This Week In Trailers: Me and Orson Welles, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Pirate Radio, District 13: Ultimatum, Blind Date
Posted on Sunday, September 20th, 2009 by Christopher Stipp
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a weekly column by Christopher Stipp, an online film journalist who also writes for Quick Stop Entertainment. At /Film, we love trailers and write them about them frequently, but it’s sometimes impossible to cover every trailer that comes out. Starting today, “This Week in Trailers” will be your comprehensive guide for all the trailers that have been released in the past week or two, with a special focus on trailers that we were unable to cover. Christopher has been writing about trailers and covering other aspects of the movie industry for over five years. For my money, he’s one of the best internet writers I know. I hope you guys will agree and that you’ll give him a warm /Film welcome in the comments. -David
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?
Me and Orson Welles Trailer
I mean, who here doesn’t want the heir apparent to Leonardo DiCaprio and, subsequently, and additionally, DiCaprio’s poon tractor beam, to succeed in this business? Those of you who genuinely saw through the preciousness of Efron’s performance in High School Musical 3 should agree that the man can carry a tune, is genuinely charismatic on the screen and is an acceptable option to the answer of, “If you were gay, but I know you’re not, but if had a gun to your head and HAD to kiss a dude…” He’s more than deserving to go on and be fruitful in this most superficial of businesses. But I just can’t feel positive toward this teaser.
Actor Zac Efron is playing what looks like…Zac Efron. Additionally, we start with an awkward moment between the man boy and Claire Danes. The exchange feels as if he already knows how great and influential he’ll be and it all seems like an exercise in time travel. The discussion between the two is excruciatingly hokey and if this movie is really trying to play it straight it is not starting off the way a teaser should.
On top of this you have the tired, busted, hackneyed soundtrack from the Now That’s What Granny Calls Music: The 1930′s.The clips of Efron scraping out a living on the mean streets are equally sterile and devoid of real emotion. The scenes are so crisp, so well lit that I’m not sure if this is a movie or a new production of Newsies. And that’s when I see it: the quote from Roger Ebert. When he calls this film “possibly the best movie about the theater” he’s ever seen gives me pause. Is he serious? Did Michael Jackson’s doctor, Steven Hoefflin, get access to our beloved critic and pump him with a little bit of “milk?” The dialogue used to help show how great the movie is woefully lacks any substance and the clips stitched together here only prove that this seems much like any other period piece.
If there’s something worth getting excited about, someone left it out of the teaser.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell Trailer
There is terrible and then there is Clarence the barber from Coming to America, “good and terrible.” This is Randy Watson, Sexual Chocolate, good and terrible. I would dare assert that anyone who believes this looks like a film worthy of their time and money need to give it to me because you shouldn’t be allowed to manage either.
This trailer celebrates the kind of douchery that is only allowed in the discos where Axe body sprayed, blonde himbos rocking their Affliction t-shirts or tan body paste guidos that could impale spits of raw beef in their jet black spiky hair exist. The rest of us love to loathe that these Lotharios end up with the kind of trim our anti-hero Tucker Max is out hunting in the opening sequence of the trailer. I understand clearly that no woman likes him, that he’s out to satisfy his own carnal cravings and I bet he’s the one who ends up with all the ladies. However, this trailer is flat-out terrible in stoking any great desire to be reminded this is the kind of guy no one likes to have around.
Further, the recipient of our man Max’s attention in this trailer, some bachelor who wants to go to Vegas to “live it up” one last time, and the storyline about it is as compelling as the particulars of which street my tax dollars will help light up. It uses its Red Band status wantonly and for no better reason than to showcase this human pube’s uncanny ability to use language a 5 year old does when he hears the word “fart;” it may be funny for him but the rest of us appreciate some thought in how our vulgarities are doled out. Originality escapes this one as the finishing gag of Tucker needing a toilet were much funnier 15 years ago when Jeff Daniels did it better in Dumb and Dumber.
If you still feel the need to see this film, could I ask that you never ask my opinion on a film?
Pirate Radio Trailer
Huge Kenneth Branagh fan. His Shakespearean exploits are stuff of fantastic praise in my book and I dare anyone to watch his production of Hamlet and tell me that isn’t a definitive film version. That said, his opening line in the trailer for Pirate Radio that as a government official he delights in the idea of making anything the government does not like illegal. Yeah, the opening is a bit sterile in the dancing yahoos who are all huddled around their radios, dancing like idiots. The idea put forth is rather simple and I appreciate how quick they get to it: the British government, in 1966, bans rock n’ roll from the airwaves and some inspired disc jockeys, led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, take to the high sea in a barge to broadcast from the ocean. They turned it on, people tuned in and it set the country’s airwaves on fire all the while raising the ire of the British government.
Bam. Everything you need to know about the film in less than a minute.
