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?

For Colored Girls Trailer

By show of hands, how many movies by Tyler Perry have you looked forward to in your lifetime?

Yeah, just about that many.

What makes this trailer so compelling is that this doesn’t look like the obnoxious, tired retread of material he’s done again and again. I don’t blame the guy, though, as he’s kind of the Kevin Smith of black film: he knows his audience, he makes movies for that audience, and these productions make money because he’s smart about how much to spend making them. Perry, as well, is an affable guy who you kind of root for when you realize what he’s done to get where he is and so going into watching this trailer I was wholly expecting to just observe what he’s put on display and move on. What’s here, though, has attached itself to me.

What this trailer manages to do, and is no less a miracle in my book, is to make me interested in what he has to say. I’ll go further and say that this looks like the kind of film that I want to be first in line to see after understanding that this is a movie that will strip away the artifice of farce and satire and lay bare the contemporary issues that women, notably women of color, have to contend with in modern social circles. I don’t know how this trailer is able to get this across but it does while, additionally, making me believe that seeing a movie with Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson (who I last saw in the theater for Poetic Justice) would be a good thing.

The trailer is a slow burn in the best way possible. The music and pacing here work in tandem to establish a mood and it is unlike anything I’ve seen this year for a piece of marketing looking for your cash. It’s a risky thing, to show the plight of women who all seem to be done wrong in some kind of fashion or who are struggling to overcome some bad situation, because at the basic level why would I want to pay to be bummed out? That’s because, like the hope you have with any book you open, that you’ll be better at the end than you were at the beginning.

There are some dramatic performances here and, bless Perry in this department, it doesn’t look shot like a sitcom. There seems to be a real mutability with how we transition from one moment of sadness to another with varying intensity. All the while, however, you can’t help but think that here is the movie I hope can make me see what millions already have. There’s promise here and that’s the best thing you can come away with when you see this trailer.

Sint Trailer

“Getting presents can be fun. But you always end up getting crap you don’t need.”

Who will fly me out and open their home to me in the Netherlands, opening weekend, to see this movie? I cannot wait to see how absurd this film turns out. I mean, how can you not be amped after seeing this and hearing the above line being delivered by a guy who crystallizes the entire charade of Christmas in one fell swoop?

Thanks to the power of modern translation this movie looks like it’s a mix of the genuine fear of Halloween, the absurd horror of Gremlins, automatic weaponry, and lots of a’splosions. Almost taking a page out of the B movie playbook of features like Leprechaun or Jack Frost this movie looks like it’s just going to up the body count with a movie that does a lot more than have a clever premise. It looks like it’s going to take over an entire city with old Saint Nick looking to quench his thirst for a high body count.

The trailer is expertly paced with just enough front-loaded information, all of it heavy handed of course, that as soon as the idea of the movie is established we just get right down to it. From the woman home alone with a kid, to the couple looking to get freaky when they’re all alone, the setup is just too irresistible to pass up.

When the real terror starts coming in this trailer it rains down hard with the hard-nosed cop looking to end this once and for all, with Nick getting in some quality kills, with the po-po getting off spectacular shots as Nick tries to flee across a series of rooftops, this thing just looks like insane fun from beginning to end.

And how can you not want to see a movie directed by a guy with the name of Dick Maas? I know I do.

Today’s Special Trailer

To begin, I will pay a bounty on any person within the sound of my written voice who can silence the cheeky voiceover guy in this trailer.

The annoyingly pitched vox takes away from what looks like a very enjoyable film about a guy who needs to come to terms with his own cultural past. Instead, what I get that this is an independent film that’s fun for the entire family and that wackiness will ensure as soon as I start watching it. Truth of the matter is, however, it stars Dean Winters, who always looks like he could fight anyone at anytime, and Aasif Mandvi, who many people will recognize from Spider-Man 2 as the guy who fired Peter Parker from his delivery gig, and who really needs a better picture on IMDB (seriously, can’t anyone upload a high quality glossy for the guy?).

So, apart from the voiceover which really grates, we get a picture of Aasif in his current life as a brilliant sous chef along with lots of kudos from the many festivals where the film has played. It’s vital to keep these kinds of things to keep viewers hooked and it hits the post perfectly.

