Posted on Friday, June 10th, 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?
You Said What? Trailer
Peter Stormare is perhaps the greatest living thespian working today. Ok, that’s exaggeration…but not by a lot.
Directors/writers Patrik Syversen and Nini Bull Robsahm may live and breathe in Norway but I get where they’re going with this comedy. It tears down international borders and somehow makes its humor, and aesthetic, easily understood as it leaves an indelible mark for anyone attune to what it’s selling. And what it’s selling isn’t novel so much as it is a fresh take on something we’ve all seen before. Boy tries to meet girl, girl isn’t interested at first, boy finds way to entice girl, get Peter Stormare to star in your picture as an obnoxious version of himself. Win.
I mean, how do you explain away a film that can distill why a pack of Norwegian men who behave so badly be so damn entertaining as they fumble their way through making a movie? What I like is that instead of it being movie nerds being all kind of inside baseball, the trailer focuses on the more absurd elements of how these unlikely filmmakers fall into producing an actual film on the fly.
The comedy comes from the Overnight like antics that come after things fall into place for these gents, not the least of which is the amount of yak that is dispensed on one of these guys as they all copiously blow their budget even before shooting begins, and the amount of insanity that surrounds the production of the actual film. There looks like a genuine love story in here somewhere and I appreciate the fact that it’s not hidden in between what already appears to be a movie that will unleash some serious Stormare star power.
I’ve watched this trailer at least a dozen times this week and I keep finding things that make me smile. It’s got heart and I appreciate the effort being made here. [Twitch]
Rio Breaks Trailer
Simply, Justin Mitchell knew how to capture the intimacy of a little band who made it big when he directed Sleep Well, Drive Carefully as he showcased Death Cab for Cutie in perhaps the most earnest way possible. What he might have learned with that project might not have prepared him in filming inside Rio de Janeiro’s slums but there’s a friendliness between the filmmaker and the subject that comes through in this ad. You can sense the intimacy between the two things and it immediately is apparent as this trailer rolls on.
The story following two friends in Rio blazes forth with a tight soundtrack and some interesting visual media choices. From shots of these kids getting their Swayze surf on to showing stills of unexplained heaters ready to get cocked and ready to rock there is an interesting juxtaposition and narrative taking shape. It’s not your usual documentary and it’s not selling itself as one which I really like.
It’s paced quite briskly as it just puts it out there about what we’re dealing with when it comes to the story’s arc. It’s fascinating to see that what we’re seeing is a literal crossroads between two friends. One is bound for thuggery while the other isn’t going to let his situation deter him from getting into the ocean and surfing. It just explodes with tension as there’s a veiled danger already taking root inside one of the boys.
It’s like watching a real life version of the City of God that never gets past the adolescence of the kids. And what a curious angle to take as well. Like I said, it’s the nexus point where you think you can see the last vestiges of childhood die away as it’s replaced by either the hope of possibility or the dark recesses of what happens when a life of crime seems like the only way up and out. Fascinating.
The Names Of Love Trailer
If romantic comedy isn’t your bag, go on to the next one, because I’m fawning on this one.
I shouldn’t let treacle like this into my soul and permeate like the scent of rosewater as it takes over a room but I can’t help that I like trailers that suppose something romantic, silly, and sweet. Director Michel Leclerc may not cause anyone’s awareness meters to go off but it’s clear by what’s here that he has the sensibility required to pull off a movie that is as light on the senses as this. It hits the same part of my mind as film like Les Emotifs Anonymes and I think it’s good once in a while to just like something just because it hearkens back to another time when breezy comedy could still mean something good and not something to be feared as brainless slop, especially since this was good enough for Cannes. That shouldn’t be the only yard stick, mind you, but it does carry a little weight.
The story here, much like a lot of films in this vein, is based on a trope we’ve all come to know and loathe: the hot woman who finds herself with a borderline frumpy man. I don’t know why this story still exists, I thought I had stumbled upon something novel when I saw Something Wild as a kid and only realized later that every year there’s a variation on the theme being made for the multiplex, but if it’s done right it can be done well. The last time I saw it done really, really well was Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and even though we’re not even in the same space there is a hint that the story here is dealing with one man’s struggle to actually feel something genuine after a lifetime’s worth of numbness. It’s a true joie de vivre tale with a haughty high step.
