Alongside the technical refinements that in less than 20 years have evolved digital animation into a mature cinema art form has been the ongoing finessing of the Pixar/DreamWorks worldview. The work now never looks less than amazing, but then so it should since it is always a representation of utopia. In the realm of Pixar/DreamWorks, nerdy boys and smart girls can become warriors who will always defeat fools and bullies, fathers are gigantic doltish figures who will ultimately be proud of the oddities that are their children, and good never fails to prevail since evil is mostly the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. In the cases of the delightful How to Train Your Dragon and this week's seemingly delightful Brave, this machine-tooled fabling take place within a picture-book representation of Olde Scotland that bears as much relation to reality as does a Buddhist retreat to a Saturday night on Sauchiehall Street. (That said, this is rather uplifting in its own way.)
No more accurate an interpretation of the past than Brave is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and there is almost as much CGI in the trailer: The undead of the 1860s bounced around like rubber balls, it seems. From Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian director of Day Watch, Night Watch and Wanted, a man whose name it is evidently a contractual obligation to have represented on movie end titles in faux Cyrillic text.
The trailer for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World reveals that the mechanics indicated in the title are simply the delivery system for a hackneyed romantic-movie staple: Sometimes the person you are thrown together with by fate is the soulmate you are meant to be with, even if you are, on this evidence, the soul-free Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley. The end of the world may be too good for them.
Nice-looking fellow, Jason Biggs. Good actor, too. But guess what witless sobriquet the anonymous cineastes of YouTube have voted their favorite comment under the trailer for his latest movie? That's right, it does involve American Pie. Shame on them, because Grassroots looks like a decently funny affair with good ideas and some great dialogue. It's apparently based on a true story from 2001 about a no-hoper who ran against a Seattle councillor on a campaign to create a citywide monorail. Biggs plays the ex-journalist who took charge of the campaign, Joel David Moore is the maniac challenging incumbent Cedric the Entertainer's Councillor McGiver. As Moore's character puts it, "No one with brain cells is going to run against him, so I'm going to." Also from 2001 is Lauren Ambrose, Six Feet Under's Clare Fisher, playing Biggs's romantic involvement, and how very good it is to see her again. If you are among those seduced by the shallow pleasures of True Blood, check out Six Feet Under. That guy Alan Ball used to be a genius.
The Invisible War explores the shaming story of how rape is dealt with in the American armed forces: rarely and badly, apparently. Military women, a caption tells us, are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. Only 8 percent of rapes are investigated by the military, only 2 percent result in convictions. As the trailer plays out, there is more and more jaw-dropping testimony about how bad the situation is, typically preceded by qualifiers along the lines of, "You might think that in the largest military power in the history of humanity…" The problem with trailers for documentaries like these is their own skill. A lot of information is delivered with deft economy, perhaps as much as you would remember were you to sit through the whole thing, and when the subject is as disheartening as this, how many will want to sit through 90 minutes of it? In the meantime, put that bow and arrow away, young one.
Remember Midnight in Paris? Earned Mia Farrow's estranged husband a lot of points? To Rome with Love, it would appear, not so much. The awesome cast includes Judy Davis, Ornella Muti, Roberto Benigni, Greta Gerwig (it was only a matter of time), Penélope Cruz as the hooker of any 76-year-old man's fantasy (it was only a matter of time), and even Woody himself (after the confidence-inspiring Midnight … it was only a matter of time). It's possible there's a good film here. The trailer for Midnight was also awful, but dear oh dear, if this is really being sold on a punch line that has Alec Baldwin admitting he does not understand women ("this has been proven"), hope is not being held out. And for God's sake someone shoot the guy with the accordion.
Tattoos, guns, crazy motorcycle stunting, evil drug dealers, troilism, more guns, Danny Trejo and even more tattoos shimmer prettily in the trailer for Bro', apparently a dead-on reflection of the movie screening inside the mind of any given 15-year-old male during any given school lesson. Reassuringly, if it's an English lesson, the movie's title is at least punctuated correctly, and if it's an ethics lesson there's an old-fashioned morality tale underscoring the fast-cut action: You're never going to become the sort of fellow who wins prizes for doing somersaults on motorcycles if you become a drug dealer, at least according to this trailer.