This Week in Trailers: ‘Passion,’ ‘The Impossible,’ and a Cage Double-Header

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Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. We’ve got nine new trailers for you this week, featuring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Nicolas Cage, Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, John Cusack, Olivia Wilde, Noomi Rapace, Vanessa Hudgens, Ty Burrell, and Rob Corddry; check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.

The Frozen Ground/Stolen

It’s Con Air reunion week here at the ol’ trailer park, and we issue a challenge to you, the viewer: which of these films looks worse? The Frozen Ground reunites co-stars Nicolas Cage and John Cusack in an aggressively generic serial-killer thriller (based, apparently, on the true story of the Green River Killer); both men look bored out of their skulls, as if they could barely be bothered to stop by the set and pick up their paychecks, so the only real interest is provided by a big-screen turn for Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris and a Anne Hathaway-style, holy-cow-she-is-not-doing-Disney-movies-anymore appearance by Vanessa Hudgens, who plays a stripper. This sales teaser gives us plenty of opportunity to gawk at that, so we’ll give it a slight edge over the trailer for Stolen, which returns Cage to Con Air director Simon West (fresh off The Expendables 2). That one gives us a premise swiped from Taken (by way of Ocean’s 12?), a comically toughed-up Josh Lucas, and a voice-over track that sounds like the trailer’s 15-year-old editor was trying to do his best deep, grown-up voice. Last week, when we gently suggested that Mr. Cage might consider an early retirement, Roger Ebert tweeted, “I strongly object to the inclusion of Nicolas Cage.” Care to reconsider, Roger?

The Barrens

Here’s one that should get you True Blood fans (and you’re an interesting lot, you are) all in a tizzy: good ol’ Bill Compton fronting his very own horror movie. And he’s opposite the perpetually underrated Mia Kirshner, from Exotica and The L Word, who (now that we think about it) should have probably been in that “undervalued actors” post yesterday. Anyhoo, we’ve got plenty of affection for both of the leads; too bad they’re trapped in what looks like the rather uninspired bastard child of The Shining and The Blair Witch Project.

Knuckleball!

We got a look at this entertaining documentary from Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) at Tribeca, and this trailer encapsulates the movie well: it’s something of a dual-profile of Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox and R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets, the only two “knuckleball” pitchers playing major league baseball, but it also looks at the history of the oft-disrespected pitch, and the other men who’ve thrown it. It all sounds very (literally) inside baseball, but there’s emotion to this story, which the trailer hints at—their journeys, their struggles, and the support they’ve found from the other guys who’ve stood on the mound.

Phunny Business: A Black Comedy

John Davies directs this documentary examination of All Jokes Aside, renowned Chicago comedy club where pretty much anybody who became anybody on the black stand-up scene — Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, JB Smoove, Mo’Nique, Craig Robinson, and on and on — developed their chops. It’s a fascinating (and mostly untold) story, and Davis appears to have acquired not only the expected talking head remembrances, but a treasure trove of vintage clips. Your film editor is a bit of a stand-up geek, so this one is now very high on my wish list.

Butter

This politically-tinged comedy has been knocking around for a while — it did the festival circuit last fall, but the Weinstein Company decided to hold it for October of this year in order to maximize its campaign undertones, which are played up heavily in this trailer. We like the look of this thing, though; it’s got a solid cast and an enjoyably goofy Drop Dead Gorgeous vibe, and we can’t wait to see more of Jennifer Garner’s clearly Palin-inspired character.

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

When you watch as many trailers as we do, you start to imagine the goings-on at the trailer houses and marketing companies that put them together, and we’d like to think that when the team responsible for Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best got their eyes on the “bro-mantic Once if it had been directed by Cameron Crowe at his peak” quote, they gave each other high-fives and ordered a nice, big lunch. The funny thing is, that’s an accurate quote; we got an early look at Brooklyn Brothers and it’s a surprisingly charming and occasionally moving picture that wittily transcends its rather obviously twee premise.

Passion

We haven’t heard much from Brian De Palma since the one-two punch of his tepid period mystery The Black Dahlia and his barely watchable position paper Redacted back in ’06 and ’07, but he’s clearly doing what he’s done after other flops like Mission to Mars and The Bonfire of the Vanities: made a clearly identifiable, brand-recognizable Brian De Palma Movie. And it’s got all of the hallmarks of that subgenre (as seen in previous titles like Femme Fatale, Raising Cain, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, and Sisters) — i.e., kinky sexual overtones, Hitchcock shout-outs, and steamy atmosphere to burn. His detractors (and they are legion) will say he’s just repeating himself again, trotting out the same old tricks, etc. But we couldn’t be more delighted. And let’s be honest: the idea of a psychosexual thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace is awfully tantalizing.

The Impossible

As the opening shots this true-story drama from Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) unfurled, and the premise revealed itself, your film editor got more than a little skeptical: Oh goody, I thought, the story of a crippling tragedy in Southeast Asia, as told through the eyes of visiting white people. And I stand by that concern, but by about the halfway point of this trailer, it was hard to get too worked up about it, since my eyes were suddenly all wet.

Those are our favorites of this week’s trailers — what will you be seeing?