Thursday, October 28, 2010

For the Love of Trailers - The How-To-Cope-With-It Edition

What to look forward to (or not) as Louise-Afzal Faerkel casts her eye over the trailers for upcoming releases Tiny Furniture, Rabbit Hole and Biutiful...


I am cynical, sceptical person. The glass is always half empty for me. My reasoning is for thinking like that is in order to surprise myself if I happen to enjoy a movie. I mostly assume the worst about serious pictures. I do get excited about films, but the ones I genuinely look forward to are few and far apart,. They must present something incredibly innovative or be part of a franchise I have respect for me to give a toss. In this context, Tiny Furniture is in a very grey area for me. It looks incredibly wordy and unnecessarily smug. And yet it looks quite the opposite.

It is a very contemporary and relevant picture (especially for someone like self-pitying yours truly, a recent graduate). It is a coming of age story about a young lass in a bit of a post-graduation-life-trauma type of situation. She moves back home, gets a job as a restaurant hostess and falls for a YouTube phenomenon video maker, and then starts getting into the whole video making thing herself. To put it blandly.

The trailer does not present it as wholly self-righteous but it is very much on the edge. For instance with the use of a younger, holier-than-thou sister character. I have always had a problem really believing in the unexplained natural maturity these characters have (especially in indie movies, e.g. (500) Days of Summer most recently). When she belts out phrases like “You were not gonna marry him, he’s like a little spec of granola on a bowl of homemade yoghurt”, I get what she means, but it is a needlessly odd image. It is not cute nor original. It is just weird. Not good weird; unnecessarily-wordy-and-pretentious-weird.

But somehow therein lies the charm of the movie, as far as I can see from the trailer. It tells the truth and sometimes the truth does not make sense. It does not seem like it will be an easy watch for neither cynicists nor idealists (it feels pretty brutal in places) but that does not matter. This film could contain elements that not only exposes our current culture but could be telling the truth about what we cannot perceive to be the reality of things.

The trailer itself is a mishmash of random quotes in an order that kind of makes sense and simultaneously confuses you as to its structure. It dips into the oddity of modern relationships but it does not feel like it will bring anything new to the table.

I cannot make my mind up about this one. Lovely readers, please watch it and help me out here.


John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Shortbus) has an uncanny ability to make his characters and actors express themselves physically and verbally. They are just as good at being on their own as they are at being awkward in social situations. They learn to deal with themselves as much as they learn to deal with others around them. Their journeys are interesting, compelling and we are invited (read: lured) into recognisable yet unfamiliar situations (to most of us).

Rabbit Hole deals with life after Becca and Howie (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) lose their young son. It is a film about how to make sense of things. Or rather, how to simply move on with life. It is possibly a difficult film to watch, not just for its subject matter but also for its performances.

There is evidence of this from the first scene of the trailer where Nicole Kidman’s character protests the allegation that her co-sufferer’s daughter died because “God needed another angel”. It presents the film as a piece that is not going to be positive or glossy. It will concentrate on performances (given that it is based on a play, it is no surprise).

What I truly like about the structure of the trailer itself was its minimal use of music. More often than not, trailers will contain epic, quirky or dreamy pieces of music throughout their presentation of the film to affect the spectator’s mood. Here, I found the moments of silence to be more efficient (thank you!) and more meaningful. One scene that felt a bit too much, but was needed to attract a global audience was Becca’s speech about how she is not “feeling enough”. It is a bit too dramatic in context. The more subtle the trailer, the more I want to watch the film.

Nonetheless, the trailer is itself so intense, it could potentially work on its own as a short film (with a few adjustments). The music almost having its own life lets the film speak a lot for itself, which is so refreshing. Keeping in line with distinctive approaches to film promotion, there is a lack of intense, high-pace, 3-frame editing, annoying displaying montages (which are only really forgivable for action movies). There is the typical actor name and face montage at the end, but it takes its time and is not self-involved. By not sticking to convention all the way through it is easier to appreciate the work put in the trailer.

Tragic but beautiful. And tipped for the Oscars.


Here is a trailer that is never explicit about anything and does not take the audience of a fool. Here is a trailer that is more or less a two-minute montage of mute clips supported by a soundtrack but is not patronising. And here is a trailer that knows what it is and it is in fact doing what most trailers fail to do: it gives you a minor but powerful taste of what is to come.

Biutiful has already played at Cannes, London Film Festival and a multitude of other festivals around the world. It has won numerous awards and has been hailed as director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s (21 Grams, Babel, Amores Perros) best film to date. It deals with the story of a man who is in a difficult position in his life. I will not tell you why, you must watch the trailer yourself. Simply telling is tampering with the beauty of this trailer.

For all too often trailers focus on the story so much they reveal everything about the movie, if only audiences pay enough attention and put the pieces together. The trailer for Biutiful is not one that fools you about its narrative, nor does it tell you what it is directly about. It demands work from the audience, and despite being stuffed full of quotes from reviews and the CV of the director, at its core it is simple.

It could be that the structure of the trailer will work against the movie. Either it will repel people from itself or it prove to be too pompous for its own good. Perhaps it has told the entire story in the trailer and is trying to clever (and I am not seeing it). But I am happy to indulge in it because it serves the nature of the film. It brings across the atmosphere it most likely possesses in the picture itself and it feels like it could leads to something extraordinary – or abominable.

I will refrain from saying more. Let me know what you think.

Louise-Afzal Faerkel

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