The trailer accentuates the unique humor of Bill Nighy, Nick Frost while Branagh shines as the government official, his role as “the man” in full effect, and as the theme song to CSI plays in the background you get to see how things get taken up a notch with the way in which the government seeks to physically shut the whole production down. By the time this trailer is done, I feel like I’ve seen all I need to, really.
You’ve given me the set up, the 2nd and most of the 3rd act, and all that’s left to see is ultimately how the situation resolves itself. It’s obvious that it’s not going to be an ending a la Jim Jones, and it feels a little too polished of a production as it has the visual sheen of Austin Powers with its costuming, but I am not sure if there’s something that deserves a full fare at the theater. Renegade radio men have done well in my own pantheon of well-liked films (Talk Radio, Pump Up The Volume, Talk to Me) but it remains to be seen how well this one will do; the presence of such filmic heavyweights of Hoffman, et al, make me hopeful, however.
District 13: Ultimatum Trailer
While everyone was wrapped up in the conversation about District 9 there was another district, a few districts away, in a wholly different district, that was obviously honing in on the art of parkour; that’s fine with me because this movie looks horrible in a “I need to see it right away” kind of way.
It’s funny that this trailer almost reads like a page out of District 9′s playbook: you have a ghetto that is cordoned off to the rest of the world while lawless and rampant poverty is allowed to thrive. The voiceover guy used is smartly used as we see District 13′s population counter literally scroll hundreds of people on the screen, the trailer setting up that something has to be done about this group. This is either being used for illustrative purposes that there is simply no more room for these individuals or there is some major pounding of vaj happening behind these walls.
We’re told there’s only one solution for a group of people who seem to like running around without their shirts, holding firearms, (weird) but I am thrilled at the synth soundtrack that’s circa Terminator; I have no idea who thought this would be a masterstroke but it doesn’t feel ironic and that’s fine with me. The parkour starts in at this point and I am just loving life: Guys are leaping from buildings, rockets are being fired into windows, guys are kicking ass with their legs, dudes feel comfortable enough to throw down in their tank tops and, the topper, we see this flick is being once again being written by Luc Besson
And, oh yeah, there is a woman who has embedded a weapon of death in her long tresses (I have no idea) as she whips her skull around. So while the movie may be completely horrible this trailer is worth it just to see this woman kill with it, heavy metal rock show style.
Blind Date Trailer
Why I’m picking this one out of the lineup is that Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are an interesting pair and this film seems like a theatrical play, as it were. As well, this trailer is remarkable for the lack of any frivolity to get things going. Two people meet (Tucci and Clarkson) at a bar and they have what seems like a blind date. It could seem innocuous at first but Tucci’s “observation” that the question directed at his date that “seems to have nice breasts, when did you get them” changes the entire dynamic. Clarkson’s acquiescence to answer the question is at both strange and alluring. I’m at the same time confused and curious. And we’re off.
Tucci’s life as a performer in the most classical of senses is put out before us. We see how he’s a nightclub performer, and, oddly, there is a little girl who is pulled in to do the voice over work. The production values don’t seem great but that’s fine because something is afoot here and the trailer isn’t telling yet what that is. We do find out that the cavalcade of blind dates these people go on, there are a few that occur, aren’t quite genuine: they’re married to one another.
The subsequent information we learn from the girl narrating is too spoiler-y and I don’t want to ruin it, but socks you like a pillow case of rolled pennies. It helps to move the trailer along and all that comes after this reveal is completely understandable. It adds an emotional heft that absolutely makes you want to see how things turn out for these two. The scratchy soundtrack embedded underneath it all, a sing-song ballad that seems recorded on a wax cylinder in the 1920′s, simply adds to the ambiance. One of the best trailers I’ve watched this week.
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:
- A Single Man Movie Trailer – A trailer that boils with intensity. Bold choice in not having any voice over or providing context to anything you see.
- The September Issue Movie Trailer – The only thing more delicious than seeing someone hold on to their place in the manufactured world of plasticine super models is seeing how people quiver before Anna Wintour. And, for the love of God, is there no one in this world who will give Karl Lagerfeld a good school yard thrashing for wearing those obnoxious gloves?
- Paranormal Activity Movie Trailer – A trailer that makes me feel like there is still the possibility to have a good old fashioned thrill at the movie theater. Drag Me To Hell was pure fun and this trailer makes me think this could be too.
- Stone Promo Movie Trailer – I tried to see this. It was removed because of a copyright claim. Naughty, naughty.
- From Paris With Love Movie Trailer – How many times do we need to see a movie about a wacky, out-of-control, partner who’s always in trouble with the chief? Movie magic at its height if we’re to believe John Travolta’s a bad ass.
- Everyone’s Fine Movie Trailer – This movie feels a little About Schmidt but without the introspection or interesting premise.
- Valentine’s Day Movie Trailer – I’d rather be alone than to be subjected to the mediocrity this no doubt is. Oh, and it stars pretty much everyone.
- Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy Movie Trailer – A documentary that, if His Name Was Jason was any indication, should be worth to check out.