Time to start yet another trawl through the cinematic wonders of the year, the fifth time I’ve broken down the cinema year in blog post form, and as has now become traditional I’m starting with my look at the best trailers of 2014. I have to say that 2014 hasn’t struck me as a golden year in the art of the cinematic promo, not least because of an ever increasing avalanche of marquee names and tentpole sequels that have a very precise series of beats to hit. I’ve probably also reached a point where I don’t watch very many of these in cinemas, partly because the tendency to keep the house lights up means most people tend to sit and chat through them, but also down to the fact that the standard diet of ads and trailers at the multiplex is twenty-five to thirty minutes of my life I’ll never get back, so I try to dip in as close to the start of the film as I possibly can.
All that said, there have still been a few highlights of the year, so in tribute to my normal Half Dozen trailer run-down I’ve pulled together another double dose of the best of the year’s trailers.
Best Trailer That Condenses The Movie Into Two Minutes: The Grand Budapest Hotel
What you’re really looking for from a trailer is something that sums up the tone and the spirit of the film without giving the game away. Recent trailers for Wes Anderson’s films have got this down to the finest of fine arts, not least because they tend to use the score from their respective films, and this picks off a selection of crowd-pleasing moments and also captures the true sense of the lighter moments of the film while not giving away too many of the highlights for when you come to watch the film.
Best Trailer For Teasing Just The Right Level: Godzilla
Just as with the Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, this trailer was doing its best to keep back the detail of the grumpy green giant until you were sat watching the film. This probably worked more effectively, not least because the reveal of the actual creature leaves you breathing a sigh of relief rather than disappointment. Most of us who remember the travesty of Matthew Broderick charging round after a bunch of humourless Godzookies were relieved that this offered up the possibility of something just a little less emotionally scarring.
Best Trailer Earworm Of The Year: Guardians Of The Galaxy
Marvel couldn’t really lose here, as few people would have had too many expectations of this very minor property before James Gunn was offered the director’s chair. Even the eccentric (if expensive) casting wouldn’t have done too much more to raise hopes, but then this first trailer hit, with the film’s secret weapon revealed: the killer throwback soundtrack, and if you weren’t oonga-chakkaing to yourself after hearing Blue Suede’s Hooked On A Feeling, it’s possible you either hate the Seventies or you have no soul.
Best Comedy Trailer Of The Year: What We Do In The Shadows
I had a few issues with What We Do In The Shadows, mainly around the lack of big laughs, but that was possibly also down to the fact that many of the film’s best moments ended up in the trailer. Conversely, this is a two minute breakdown of the film that still hasn’t failed to put a smile on my face every time I’ve watched it.
Best Action Trailer Of The Year: The Raid 2
The Raid 2 suffered from being a subtitled action movie so it failed to crack either the art houses or the multiplexes and I ended up performing a 120 mile round trip just to see it. But when this trailer was offering up so much (all of which was delivered on in spades in the film), it was hard to resist. It helps when your two and a half hour action movie has probably close to an hour of action so that you’re not losing too many important beats to the need to drum up an audience.
Best Ronseal* Trailer: Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie
No, wait, come back! I haven’t taken leave of my senses: Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie is almost certainly a terrible film – I haven’t actually seen it – but there’s something about the trailer: you could not possibly watch it, and then sit down and watch the film saying you weren’t warned what you’re getting. Having been forced to endure some of the TV series, all of the staples are present and correct: the sub-music hall humour, the fourth wall breaking, the corpsing mid-joke, the self-referential digs, and in terms of pitching the finished product, you can’t fault it.
* does exactly what it says on the tin
Most Horrific Flashback Of The Year: Edge Of Tomorrow
You learn something every day. In this case, I discovered that the mind-numbing flashbacks I was having to the Battle: Los Angeles trailer caused by the use of the same music in this trailer wasn’t caused by the same music at all, just a common reliance on heavy use of autotune. For the record, the trailer for my least favourite film of the current decade was accompanied by Johann Johannsson’s The Sum’s Gone Dim and the Edge Of Tomorrow trailer is underscored by Fieldwork’s This Is Not The End. Feel free to tell me that I’m getting old and should be able to tell the difference.
Best Reveal In A Trailer: Citizenfour
Citizenfour has a trump card up its sleeve, and both the trailer and the film manage the reveal in an understated but effective way.
Yeah, not much more I can say than that.
Move along. Nothing more to see here.
Best Underdog Trailer (also Best Use Of Eighties Music): We Are The Best
I’ve not managed to catch everything I’d hoped to this year, I never do, but if one film stands out as being one I regret missing, it’s We Are The Best, and hopefully this trailer shows you exactly why. Out of the films I’ve not seen (at time of writing; it’s on Netflix so may yet appear in the top 40), this one seems to have been cropping up on as many end of year lists as anything.
