Category: Trailers

Directing With A Tintin Ear

I would dearly like to believe that Steven Spielberg isn’t a terrible person full of bad ideas, but being presented with the trailer for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is a severe test of my faith. I’m no wholesale motion capture snob, but I don’t understand how Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg could look at what they’ve created and call it aesthetically pleasing.

There was very little point approaching a Tintin project this way. While the scenery looks okay, Hergésque, even, the animation and the character models are simply not up to standard. This level of work is only one step above the visual hellscape that was Mars Needs Moms, which is considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time after inflation. If you look at the 50 second mark with Thompson and Thomson bumbling down the stairs, or the 1:50 mark where one of them hits the street light, it’s clear that Spielberg has no sense of animation. These characters are being clicked and dragged, and it’s not a good look.

Whoever decided that Snowy looked like a dog rather than a series of cotton buds needs to be fired, as well. It’s he and Tintin, rendered breathless by Jamie Bell, that get the worst of it all. Tintin, being the title character, needs to look less dumb. It’s too late for that. It was always going to be too late. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, intent on whittling away all of the good will that they’ve earned over the years, are uninspired thus far.

Next we have Captain Haddock, the most pleasing member of the bunch. He looks like Captain Haddock! Alas, he’s been rendered into a bumbling Scot. At this point in the Tintin mythos he’s a drunkard, but that’s not communicated here. Due to the inexplicable thick accent, the audience is forced to assume that his stupidity is directly related to his country of origin. I know that this isn’t strictly fair given that we’ve only got 2:24 to work with, but trailer cutters should know that first impressions count.

While I believe I will drag myself to see The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, I don’t hold out much hope for it. The sense of adventure might be pointing in the right direction, but the look and the sound are entirely wrong. Had Spielberg attempted to go all the way in either direction – live action and effects driven, or computer generated – he might have ended up with something worth looking at. Secret of the Unicorn is the movie of 2011 that I’m most likely to watch with my eyes closed.

Jack and Jill: Adam Sandler hates me and you and everyone we know

In Judd Apatow’s long and boring 2009 vanity project Funny People, Adam Sandler plays a successful comedian who made his fortune with a series of terrible and gimmicky comedies (a wizard has turned Adam Sandler into a baby! Only Justin Long can look after him!). In 2011, Funny People has come true.

Yes, Adam Sandler’s career has finally caught up with Rob Schneider’s. I never thought I’d see the day!

 

Making terrible movies is nothing new for Adam Sandler, but I think that Jack and Jill has to be a new low. It has to be, because I refuse to accept that he has made a movie worse than this one. I don’t make a habit of watching Adam Sandler movies and was burnt terribly by his last non-Apatow vehicle that I saw, so I’ll just keep on believing what I choose to believe.

 

Is there any way that Jack and Jill can be good? Adam Sandler plays himself and his twin sister, living in an idyllic and totally unsympathetic capitalist dystopia. Every single problem that the Sandlers face in this trailer can only be experienced by a stupidly rich person: “I hope my sister doesn’t ruin my pool by riding on a jet ski!” “I can’t believe Al Pacino is hitting on me court side at a Lakers game!” Even their apparent reconciliation, awkwardly shoe-horned  in the midst of the trailer, comes in the form of Double Dutch skipping on the $1.2 billion USD largest passenger ship ever built.

I know that the millions of families who go and see this movie will personally identify with the sickening bourgeoisie antics of Adam Sandler and Adam Sandler! If anyone recalls Macaulay Culkin’s Richie Rich from 1994, the entire concept was that Richie had so much money that he had no idea how to relate to society. A more “modern” example like Russell Brand’s remake of Arthur covers similar material, denouncing wealth while revelling in it.

The nightmare that the Sandlers live in with Katie Holmes is presented as if it is a wonderful life that can only be spoiled by outside influence. Humanity is presented as destructive to the American way of life, which is the right to own more than you could ever possibly need while systematically ignoring your family.

 

Of course, “none of this would matter” (it would) if the movie looked funny at all. It doesn’t. It has no capacity for laughs, existing only to bring further shame to Al Pacino, who I understand has made some good movies in his time … but that was so long ago I can’t remember. I can’t picture Katie Holmes and Adam Sandler having anything approaching chemistry, and the cute adopted child cribbed from Easy A is more than a little on the nose. I can’t wait for this movie to make billions and reinforce my total lack of confidence in the universe.

 

I’ve got one thing to say to you, Adam Sandler: Don’t Bring Me Down!

Latest trailer for The Social Network can’t look me in the eye

“I don’t care if it hurts”.

