Posted on Saturday, October 8th, 2011 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?
It’s one of those ‘What If?’ scenarios that, I imagine, lingers with those who have even but a general understanding of World War II.
Imagining that D-Day didn’t work, and that the Germans continued their octopus-like march throughout Europe, is entirely within the realm of possibility. This trailer represents one of the truly original story lines that can mine this war’s many angles that have been done to death. I like that they’re playing with reality and it doesn’t at all feel out of place or false.
Michael Sheen’s performance here is understated, as is everyone else who is starring in this film, for better or worse. One of the nicer things about this trailer is that we’re not given much more than just some stray bits and pieces of information.
First-time director Amit Gupta has done a good job in not only defining the world we’re going to inhabit for a while but this preview is consumed with hitting the higher, more philosophical, notes rather than trotting out some sensationalist moments that would play up the whole ‘Nazis in Britain’ angle. True, it is a movie about that but what’s here is delightfully more concerned with thinking about the true ramifications of the ‘What If?’ without ever feeling the need to turn it into a Red Dawn-like scenario; it would be tempting, to be sure, but I would have to imagine this will be far more interesting to explore.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate Trailer
Am I hallucinating or did Jet Li, in more than one interview, say that he was giving up the wuxia game altogether? He’s like Cher, except shorter, and slightly more ambulatory, as many times as he’s come in and out of “retirement.” Not that I’m complaining, by any stretch of the imagination. I see a trailer like this and get excited for what he’s still able to do on screen.
Director Hark Tsui has been cranking out some quality fare as of late, his most recent being Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, and this looks like it’s going to be just as interesting. While the trailer, more like a teaser, really, doesn’t kick in until about forty-five seconds it nonetheless is an aural sensation. The high tinkle of a cymbal, the weird moments that seem completely out of place, but it’s the fist pounding a big wooden post that got me all amped up.
It’s the mere hint of the action you can expect that is such a delight. We get snippets of it, mere wafts, but I’m more than comfortable suggesting that this could be one of those films you didn’t know you wanted to see until right now.
Letter To The Future Trailer
It’s tough to try and defend a country’s right to keep its citizens in perpetual poverty; and why those same people would flee their homeland simply because its economic and political woes are too much to bear.
One thing I like about this trailer is that it does not have any interest in stirring the political pot with regard to talking about the oppressive regime. It wants to spend some time in this part of Cuba, to tell the stories of a family that looks to have been torn apart by the exodus of some from their homeland.
Director Renato Martins is taking a measured approach to showing how this family is dealing with members who have fled Cuba and what that means for those who are left behind. What I like most about this trailer is that it’s quiet. It’s not looking for ways to spice up a story about those living under a regime that is fairly oppressive as it, instead, just wants these people to talk honestly. It’s that honesty that gets me and simply based on that this could easily be a documentary that could play well on PBS.
Freak Dance Trailer
What the hell?
I don’t think I know what’s really going on here but directors Matt Besser and Neil Mahoney must have some kind of insight. I am a huge fan of the things that UCB does and this is no exception.
While I’m unsure of the real angle with the material, other than the obvious silliness of movies with dancing, I’m convinced that this is best possible foot forward with regard to how you would promote a film that wants to send up these kinds of films yet establish the baseline of how they’re going to present the story.
Yes, it’s over-the-top and a little bit nutty but the dance numbers look well choreographed and the little moments we get with performers like Amy Poehler, Tim Meadows, and Besser himself are more than enough to make me at least have hope, hope that this is more satirical and sharp than it is a limp attempt to poke fun at something that’s already been done to death.
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:
- Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project Trailer – Wow, I don’t know how you take one of the most interesting men in Hollywood and make it seem blander than a saltine that has sat on the kitchen counter for two days but, congratulations, you’ve done it.
- The Lady Trailer – Feels, smells, and looks like Oscar bait but I don’t mind. What’s here appears to be pretty interesting based on a fairly controversial, and modern, human rights activist.
- Lillyhammer Trailer – While the content doesn’t seem very fresh, the trailer nonetheless satisfies my curiosity about what this series could be and whether it would be worth the effort to check out.
- War Horse Trailer – Nope, I’m not really interested in a horse. I don’t care who is directing it, this trailer doesn’t inspire, it bores me.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo International Trailer – Enough already with all the trailers, the leaked footage, the photos, I need to see if this film can live up to the hype. I have to believe it will and that’s only making the waiting that much more painful.
- Arthur Christmas Trailer – The kids can see this one, I’ll be in the other theater playing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
- The Adventures of Tintin Trailer – I know I should be all impressed with the improvements of mo-cap but this still looks and feels creepy in some places.
- Norman Trailer – This is what teen angst is all about. Add in a little something special, i.e. terminal, and you have my undivided attention.
- Vs Trailer – Eh, I’ve seen the whole average superhero film before and done without so much bravado and bombast. I’ll pass.
- My Week With Marilyn Trailer – The premise certainly is unique but it’s Michelle Williams who really steals this trailer’s thunder.
- Tower Heist Trailer #2 – The first trailer gave me hope. The second trailer has taken it away. Thanks.
- Young Adult Trailer – Well color me surprised. I like what I see here.
- Happy Feet Two Trailer – I’m no closer to understanding why this animated film made as big of a splash as it did after watching this. I’m dumbfounded by its blandness.