Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Movie Trailers: 2011’s Movies to Be Excited About—Part One

Here’s a guide to some of the most intriguing trailers out there right now. This is part one of however many installments it takes to cover the good stuff.  I’m going to try and be chronological, but no promises.  These may not intrigue everybody, but I think they all have something promising in them that merits at least a look when the films arrive, though what that “something” is varies wildly from one film to the next.  If you’re scrolling through here looking for the Transformers 3 trailer, don’t waste your time.  And also, stop being excited about Michael Bay movies.

KEY to Anticipation Factor:
1=Looks good, but probably a rental
2=One more good trailer will put me in the theater
3=Definitely a trip to the theater
4=I visited the official site and marked my calendar
5=Working on my costume to wear to the midnight premiere

Movie:  Somewhere (December 24) 
Trailer Type: The old “sad indie music over dramatic and heartwarming images” routine
Persons of Interest:  Sophia Coppola as writer-director should guarantee your interest in this one.  Stephen Dorff couldn’t get his own mother into the theater as a dramatic lead, but Coppola has more than earned the right to make unusual choices for her characters, so maybe she knows something about him that we don’t.  Hopefully she knows that the real challenge is making me forget that the last time I was interested in this guy he was being blown up in a geyser of blood by The Daywalker.  So, yeah, tall order…
Moments of Intrigue:  No particular moment stands out, and the premise is older than Larry King, but it seems like the right sort of material for Coppola to bend into something fresh and intriguing. 
Possible Signs o’ Trouble:  There are MORE Fannings out there?  I was just getting excited that maybe Dakota was disappearing from the film landscape and now there’s another one?  If this is going to be a case of Girl Culkins for the next ten years, I may organize a formal boycott.  In fairness, Ella Fanning looks like she does fine based on the trailer.  A possible bigger sign of trouble:  underwater tea party.
Anticipation Factor (out of 5):  3
Watch it here

Movie:  The Illusionist (December 24th—limited)
Trailer Type:  The old “hey look at all the film festivals we were selected for” and “here’s some meaningful words and reviews floating towards you in slow motion” routines
Persons of Interest:  The director of “The Triplets of Belleville” certainly should grab the attention of any French film lovers or animation enthusiasts out there.
Moments of Intrigue:  The trailer has a lot of rich and detailed animated imagery, though some of it looks pretty dark and dingy (as part of the story, not the quality of the work itself). 
Possible Signs o’ Trouble:  Dull looking characters and a lack of any particular sense of the film itself in the trailer isn’t a great sign, but it seems more interested in the visuals of the film than anything else.  
Anticipation Factor (out of 5):  1

Movie:  Blue Valentine (December 31st)
Trailer Type:  The old “shots of people staring dramatically out of windows or off into space” routine…repeatedly
Persons of Interest:  Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both look great in this, and the scene framing the trailer feels natural and charming in the way all meetings of total strangers must be if the movies are to be taken seriously.
Moments of Intrigue:  Gosling singing and playing ukulele while Williams shuffle-tap dances on the sidewalk has a sort of detached charm to it, and now, of course, I have to know what all those people are staring at so dramatically off camera.
Possible Signs o’ Trouble:  None, really.  It doesn’t look mind-boggling, but the gritty quality of the camera work makes it seem like it could be a well made human drama.  Or, you know, a dippy movie where Gosling sings and plays ukulele in the street…
Anticipation Factor (out of 5):  2

Movie:  Biutiful (sic) (December 29th limited)
Trailer Type:  The old “let the narrator say stuff that doesn’t quite make sense but certainly suggests this movie is going to say important theme-type things that you really aren’t going to want to miss” routine
Persons of Interest:  Javier Bardem (best only known as Anton Chigur from “No Country for Old Men” demands attention when he shows up in a lead role now).  He looks excellent in this and no one can doubt he can carry a dramatic film. 
Moments of Intrigue:  A lot of beautiful (the real word) shots of barren, filthy cityscapes and wintry tundras makes the trailer feel cold and grimy with a sense of place (which is a compliment).  Also, there’s a dead owl in there and some dancing strippers and I kind of want to know what this whole storm is that the narrator promises will “cut through flesh like a thousand razorblades” because you really don’t see that level of storm very often.
Possible Signs o’ Trouble:  Considering the director’s previous work merits a 24-hour suicide watch for anyone who views it, this has me thinking that director Alejandro Gonzalez is getting hung up on repeated themes, which is usually not a good thing artistically (we’d have a lot more great films in the world if Tim Burton could work out his daddy issues, for example)
Anticipation Factor (out of 5):  3

Movie:  Season of the Witch (January 7th)
Trailer Type:  The old “start off slow and then increase the pace and music until you have one of those songs where the singers are just going aaaa---oooo---aaaa really dramatically and you pretty much show the viewer the whole climax” routine
Persons of Interest:  Nic Cage as a 14th century crusader demands your $11 at the box office.  Ron Perlman as his sidekick demands that you buy popcorn and Twizzlers too.  This combination should ALWAYS bring you to the theater.
Moments of Intrigue:  Monster wolves, flying creatures, some fairly expensive looking locations shots and battle scenes, a grody looking leper (or otherwise maimed old man—either way, you HAVE to find out what’s up with his face)
Possible Signs o’ Trouble:  You never want to reach the end of a trailer for a Nic Cage movie and think to yourself “he seemed kind of subdued there…almost like he was bored”.  Also, that scene where the “witch” makes his torch turn off and on just isn’t doing it for me.
Anticipation Factor (out of 5):  4

More to come soon...Post your thoughts on these in the comment section.

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