Trance

discs graceland

Welcome back to a slightly revamped version of This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Graceland Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes) is chauffeur to Manuel Chango (Menggie Cobarrubias), a salaciously corrupt politician in the Philippines who expects obedience and loyalty regardless of his actions. The two men have daughters the same age, and one day while Marlon drives the girls to school they’re stopped in an attempt to kidnap the politician’s daughter. Things go terribly awry, and the confused kidnappers take Marlon’s daughter instead having mistaken her for Chango’s child. Now Marlon’s only hope is for the politician to pay the ransom in the belief that his daughter is in peril, but maintaining the lie may lead to an even bigger tragedy. Writer/director Ron Morales‘ fast-moving and vicious little film is a fantastically economical thriller that wastes no time diving into a sleazy world where children are little more than a commodity and money beats morals nearly every time. It’s a dark and nasty world indeed, but one of the joys of the film is seeing Marlon act as well as we can expect given the situation. He never frustrates or annoys even as his self dug grave gets deeper and deeper. Read my full review here. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, booklet]

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trance 1

In less qualified hands, Trance wouldn’t be this entertaining. The script for Danny Boyle‘s newest quasi-thriller asks a lot from its audience. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but demolishing logic is another matter. In the end, the illogical dramatic ambitions hold back Boyle’s film from becoming another major addition to his body of work. Before logic is diminished, however,  Trance is a gorgeous dream of a film that has the Slumdog Millionaire filmmaker unleashing every visual magic trick he has. This nonlinear story calls for that bombastic Boyle approach. The central idea, which is a unique one for the genre, poses the question: what if you forgot what you stole? For the first two acts we see Simon (James McAvoy) dealing with that dilemma. Simon, a charming dweeb who has himself a wee bit of a gambling problem, went to both the right and wrong guy to help him out, Franck (Vince Cassel). After Franck pays off his debt, Simon must use his position at an auction house to assist him in stealing a painting. The robbery goes smoothly until Franck discovers he didn’t actually grab the painting and, due to memory loss, Simon doesn’t know why that is. This where they enlist the help from Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), a hypnotherapist. Elizabeth wants to give Franck and Simon what they both want…or at least that’s how her relationship with the two men starts. Elizabeth is the femme fatale of this mystery, pulling some strings the audience doesn’t see.

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Pain and Gain Red Band

This is the month we’ve been building towards ever since the start of 2013. This year was made for this month. Why did the Mayans postpone their destruction of our dear Earth? So they could see what Michael Bay‘s small movie was like. Pain and Gain is his first non-Transformers movie in nearly eight years, and it’s about time the Mayans and the rest of us saw it. That Hasbro series had its moments, but not in the way The Rock and The Bad Boys films did. Pain and Gain looks to fit into that half of Bay’s career. Summer comes early with his dark, ‘roided up comedy, and the same can be said for the movies we’re seeing from Danny Boyle, Shane Carruth, and Joseph Kosinski. In fact, Kosinski’s Oblivion is the only blockbuster on the list. April is shaping up to be a huge month for smaller movies.

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SXSW Danny Boyle

So far one of the highlights of SXSW was the panel featuring director Danny Boyle. The enthusiasm he shared with us about the event was evident during his Q&A. Even when the nifty “Danny Boyle’s Filmography” montage Fox Searchlight cut together was playing we saw Boyle dancing to it. He was happy to be there, and so were we. While the Slumdog Millionaire director was there to promote Trance, Boyle discussed many of his films, and the lessons he learned from them. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to reminisce about all his movies, but what the director of Trance did talk about was noteworthy. That’s why we took notes:

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Danny Boyle

One event that was a must-attend at this year’s SXSW was Danny Boyle‘s panel, which happened this morning. Besides the fact Boyle is behind some of the most acclaimed films of the past 20 years – Slumdog Millionare, Millions, 28 Days Later, Sunshine – his personality is as invigorating as his movies. Boyle, as one can hopefully tell from our conversation with him, is drenched in enthusiasm when it comes to film. He’s one of the few filmmakers out there who mainly discusses the joys of filmmaking, not the pitfalls. Whether he is talking about his own movies or someone else’s, he usually has a big smile on his face. If you missed his panel at the Vimeo theater or are unfortunately not in Austin right now, make sure to catch it when it inevitably appears on youtube. When it comes to Boyle’s latest film, Trance, he’s made what has been described as “a trippy, noirish thriller.” Boyle is back to full-on genre, where he can twist expectations, give us a monstrous James McAvoy, and, as he tells us, the power of a good Scottish accent.

