This Week In Trailers: Beauty Is Embarrassing, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Last Fall, The Taiwan Oyster, Waiting For Lightning
Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012 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?
Beauty Is Embarrassing Trailer
Sometimes there are stories that appear to come out of nowhere. They’re in front of us, might make for a good article or interview, but some people have the presence of mind to think that these stories would make for a long, hard look.
Neil Berkeley thought it good to peer into the soul of a man whose work I’ve enjoyed without ever knowing it. The man who created Randy, Dirty Dog, Mr. Kite, and others, a mind that seems to be bursting at the seams with vim and technicolor, looks thrilling.
The trailer does a wonderful job with showcasing the man’s creations and then gliding into a retrospective from others who have worked with him or known him. Wayne White comes off as an earnest artist who doesn’t seem tortured as he does possessed with a unique way of looking at the world. An artist who has his view and doesn’t mind funneling it in ways that people can grasp.
The entirety of what’s here is inspirational as it is overwhelming in the way we see this man so filled with devotion to creating, creating works of art on so many different levels and mediums, that it becomes something more than just a trailer, it’s a meditation on life itself.
To say that what we have here is simply a look at a documentary that will chart the course of one guy’s foray into entertainment culture would be reductionist and sell this trailer short. It really is a sales pitch on getting to know someone who I know I’ve brought into my life through his work on television and music videos in a way that’s completely personal and accessible.
One of the best trailers I’ve seen this week.
Somebody Up There Likes Me Trailer
Nick Offerman is a guy’s guy.
The man literally crafts beauty out of wood when he’s not deadpanning his way to comedic gold. Director Bob Byington, then, was given a metaphorical block of pine with which to create something with Nick and the results look just as pleasing as Offerman’s work on Parks and Recreation.
What I appreciate with this trailer is that it captures the lives of people who are just on the fringes of their own sanity. Offerman starring as a completely hapless friend to our protagonist who doesn’t have any ability to self-censor himself in any capacity might seem like not much of a stretch but it’s Offerman’s delivery that makes him a standout. While he chews around the scenery given to the other stars in the movie there’s a bit of contrast between what the young adults are going through and what Offerman has come out on the other side of with the weight of hilarious misery weighing down every word.
The moments given to all the players are meted out evenly in this trailer and makes for a preview that does more to explain the situations everyone find themselves in without ever giving an indication of how they plan to get out. This leaves us feeling like there could be any combination of ways in which this movie will end but none of which seems very clear. Leaving things open seems like such an easy strategy but, again, in an environment where it’s about how much you can reveal this is a bold strategy.
The Last Fall Trailer
This is the way you hook people.
Whether you’re someone who constantly sees their NCAA bracket virtually untouched every spring or are always at the top of their MLB, NBA, and NFL rotisserie leagues the intro to this movie might seem a little redundant. For the rest of us who are completely unaware of the lifespan as it pertains to football players this is a great warm-up.
What director Matthew A. Cherry had to do in order for this trailer to be as effective as possible is to set things up without saying a word. He lets the sobering stats of what it’s like to be a professional athlete in the NFL and how short of a lifespan they have, building to that moment after decades of devotion to the sport in training and sweat equity, launch us forward into a story that doesn’t need much more than a few tidbits fuel the narrative elements that come after it.
We can see the heartache, feel the dwindling down of a career that comes to and end, the struggles of being over that part of your life all within the brief run time of this trailer. There are hints of what will be contained in this movie, all of which seems about as thrilling as an episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, a television show that I could watch for an entire season based on the trials and tribulations of men who are essentially commodities in a market where everyone wants to be number one. Gripping looking indie, to be sure.
The Taiwan Oyster Trailer
If ever there was a promising take on the stale road movie genre, this would be it.
No other trailer this week captured what it is like to be estranged within a country, on a mission of questionable purpose, than Mark Jarrett’s look into the lives of a few people who indeed are on a mission from God and will do whatever it takes to fulfill it.
What’s so interesting about this beauty is that we don’t know anyone. We don’t know anyone and we certainly don’t know why these three people are stealing a body a la Grand Theft Parsons and doing something with it but it’s a novel approach to plunk us down right in the middle of things and blast forward from where we begin.
I like that disjointed feeling you get as you try and acclimate yourself to where we are and the interesting visual choices made here to give a sense of place and of character. Whether these people are on the run or are on a mission we nonetheless are able to see the various moments they all share, and listen to one of them wax poetic on the fragility of their situation, all the while hearing a kids choir chant out the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night”.
It’s personal, it’s a travelogue, it’s also one of the more meditative trailers you’ll watch in a while.
Waiting For Lightning Trailer
Fact: I am homogeneously unable to perform any physical act.
Besides being able to do a few cycles of P90X in my living room, I’m pretty much a disgrace to my sex in every way. I can’t box, I can’t fix a car, I’m pretty useless when it comes to interfacing with other alpha males about sports, and I certainly never was able to ride my bike like they did in Rad or The Dirt Bike Kid.
That’s why I’ve lived vicariously through the awesomeness of others through the pages of Thrasher and videos that only had soundtracks, the tricks contained on them too wicked to be cluttered with words. With a trailer like this, then, all my boyhood shock and awe at those who defied basic laws of physics and the innate need to keep your body parts connected have been realized.
Director Jacob Rosenberg has stepped in with a documentary that boils down the essence for what makes athletes like this operate on a level that few can appreciate. What’s genuinely remarkable about this trailer is its ability to set up the personal story of who this guy is, why we’re here watching him about to go down a ramp with thousands of fans cheering his name. When that moment actually happens, and he (spoiler alert) ends up smashing his head, that’s when we collect steam.
This isn’t just a story about a skateboarder but, rather, what would drive someone to plot out how they would jump the Great Wall of China. It’s an expose into the inner workings of a vessel that cant be satiated with just being the best. That body is craving the next challenge, the next opportunity and, to me, that’s what these icons do better than the rest of us who just marvel at it all.
Nota 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:
- Life Without Principal Trailer – Huh? This trailer is good at exactly one thing: obfuscating.
- Fat Kid Rules The World Trailer – This would probably play well on the WB. Doesn’t really grab me but I’m sure there’s some adolescent that would be attracted to its well worn themes of teenage rejection and resentment.
- On The Road Trailer – I tried to watch this a couple of times but all I see is Garrett Hedlund as Garrett Hedlund. Pass.
- The Three Stooges Trailer - The makers of this film should be brought up on charges of crimes against humanity simply based on the evidence presented here.
- Battleship Trailer – I loathed this movie more when it was called The Transformers.
- Hemingway & Gellhorn Trailer - I hate to be down on something that looks passable but if you want steamy literary affair like passion look no further than Henry & June and skip this.
- The Avengers Japanese Trailer - Nice mix of action and mindless summer drivel.
- Dark Shadows Trailer – Looks like an absolutely fun ride. I don’t know how thin the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer type jokes will play but I like it’s sense of fun.