The Trailer Ensemble is…

A little while back, I invited you all to partake in a blog event here.  What is your favorite movie trailer ever, and why?  Some of you chose too, others didn’t.  No hard feelings.  Film trailers are such a treat, they are one of my favorite things ever.  They can make bad films look amazing (“Mr. Brooks” comes to mind), mediocre films look earth shattering (“Iron Man 2”) and amazing films look mediocre (“Inglorious Basterds”), after seeing some amazing, amazing trailers such as “Tron Legacy”, “Love Ranch” and “Machete”, I wanted to do a little event that was specific only to trailers.  Thanks to those of you who joined me on this adventure.

Frank, author of Pompous Film Snob:

To me “Sideways” is a powerfully amazing character study of two men and who they really are.  I’ve always felt this trailer is pitch perfect.  The amazing use of split screen, and title slides is out of this world.  It gives us this light and breezy comedy of two men who are on a journey before one of them is to be married, but then it changes – it gets heavy.  Really heavy.  To me, music has always gone hand in hand when it comes to film, and the use of Blind Melon’s “No Rain” is so amazing, it’s beyond me.

Simon/Ripley – four of them

Funny Games U.S.

Never has classical music been such a mood-changer.

Blake -Bitchin’ Film Reviews

The beauty of the Tokyo! trailer is that it gives away nothing concerning plot and characters, while providing some seriously interesting images (nothing less would be expected from a project by Michel Gondry).  That shot where the girl opens her shirt in the morning and there’s a giant hole in her chest?!  In the intonation of Mitch Hedberg: Provocative!  It also spends time promoting the three directors, Bong Joon-Ho, Michel Gondry, and Leos Carax.  I can sincerely appreciate a trailer that pimps its directors out so completely (because of the deftness of the trailer, I actually rented these directors’ back catalog).  Second, because there are three, completely different stories, nothing is given away.  Nothing!  If you haven’t seen or heard about the film, can you honestly watch the trailer and tell me what it’s about?  No.  All of this is sprinkled in with some really fantastic music from Tokyo Police Club, and some time spent promoting its film festival credentials make it one of the most well-balanced trailers I’ve seen in a long time.  It literally convinced me to drive a two hour round trip to a shitty little theater to watch this film.

Red – Anomalous Material

“Nine” (2009)

The bells. The first time that I watched this trailer, those bells followed by the small glimmer of light out of the corner sent chills down my spine. Then the trailer breaks into several scenes showcasing the movies wonderful colors and cinematography, all the while slowly building up with the beginning of “Be Italian”. Then as the song begins to hit full swing (with Fergie surprising the hell of out of you), we are jumping back and forth between characters, much like Guido himself. Each of the ladies seem to get their own theme during their introduction, and the magical matching of footage to the score continues throughout the entire trailer. Sure other trailers have done this, but certainly not on the level that Nine was able to do. Before this movie, I was a huge fan of “8 1/2”, so you have an idea of the excitement that I had when I first got a glimpse at the trailer for Nine. Same characters and same story (supposedly), but in a musical with some of the biggest and brightest females in the industry today? Sign me up. And what’s even better is that the trailer knew it. Having every lady in the film circle Daniel Day-Lewis, looking as if they could pounce on him at any instance was just brilliant, and would’ve been the perfect representation of one of the movies main storylines. Perfectly paced, well picked out footage, and setting up the tone for what the film should’ve been, it’s just a shame that this 2 minute trailer had more heart in it than the 2 hour feature, save the parts with Marion Cotillard.


Fitz – Nevermind Popular Film

What if you could live forever? An interesting concept presented by Darren Aronofsky indeed. Scored by the masterful Clint Mansell the trailer sells the film as it is (a rarity among trailers anymore). Trying to save his lover over the course of a 1,000 years Tom Creo (Hugh Jackman) grasps with death, love and life. As visually stunning the trailer is, it cannot even begin to touch the film. This is one that needs to be seen.

Darren – the movie bl0g

Trailers are a tricky beast. When you’re constructing a trailer it’s easy to treat it as a two-minute synopsis of the first couple of acts and major set pieces of your film – an invitation to your audience which says “yeah, we got the goods – we just showed them to you.” Those trailers are a dime-a-dozen, sometimes needing ominous voice-over or text to fill in the blanks. But, like movies themselves, I tend to remember the bold ones, the striking ones, the iconic ones.

In a risky move for a late-nineties action film, this trailer is talky. Very talky. Travolta stares at you and introduces you to Castor Troy, the “mastermind behind numerous bombings and political assassinations”. The camera pans around him slowly, until it comes back to his face and it’s… Nicolas Cage. And that, my friends is cinema magic. A single long shot of a camera spinning around something to reveal it’s something else entirely.

The rest of the trailer is your standard Michael-Bay-light stuff, with the movie’s unbelievable stunts and choreographed action sequences, saved by two snippets of dialogue from the film which firmly states the movie’s goal. “You’re not having any fun,” Cage asserts, perhaps directed at those in the audience not impressed by the work of visual artistry which opened the trailer. And, in case you needed the movie to more directly identify it as a solidly-entertaining action-fest, John Travolta outlines the crux of the lead characters’ motivations: “Let’s just kill each other.”

