Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's Coming Up?: Five great trailers, April 2012

Let me say two things about trailers that are making me sick when I see them:

(1) The incessant fades outs/fades ins or cut-to-blacks; Alfred Hitchcock used this technique to make scenes in Rear Window more sleepy and fuzzy.  Why is this trick being used sometimes 50 times during trailers of supposedly exciting movies?  It dizzies me in exactly the wrong way.  Is this a marketing-born bait-and-switch being attempted by studios who're trying to make something look better than it is?  Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no.  I think this ridiculous meme has made its way into the best and the worst of film trailers (particularly of action blockbusters), simply because it's been "proven" to sell.   It cries out "cliche" and, worse, it assumes all of us watching are gullible goofballs.   Kill this trend now!

(2) Can we leave Hans Zimmer's bass-toned Inception horn alone already?  I don't think there's one genre trailer out there that does't reference this, along with a momentary reveal of an eye-popping shot.  Might this be the astounding Inception's most lasting legacy?  I'll admit, I loved Hans Zimmer's score for the Nolan film, horn included, but I DESPISE how this justifiably famous one-note vanguard is being ripped off now in trailers (I imagine it's being brazenly appropriated for the body of some pretty bad movies, too).  By the way, I'm ashamed that one of these trailers I'm about to tubthump for commits both of these crimes.  But I'll explain that later.  Here are the five trailers that I, lately, most admire (and I try to judge them as just mini-films themselves).

1) Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2012) 
There's no way I can avoid revisiting my favorite film I saw at 2011's New York Film Festival.  Ceylan's moody rural-noir has now been released in theaters, and I have to come out here in saying that it deserves as many eyes as it can get, especially on the big screen where cinematographer Gokhan Tiryaki's gorgeous widescreen work can be appreciated in full.  As a trailer, this one does everything right.  Unlike many foreign film previews, it doesn't try and conceal that it's a movie with subtitles; there is dialogue here, and not just a bunch of shots of people turning around to face the camera while the background music swells  It captures a snapshot of each of the movies most memorable sequences while withholding their connection to one another.  Most importantly, it gets Anatolia's understanding yet hard-edged feel just right in an economical 97 seconds.   Exhibitors: I implore you to program this masterpiece in your theaters.

2) Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, 2012) 
The trailer for Polley's much-awaited sophomore effort as writer/director following her Oscar-nominated turn with Away From Her, comes with a surprising cast reveal, a terrific backing song from Jenn Grant (the song is called "Parachutes"), and most importantly, a daring structure that fearlessly begins with the luminescent Michelle Williams giving us what we want: a moment, alone, with her.  I think Take This Waltz is going to be a remarkable film about people--just the sort of movie I love.

3) The Cabin In The Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012) 
I'm about to write my review of this much-awaited film, but I'm petrified of giving too much away about its plot.  However, I like how the filmmakers (including, surely, co-writer/producer Joss Whedon) have packaged this movie.  There are parts of it that recall 80s trailers (as much as the market will allow), and I like how the preview doesn't reveal two of its most recognizable actors.  Still, the trailer at least gives away that these kids are up against something they couldn't possibly expect.  The Cabin in the Woods is on point to be the best straight-up horror film since Spain's [rec], and I think this trailer hammers that home without resorting to many cliches.

4) Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012) 
The trailer I'm highlighting here is the short one that was offered up way back in December of 2011.  This is all I need to see.   I like it in that it resembles the last half of the original Alien preview.  I have to show you that before I go on...I think this is one of the greatest trailers in history, primarily because of its eggy, mystifying first half, shot specifically for this piece by the estimable R. Greenberg Associates, who did many an astounding credits sequence in the 80s and 90s.

The Prometheus trailer isn't brave enough to photograph an egg for 40 seconds, but it does have that "What? What? What is THAT?" thing with which the Alien trailer culminates.  I don't WANT to know much about this movie. Surprise is of the most valuable coin here.   I've watched subsequent, longer trailers, but they let me know too much.  And let me say this: the original Alien trailer made me feel frenzied to see the film it advertised, and it did so before I even knew who Ridley Scott was.  And , yeah, this has that damned Inception horn in it, but at least they tempered it with that high-pitched Alien scream.  Anyway, this is the trailer I prefer to live with.  

5) Girls (Lena Dunham, HBO, 2012) 
This slightly-talky extended trailer for HBO's upcoming series has me so excited.  I loved Dunham's debut feature Tiny Furniture, and though I know her voice is possibly not for everyone (much like Hal Hartley and Whit Stillman), it is resolutely for me.  I almost went with Seth McFarland's trailer for Ted in this fifth spot, because I felt it convinced me to see something by someone I dislike (McFarland's TV animation makes wanna retch).  But I reminded myself to think positively, and there is no newcomer out there I'm thinking more positively about these days than Lena Dunham.  She a star in my book.

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