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?

Blood Creek Trailer

I don’t even know where to begin.

Look, I may have loved D.C. Cab, The Wiz, and Car Wash, maybe I even loved the video for Inxs’ “Devil Inside” when I was in high school, but, honestly, I don’t know where Joel Schumacher’s mind went after the really good Tigerland in 2000 or Veronica Guerin a few years after that.

I realize a couple of things about this movie that may be true:  it represents a contract fulfillment on Schumacher’s part, that it squeaked out in a real limited release in September of this year, and that it received zero support from the studio in terms of promotion. Hell, I didn’t even know about it until this week.

Here’s another thing about this movie that may be true: it could be the best horrible movie you’ll see in 2010. I mean, not only does this thing look bad but it looks like it was done with a budget of food stamps and, even then, I think I’m being generous. Yeah, it would be easy to point and laugh but, all kidding aside, considering the conditions and how much effort was put into this, it may be just the kind of hokey fun to get you through the winter.

I do know that the opening sequence, along with the red band trailer seal of goodness, is pretty solid. You’ve got Nazi’s, some basic historical facts about Hitler’s obsession with the occult, and a mysterious figure that looks back at the camera menacingly like a mummy man wrapped up in dark duct tape.

The background info on the film continues to inform the movie’s contents real well. Any indication that this is a cinematic s-bomb are nowhere to be found. In fact, the plot is played out with great expediency in order to get to the good stuff. The movie has a 40’s quality to it, the colors muted to give it that old time feel, as we’re told a mysterious guy went to a family farm in order to look for something. What’s utterly insane is that once we get this member of the Nazi party turned into mummy man, all sorts of wacky crap starts to happen. The movie shifts to old time cinematography to present day, the colors become more pronounced, and it all feels like a different movie as this monster starts to wreak havoc.

Horses (WTF?) knock down the front door and let themselves in, Dominic Purcell rocks a boom stick in action man fashion, we get a little bit more about the plot and why we’re suddenly in the 21st century, we get a great look at the Nazi monster, the monster drinks the blood of an infidel quite literally, and I’m just amazed this even got made.

My hat is off to you, Mr. Trailer Man, for making what looks like the biggest crap sandwich to be released in 2010 to be a movie I now have to see in order to discover how awful this really is; seriously, you deserve a bump in pay for the lipstick on this pig. I will be renting this movie.

What’s Up Lovely Trailer

There have been a lot of movies that explore the insanity that creeps up into someone afflicted with insomnia.

You have the original Norwegian classic Insomnia, you have a really interesting film that came out in 2006, Cashback that dealt with not being able to sleep, and now you have this film which continues the tradition of trying to define what means to exist in that temporary fugue state where the real world and the world of the subconscious merge. The effects of this genuinely real condition some people have to contend with have been, for the most part, captured fairly well. What has struck me about this movie, however, is that it seems less dependent on distilling the bending of perception than it is just trying to show what it would look like if an insomniac wandered the streets of her metropolis.

Ok, I’ll give you that the opening sequence of this is a little art film shtick-y; you have our protagonist making these rather poetic declarations about smiling to herself, about following strangers and knowing “where they come from” while getting the general vibe this is yet another self-indulgent indie film. I thought that but, pressing forward, and noticing that there is some really gritty camera work at play, not to mention that we’re actually on location instead of some staged interior, there is something genuinely interesting afoot.

The piano score is a delight, the monologue still wanting to veer into the indulgent, the shots of our girl wandering the streets alone is somehow alluring, and when the strings kick in I am wholly into where the story is going once she states, “I can’t sleep.” Making me want to sympathize with your character, finally establishing the plot, and talking to me at my level helps inexorably to do just that.

Our protagonist is shown traipsing all over the city in an effort, no doubt, to alleviate her symptoms of restlessness but there is a blending of the real world and the dream-like fuzziness that no doubt coats her experience. This looks like an indie with the kind of intimacy you don’t normally see in a movie that effectively uses a city as its secondary character but it works for me.


