here could be interesting, but The One I Love has more promise, as does To Be Takei while Love Is Strange will appeal to a very narrow group of people.
Peter J. Patrick: Having had an office near De La Salle High School during its record-shattering football wins I'm looking forward to this one for nostalgia reasons.
Tripp Burton: As the summer winds down, we still get some strong genre fare this week.
Thomas LaTourrette: None of these films particularly excites me, so maybe a good weekend to work in the yard or catch up on older films.

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2014 Oscar Season Preview: Introduction

After a surprising number of high quality, entertaining films for the first two quarters of the year, it would seem Oscar season has a lot of expectations to live up to. Much of that will be taken care of by a trio of films that could be among the top box office juggernauts of the year, Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. There are others that could be quite good and that's just from a blockbuster perspective.

A lot of the year-end Oscar contenders, which this season tends to represent more than either of the others, don't seem to be as evident this time around, but that could just be because schedules are still being finalized and what's listed here is just the tip of the iceberg. We'll find out more as November and December approach, the two biggest month for Oscar-competing entries.

To introduce you to the upcoming films, there will be two preview articles every month and this introduction every four months. The Season Preview article will focus on one of three seasons Spring Season (January through April), Tentpole Season (May through August) and Oscar Season (September through December). In these introductory articles, I will give you the current release schedule for the specified season, which may change as the release dates get closer.

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Film Preview: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

December 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "The Company of Thorin has reached Smaug's lair; but can Bilbo and the Dwarves reclaim Erebor and the treasure? And, if so, can they hold on to it?"

Poster: A / B

Review: (#1) This first design is as perfect a design as you could get for this franchise. With Smaug's attempted destruction of Laketown being a centerpiece battle of the film, this dramatic, tense design heightens the possibilities. (#2) The second design is a bit more laid back, sets our protagonist up on his calm before the story, but doesn't really excite the way the first design does.

Trailer: B

Review: As much as I love this franchise, the trailers have been less than impressive. While there are elements here that are quite exciting, it is, for the most part, straight forward and generic. I give them props for pulling one of the best songs written for the franchise out of The Return of the King and putting it into the trailer. It is a surprisingly fitting tune with lyrics that are quite perfect for the somber proceedings.

Oscar Prospects:

While the Lord of the Rings films were Oscar juggernauts, the previous two Hobbit films have been nominees, but not nearly as many as its predecessors. The film will still snag nominations, but how many depends on how good the film is. Look at the tech and creative categories primarily with top categories requiring strong support from critics.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Foxcatcher (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances."

Poster: A- / C

Review: (#1) While the first design takes something of a cue from the poster design for Nebraska, it is an interesting piece that requires focused inspection to find all the details. That's a good sign. (#2) The second poster, however, does precisely what too many others do: attempt to sell of the film's star. Why is there not a poster of Mark Ruffalo or Steve Carell? Channing Tatum may be the central focus of the film, but this type of design should be reserved for character posters, not primaries.

Trailer: B+

Review: An intense drama starring the typically comical Steve Carell could make for an interesting movie. That he's presented as something of an egomaniacal villain only enhances that perception. The trailer does a good job positioning this film as a movie for adults that could have the type of dramatic fireworks that make the Academy stand up and take notice.

Oscar Prospects:

Two feature films. Two Oscar nominations for Best Picture. Capote was his first outing in the Best Picture race and his film came away with one Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance. It was also nominated in Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Six years later, Moneyball did that film one better picking up six nominations. It didn't win anything, but it was nominated for two acting awards, Best Editing, Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay. If that pattern holds steady, a Best Picture nomination, two acting nominations and a screenwriting nomination (while this is his first original screenplay, it's co-written by Capote scribe Dan Futterman, which is an added benefit) are pretty certain. If it can tick up one to seven nominations, I wouldn't be surprised.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Weekend Preview: Aug. 22-24, 2014

Below are eight previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: The One I Love (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

August 22, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Struggling with a marriage on the brink of falling apart, a couple escapes for a weekend in pursuit of their better selves, only to discover an unusual dilemma that awaits them."

Poster: C+

Review: The mysterious elements of the film are ignored in favor of employing a common and tedious technique of hand-drawn/painted poster designs. Some artist is clearly making a killing off indie producers, but it's not always the right way to go.

Trailer: B

Review: There's a hint of suspense in the trailer suggesting the commonplace events of a marriage falling apart are somehow twisted and enhanced by a surprise twist. That might help the film escape the feeling of been-there, done-that.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Are You Here (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

August 22, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Two childhood best friends embark on a road trip back to their hometown after one of them learns he has inherited a large sum of money from his recently deceased estranged father."

