Film Previews

Film Preview: Z for Zachariah (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 23, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 28, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors.”

Poster Rating: C+

Review: It’s an effective color scheme that fits into the bleak future, but the physical elements of the design are incredibly rudimentary which doesn’t make it all that appealing.

Trailer Rating: B

Review: There are some fairly pedestrian constructs in the trailer, which doesn’t suggest a well written film, but there are just enough nuggets to give it some measure of appeal either to post-apocalypse fans or fans of the stars, which is about as far as it will go.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: War Room (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 23, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 28, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A seemingly perfect family look to fix their problems with the help of Miss Clara, an older, wiser woman.”

Poster Rating: B+

Review: The subtle cruciform shape is appealing, especially to the target audience. It has a nice array of images selected from the film that fit into a visual style that is unmistakably pleasing.

Trailer Rating: C+

Review: If you’re into this kind of film, the trailer will definitely intrigue you. If you aren’t, the situations become forced and cloying. Take your pick. It appeals where it needs to appeal, but not probably where it should.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: The Second Mother (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 23, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 28, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “When the estranged daughter of a hard-working live-in housekeeper suddenly appears, the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray.”

Poster Rating: C- / C- / D

Review: (#1) Apart from its attempt to create a mysterious blur, the design is unnecessarily simplistic. (#2) Equally simple, but it isn’t trying as hard as the previous. It has some thematic elements, which helps a little, but probably not enough. (#3) No drama. No applicable theme. It just sits there on the wall with everyone just walking by ignoring it.

Trailer Rating: C

Review: The plot isn’t revolutionary, nor is it too gentle. There are probably some interesting relationship dynamics here and the star does have the potential to deliver a solid performance, but I cannot imagine anyone wanting desperately to see the film after a trailer like this.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Drown (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 23, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 28, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Three surf lifesavers on a big night out. Jealousy, homophobic fears and unrequited lust culminate in a tragic booze-fueled episode of near-fatal bullying.”

Poster Rating: C- / D

Review: (#1) Not an unpleasant design, but ultimately too simplistic and without a thematic connection. (#2) This design isn’t that interesting. It toys with the idea that perhaps our stars about to kiss, but that’s not particularly revolutionary outside of being two men.

Trailer Rating: B-

Review: It’s hard to understand exactly what’s going on in the film when the trailer is trying to be too mysterious. Giving the audience too much information is dangerous, but not enough creates confusion, which doesn’t generate revenue.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: The Hateful Eight (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

December 25, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?”

Poster Rating: B+ / C / C+ (4)

Review: (#1) I love the color scheme of this artistic rendering, it brings the characters to an isolated, snowbound cabin and that’s as evocative as it needs to be. (#2) This design is a bit sensationalistic, which makes it a bit distracting. As appropriate as it might be, it’s just not as competent as it could have been. (#3-#6) Only four of a likely seven character posters are currently available. The design is interesting and its counting mechanic works, but there’s not much detail beyond that and it’s too difficult to identify the actors on the poster itself, especially from a distance.

Trailer Rating: C+

Review: Tarantino is one of those directors who has such a distinctive eye for visual style that a trailer like this just seems too mainstream for his capabilities. Even the dialogue is a bit stuff compared to the sizzling work he’s done in the past.

Oscar Prospects:

Tarantino has been consistent, which could result in a number of nominations for this film, though isolating individual actors might be a chore for voters.

Trailer #1

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Trailer Watch: Black Mass, updated (2015)

Trailer #3 / Posters #2-#11 / Page Redesign

Black Mass, updated

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

Trailer Watch: Everest, updated (2015)

Trailer #2 / Poster #4 / Page Redesign

Everest, updated

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

Looking at the Weekend: Aug. 21-23, 2015

The second weekend of Straight Outta Compton will be tough competition for a stoner comedy, but those types of films have done surprisingly well in recent years. This outing puts recognizable faces before the audience, giving them to see people acting totally different from what they’re used to. It’s a great sales tool unless you don’t care much for most of the actors, which will be its biggest stumbling block.

Our Highest Rated Films: Grandma
Our Best Awards Ratings: Grandma

OTHER LIMITED RELEASES

Station to Station

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2015 Oscar Season Preview: Introduction

Two likely huge films are due out this winter, which should bolster the box office against a handful of remaining blockbusters and a lot of potential duds. While it seems like Star Wars: The Force Awakens could end up the year’s top film, the final film of the Hunger Game series also releases, which could give it a run for its money. Both will struggle against the current topper Jurassic World.