Face/Off was wacky, fun and mindless entertainment – the trailer is one of the few which perfectly captures the core of the movie it promotes, and it does so with style and – dare I say it? – grace.

Phil – Pompous Film Snob

“Where the Wild Things Are,” trailer has a special place in my heart. It holds the qualities of something that had a great deal of appeal to me when I first saw it. First and maybe most importantly, it has a song I could get behind (an acoustic version of a track from one of my favorite albums, funeral by Arcade Fire). Secondly it appeared to use practical effects and giant suits mostly instead of relying heavily on computer graphics, something that still bothers me in movies (ie the last Indiana Jones movie). Most importantly for trailers though it effectively mixes scenes from the film and put them an order to achieve a sort of wild crescendo. It does it well by first having long wistful shots and matches the music’s increasing tempo by short action shots. Maybe in the end it makes it just an awesome music video but I still think its an amazing trailer that still when I watch it has that same magic I felt when I first saw it.

On a side note I’ve never actually seen this movie and I should say that when I went back to look at other trailers I had once loved I noticed that if the movie had been a let down, the feelings of that faileur had welled up. Sometimes its easier to like a movie that’s been condensed down to a matter of minutes than the actual realized motion picuture, maybe that’s also why it stands as one of my favorites.

M dot Carter – M. Carter at the Movies!

There’s no way to prepare for the flaming explosion of lurid, profane, technicolor originality that is Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” But if there is, the film’s fragmented theatrical trailer is it. Clocking in at well under three minutes, this promo, with its pompously narrated opening interrupted by bullet holes, clues us in to Tarantino’s smirking, self-promotional sense of humor and undying love of graphic violence. Irresistible too are the sampling of the film’s cool-cat actors (Uma Thurman! Johnny Travolta! Sammy Jackson!) and the dialogue soundbites, perfectly selected to tease us, not give us the best “Pulp Fiction” has to offer. If that doesn’t get you, surely the title theme will. You’ll never hear “Misirlou” without thinking of “Pulp Fiction,” and you’ll never think of “Pulp Fiction” without knowing, deep down, what “going medieval” really means.

Marshall – Marshall at the Movies

I love the teaser for “Benjamin Button” because it perfectly captures the magic of the movie.  It shows the aging process without ruining anything except the breathtaking cinematography.  The “Carnival of the Animals” playing in the background only adds to the sense of wonder.  I hadn’t even heard of the movie when I first saw the trailer, and it absolutely knocked me off my feet.

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

19 thoughts on “The Trailer Ensemble is…”

  1. Thanks for the invite. It’s a great list, I think. Lots of variety. I do feel like the most unsophisticated of the bunch, I must confess – but, god, I love that trailer.

    Thank you for putting this all together.

    1. Any time Darren! Thanks for joining. When you sent me your trailer of Face/Off, I was just like – what the fuck, really? And than I watched it, and I must say, it was pretty fucking awesome. I like the trailer better than the movie!

  2. Phil and Marshall, I just about chose those trailers as well. Where the Wild Things Are was horribly thrown aside. The choice of music for both the trailer and movie was astounding.

    1. Ya it took me a while to decide on Where the Wild Things Are, but I could think of any other recent trailer that stuck out in mind as much.

  3. This is a great idea for an event Film Snob! Thanks for letting me participate.

    I honestly had never seen the trailer to Sideways before, it is pretty freaking good. And I totally agree that Funny Games has a great trailer, but the trailer for the original outshines it just a bit. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzpzpe_8gHQ.

    I’m a big fan of The Fountain trailer as well.

    I used the word trailer a lot in this comment.

  4. Thanks for hosting this Frank.

    I liked the trailer for Sideways, but I thought it revealed too much. “No Rain” is a great selection nonetheless.

    The trailer for Funny Games is what got me in the theatre. Sadly, the film made me want to leave.

    1. Yeah, no problem! I plan on hosting more events on my blog, if you guys would like to do it again.

      I feel the same way about the Sideways trailer, especially the clip of Thomas Hayden Church standing at the alter. But none the less, I still love the trailer so very much. I originally wanted to do the Tron Legacy trailer, but I felt it was too new, when there are so many great trailers previous.

  5. I somehow missed this gathering, but did a little trailer-a-thon myself not too long ago. My number one has always been Alien. Not the lengthy one that’s been added on over the years, but the original less than one minute trailer.

    Of recent years, gimme Terminator Salvation or 300.

    Of these listed I really loved Where The Wild Things Are and Pulp Fiction.

  6. a big fan of the film, i’d have to go with the “funny games” trailer.
    and too bad i am too late. i would have loved to rack my brains thinking movie trailers…

  7. Bummed i didn’t get in on this earlier. Good choices, especially SIDEWAYS. The first one that comes to mind for me is “Indecent Proposal,” but I can’t find it on YouTube. (I did find a 30-second TV spot for the videocassette, that’s NOT the trailer I’m remembering.) The movie wasn’t great, but the trailer was super slick and really made me want to see it.

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