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?
The Guard Trailer
I don’t know if it got any better for me in 2008 with regard to unexpected gems than In Bruges.
Brendan Gleeson has a certain style, a comedic delivery that is at the same time smart, sly, and quite dry. A trifecta of brilliance that more than enough helped make that a movie worth watching more than once. Here, then, is a trailer that teases the kind of wit that simply makes Gleeson compelling as a comedic performer. Guided by director/writer John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin so you hope these two kids had a chat or two about what was in that secret sauce called Bruges, who really only has the award winning Ned Kelly from 2003 under his belt, I found myself laughing at a lot of the beats here. As dour and jaded as I am, I consider that a win and deserving of high praise.
It’s not so much of Gleeson’s antics within the trailer proper here, although him scratching his nuts and acting like a boob in the face of a seriousness obviously showcases what they’re going after in this film, but it is his affability which is so refreshing. His talent, his strength, comes by being an everyman who is slightly askew and it comes through. He’s seems genuinely harmless but to see him cavorting with women of the night as he ultimately comes off as a bit of an idiot seems perfectly natural and it fits him well.
The trailer is expertly paced as the blurbs from various publications about the film’s “brilliance” pepper the narrative in a way that not only shores up the flimsy nature of a movie that looks like it’s going to take everything in an exaggerated direction, it offers some assurance that there is a solid film here. The violence and mayhem doesn’t seem real as it does an opportunity for Gleeson to do his thing, the gun battle we’re shown doesn’t feel dangerous as it does comedic, but it works for me. This appears to be just the thing I could use after a high dose of testosterone at the box office this summer. [Twitch]
Tarantino: Disciple of Hong Kong Trailer
Well, someone just discovered iMovie.
I’m not sure exactly why there’s the need to saturate every inch of this thing with After Effects but the directorial team of Jac & Johan has made something that, at its core, appears to be something more than just your run of the mill biography.
No, what’s here has such an energy and looks dipped in pure excitement that after watching it a couple of times and getting over its obnoxiousness you can’t help but understand precisely what’s afoot in this trailer. This documentary looks like it’s trying to piece together a love letter that was written a long time ago. You can never understand an author’s true intentions but it’s obvious that the snippets we get of those who inspired Quentin Tarantino and those who worked with the man on his greatest works are truly insightful and will help shed light on the auteur who has never been very coy with his intentions and influences.
Before you know it this thing is done but I can’t think of another promo in recent memory that has pushed the pedal all the way down to the floor, left it there, and blazed a path from beginning to end in such an entertaining fashion. It’s a wind sprint, a 50-yard dash and I am left panting for more. I am thrilled thinking of how i will hunt this down after it airs on French television but if ever there was a made-for-TV documentary that would be worth watching this would be the one. [Twitch]
The Wave Trailer
This is one of the issues with international releasing.
Again, I know, or rather I don’t know, that rights and distribution and legal claptrap all factor in why some movies can enjoy a grand run in their homeland, be released on home video, and only then make it to our theaters for consumption. For whatever reason, this film from Dennis Gansel comes almost a full year after I talked about the trailer for the film he actually made after this film had been finished. Two years finished, to be precise. While I don’t understand the peculiarities of how this happens, I at least know the bizarre methods at least one company employs when it comes to snatching up Asian films and letting them sit on a shelf for a great long while, this high concept movie appears to be something that could be critically divisive.
What I like most about this trailer is that through the use of ambient sound effects of a heartbeat, an ear-piercing buzzer straight out of Lost, a school bell, it ratchets up the already interesting premise of the whole film. I get that it’s pretty wild to think that a movie about a class somehow coalescing into a unified douche parade whereby they seem to exert control of a whole student body and even have it leak out into the community is pretty hard to swallow. However, the trailer makes you think that this could be one of those rare films that show teenagers behaving badly in a way that could be done with a good amount of excitement and insight.
By the time things get absolutely out of control, high praise to the trailer makers for easily making this foreign language film easy to understand and communicating the crux of the movie quite clearly, I can’t get a bead on what will ultimately happen. I’m pretty sure that one, if not a couple, of the students will end up dead and the way things end here, the teacher suddenly realizing what has happened, the percussion taking over, the quick edits, I don’t think there is any other way to look at this other than as a movie worth deeper inspection. It certainly has piqued my interest in knowing more when it does, eventually, get released in whatever format that the businesspeople finally deem appropriate and prudent. [Twitch]
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front Trailer
I like supporting Marshall Curry’s work.
From his great Academy Award nominated documentary in 2005 about local politics, Street Fight, to the thoughtful doc Racing Dreams in 2009 the man has a way with taking small slices of life and making them interesting. Subjects you would have otherwise not have known about, that’s his wheelhouse. So, then, what makes his documentary about the Earth Liberation Font so interesting is that this trailer breaks everything down in mere seconds.
