Posted on Friday, July 1st, 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?
This sort of subverts your expectations a bit.
Colin Berry’s short film looks like it’s going to dwell on the gentle moments we always remember about finding that special someone and the nexus point at which you knew it was something more than finding a friend but the trailer flips the script on all that and gives us something else entirely.
What’s here isn’t really readily identifiable when we open in on things, there isn’t any narration or guide to inform what’s happening, but the sense of romance is easily understood as this little vignette plays on. It’s not that we don’t get what this yuppie is yearning for as he looks at this girl who just seems like she’s right out of central casting as your typical luscious, but extremely shy, woman who also doesn’t mind flashing you a come hither grin (I’ve never seen one in the wild), but when these two share a brief moment, the odd pairing of imagery that shows this Doctor Frankenstein in his lab, is a bit confusing. However, you can’t help but feel something nefarious is going on. I like that what we have here, essentially, is an extended moment that juxtapositions lecherousness and innocence.
We just stay within the moment as these two kids pass with nary a word spoken, the music in the background is perfectly chosen and only heightens the experience, until about the fifty five second mark. This is where the money is and why you’re seeing it lead things off this week. I certainly wasn’t expecting what we’re given but it pulled together everything we were shown up until that moment. I get it.
And, in case you didn’t “get it” the scene we’re shown that almost seems like a epilogue after the shocker is a real nice touch, a bookend. Further, the shadowy figure who furiously pops in at the very last moment is not only strange but supernaturally curious. What the hell is going on here? No clue, but the trailer has me hooked for sure. [Twitch]
The Salesman Trailer
Quick, tell me any film Sèbastien Pilote has done.
One of the real nice treats of this position is stumbling upon gems like this. There is such a feeling of age, of experience, as we come upon a world where a man has built his career getting people to buy cars. He seems really good at it, a story that could have been Jerry Lundegaard at old age if we had followed that man’s life trajectory, and the opening feels like a welcoming into a man’s world that feels well lived in and comfortable.
What makes this a compelling beginning is its focus on a place, the thin plastic awards, the painted white cinder blocks, the flags flapping in a cold wind. I don’t know what it is about the presentation but this man’s life seems awfully lonely yet wholly compelling once we learn that old man river is a granddad who is pulling babysitting duties. Dad doesn’t seem to be around, there doesn’t appear to be grandma anywhere, but instead of going through a story of how some crotchety old guy finds solace in his grandson the narration goes in a different direction.
We don’t really know what’s at issue with this guy but ruling out emotional rigidity at least opens up the possibility that what we’re going to get is one man’s deep introspection as he understands that what he’s ended up becoming is wholly dependent on what he does for a living. He seems to have a positive relationship with his daughter and her child so that doesn’t seem to be an issue. What is, though, is his psyche.
I could be wrong, I could be right, but there is a sadness that permeates the tail end of this trailer and makes me feel bad for this guy. The piano suite that plays beneath it all makes everything feel empty and I know what’s here isn’t the feel-good tale of the year; it looks like an unhappy descent, a meditation on what’s it like to be older and alone. I’m giddy at the prospect.
Beneath Contempt Trailer
The narrative here is sparse on details but the emotional content is very rich. Whereas it could be easy to slide into a maudlin state of hysterics when you have to show what it’s like when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a horrible car accident where it seems a kid is one of the victims, the choice here is to bag it all. The trailer doesn’t let it go down that route and, instead, simply focuses on a moment between the harbinger of pain and his reflection. Misery is oozing out of every scene and it’s so much better than letting your actors and actresses’ emotional breakdowns get in the way of the true narrative.
It’s hard to make a trailer that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be one long weep session but what’s here completely stops that from happening by letting no one talk throughout the entire duration of its run time. It’s a bold choice to go down this route as one of the things you want a preview do is to grab the attention of an audience through the performances of the players but it still does that by just letting our protagonist be the anchor for almost every scene. The guy’s presence is an enigma and I want to know more.
For all those in the audience looking to get a little bit of that Harold and Kumar humor back into your life it seems like writer/director Kholi Hicks has made something worthy of your attention. At the very least it’s worthy of a couple of minutes of your time.
What I liked about this trailer isn’t so much it’s novel narrative approach, you can see simply by looking at the trailers above there are a lot of people looking for unique ways to present a film’s storyline, but that it keeps your attention. So often we see comedic trailers that just don’t connect for the simple reason that there isn’t enough oomph with the delivery but this one keeps things moving.
We hit the high points about who these guys are, what kind of situation they’re in, and what the crux is of why we’re all here in the first place. You can see how this is really an independent film with the corners it shaves here and there with the production values but as soon as we get to the effects and the superpower presentation I’m wholly on board. I like that what’s here seems to be a mash-up between your usual stoner film with an homage to every superpower flick currently tearing up the box office.
The story goes from haplessly predictable to completely vague which I am a huge fan of for no other reason than I appreciate having a taste of the story but not knowing where things are going. The comedic bits work for me on a real basic level, the Nintendo Power Glove is a real nice accessory/flourish for one of the guys, and there seems to be more than just powers and violence afoot here. It’s a hybrid of a low-budget indie and a low-grade special effects bonanza. It may seem like a backhanded compliment but I love what they’re doing here.
Lord of the Dance 3D Trailer
This exists. I hope all you 3D enthusiasts are happy with yourselves.
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:
- Apollo 18 Trailer #2 –I don’t know. What’s here seems kind of ridiculous. It wants me to buy into its story but it seems too far fetched for even me to suspend my disbelief.
- Immortals Trailer #2 – I’ll be more excited for this once they call this for what it is: 300 Part 2.
- Brave Teaser Trailer – This will be the film that will wash the taste of Cars 2 out of our collective mouths. Be thankful.
- Horrible Bosses Red Band Trailer – I’ll consider this for a rental. The trailer seems awfully obsessed with trying to cram as many foul words as it can within its running time. Comes off as desperate.
- 11-11-11 Trailer #2 – Didn’t Jim Carrey star in this once? Echoes of that film permeate every scene of this trailer.
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Trailer – I’m always up for a film this broadly presented. It’s not daring, original, but it has a certain mass market quality I can see myself giving into.
- War Horse Trailer – This trailer was painful to get through. Between Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Dreamer, and Hot to Trot I couldn’t care less about one more cinematic story about a horse. Seriously, I can’t get excited about slo-mo galloping any more than I could get jazzed at the prospect of seeing grass grow.
- The Three Musketeers Trailer – What is up with Orlando Bloom’s coif? Seriously. The trailer is pretty peppy and I might check this one out when it hits the secondary market.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Trailer – This feels old fashioned in the best way possible.