Best Trailer For A Film Not Out Until 2015 First Runner-Up: Inherent Vice
I’ll be honest, I’d not paid much attention to Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, partly because you don’t need to: it’s a name that’s become as reliable a stamp of quality as Scorcese or Spielberg at their peak. Consequently, this trailer – showing how Anderson set about capturing the feel of Thomas Pynchon’s novel – took me by surprise. Some top quality falling over from Joaquim Phoenix there.
Best Trailer For A Film Not Out Until 2015 Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road
The first trailer created a real buzz around the internet with its incredible looking action scenes, but it was just a string of action scenes with a cool techno soundtrack and a two-headed lizard. But this second promo was a perfect storm of fast cuts, giant logos, Nicholas Hoult going a bit mad and when the Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem drops, it’s the trailer equivalent of snorting pure speed. Seven million YouTube views in a week have surely guaranteed this a big opening weekend next year.
The Best Trailer Of 2014 is The Babadook
There could only really be one winner this year. Preparing to watch The Guest on the opening night of FrightFest, in a room full of hardened horror movie fans, the fact that they were freaking out over a trailer spoke volumes about what was to come, and by the time the film played two nights later there were actual screams. This brings us nicely full circle, as this trailer also does a great job of nailing the concept without giving away too many of the big moments, and I’m not only adding The Babadook to my Trailer Of The Year roll of honour, but I’m still sleeping with the lights on and I’ve stopped reading books. Can’t take any chances.
The 12 Best Trailers Of 2013 WINNER – Gravity
The 12 Best Trailers Of 2012 WINNER – The Imposter
The Dozen Best Trailers Of 2011 WINNER – Submarine
The Half Dozen Best Trailers Of 2010 WINNER – The Social Network
It seems everyone wants to grab your attention these days. From double evictions on The X Factor to Lord Sugar firing people before they’ve even got out of bed in this year’s The Apprentice, reality shows are increasingly loading up their casts, then casting them aside like so much dead wood, purely in the hunt for ratings. So how to keep up with the pack in this increasingly cut-throat world? This month I present to you seven trailers, all eager for you to chew heavily processed snack foods loudly while watching them in your nearest cinemaplex. By the end of this post, one of you will be fired.
Once you’ve won an award, your ability to open doors into cinemas increases noticeably. Leviathan follows in the footsteps of We Need To Talk About Kevin, Rust And Bone, A Prophet, Ida and, er, Tulpan as the best film at the London Film Festival, and also has a best screenplay award from Cannes in its trophy cabinet. The danger is that you come to the film judging it purely on reputation, or in this case that you confuse it with an unusual documentary about fishermen and trawlers from a year or two ago.
A documentary about an Italian ring road seems simple enough, but this is a film I’ve already tried to watch twice this year. On both occasions the subtitles malfunctioned, so I now need to decide whether to chance a third trip to the well. I might just take the Italian-English dictionary to be on the safe side.
The Imitation Game
Keira Knightley wins the award for the poshest English accent ever, no contest. Also, next Saturday Bletchley Park will be showing a day’s worth of sci-fi films at their Station X event, including previews, classics and even the Doctor Who finale. What better time to watch a film about the work that took place there at the height of its powers?
Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey
So I was more than a bit sniffy about the sequel, Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger, on Twitter, at which point director Debbie Isitt slapped my wrists via the social media website. I put my money where my mouth was, and can confirm that the David Tennant / Joanna Page sequel lacked the awkward charm of the Martin Freeman / Ashley Jensen original. Hopefully for everyone’s sake this Martin Clunes / Catherine Tate version will restore some of that, and that Marc Wootton will be allowed to hang up the teacher’s assistant parka after this one. Rest assured that I’ll take another one for the team if I feel the need to be sniffy again.
What We Do In The Shadows
Vampire comedy. Two-thirds of Flight Of The Conchords. SOLD!
2001: A Space Odyssey
I have a fairly strained relationship with this Kubrick classic, having tried half a dozen times to watch it on VHS at university and barely even getting to the space bits. This re-release is the ideal opportunity to give this a retry where it should be watched, and this trailer spin on the Avengers sequel’s promo just sweetened the deal.
Stations Of The Cross
My favourite new film shown at the Cambridge Film Festival this year. I’m not sure the title of Best Film According To Local Blogger at the UK’s third oldest film festival carries quite the same cachet as the gongs Leviathan’s picked up, but I’m happy to buy a tiny trophy if it would make a difference.
Sacro Gra, you’ve let me down before, but The Imitation Game you seem to be giving away most of the plot. But Nativity 3, you look like nothing more than an excuse for a jolly to New York, so it is with regret that you, and this tortuous excuse for a framing device, are fired.
I remember when all this were fields, as far as the eye could see. No, wait, I’m not sure this was ever fields, exactly, but I can remember when it was all film reviews made of graphs and silly poems and obsessing about Christopher Nolan and being freaked out by Catherine Zeta Jones’ face. Somewhere along the line I turned from a little read reviewer of films and loose advocate of the cinema experience into a zealous campaigner for the very fabric of cinema in the face of stubborn intransigence. Oh, and I do very occasionally still write film reviews.
I have no regrets about the ongoing battle with the Competition Commission, and if anything I can see this changing my outlook and my blog forever. I now believe there is a national debate required about cinema distribution and the role of organisations such as the BFI to help ensure cinema can be seen in the right venues by those who hold it dear. In the mean time, I appreciate this might get a bit samey for anyone not living in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge or Aberdeen reading this blog (and if you are by some freak occurrence living in Aberdeen and your name isn’t Dallas, please do say “Hi!” in the comments section), so this is an effort to get back to just talking about films for a bit. Normal service will never be resumed, ever, because there is no such thing as normal round here, and in a way I hope that’s why people will come back when all of the Competition Commission nonsense is in the past.
So I have seen this one, and a review is imminent, but if you’ve not seen this in a cinema yet, indeed the biggest cinema you can find, then stop reading right now, take a photo of this page on your snazzy camera phone to prove for posterity that you did indeed stop reading right now, and head to your local cinema. If there was an Oscar for the Best Justification For The Existence Of Large Screens, Indoor Sunglasses And Obscenely Loud Surround Sound Systems then this would be as nailed on as Anne Hathaway bawling her lungs out in a charity shop reject dress.
Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt a big enough star to justify putting his name in large font in the credits these days? One of those films you just know has a press pack somewhere with a cast listing of Golden Globe® nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), Golden Globe® nominee Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble), Academy Award® nominee Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Jurassic Park: The Lost World), Emmy nominee Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland’s Opus) and Golden Globe® nominee Tony Danza (Cannonball Run II). Sigh.
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Because I have the maturity and sophistication of a six year old who’s likely to spend the rest of his school career being held back a year for picking his nose, any time anyone mentions the word “lesbians” this starts playing in my head:
I even have the strange feeling that isn’t the first time that clip’s appeared on this blog. However, lesbians aren’t the most prominent feature of Blue Is The Warmest Colour. Nor are the repeated stories in the press of the travails and tortures that director Abdellatif Kechiche put his cast, or indeed my spell checker, through. No, the feature of this particular film most likely to draw your attention is its running time: 180 minutes. Where I come from, we call that three hours. (Actually, I call that THREE HOURS?!?!?!) Consider this low quality screengrab of the films over two and a half hours I’ve seen in a cinema since The Movie Evangelist bust forth into mewling infancy in April 2010.
The top two had intermissions, so this looks like it could be the longest film I’ve seen in a cinema in one go, at least in The Movie Evangelist’s lifetime. Hopefully surgical stockings will be handed out at the door instead of 3D glasses to prevent DVTs.
This month’s semi-obligatory dry indie comedy. Move along.
I was in a radio debate a couple of weeks ago where the subject of subtitled films came up, as an example of how to tell the difference between a Cineworld-type cinema and a Picturehouse-type one. Proving that there’s an exception to every rule, it seems this Korean film is heading only to Cineworlds, possibly because it looks like Outbreak II: Epidemic Boogaloo.
Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor
You want to know what love is? Love is: having a complete and total obsession about cinema, but not going to a cinema to watch the most important ever episode of your favourite British TV show in 3D because your wife normally watches it with you and she won’t be in from work until it’s finished, then trying desperately to stay off the internet to avoid the torrent of massive spoilers that will now be raining down across the internet like the tears of a million angry toddlers, and hoping that she won’t be too tired to watch it when she gets in from work so you’ll have to barricade yourself in the house to wait until Sunday to watch it. That’s what love is. (Might watch a bit on the iPlayer before she gets in.)
Apparently it’s now June; I’ve been so busy that the only way I really keep track of the seasons, thanks to the monotonous dampness of what now passes for a British summer, is to the more constant and reliable shifts in what’s screening at cinemas. So far, the summer season has been somewhat of a mixed bag, from the soaring heights of Iron Man 3 to the confused science-abusing of Star Trek Into Darkness. The most conspicuous aspect of my own personal film watching is that Iron Man 3 was the last time I gave a film 9/10 or more, and that was in April.
