Trailer Hitch

By Eric Hughes

September 24, 2008

Do you think my head would look good in a jar like on Futurama?

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Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: Some probable Oscar contenders battle it out, as Synecdoche, New York, Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road are reviewed.

Happy-Go-Lucky – Opens October 10th

It may have been a film festival sensation (as its trailer so proudly proclaims), yet Happy-Go-Lucky surely doesn't look like anything all that spectacular. Already released in the U.K. in April, the comedy revolves around cheerful girl Poppy (Sally Hawkins), a schoolteacher who remains irresistibly optimistic, even though she finds herself both 30 and single. An intimidating driving test? Exciting flamenco lessons? An encounter with a homeless man? Who cares? It's Poppy!

I think I'll pass.

Grade: C-
Also expected to be released on this date: City of Ember, Quarantined, The Express, Ashes of Time Redux, Breakfast with Scot, Saving Marriage

Synecdoche, New York – Opens October 24th

Oscar recognition is pretty much old hat for masterful scribe Charlie Kaufman, who took home the trophy in 2005 for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (and another two writing nods for 2002's Adaptation and 1999's Being John Malkovich). Funnily enough, something tells me the man may have earned himself yet another nom in Synecdoche, New York, which can't come to theaters soon enough (one more month!)

In it, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Caden Cotard, a theater director who decides to embark on one last masterpiece after learning from a doctor that he's slowly dying for a mysterious disease. So he gathers his ensemble cast together and puts them to work. In this case, that means instructing them to simply live out an alternative lifestyle in a growing double of the city outside. Matters are complicated further as years begin passing, and actors hired to play both Caden and his new squeeze, Hazel, populate the city, blurring the line between Caden's real life and the world of his play.

Starring alongside Hoffman are the likes of Catherine Keener, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Emily Watson and Dianne Wiest.

Grade: A
Also expected to be released on this date: High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Saw V, Pride and Glory, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D, Passengers, Roadside Romeo, Changeling, I've Loved You So Long, Family Life


Frost/Nixon – Opens December 26th

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and Oscar-nominated scribe Peter Morgan team up this December in Frost/Nixon, a drama based on Morgan's play of the same name about a series of interviews conducted by TV personality David Frost and former U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1977. Fans of the original play on Broadway and in London are in luck. Both original stars, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, are back to reprise their roles as Nixon and Frost, respectively.

The trailer originally caught me off guard, though, since the first half or so carries a fairly light tone with sprinkles of comedy here and there. But once the actual interviews between the men kick into gear, and Hans Zimmer's beautifully tense score fills in one of the audio tracks, the movie looked like it had Oscar bait written all over it.

Grade: A
Also expected to be released on this date: Valkyrie, Revolutionary Road, Waltz with Bashir

Revolutionary Road – Opens December 26th

We may as well be calling this one Titanic II: Off the Boat (And Away From That Ice), because it's Leo and Kate together again! For the first time since that fairly recognizable 1997 drama, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are back in a film where they're not only a couple, but a married one to boot. Here, in a story based on a 1961 novel by Richard Yates, they play Frank and April Wheeler, two people who try to find a sense of purpose and fulfillment while being surrounded by an age of conformity.

This one's in good hands, too. Its director, Sam Mendes, made his directorial debut with American Beauty before later directing Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition and Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead. The movie's composer, Thomas Newman, has worked with Mendes on all of the above. And at just 52, the man has already racked up eight Oscar nominations and one Emmy.

Grade: B
Also expected to be released on this date: Valkyrie, Revolutionary Road, Waltz with Bashir

Bride Wars – Opens January 9, 2009

Bride Wars' premise is different enough, but that certainly doesn't make it clever. I mean, really? Best friends who try to make the other crack by moving her wedding to a date other than her own? I guess I'm just never going to understand women.

In Bride Wars, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway star as the unlucky duo who turn into bloody rivals when they accidentally schedule their respective weddings on the same exact day. There's bound to be a catfight or two before this one's through.

The lone bright spots in an otherwise underwhelming romantic comedy are, for one, Candice Bergen, who seems to be playing her best Steve Martin (a la Father of the Bride) by narrating the trailer's cold open seated in a chair. The other? The severely underutilized Kristen Johnson (3rd Rock From the Sun). Sure, she caught a bit of a break a few years ago by guest starring in a few ER eps. But who watches that anymore?

Grade: D+
Also expected to be released on this date: Inkheart, Hellraiser, The Unborn, Not Easily Broken



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