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Original author: 
Germain Lussier

Short Term 12

At this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, one film took home both top prizes awarded by the Grand Jury and Audience. That film, Destin Daniel Cretton‘s Short Term 12, opens August 23. Now you can get a look at the movie, as the first trailer has just been released.

Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. as a young couple who have to balance their own personal issues with the problems of the displaced kids they oversee at a foster home. It’s a glorious, special film I gave a perfect 10/10 score. (My first.) Check out the trailer below and see what all the fuss is about.

Thanks to Yahoo Movies for the trailer, in which I’m quoted. It’s an honor.

I can’t stress enough how good Short Term 12 is. Cretton does a masterful job of balancing nearly every emotion imaginable in a beautiful story that’s uplifting, heartbreaking and filled with the kind of performances they study in film school. However, if you don’t believe me, the film’s official Twitter has been doing a great job of linking all kinds of reactions to the film’s festival run, where standing ovations and tears are the norm.

What did you think of the trailer?

Short Term 12 is told through the eyes of Grace (Brie Larson), a twenty-something supervisor at a facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge – and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throw her into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. While the subject matter is complex, this lovingly realized film finds truth – and humor – in unexpected places. The second feature from Destin Daniel Cretton (I Am Not a Hipster), Short Term 12 also stars Kaitlyn Dever (Bad Teacher), Rami Malek (The Master), and Keith Stanfield.

Your rating: None

The ad campaign for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the mission that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden by a Navy SEAL team, has been pretty low-key so far. But then, the studio hasn’t had to do much, as there has been a fair amount of publicity for the movie thanks to accusations that the original October release date was meant to remind audiences of President Obama’s role in the mission, just before the Presidential election takes place. There have been far more serious (but unproven) allegations that the film is based on access to classified data that was given illegally to the production.

Now it’s time to move beyond those talking points to look at the actual film. Derspite featuring Joel EdgertonJessica ChastainChris PrattKyle ChandlerMark Strong, and Jason Clarke, the teaser trailer showed few faces, and relied upon audio montage to set up the story of the hunt for Bin Laden. A few images later gave us a bit more. Now you can see a lot more of Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker, in the full trailer below.

There’s some good stuff in there: Jason Clarke’s intro, the shot of James Gandolfini, and Kyle Chandler looking like he plays a companion role to his presence in Argo. I wonder about putting Chastain’s character front and center, and how she’ll work as the backbone to the entire story. This looks like the same sort of reality/fiction blend that worked very well in The Hurt Locker, and with that in mind, how much will the degree to which this might inevitably deviate from reality matter in the long run?

Apple has the trailer. Zero Dark Thirty‘s opens on December 19.

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar(R) winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.



Your rating: None

Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. decided to skip this fall’s festival circuit with the biopic J. Edgar. While a good many of the other major fall studio releases have been seen and reviewed in the past three weeks via Telluride, Venice and TIFF, we’ve seen nothing from this biography of America’s most powerful lawman, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover.

Now the shroud is off the film as Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays the FBI chief and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) appears as his second-in-command and rumored love, Clyde Tolson. See the trailer below.

The trailer opens with an in-character narration by DiCaprio as Hoover, before going into a montage of Hoover’s young life and early days with the Bureau. Clyde Tolson is shown as a starry-eyed fan of Hoover, but their relationship isn’t so one-sided, as suggested by a later shot. We see Hoover’s obsession with information and the power it gives him over political figures. In all: looks like more or less the biopic one would expect.

And, just in case you thought Clint Eastwood might change up the measured, calm style he has practiced in the past, forget it: this is pure, deliberate Eastwood. In this case, that’s probably a good thing. Too early to judge the overall impact of the film based on just this bit of footage, but the period recreation appears to be spot-on without feeling put on.

Apple has the HD trailer.

Your rating: None

Cameron Crowe might have been MIA for a few years but he’s back in full force in 2011 with two documentaries and his latest narrative movie, We Bought A Zoo. The film stars Matt Damon as a single father who decides to move his family to a downtrodden zoo. Based on a true story, We Bought A Zoo also features Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning, John Michael Higgins and more. It’s scheduled for release December 23. Check out the first trailer after the jump.

Check out the trailer in HD at Apple or watch the embed below.

You can almost hear the weeping in the theater already, right? Crowe certainly looks like he’s going for the heartstrings with this one, complete with the music, the inspirational dialogue, the adorable kids and he even draws on Jerry Maguire with Damon’s “I quit” speech.

