This Week In Trailers: Trash Humpers, It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, Mega Piranha, Peacock, Casino Jack and the United States of Money
Posted on Friday, April 9th, 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?
Trash Humpers Trailer
There is something to purposely making your creative product seem ramshackle and barely cohesive.
Tim and Eric are perhaps the most notorious for aping the style of public access programs, showcasing the sloven nature of the worst television has to offer, but they have something original to say, to express. Harmony Korine, to that end, has taken sandpaper to this vision and made it something wholly fresh and disturbing in a way that gets me excited that filmmakers like him are working in this space.
I don’t know what initially put me in the trance to just sit on my hands and be enveloped by this trailer but I love the artificial tracking distortion that leads things off as well as the little “play” that pops up on screen as if what we’re seeing was taped in a clandestine manner and we’re just bearing witnesses to what has happened. What’s on this tape begins with a masked old man in a wheelchair getting sandblasted by a person who, as well, dons a mask. The act, with the distant sounds of cackles and fits of faint laughter, raise the hairs on my neck. It’s bizarre, avant-garde, perhaps pretentious, but it’s got a frightening overtone that I have never seen in a trailer before.
Cut to a really shrill scream as these same individuals ride their bikes around a busted washing machine in the middle of a yard. The moment defies reason or the application of rationality.
Silence as we cut to the interior of a room that has no furniture. It seems like an abandoned room as our three actors cavort inside of the space doing God knows what. One of them stands on their tiptoes, does a little dance solely for the camera, and as we see the name of the film done in 8-bit graphics you ought to be saying to yourself that this is either the work of a deranged lunatic that must be consumed or it’s a piece of highfalutin garbage that deserves to be called Trash Humpers.
Myself, I am hoping it is a little bit of the former but suspect it might have a lot to do with the latter. No matter, though, as this trailer has gone on to haunt me long after having seen it. [Coming Soon]
It’s A Wonderful Afterlife Trailer
So what, I’m sometimes a sucker for romantic comedy. Sue me.
The latest from writer/director Gurinder Chadha, whose film Bend It Like Beckham really was a fresh take on a genre that had really become a fetid wasteland of bad ideas, and who had a curiously titled film Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (any UK’ers out there see this thing?) , just looks like a charmer. It takes the lead from films that deal with a woman who is searching for Mr. Right but I love, love, love that the woman we follow isn’t already the cover model for what society says is beautiful (read here: Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, et al.). The woman seems like she really is one of those who is on the hunt for happiness of some kind and just exudes average-ness.
The opening sequence just gets after it with establishing that this woman is being nudged by her parents to meet a nice boy. Cultural moreys aside about how a woman is supposed to be married off by a certain time in her life, the speed dating world she is thrust into establishes a nice baseline of where the comedy is coming from. The Ali G clone is a nice touch as we see this hopeful woman meet the dregs of the dating pool. The scene is cut with maximum comedic flair and having it flashed to us that is coming to us from the woman who made Bend It is a nice touch.
The music is peppy, a Bee Gee’s cover of “Staying Alive” with an Indian feel injects a little more life into an already vibrant trailer, and some of the quick scenes we’re given look like we are getting some of the standards of a Bollywood production, namely, lots of people dancing in tandem. As well, it’s notable that not too much is made of the two other big stars in this movie, Sendhil Ramamurthy of Heroes and Sally Hawkins of Happy-Go-Lucky, make very brief appearances. Although, to be fair, at 53 seconds we’re not able to spend a whole lot of time dilly-dallying with this one. What’s more is the appearance, but no mention, of the dead people in the background who obviously will be playing some part of this film’s narrative. I would think explaining why there are bloodless, dead individuals with flesh dripping off of them in the frame but, again, there wasn’t a lot of time to waste.
As it stands, I am so into this movie that I’m actually hopeful that Chadha might be able to make a movie that is both romantic and comedic with something else original to say.
So, someone whose first effort is a short called Solid Waste ten years ago and then disappears completely from IMDB’s radar and then comes back with what looks like a crazy thriller that has Cillian Murphy in drag? Jolly good, I say.
What struck me about this film is that has Murphy, who I liked in Sunshine and, judging by the comments of most bloggers I am in the shallow end of that opinion pool, was that this is not your average movie about cross-dressing. What’s intriguing about it is that we get right into things with being introduced to the man half of this equation by seeing Murphy conducting his duties as a bank clerk. Yeah, he seems awkward and weird but it seems harmless and this just feels like a movie about a man who doesn’t quite fit in to life.
The music is perfect, makes you all worked-up and uncomfortable, as we see the real Crying Game that’s afoot here and the trailer even barrels right into the very real accident that happens when Murphy is in his “Glenda” iteration, forcing people to come over to help and really creating a tense moment.