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: Trumbo (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

November 6, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “The successful career of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, comes to an end when he is blacklisted in the 1940s for being a Communist.”

Poster Rating: C+

Review: As much as I like the concept and style, the overall coloring and layout is distracting and even a touch corny.

Trailer Rating: B-

Review: What appears to be a conventional biopic stars some of the best actors working today. Whether Bryan Cranston’s version of Dalton Trumbo is accurate I can’t be certain, but alongside the likes of Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, Louis C.K., Stephen Root, Michael Stuhlbarg and Helen Mirren, I would hate for it to be a bore.

Oscar Prospects:

If the film is good, then the Oscars will surely lavish praise on it, but it has to be good and critics have to support it. The Academy doesn’t always love films about Hollywood, but if they’re crowd pleasers, it makes all the difference.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Stonewall (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

September 25, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.”

Poster Rating: B

Review: A simple, elegant tease of the film depicting the location that gave the movement its name.

Trailer Rating: B

Review: While I can now see why people are upset over a fictional character throwing a brick through a window, there are some intriguing possibilities on display in the trailer and there’s plenty of recognition for LGBT people other than the gay white protagonist.

Oscar Prospects:

Can you imagine Roland Emmerich an Oscar nominee? It’s possible if the film turns out to be better than anyone has a right to expect. His past is littered with throw away films that lack sufficient plot development or good performances and rely almost entirely on spectacle. That might serve this story well to an extent, but at the heart, it needs to be a film about people and pushing back against oppression. If it can’t manage that, then the Oscars won’t care.

Trailer #1

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Weekend Preview: Aug. 21-23, 2015

Below are ten previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: Shanghai (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 21, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A ’40s period piece which revolves around an American expat who returns to Shanghai in the months before Pearl Harbor due to the death of his friend.”

Poster Rating: C / B / B- / C+ / C+ / C / B- (4)

Review: (#1) There’s so much more that could have been done to avoid making this look like Charlie’s Golden Ticket were in the hands of Chinese historical drama reenactors. (#2) From a distance, the design doesn’t look particularly appealing; however, once you get closer and notice the details within the broad paint stroke, an interesting design starts to take place.

(#3) I like the core concept of this design, but it ultimately feels very simplistic and unnecessarily broad. (#4) This is a semi-jumbled mess of a design that has some interesting elements, but nothing particularly outstanding. (#5) Another design with concepts at play that have promise, but which are ultimately unapplied.

(#6) Subtle perhaps, but lacking a necessary depth to create visionary interest in the film. (#7-#10) These character posters borrow a design concept from poster #2, but embellish it with differing poses and a fascinating glimpse into the background of these characters. The bold white foreground is a distraction, though.

Trailer Rating: B-

Review: If the trailer didn’t feel like watching a two-hour movie, perhaps it might have been more engaging to disintersted audiences. As such, it has some intriguing ideas at play, but looks like a bare-bones attempt at assimilating Chinese historical events where those who are more adept at understanding them needed to be more involved.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Learning to Drive (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 21, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each other’s company they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel.”

Poster Rating: C- / D+

Review: (#1) A rudimentary symbolic reference to fun doesn’t make a lot of sense outside of the context of the film itself. While fans of Patricia Clarkson or Ben Kingsley might suddenly become intrigued, the number of fans that reaches is incredibly small. (#2) This poster, along with poster #1 give the impression that the film is a wistful, pandering romantic comedy without substance or depth.

Trailer Rating: C

Review: It’s unfortunate when we see our favorite actors slumming in a throw away comedy that mimics every other throw away comedy with a limited and overly simplified idea being forced into it. As much as I love Patricia Clarkson, she really needs to find better vehicles. The same goes for Kingsley.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Digging for Fire (2015)

Page Revisions:

(August 16, 2015) Original

Release Date:

August 21, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “The discovery of a bone and a gun send a husband and wife on separate adventures over the course of a weekend.”

Poster Rating: D+

Review: Every titular and contextual concept that could have been implemented in a poster design for this film is crushed and discarded for a cheap, unappealing art piece with no emotional depth or thematic conceit in sight.

Trailer Rating: C

Review: Why must every star-studded indie film have a trailer constructed to make the film seem like it doesn’t care about realism while pushing for the concept of realism. It’s a fatal flaw of indie cinema and this trailer almost perfectly evokes the idea that a great cast doesn’t always translate into a great film.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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