Hello, Trailer Trash. We're changing gears again. Instead of mashing the top half-dozen new releases into a single trailer, we're now going to see if we can find two films that beg to be united in promotional matrimony. To get the ball rolling, in the video above, we've coupled the hi-jinks capers of The Three Musketeers with the high-finance capers of Occupy Wall Street prequel Margin Call. If you have suggestions for future pairings, let us know and we'll try and oblige. In the meantime, here is your weekly, in-depth, critical appraisal of new releases based solely on what the advertising tells us.
If the opinions of the Heartland Film Festival, the JPII Film Festival and Positive Media are important to you, The Mighty Macs could well be your slice of communion wafer. The movie has been honored by all three organizations. And, the trailer tells us, no matter what Sinead O'Connor and Susan Sarandon have to say about the Pope, the Catholic Church is not entirely evil. Why? Because nuns play basketball! In habits! It also offers Carla Gugino as the basketball coach in a role that requires her to do more than look fantastic in lingerie (Sin City, Watchmen, Sucker Punch…). Only the Blessed Virgin could pull off a miracle like that.
Unless Elmo is a Nepalese tour guide, a seamstress in a Chinese sweatshop, a newly identified form of grey goo, or the nickname of legendary movie-score composer Elmer Bernstein, then you already know how you feel about Being Elmo. It's the old story: Kid grows up watching muppets, wants to be a muppeteer, makes muppets, becomes the muppet other muppets want to be—the red one that sells millions and millions of toys. And Whoopi Goldberg is a fan. In fact, you already know whether or not you'll watch so much as a minute of it, even if every other movie in the onboard inflight entertainment system has gone kaput.
A simple rule of life is that the best things about Paranormal Activity movies are their trailers. The trailer for Paranormal Activity 3 may prove to be the exception, and the evidence here makes a strong case. For some reason we're back in 1988, complete with the video static of the era; there are two little girls, lackluster shorthand for creepy ever since The Shining; and there's a weird silhouette photobombing a key moment. The movie has to be better than this. Truly.
Lusciously lit, state-of-the-art office corridors … All-star cast including "With Demi Moore" and "And Stanley Tucci" … Helicopter shots of late-night Manhattan … Great suits and hair (even on Kevin Spacey) … Someone says something like, "Aren't ordinary people stupid because they're not rich and smart like us?" … Until … oh no, they killed the world economy! … Perhaps in an attempt to attract people to the deadly serious yet uniquely boring details of the subject matter, this Margin Call trailer has the aesthetic of a made-for-TV disaster movie, with a heavy nod to the the credits of Quinn Martin productions.
Jim Loach's Oranges and Sunshine may not be the greatest film ever made, but it's the most brilliantly executed trailer of the week. With limited exposition or fuss, it swiftly becomes apparent that long after the Brits stopped shipping convicts to populate Australia, they started shipping kids from care homes. Without telling the parents. Emily Watson is the campaigning voice determined to reunite families separated by political expedience, and at the moment when she gets to use the line "Everyone has a mother," you'd better have your stiff upper lip ready. Lending credibility to the heavily devalued "Based on a true story" pitch (see The Mighty Macs and Margin Call), the trailer for Jim (son of Ken) Loach's debut feature is as controlled and emotionally efficient a pitch as you'll see before the credits in any cinema this year.
The idea that every generation needs its own Three Musketeers is like the idea that every generation needs its own Afghan war. Which is not to say the most recent is always the worst. While those of a certain age have nostalgic fondness for the 1973 Richard Lester version starring Michael York, Oliver Reed, Faye Dunaway and Charlton Heston (as Cardinal Richelieu, for Pete's sake), nobody in their right mind misses or even remembers the one from 1993 with Chris O'Donnell as D'Artagnan. So, the new effort has a very low standard to rise above. The trailer is essentially Dumas by way of Resident Evil, what with Mila Jovovich sliding across floors on her back in slow motion, sword in hand, explosions all around her, embonpoint barely contained inside a bondage-tight corset, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. In fact, it looks like a love letter to Mila from husband Paul W.S. Anderson. Having created the Resident Evil movie franchise, he knows she looks her best against a backdrop of broiling carnage. This time in 3-D. The other standout detail, most overt in the busy poster, is that Englishman Anderson pays homage to his native country's theatrical tradition of pantomime by casting a girl as D'Artagnan, the young male lead or "Principal Boy."
Martha Marcy May Marlene promises a properly intriguing taste of contemporary weirdness. Caught this trailer at the movies before a recent viewing of Take Shelter, and frankly there were more fascinating and compelling ideas in those two minutes than in all of the following 120. (Take Shelter is in the category of film whose title is its own review.) Suffice it to say, MMMM, as it shall inevitably come to be known, seems to be about a girl abducted by a cult and then talking about it and then maybe she wasn't at all. There's a bunch of hippyish-looking people, that cool/weird guy Teardrop from Winter's Bone, and in the lead, as it turns out from the credits, holy cow, the younger sister of the Olson twins, Elisabeth. Doesn't look to be filmed terribly well, but for the twisted story and casting alone, this is definitely worth your time, at least according to the trailer.