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Entries in Yes No Maybe So (147)

Wednesday
Nov192014

Yes No Maybe So: Cinderella (2015)

Disney has been on such a billion dollar roll lately by returning to their roots and trusting in princesses and classic children's literature that we're now getting a live action Cinderella. The trailer dropped today. Are we a Yes, No or Maybe You?

Let's try this trailer on for size after the poster (I'm concerned her head might start spinning around Exorcist style, that neck is seriously uncomfortably swivelled) and the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov062014

Yes No Maybe So: Into the Woods

After a number of official still images, a lovely teaser, rumblings of behind-the-scenes drama, an extended featurette, a bunch of EW covers, and plenty of anticip... ation, the trailer for Rob Marshall's take on Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's classic musical, Into the Woods is here! More so than the teaser, this trailer introduces us to the main conceit that brings all these characters together: the search for a way to have a curse reversed, something that can only be accomplished by, as the Witch tells us, going into the woods and getting,

One: the cow as white as milk,
Two: the cape as red as blood,
Three: the hair as yellow as corn,
Four: the slipper as pure as gold.

Will the Baker and his Wife (the lowly, unfairy-tale couple at the heart of the show) be able to break the curse and survive the treacherous woods? If you've seen the show, you know "happily ever after" only takes you to the end of Act 1. But enough exposition, here's Manuel playing YES NO MAYBE SO, trying to keep our excitement for this Disney property in order.

YES

- Meryl Streep.
- Meryl Streep. Singing. Sondheim. Need we say more?
- Meryl Streep looking amazing..
- (I can’t help it, she’s front and center in the marketing material. They know what they’re selling and what we’ll be buying; I appreciate the pandering, embrace it, even!)
- Can we talk about how lush and gorgeous Sondheim’s score sounds?
- “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” Chris Pine, delivering the line of his life.
- “Oh dear, how uneasy I feel.” Runner-up for best line reading in the trailer; Lila Crawford nails the droll delivery (both wistful and jaded) required for this piece to work.
- There's music! Finally a musical billing itself as a musical and not playing the bait-and-switch game (remember Sweeney Todd?)
- Colleen Atwood and Dion Beebe are definitely bringing the pretty (in another version of this post I would merely put up hundres of screengrabs: That popping red cape! Those thorny branches! That golden Cinderella dress! Those amazing step-sister outfits/hairstyles! The Witch’s makeover look! Kendrick on the steps of the castle! Wet princes running our way!)


- I actually love the ethereally earthy (can I trademark that?) look of the piece, at once grounded in the grime and mud of the woods while also using metallics to connote the necessary element of fantasy that pervades this world.
- I love so many of these ladies (Kendrick! Baranski! Ullman! Blunt!), but then we probably all said the same about Marshall’s last musical. Indeed, I’m crazy about the entire cast except for...

 

NO

- ...Johnny Depp. Obviously the biggest deterrent (and that costume isn’t helping matters, is it?) The Red/Wolf scene is going to be particularly hard to pull off; has it been defanged by Disney execs and/or by Depp’s cartooney take on the Big Bad Wolf?
- The CGI-ness of it all gives me pause; might it overwhelm the material?
- I can’t decide if “Be careful what you wish for” is barely serviceable or merely uninspired.
- I promise I'm trying to find other things to notch as NOs, but I'm afraid I'm besotted by this trailer.

 

MAYBE SO

- Whither be our Billy Magnussen? (get out of the way, bushes!) I know he can’t get any type of billing, but there’s not enough of that big hunk of man in this trailer. #Agony
- I’m curious and hesitant about Blunt; this is a tricky part (one which fellow Streep co-star Amy Adams had trouble with a couple of years ago in Shakespeare in the Park)
- Am I the only one noticing that Meryl may not be the best at lip-syncing?
- That giant is… giving me Bryan Singer's Jack the Vampire Giant Slayer vibes.
- It’s still unclear how the numbers will be staged (thankfully away from Marshall’s tried and true stage-as-fantasy conceit) and whether Marshall & co. have managed to ‘open up’ the musical without sacrificing the dramatic beats that make Sondheim and Lapine’s piece work so well on stage. We get a glimpse of Meryl’s number but I’m more curious to see that first ensemble piece play out; the proximity of all these characters is what makes those group numbers sing; can it be replicated on screen?

Ed. Note: Watch it below (and thanks to Anonny for reminding me that in my stupor I'd forgotten to include the trailer itself!)

Unsurprisingly, I’m a "YES! I wish I could have this film in front of me now!" (Though maybe I should be careful what I wish for?) I love the material and this trailer shows there’s potential for greatness. Am I blinded by my love for Streep? By my obsession with Sondheim? By the pretty pretty pictures? Chime in! Calling all the Sondheim purists, the Marshall skeptics and the “I’m over Meryl”s, bring me down from my Into the Woods-induced high! Point me to things that should temper my giddy excitement!

