This Week In Trailers: Friendship!, Terribly Happy, The Wild Hunt, The Scouting Book For Boys

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?

Terribly Happy Trailer

I saw this trailer last week when it was circulating overseas, chock full of foreign language goodness, and I was inches away from writing about it but trying to navigate the trailer was obtuse, the quality of the trailer was sub-par, and it would've been just too hard to explain why it was such a good trailer.. Thankfully, someone took the meager video, put a little spit and polish on it, and the result is a movie that just oozes with character and the promise of something delectable.

I feel bad in a way that I've never seen any of director/co-writer Henrik Ruben Genz' previous works as the first few moments of this trailer brim with some of atmospheric enveloping that have made the Cohens such masters at the art of translating mood to film. The quiet whispering of the wind that we get here evokes so many different emotions as we see a lone police car gently motoring down a desolate country road. The bareness is only trumped by the isolation that is instantly communicated to the viewer. The interstitial stating this was Denmark's official Best Foreign Language Film for the 2009 Academy Awards is a solid salvo to the overall pitch as it is quintessential in order for lay people like myself to think about what makes this movie stand out from any other movie from the Danes about quiet desperation. (Insert sarcasm)

We get the set up gently, no rush, no hurry, and we're launched into a town that looks like it has bred some unique individuals. Just listening to the cop who explains a word like "Mojn" means to the townspeople evokes certain sensibilities that transcend the language barrier. With a cast of oddballs that would make David Lynch proud I wasn't sure whether to laugh or to wince as we plod along in this thing.

I love that we're told this is absolutely a community that policies its own, where "homegrown" justice rules, and where no one seems to pay any mind to the police officer who is there, ostensibly, to just keep the peace. When a voiceover whispers about people who just disappear for no reason we see some guy wading into a wet bog who we're led to believe might be shot in the back, and the creaking of a rusty baby buggy pushed by a small girl just amps up the seedy factor.

Big ups to the film scoring 7 Danish Film Academy Awards (did it beat out the documentary on the making of lingonberry jam?) and the other accolades as well because this helps me, as a consumer, make a choice about whether I want to literally buy into this film.

Further, I would love to point out that the music which drives home the last 40+ seconds of trailer is fantastic, along with the kudos that people like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter showered on it. The moment that we get with the town's cop as he has a drinking contest with one of the local yocals packs a wallop because not only does it put into context who this guy is (as well as the great looking Swede Jakob Cedergren) but we get a great sampling of the film technique employed by Genz which made this such a winner of a movie.

The Wild Hunt Trailer

Thinking about how Darkon made an impact on the community that loves to dress up and go at one another with Nerf-like weaponry and how it contextualized a movement that hadn't before been explained in a narrative fashion it made me laugh to watch the first few moments of this trailer. I know some would point to a film like Role Models as one that talked about how these kinds of people have been fictionalized but I think a movie like this is really the first of its kind in its fictionalizing of their experiences. I like that here's a movie that takes this aspect of a person's life and then ensconces it in a bubble of fiction that doesn't feel like it's being made fun of or laughed at in any way. The opening of this trailer is a testament to this marriage of the serious and the absurd.

A cast of dozens sets this thing off and it's absolutely convincing as a straight film. Usually there's a tell somewhere in its presentation to tell you this all really a joke but kudos to director/writer Alexandre Franchi to making an opening that is convincing as straight action. If you were coming fresh on to this thing, not knowing where it was going, you would be hard pressed to know what was going to happen at the :30 mark. There is some slight hand tipping but it's glorious when the characters break their designated roles and start arguing the finer points of magic and battling.

Then the trailer shifts tones.

It becomes serious and a little sticky with where things are going. Boy likes girl, girl is a LARPer, boy is not, girl goes off to do her thing, boy goes after her, delving into a world he knows little about, and it becomes a very atypical movie. I was struck by the obvious comedy as this outsider physically navigates this world of enchantment and it really does pass itself off to be an almost breezy romp in this space.

This is where the kidnapping is introduced.

Things take a quite serious turn and I am throttled by the punch I didn't see coming. From a bunch of rubes going into a forest to indulge in behavior some would say is weird but harmless to this turning into a serious case of someone on the verge of getting violently hut I am in for this roller coaster ride. The music, as well, should be praised in helping to bring any artifice of comedy down to the ground. Thrilling stuff in here.

Friendship! Trailer

Readers of this column should know that I do loves me some films about America that are filtered through the prism of a foreigner.

A few weeks ago I looked at the trailer for Jerry Cotton and saw some of the funnier peculiarities of American life. This new movie from director Markus Goller and writer Oliver Ziegenbalg looks like it's going to continue the tradition of taking the metaphorical air out of American tires. And, why not? If we want to be the world's bullies and insinuate ourselves into situations where we're often not wanted and stay for longer than expected then I think it's just natural for people to point a finger and have a little laugh.

What better place to start than with David Hasselhoff?

I wouldn't normally be so fast to include a trailer completely in another language but it is genuinely funny and it does cut through linguistic barriers as the trailer makes clear we're not only in Germany but that this begins at the time of the Berlin Wall coming down. We go from black and white communism to full color liberation as Hasselhoff sings a song about freedom, resplendent in a jacket illuminated by tiny light bulbs. Sigh.