What I like about making the assumptions about the movie just based on the trailer is that for this buying decision I’m depending on the blurbs from the Hollywood Reporter and Rolling Stone to actually shear up what I’m seeing presented. It’s not that difficult to put into words what I see but this trailer not only is pulling out all the stops with regard to critical notations but it’s also not shy to tell you about its award winning nods for actress and screenplay, actress Sara Forestier won out over the lead from Les Emotifs Anonymes coincidentally, just makes this such an attractive ticket purchase.
It’s tough to believe that it’s possible to once again embrace the romantic comedy but if you’re out there looking, and want something that looks sweet without rotting your teeth, there can be no better risk to take than to see whether this really is everything the trailer promises.
How To Cheat Trailer
Amber Sealey. Anyone? Anyone?
I like independent movies that have no star power, no hook other than its premise. These are the movies that have to work a little harder and this one is putting in the hours at the gym. It is the small piece of voiceover from our male protagonist about his current station in life at the very beginning of this thing that just grabbed me and made me pay attention.
As he laments about where his relationship with his wife has taken him, pontificating on the nature of where he currently is in his life, I completely get it and connect with this guy. He’s an everyman and not the delicately profiled husband who is stylized in a Hollywood mold like you see in a movie like The Switch, this is a man whose life has been passing him by.
From the inane goings on at a job where he probably thought himself to be a manager, not the managed, and his brilliant, albeit ultimately stupid, plan to cheat on his wife there is a believability here. While I can’t say “Oh boy, I feel ya” I can appreciate where this character is at inside his head. Again, it’s such a small film but you can look at this trailer’s handicapped scorecard, the music simply doesn’t fit but I’m overlooking that, and see that this is a winner. I want to get to know this guy a little further because I’m dying to know where he ultimately ends up and what he decides to do with a germ of an idea that no doubt is on a crash course to be realized.
My only hope is that they make that moment of regret and heartbreak feel real. The world doesn’t have enough films dealing with the real implications of infidelity and the nuances of the modern man who is dealing with an existential crisis of what happens when you’re barreling through the years without so much as a notable accomplishment to hang your ego on.
Dam 999 Trailer
Well, this is certainly not like anything I’ve seen come through Bollywood. I was expecting some dancing, some singing, some near kissing, but what’s here is absolutely none of that. This seems like the eastern lovechild of The Room and a Ronald Emmerich production. I’m utterly transfixed by what’s here and I don’t have the words to describe how wonderfully the dialogue coalesces with the end-of-the-world disaster that looks to befall all of our players.
I mean, I could describe the reasons why I want to see just what in the hell is going on in this thing but I think that would ruin the fun flavor I get when watching the trailer. There’s excitement, passion, violence, mother nature level destruction, kidnapping, snapping snakes, soothsayers, and a grown man in pirate shirts and broad shouldered vests.
This is probably the most incredible thing you will see in your life. Act accordingly.
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 Vow Trailer – I’m sure the right demographic is already talking over their AOL Instant Messenger in their cubes, making plans to see this as a girl’s night out, right at this very second. As for me, I’ve seen this trailer once and don’t need to see any more.
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Trailer – Find this trailer on YouTube and read the comments; tells you everything you need to know.
- Fright Night Trailer #2 – I don’t know how she does it either but I just don’t care.
- The Help International Trailer – I’m still not sold that a mainstream film that’s selling race is the kind of film many will flock to I’m sure middle America will appreciate the broad strokes this film makes.
- Scabbard Samurai Trailer – I kind of like this. I’m not sure what to make of the story proper but there’s a plucky spirit in the filmmaking that I find fresh.
- Tabloid Trailer – It’s Errol Morris, say no more. Apart from having a really good trailer, this looks like a pretty wild story.