It’s an unfortunate situation.
I knew, the first time I stared heartbrokenly at “Summer 2012,” sipping my smuggled-in bottle of Cherry Coke, not feeling quite as excited for Harry Potter, that arguing about who was lying in the hospital bed in the Dark Knight Rises trailer was going to get old long before the movie came out. “Was that commissioner Gordon? Was it Ras Al Gul? He said that they were ‘in this together.’” We can argue this for a month. Maybe even for a few. But the distance between now and the time that the movie comes out will wear on us, and as we debate whether Selina Kyle will be a member of the League of Shadows or whether Bane will snap the Dark Knight’s back, we will get sick of it. It’s the sad, sad reality of releasing a teaser trailer a full year before the film comes out. (I’m looking at you Chris Nolan. I’m looking at you.) So we need to find something to distract us in the meantime; a way to redirect our anguish into something other than watching Batman Begins again and again while taking hits of cough syrup and vodka. We could, of course, learn a new language, paint a self portrait, or take a walk in the park. Or we could be realistic and find some other movie trailers and rumors to slobber over.
Thing 1: The Hunger Games (In theaters March 23rd 2012)
Now here’s a teaser released at the proper time. (Chris.) Five months before release. Perfect.
For those who haven’t read the book, The Hunger Games operates on a pretty simple formula that boils down to kids between the ages of twelve and eighteen slaughtering each other with spears and arrows in a government sanctioned “Hunger Game.” A post-apocalyptic America (that the author is obligated to just call “Panem”) looks on and howls for blood. There is also a subplot about a Civil War and the Capitol Government oppressing the districts or colonies or whatever, and there’s a (sort of) love story, but most of that is just set up for Catching Fire, the next book in the series. The meat of the movie will be watching kids kill each other without all the hassle of hauling your deck chair and umbrella drink to Uganda.
Suzanne Collins, the book’s author, wrote the screenplay for this adaptation, and the author’s involvement is nearly always a good sign for hardcore fans of the book. (Remember when Michael Crichton wrote the screenplays for the first two Jurassic Park movies? Crunchy toast. Remember when they did a third Jurassic Park without him? Yeah.) There are even a few easter eggs in the trailer practically added as winks and nods to readers of the novel. The tagline, for example, is “may the odds be ever in your favor,” a phrase that has an embedded, half-ironic air for those familiar with the source material. Readers should also play the last few seconds of the trailer and listen carefully . There’s an almost undetectable “four note song” just before the cut to black. Wink.
This is a movie that demands a young cast. Director Gary Ross seems to be avoiding the superstar route and this is probably a wise move. Josh Hutcherson (who will play Games contestant Peeta Mellark) has been in a few kids movies. Jennifer Lawrence-attached to the role of Katniss Everdeen, the headstrong protagonist who is in the Games to protect her sister-was a lead in one of those movies that nobody hears about until it starts to win awards (Winter’s Bone). But, if the Hunger Games cast pulls off a satisfying retelling of this beloved story, it will mean a cult following for both of them. Speaking of cults, here’s a bad segue.
Thing 2: Red State (In theaters September 22nd 2011)
Man, who doesn’t love Kevin Smith? The underdog indie director who made Clerks using nothing but a roll of scotch tape and some popsicle sticks, the guy who tells graphic stories about having sex with his wife on his free weekly podcast, the guy who’s the first to shrug and say “fuck me” when one of his movies tanks. You know, Kevin Smith! He’s probably working on “Mallrats 2” or “The Return of Jay and Silent Bob,” right?
Nope. If that’s what you were hoping for, then I am really, truly sorry. Things have changed in Kevin Smith world, and eight minute conversations about masturbation and/or Star Wars aren’t on the menu in his new film. Instead, Smith’s Red State is another dystopian vision of an America manipulated by zealots and fundamentalists, a thriller who’s tagline urges us to “Fear God.” It’s been revealed that Red State will involve a cult, federal agents, and some seriously homophobic behavior, but Smith is holding most details of the movies plot close to the chest.
Smith has been publicly stating that he’s sick of making movies and thinking of getting out of the game. Headlines like “Kevin Smith Implodes!” have become commonplace, but the director doesn’t seem to care. He has plans for one more film after Red State. After that, Silent Bob is moving on.
“…anybody can make a movie.” Smith recently said. “We know that because I’ve made ten, you know what I’m saying? That means anybody can make a fucking movie. What we aim to prove is that anybody can release a movie now as well. It’s not enough to make it and sell it now, I’m sorry.”
If the “nothing to lose” attitude that Smith has been donning with swagger is an act to get us interested in Red State, it’s working.
Thing 3: The Rum Diary (In theaters October 28th, 2011)
Nothin’ like some vintage Dr. Gonzo.
This is a trailer that features a beautiful, naked woman, some sort of slithering demon-tongue, and bottles of rum being used as bowling pins, and the most intriguing part is still when “from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson” flashes across the screen. Magnifique.
There isn’t much of a spoiler market around The Rum Diary since it is based on a book by Thompson of the same name. For those who aren’t familiar, Hunter S. Thompson was the author and drug addict who wrote “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and is credited with the invention of “Gonzo Journalism,” in which the writer places themselves so directly in the center of the story that they are covering that they in effect become the focus of the story themselves. Needless to say, Thompson’s work often walked the line between pure fiction and the autobiographical. Even “Paul Kemp,” the protagonist of the Rum Diary, is believed to be based on a version of Hunter Thompson from an alternate universe in which his mother named him “Paul Kemp.”