The last third is jam packed of really useful moments that aren’t just slapped together for our amusement. This trailer actually takes the time to toss out information but it’s hard to connect any dots whatsoever about what’s at stake for everyone else in this movie besides Murphy. Sure, he doesn’t want people knowing he dresses like a lady, and he comes off really frantic which just amps up the craziness of it all, but what we have here is a preview that wonderfully goes nowhere. It doesn’t give you the ending, it doesn’t even give you the plot beyond the idea that he’s fighting to keep his second life a secret.
Solid cast, the cinematography looks gorgeous, and if this is what ten years of doing nothing of note looks like, Michael Lander ought to take the next ten off as well. It’s like Psycho meets Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill. [Film Junk]
Casino Jack and the United States of Money Trailer
There are a few reasons why this earned a spot on my list of one of the most interesting trailers I’ve seen this week:
1. It’s Alex Gibney. For those unfamiliar with the man he’s the reason why the snappy titled film Taxi to the Dark Side won an Oscar. The director not only tore though his competition with this but he’s also the filmmaker who made the wickedly easy-to-understand mess that was Enron with his film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
2. He directed the much talked about as of late movie Freakanomics, a movie based on the endlessly fascinating and compelling writings of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner about the economics of everyday life.
3. This trailer puts the handshaking/hand wiping George W. Bush back front and center in one of the more amusing “Gotcha” moments in some time.
That said, I’m being honest when I say that I think politicians in Washington have no regard for my interests or the interests of the people they serve. Moneyed interests are the name of the game, power is on the agenda every single day, and that there isn’t anything I can do about it but watch from the sidelines. In steps Gibney’s film that opens with trying to create a baseline as to why this seems to be the case. I’m not versed in how the lobbyist does their job or how a weaselly little man like Jack Abramoff can try to have someone vote the way he wants but the music, the presentation, and learning Abramoff is currently in the pokey it all adds up to a thought-provoking moment: What is this really all about and why should I care?
They come right out and state that this about campaign contributions for legislation. Abramoff was busted for what he did and suddenly becomes so persona non grata that after Bush Jr. disavows even knowing the man that’s when we get a picture of the two of them shaking paws plus an interviewee claiming they knew each other as well. Same as it ever was in politics.
It then all starts to unspool in front of you as the A chord starts rocking out underneath it all. Fantastic graphics, Abramoff’s sins laid out bare for us to hear through incendiary e-mails, the accusations, the plots, the plans, it all feels like a peppy film that ought to keep anyone’s attention.
The introduction of the players in this film, as if they were actors in the production, along with the transparent interstitial that tells how long each of them are serving in prison is a hilarious touch and I cannot think of a more compelling documentary that might actually make sense of the nonsense going on in our country today.
Mega Piranha Trailer
If you really want to get technical, the first thing that crosses your mind when you see this trailer is, “Hey, that’s Greg Brady!”
One of the other, more artistic, things that ought to cross your mind when you see the latest abomination creation from The Asylum, the fine folks who brought you Sherlock Holmes (no, the other one) and Paranormal Entity (sounds like the other one), is that it looks all kinds of good and schlocky. Never minding the production values and just focusing on the trailer proper, you have a really fun film here.
Whereas some would take a more somnambulist approach, just shrugging the shoulders and thinking how this could be yet another direct to DVD kind of film and sleepwalk through making a trailer for this movie, this trailer embraces its badness in a way that feels like the spirit of Lloyd Kaufman extends well beyond the viscous halls of Troma Entertainment.
For starters, I like the whole b-movie feel. However, we get Barry “Don’t Call Me Brady” Williams using that trope screenwriters love so much: having a news anchor be used as an expository device whereby the plot can be explained without having to waste time with strong storytelling skills. No matter, as I genuinely like the vibe here. The effect of the large piranha head barreling towards a boat, people being eaten alive, the screams that escape through the speakers, it’s all great stuff. As well, high marks for just showing barely a nanosecond of this flesh eating fish. I realize the bulk of the budget went into making it look at least halfway credible so you can see how it was to their advantage to give you a blurry glimpse in order to generate not only interest but saves them the hassle of people telling them how fake it all looks.
And they fly! Incredible!
I am bowled over by abject amazement that these little guys have found a way to get airborne. The scenes here, while absolutely laughable, blow the circuit breakers in my brain to the point where when one of the main characters are on their back and he is literally bicycle kicking a horde of flying piranha. The net result of all of this was me getting out my iPhone so I could remotely program my DVR to tape this immediately. Who on earth wouldn’t be afraid of flying piranha? Genius.
As well, major props to Paul Logan who is fabulous in this thing and comes off as this millennia’s Jan-Michael Vincent. To you I say, sir, you have a glorious future of films that will be well stocked on Blockbuster shelves and are the heir apparent to Antionio Sabato Jr.
And when that piranha jumps out of the water and eats someone falling out of what looks like a Chinook and then we see it eat that helicopter whole, a little puff of digital smoke being all that’s left? Well, I can’t say anything else but recommend everyone tune in on Saturday to see if this won’t be the best worst movie you’ll see on SyFy all year. [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: