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Author Topic: Top 10 Trailers of 2013 So Far  (Read 19644 times)
Rob Wallis

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« on: July 02, 2013, 01:04:02 AM »

Trailers are tricky.

Not only do they have to encapsulate what a movie's about, they have to make it look good. Though a good trailer is often sign of a good movie, it's no guarantee, and more than one film this year has been a huge disappointment following the advertisement that preceded it. What follows is my list of the top 10 trailers of the year so far.

I haven't seen all of the films on the list; in fact, a few of them aren't on general release just yet. Each of the trailers below are purely there on their own merit, on how much they made me want to see the end product. With that in mind, here they are in descending order:

10. 'Pain & Gain'

Perhaps the most unexpected item on the list, Michael Bay's $26 million pet project actually seems set on telling a story. Albeit a story with kidnapping, (smaller-than-usual) explosions, and 'roid-riddled meatheads.

When we first see Mark Wahlberg's "protagonist", the fitness-obsessed Daniel Lugo, he's doing hanging sit-ups off a billboard. His obliviously Nietzschean voiceover guides us through a police raid on his place of work, Sun Gym, and, presumably in flashback, his first encounter with Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), whose wealth becomes the object of Lugo's hunger.

Along with Anthony Mackie's testicularly-challenged Adrian (yo, Adrian!) and Dwayne Johnson's muscle-bound recent parolee Paul, Lugo sets out to do a bunch of stuff that is, to wit, "so illegal". Sports cars, ninja costumes, tanning beds - 'Pain & Gain' is evidently not a work of great subtlety (the themes are writ large in the film's title).

What the trailer clearly shows, however, is a hunk of sun-bleached, hiphop-powered entertainment and that'll do us fine.

9. This Is The End

2013 is turning out to be quite the year for post-apocalyptic comedies, but ‘This Is The End’ got there first. One of the trailer’s strongest elements is that it knows exactly why we’d go and see it: Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Co. messing around, being dicks. The whole prelude to the trailer is just ‘Pineapple Express’ stars Rogen and Franco doing improve in an underground bunker. ‘This Is The End’ is not a film that has to worry about dramatic arcs or thematic undercurrents: Danny McBride making dick jokes at the expense of his co-stars is worth the price of admission. The novelty here is that the cast are a bunch of comedy A-listers playing exaggerated versions of themselves. Apart from a shot of the Hollywood Hills on fire, all there is here is talk; fortunately, it’s very funny talk. There’s even an Academy Award joke at Jonah Hill’s expense. That it’s capped off by smoke and death and screaming and Craig Robinson drinking his own pee. Well, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ is ain’t, definitely one of the best comedy trailers this year… Why not?

8. 'Only God Forgives'

A reunion between director Nicholas Winding Refn and 'Drive' star Ryan Gosling was always going to evoke a strong response. Though the film clearly offers the same near-mute anti-hero, the same seedy neon-lit atmosphere, as their first collaboration, the trailer for 'Only God Forgives' certainly makes the most of its premise.

Kristen Scott Thomas chews scenery as Crystal, a bleach-blond, animal-print draped harpy who, having travelled ten thousands miles to see the corpse of her first-born son, is quick to demand that her youngest, Gosling's Julian, bring her the head of the man responsible. The culprit, Vithaya Pansringarm's sword-wielding cop, Lt. Chang, stalks the shadows like the angel of death, seemingly preparing to deliver yet more "justice".

Freudian subtext abounding, images of blood-drenched corpses, Oriental screens, and lots and lots of hellish light build almost hypnotically, set to a driving (if somewhat familiar) electro soundtrack. Perverse yet strangely alluring, 'Only God Forgives' promises to again turn violence - a machine-gun massacre at a restaurant, knives through hands - into an art form.

Cannes might not have forgiven Refn and Co., but for us this trailer is more than enough penance for any ostensible sins.

