It's back to school with Adrien Brody, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in this week's unlikely mashup of Detachment and that 21 Jump Street remake everyone's been dreaming of for years. Below, 10 of this week's new releases are judged purely on their trailers. (Mashup by Kate Rose.)
Audrey Tatou's neotenic features could not be employed to better effect than in the trailer for Delicacy, apparently a bittersweet romantic comedy in the French style. Counterpointing her, facially, is Francois Damiens, the rangy fellow with the comedically Neanderthal mush (and the best thing in romantic smash Heartbreaker, soon to be remade without subtitles), in a Delicacy that has all the traditional ingredients. Romantic funeral? Oui. Meaningful smooching on the left bank? Oui. Picnic ruined by the rain? Oui. The Eiffel Tower at night? Oui, oui.
Imagine a documentary that follows El Greco as he paints View of Toledo, and in the process explains his technique, his struggle with color, his theories about representation. Too bad—no video cameras in the 16th century. Luckily, Gerhard Richter Painting has one of the world's greatest living artists explain just how he does what he does. Richter has apparently been on camera for much of his life, and early on recalls Wittgenstein's Tractatus with the observation, "You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing." Whereof one cannot speak, one must paint.
There have been a number of mind-deadening movie versions of vintage TV series over the years, from the beloved (Mission Impossible) to the tolerable, (The Addams Family), the incomprehensible (Steve Martin as Sgt. Bilko) to the outright horrific (Bewitched). In 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill offer up the slightest versions of their by-now familiar onscreen personae—handsome, stupid jock and needy, nerdy sidekick, respectively—in a remake that on this evidence looks as though it may simply be no more or less than lazy.
Detachment, "A Tony Kaye Talkie," is the other back-to-school movie of the week. At the expense of saying anything comprehensible, the trailer plays up the movie's main strength, which is a cast of familiar faces so deep and wide it runs all the way from James Caan to Christina Hendricks via Lucy Liu and Gwyneth's mom Blythe Danner. As for the plot, it is just about possible to intuit that the movie has something to do with Adrien Brody looking soulful in classrooms.
Deservedly an American institution, Will Ferrell can do what he likes, and what he's done with Casa de mi Padre is take what might once have been a dumped SNL sketch and expand it into a movie. The premise, which, in essence, is Will speaking Spanish all the way through a parody of an overheated South of the Border drama, barely has enough gas to sustain the running time of the trailer, even allowing for the comedy debut of inseparable Mexican double act Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal.
"He wasn't expecting the unexpected, but it sure as fuck expected him." As graveside eulogies go, this one is both to the point and entirely representative of everything about this trailer for The FP. Apparently a movie about video game dancing championships held in post-apocalyptic wastelands, there is enough self-aware madness on show here to suggest enduring cult status.
The Dardenne brothers once again turn their forensically humane gaze on Belgium's lost and vulnerable in The Kid with a Bike, apparently the story of a boy abandoned by his too-young father and taken in by the local hairdresser. Famous for using handheld cameras and natural light, the brothers seem to have taken their cinematography to a new height—this looks gorgeous, and the kid himself is astonishing.
Had enough of Jason Segal and Ed Helms yet? Too bad, you've got years of them to come. In Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the other film made by two brothers this week (the super-hip Duplass Brothers), Segal and Helms have been teamed up as brothers, no less. Helms is the older irritating one, Segal the younger irritating one who is obsessed with the movie Signs and will barely leave the house. Susan Sarandon is the long-suffering mother, and this definitely does not stray outside of the category of "If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like."
The week's unlikely friend to the Jews during the Nazi occupation is Tahar Rahim of The Prophet fame. In Free Men, he's an Algerian immigrant in Paris, hired by the Nazis to spy on the rector of the mosque whom they suspect of helping Jews with identity papers. Until he is won over by a new friend, who turns out to be Jewish. You get the idea, and then there's the usual running around while Nazis give chase waving Lugers. That said, looks like a tight little thriller.
The glory of last year's SXSW Film Festival, Natural Selection gets a limited release and is likely to be the smartest, funniest, most genuine movie experience you'll have all week. When her husband apparently enters a coma, a devout, God-fearing Texan housewife learns he had a son she was never told about. Traveling across the country to find the boy, she discovers a criminal, drug-addled jackass. The two central characters are beautifully cast, but the breakout star would seem to be Rachael Harris, unveiling layers of steel beneath her conscientiously dowdy exterior, who has earned a litany of encomia to that effect, at least according to this trailer.