Posted on Friday, November 12th, 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?
For my money, when it comes to Peter Mullan there simply isn’t a better character actor from Scotland.
Honestly, his turn in Red Riding is perhaps one of his best performances that I’ve seen this year. He has this subtle fury about him that just is waiting to explode and this trailer feels like that pent up rage just bubbling forth.
The man has gone and written, and directed, this coming of age tale which I was pretty blasé about until I saw this trailer. I was already dreading yet another story where a bad boy turns good, finds a girl, experiences love for the first time, loses girl, and the credits roll. No, what I got here was all out anarchy.
I mean, was Glasgow in the 70’s as violent with these boy savages on the loose? Seriously, our boy wonder Conor McCarron stars as a kid who seemingly just wants to get through school. Quickly, and I love that this trailer isn’t messing around, we learn that this nerd is targeted by all kinds of hooligans who have no discernable amount of respect for anyone or any thing.
Getting into scraps, finding home life to be a war zone as well, this trailer just devolves into a spiral of violence and pure hatred. You want to have a talk about the effects of bullying? This trailer depicts well the effects of what it can do to someone who has felt victimized and instead of turning it against himself turns against those who he feels wronged him.
I can’t help but feel thrilled when this kid is being chased by a band of thugs, only to retreat inside a small apartment, whereby a certain ass kicking is all but a foregone conclusion. The kid provokes as much as he defends.
You’ve got Molotov cocktails being thrown into windows, guys hanging out of their cars with crossbows, and the promise of a fight between two factions of street goons in the middle of a small walking bridge. Insane.
I realize that I may not get all the nuances of time and place here but I would be shocked if this nothing less than a depressing thrill ride into a place that has long since been erased from Scotland’s memory.
I will willingly fight anyone on any street inside America’s borders who says this doesn’t look like Uwe Boll’s best film.
No joke, I had a few good laughs watching this thing as it’s such a dramatic, albeit comedic, swing in the other direction from the last film I’ve seen from him where he was gassing some of the Jewish persuasion that you have to wonder what is running through this man’s head. Whatever it is, it’s pure confidence.
It’s obvious by the set-up for the trailer that it’s not going to be as serious as the tone makes it out to be, with Boll you can’t ever be 100% sure which way he’s going to zig or zag, but this trailer comes with the funny early on. As, when the person who put words at the bottom as a means to avoid having to paste them on their own interstitial, you have to know you’re dealing with a live wire. Now, it’s the appearance of our cherub faced hero who avoids being shot with a pistol from an attacker by moving in a most bizarre and awkward way, that it completely shames the bullet time effect, and starts the comedy.
From here I am ill equipped to tell you why this is the most brilliant thing I’ve seen all week. Maybe it’s the glue I’m huffing, maybe it’s the NaWriNoMo project I’m hip deep in doing that has me all turned around but Lindsay Hollister, who people might remember as being one of the only amusing things about Get Smart’s revamp, is absolutely lovely. She has a great sense of comedic timing, delivers some snappy lines, and when Uwe steps in with his best impression of der Führer I am unable to keep myself from wanting to see this movie.
Lord, forgive me, but this is one I must check out from beginning to end. [Twitch]
Robinson In Ruins Trailer
I guarantee I will lose some of you on this one.
I realize this might be a little “too out there” for some of you but I implore you all to check out director Patrick Keiller’s Robinson in Space. The film deals in the factual, in the depicting of the pastoral and of seemingly innocuous locations in England, relating some kind of factoid bric-a-brac, but it honestly is one of the strangest documentaries you’ll ever see this year I promise you of that.
Through the use of static shots where the camera doesn’t move at all in this trailer we’re taken on a narrative stroll through various locales around England, the deadpan delivery honest in its aims to both inform and entertain. With its presentation of factories, living areas, people you’ve probably never heard of, the humor is very subtle. Thankfully, this new trailer doesn’t promise anything else but more of the same and I love it.
Feeling like a documentary on The Royal Tenenbaums with its use of solid colors and static shots the intro to this trailer is brilliantly honest in showing you what you’re going to get with this movie. The narrative voiceover is used wonderfully to sell a film that ought to dissuade the right people from seeing it and welcoming the right ones to seek it out.
While I will admit that not even I can grasp the otherworldliness that’s being talked about in this trailer I at least can appreciate that this is cheekiness at its finest and that all will be explained when seeing the film proper.
At around the minute fifteen mark, after being hypnotized by the soothing voice of our guide and having a few different shots of lush English landscapes, we are barraged with a litany of sites that will be shown in this movie and I find myself being drawn in further to the most mysterious documentary I know nothing about. I can’t explain why I want to see this movie but something is drawing me in. Is this art for art’s sake or is there really something here that people might find riveting as well? I like being in doubt.
If Xiaogang Feng was an American director with credits that matched his real resume this movie would be a real risk.
Well known in China for making some of the most broad, comedic work this side of the Great Wall Feng has decided to make a play for the dramatic. I know here in the States we like to keep our directors making the movies that we all know them for, and we punish them financially at times for moving too far afield of that, but regardless of Feng’s background there is something here that’s worth writing about.
The trailer, which is obviously going to be in a foreign language, decides not to use language at all in order to sell its idea. It uses striking visuals to convey a story that begins, oddly, with a phalanx of fluttering dragonflies. What this has to do with a savage bombing I don’t know but it does make the stark transition from happy-go-lucky working folks to one where a shell shocked girl wakes up, in the rain, disoriented as the streets run red with pools of blood and an army rolling through town. It conveys that sense of how quick everything can change and I like the narrative jolt that’s employed.
Further, the progression of the story as it pertains to the girl wandering a rainy street alone with so much misery around her is delightfully reversed. The way we see everything revert backwards through a series of angles where people falling out of buildings are pushed back upward, structures that came down are reconstructed, and we are taken back, ostensibly, to a moment in time when everything is on the verge of being ripped apart is interesting.
I like that I don’t know where we’re headed or what is going to happen, it just increases my interest, but I think I like that not one word or phrase was used in selling me on a story that looks sad, compelling, and all kinds of riveting.
Suck On This Book Trailer
Secondly, I realize this is not a film trailer. However, I interviewed Denis last year in support of his book Why We Suck so when I saw this I was both amazed he was back with a new tome of his musings but also constructing a trailer for you to go buy it. The competitive landscape of book publishing and where it’s now become a business based on those who can sell the most copies in its initial release, just like the horse race we all comment on when X movie doesn’t bring in X dollars in its first weekend. Whether or not it’s a valid conversation Leary takes aim at this issue, along with page counts, as he implores you to read his skinny tome of snappy quips and nuggets of amusement.
His presentation is quick and to the point and the pitch, naked as it is when he implores you to buy his stuff, is done with the kind of aplomb that’s missing in the world of reading.
I’m surprised that those who are on the PR teams of major publishing houses are still slow to come to the realization that promotion like this could actually sell a couple extra units and, in an arena where a few thousand sales can make the difference between a top 10 book and one that is struggling to make the charts, here’s to hoping that we get more of these kinds of things in the future. At the very least I’ll get a clue what is out there and, thanks to this, now I know what Denis is up to. Maybe it’ll make a good holiday gift.
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:
- Just Go With It Trailer - Adam Sandler ends up with Jennifer Aniston. There, I just saved you $9.50. You’re welcome.
- The Illusionist Trailer - This trailer makes me believe that there is still life in traditional animation. It looks absolutely lovely.
- Zookeeper Trailer- This looks awful and I bet you it will make one billion dollars.
- Friends With Benefits Red Band Trailer - If I can just keep my wife away from seeing this trailer I think I’ll be able to avoid this altogether.
- Bangkok Knockout Trailer - Who doesn’t like people getting kicked in the head in all kinds of different ways? Those who said no aren’t my real friends.
- Kung-Fu Panda 2 Teaser Trailer - All the same tepid kid jokes are back! How lovely.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trailer #4 - If any of you have 10-13 year-old kids this is going to be their Dark Knight. Enjoy.
- Tron Legacy Trailer #3 – You’ll not find a bigger fan of this movie than me after seeing about 24 minutes of it but the ONLY thing that has me worried is the Polar Express like effect of a young, CGI’d Jeff Bridges. I hope it’s not distracting.
- Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible Trailer - Unbelievable. I need to see this quickly.
- Linotype: The Film Trailer - As a bookworm this just jumped to the top of docs I would like to see. Excellent trailer.
- Jane Eyre Trailer - A period piece that I hope is as good as this trailer and, I must admit, I haven’t been excited for some time about anything like this.
- The Eagle Trailer - The trailer is weak and I think it’s because Channing Tatum makes a better Joe than he does a throwback to a bygone era of soldiers.
- Little Fockers Trailer #2 – Is there no sequel killer among us who can thrust a stake in this franchise’s heart? God help us all.
- Winnie The Pooh Trailer - A weak trailer that shows you that there is other options for animation out there and this simply is just coasting on a name and a lame premise.
- Season of the Witch Trailer - Any of you out there who posses a stopwatch please do me a favor. Tell me the longest stretch of a single scene that doesn’t break in this trailer. If it’s longer than .5 seconds I’d be willing to give this film another chance.