Seven Days (Les 7 Jours De Talion) Trailer

Anyone here enjoy Hard Candy?

Before David Slade decided to slag on Twilight, before the paycheck that cleared the bank that would allow him to make one of the Twilight films, and well before the middling 30 Days of Night, he made a wonderfully thrilling movie that explored some of the darker recesses of perverted human beings. Much credit can go to writer Brain Nelson but the movie, on the whole, was a tightly shot and acted film that really struck a chord with a lot of people. This film looks like it deals with that same part of the sickly, black, decayed part of the brain that sees no problem with walking over to a side of life everyone of us would classify as evil: murder. Not only that, but rape and murder of a little girl.

Watching the opening sequence I was like Alan Eakian in Summer School, taking a long pull off that Laffy Taffy, engrossed in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was glued to this thing as it played out.

The mood is recognizably dark, the cinematography is one that feels like a cloudy winter day all the time, the piano suite is haunting, and the characters we meet are but a few: a dad, a daughter, a mom. Girl is happy, girl walks down the street ostensibly to go somewhere in her nice, suburban neighborhood. Within thirty seconds we go from girl being alive to parents finding out she’s gone to dad holding onto her dead body out in a field where it was left like detritus. It’s awful, painful, and the guitar in the background as we see the guy who gets popped for doing it, smiling to the cameras as he’s being hauled off, we get the sense that this is going somewhere else. Somewhere good.

At about the minute, eight second mark we see the father has the guy in a dungeon of some kind. It’s at this point where you realize that writer Patrick Senécal and director Daniel Grou (Podz) have fashioned a movie that is more about the meditation of revenge on someone like this than it is torture porn but it’s the kind of torture porn, oddly, that I kind of welcome. The synopsis says the dad informs the police (how did he get him out of custody?) that after seven days in which he plans on torturing the man, then killing him, the grieving father will willingly give himself up. I got chills at just the premise. I liked Hard Candy for that reason and there is every indication this could be just as intense.

I could not be more thrilled at the thought of seeing whether this is as good as the trailer makes it out to be.

Obselidia Trailer

On ESPN last month I heard a word that I don’t think will ever be uttered again: opprobrium.

It was from a statement that was released, I believe, from a pack of lawyers or executives but I was so struck by the sound and use of the word I just had to look it up. Once in a while words should drive people, I think, to do things like that, to explore the meaning of our language. Well, it seems like “once in a while” happened today when I scrambled again to look up what “obselidia” meant. Seems like the marriage between obsolete and minutiae was a successful one but the man we meet in this trailer who seems to be a cataloger of such things doesn’t seem to be good with the ladies and, thus, we’re off to the races.

First time feature filmmaker Diane Bell brings what almost seems like a real cerebral romance picture but the trailer got my attention because it’s very quiet, very controlled. One of the familiar faces in this trailer won’t mean anything to those residing outside of Oz. Voted ‘Australia’s Most Dateable Guy’ by Dolly Magazine actor Michael Piccirilli, we hear his character narrate the opening sequence of the trailer.

We get, crafty cerebral alert, images of things that are or becoming obsolete: a phonograph, books on a shelf, typewriter, film projector. He explains, kinda, what he’s all about in that he wants to slow the process of things being forgotten so quickly in our everyday life. He seems like a real throwback himself as he dons a fedora, suit vest, crisp white shirt, pedaling a bicycle down a street.

We get some other characters popping up, explaining what we just figured out but it’s the introduction of the woman that makes things interesting. As she parries his thrusting perception about the obsolescence of things there is an obvious warming between the two. The trailer cleverly syncopates the harshness of the typewriter our beau is hammering on with the lilting rhythms of the score used to push these two lovebirds toward their eventual coupling.

I am not so sure of the four second quick clip that is inserted at the very end after we get the title of the film, it could have worked so much better mixed in with the rest of the trailer, but it’s a mere quibble for a movie that appears to be a sweet gem.