While this has long been one of my most anticipated films of the year, I must admit, this first trailer didn’t blow me away. Everything looks exactly as warm and pleasing as one would expect but the basic story of “Man moves family to zoo, improves life in unexpected ways” seems to be it. Where’s the meat? Of course, I trust Cameron Crowe unconditionally and this is just the first trailer but after my first look at the film, I’m not as hooked as I’d hoped I’d be.

What do you think?

Here’s the official plot description of the film based on the Benjamin Mee memoir.

This holiday season, acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) directs an amazing and true story about a single dad who decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo. With the help of an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory.

Your rating: None

20th Century Fox has released the movie trailer for Rupert Wyatt‘s Rise of the Planet of the Apes., starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, Frida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, and Tom Felton. The film is a prequel/reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise which takes place in present day with a science fact-like take on how animal testing leads to the end of the human race, and yes, the rise of the apes. Watch the trailer embedded after the jump. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Watch the trailer in high definition on Apple.

Official Plot Synopsis:

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

James Franco plays “a young, driven scientist who becomes a crucial figure in the war between humans and apes.” John Lithgow plays Franco’s father, also a scientist, Freida Pinto plays a primatologist who helps Franco, Brian Cox plays “the villainous owner of a primate sanctuary who runs the facility without compassion for the animals that live there,” Tom Felton is the son of Brian Cox’s character, and through performance capture and WETA created visual effects, Andy Serkis plays Caesar, the chimp who leads the simian revolt. The screenplay is written by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes will hit theaters on August 5th 2011.

Your rating: None

Looking back, 2010 is not going to be remembered as a particularly good year for movies. In my mind, most of the 150 or so new films I saw from January to December are all muddled together in a big pile of mediocrity. When that happens though, it’s so much easier to pick out the truly great ones. To that end, picking my favorite movies of 2010 was easier than previous years. What was harder, though, was weeding through an insane amount of movies that didn’t end up getting released during 2010. Why recommend them if you can’t see them?

So, after the jump, you’ll find more than just a top ten of 2010. You’ll also find a five worst of 2010 and my top five of 2011 so far. Yes, that’s right. When everyone is strictly doing top tens for last year, we’ve got one for 2011 as well.

My Top Ten Films of 2010

In which I rank my ten favorite films of the year only considering films released theatrically during 2010.

1. Exit Through The Gift Shop – Great movies, the best movies, demand almost infinite conversation. That made choosing my number one film of 2010 simple. Ever since I saw Banksy’s so-much-more-than-a-street-art documentary, I haven’t been able to shut up about it. Analyzing it, describing it and recommending it. And now I’ll do it again. What begins as the story of a man on the ground floor of a cultural revolution quickly shifts to a bio-pic about the film’s director, legendary street artist Banksy, and then becomes something more yet still totally different from both. The film not only introduces us to a whole new world, it simultaneously makes us question how valid that world is at all.

2. True Grit - Call this my No Country For Old Men make good. After harboring a complicated resentment towards the Coen’s modern western that ended up winning them a bunch of Oscars, I’m back in love with how the Brothers do genre. In this film making clinic, they’ve managed to nail every single aspect: dialogue, story, acting, music, cinematography, editing and more into a film that’s deeply layered, but also incredibly entertaining and enjoyable.

3. The Kids Are All Right – When I saw this film at its second ever screening at the Sundance Film Festival, I immediately heralded it as an Oscar contender. A year later, I was right. Lisa Cholodenko’s tale of the modern family is not only dramatic and interesting, but hilarious and uplifting. The way two lesbian mothers deal with their kids finding their sperm donor father not only informs how we classify family in today’s society, but also proves that there’s levity in every situation.

4. Kick-Ass – Having first seen Kick-Ass at Butt-Numb-A-Thon 11 in Austin, Texas with a temporary score that included music from Superman, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, it might seem like I’m a little biased. That I’m not judging this new spin on the superhero genre fairly. But even the way it was released theatrically, Kick-Ass still reigns as the best popcorn movie of the year, an awesome blend of pop culture violence and comic book fun. The story of what would happen if a normal person up and decided to be a superhero is the kind of simple brilliance that always shines in cinema.

5. Flipped – The list’s first controversial pick. And I say that because nobody has seen this film. If they had, they would realize that director Rob Reiner was back at his When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me best in this parallel period love story that shows how a boy and a girl each uniquely view their blossoming relationship. Sure it’s funny and romantic, but ultimately what made me flip for Flipped was how it brought me back to a simpler time and showed just how different men and women truly can be, even at a young age.

6. The Social Network – The award season’s most hyped movie pretty much deserves all the accolades it’s receiving. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have taken one of the most interesting, up to date stories imaginable – the birth of the Internet’s biggest website Facebook – and turned it into a kinetic tale of betrayal, friendship and modern business. The film is so expertly written, directed and acted that the events it portrays can been understood and viewed from any characters perspective.

7. Toy Story 3 – Pixar pretty much has a perennial place on this list as, year after year, they craft movies that play perfectly to both adults and children. Much like 2009′s Up, Toy Story 3 once again works as a simple kids story lined with a deep emotional underbelly that leaves even the most cold-hearted person weeping in the end. It blends nostalgia and action wonderfully and if it wasn’t just a tad too repetitive, it would be much higher on the list.

8. Fair Game – Little known true life stories fascinate me and that’s what grabbed me about Fair Game. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts star in this true story of a husband and wife with some big secrets, mainly that she works for the CIA. When her identity is revealed, as an attack at her outspoken husband, the film shows not only the power of government, but ultimately the power of the truth. Fair Game failed theatrically because it was marketed as a spy thriller but it’s way more than that. More tense, more dense, and more interesting than you can possibly say in only a few hundred words.

9. The King’s Speech – Want to see a movie about a speech impediment? Neither did I. But when it stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bohnam Carter and is about one of the most famous men in modern European history, it all comes together. A tale of personal triumph on the grandest of scales, The King’s Speech dazzles the audience with its behind the scenes authority and beautiful characterizations. By the end, you’ll be cheering a man simply talking.

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – The list’s second controversial pick. Not because the movie isn’t worthy of top ten inclusion, but because when I first saw it, I was slightly disappointed with it. However, unlike most of the films on this list, I watched it again. And again. And again. And haven’t stop watching it to a point where I’m convinced my initial issues with the film were strictly because I was intimidated by its beauty. Edgar Wright, one of my favorite filmmakers, has crafted the world’s first and best video game movie. With heart. And music. And exploding people. And ninjas. And just about anything someone who loves pop culture can grasp onto.

The Five Worst Films of 2010

In which I tell you about movies I ended up seeing for some reason and want to erase from existence.

The Good Guy – A young girl in New York tries to come into her own. And bores the audience to tears with its clichés and terrible surprises.

Valentine’s Day – An impressive cast in what feels like an almost forced series of improvised vignettes that’s not funny or romantic.

MacGruber – Plenty of people love this movie, but every single joke fell flat for me. It was trying too hard to be clever and ended up just being awkward. Not in a good way either.

Dinner For Schmucks – What I just said.

Tooth Fairy – Had to see this for work and couldn’t believe that people like Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews and Stephen Merchant were actually in this abomination.

My Top Five of 2011… So Far

In which I rank the five best movies that come out in 2011 that I’ve already seen (out of 30 total)

1. Bedevilled – My favorite film of Fantastic Fest 2010, this South Korean revenge flick is the most cathartic piece of cinema in recent memory. It’s incredibly violent, but after watching the film unfold, your 90 year old grandma will be begging for blood.

2. Hesher – Joseph Gordon Levitt stars alongside Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson in the story of how a burnout changes the lives of a small group of people. Hilarious and poignant.

3. happythankyoumoreplease – The Audience Award winner at Sundance 2010 is an easily digestible, but sweet and funny look at life as a young person in New York City

4. Paul – Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, an alien and a slew of awesome sci-fi movie jokes with heart. It’s really great.

5. Thunder Soul – A rousing documentary about the Kashmere Stage Band has a fantastic true story and one of the best soundtracks you’ll ever hear.

Your rating: None

Quentin Tarantino has released a list of his favorite films of 2010. Hit the jump to see the list.

Quentin Tarantino’s Favorite Movies of 2010

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Animal Kingdom
4. I Am Love
5. Tangled
6. True Grit
7. The Town
8. Greenberg
9. Cyrus
10. Enter The Void (“Hands down best credit scene of the year … Maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history.”)
11. Kick Ass

You can read the rest of the list, which includes some runners up (numbered 12 to 20) on the Tarantino Archives website. Unfortunately they don’t have quotes from the filmmaker explaining his choices. I’d love to hear what Tarantino has to say about some of these movies, as he always has a unique take.

Discuss: Which selections do you agree or disagree with?

Other Top 10 Lists:

Your rating: None