Clearly, this is the case with David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin. How else can you explain the existence of The Social Network, which looks to be the most vacuous movie of 2010 to come from an allegedly respectable writer and director?

Now, I’m no longer convinced of David Fincher’s talent: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was bloated, the best part was Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett was frankly wasted.

Worse than that, of course, was the inexplicably lauded Zodiac, a film singularly lacking in tension or interest that placed guilt solely at the foot of a dead guy who can’t defend himself. It was anything but a triumph (and I was forced to see it instead of the far superior Half Nelson).

As for Aaron Sorkin – to be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen anything he’s done except for The American President. I guess that was good. Anyway, these are good names. But how can this be a good movie?

Just look at it.

A girls’ choir sings Radiohead’s “Creep” over shots of Jesse Eisenberg looking evil, people partying and “dramatic scenes of destruction”. Why is a girls’ choir singing a song about a man with crippling self-esteem issues who is fixated on a woman? Because it is a singularly bad idea. This is the only explanation.

I would say, “I don’t care that this movie is about Facebook”, but I guess I do. This trailer shows why this is the case, in that it exposes the culture that allowed Facebook to grow into the behemoth that it became. American popular culture really canonizes “college life” as the best thing ever, the only thing that anyone in America truly lives for.

“College life” of course means “keggers”, because nothing says higher education like conspicuous consumption of alcohol and possibly a bit of marijuana. (The legality of cannabis is literally the only political policy that matters to anyone – everything else is irrelevant).

Do we want a movie that shows this? What looks utterly repellent to me (upper class snoots drinking!) probably looks like the dream to a lot of people. Watching it again, I actually feel a little sick watching the bacchanalian exploits of these overstuffed youth. The tagline we’ve been given is “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”. Deep.

We have kind of learned in recent times that Mark Zuckerberg, co-creator of Facebook, is kind of a dick. A twenty three year old billionaire is sure to get an inflated sense of self worth. He’s paradoxically quite secretive and Ben Mezrich’s book, which provided most of the “inspiration” for the book, was written more as a series of hyperbolic suppositions than anything approximating truth. Zuckerberg would not speak to him.

Here Jesse Eisenberg (some might say “the poor man’s Michael Cera” – not me, oh no) plays a baby faced Satan. He’s like Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, except not Shia LaBeouf and therefore not an automatic failing grade. Does he look compelling in the role? No. The Social Network is the cinematic definition of “privileged white people”. If white people bore you, they’re probably going to bore you here in ways that you never knew it was possible to be bored.

I think that the problem is likely that Facebook is now part of the furniture. I’m not going to bother criticising it here because people use it in different ways, but of course Zuckerberg has done a wonderful job of compromising the privacy of everyone who doesn’t consider the implications of what they have agreed to. For some people, Facebook is all there is to the internet. “Social Networking” is the currency for the youth of today, and that’s not necessarily bad but it can lead to a myopic view of the online landscape.

My secret hope is that soon enough Facebook becomes as irrelevant as Myspace so that this movie becomes a weird curio, just as Kick-Ass was outdated before it even came out and just as Funny People was a bad idea before Adam Sandler was born.
Still, the movie has been made and there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ll have to cope with Justin Timberlake (Justin Timberlake!) telling us “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what is cool? A billion dollars.” which serves only to prove that Sorkin is a master of dialogue and that he absolutely deserves your ticket money.

Eisenberg himself explains why he wants the attention of “the clubs”:

“They’re exclusive. And fun. And they lead to a better life.”

I don’t know what that means, but I want no part of it.

GI Joe: A New Hope for Summer

How great is GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra going to be? With my barely concealed distaste in this “summer” season (bearing in mind that Australians won’t see Up until September), I’m going to take GI Joe’s tagline to heart: “When all else fails, they don’t”.

Look at it this way: it’s bright and crisp. It looks like the special effects had enough of a budget to appear both special and effective. It doesn’t look like it takes itself too seriously, as evidenced by the villain being Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor!) eating scenery, combined with Joseph Gordon Levitt in fetish gear (although I don’t think that’s shown in this trailer).

I think that one of the many problems with Transformers is that it takes itself so damned seriously, and Michael Bay is convinced that he has made “art”. Shia LeBoeuf sees his character as so identifiable it’s scary.
Megan Fox, on the other hand, has been the only person publicly out of the machine, admitting that it’s not art, and that she needs hard liquor to fill the void in her soul created by watching the movie.

Imagine, if you will, that GI Joe was produced by a team of Megan Foxes. People who knew they weren’t making art, but were instead focused on having as much fun as they possibly could on the ultimate in ridiculously over-budgeted ($170 million!) bubblegum cinema.
It might not be the case here, but come on. We can only take so many terrible self important movies before we want to chew on a movie that is aware of what it is, of its limitations, and has decided to make us laugh, intentionally or not.
To be entirely honest, when I was at the cinema and I saw the submarines approaching the base at the trailer’s beginning, I was intrigued. Then I found out that it was GI Joe and my natural cynicism kicked in, but the trailer editor had done his job. I could no longer totally discount the piece.

GI Joe might not be good by any objective measure except one: it will be better than Revenge of the Fallen. Don’t let me down, Dennis Quaid. When all else fails, you don’t.

I can’t handle The Ugly Truth

“Isn’t this movie just Leonidas with a shirt on?”

-Tony Lin, 14/07/2009

Have you got any idea of how sick of seeing trailers for The Ugly Truth I am? They’re pairing it with everything, from Revolutionary Road way back in the day to Transformers and Brüno now! It’s had a huge lead in promotion, so it’s probably going to explode at the Australian box office.
This time I won’t go into a lengthy tirade against Katherine Heigl, because she’s got some sort of defence machine that will spring into action if a word – and there have been many – is said against her. That doesn’t stop the fact that this movie is going to suck (although last time I defamed The Ugly Truth I also defamed The Proposal, and that turned out better than my cynical heart could ever have hoped).

I don’t understand why some movies take so long to come out. I’ve been seeing trailers for this for about five months; it comes out on August 6th here.  From the (Australian!) director of Legally Blonde, the Jane Fonda comeback vehicle Monster-in-Law (which I saw the trailer for roughly seventy billion times in 2005), and criminally boring card counting flick 21, The Ugly Truth is another bad romantic comedy about two unlovable creatures finding love in each other.
That’s actually pretty surprising: that both of them are as bad as each other, albeit in different ways.  How many times am I going to have to see Heigl fellate a hot dog before I die? It’s getting so much play that I fear I may have a coronary at the cinema and that will be the last thing that I see.

The Ugly Truth amounts to a frat comedy on Gerard Butler’s side combined with a “successful woman want to know what love is, and wants you to show her” romance on the other side. Can misogyny and blatant career sexism meet in the middle and create a successful film? Does Gerard Butler actually work in a “real” movie, or will he forever be kicking people into holes and telling them where they are in the hearts and minds of the people?

It’s also R rated in America, so that means you’ll get extra raunch! Substitute “raunch” for “boobs”, which in Hollywood means the same thing most of the time.

Maybe, if I could drag myself to it, it could surprise me. The Proposal worked because it didn’t resort to gender stereotyping, even if the same movie could never have been made had Sandra Bullock’s character been a man and Reynolds’ a woman. These were just two people who had their own family and intimacy issues and the movie worked based on that.

The Ugly Truth, from the poster on, tells you “this is what a man is. This is what a woman is.” It’s lazy writing, in reality, but time and again that seems to be what audiences want. You can’t go to such a movie and uncritically accept what it is trying to feed you. I want people to be able to rise up and say: “not everyone is like this! Certainly, Katherine Heigl, men like your breasts, but that is not all there is to you! And Gerard Butler, stop making men seem so shallow! Sure you like Katherine Heigl’s breasts, but that’s not all you like about her!”
It’s a war I’m never liable to win, but I’ll repeat myself until the day I die: stop making crap movies that are little more than thinly veiled sexism. As I intend to die during a preview for The Ugly Truth next week, you won’t hear it repeated much longer, but keep it in mind.

Inglourious Basterds: Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France

Inglourious Basterds, entirely apart from having a title that’s painful to type, entirely separate from the not-entirely-favourable reception it had at Cannes, is Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie.

I’m too young to really remember him being cinema’s enfant terrible, and I recall being sent upstairs by my aunt while she and my brother watched Reservoir Dogs – unfortunately, the TV was at the bottom of the stairs so I could hear every damn word she was protecting me from – but I know his work, if not overly well.

I realise that it’s becoming a sort of recurring motif for me, labelling things as “not movies” … but Tarantino doesn’t so much make “not movies” as he does “genre movies” – films in bold and italics. They’re more movie than movie.

Tarantino is in the business of making replicants, is what I’m saying.

I saw this trailer for it at Bruno, and immediately afterwards my occasional comrade said “that looks shit”. But it doesn’t to my eyes. It looks somewhat splendid, and I say that as someone who thought that Death Proof was self-indulgent clap trap only partly redeemed by a great ending. As Tony said to Dittman, “it’s Tarantino, man!”