ECiLA Trailer

Shortly after the best Australian film to be imported to the shores of the U.S. of  A.was BMX Bandits starring Nicole Kidman there came Baz Luhrmann and his vivid interpretation William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. What made Baz’s movie so fresh and different was that he wanted to play with modernity, to inject life into a play that has been done so many times before. Sometimes you just have to completely rethink a property and get someone to reinterpret it from the ground up.

This interpretation of Alice in Wonderland is unlike that show on Syfy, unlike the polished, emo world of Tim Burton, and most definitely not the version Disney put out. This story has an eye towards degeneracy and the darkened underbelly of a world that is not logical and certainly not safe.

We open up to a fantastical world of hallucinatory colors and of a mustachioed man whipping down a street on a moped. I’ve got no clue who he is, what he’s doing. A lilting string suite plays in the background as our unseen Alice motors down the same road as our scruffy looking moped man and while there is nary a glimpse into the film’s plot.

Alice steps out onto a city block in the middle of the day, smash cut to her running bloodied on the street at night, cut to her inside a bedroom where she buries her head in her hands, weeping. Some guy is getting choked to death (huh?) while someone else starts dancing with a gun a la Batman, the Nicholson Years, as we linger for a long time starting at this guy who is pointing the gun back at the camera. I’m confused and befuddled.

Next scene is a rank nightclub with skanky go-go dancers, pills, wads of cash, violence, more guns, with Alice coming up bloodied even more. Like I said, I don’t know how this all fits together or what it even has to do with the actual Alice in Wonderland story but this has to be the most original interpretation we’re going to see in the next year. The combination of this being an independent production with a limited budget for effects coupled with a genuine sense this movie has something to say and you’ve got yourself a sellable film; the good money may be on Burton but I wouldn’t have a problem spending my cash on this one.

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

  • Brooklyn’s Finest TrailerLooks OK. I mean, it looks like it will be a movie I might want to see in the theater or wait until it comes out on DVD but it certainly isn’t a film that sways me one way or the other. Not very inspired.
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It TrailerI’m offended that I even had to sit through that trailer. If a trailer is supposed to make you want to spend your money this thing makes me want to save it for a very, very long time.
  • Aoki TrailerAn interesting piece of promotion for a film that looks like it could do well on PBS. It seems to take a learned look at someone who I find myself interested in after having seen this trailer.
  • Death at a Funeral TrailerLook, I understand we love remakes in this country. That said, this is one remake that should not have happened as this looks absolutely insufferable. Waste of some great talent on a tepid looking film with even mediocre jokes stuffed in this thing.
  • Spanish Movie TrailerEvery country deserves their own cinematic turd in a punchbowl and this trailer shows you where Spain’s is going to come from. I don’t think there’s a language issue as I believe horrible translates no matter where it is.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows TrailerYou know how some people recuse themselves from situations where their opinion might not be valid? That’s what I’m doing here because I’m not a fan of the films as I’m just not into the mythology but I think, technically, this thing looks wicked sharp.
  • Saint John of Las Vegas TrailerI happened to love this trailer. Mixed reviews be damned! Seeing Sarah Silverman playing a ditz, Peter Dinklage as a nutty boss, and Romany Malco as a sidekick who cracks wise? I’m in.
  • Youth In Revolt Red Band TrailerYes! Finally, a red band that really delivers on being not only funny but smart with how to incorporate its nastiness. The music bed is awful but the performances more than make up for it.
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Trailer - After seeing this trailer I can’t say for sure which way I stand on this. I think Jay Baruchel is a talent, and it shows, but Nicolas Cage isn’t selling me on this. The effects look pretty standard and it looks like a movie I could take my kids to see. Now, if they would only guarantee a broom sequence…
  • Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever TrailerCall me nutty but this looks like something actually worth my rental cash. I absolutely wouldn’t pay for a full price ticket but, in the world of marketing, this is all about price points and this one has enough gore in the trailer to make a sale.
  • The Vicious Kind TrailerParty Down wouldn’t be the same without Adam Scott and this movie looks like it hinges on his ability to sell the movie. He does wonderfully, by the way. Could not be looking forward to seeing this movie any more after experiencing this solidly put together trailer.
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