7. 'Before Midnight'

The only sequel to make the list, Richard Linklater's third installment to his 'Before' series had a rare weight of expectation behind it: both 'Sunrise' and 'Sunset' were universally acclaimed, and, nine years on, it was all too easy to imagine that Ethan Hawke and July Delpy, now both 40+, might have lost their spark.

As the trailer shows, however, Delpy's impetuous Parisian, Celine, and Hawke's scruffy American writer, Jesse, are still as compelling as ever. The whole affair, set in the Greek Peloponnese, seems jaunty and offbeat without ever losing the sense that these are real people with real problems - Jesse is the perennial teenager while Celine grows aloof. After the idealistic romance of the first two films, when Celine comments to Jesse that, "This is how people start breaking up", you can't help but feel it.

Promising a genuinely moving depiction of love and its limitations, the trailer captures the little moments that make the character's relationship special without seeming episodic. For the lightness of touch that bellies its dramatic weight, 'Before Midnight"s trailer sells the film perfectly.

6. 'Don Jon'

The trailer for ‘Don Jon’, the first film to be written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is probably the most simple on this list, stylistically speaking.

JGL plays the eponymous leading man, a Jersey pretty boy nicknamed so for his unfailing ability to score. Through a montage of his daily life, we quickly get to know this engaging but not particularly complex individual: all he cares about, as JGL’s voiceover confirms, are his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls… and his porn. It’s this last interest that proves an impediment to his developing relationship with the sultry, gum-popping Barbara (Scarlett Johansson).

Ostensibly a romantic comedy, ‘Don Jon’ seems, at least, to take a novel approach to the differences between men and women: are the romantic movies with which Barbara is obsessed any more real than Jon’s porn? That’s not to say there isn’t drama, too – JGL’s rage punching a car window suggests, like his starring role in unlikely comedy ‘50/50’, this could garner some attention come award’s season.

With Julianne Moore and Tony Danza in supporting roles, ‘Don Jon’ looks like it could be the neat if somewhat unconventional date film of the year.

5. 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Another recent addition to these ranks, if there's one message we get from the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's newest film, it's that nothing exceeds like excess.

Following the real-life exploits of stockbroker Jordan Belfont (Leonard DiCaprio), the sharp cutting and drum beats quickly establish the furious pace of the world that we are about to enter. Pomaded black hair, pinstripe suit, Belfont is clearly one of life's winner on $49 million a year. Rather than be grateful, however, Belfont's rapacious appetites ($49 million is $3 million less than a million a week!) for money, sex, attention seem likely to get him into trouble.

Literally tossing away money, smashing his Lamborghini through letterboxes, throwing dwarves (watch and see) - Belfont is an alpha male among alpha males. Matthew McConaughey appears as a self-impressed mentor figure and Jonah Hill plays the nebbish of the bunch. Scorsese is one of the world's foremost depicters of supercharged machismo in films like 'Goodfellas' and 'Cape Feare' and Belfont seems nothing if not criminal.

Depicting yuppie activities that would make Patrick Bateman blush, we’ll definitely be giving ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ a look.

4. 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

The first film by cinema's most renowned writer/director brother duo since 2010's 'True Grit', 'Inside Llewyn Davis' seems likely to play to one of The Coens' less appreciated talents: their ability to evoke an era.

The trailer's depiction of the '60s folk music scene in New York seems alluringly faded, haunted even, and with Bob Dylan's obscure 'Farewell' playing over, this seems likely to be a fairly faithful recreation. Which isn't to say there isn't room for the usual Coen eclecticism given that Davis himself spends much of the trailer carrying around a cat (which he's careful to stress is not his cat) and long-time collaborator John Goodman makes an appearance appears in a florid suit. There's existential bathroom graffiti and, vitally, a wan, dark-haired, perennially pissed-off Carey Mulligan (not to mention Garrett Hedlund in a role redolent of his performance in last years' 'On The Road'.

