There are actors one suspects can do a lot more than what they’ve been given at any particular point. People might have thought that about Aaron Paul before Breaking Bad gave him the chance to stretch. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been a bright spot in several projects so far, but we’ve suspected that she’d eventually get a chance to really do something great.

Smashed features both actors, as a married couple that hits a wall with their drinking and partying, and based on reactions out of Sundance it is Winstead’s big breakout turn. Check out a newly released trailer below to see a taste of her performance. Read More »

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Although its limited rollout starts in just six weeks, James Ponsoldt‘s Sundance fave Smashed has yet to offer a traditional trailer. Instead, Sony Pictures Classics is rousing some buzz with four new clips that showcase star Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s acclaimed performance.

Winstead and Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul star as a young married couple united by their love of booze. When their habit spirals out of control, however, the wife decides to seek help. The stellar supporting cast includes Octavia Spencer and Parks & Recreation‘s Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. No wonder the drama won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance this year. Watch the scenes after the jump.

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It’s July 4 and a coastal playground in the Northeastern US is under attack from something that comes from the water. Familiar as that premise sounds to Jaws fans, this is something different. The Bay is from Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog, Rain Man) and is a found-footage assembly that looks at what happens when pollution-mutated parasites start burrowing into people.

This is like a grand found-footage mash-up, featuring viral horror, zombie-like aftereffects, and an obvious updated influence from Jaws, in at least the film’s first act. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

Sundance was several months ago, but for those of us who didn’t attend, these next few months are going to be a good time to catch up on this year’s crop of Sundance hits. Safety Not Guaranteed has already landed theaters in some cities, Beasts of the Southern Wild is hitting tomorrow, The Queen of Versailles is due out next month, and Robot and Frank is slotted for August. Add to that list Nicholas Jarecki‘s white-collar thriller Arbitrage, which is now getting the word out for its September release.

Richard Gere stars as a billionaire CEO whose success turns out to be built on little more than lies and deceit. When a horrible error threatens to expose him for a fraud, he finds himself sinking to ever-more-despicable depths to try and cover up his mistake. Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, and Brit Marling also star. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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This is not a commercial. Well, it is. It’s not a commercial for a burger chain, but it is a commercial for a film called Branded. The movie is the product of a couple of ad guys, Alexander Doulerain and Jamie Bradshaw, who have drawn some conclusions about the nature of marketing. The prime conclusion seems to be that marketing is part of a takeover of the human race, and one masterminded by something inhuman.

A few weeks ago we saw a version of this trailer for Branded, but it was dubbed in Russian. Now the English-language version is here, so you can actually tell what’s going on; you won’t just have to look at the faces of Jeffrey Tambor, Max von Sydow, Leelee Sobieski, and Ed Stoppard. Read More »

Maybe Mad Man Michael Ginsberg wasn’t joking about being from Mars after all. The dystopian thriller Branded (a.k.a. Moscow 2017) takes as its premise the idea that corporate marketing is actually part of an evil plot to keep citizens dull and passive. And I don’t mean “evil” as in simply greedy or dishonest a la Wall Street — I mean “evil” as in sinister, possibly alien, and probably even capable of literally demolishing the world.

Adding to the intrigue of this enjoyably cheesy-sounding film is its cast, which includes Jeffrey Tambor, Max von Sydow, and Leelee Sobieski, plus Ed Stoppard (Upstairs Downstairs) as the tenacious protagonist who seeks to uncover the truth. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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I think stories about faith can be fascinating, but it is a difficult topic to explore without veering too far into being didactic or over-earnest. Faith is a deep, rich narrative soil, but when we’ve got people like Rick Santorum taking the discussion about religion to crazy ends on the national level, it’s easy to see why people either avoid stories about faith, or take them to extremes.

Blue Like Jazz is based upon a well-liked book, Donald Miller‘s semi-autobiographical story, and scripted by Miller, director Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson. Both the book and film follow a character wrestling with his childhood religious identity as he goes to college and finds himself among people who are not very accommodating when it comes to religious belief. Let’s see if the film treats the subject as well as fans of the book think Miller did.

The film will premiere next month at SXSW and has just found distribution. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

After all the recent back-and-forth, the only thing that’s clear at this point about Bridesmaids 2 is that nobody knows right now whether there’ll really be a Bridesmaids 2, and if so, whether star Kristen Wiig will be involved. In the meantime, however, fans of that film can comfort themselves with Jennifer Westfeldt‘s indie romcom Friends With Kids. It’s not exactly a sequel — and by “exactly,” I mean “at all” — but it features so many Bridesmaids actors that it might as well be.

Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, and Chris O’Dowd, plus non-Bridesmaids actors Westfeldt and Adam Scott, star as a group of close friends at different stations in life. When two of their number (Westfeldt and Scott) decide to have a child together without having a romantic relationship together, their situation seems ideal at first — until Megan Fox and Ed Burns come along to shake things up. Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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