You know me, I like my stats, so I had a look at how the year’s panning out so far. In theory, I’m seeing decent films at about the same rate as any other year I’ve kept tabs on, with about one film in six getting one of the top two marks. This is of course helped by the fact I don’t see everything in the cinemas, but despite missing the odd one or two art house films earlier in the year, I felt the year was panning out reasonably well. But then a closer look at the numbers told a slightly different story.
Between the start of September and the end of January I saw 111 films in the cinema, of which 26 gained a high four star or five star rating from me. From the start of February onwards, I’ve seen 42, of which only four have been worthy of the top marks, and one of those was James Cameron’s Aliens. So in the hope that June is the month that keeps the year on track, even if it doesn’t need to turn it around, these are my six grand hopes for the month, the six films left this month with the highest tracking on Rotten Tomatoes that I might actually get to see in a cinema (sorry, Shun Li And The Poet). I’ve added a few review quotes for each one, to try to understand whether the review aggregator is aggregating praise or general indifference in the guise of positivity. Fingers crossed for June, anyway.
Much Ado About Nothing – current Tomatometer 82%
“I can’t recommend it highly enough.” – Chris Tookey, Daily Mail
“…it’s just a bunch of great actors getting all dressed up and putting on a show…” – Catherine Monk, Canada.com
“This is merely M’eh Ado.” – Tara Brady, Irish Times
Before Midnight – current Tomatometer 97%
“One of the best films of 2013…” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“…We are not likely to get a more thoughtful or thought-provoking film than Before Midnight.” – Kenneth R. Morefield, Christianity Today
“A Bracing Look at the Realities if Lovve (sic)” – Charles Koplinski, Illinois Times
Like Someone In Love – current Tomatometer 83%
“From the incredible opening shot onwards, it’s clear Kiarostami’s cinematic language translates perfectly in any setting.” – Phillip Concannon, The Skinny
“Maybe it all serves a purpose, but a movie about empty people doesn’t necessarily have to feel empty itself.” – Tom Long, Detroit News
“Is this the stuff of gripping drama? Not at all. But like nearly all of Kiarostami’s films, it’s the stuff of good conversation.” – Noel Murray, AV Club
This Is The End – current Tomatometer 85%
“This Is the End is the bust-out, badass comedy of the summer. And then some.” – Pete Travers, Rolling Stone
“…it’s stretched out and there frankly aren’t enough jokes in it.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstacy
“This is fundamentally a narcissistic venture, undone by the fact that none of these guys are compelling enough to sustain an entire movie without a story.” – Robert Levin, amNewYork
Stories We Tell – current Tomatometer 96%
“This is a warm, brave and thought-provoking piece of autobiography.” – Hannah McGill, The List
“What a great movie.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
“Suspenseful, unpredictable, mature, tender and funny. A triumph.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
The Act Of Killing – current Tomatometer 100%
“Almost every frame is astonishing.” – Catherine Shoard, Guardian
“Documentary cinema has a new apex.” – Blake Howard, 2UE That Movie Show
“One of this decade’s most important and harrowing documentaries…” – Jason Gorber, Twitch
My wife is very tolerant of my movie addiction, so I’m always keen to get her opinion on things I think she’ll enjoy. Sometimes that’s a greyer area, as there are certain things in life which have meant a lot to her and if one of them finds its way back into popular culture, that can be a potentially sensitive area. Take, for example, the new Winnie The Pooh trailer which ended up on internets everywhere earlier this week.
I know that Winnie The Pooh has a tender place in her heart, not least due to her father reading her the stories so often when she was young, that he knew every word off by heart, from heffalumps to woozles. Not of course, this Winnie The Pooh:
Or indeed, this abomination against nature that surfaced a few years ago:
But, of course, this Winnie The Pooh:
I will confess that when I became aware that a new Pooh movie was on the way and that John Lasseter had helped guide its direction, from the descriptions I was mistakenly expecting something like the latter image. Silly me. Of course it looks very much like the first of the three, in the style of the classic Sixties movies. So much so, that the only thing that distinguishes it as being contemporary is the Keane song that’s being played over it – a track so maudlin that, when I solicited my wife’s opinion, her reaction was, somewhat unexpectedly, “It’s so sad – it’s like Christopher Robin has terminal cancer or something!” Keane, you have a lot to answer for.
I can only hope that Lasseter knows what he’s doing – hand-drawn animation is struggling, and it’s certainly a brave move to put such a movie with such a distinctive style back in cinemas, and I personally hope that the story is nearer Pixar’s more recent output than Disney’s, while still retaining something of A.A. Milne’s original intent. Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to see how this one pans out. Get well soon, Christopher Robin.