Posted on Sunday, December 11th, 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?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi Trailer
Is it nutty that this is the kind of trailer that makes me love documentaries as an art form?
No one could be more thrilled at the prospect at director David Gelb’s examination into the life of an 85 year-old man and his ambitions to keep working at his craft than I am. The reason why that’s the case is that this trailer delicately introduces us to who we’re talking about, why we should care, and how novel of an idea it is that this guy is so focused at what he does that any notion of pretension is quickly dissipated by his eatery’s location which is nestled in the bowels of a subway station.
The contradictions of someone who has won as many accolades as him yet doesn’t find any reason to slow is inherently interesting yet the use of a classical score and wonderfully used slo-mo is reason enough to just allow this trailer to make its case. The case being, of course, of why anyone would find this story compelling, but allowing the film’s subjects to talk and to see how deftly the camera captures the miniature majesty of a sushi roll we effortlessly breeze through old man Jiro’s dreams of raw seafood, his son’s love for his dad, and the goings on in a restaurant that seems impossibly tiny for as much hubbub that’s made of the place’s quality.
The pull-quotes from those who have seen it, loaded near the end, are nicely placed on the screen and make the line between advertisement and enjoyment of a touching story blur together. I can’t imagine a more interesting documentary that I didn’t know I wanted to see before seeing this.
A Separation Trailer
I don’t know anything about director Asghar Farhadi but I like his style and this trailer in a genuine, heartfelt way.
There’s a certain honesty to the way we are just pushed into the fray of this husband and wife at the very beginning. There is no context, no indication of what it is that brought us here but it gets your attention. It weaves in the accolades it has received and the festivals it has played at like a soft ballet, the commotion caused by a couple arguing sublimely subverted by a delicate score.
Where this trailer really succeeds is that because we’ve been numbed by so many Merchant Ivory productions where it’s more about the art than it is anything genuinely exciting there might be the perception that this will be yet another movie about a woman standing up for her rights as an individual. Not that I wouldn’t applaud that as an honorable film to make by a filmmaker within a country where a story like that could create waves, but the trailer goes in another direction entirely and puts human life in danger.
You try and piece together exactly what is happening here but there is so much screaming and crying and accusations and lying and hurt feelings and near violence that you easily can get wrapped up in the drama on display. Frankly, I wanted to know what the hell this guy did to at once find himself faced with a murder charge and then try to figure out why his wife wants to leave. Is it the city? The country? Where does she want to go?
I know some will put this in the frou frou category of movies you’ll mean to get to but never will, however, I would hope that this trailer gets placed on your personal radar to actually see if it can be as engrossing as the trailer makes it out to be.
Lads and Jockeys Trailer
Fact: I have ZERO interest in seeing War Horse.
I could care less about horses, movies about horses, movies about boys and their horses, movies about horses in general, and movies that want to put horses in fake circumstances but want to try and manipulate me in caring about an animal I would rather see turned into ground meat than galloping across a grassy meadow in slow motion.Well, there was Hot to Trot but I’m only a fan of that because of Dabney Coleman’s teeth.
That said, I need to see this documentary.
I wish I could say more about the director of this film but Benjamin Marquet has made exactly one movie to his credit and this is it. I guess it represents the one story he wanted to tell but it looks like a damn good one. Instead of focusing on the horse whisperer narratives of movies that want to tell the tale of man and animal coming together, this one wants to show kids getting yelled at and boys behaving badly. I love it.
I had no idea that kids would willingly prostrate themselves to jockeys who are obviously masters in their fields, and I guess everyone had to start somewhere, but these boys are getting chewed out like it’s the Navy and this is SEAL training. It feels like it could be with the way they’re begging these boys to punch out but it’s got a great angle on this sport.
Seeing these children trying to emulate the people they’ve seen ride these beasts is at the same time hilarious and nerve wracking as some of them lose it when their equine decides to let the throttle out a little more than they want. It’s about boys being boys while trying their hand at something they don’t know a lot about besides what they’ve learned by causally being around some horses.
I’m not sure exactly why this looks as compelling as it does but the trailer’s insistence on showcasing the seriousness of the sport and not the spoils of the spot could be one reason it resonates so well.
If you’re director Prachya Pinkaew, how do you follow up a directorial career that includes Ong-bak, Chocolate or even The Protector? Make a movie about a Korean family of taekwondo experts who move to Thailand, of course.
Yeah, it’s a little on the goofy side but that’s OK with me. Sometime you need a Power Kids or Shaolin Soccer for every serious martial arts movie and now’s the time for something a little light and airy. I really dig this trailer’s vibe, it’s essence, with its flashy opening sequence as we’re introduced to everyone but the trailer really throws things into high gear around the minute mark but then gets bat crap crazy around the minute thirty mark as it goes into this techno potpourri of lightning fast action and music that makes you want to grab a glow stick and rave on until the morning light.
I don’t purport to even think I know what’s going on by the end of this trailer but it does have a humor about itself, something that has eluded martial arts films since Stephen Chow has been noticeably absent from the scene in some time. There are some truly bizarre things happening but, in the context of a movie where people are coming face to face with alligators and some are fighting with kitchen utensils this all is probably par for the cinematic course. [Via Twitch]
I’m pretty sure I suffered a few seizures just trying to make it though this.
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:
- The Grey Trailer – Looks like a solid Redbox rental. One dollar just feels like the right price point.
- Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie Red Band Trailer – This could be one of the greatest experiments in showing what unbridled id looks like or it could be a colossal waste of everyone’s time and resources. Either way, I’m excited that we’ll find out soon enough. Wicked good trailer, though.
- Wish You Were Here Trailer – It’s been a while since seeing a movie like this. The trailer tells the story well while also developing the characters in it.
- I Am Not a Hipster Trailer – Looks interesting and sad at the same time. Nice mix of music and narrative snippets.
- Lockout Trailer – Looks kind of limp, especially considering the male bravado b.s. opening.
- The Cabin in the Woods Trailer – Interesting, really interesting. I thought I knew which way it was going to go but this trailer really surprises.
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Trailer #2 – Go ahead and take your false, manipulative narrative somewhere else. This trailer is the epitome of what a bad sell job looks like.
- The Lorax Trailer – My kids will probably like it but I’m actually rather neutral on what I see. I could take it or leave it.
- The Three Stooges Trailer – If you like misery porn, you’ll be whacking for 90 minutes based on the awfulness of a movie that looks more like a stillborn birth than it is a comedy.
- The Five-Year Engagement Trailer – Did I just see the whole movie or am I mistaken? I could have sworn I have a good handle on the first 60 of a 90 minute rom com.
- Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted Trailer – Thankfully, this trailer makes good use of the penguins, arguably the best thing about this tired franchise.
- The Iron Lady Trailer – It might almost go too far afield with the treacle and circumstance but I kind of like it; a trailer that will play well with broad audiences.