Fear and Loathing veteran Johnny Depp will take on the role of Kemp, and will be joined by Aaron Eckhart who evidently isn’t busy playing Two-Face on the set of Dark Knight Rises. Oops. Relapse. Serenity now! Right, so the Rum Diary. Well, it doesn’t come out till late October, so you’ll have plenty of time to kill reading the damn book.
Thing 4: The Avengers (In theaters May 4th 2012)
“But Will!” I hear you plead in your incessant, nasally whine, the sad desperation and years of microwave hot pockets distorting your voice. “I don’t want to read! How are child homicide, religious fundamentalists and coke fueled investigative journalism supposed to distract me from Batman? I need more super heros!” Well here you go man-children. Here’s the movie that Marvel has been pimping like it’s a twenty-dollar-girl at a truck stop. The Avengers.
Yes, it’s a fan made trailer, but it’s a lot more illustrative of what this movie is than the real teaser. It is the convergence of almost every movie that Marvel has produced in the past four years into one juggernaut of a superhero epic. That means Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, War Machine, and others all teaming up against a threat that is presumably so massive that one of them trying to “super” it to death on their own would be futile.
Paying for the cast of this movie alone is going to be fucking expensive. (Think Edward Norton, Robert Downey Junior, Scarlet Johannsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and that guy who played Thor.)
This is presumably why Marvel hasn’t gone the “major team up” route very often before, but the across the board success of bad ass thrillers like Iron Man and mediocre shrugfests like Thor may have given them the nads to put all of their chips down on “The Avengers.” Loathe as I am to admit it, it is exciting to see so many beloved super heros slated to appear in the same flick. Sort of.
I see relief spreading across your face. I see your body relaxing and the cold sweat that has enveloped your skin with a greasy, greenish film for a better part of the past hour finally begin to dry. Hold it. The Avengers pulled a Dark Knight Rises on us, and the movie won’t be released until “Summer 2012.” You were getting excited for a minute there too, weren’t you? Weren’t you? Sh, sh, it’s alright. We’ll do Quentin next.
Thing 5: Django Unchained, The Seventh Film by Quentin Tarantino (In Theaters Christmas 2012)
The internet movie database provides the following plot synopsis for Django Unchained:
“A slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from the brutal Calvin Candie, a Mississippi plantation owner.”
The phrase “too good to be true” is tossed around a little too liberally these days, so let me just say this: Finally, Quentin Tarantino is doing his Southern Western.
Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to play plantation owner Calvin Candie. Yes, Jack from Titanic will be portraying a barbaric slaver. Jamie Foxx will portray the lead protagonist Django, and Christopher Waltz (who was evil personified as Hans Landa in Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”) will play Dr. King Schultz, a German Bounty Hunter. I think. Don’t quote me.
Tarantino completed the handwritten script for Django Unchained a few months ago, and the word on the street is that casting isn’t complete. The informal release date is currently set at Christmas of 2012, well after Dark Knight Rises, but at least this will give us something else to obsess about and lust after. Quentin, unlike Chris Nolan, is a scatterbrain. He drops hints about his next project and the details of his new movies. (Along with the Southern Western, he’s expressed interest in making a Mandarin Language Kung-Fu film, Kill Bill 3, and an Inglorious Basterds prequel). We will have plenty of rumors and gossip and leaked plot details to keep us entertained throughout the coming months, so although the movie is still a speck in the distance, the fun starts just ahead.
Thing 6: Silence (In theaters 2013)
The same is the case with the next film, which doesn’t really have a release date beyond “it will come out within the next couple of years.” But this is an article about movies we can look forward to, and since The Hunger Games and Red State are both sneaking up within the next few of months, we might as well look way, way ahead, all the way to Silence.
Benicio Del Toro and Daniel Day Lewis (milkshake joke omitted) are attached to lead roles in the film based on a novel by Shusaku Endo. Martin Scorsese may direct. He’s already slated to produce a biopics on Theodore Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra in 2013, so hopefully Silence fits into his schedule. It would be refreshing to see Scorsese’s talents in play in a film that’s not about lounge singers or gangsters or crooked cops that get in too deep. Silence, a story about faith and priesthood set in 17th century Japan, may hit some of Scorsese’s nerves that have remained untouched thus far. (The director himself dropped out of the seminary to attend film school way back when.)
This is also a great opportunity to see some more of Daniel Day Lewis. There’s been talk of him in an Abraham Lincoln biopic for some time, and if anyone is qualified to tackle a period piece, it’s the lead in “There Will Be Blood,” a cinematic masterpiece that one upped it’s source material (Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!”) and was unjustly overshadowed by No Country for Old Men at the Academy Awards. Oh, by the way, fuck the Academy Awards.
And that’s it.
For the moment, that’s all we have. New projects will make themselves known and I’ll be on top of them, but for now all we can do is huddle into the fetal position, rock back and forth on our bedroom floors and try not to think about Anne Hathaway’s catsuit between trips to the movie theater. Here’s a helpful tip: chewing on nails and watching the E! network helps to distract from the pain. Also drugs.