Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?


Bikini Girls On Ice Trailer

“These girls are so hot, they need to be put on ice!” – The film’s actual tagline

What does one have to do with the other and why do I not care? I’m not sure, but bikinis and horror just feel like they go together like peanut butter and jelly. And why not cut a trailer that mixes these two, right? I mean, the worst thing that can happen is that it just seems like a bad trailer to a bad film. However, what it does do well is obfuscate its terribleness while also appealing to the lowest common denominator of film fan. Almost like a cinematic jujitsu, if you will.

I’m not going to say this is all a sinister thing, as director and co-writer Geoff Klein’s second directorial effort pretty much seals his own deal with a plot that consists of a girl’s soccer team traveling to a “bikini car-wash fundraiser,” but it certainly knows its audience and is pitching right to them without even considering anyone else. Bold choice.

It may not be anything else but an excuse to show off some flesh but, really, opening with a thrilling blonde with a rockin’ midsection going into a dark, dank, and disturbing looking gas station? Alone? Move along, Einstein, this isn’t the movie you’re looking for and hopefully all the intellectuals have moved on after recognizing this fact. First of all, last time I checked, the median sexuality and hotness of your average girl’s soccer team is about as feminine as a high-school running back and, in most all cases, could most definitely kick my ass. This girl has inverted the equation and has bent space/time in order to make this an obvious piece of science fiction.

The marketing here is predicated on getting some schlub who obviously thinks this is a good premise for a film and is willing to go along for the ride. I’ll give the trailer a high-five for making these girls about as dumb as particle board for traipsing into an obvious kill box but I’ll also give kudos for cutting a trailer that doesn’t reveal anything more than the premise and the promise of a full-on slaughter.

Implements of various kinds look to be used to ferry these ladies off to the afterlife, with one waking up in a tub of ice that I found to be a nice touch, (perhaps this will be a subtle mediation on the modern peculiarities of organ donation) and some quality looking kills.

I’m not saying this looks good but the girls appear to be quite hot, the story is all kinds of stupid, and this might just be the kind of film you reach for if you’re 13 or if it’s midnight on a Saturday night and want something to fall asleep to. If nothing else, you’ve got girls running around with bikinis and that’s not such a horrible thing.

Mother Of Invention Trailer

It’s not usual for me to stay with a trailer longer than I think is necessary when someone of note steps in but something happened as I seemed to be increasingly charmed with the strange narrative of this thing.

As I tried to understand what kind of movie is being sold here I was transfixed by Intertube celebrity Chris Hardwick, standing around in man sized Underoos. I didn’t have a reaction other than fascination and horror as I tried to figure out what in the hell this movie is trying to say and why this paragon of Internet intellectualism agreed to have his junk crammed into those form fitting briefs for all the world to see.

Co-directors Andrew Bowser and Joseph M. Petrick, who are best known for, well, nothing really, have made a movie that seems strange but it does have the kind of X factor that transfixes you. Kind of like Napoleon Dynamite who wants to build things, the trailer begins with a socially awkward inventor who has a dream of winning a contest. As with any film about a contest you need a villain who our protagonist is trying to trump. BMX’s Cru Jones needed his Bart Taylor and so too does this film have an inventor who just drips with all kinds of silly villainy.

The charm here when you get down to it is Andrew Boswer who plays our outcast. Yes, he comes off as a twit who would be better served to pack groceries at a Ralph’s  as a “special needs” favor to the community but he’s got that lovable loser vibe down pat. Whether it’s him running around with a jet pack shooting hot cinders into his boot or whether it’s his nerd rage at failing to properly teleport across the room, I genuinely like this guy.

Moving past seeing Hardwick in his skivvies, it’s Mark Boone Junior (who we all know as the bad cop who was eating a rain soaked gyro from Batman Begins) who gives a little more levity after appearing once before the camera in an interview and asking for a little makeup. A beat later, he’s back in front of the camera looking like a two bit whore. A little bit of funny goes a long way with me.

