See all of this week's opening movies in a 60-second mashup here.
Sometimes it's all about the cast. The trailer for Lawless is a case in point: There's Gary Oldman evidently adoring playing the role of a morally ambivalent tough guy; Guy Pierce looking terrifying even with an absurd Alfalfa center hair parting; Jessica Chastain effortlessly delivering the Platonic ideal of Jessica Chastain; Tom Hardy for once overshadowed by the company he's keeping; and even the ever-adolescent Shia LaBeouf possibly redeeming himself for his Transformers, Indiana Jones, Wall Street and forthcoming Lars von Trier movies. (It's getting to be quite a list.) Seemingly some sort of Prohibition-era gangster story, with that cast Lawless could be Transformers 8 and you'd still be curious.
Straight to Hell was the best balls-out riot of high-octane horror you could wish for in a picture house and delivered the most satisfying ending in years. It was a reminder that before he made his wildly successful trilogy of what will come to be recognized as parodies of Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi was responsible for the supremely terrifying Evil Dead. With The Possession, he's firmly back on the horror track as producer of what is apparently a pretty good riff on The Exorcist.
For a Good Time, Call…
When a movie trailer opens with one girl throwing a soda cup full of her own urine over the face of the other, it can be said to have established its terms early on. And if that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you had better move right along. Otherwise, as mismatched-buddy movies about phone sex starring two girls channeling vintage Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin go, you could barely ask for anything more promising than For a Good Time, Call… Well, maybe you'd want Seth Rogen in it. And guess what? He is—though probably in a very brief cameo, the majority of which is in this trailer. The one weird note is Justin Long apparently playing the gay chum. See if that doesn't go all Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
Like those highly addictive manufactured drugs in science-fiction movies, the ones that cause instant death from the slightest overdose, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure is a doubly dangerous analog of a highly toxic product. Designed to drill directly into the pleasure receptors of pre-school kids in the way the Teletubbies used to, The Oogieloves is the bath salts of children's entertainment. To the adult mind, nothing could be more antagonistic. Worse yet, the film is actually designed to make kids shout at the screen. Way to start them early. Who doesn't love sitting in a cinema where everyone shouts at the screen? Cynical to the point of nihilism, the people responsible for and participating in this abhorrence should be locked in a dungeon and forced to listen to the sound of children's laughter for eternity.
The Tall Man
If you are in any doubt that Jessica "Total Recall" Biel is not a genre star, then The Tall Man is all the evidence you need. Apparently the entirely predictable story of a mythical tall fellow who abducts children, less happens in this trailer than in your average animated gif. But Biel has the sort of face that leads you through the clichés and slow-motion shocks like a candle through the darkness.
"Reason to travel to a diamond-producing country in Africa is a very, very valuable piece of kit," says an unnamed Northern Englishman, apparently on a hidden camera at the beginning of this trailer for The Ambassador. Evidently a rather brilliant undercover documentary that follows Danish provocateur Mads Brügger's attempts to buy a suitcase full of blood diamonds from somewhere in the Central African Republic, this trailer is cut like a dopey comedy. There's even old-time music to jolly things along. But make no mistake, the instant you see Mads in his ludicrous disguise as a European ambassador, complete with Hunter S. Thompson cigarette holder and riding boots, you feel genuine dread. Thrilling as it was watching Sacha Baron Cohen goading wrestling fans in Borat, no one ever said to him, "The best that you can hope for is that you end up dead in a ditch in Africa." Is there a diamond that isn't a blood diamond? Probably not, at least according to this trailer.