Wednesday
Nov052014

Yes No Maybe So: Chappie

Manuel here to play our favorite trailer watching game.

Is it safe to say that of the 47 films to have been nominated for Best Picture ever since the category's expansion, District 9 remains the oddest, with its sci-fi concept, low-tech execution and lack of big name recognition? Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley followed that up with Elysium which very few of us have thought about since it came out. They’re re-teamed for Chappie which, well, I’ll just give you the synopsis:

Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings - some good, some bad - and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever.

They’ve both lost me already; wanna see whether the trailer won me back? Herewith, a special YES/NO/MAYBE SO assessment of this trailer via all of the films it made me think of as I was watching it:

YES

- Chappie’s character design is enough of a riff on known commodities (C3PO, Short Circuit, 80s Robot) without feeling derivative. I particularly love the ears/antenna.
- I'm fascinated by the fact that Copley is (to my knowledge) not playing Chappie via motion capture a la Serkis, but rather in a more rudimentary fashion ("they're animating over my movements," he notes). That might make for an interesting approach; and might give us an interesting Copley performance.
- I love the POV shot from inside Chappie’s head (is he also looking for Sarah Connor?)
- That He-Man cameo is pretty awesome.
- District 9 still holds enough goodwill for me to give this a tentative yes.
- IMDB informs me that Sigourney Weaver is in this which YES! but…

NO

- ...were we just denied a Weaver sighting and is that enough for me to notch a NO? Yes and yes.
- All those explosions towards the end reminded me of Elysium (and every other action film ever made).
- Hugh Jackman + Robots = Real Steel flashbacks.
- “A.I. is unpredictable” immediately made me think of Transcendence (and of Rebecca Hall’s career; anyone have any news? Will she be given a non-thankless role soon?).
- Artificial Intelligence is a fascinating topic, but why must paranoia be pit against government involvement? Why must it always lead to things exploding and people getting shot? 
- “One machine’s journey… to become his own man,” Can we talk about this tag-line? Is Chappie secretly Kal-El? Must newly sentient beings always be framed within a masculinist view of progress? Suddenly the He-Man cameo feels less awesome. Add in a "girl in danger in need of being saved" shot and this needlessly testosterone-fueled trailer is ticking all my "No" boxes.
- The "You taught me so much more" line had me eye-rolling (Might as well be “I’m just a guy, in front of his robot…”).
- The overall design and aesthetic seems particularly reminiscent of District 9 if a bit more playful and colorful (are we in a pseudo-Eastern European dystopia with a dash of punk-rock?), but there’s very little that pops in this trailer for me (give or take a bad Jackman haircut).

MAYBE SO

- That moment with the carton of milk.
- You’ll notice this from the images above, but I think there might something else going on this film despite its ho-hum, by-the-numbers trailer (with its run-of-the-mill soundtrack, flashing title cards and kaboom! ending) and it falls more in line with the fish-out-of-water humor Disney just used to promote Baymax in Big Hero 6 and which successfully launched WALL-E as an adorably Streisand obsessed curious robot.
- The insistence of seeing Chappie as a “child” seems to be aiming for a type of Lilo & Stitch (“Do you know what a black sheep is?”) and E.T. (“You’re name is… Chappie!”) dynamic. Might this be the type of film Blomkamp and Copley have in store for us? The poster is definitely more family friendly than the film this trailer is selling.

Watch and judge for yourself:

I must say I fall in the "No, thank you, I'll pass, wake me up if we were somehow duped by this subpar trailer" camp.  I don't want to ask whether this film will break new ground (good or even entertaining films need not do that) but I can't quite stomach the tried-and-true uplifting human spirit in a non-human vessel that'll lead to bullets and sacrifice vibe I'm getting. Disagree? Do we think Copley & Blomkamp have another surprise hit in their robotic hands?

Thursday
Oct232014

Yes No Maybe So: Avengers Age of Ultron

And by Yes No Maybe So I mean Yes Yes and Also YAAASSSS.

Tony Stark modelling the signature look from Hulkbuster Summer Line 2015

Though the thought of 20 plus superhero movies in the next few years makes me psychologically ill (nothing is special if it's all the time - see also Streep playing every part for women over 60 and tv shows about lawyers/doctors/crimescenes) at least roughly half of the Marvel movies are actually good examples of this soon-to-be oversaturated genre, generally getting the balance right of big pop flair, comic relief and stylized gravitas. And by "half" I'm referring of course to both Captain Americas, Joss Whedon's take on The Avengers and every other Iron Man. I'm hoping the genre goes out* with a big bang, that bang being Avengers: Age of Ultron.

