Show of hands: who understands what happened to cause the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the subsequent global recession? Okay, now all the liars that have their hands up – do you think you could explain it to a standard movie audience, while still telling an engaging, cinematic story? Well, Adam McKay, famous for creating the Funny or Die website and directing comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, has succeeded in this endeavor. McKay’s ridiculous stylistic choices help portray the absurdity of the entire financial system, and instill a sense of incredulity in the audience. As a result, he has crafted a wonderful and funny film with full character arcs, rousing thematic statements, and eye-opening revelations about the world we live in.
A slick, stylized violence permeates Tony Scott’s Man on Fire, which is as much a story about rebirth as it is about revenge. The critics balked at the vigilantism of Denzel Washington’s John Creasy as he tears through a Mexican kidnapping cartel responsible for the death of a young girl, but this film is much more about a man’s abortive redemption than pleasure-seeking violence. Far from glorifying Creasy’s rampage, Scott imbues the narrative with a decidedly blunt and tragic trajectory. Man on Fire is less about retribution, and more about a damaged man falling apart one last time in service of his highest value.
It is remiss to classify The Martian as “Ridley Scott’s” or “Matt Damon’s” or with any other possessive; it is a true ensemble film. Though the story begins in serious medias res with the crew of the Ares III mission escaping a Martian dust storm and leaving Matt Damon’s Mark Watney behind on the red planet, this is not Cast Away where we dwell on our lone character for the majority of the runtime. The success of the narrative and the impact of the theme require that seemingly infinite characters aid in Watney’s survival, but also that Watney himself is capable of titanic intellectual feats. What results is a film dictating that the strength of humanity is found in the reasoning mind – from an isolated individual struggling to survive to large teams working towards effecting a rescue.
One of the biggest surprises of Disney’s D23 convention was the trailer for Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. Finally, we get to see the official trailer for this film, which is essentially what everyone at D23 already saw (though the trailer shown there was slightly different, based on descriptions from people who saw it at D23). Pay close attention to the tone of this trailer, and especially the multiple fades to black, as it makes the film look far darker than the familiar animated feature from the late ‘60s:
Very few films are capable of eliciting the full spectrum of human emotions, but one of them is Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. At times, we celebrate the joy of defiance as Randall P. McMurphy triumphs over Nurse Ratched. Other times, we feel frustration at the stifling institutional control. We even seethe with absolute anger. And ultimately, we weep at the tragedy inherent with the tethering of an individualist soul to an uncomprehending authority.
So I definitely found all the fun in the DCCU, and it looks like I was right – it is going to come from the villains. Look no further than the recently released trailer for Suicide Squad, where I finally get the sense that there is more to the DCCU than brooding, gritty darkness. Somehow, the characters that are supposed to be the baddest and meanest have the most time to have fun, joke around, and lighten the mood. That’s not to say there aren’t some really disturbing visuals, though. Have a look:
Ever since those in charge of the Harry Potter franchise decided that they could make an extra movie near the end without anyone really caring, it has been a common practice, and the story usually suffers. It was the same with The Hunger Games franchise, as the first part of the final book was all set-up. Earlier this morning the first trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was released online, and it appears promising. There is a distinct revolutionary tone to the snippets of action and conversations, and it is clear that this final film will attempt to deliver on all the wheel-spinning of Mockingjay Part 1 with a stunning climax.
All you c-section babies can bail, though.
I’ve already written about the new adaptation of The Scottish Play with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in my Cannes Film Festival piece, but today they released the first trailer for Macbeth. It is bleak and gorgeous, offering an aesthetic more similar to the grime of Braveheart than the polish of your standard Shakespearean tragedy (even though sad things happen at the end, it is usually very pretty and opulent in the meantime). This teaser trailer, unnaturally long at nearly two minutes, provides us with an amazing view of the environment of this new Macbeth, gives us a glimpse into the lyricism of the language that will be employed, and is not afraid to show the main characters descend into power lust and madness. This is a perfect preview of the film, and has me even more excited than I was before.