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Weekend Preview: Oct. 17-19, 2014

Below are sixteen previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: Watchers of the Sky (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Four modern stories of remarkable courage while setting out to uncover the forgotten life of Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term 'genocide'. Inspired by Samantha Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, 'A Problem From Hell', 'Watchers of the Sky' traverses time and continents to explore genocide and the cycle of violence."

Poster: C

Review: Even after you know what the film is about, the poster doesn't have as much impact as it probably needs. Of course, relying on traditional Jewish and Nazi symbolism might have been overboard, at least do something that sets your place in history.

Trailer: B-

Review: For most audiences, documentaries fall into two categories. 1) This really piques my interest. I must see it. 2) This looks really boring, why would anyone watch this? Watchers in the Sky, while about an important subject, looks incredibly dry and document heavy which will please fans of the medium, but won't attract a wider viewership.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 16, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called 'moonlight murders' begin again. Is it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him."

Poster: C+

Review: If it weren't for the background skull motif, this might be an effective design. Anyone who's seen a horror poster in recent years has seen a couple of those skulls on display, which defeats the purpose of feeling original. Of course, this is a remake, so I guess seeming original isn't necessary.

Trailer: A-

Review: Taking a different approach to trailer design than many other recent horror film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown looks like a much more traditional design, one that doesn't rely on hokey shaky-cam, found-footage techniques. That alone should distinguish it in the marketplace, but the stakes are set high and the premise is well defined, which should help make it an underground success.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Rudderless (2014)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son's demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding some catharsis."

Poster: C-

Review: Will anyone looking at this design care about the film? It has elements of what the premise is, but those elements won't mean much to those who have no idea what the point of seeing it would be.

Trailer: B-

Review: A few snappy bits of humor don't make up for a generally safe trailer design. It tackles the music meaningfully and sets up the film's "moving on" post-tragedy motivation, but it doesn't have the life or value one would expect from this type of movie.

Oscar Prospects:

It might have a distant shot at an Original Song nomination, but even that relies on the music branch looking beyond the familiar.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Listen Up, Philip (2014)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip's idol Ike Zimmerman offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself."

Poster: C

Review: I still haven't figured out what the fascination with hand-drawn poster designs is. While this isn't as obnoxious as many, it's not nearly as compelling as it needs to be.

Trailer: C

Review: A weird cross between Wes Anderson and Woody Allen give us a film that doesn't seem as funny as either men is capable of being and has none of the emotional or verbal spark typical of those two auteurs.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Housebound (2014)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. However, when she too becomes privy to unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, she begins to wonder whether she's inherited her overactive imagination, or if the house is in fact possessed by a hostile spirit who's less than happy about the new living arrangement."

Poster: C+ / F

Review: (#1) The family portrait looks cheesy, but it better fits in with the film's premise. (#2) I really don't think any horror fan is going to care one wit about what critics are saying. After all, they typically trash their favorite films. This design is pure ego and not a very compelling vision of one.

Trailer: D+

Review: The trailer puts this film all over the horror map except where it needs to be. The film seems like your prototypical home possession horror film even though the description of the film makes it seem like something beyond that. Looking like everyone else and not being able to distinguish yourself will hurt you.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Diplomacy (2014)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 15, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A historical drama that depicts the relationship between Dietrich von Choltitz, the German military governor of occupied Paris, and Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling."

Poster: -

Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer: C+

Review: A two-character study of World War II tension between a Frenchman and a German as they grapple over the potential destruction of the city of Paris. The trailer moves at a snail's pace and what typically makes foreign language films spark with finesse seems to be lacking from this trailer.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Default (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A news crew is taken hostage on an airplane set to take off from the Seychelles."

Poster: -

Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer: C-

Review: There's minimal tension, limited excitement and not a drop of purpose. What the reason this film has for existing isn't on display in the trailer, at least not in any detail.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Camp X-Ray (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

October 17, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay befriends a man who has been imprisoned there for eight years."

Poster: C+

Review: Placing images inside the protagonist works, but it's also lazy. This one doesn't look awful, but there are no points for originality.

Trailer: C+

Review: I'm sure there's something interesting about a detainee (read: prisoner) in Guantanamo Bay breaking through the tough exterior of stone-faced Kristen Stewart, but this trailer doesn't do a very good job convincing me that it's going to be successful.

Oscar Prospects:

Can Kristen Stewart really generate Oscar buzz? Don't believe if it if you hear it.

Revisions:

(October 12, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Inside Out (2015)

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Trailer Link

Release Date:

June 19, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school."

Poster: C

Review: Pixar's new film doesn't seem to be falling into prior molds and this poster design is exemplary of that. This poster is a bit too oblique, especially if targeting young audiences and without explaining itself.

Trailer: B

Review: As exciting as it is to see all the great Pixar films that came before it, what follows these fond memories is a preview of the film that doesn't look particularly fascinating.

Oscar Prospects:

Pixar won't have an entry in the 2014 derby, but it's already writing its acceptance speech for 2015.

Revisions:

(October 5, 2014) Original

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Trailer Watch: Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

New Trailer (#3)

Horrible Bosses 2, 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: Inherent Vice (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

December 12, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend."

Poster: B

Review: Finding itself firmly in a visual style matching that of the film, the poster teases the audience in a way that might make them interested in seeing the film, but isn't guaranteed to do so. It's more a treat for those interested in the pulp style.

Trailer: B

Review: Paul Thomas Anderson has some very unusual ideas, but this seems to fit perfectly within his wheelhouse, which should be the perfect impetus for fans to check the film out. That it actually looks quite funny might put it in a similar mindset as the one that made American Hustle a hit.

Oscar Prospects:

Paul Thomas Anderson, even with comedy, is no one to be ignored when it comes to the Oscars. This film should be a prime contender in several categories.

Revisions:

(October 5, 2014) Original

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Looking at the Weekend: Oct. 10-12, 2014

I'll admit I'm completely stymied about which of the four new releases will top the box office. Each have their positive qualities and each have drawbacks. In the end, family film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day may have a slight edge over Dracula Untold, which could also easily be a bomb.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: The wide release offerings don't look so hot, but St. Vincent might be the most enjoyable of the limited releases.
Peter J. Patrick: Several lesser players in this year's Oscar race open, most notably J.K. Simmons in Whiplash.
Tripp Burton: The wide releases this week are dismal looking, but there is some really exciting stuff hitting the art houses.
Thomas LaTourrette: This week has a few films with strong performances that may be remembered at Oscar time. The Judge (Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr.), Kill the Messenger (Jeremy Renner), and St. Vincent (Bill Murray) all sound decent, but J.K. Simmons' performance in Whiplash makes it sound like the film to see.

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Trailer Watch: Interstellar (2014)

New Trailer (#4) / New Posters (#2-#5)

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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Film Preview: American Sniper (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

December 25, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A Navy SEAL recounts his military career, which includes more than 150 confirmed kills."

Poster: B-

Review: The patriotic element should help the film appeal to middle America, but the design isn't otherwise very exciting.

Trailer: B+

Review: Clint Eastwood's latest film ratchets up the tension without much effort, simply by showing a portion of a single scene from the film. It works to build excitement while establishing this as a film that deconstructs moral decision-making.

Oscar Prospects:

Clint Eastwood hasn't had the Oscar mojo he once had, but with this treatise on American patriotism and struggles in the face of dangerous odds could put him back in the hunt.

Revisions:

(October 5, 2014) Original

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