Posted on Friday, March 19th, 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?
Accidents Happen Trailer
I can’t explain why I am absolutely enthralled with this trailer but it does exude a certain sense of humor that resonates with me and makes the best case why people should try and find out more about this little movie with just a hint of man ass.
The opening just feels like the cozy 80′s where there was no Internet, where people still went to drive-ins as these outdoor entertainment venues were in the throws of dying out completely, and where movies depicted youths, not as the Disney-like cut outs they are today, but showed them for the rabble-rousers they could be. That they ought to be.
Director Andrew Lancaster just drops us wholly into this world of the Conway family, a pack of individuals who I really would have liked meeting back in the day. From a kid who messes with their family’s night out at the movies, a mother who was a wet hot mess in the kitchen, and from another kid who is shown taking a slow-mo baseball to the face I am plumb in love with these people.
The music is jaunty, upbeat.
Geena Davis, who I haven’t been much into since 1991′s Thelma and Louise, actually displays some sauciness in delivering only a few lines here but they absolutely catch my attention as they’re genuinely funny. The music downshifts a little, long enough to display all the festivals that have wanted this movie included in its schedule, but we’re right back into the hilarity with scenes of ski masked streaking and boys who remove street lamp light bulbs in order to start rocketing them at one another on a quiet night in the suburbs. Simply put, this trailer just feels like the more funny flip side to Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm.
Whereas Ice Storm explored the troubled nuances of a few families this movie looks to not only capture the realness of one nuclear unit’s struggle to make it but the trailer just sells the hell out of its premise in a way that doesn’t feel manufactured. The ending, as well, just takes the momentum the trailer built up and literally just explodes with charisma and genuinely good marketing that you wonder why you haven’t heard more about this movie before right now. I am smitten with these people.
Desert Son Trailer
Getting left for dead in the middle of a desert is certainly one way to start a story about some hooligans who take pity on a wandering boy who has no place left to go and who capitulates to the will of his protectors, going on a crime spree in order to survive.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Directors James Mann and Brandon Nicholas have made a movie that seems to explore the ways adolescence can take wicked turns at any moment. True, like the trailer opens with, not many find themselves being such a cretin that the only solution is to dump your lazy bones on the side of a nameless, shapeless dirt road in the desert but it is intriguing in a way that makes you want to see more of what is going on here.
It’s a little wild to see how anyone could have thought this was a believable pretense to start a movie, but the trailer eschews any voiceover to help provide a little context. Nor does it include any words to help at least give us some bearing of what is happening. Truth be told, it works well for me in that the people who made this film don’t want to tell too much.
The tonal shifts this trailer makes, when the boy stumbles upon the alpha dog who questions why he wasn’t left to die in the desert, incrementally takes you from disbelief that someone would throw away a perfectly good white boy to momentary panic when you get the feeling this movie will not be a simple coming of age film but one that feels a little more dangerous.
There isn’t anything to indicate our protagonist is a party to the violence but the music and the moment that’s created when all three of our players don plastic supermarket bags on their heads as masks, and the alpha is carrying around an ax inside a house that he clearly wants to use, is perfect for a little movie like this.
Yeah, there is a little bombastic, blow-hardy overacting going on at the tail end of this but, overall, this at least has the feeling of a movie that could be something of a winner in the thriller genre with some rather unconventional ideas. Consider my interest piqued.
Boogie Woogie Trailer
I don’t know. Is it just me or is this just trying really hard to be amusing in a smug sort of way?
It only recently came up, I believe, when some ad exec was talking about commercials in the Super Bowl and about when sex is used in an advert it usually means the product is no good. If you believe that presupposition, then, and overlay that to things like trailers that do nothing but depend on sexuality to sell its stories, you can see this movie is probably all sorts of awful. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on the content of the movie but this trailer is just trying way too hard.
As well, I don’t know if you can fully appreciate what director Duncan Ward’s vision is of a love triangle times three or four in this trailer, though. What’s even more interesting about this film is that it is based on Danny Moynihan’s novel, he also produced the screenplay, and was Publishers Weekly review that said this story, a satirical yarn about the New York art scene, lacks “a story line” and that, “the result is a novel that works as satire, but fails to quite cohere as fiction.” A ringing endorsement for it to from page to screen if I ever heard one.
This is important when you consider the start of this trailer which talks about all the players in this twisted web of the art world gone positively nutty! You have a handful of these people in various states of undress or positioning, the story not really being explained, as you see how saucy and licentious this movie looks like it is trying to be. It’s just pathetic, it’s naked ambition to titillate in order for you to care what’s happening in front of you.
What I don’t understand, as a viewer, is why I should care about anyone in this movie. The opening pretty much lays it out with all the crisscross/backstabbing going on, which is almost everyone we’re introduced to, but the problem with not caring about any of these people is compounded by the awful rock beat, if you can even call it that, that is embedded beneath it all. The music sounds like a placeholder you would stick in front of a podcast about advances in Tupperware and it just grates as you try and really give this trailer a chance.
The only real redeeming thing about this trailer is at about the 50 second mark. It’s a moment we get that shows how this is all very obnoxious, the art game that’s being satirized in this movie, and it almost redeems the first part of what we were shown but the problem I have is it did a horrible job in setting this movie up as a satirical expose of this twisted form of business.
We’re not really let into the joke of what this all about until it’s too late and even at a minute seventeen seconds it was longer than I wanted to spend with these twits if this is a representative sample of how the movie is going to go.
Great Kills Road Trailer
If you didn’t know what this movie was about the trailer would still be great as a preview that doesn’t give you anything but clues to a movie that feels a little but like In America.
I appreciate that this trailer does something bold: no one utters a word and there hardly any words ever expressed on the camera besides an “I’m sorry” scribbled on a postcard that seems to be from New York. Confusing at first, yes, but when you realize that IMBD says this is a film about “The father of a severely mentally handicapped boy goes to find his son’s run away mother in her native New York” everything makes a little bit more sense.
However, beyond just not having any words the trailer blurs the line between fictional narrative and documentary by not tipping its hand. Yes, it is fiction but you have to wonder how many people would think otherwise if shown what’s here as the filming just gives the sense it’s actually following this one man.
The opening sequence sets up the rest of the trailer perfectly. You have a guy who seems overwhelmed at the sight of New York. A true “fish out of water” tale that has played out in many movies that take foreigners and plop them in this metropolis which seems to be the de facto proving ground for, and representative sample of, Americans.
The vérité style in which it is shot just captures that sense of overwhelming confusion and sensory overload for someone who might have come from a country the size of a small state. Our protagonist seems affected by the dizzying directions one can go, what one can experience, and sometimes the confusing loneliness you can feel in a city teeming with millions.
The musical score is minimal yet evocative in a way that makes me feel on edge and wholly a part of this guy’s journey.
The very last moments of this trailer flash up the log line that “Doing what’s best…isn’t always what’s right” but what’s bold about making this statement is that, still, it doesn’t have anything to do with this film’s narrative. It seems confusing, sure, but the trailer is make well enough that it triggers a sense of curiosity about what this movie is about. Knowing it drove me batty enough to check out its premise just shows how well it evokes questions, interest. A win for a very small film from Tjebbo Penning.
This trailer is pure laughing gas.
A quote from original Showgirl actress, Rena Riffel, about her feature Showgirl which is not affiliated with the trailer that many saw a few weeks ago for what many think is Showgirls 2:
My film is titled SHOWGIRL, being that I am the last and only “showgirl” still keeping that flame alive. It’s sort of a…”What ever happened to Penny Hope?” – fifteen years later, story. SHOWGIRL is my take on what becomes of a thirty-something year-old stripper who is still obsessed with dancing and fame.
Yeah, she’s ten pounds worth of crazy.
I don’t know which one of you out there were demanding we see a “Whatever happened to…” movie based on this woman’s character but not only did your letter, which we all can assume would glow like a radioactive map of Hawaii if we put it under a black light with the “love” you smeared on it, get answered but we all now have this trailer in existence. For that, humanity is a little better because of it.
I am not sure if this is a big joke but this has to be one of the worst trailers I’ve ever had to sit through. That’s not to say it pained me as, believe me, there is a ton of awesome horribleness in this thing, but I just had to share my pain with the rest of the world.
First off, the trailer starts with a synth beat that ought to be back in the 90′s, hanging out with the wannabe’s who thought that wearing Cross Colours made them look hip and not like the pack of Crayola’s they were, along with an awkward opening that suggests this woman before is just a cracked out psychopath. The audio drops out weirdly, the green screen backgrounds of the stage she’s purportedly “performing” on look like it was put together by someone learning tricks your 12 year-old can do with iMovie, and at about the 28 second mark is where you get all you need to know about this movie. Seriously, from transvestites, midgets, women getting slapped, to a voiceover that not only is awkward to follow the narrative is just lost somewhere in a cesspool of awfulness.
I mean, I get that here is a woman who wants to make a go at being a showgirl and the initial lure of Showgirls was that here was a trashy movie that intentionally showcased the seedy and obnoxious lives of these shattered human beings but this is something else. This is just flat out horrible.
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week: