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Trailer Roundup: Butt-kicking journalists edition

Courtesy of Netflix

So many trailers. So little time. “Trailer Roundup” is your semi-regular collection of the day’s biggest trailers along with some premature judgment on whether the films they advertise will be worth your time.

The film: “The Last Thing He Wanted”

The talent: Director Dee Rees (of Netflix’s “Mudbound”) has lined up a genuinely impressive cast including Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck alongside Oscar nominee Willem Defoe and veteran utility players like Rosie Perez, Mel Rodriguez and Toby Jones.

The logline: “The story of a veteran D.C. journalist named Elena McMahon, who loses the thread of her own narrative when a guilt-propelled errand for her father thrusts her from byline to unwitting subject in the very story she’s trying to break.”

How does it look? It’s hard to believe that this wouldn’t at least be watchable with this caliber of cast. We’ll get a better idea of how it all shakes out when “The Last Thing He Wanted” premieres at Sundance next week. Static and Screen’s Sundance invitation got lost in the mail, apparently, so we’ll let you know how it is when it premieres on Netflix Feb. 21.

The film: Mr. Jones”

The talent: Not a lot of big names in this true-life journalism drama – either behind or in front of the camera. Agnieszka Holland directs a cast whose biggest star is probably Peter Sarsgaard.

The logline: “The thriller, set on the eve of WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. Meanwhile, an ambitious young journalist, Gareth Jones (Norton) travels to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the propaganda, but then gets a tip that could expose an international conspiracy, one that could cost him and his informant their lives.”

How does it look? The real Gareth Jones is a true journalistic hero who exposed a man-made Soviet famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930’s before bring killed on assignment covering the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. His story is ripe for dramatization, in other words, and this looks like a compelling (if somewhat stodgy) telling of it. The reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are solid at 78% and promise a good time at the movies come April. No solid release date has been set by Samuel Goldwyn Films yet, but I’d expect one in the next few weeks.

The film: “Vivarium”

The talent: Lorcan Finnegan directs a cast led by Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots.

The logline:  “The story of a young couple (Poots & Eisenberg) in search of a starter home, who follow a mysterious real estate agent and get trapped in a strange housing development.”

How does it look? Pretty delightful actually – simultaneously visually impressive, funny and creepy like a modern-day “Twilight Zone” episode. And, yeah, that 89% (actually 87% now) Rotten Tomatoes score is certainly nothing to sneeze at. “Vivarium” hits select theaters on March 27.

About the author

Stephen Dow is an award-winning journalist with a passion for film – not just consuming it, but thoughtfully and actively engaging with it. He believes that these modern myths have a lot to tell us about our world and ourselves.  He can be reached at



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