Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Long, Long Trailer

One of the best things about going to the movie theater is the coming attractions, since we all like to look forward to things (in addition to 2008). When done right trailers are things of beauty, little mini-films unto themselves. I’m thinking, for example, of the one for Blood Simple, in which it doesn’t matter that THE WHOLE PICTURE WOULD JUST BLOW AWAY IF ANYONE EVER ACTUALLY SAID ANYTHING TO ANOTHER CHARACTER or that some of the camera movements are just show-off trickery, for here the trickery is its own point and the motivation of misunderstanding is less frustrating (and let’s face it, weird angles, hyper-quick traveling shots and rack focus are fun, not to mention things you can’t do with your human eyes without drawing attention of the law). Blood Simple’s trailer is set to a crawl of a famous Hitchcock quote—“It is very difficult, and very painful, and it takes a very, very long time...to kill someone”—and really proves the point in a more kinetic way than the entire film does.

Then there’s the trailer for Albert Brooks’ Mother, a movie I like because I have one. (A mother, not a movie. No further comment.) In the trailer we get none of the film, but we do get Brooks’ on the phone from the Paramount lot supposedly talking to his real mother about the film, and she is incredulous he’s allowed to make any film, even getting him to say at one point, “Yes, the Paramount, mother.” It certainly gets his point across. Not that anyone should ever laugh at mothers anywhere.

Or there are the trailers for the Pink Panther series, where we watch the animated Pink Panther integrated with scenes from the films. Inventive, different, charming, and not voiced by the current Mr. Mellifluous Tones who does the v-o for 83% of the trailers in Hollywood.

It seems today as if trailers are mostly made by the Cuisinart in Michael Bay’s kitchen—blurs of noise and cut so fast you can’t quite make sense of any single moment (they should almost include warnings for epileptics in the audience). It’s as if the selling point is to stun you, so you have to come to the movie hoping to get re-combobulated. It’s kind of like the Republicans approach to the election—show the wolves ad, have Dastardly Dick say “boogah, boogah” a couple of times, hype us up and then promise a pay-off later.

So I was intrigued by the Lemony Snicket trailer the other day. From what you can see, the film looks great, which any mood piece must, as if its shot in an age before people thought interior light was a valuable thing, and so even the outside world was somehow dimmed. The sets are clever, but not fussed over to the point of Terry Gilliam “I've thought it all for you”-ness. The kids all have picture-perfect faces (Emily Browning, as Violet, could be Shannen Doherty’s little sister, all of the charm and none of the Satan’s School for Girls and Starlets). Jude Law’s voice-over as Lemony Snicket is deliciously droll, warning us away.

Alas, it turns out we should run. For all this nifty set-up gets us to, as he is announced, “Jim Carrey, Jim Carrey and Jim Carrey.” I know Count Olaf is a crushingly untalented thespian, but we might have the new classic example of the mimetic fallacy—can a bad actor play a bad actor? What if there’s at least 2, more likely 3, Jim Carreys too many? Truly an unfortunate event that the madly mugging fool has to hit the scene. I guess if nothing else it will solidify everyone’s empathy for the poor Baudelaire orphans.

OK, so it’s ultimately not the trailer that’s the problem, it’s the casting. But wasn’t that fun, to start one place and end another? See what the lure of the tale and tease can do? Sigh.


Blogger George said...

Oh, and if anyone got the title allusion to an obscure Lucy-Desi movie from 1954, give yourself a pat on the back. You can probably make the reach, too, for you’re used to patting your own back about cinema arcana. Actually, it's not much different than commenting on your own blog entries. (I have never seen the film’s trailer.)

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why oh why do they have to release this movie before the last two books come out??? I want so much to enjoy them without picturing JIM CARREY.
But, if they insist on filming the invisible, they should cast Bernadette Peters as Esme Squalor.
Sharing huge doubts about catching the Lemonyness on film,

8:31 AM  
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6:05 AM  

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