Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Movie Trailers Make Me Cry

My friends and Brian know that one of my favorite things about going to the movies is the trailers. I am a firm believer in the movie trailer as a distinct, beautiful artform, independent of the movie itself.

Some of the best movies have awful to mediocre trailers, while some amazing trailers are WAY better than the movies they represent. Now, the movie trailer industry comes riddled with some weighty controversies that you're probably familiar with. A few:

(1) All the funny parts of the movie are in the trailer so the movie itself is bo-ring by comparison. See the trailer for Gentlemen Broncos, for example. That movie had so much potential, just from the trailer. Then it stank it up like cheesy bloaty gas.

(2) The trailer isn't like the movie at all.
False advertising, misleading, audience manipulation--call it what you will, most of the time (not all the time), it's plain disappointing.

But isn't it the worst when
(3) the trailer gives away EVERYTHING about the movie, and I mean every single stupid plot development.

Point (3) is what made the trailer for Inception SO phenomenal.
(Now remember, I'm talking about the trailer independent of the entire movie, so please do not roll your eyes and mutter "overrated" under your breath. You know who you are.)
The ability of this trailer to create such ambiguity while still holding your interest is maddeningly brilliant. And with the Inception trailer I'm going to launch into my Top Six Movie Trailers List.

6. Inception

I remember after I first saw this trailer, I was on the edge of my seat, going WHAT THE HECK IS IT ABOUT?!?! TELL ME LEEOOO. (Man oh man, has that boy grown up since the Growing Pains days.) I mean, rewatching it now, it makes a lot more sense. But back then I did not understand the concept of inception at all. And I'm no idiot.

I'm not saying there aren't weaknesses with this trailer (just like there are a lot of gaping wholes in the movie) and actually, overall, the trailer kinda feels like a clustercuss (thank you, Fantastic Mr. Fox) of grandiose, beautiful images. But I'm ranking it at #6 for its initial impact, the first impression I still remember from a year or so ago.

And for the record, the trailer set up some high expectations for the movie--and it delivered. And I don't care if you think the film's "overrated" or not--if you go back in your memory to the first time you saw this in theaters, were you not blown away by the vastness of it all?

Back to trailers.

5. Dear Frankie

Disclaimer: This is not a heavy, "quality film" (in a raised pinky, high-brow sort of way) movie. I realize this. This might even be thrown under the chick-flick category. HOWEVER. This, in my opinion, is trailer success.

I'm not sure I know exactly how to explain what makes for a successful trailer. It's the editing--including the music selection, the selection of scenes, the order of those cuts, etc-- as well as the acting performances. If I were a film major or just properly equipped with technical knowledge of film, I could give you legitimate reasons. But for now, you'll just have to trust me. Or judge for yourself.

PS. This is Gerard Butler pre-300, pre-P.S. I Love You, before ridiculous fame. Isn't he adorable.

4. Miss Representation

Okay, confession: I haven't actually seen this movie. Yet. It was at Sundance this year, but we couldn't get tickets. But I will tell you that every single time I've watched this trailer (4 or 5 times now) it's made me tear up. And I consider my tear duct response a legitimate measuring tool. I especially love the point in the trailer when it asks, "How do you change it?" and the song that accompanies the shift. It gives me chills every time.

3. Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle is the man. Is all I have to say about this one.

2. Sunshine Cleaning

Now, this is a case in which the trailer was significantly better than and different from the movie. The Decemberists really make this trailer, I think. I wouldn't have consistently cried upon repeatedly watching this trailer if it weren't for their song.

1. Where the Wild Things Are

I watched this trailer twice a day, cried both times, for probably a year before the actual movie came out. The indie music, again, just really does it for me.

And that's my list. One last thing: I recently discovered that there's a documentary about movie trailers! However, I can't find this movie ANYWHERE. Even Netflix has let me down. I can't even find the trailer on youtube--I can only find it already embedded in someone else's blog. So here's the trailer for the movie about trailers there. I think this documentary, for copyright reasons, can only be used for educational purposes... but I still can't find it for that purpose either. I supposed there must not be enough people who share my passion for trailers in the world, otherwise this would be more widespread. If you have any idea where I could get it, let me know!