Monday, July 14, 2014

The Delicate Art of the Movie Trailer

So, I have this problem.  No, it’s not what you’re thinking.  Get your mind out of the gutter!  Just kidding, what were you thinking…? Anyway, I have this problem with movie trailers.  Each two-minute clip is a teaser, a narrow window into the full-length feature, that attempts to pique your interest just enough that you succumb to watching the entire film.  But, here’s the rub.  It rarely ever does.  Instead, two hours and endless trailers later, I throw my hands up and resign myself to bed because either the trailer aficionados have revealed too much and I’m convinced that I’ve already digested the entirety of the film (hello, weekly previews for the Bachelor and Bachelorette) or it’s just off.  What do I mean by off?  I mean, it’s an Academy Award winning film but because the trailer guy didn’t do his job correctly, I’m put off.  Not put off as in “Oh, this looks bad, but I’ve heard such great things, so I’ll watch it anyway,” but rather, “Wow, this is not what I thought I was in for, so I’m abandoning ship before it even leaves the dock.”  Yeah, that bad.

Image via Vogue

It can’t be that bad, you must be thinking.  Oh, but it is.  The Godfather? Haven’t seen it.  Casablanca?  But it looks so old.  Pulp Fiction? Have you seen that trailer?!  And it doesn’t just extend to older films with antiquated technology and that strange I’m-not-a-trailer-just-the-first-thirty-seconds-of-a-scene otherwise known as a clip but also to new releases. Take Philomena, for example.  It has all the makings of a great film: an Oscar-nominated screenplay, likable actors and an endorsement from the notoriously tough critic otherwise known as my mother.  But for some reason, I just haven’t been able to click rent on iTunes.  Someday, I keep telling myself.
Image via Wikipedia
But then there are the worst culprits of all: the trailers that look so enticing that you relinquish those precious five dollars, but 30 minutes in, you’re rendered speechless and not in the good way.  This is exactly what happened partway into Le Weekend.  At first glance, it seems like an adorable romantic comedy about an elderly couple who fall in love again during a weekend sejour à Paris.  And I guess factually that is what happens.  But what this doesn’t account for is the seeming eternity in between.  What in the trailer appears as cutesy banter between husband and wife turns out to be snapshots of a scene where the incredibly unlikable Lindsay Duncan berates her husband, played by Jim Broadbent, for being an “idiot,” suggests they divorce on the night of their anniversary and offers up a blank stare.  Yep, you can guess what happens next.  My friends and I looked at each other and skipped to the end. (SPOILER ALERT: The couple is evicted from their hotel room for insufficient funds on their credit card, walk out of the lobby unscathed and begin dancing around a café in the middle of the afternoon. Only in Paris can you walk out of a five-star hotel without paying scot-free.)

This is all to say that I have a problem, I’m trying to work on it and please send me movie suggestions that I promise I will watch without first looking up the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (I can no longer trust them after their 89% rating of Le Weekend) and intensely scrutinizing the trailer.

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