What else it does, as the damn voiceover  literally gets in the way of me trying to appreciate the subtlety about what’s happening within the family dynamics, is to paint a portrait of a man who needs to be taken down a peg. Yes, we’ve seen this kind of movie before where a few coats of paint magically transform a rundown, ramshackle of a business into a thriving enterprise and where that same guy, unbelievably, finds the love of his life but I see the sincerity here.

It’s not Todd Solondz newest epic masterpiece about incestuous grandmothers and it’s not some independent film about the hardships of midwives living in Vermont but it is the kind of film that just seems like it would be a pleasure to watch. The editing of this trailer is tight and the fact that it’s being co-written, along with Mandvi, by Jonathan Bines, writer on The Man Show, The Daily Show, and now Jimmy Kimmel, give me hope that it could be slightly funnier than any of its budgetary equals.

Savage Trailer

Someone has recently postulated why the political right in this country is so adept at galvanizing individuals to action while lefty liberals seem like wallflowers at a seventh grade dance, unable to do anything about the jocks dancing with their dates. It came down to the notion that liberals are just too politically correct, they said, too polite. I look at a trailer like this and wonder where has our collective rage gone?

Long gone is the heinous beauty of Falling Down. Where is Hollywood’s answer to the anger that is a part of the zeitgeist at this moment in our history? Nowhere.

As the Sunday Times in Ireland is quoted in this thing, indeed this film looks like this generation’s Taxi Driver. I thought it was going to be yet another direct to DVD production that seems so popular nowadays overseas, the opening sequence certainly feeling like it, but it is something different. Director/writer Brendan Muldowney takes us down the only path you can when you try and let people in on the idea of the film, the narrative establishing everything else in the trailer, but the unique thing that happens here is that the trailer bifurcates. Whereas one way you could show how a guy comes back from an act of random violence to rise above it all we get his descent into abject rage.

From fits of screaming, flipping over small pieces of interior furniture from Ikea, working out at the local gym like a juice head, and to him skulking the streets looking for the nameless and faceless nightmare that put him on this path there is something special to appreciate here. The violence and madness that comes with a guy just looking to assert control over something he can’t change is an interesting one and it appears that this kid gets himself dirty along the way if the trailer is to be believed.

Darren Healy looks about as serious as Tom Hardy was in Bronson and I, for one, hope that this does explore the nuance of revenge and outrage in a manner that we have yet to do stateside in quite some time.

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives Trailer

When I gazed upon the light and glory that this is trailer I should have wept and rested before wanting to tell the world about this one.

So many examples of bad exploitation lay at the feet of big studios who think they can get it right. For every Machete there’s an indie like Black Dynamite that shows how it’s really done. In the case of the latter, you have some writer/directors who are making a serious play to honor the genre that is so indelible to many of these artists. Israel Luna is such a filmmaker but, usually, when you have an individual who you haven’t heard of, who hasn’t made their mark in any wildly popular fashion, there is a resistance to giving someone with fresh ideas or new takes on material a shot. I say, based on this trailer, I’m giving this guy whatever time he needs to unfurl his vision.

Looking like it was grabbed out of the Kids In The Hall’s “Sex Girl Patrol” sketch, the trailer barrels right into it. Forget production values, forget any kind of verité usually reserved for people who *really* can’t afford anything but the things around them, this is full-on brilliance with the garish lighting and sets that look like they were built by the mentally unstable. I make no bones about giving up the first laugh as the voiceover, who gets a mental high-five from me as his cigarette tinged vocal pitch hits the word “ese”, just American-izing the word to the point of butchery. Further, the trailer sets this up nicely as a movie about a pack of ladies out on the town who find trouble at the hands of an obnoxiously pack of actors who are obviously supposed to look as terrible as they do.

What else makes this trailer so entertaining is that it establishes the transsexual-ness of the whole feature with a flourish usually reserved for movies with so much more money behind it; it is glorious when it happens because this thing gets its timing down perfectly. The baseline of the bass that kicks in, the slo-mo attitude walk, and the guitar that just shreds as we tear through clips of a movie that ought to scream out to “Watch me!” in all its licentiousness is nothing short of insane fun.

I haven’t had a good laugh all week but as the voiceover rolls through a litany of words that have the prefix of “trans” in them the trailer just devolves into shots of dudes getting crushed by these transsexuals, of violence being perpetrated to anyone and everyone, as there is no regard to any narrative context. However, at the end of this thing, I could care less. It gets high marks for fun and entertainment.

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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