Friday, November 05, 2004

Trailer Park

(I'm going to give the politics a rest because I can't muster the energy for it, or anything else really. If ever the Hugger Busker was needed here, now is the time. I do have a few movie-related thoughts--imagine that--to plop down here, so we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.)

Since I've become a film critic, one aspect of moviegoing that has lost its luster is seeing trailers. Chances are I've seen some of them dozens of times, so the prospect of sitting through a two-minute preview of TAXI or RAISING HELEN becomes an endurance test. It isn't unusual for me to welcome a bad film's opening just so I won't have to suffer through the trailer again.

Nevertheless, I was interested to see the new STAR WARS trailer before my second viewing of THE INCREDIBLES. The theater where I saw it didn't have the EPISODE III trailer attached. I did get an early look at next year's Pixar film, CARS, which looks to be another sure thing from a studio that has yet to make a misstep.

Over at the arthouse I saw the trailer for HEAD IN THE CLOUDS yet again. I've always had a laugh at one line in the trailer, and this time I made a point to write it down. The voiceover includes the purple, parodic statement, "Forced to choose between desire and duty, they chose both." This is funnier than anything in that Jimmy Fallon-Queen Latifah movie, by the way.

The trailer for SEDUCING DOCTOR LEWIS reminded me of the strategy taken for foreign-language films. Don't let the audience know the film isn't in English. (The film in question appears to be a French-Canadian production.) The only dialogue we hear from or between characters are names, English words or those incorporated into the language, and easily understood foreign phrases (bon jour). Otherwise the plot is revealed through voiceover or text.

The trailer for VERA DRAKE, the new film from Mike Leigh, goes to great pains to obscure what the title character does. It's not for fear of spoiling the film but rather to smooth over content that would probably have people running from the theater than lining up to see it. If you're paying close enough attention you can probably figure out that Vera Drake is an abortionist. In all fairness, the word 'abortion' or a variant is only spoken three times in the film. Still, how many people plan to spend a Friday night watching a film about an abortionist, even if it is balanced and well made?

One other observation... The SIDEWAYS trailer adds another beat to the joke when Paul Giamatti asks Thomas Hayden Church's character if he's chewing gum while they're doing a winetasting. In the film the scene ends when he asks if he's chewing gum. The trailer cuts to a reaction shot of Church responding affirmatively and Giamatti telling him to spit it out. For what it's worth, the film's version works better.

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