That we never really get a feel for Oscar Isaac's neatly bearded, scarf-wearing Davis in the trailer, intense and scorned, just makes it all that more intriguing.

3. 'Gravity'

In space, you’ve got bigger problems than whether or not people can hear you scream.

In this first trailer for ‘Gravity’, the latest film by Alfonso Cuaron, the first impression we get is one of tremendous beauty: Planet Earth laid out beneath us in green and blue and wisps of cloud. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock’s astronauts perform a space walk set to lilting piano music as dawn breaks over the firmament.

Performing repairs 372 miles above our world, a sudden collision with space debris catches my breath in my throat as our two protagonists are sent spinning, adrift, into the void. They reach for each other as the space station around them breaks apart…

This trailer is difficult to express as anything other than a series of impressions. It seems likely to be one of those films you describe as a cinematic “experience”: less focus on the spooling out of plot than the immediate situation in which Clooney and Bullock find themselves. In any case, for a film set in which everything is weightless, it sure has a lot of, well, gravity.

A solitary figure tumbling against the blackness of space and we are out and hooked.

2. 'The Great Gatsby'

Each of the trailers for this Baz Luhrmann adaptation were brilliant in their own way, but it was the second one that truly captured us. It could have something to do with DiCaprio’s magnetic presence behind the wheel or the sheer scenic variety it contains – from the streets of New York to the high seas to the trenches of the Somme -, but ultimately it's the structure that really brings 'The Great Gatsby' to roaring life.

Essentially divided in three, the first section (or act), set to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘No Church in the Wild’ reels us in with Gatsby narrating his life story (“I am the son of some very wealthy people. Sadly, they’re all dead now”); next come the extraordinary party sequence, bursting with life and energy, and the first appearance of Carey Mulligan’s diffident Daisy – the plot deepens; finally climaxing to the strains of ‘Happy Together’ by Filter as the whole edifice that Gatsby has built, as well as his emotional reserve, come crashing down.

The trailer feels like the whole of ‘The Great Gatsby’ condensed into two and a half minutes, a heady joyride that convinced us that, after many disappointing attempts, maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great American Novel” could work on the screen after all.

1. 'Man of Steel'

With the controversy surrounding the choice of Zack Snyder as director and general worries surrounding giving the world’s most iconic superhero his first reboot, the first few trailers did a lot to quell the anxiety surrounding ‘Man of Steel’, but it was this one that truly knocked it out of the park.

Hans Zimmer’s lyrical, almost tribal score provides the perfect accompaniment to this ethereal, strangely Mallick-inspired introduction to Henry Cavill’s Superman. The juxtaposition of a young boy hiding in a cupboard and the instructions of his mother (Diane Lane) to “pretend it’s an island” with the older Clark floating beneath flaming waves was something no Superman or arguably superhero film had ever offered us before: simple beauty. Furthermore, Kevin Costner’s weary Jonathan Kent, with his implications that Clark must be willing to let people die rather than risk revealing himself, suggested a moral ambiguity that Donner’s and Singer’s films had never offered.

The talk of destiny, the image of Superman taking flight, arctic rocks trembling around his hands, and the succession of teasing images that cap it off is all so enthralling that it more or less immediately silenced all the naysayers. For giving us tantalizing hope – appropriate given its subject matter –, ‘Man of Steel’ has to be our trailer of the year so far.

That concludes our list of the top 10 trailers of this year so far. We're only at the midpoint now, so expect another instalment somewhere down the line.

What do you think? What have we missed or mis-placed?

Bear with me. I'm still getting the hang of this. :-)
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 04:28:03 PM »

Kevin Costner’s weary Jonathan Kent, with his implications that Clark must be willing to let people die rather than risk revealing himself, suggested a moral ambiguity that Donner’s and Singer’s films had never offered.

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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2013, 05:28:18 PM »

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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 05:58:00 PM »

I am disinclined to acquiesce with your request.
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