This has something to do with two young Germans making a trip here to the USA, the film's IMDB page saying that "a young man from East Germany travels to San Francisco to search for his father, who fled 12 years ago," and honestly this is worth watching if only to see American customs officials think, because they're German, that they're Nazis. And why shouldn't this be funny to Germans who might project their feeling that some in the U.S. might go straight to the Nazi association; again, it's the perception and prism that we see these things play out which make it amusing. The love doesn't stop there as American security forces also seem to have a propensity to strip search possible Nazis as well. Yes, this is all done for the sake of comedy and I couldn't be more amused. I loved seeing these nuances blown up to satirical proportions. This looks like a movie along the lines of Todd Phillips' Road Trip as these kids are also looking to hook up while here in the State.

It should also be noted that this is a a movie that takes them from NYC all the way to the west coast in what should be one of the longest, literal, road trip movies ever made, but it does shake things up a bit. We've got your standard mistaken sexuality as our boys find themselves in a gay bar, your usual hook-up that ends with a firearm being discharged by someone really mad, an interesting look at our country's obesity issue, and, in a weird twist for a comedy, the movie has some heartfelt moments that involve tears.

It looks like this film is just pure fun for fun's sake and, coupled with the sociological breakdown, I could not be more interested in seeing what I've missed by never taking German in high school.

The Scouting Book For Boys Trailer

What is it with people who live in caravans in movies that always seem their houses burned to the ground?

I mean you have the pikies from Snatch getting their trailers burnt to cinders, now you've got a movie where there seems to be much ado about these people who find mobile homes to be de rigeur of a certain social class. I wasn't sure what to make of a movie that feels like something closer to Stand By Me in its eeriness with regards to a young protagonist finding himself in a very strange circumstance but there is something else about this movie which feels very electrifying.

Director Tom Harper, once you flip through his oeuvre and compare it like a piece of litmus paper, trying to determine what color it matches up to, you see a pattern developing: he makes movies about youth. What it's like to be young, and not necessarily young in a good way but in a way that takes into consideration all the trials and travails that can happen to young people as they maturate into the adult world. Writer Jack Thorne is the other wild-card here as his writing has brought us five episodes of the very good and very sharp Skins, a short about a teen girl taking out an old fogy to the supermarket, and now this movie about a young man trying to help one of his lady friends run away from home.

The trailer thrills from the first moment as we get everything we need from this trailer: we get the set up, we get what's at stake, and we get an insight into what these two young adults mean to one another. It seems to be a story about one friend helping the other one to run away from home but things get more convoluted, more serious. The boy, David, seems to be at the center for this tempest as a community rallies to try and find her. David's family is really eager to find her as they seem to have no compunction at all about smacking him around in order to get an answer about her whereabouts. It gets weird as we try and piece together what is really happening here with the story as it looks like the girl is hiding away in a cave somewhere and that the boy is somehow keeping her there but it has a very Silence of the Lambs, kidnap-y vibe to it that seems like it could quite dark, quite quick.

We get a few notable quotes, one of which pegs it exactly about what the relationship between writer and director means to a movie where both parties sought to define a certain and specific adolescent experience, and an ending that makes this a rousing trailer for a film we're not soon to get here in the States. I am endlessly fascinated by the many avenues a good story about youths can go and this absolutely looks like a charmer.

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

  • Tekken Trailer - Boy, did someone raid Garage Band to mix a completely vanilla synth/techno track? I think if I was 13, alone on a Saturday night, and this was 1982 I might be moved to rent this movie. As it is, though, it's one of the worst trailers I've had to sit through in 2010.
  • I Love You Phillip Morris Trailer #2 - I really enjoyed this trailer. On the surface it's a bit too polished but this gives me a great insight into some of the more lighter elements of a movie I am eager to see.
  • MacGruber Trailer - Every movie deserves at least one chance to make a good first impression. That being said, this trailer metaphorically brought flowers and held the door open for me. I genuinely laughed in a few spots and that speaks well for a movie based on a series of sketches that I couldn't care one way or the other about.
  • Piranha 3D Trailer - I am glad I hunted down a copy of this trailer. After finding it removed from our own site and many others I came upon this ode to the 80s and rejoiced. It looks all kinds of campy, goofy fun as it could not be less ashamed for knowing what it wants to be.
  • The Eclipse Trailer - This movie looks like it wants to take the supernatural to an elevated level, one where complexity and thought are rewarded. The twists and bends in this trailer are subtle and measured. Count me in for this tale of the unworldly.
  • Buried Trailer - It's minimalist but it succinctly tells you everything you need to know about this movie. I love the grainy footage angle this teaser takes and, within 30 seconds, everything is put into motion and you don't need to see any more footage because what's here is absolutely good enough to convince me it's worth checking out.
  • MacGruber Green Band Trailer - Look, you can have your roll of raw cookie dough, I choose to indulge in flimsy comedic trailers that look like lots of fun. I sincerely tried not to laugh but there were more than a few bits that got me. For that I say well-played and I hope it can at least stretch the laughs to 90 minutes.
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop Trailer - I've only really known this artist though his work and so this trailer actually gives me hope that I might be able to understand his process a bit more. I like that this isn't a polished puff piece and it shows in this trailer.
  • Hot Tub Time Machine Red Band Trailer - Look, some wag once said you can't control who you love and I certainly think it applies to things that make you laugh. I still think this has the best shot at being the one comedy I'm looking forward to this year and this trailer shows you why it should be one of yours.