Coming Soon Trailers: Logan Lucky, The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
As movie theaters struggle to find a hit, the VOD market is exploding with 11 new titles.
Streaming services are ramping up the pressure this month as the box office continues to falter. When I was checking out what movies were coming to streaming on Sunday, there were six titles listed. I checked back yesterday and suddenly there was eleven. MoviePass better turn out to be a savior for cinemas, since everything else seems to be turning out a flop.
Independent studios smell blood in the water with the weak box office and are flooding August with VOD content. I was already committed to seeing Logan Lucky this week as my “at least one good comedy has to come out every year, right?” pick. If I was even the smallest bit on the fence, a couple of these eleven offerings probably would have won my movie ticket money.
Two luckless brothers (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver) team up with a shady ex-con (Daniel Craig) to rob the Coca-Cola 600 during the big auto race.
See It?: Yes.
Steven Soderbergh is the kind of director you either love or hate. He’s a technical maverick who likes to play with movie making conventions while telling compelling stories. I tend to enjoy his films on a technical level even if the story isn’t my cup of tea. Luckily, Logan Lucky looks to be great on both fronts. He’s assembled an all-star cast, crafted a loony crime thriller plot, and put it all together with his irreverent style.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
A professional bodyguard with a sterling record (Ryan Reynolds) gets put in charge of safeguarding a witness with damaging testimony against organized crime. The catch is that the witness is a professional assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) who has attempted to kill him and his clients in the past.
See It?: Yes.
This is the kind of fun action flick that should have led off the summer season. Reynolds is having a moment in his career where everything he does looks like fun. Jackson is always fun to watch, even in bad movies. Putting the two together and having them trade one-liners while stuff blows up is a no-brainer. I wish this had come out a week ago when I had nothing else to watch…or a month ago when I was watching other stuff that was bad. Looking at you, Valerian.
Video on Demand.
A young woman who claims to be a demon hunter is captured by the police. Things look bleak for her until a dangerous cult abducts the daughter of the detective working her case. Out of options, the detective must trust that her story and powers are legit.
See It?: Dear God no!
If the movie is filled with even half as many jump cuts as this trailer, it is going to be completely unwatchable. This film is trying to sell its so-so CG and choreography with shaky cam and a million cuts, a la Jason Bourne, but turns it all into a headache inducing mush. Add in a silly plot and wooden dialogue and you get a film to skip.
Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators.
A documentary that explores the life of the couple who created the most iconic cartoon monkey in the world. Fleeing from Nazi oppression and trying to make it as immigrants in NYC, the road to publishing their children’s book was long and full of twists.
See It?: Yes.
A nice documentary that mixes childhood whimsy with the real life drama of two Jewish immigrants who had to flee the German invasion of France. Its a lot to unpack, but the doc does a nice job of layering the story elements in a compelling way.
Red, White, Black & Blue Odyssey.
A documentary that explores how an unconventional coach brought rugby to southern Los Angeles, and the story of the young men and women who had their lives changed by playing an international sport in a city and country that doesn’t embrace rugby.
See It?: Netflix it.
Well shot and engaging, this documentary can’t quite break out of the sports documentary mold and the conventions associated with it.
A retired geologist with a fixation on alien conspiracies decides to make a video account of the unexplained phenomena he saw as a government employee. He enlists a rag-tag group of disaffected locals and fellow conspiracy buffs to help him film his movie, and things continue to get weirder and more dangerous.
See It?: Maybe?
I don’t know which movie we’re getting here. One trailer plays the story straight, making this look like an over-cooked alien conspiracy thriller with bad acting. The trailer above shows that the “real” movie is about a frustrated believer in aliens who turns to making a schlocky movie in order to get his message out. If this is a meta-movie about having to fudge the truth, and the soul crushing cynicism of doing so for a cause you actually care about, this could be really good.
A drug addict wakes up after a binge to find a dead woman in his apartment. Fleeing the scene, he tries to get help from an ex girlfriend, but notices that a stranger is following him everywhere he goes. Paranoid and on the run, he tries to put together the facts of his black-out.
See It?: Skip It.