There don’t seem to have been a lot of World War II movies out of America lately, particularly not ones that have dealt with Nazi fighting adventures.  Spike Lee had his, which never saw release here and, in the interest of academic honesty, I can’t be bothered looking up the name of it. The other was Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie, which dared to answer the question “how do you make an assassination plot against Hitler boring?”

Inglourious Basterds, on the other hand, is unambiguous: it’s about the olden days when people were allowed to kill Nazis on film and do so in elaborate and bloody ways. What’s so bad about that? It looks fun, and it looks like once again Tarantino has indulged his love for film. Some may say that Kill Bill Volume 2 was better than the first, but what I most remember about it was that the credits doubled as the credits for Volume 1, and reminded me of how much fun I had the day I saw it.

Inglourious Basterds features everything that anyone could ever ask of this type of movie: Brad Pitt shooting Nazis, and at least a little bit of participation from Samuel L. Jackson. What could possibly go wrong? This is me setting up a hubristic goal: I am going to see Inglourious Basterds and I am going to enjoy it. 2009 has been so disappointing and underwhelming so far that it has to deliver.

It should also be noted that the trailer I’ve posted above is slightly different to the one I saw, but largely the same, and totally different to the most widely available trailer which makes the movie look boring as all get out. I know that some – my father, for one –  think that one shouldn’t treat Nazi Germany as a simple matter of gung ho guns, render it a “boy’s own” adventure, but I think that, as long as we don’t try to deny it, it’s right to try to get as much out of the experience as we can. By rendering Hitler ridiculous – and there’s no one better at that than Mel Brooks – we disrespect not the memories of those who died in the war, but those of Hitler himself.

Please don’t disappoint me again, Mister Tarantino: I know you have the power, through this movie, to save my American summer.

Trailer Mismash February ’09: The Inappropriate Romanticising


I find this poster offensive.

I’ve long been a proponent of matching a trailer to a film. This has never been clearer than the last few weeks, my beloved Oscar Season. I understand that sometimes there simply aren’t enough films to match to any given film, particularly if that film is heavy. Still, some things aren’t quite excusable.

He’s Just Not That Into You: Only a Sith deals in absolutes

Preface: This was mostly written in December, but it proves a point to someone and it’s still relevant as the movie just saw release.

What do you put as a trailer before a movie like Vicky Christina Barcelona, if you’re more of a mainstream cinema? Well, there’s understandable quirky semi-mainstream like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which is required by law to be great, even though Zodiac sucked, David Fincher [date showing here – it turned out to be okay but not as good as the Academy would have you believe!]), and legitimate left-of-centre stuff like Frost/Nixon. With no ads to fill the gap, you’re left with only one option: a vehicle for the featured movie’s star.
What I’m talking about here is He’s Just Not That Into You, featuring Scarlett Johansson, which looks to have just about everything wrong with it:

In gender politics, society is always talking in stupid, meaningless absolutes that are clearly destroyed by the blatantly obvious fact that they simply aren’t true. What movies and TV have taught me, and what some people will distressingly back up, includes the following:

  • Men and women can’t be friends.
  • Women can’t be friends.
  • Gay men can’t be friends.

So I don’t know, apparently if you’re a woman you can’t be friendly with anyone (although maybe gay men don’t “count” as men, but then, all gay men are rampant misogynists and gynophobes), and if you’re a man you can only be friends with people in your fraternity who aren’t gay. I’m getting the impression that He’s Just Not That Into You reinforces a lot of this.

In real life, I was quite distressed when one of my American friends informed me that men and women really cannot be friends. Obviously I’m a little removed from that world – America and heterosexuality – but is this really the world that we want to live in? Where a man can’t get along with a woman because of the rampant sexual tension that exists between every single one of them, regardless of any individual’s actual feelings? Where an alleged biological imperative is driving us towards being terrible people who avoid one another at every turn? A world where we’re supposed to believe that women aren’t funny?

Pardon me, sirs, but eff that ess.

Speed Racer: in what universe is this movie a good idea?

He's a demon and he's gonna be chasing after someone.

How did they secure an IMAX release for Speed Racer? Why did they keep the damned monkey in? Whose decision was it to make it not even look vaguely realistic? Who thought to bank roll this travesty? Why was this a movie that needed to be made? Why do I get the feeling that it will be played deadly serious? How did they secure such a not-terrible cast? Speed Racer, what are you thinking?

… Why do I know that I’ll go and see it?

And tangentially, am I the only one not overly impressed by the new The Incredible Hulk?

But is it even possible to be worse than Ang Lee’s Hulk?

Indy’s back

Low content post:

Nazi Cate Blanchett! Yes! I’m still dubious about Shia LaBeouf, as to me he represents a lot of what’s wrong with everything … but I may be biased.