February is always a month that I greet with a tiny amount of dread. Not just because it’s the month in which my birthday falls, so it’s another year closer to all my hair falling out and joining the ranks of the OAP screenings with tea and biscuits (which is fine; I happen to quite like tea and biscuits, now you mention it), but also because February normally marks the falling of the Oscars. That means that the “awards corridor”, as it seems to be known now, will come to an end, and the quantity and frequency of high quality releases will drop off for a few months.
So we can but make the most of it before it’s too late. There’s an amazing amount of new releases out this month, and trimming the list down to six has been a real challenge. Not making the cut were the variety of awards troublers still making their escape before the Oscars, including The Fighter, Never Let Me Go, Rabbit Hole and Brighton Rock, all of which had trailers which felt entirely too conventional or spoilerific. More disappointing was the omission of Frost / Pegg love-in Paul, which I saw a fantastic preview for at Movie-Con last year, but for which the promotional material since has been of a noticeably lower standard.
Anyway, before my internal chronometer clicks that extra year and I begin the slow descent into senility and being able to be generally grumpy to everyone in sight, here’s my six for this month.
The Coens had the distinction of having the best trailer of the year two years ago, for their overflowing cup of Jewishness that was A Serious Man (which you can see here if you haven’t before). The fantastic rhythm and the pulse going through that trailer has been recaptured here, although in not quite as dramatic a fashion, but this captures the more grown-up quirky vibe that the Coens have been channelling for the past couple of films perfectly and if the mere mention of the name Coen gets your film loving self going week at the knees, then this will serve only to increase that.
Documentaries are often at their best when they can appeal to the emotions, and while natural disasters or feats of human achievement might have been the mark of documentaries previously, in this post-Michael Moore age it’s big business and capitalism who’ve turned out to be the bad guys. Here it’s the biggest villain of them all, bankers, who might as well all now be sneaking round darkened halls wearing a hood with their sleeve pulled up to their face, but just in case you were in any doubt, Inside Job is here to help you make up your mind.
Whether it’s the cultural gap or that, away from the Hollywood system, creativity flourishes in slightly different ways, there’s something refreshing about many Japanese trailers, and this is a prime example, with a concept well laid out in the trailer, some wonderful stylistic flourishes and that generally chilly, creepy vibe, it’s refreshingly different to the normal run-of-the-mill trailers that the trailer makers normally churn out.
It seems to be the fashion of the trendy blogger these days to have pictures on your blog to illustrate your points which have bold white explanatory text on. If you’re a regular reader of sites like The Incredible Suit or Ultra Culture, you’ll know exactly what I mean, and it seems that this phenomenon is now seeping into the trailers themselves. Guy Pearce has become something of a character actor cameo expert in the past few years, so it’s nice to see him in a bigger part, and also to see Joel “Young Uncle Owen” Edgerton in something decent looking.
Sometimes I manage to convince myself that I’m becoming more cultured in my old age. But when I only know who Allan Ginsberg is because his lyrics appear in a TMBG song, then I go back to my Star Wars DVDs and my Star Trek duvet cover and I stop worrying. What I do know is that James Franco was the worst thing in the Spider-Man films, but is normally much better than that, and hopefully will continue his good run of form here.
West Is West
To finish this month, a sequel to one of the most under-appreciated British films of the last couple of decades, but it’s taken nearly a dozen years for this sequel to reach our screens. Given the word of mouth appeal of the original, that may explain why there’s not been a huge marketing push for the follow-up, or at least not yet – or maybe it’s because all Jimi Mistry managed to amount to in between was playing the live action Apu Nahasapeemapetilon for a few Hollywood films and an unsuccessful stint on Strictly Come Dancing. Hopefully this franchise will deliver more on its promise.