While this is an intriguing plot, the choice to make this film look like one unbroken take screams gimmick. The trailer marginally works because it has normal cuts that put the action in perspective. I can’t imagine sitting through a whole film that has no cuts. The acting isn’t strong enough, and even the trailer had some dead weight in it. Having to risk watching one long take full of those dead moments and characters seems too much.
A Taiwanese-American man in a same sex relationship struggles to please his traditional mother. He is attempting to have a child through surrogacy, but the constant interference from his mother leads him to question if he wants to have a child just to fulfill the expectations of his upbringing to have a “normal family.”
See It?: Yes.
This film tries to bridge the gap between two experiences: being gay in a society that only partially accepts you and trying to cope with being a mixed-heritage child in a family that puts a premium on their cultures’ traditions. It succeeds pretty well on both fronts thanks to a strong cast. Both the main character and his mother are deftly handled by the actors and the script, keeping this dramatic comedy from becoming a Hallmark special.
The Passion of Augustine.
The story of Mother Augustine, a Roman Catholic nun who is trying to maintain her faith during two big cultural shifts: the reorganization of the church into a more moderate theology under Vatican II, and the Quiet Revolution in Quebec where the province decided to secularize many aspects of daily life. As the mother superior, she must decide how to best serve her fellow nuns, her community, and her own feelings about adapting to a changing landscape.
See It?: Skip it.
A striking press-release blurb ends up being a fairly formulaic trailer. This could have been a soul searching film about a very specific time and place, and instead if feels like a no-fun version of a Whoopi Goldberg movie. The nuns are going to lose the convent unless their music can save the day?! Really. The film makers do know that Sister Act was a thing, right? Even if this was 100% a true story, you need to downplay the musical nuns bit if you want to make a legit movie about a convent that’s not going to get lambasted with comparisons to Sister Act.
The Monster Project.
A group of young horror film students decide to make a gritty new horror. They solicit interviews online from “real life monsters” and plan to make a horror movie starring the best recruits, while also filming the whole experience as a making-of documentary. Things get out of hand when their “real” monsters turn out to be real monsters.
See It?: Wait for it to be cheap.
While there are a ton of found footage genre tropes in this trailer, something about it comes across as a good example of a genre that doesn’t have many good iterations. There is enough clever camera angles and cinematography tricks to elevate it past much of the trashy FF horror films. The premise is kinda cool, though it also borders on being cliche. I can’t quite nail down why this feels like a fresh take on a stale style of horror, but I like it.
The Ice Cream Truck.
A city dweller moves back to her old home town and gets a creepy vibe from her neighbors, especially the strange man who drives an ice cream truck.
See It?: Nope.
Homicidal maniacs in an ice cream truck are not a new thing. In fact, they’re pretty damn pedestrian by now. Why the makers of this movie thought they could play that concept straight with no twists or irony I can’t imagine. It’s like making a summer camp slasher flick as if it were a brand new idea that doesn’t need any embellishments.
On top of a played-out trope for a premise, the acting and cinematography are amateurish. Is there some meta joke here about making a bog standard movie with no artistic merits about a cliche? I don’t get it.
Dave Made a Maze.
A frustrated artist builds a cardboard maze in his apartment and becomes lost in it. His girlfriend gets worried when he doesn’t come out and gets a crew of film makers to join her on a journey into the maze to save her boyfriend.
See It?: Yes.
We have a winner. This film is weird, inventive, and willing to have fun at its own expense (while actually being smarter than it appears.) I like the cast, I love the visuals, and I’m intrigued by the concept.
Isaac is a 40 year old man whose life is going nowhere. He’s stuck in a middling job he hates and his long time girlfriend is leaving him. How could things get any worse?
See It?: Wait for it to be cheap.
The trials and tribulations of a shlubby white guy gets done to death in indie films, but this one seems to at least be fun. I’m not thrilled that it relies so heavily on cringe-worthy moments (that in of themselves create a second-order cringe-worthy moment) but there seems to be enough surrealist style to carry the film past these jokes if they fall flat. Not a revelation, Lemon looks like its a good old self-hating good time.