The preview is one that just wastes no time in establishing who we’re dealing with, why it is we’re here, and, as the Sundance logo slides across the screen, what kind of pedigree it has. In fact, what makes this a solid trailer isn’t so much that it does all the things right about explaining why you should see this film, rather, it seems to employ the same techniques that made Street Fight such a great documentary: it presents both sides. It’s such an easy thing to explain why you would want two sides explaining their case but when you have obviously tilted reporting, as you would in a doc like Super Size Me, it’s just refreshing to take two opposing sides and let them have at it. This trailer lets both those who are committing mayhem and destruction in the name of something they believe in and those who are on the side of enforcing this country’s laws have their ideas known. It doesn’t condemn either party for their actions, we get insights into both camps on this issue, all the while serving it in a well-edited trailer that never lags and does not relent until it’s over.
This was, without question, the greatest surprise of the week in terms of movies that I wouldn’t have ever given a second thought to until I saw the accompanying trailer. Now, I just have to see how it ends.
Dancing Dreams Trailer
Stick with me on this one.
I talked about Pina some weeks ago. That trailer has stuck with me like a warm bowl of oatmeal and when I heard about this film’s existence, that it was about forty teenagers trying to put on internationally celebrated dance choreographer Pina Bausch’s most celebrated dance productions (just read a glowing review from a recent revival), and that these teens were about as green as a blade of grass when it came to dancing, I was expecting a train wreck. What I see here, though, could not be more affirming as a movie worth your time and attention. It just feels real in a way that seems genuine, honest, and lots of fun. While I have never seen any other work by directors Rainer Hoffmann and Anne Linsel this looks incredibly inviting.
It’s easy to simply dismiss this documentary as fluff and a snooze fest if ever there was one because I was on the verge of picking up and moving on myself until about the twenty second mark, but it does reward your patience. After seeing a man and woman slink and slide across a stage as they prepare for some kind of dance production we finally are let in on that the performers we’re watching are teens, teens who have no idea what they’re doing on the dance floor.
Things move fast here and we’re not really able to focus on anyone in particular but to see the moments when youth collides with the heady subject matter that most art deals with it’s downright fun to see the result of this atom smashing experiment. There is loads of laughing, lots of people flubbing things up, small girls crying their eyes out, but you just know as the applause rains down on these kids at the end of this thing everything will turn out OK. Of course you want things to end well but it’s all the goodness in the middle of this trailer that tells me this just has to be a documentary that not only deals with art but with kids who are simply trying to grow up. Like I said, affirming.
If you’re so inclined just watch this extend-o trailer from some months ago. It’s just as insightful as this preview.
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:
- The Whistleblower Trailer - This might be an important film but the trailer isn’t doing the story any favors. Listless and vanilla.
- 50/50 Trailer - I’m not sure about this. The trailer appears to be delivering a black comedy of sorts but I’m not convinced that this can go the distance as Seth Rogan is essentially being Seth Rogan.
- I Don’t Know How She Does It Trailer - I don’t know how she does it either but I just don’t care.
- Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark Trailer - Thanks to Insidious I now believe in the power of well executed scaring if it can be done right. This well may be exactly what I’m hoping it is.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Trailer - I didn’t realize this could be the most exciting film I’m looking forward to all fall until I saw this. Amazing.
- One Day Trailer - Putting glasses on an actress and mussing her hair does not constitute an “ugly duckling” makeover. I’m simply annoyed by the suggestion.
- Luke Cage Teaser Trailer - Umm…I’m not sure? Some of the bits look fun but as far as unsolicited resumes go, this is a bit jarring and not very exciting.
- Spy Kids: All The Time In The World Trailer - If I was ten and I was writing this column I would say this looks like the movie of the year. However, I’m not and this looks like it’s well out of my demo. Pass.
- 1911 Trailer - Not much to go off in this trailer. The score is nice, though. I need more than close ups of a grown man trying not to cry.
- General Orders No. 9 Trailer - Haunting, indeed. This is a trailer that makes you stop what you’re doing as it just washes over you. Count me in.
- The Wholly Family Trailer - I love it. It’s not weird for weird sake as it genuinely feels like something is being said. I don’t know what that is but I appreciate what’s happening here.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Green Band Trailer - What a thrilling prospect of a movie. The musical choice is spot on and the editing is more than enough to whet your appetite in hot anticipation. It’s been a while since we’ve had a movie like this so I hope it can deliver on what it’s promising.
- Horrible Bosses Trailer #2 - I really like this trailer. A lot. I am hoping for a sweeping, dramatic explosion but I would be satisfied if it was just plain good.
- Ninja Kids!!! Trailer – I had such a virulently bad reaction to the first film that I can’t see anything new of note in this trailer to make me think this will be any different.
- Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest Trailer - I would buy this film’s soundtrack if nothing else. This could be the quintessential musical documentary of the year.
- Ninja Kids!!! Trailer – I very well could see myself partaking in a viewing of this movie with my kids. Looks like something they could really lose their minds to.
- Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Trailer #2 – I still think there’s a good movie here. Whether it’s worth a full price admission is still iffy.