Trailer Hitch

By Eric Hughes

March 4, 2009

Rosario forgets she is supposed to look at the other actress instead of the camera.

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Welcome to Trailer Hitch, BOP's look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. This week: Paul Dano gets some lovin' as two of his movie projects, Explicit Ills and Gigantic, are reviewed. Plus, Fred Durst directs a movie?

American Violet – Opens Friday

Set against the backdrop of the Gore v. Bush presidential election, American Violet is based on the true story of a mother of two, Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), who's swept from her housing project and dumped into county prison following an indictment from a police informant accusing Dee of being a drug dealer. Though no drugs are found on her during the initial raid or subsequent searches, Dee is forced to either plead guilty or remain in prison to fight the charges. Because there'd be no movie if she decided to plead guilty, Dee of course fights the charges.

As expected, the trailer is intense. It's also got a pleading Alfre Woodard as Dee's mother, who urges her daughter to stave off a longer prison sentence by giving in to the police. I like the drama we're fed in the trailer, and expect the movie to convincingly lecture its audiences on important issues and themes. Because surprise surprise, injustices like this happen all the time in the States.

Grade: B+
Also expected to be released on this date: Watchmen, The Horsemen, Everlasting Moments, Phoebe in Wonderland, Tokyo!, 13B, Fados, Shuttle, Explicit Ills

Explicit Ills – Opens Friday (NY), March 20th (LA)

Call it two for two. I've viewed just two trailers for the column, and I've added two movies with pleasure onto my "looking forward to see" list. This one's called Explicit Ills and stars Rosario Dawson, Paul Dano and Naomi Harris in interconnected storylines revolving around drugs and poverty in Philadelphia. The poor get kicked out of their homes, the poor can't afford over-the-counter drugs, and so on. So what do they do? Like any good European protest, they revolt.

Like American Violet, the project is based on a true story. Actor Mark Webber (Broken Flowers) makes his directorial debut with the release and likely draws from his former struggle to survive with his single mother in North Philadelphia when the pair were living in cars and abandoned buildings.

Technically, the voiceovers at the beginning of the trailer are difficult to hear, but else wise I'm blind to any other qualms. I found the cinematography beautiful and the text's background and font fitting for the project.

Grade: A
Also expected to be released on this date: Watchmen, The Horsemen, Everlasting Moments, Phoebe in Wonderland, Tokyo!, 13B, Fados, Shuttle, American Violet


The Education of Charlie Banks – Opens March 27th

OK, first order of business. Trailers should do a better job of providing fairer warning when the advertised product comes courtesy of director Fred Durst. Yes, the frontman for nu metal Limp Bizkit band Fred Durst. Apparently he directs now. Familiarize yourself with that news niblet so you're not caught off guard like I was. (He also helmed last year's The Longshots with Ice Cube and Keke Palmer).

As for The Education of Charlie Banks... ehhhhh, not that excited. Granted, I'm a fan of Jesse Eisenberg, though he appears to copy the same demeanor we previously saw in The Squid and the Whale and the upcoming comedy, Adventureland. The only person more consistently typecast would be the all-time champ, Michael Cera. Look up "innocent and awkward teen" in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of Michael.

Lotsa punching and fighting in Charlie Banks's trailer, because the whole point of the film is Charlie's (Eisenberg) confrontation with a bully (Jason Ritter) who used to terrorize him in grade school. They end up on the same college campus, and sparks fly.

Grade: C
Also expected to be released on this date: Monsters vs. Aliens; Janky Promoters, 12 Rounds, The Haunting in Connecticut, The Informant; Assassination of a High School President; I Love You, Beth Cooper; The Accidental Husband; Adventureland; Little Ashes; The Merry Gentleman

Gigantic – Opens April 3rd

With a soundtrack that seems to be inspired by something you could have heard in Little Miss Sunshine (or even a Wes Anderson product), Gigantic stars Paul Dano as a mattress salesman named Brian, who's in the process of adopting a baby from China when he falls for a quirky girl, Harriet (Zooey Deschanel), who happens upon his store. As they get to know one another better, Brian learns there may be a hitman out there trying to kill him.

Deschanel couldn't be any cuter as Harriet, and seems to have recovered nicely from her disastrous decision to star in The Happening. Here, she's playful and fun, and a character I look forward to see on the big screen.

I watched Gigantic's trailer a number of times actually. It's simple yet very endearing, and has a number of witty lines, especially from Harriet's father (John Goodman). I usually don't like Goodman's projects, but this one boasts excessive amounts of promise.

Grade: A
Also expected to be released on this date: Fast and Furious, The Ugly Truth, Alien Trespass

Lorna's Silence – Opens July 31st

From Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne comes Lorna's Silence, a film about a young Albanian woman living in Belgium whose sham marriage, arranged by a mobster, allows Lorna to obtain Belgian citizenship. The second half of the deal, however, is for Lorna to then marry a Russian Mafioso while her first husband, a junkie named Claudy who Lorna has fallen in love with, is murdered.

Winner of Best Screenplay at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and registering a healthy 79% at Rotten Tomatoes, Lorna's Silence looks positively heartbreaking, especially if all the emotional crying and hugging occurs after Claudy's presumed death.

Grade: A-
Also expected to be released on this date: Funny People, They Came From Upstairs



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