The movie looks like it has a lot of indie charm and, even better, priced just right as a DVD release. Too many times we can get hung up on figuring out whether something is worth a ten spot to see it in a theater but when the bar is fiscally set so low as a DVD rental this kind of trailer really makes a good case for itself. It would be worth the effort, if nothing else, to log on and slide it into your Netflix queue.

What’s The Matter With Kansas Trailer

A couple of things leapt out at me on first glance and made this one I had to include here in the column.

One, was the ringing endorsement from Roger Ebert who called this one of the ten best documentaries from last year. I have never heard of director Joe Winston’s movie before stumbling upon the trailer and I certainly don’t remember his last documentary feature, 1997’s Burning Man Festival. The man has kept busy these last 13 years but he’s no Michael Moore with the paltry output he’s created. Secondly, I lived in Kansas for many years of my young life. From what I do remember of my stint in the sunflower state I recall a lot of open land, that life moved pretty slow, that it certainly was the perfect incubator/breeding ground for meth heads, and that the only thing democratic about it was the number of times people voted for a Republican president into the White House.

I must have been horrible in history because I don’t remember this trailer’s opening salvo that tells us that Kansas was a hotbed for the radical and progressive thinking. However, the opening embodies wonderfully the pastoral and rural aspects of those living beyond the reach of the suburbs. The gradient blues that are captured contrast nicely with the view of small town life in an enclave that used to celebrate those who worked for progress.

While I think the subsequent footage of the documentary seriously date the film’s main point, which is to show how it went from being a democratic stronghold to one republicans could call their own, the information is nonetheless fascinating in nature; frightening, too, as we see young girls who are barely able to walk alone to school talk about this being a Christian nation along with a woman who thinks that this country is somehow slipping into sin as it moves forward.

The trailer, much like Ebert’s quote suggests, doesn’t feel like it has an opinion per se. It seems as though this movie is simply taking a mirror to the state and showing what’s going on. The film looks like a pretty interesting document in charting how a state can go blue to red in such a small period of time. Also, it’s unquestionably refreshing to have a documentary that simply wants to present ideas without getting mired in the viewpoints of its director.

Eva Trailer

In the morass of teaser trailers that fail in trying to everything but tease, this one delivers.

More times than not a teaser will be released in the hopes of generating interest in a film that has yet to have anything to show for it except a spiffy logo and a single money shot. That shot, more times than not, is usually a few second glimpse at what we all want to see in its entirety. Here, though, we get something special enough that it warranted inclusion this week.

Spanish director Kike Maíllo has made something hopefully a little more engaging than Bicentennial Man, at the very least on par with Heartbeeps, but what’s amazing is the ambiguity of what’s happening on the screen. We’re not given any nudging by a written interstitial that would inform what we’re about to see but it’s all very contained in a nice moment.

The sense of time and place here is presented well enough that as the small girl who is peeping in on the mad scientist who is working in a basement lab, the crunching snow and bright sun disarming any notion that this is going to result in the little girl being kidnapped or stuffed into a small box, we become engaged with the action on the screen.

Daniel Brühl, the last time I saw him he was deliciously getting his comeuppance in Inglourious Basterds, is back in a more genial role as we see him working in air. Somehow, his manipulation of floating objects a la Minority Report is fascinating. It’s not dramatic, just matter of fact. The music in the background is wind chime-y with that high pitched, ethereal vocal we all know is supposed to be representing awe and wonder but it works for me in a hokey/family approved kind of way.

I don’t know why I feel a sense of affinity for what looks like your basic kids film but I have been suffering through some bad ones as of late. And maybe my positive feelings for this is just a reaction to anything that looks like it could be better than Cats  & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Even kids deserve to have good trailers and this is one that I know would get mine all kinds of riled up with the level of wonder at seeing a robot come to life. Somehow when you pair a robot and a kid looking on there is a mind-meld of sorts for kids to get excited at the prospect that there’s a movie out there that might be for them. And, from what I see, there is.

Side note: I love seeing the old school Paramount logo at the beginning; makes me feel nostalgic for the films I saw in the 80′s and reminded me how many great films that studio put out. [Twitch]

Note bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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