By Benjamin Wright | The Playlist May 17, 2012 at 11:20AM
While the following films have all been simmering quietly on the burner while we usher in the major tent poles of the summer movie season, their trailers promise that once the explosions and action die down, we can get back to normal (for the most part).
First up is “What Maisie Knew,” featuring the likes of Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård and Steve Coogan in a Henry James-derived dramedy that is set to explore the complexity of modern marriage and family happenings, and it looks as if it could be a charming little indie from the directing team of “Suture” helmers Scott McGehee and David Siegel. In this contemporary reworking of James' novel, young Maisie spends life being shuffled around between her irresponsible divorced parents, and watches as they start to pick out new partners – all while their new partners fall in love with each other. The impressive ensemble seems to be on point here, with the delightful sounds of Feist and Sufjan Stevens giving the trailer (likely a sales promo of some kind) an ethereal quality. No immediate release date is set, but we’re eager to see if McGehee and Siegel have indeed crafted a project that will take them to the next level, as this trailer seems to signal.
“Won’t Back Down” stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis as two parents crusading to help improve the education system for their children and others, which is certainly a tale that has the potential to resonate in an election year. While it’s hard to knock a film whose heart appears to be in the right place, the trailer feels a little too much like “Erin Brockovich” by way of “Freedom Writers,” as it attempts to establish a feel-good mentality that comes off a little clumsy in the trailer. Perhaps it’s just the marketing, and the inclusion of that terrible Kelly Clarkson song “Stronger,” but we hope there’s more to this project than what we’re seeing. Gyllenhaal, Davis, and even Oscar Isaac appear to be giving it their all, with a appearance by Holly Hunter slyly worked in at the end. While a directing and co-writing credit by Daniel Barnz of “Beastly” fame doesn’t fill us with a ton of hope, he did make the enjoyable “Phoebe in Wonderland” with Elle Fanning, so we’re going to try to remain cautiously optimistic. The film is set for a September 28 release. [First Showing]
While a title like “The Possession” would suggest it’s for a film you could easily find in the bargain bin of your local convenience store, it’s reassuring to see that the Sam Raimi-produced supernatural tale looks to be a cut above the fare you’d associate with its name. Formerly titled “Dibbuk Box” (a much better name to be sure), the film stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport and Natasha Calis in your typical tale of a young girl who awakens an ancient evil spirit, “Drag Me To Hell”-style, when she purchases an antique box at a yard sale. Thankfully, the trailer at least shows a film that seems to favor suspense and atmospherics over jump scares and glistening teenage bodies, with a story that looks equal parts “The Exorcist” and “The Omen” all rolled into one. There’s some spooky images and a particularly haunting MRI scene, but it all looks to be handled with some restraint, which certainly isn’t common with all of Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures productions. We’ll have to see if “Nightwatch” helmer Ole Berndal delivers the horror goods on August 31, but as of now we’re intrigued. [/Film]
Ending with a horror film of an entirely different variety, the trailer for the Elijah Wood-starring remake of “Maniac” finally brings to life all those images we’ve seen scattered across the web into one creepy, definitely NSFW trailer. Apparently the trailer out of Cannes – where the film will have a midnight screening – isn’t complete yet, but we see enough of Frodo and his blade taking out his frustrations on innocent women to know we’ll be certifiably uneasy throughout the film’s running time. “P2” helmer Franck Khalfoun is behind this remake of William Lustig’s cult horror film about a serial killer who has a particular obsession with female mannequins, with a script by horror maestro Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “Piranha 3D,” “High Tension”) and his writing partner Grégory Levasseur. For fans of Lustig’s 1980 original, the presence of the mannequins should clue you into what’s in store for Wood and his victims, while everyone else can marvel at the insane POV shots of Wood’s serial killer character roaming about the crooked streets of Los Angeles. It’s gripping, and while a remake was probably uncessary, we can certainly say there’s enough here to tempt us into checking it out. [Twitch]