But before we begin a word about "premieres." why do movie studios even bother announcing "premieres" or anything anymore when they then immediately retract the specialness of every debut by shooting their wad early. On Tuesday night's Agents of SHIELD they made a big fuss about how the Avengers Age of Ultron trailer would premiere on next Tuesday's episode (theoretically to boost ratings/interest) and then within 24 hours Marvel had officially posted the trailer online thereby killing the excitement of watching it next week during Agents of SHIELD

Anyway, for this supersized Yes No Maybe So (our series wherein we break down movie trailers to those three categories) we're doing roughly every image, in the order it appears because we can't help it. Mmmm, can't get enough.

I'm going to show you something beautiful...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct112014

YNMS: Tomorrowland, American Sniper, Black Sea

Tonight is the "Closing Night" of the New York Film Festival (Birdman and I'm happy to report that it's wondrous) though there are screenings tomorrow making the title only honorary, really. We'll wrap up soon with Inherent Vice and Birdman thoughts and things we learned at the fest. All the screenings and the first wave of Oscar seeking interviews (coming at'cha soon) have left us seriously behind on the matter of movie trailers / teasers so here are three which you may well have seen already but let's discuss in abbreviated Yes No Maybe So fashion.

TOMORROWLAND
Yes - This does what teasers, hell trailers themselves, should do: intrigues but doesn't give the game away. If only full trailers would follow suit. Come on studios: Help moviegoers rediscover a little something called curiousity. 
No - It's not really fair since he's had a couple of low key years but I'm feeling Clooney fatigue for some reason. Was it the wedding?
Maybe So -According to the vague summaries the story, about a futuristic utopia created by technology, is actually led by Britt Robertson (seen here discovering it via a magic pin) with Clooney in co-lead position as a former whiz kid she enlists to help her get back to this magical place and something something. Like I said: Vague. That's the best kind of pre-release info.

 

AMERICAN SNIPER
Yes - Trailers that are essentially one scene clips with flourishes round the edges to convey a movie are big "yes" moments. This scene, a sniper trying to decide whether to kill a woman or child is properly lose-lose upsetting. 
No - that tagline "the most lethal sniper in US history" paired with "12.25.14" is gross. Thanks for the coal in the stocking, Warner Bros! Merry Christmas to you, too.
Maybe So - It's a Clint Eastwood film. As you know his aesthetic is way too dreary for me to fully enjoy (even the recent musical was dreary!) but this kind of film can get away with dreary and probably should. Don't know about the banal easy juxtaposition of "American family life!" shoved aggressively into this Middle Eastern war zone via all those inserts but I like how mundane Bradley Cooper's voice sounds in this context.

BLACK SEA
Yes - Two obvious things. 1) Submarines and ocean settings in general often make for fine thrillers given the claustrophia or 'all alone in the world' madness. And 2) Jude Law, for all of the unevenness of his career, is always watchable. Isn't it great that "he's a liability" is voiced over our glimpse of Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, The Place Beyond the Pines)? He's anything but a liability in movies but of course he is just that in context since he's so good at playing shifty/dangerous characters. Scoot McNairy is also in it.
No - A cuisinart presentation of the whole movie, albeit without grotesque spoilers just general spoilers that the men turn against each other. But we kinda figured that with the pitch in the first minute. Still, where is the hook to care about this? Or is it assumed we will through that blaring music and fast-cutting.
Maybe So -  Kevin Macdonald. Is the jury still out on him (The Last King of Scotland, The Eagle, State of Play, How I Live Now) or does everyone just expect a range from *shrug* to 'quite watchable' but never great?

Sunday
Sep282014

Yes No Maybe So: "blackhat"

It's a challenge to keep up but better late than never, right? What do you make of blackhat in trailer form? It looks like another robust thriller from the (Michael) Mann. The movie is due in mid January and should provide nice counterprogramming to the two diammetrically opposed types of movies that tend to play in that month: studio prestige movies aiming for Oscars vs. mainstream studio dumping ground movies that they know aren't strong enough to compete for holiday or summer dollars.

Let's take a look through our Yes No Maybe So prism. And the first yes is obviously diversity in casting!

YES

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep192014

Yes, No, Maybe So: Big Eyes

abstew here. Well, it must be Oscar-movie season because no sooner did we receive a teaser trailer and release date for A Most Violent Year, but mere hours later, the first trailer for the Tim Burton-directed Oscar hopeful Big Eyes popped up as well. Big Eyes is the biopic of kitschy painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and her husband Walter (two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz), who falsely claimed to be the paintings' creator. The screenplay from Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski reunites them with Burton (who actually collects Keane paintings) for the first time since the Oscar-winning Ed Wood 20 years ago. But, I know y'all really just wanna know, does the film have what it takes for the quintuple Oscar-less Amy Adams to finally be crowned the winner? Let's examine with the trademarked Yes, No, Maybe So...

Click to read more ...