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Trance Red Band Trailer

Holy brain-splattering hell. Danny Boyle. Yes. The director is back with Trance, a film that looked interesting and now — because of this red band trailer — looks un-missable. The movie stars James McAvoy as an art auctioneer who loses his memory after hiding a painting that a bunch of thieves are willing to kill for, so they force him to undergo hypnosis to find what they want. Featuring a percussive punch that gives immediacy to the idea of time running out as McAvoy’s character hovers in a mental limbo, this new trailer is aggressive and, no matter how much this phrase has become overused, jaw-dropping. Just watch it. Just watch:

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Trance Movie

Danny Boyle is back in March with Trance, a movie that sees James McAvoy forgetting where he put a stolen painting, the Vincent Cassel- led gangsters that want it and Rosario Dawson attempting to use hypnotherapy to bring that memory back. The first trailer is the best kind of bait and switch. It opens like an airy, empty art house attempt before bashing McAvoy’s head in and revealing the twisty, violent Boyle goodness buried within. Check it out for yourself:

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Trance

With the release of his Best Picture winner, Slumdog Millionaire, in 2008 and his critically acclaimed follow-up to that film, 127 Hours, in 2010, Danny Boyle appeared to be a director whose career had finally broken through to the next level. He had always made cult films that were popular among certain niche segments of the filmgoing audience, but now he was a mainstream brand, the sort of director whose name and credits could sell future products. The only problem is, we’re creeping up on 2013 and we still haven’t seen any new projects from him. That isn’t for lack of effort on Boyle’s part, though. He’s actually had another movie filmed since back in 2011. And not just any other film, a really cool-sounding throwback to his gritty crime origins called Trance that features work from actors as talented as James McAvoy, Vincent Cassell, and Rosario Dawson. The reason we’ve yet to see this film is because Boyle spent so much time directing that big, dumb Olympics opening ceremony, then did some work on the stage, that it’s only been recently that he’s been able to go back and cut together all of the footage he shot for Trance.

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Danny Boyle’s upcoming art heist movie Trance has had a bit of a problem casting its leads. Every time they seem to go after an actor, he gets too busy to commit to the film. I guess that’s the breaks when you’re going after the best people in the business. Things seem to be a go for James McAvoy to play the lead role of Simon, however; so there is some traction for the film’s development. And if this next casting rumor ends up coming to fruition, suddenly Trance will go from being a project I am vaguely following, to a movie I’m dying to see.

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In a move closely related to a similar one I made while trading X-Men cards with the kid down the street when I was twelve, Danny Boyle is trading a Magneto for a Professor Xavier. Variety is reporting that Boyle’s upcoming dark thriller Trance, which is an interesting sounding art heist movie, is close to signing a leading man. Originally it was thought that Michael Fassbender was the leading candidate to step into the starring role of Simon, but at some point he must have dropped out of the project. Not a lot is known about the plot of this film, but I think it’s safe to assume that Simon is probably the best in the world at stealing art, and most likely something goes wrong during the particular heist that this film details. Dang, that would have been a sweet role to see Fassbender play. But not all is lost, Boyle must be a fan of X-Men: First Class, because he seems to have had a pretty quick backup plan to losing Fassbender, and it’s going after Fassbender’s co-star from that Mathew Vaughn directed super hero joint, James McAvoy. I’ve got something of a Fassbender crush going on right now, so there aren’t that many actors who could have jumped into this role instead of him and kept my excitement level up, but McAvoy is one of them. Hopefully negotiations are swift and positive. If we get word soon that Boyle is looking at Kevin Bacon to play some […]

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At this point in his career, Danny Boyle has made a good handful of movies that people have really liked. But with his last two features, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, he has achieved a level of mainstream attention and critical acclaim that has kicked his profile up a few notches. So while Danny Boyle’s next film has always been a point of interest to me, now it’s kind of a big news story. How does one follow up a few years of unprecedented success making inspirational stories for the mainstream? For Boyle, it’s by going back to his roots and making a darkly toned thriller. Trance will be an art heist film shot in London, and it’s said to be more in line with the ick factor that Boyle’s first few works, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, had than his recent stuff. This news is fine with me, as Shallow Grave is a film that I see as still working really well as a tension builder and Trainspotting was one of those formative, nuclear bombs of independent cinema that blew my mind and helped usher me into becoming a cinephile. I’ve liked Boyle’s slick take on the heart warmer, but I’m ready to see him use his newfound notoriety to take people someplace creepy.

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