Poster: C

Review: The open field motif doesn't seem to play well within the framework of the presented narrative in the trailer. While it capitalizes on the film's stars quite well, that's simply not enough.

Trailer: C+

Review: There are plenty of comedies that tell the same or similar jokes and presenting the trailer as such isn't likely to bring a new breed of audience to the theaters. The trailer presents a film that is built on a narrow premise and milked for every idiotic joke possible, including using antics for Zack Galifianakis that seem all too familiar for his schtick.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: When the Game Stands Tall (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

August 22, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "The journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport."

Poster: B- (2)

Review: A common practice for poster designs is to employ identical backgrounds with varied images in the foreground. Both of these keep their characters distant or turned enough to eliminate the ability to distinguish between. While this might give the impression that these characters are just like all of us or that we could easily fall into their places, it eliminates the capability of the audience to identify with or focus on specific characters, making it harder for them to relate without having first seen the film.

Trailer: B-

Review: There's little to separate the events of this trailer from every other "Friday Night Lights" kind of film. The plot may be slightly original, but it's played as a familiar, generic story of team-building and self-esteem-building. It will appear to fans of the genre, but others might not be as excited to see it.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: If I Stay (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

August 22, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined."

Poster: C+

Review: This plain, multi-paned design is not particularly original, but does present various facets of our protagonist's life, which gives rise to the titular reasons of why she might want to stay.

Trailer: B+ / A-

Review: (#1-#2) The two trailers are fairly similar, both delve into the events of the film, but the second design does a better job of showcasing the out-of-body experience than the first trailer. Both are somewhat sappy and manipulative, but in a good way with terrific music to match.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(August 17, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

March 6, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Two hopeful new arrivals at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful quickly learn that there is only a single room left to rent."

Poster: C

Review: An obvious re-rendering of the notable flowered poster design for the first film, which easily establishes the film as a natural follow-up to that surprise hit.

Trailer: B-

Review: While the humor is entirely obvious and the premise seems a bit muddy, it's clear to anyone who was a fan of the first film that they are in for more of the same with a few extra characters. That should help get those butts back in the theater seats for the sequel.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(August 10, 2014) Original

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Trailer Watch: Birdman, updated (2014)

Trailer #2 / Poster #2

Birdman, updated

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

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Film Preview: Nightcrawler (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A young man stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism."

Poster: B

Review: The design has a noir-esque style to it, a more blatant, obvious style, but one that sells the film as something from another time. That might help sell it to an audience more in tune with the type of narrative it is intending to present.

Trailer: B

Review: The trailer doesn't have a lot to say, but it says it with a stylish flourish, playing off the oblique nature of the premise and establishing this as a potential successor to the long-absent oeuvre of David Lynch.

Oscar Prospects:

The film looks a little too odd for Oscar's taste, but if Jake Gyllenhaal is exceptionally good, this year's one-two punch with Enemy could result in a nomination.

Revisions:

(August 10, 2014) Original

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Looking at the Weekend: Aug. 15-17, 2014

Who knows what will be on top. It could be the second weekend for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for all I know. I suspect, though, that the race for the top will be between The Expendables 3 and Let's Be Cops.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: Just to see how they messed up the source material, I'll give The Giver a go. Frank could be fun, as could Life After BethRagnarok.
Peter J. Patrick: Frank and The Giver look worth checking out, the others look like something to be avoided.
Thomas LaTourrette: Not one of these films looks that exciting. Frank seems like it might be the best of a poor weekend.

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2014 Spring Season Preview Wrap-Up: March

March 7-9, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

Box Office Prediction: $65 M
Box Office Expectations: What I Said: "Weak. The first film was a huge success leading to an unsurprising sequel. However, it's been so long since the first film came out, most of the original cast is gone (because, of course, they died), and the director is new. The previews have shown more of the same, but we've seen plenty of similar films in recent years buckle under disinterest. I think this will be just such a situation."
Box Office Results: $106.6 M
Thoughts: [Minor Success] I underestimated the film's staying power, though I rightly predicted it wouldn't hold a candle to its predecessor. Passing $100 million is a sizable feat, but when the original film more than doubled that, it will likely mean the film doesn't earn its place as a trilogy.

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Trailer Watch: Interstellar, updated (2014)

Trailer #3.

Interstellar, updated

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

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