Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Christopher Stipp
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?
Fubar II Trailer
I don’t know why I can’t connect with The Trailer Park Boys. I realize it’s some kind of seminal television show that you maple syrup chugging Mounties love to tout as awesomesauce but, for my money, it hasn’t ever gotten better than The Kids in the Hall, Strange Brew, or Fubar.
Director Michael Dowse’s original Fubar in 2002 was an explosion of hilarity as he established himself able to go beyond the usual tropes mockumentaries use in that he made a movie that was genuinely amusing and came close to blurring the line between reality, fiction. Two years later he was back with a film that wasn’t seen by many but was nonetheless a thrill to experience, It’s All Gone Pete Tong, but that all seemed to be it for the man who made a truly memorable comedy until whispers of Fubar II surfaced and, Lordy, it’s been worth the wait.
The trailer does, however, make an initial misstep with an opening we’ve all seen before as the breathy voiceover attempts to bait and switch with serious and compelling statements. A pure black background is supposed to project the idea something majestic is about to happen but the disappointing thing here is that this tactic was over and done with after the first few dozen times it was perpetrated on an unsuspecting audience. Honestly, it’s tired and weak marketing to come out swinging like this.
However, what more than makes up for it is the fact that Terry and Deaner are, indeed, back and they look just as capable of perpetrating vicious acts of stupidity as they did in their first film. The level of juvenile humor is off the charts, I would concede that, and the voiceover here isn’t really doing the movie any favors as it just gets in the way of enjoying what’s happening with the boys. But, there is just a positive vibe that comes off with men behaving badly as these guys are and it feels like what would happen if you imbued Jackass with a little more seriousness.
Dumb, drunk, and full of bad ideas usually isn’t a recipe for success but this trailer is able to succeed in getting me excited after seeing the level of attention being paid to make these guys look exactly like the burnouts we came to know in the first film. As well, any movie that has, at its core, one of the guys navigating the world of serious female companionship, a lady who is certifiably crazy, just gets me ready to enjoy the antics, parlance, and attitude of these two idiots. Color me stoked, eh. [Twitch]
Bonded By Blood Trailer (Sorta NSFW)
Look, any trailer that opens with a shotgun blast gets an Emilio Estevez/Charlie Sheen golf clap from me. I appreciate a filmmaker’s aesthetic so much more when I get a sample of the action before we muddy the water with exposition or a narrative of any kind. I respect it, even.
I won’t hazard an opinion about whether filmmaker Sacha Bennett’s first feature, Tu£sday, was any great shakes. The premise of that movie seemed pretty high concept as it supposed what would happen if three groups of people robbed the same bank at the same time on the same day (gotta love international rights and distribution deals that hinder the free flow of media across continents) but it looks like it primed this guy’s pump for a movie like this. The trailer literally starts with a flash of noise and excitement and it doesn’t let up.
A little jangly guitar is thrown in as this crime crew from Essex flexes its influence on the seedy underside of the small hamlet over which their influence is undeniable, a boob or two (or three) is used to sex things up a bit, and we get a quick peek of a guy getting dumped off a railing. Nice.
It’s got some of the basic elements we’ve all seen before in a crime movie but that’s about when it says this all based on a true story. Kind of like this year’s Mesrine, I’ve found my enjoyment of semi-non-fictional yarns enhanced at the notion of these events being somewhat based in reality. The fidelity of these movies aren’t a factor so much for me as it is honest by how Point A eventually to Point Z; the action in-between those points, however, is where the artistic license begins and it looks like there is a lot of it going on here.
But, hey, a little nudity, a little bad language, and a soundtrack that helps zip things along makes this one to rent in my book.
Animal Control Trailer
Weirdly alluring and unsettling, this teaser for does the kind of job that many studios still can’t bring themselves to put out there.
I don’t know much about writer/director Kire Paputts but there’s something about the trailer for his previous film, Only I Know, which lends itself to the notion he’s keener on getting at a personal, emotional truth rather than a universal, philosophical one. Case in point is this teaser which zigs before you think it’s going to zag when we come upon the back of actor Julian Richings inside what looks like an animal shelter. Immediately I’m thinking this is going to be a variation on a character like Buffalo Bill, that he’s going to take these pets and turn them into demonic tapestries, with edging made out of the pelts of week old kittens.
As he’s shown cleaning out animal cages, the sad harmonic vocal arrangement softens this tall ghoul somewhat, there’s a shift. Even as a dead raccoon lies motionless on a street and our guy bends down to retrieve its corpse I think that here’s just a guy who has an awful job. Smash cut to the man taking a scalpel to the dead beast. A ha! I knew this freak would eventually come out of his creepy shell, he’s definitely creating some kind of satanic bric-à-brac with the shells of dead spaniels.
And then, again, it shifts on you.
The guy lovingly crafts the dead raccoon, in the only way a taxidermist could, back to some kind of animated state. As the animal is placed on an end table, with scores of other animals surrounding it, you begin to think of this guy not as some kind of monster but as someone who’s quite sad. It’s a sadness that I think is captured well as I found myself wondering what kind of life this man leads. I think about what must his waking hours be filled with, what he must think about, and it’s then when I realize this teaser did what it was supposed to do. [Twitch]
A Mother’s Courage Trailer
Maybe it’s just where I am in my life stage but this thing is frightening.
A trailer that is able to tiptoe gently between maudlin and informative this documentary by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson shows how the filmmaker can sometimes be the one ultimately responsible for sharing a story that is honest as its compelling. Notable for being the most prolific Icelandic man of film, Fridrik goes beyond his usual borders of the Nordic area in order to help present a story that has become part of the American experience in the last couple decades: Autism.
It’s a bold choice to lead off with a kid frolicking with his floaties on, an ominous portent of what’s to come slipping out of his mouth as the kid says something utterly heartbreaking, but the punches come quick and fast. A kid stands up from a table and whips his head against a wall repeatedly, people gently asking the kid to stop. A dad tells a story of how his once normal kid suddenly fell into the grip of this insidious disease almost as if the kid’s being was swallowed up by Locked-In Syndrome.
The doctor that helps provide a gentle, calming definition of how autism progresses helps to define not only the stages of what autism does to a person but it also grounds the film in a reality that forgoes a sanitized marketing hand-off to someone who’s a neutral observer, a performer who will voiceover the trailer of Clash of the Titans just as soon as he’s done with this.
The music is moody and atmospheric, almost as if it were plucked from the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, but it contrasts with the shaft of light that is Dr. Temple Grandin who takes a less than dire approach in talking about this condition. The rest of the trailer, however, is just a slog of a time to get through. It’s got crying, heartbreak, sad images of human beings that are afflicted with this but it’s utterly life affirming in all the right ways.
It’s selling you a movie, yes, but it’s not doing it at the expense of the subjects. This trailer exalts the parents and individuals looking to understand autism, looking to help their loved ones in any way possible. Riveting stuff.
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: