Trailers

Dunkirk – trailer

I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan. The Prestige in particular, is one of my favourite films. For some, his action sequences are poorly shot, and the emotional core of his films can seem hackneyed. Personally, these criticisms have never landed with me. While Nolan’s direction doesn’t always work, his attempts to create intelligent, multifaceted films should always be praised.

His latest effort, Dunkirk, due next summer, looks suitably impressive in scope. Starring Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy, the film features muted cinematography coupled with huge scale action sequences. Given that Nolan has written the script, I will be interested to see the nature and direction of the narrative. It looks, from the trailer at least, that the film will largely feature an ensemble cast. Given the continued focus of the event, featuring in countless film narratives, I am looking forward to seeing how Nolan attempts to offer a new take on the event.

Nocturnal Animals – trailer

 

While I understand why some critics felt that Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, displayed a tendency for style over substance, it was a critique that never stood with me.

Certainly A Single Man is stylish, hyperbolically so, yet its attention to detail does little to undermine its emotional impact. In fact, for me, its lush approach to visuals serves to heighten the emotional rawness of the narrative.

Nocturnal Animals, his second feature, is once again adapted from a source text, and while the visuals look similarly sumptuous, the tone is decidedly  removed from the heartfelt A Single Man. Seemingly frenzied and erratic,  the narrative, featuring a subplot which details the plot of a novel, is far more complex than Ford’s previous effort and I am keen to see how he handles a meta-narrative style.

The cast are impressive, with Amy Adams as the art gallery owner who fixates on aforementioned thriller written by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Given the rave reviews, I am anticipating a wider release.

 

 

American Honey – trailer

 

Andrea Arnold is a true auteur. With films as eclectic as Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights, her films are, whilst not necessarily linked in themed, entirely linked through style and aesthetic. American Honey, her first film shot outside of Britain, retains Arnold’s unique directorial style: a roving camera,  naturalistic performances and an ability to completely highlight a character’s emotional state through visual choices.

Arnold has a history of selecting actors with very little, if any acting experience, casting Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank and James Howson in Wuthering Heights to clear success. She has taken a similar approach in casting Sasha Lane as Star in American Honey alongside Shia LaBeouf.

Lane plays Star, a young adult who has very little connection to her home. As a result, it is relatively easy for her to join Jake (LaBeouf) and his gaggle of teens who, under the strict command of Riley Keough’s Krystal, travel across America selling magazine subscriptions.

The trailer is wonderfully edited, featuring some gorgeous cinematography whilst always retaining Arnold’s naturalistic approach. Lane’s performance looks entirely engaging, and her acting style immediately creates both interest and empathy. LaBeouf too, looks like he has some real potential here. LaBeouf has, thanks to the tabloid press, found himself increasingly used for media fodder rather than any focus upon his acting career, yet, his film choices (Transformers aside) are increasingly interesting. Whilst initial reviews have only been moderately favourable  I am hopeful that American Honey will be another fine addition to Arnold’s filmography.

 

Bad Moms- Trailer

 

You know there is something seriously wrong with Hollywood’s policy towards women when Mila Kunis, at the grand age of 32, is now considered suitable for the role of a mother. Not even a new mother, but a mother of two children of school attending age. Unfortunately, that’s not the most irritating aspect of the trailer for the film Bad Moms. 

Despite the huge success of Bridesmaids and a number of female-led television shows (Parks and Recreation and Community) it would appear that both film and television producers are only just beginning to realise that women can be just as funny as their male counter-parts. Why then, it is necessary for a female-led comedy to revolve around such a typically female sphere?

Bad Moms features Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn as mothers who, cracking under the pressure of being a perfect mother, rebel and come into conflict with the fellow mothers at their local school. This film could have had some interesting things to say about the pressure that women are placed under, but by placing the blame for this pressure firmly at the feet of other women, the film simply serves to further undermine female relationships and friendships. Why must films constantly pit women against one another? I can only hope that the trailer is misleading and that the film recognises that in fact, it is the patriarchal led media that is responsible, but I think I’ll be disappointed.

The Light Between Oceans – trailer

Derek Cianfrance’s earlier effort, Blue Valentine, still remains one of the most honest, and heartfelt depictions of a relationship in crisis. His following feature, The Place Beyond the Pines, retained the emotional core that he had demonstrated so skillfully before, but was far more ambitious both in terms of scope and narrative. Certainly The Place Beyond the Pines was a flawed film, predominantly due to its issues with pacing towards the final third of the narrative, but for me, it firmly cemented Cianfrance’s reputation as an auteur.

His latest effort once again focuses on familial relationships suffering through crisis, but appears to be a return to Blue Valentine in terms of breadth featuring a smaller cast and a simple central concept.

Based on M.L. Steadman’s novel of the same name, the film features Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherbourne, a lighthouse keeper living off the coast in post World War I Western Australia. Together with his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander), the pair live a relatively isolated existence, an existence which seemingly suits them. This isolation is broken when a baby girl is washed ashore, alone in an rowboat. The couple adopt the girl as their own, raising her as their daughter. This apparently idyllic life is broken when on a trip to the mainland, it becomes apparent that the mother of their ‘daughter’ is still mourning the loss of her girl.

The film, if the trailer is anything to go by, looks beautifully shot and utterly devastating. Reviews of the book cited Thomas Hardy as a reference point, a comparison that, for me, is always encouraging. I really hope The Light Between the Ocean delivers.

The Girl on the Train – Trailer Review

It is immediately easy to draw comparisons between The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. Both were hugely successful books and were quickly optioned into being adapted, both feature an unreliable narrator and both feature a relatively inventive ending (although arguably Gone Girl‘s ending is far more muted and psychologically unsettling compared to The Girl on the Train‘s slightly schlocky turn of events). It is interesting then, that the film’s teaser trailer appears to be infused with a rather Fincher-esque tone and mood given the nature of the book. Certainly The Girl on the Train is a thriller, but for much of the book, it is the narrative’s quiet, reflective moments that help to build tension and mood. Rather than beginning with some sense of normality to contrast, the trailer immediately creates a sense of horror. The feeling of foreboding, so intelligently developed in the book, is missing and in its place is a trailer that is operating all on one level.

That is not to say that the trailer does not impress, certainly its cast which includes the sublime Emily Blunt look wonderful and the editing is slick and clinical. Rather, I simply find the film’s chosen marketing campaign interesting given the huge success of the source text. Take, for example, the chosen start of the trailer. Rather than focusing on Rachel (Emily Blunt) who is really the protagonist of the novel despite the multiple narrators, the trailer selects Megan, the young woman who Rachel obsesses over.  The film seems almost too eager to set itself up as a thriller rather than begin with the mundane. Think to the opening of Gone Girl, the dull routine as we see Ben Affleck’s character take the bins out to the front of his house, for a thriller to work you need to have tedium to juxtapose with.

I’m hoping that this is just a marketing decision rather than an insight into the direction of the film itself. Certainly the scenes in which Blunt’s Rachel is desperately searching to see Megan from her position on the train looks wonderfully choreographed. The dreamy tone set to a unsettling remix of Kanye West’s ‘Heartless’  hints at the possible nature of the film, and I hope it is this that gives us a greater insight into the end result rather than the trailer itself.

The Neon Demon – trailer review

 

Nicholas Winding Refn is a true auteur, creating films that are uniquely his own vision. This element of control is not always successful, his previous film, Only God Forgives, received a relatively disappointing reception given the rapturous applause Drive garnered.

Certainly Only God Forgives is far weaker than the sublime, fairytale Drive, but it was clear to me that Refn is, quite rightly, not allowing the positive accolades that his first English language film received to cloud his own judgement and ability to create.

His latest effort, The Neon Demon, appears to retain many of the stylistic elements that his previous two films presented: an electronic soundtrack, neon lighting imbuing each frame, but it is his chosen focus that is different. His two previous films focused on a predominantly masculine narrative, with the protagonists in both (both played by Ryan Gosling) struggling to either assert their masculinity, or live up to the societal creation of it. The Driver is aware of how he should act as a romantic male, but struggles to truly accept this, whilst Julian is desperate to live up to a mythic masculine role defined through violence.

Here, in The Neon Demon, the narrative is decidedly feminine in nature, but seemingly no less violent or destructive in tone. The trailer reveals little about the plot, choosing instead to use a collage of scenes to create atmosphere.

Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an aspiring model who moves to LA to try and make it big. She is told by Christina Hendricks (who is presumably her agent or talent scout) that whilst others crack under the pressure, she is ‘great’. Jesse is then seen interacting with a number of other models, partaking in photo shoots and castings. The model industry has long presented a fascination for me, the concept of this veneer of artificiality and danger, a premise which Refn seems to be using here. Jesse herself states that her mother always thought she was dangerous, but as yet, it isn’t apparent why.

Stunning visuals, with a heady atmospheric trailer, I hope The Neon Demon is a return to form for Refn.

 

 

Why the trailer for Me Before You looks terrible

I haven’t read the book on which Me Before You is based on. It could be, and from looking at the largely positive reviews it received upon release, it is likely that it is, a touching, subtlety written narrative.

Unfortunately the trailer for the film, which stars Emilia Clarke as a caregiver for Sam Clafin’s paralysed lead, falls into the trap of making the film look schlocky, typically ‘British’ and just generally irritating.

The trailer pitches the comedy and heartfelt connections in a similar vein to Richard Curtis, a writer and director who I believe should receive far more criticism than he does. Bizarrely, Curtis’ films seems to have garnered such a loyal following that his Love Actually has now seemingly joined the roster of traditional Christmas films – perhaps because Christmas is the one time of the year in which people are generally more open to cliché and superficial romanticism. Curtis has managed to create this British hyperreality in which Curtis’ construct of romance is then believed to be the actual reality, and in turn reality is then created in line with his construct. Thus British people, and particularly British people in love, act in a very specific way that bares very little, if any resemblance to real life.

Sadly the trailer for the film, with its producers clearly identifying their target audience, is edited to resemble such a reality. Thus characters interact with one another in emotional, heartfelt ways, all sound tracked to the apparently dulcet tones of Ed Sheeran (Ed Sheeran’s inclusion and his repugnant attitude towards women in his lyrics is another matter). The editing is heavy-handed and dull, the characters are unrealistically supposedly witty (I say supposedly because they have the appearance of being hugely intelligent and philosophical, but don’t stand up to scrutiny) with the soundtrack cutting to highlight and emphasise either the humour or poignancy of a scene.

I am not by any means deriding the film itself, although admittedly pseudo-meaningful films aren’t a particular interest of mine, but rather the lazy and generic construction of the trailer just to attract a specific, and profitable, audience

 

The Witch – Trailer Review

My enjoyment of horror films has, thus far, been limited. My tastes are usually restricted to the multitude of Stephen King adaptations (Misery, The Shining, Carrie) and the occasional import such as Julia’s Eyes. I passionately deride the worth of the usual exploitation horror films, particularly given their less than favourable treatment of women. Rather than horror, I find myself preferring films that are rather more subtle in their approach, and instead, making full use of a singular shocking moment. Snowtown for example, for me, is arguably far more horrific than the latest cheap shock tactics used in more mainstream cinema.

The Witch then, favourably received at the Sundance Film Festival in which it won the directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category, looks to be far more suited to my sensibilities. Tonally reminding me of films as eclectic as There Will Be BloodAntichrist, Lost Highway  and Martha Marcy May MarleneThe Witch features a Puritan family, who after leaving their community behind to be at one with god, suffer disturbing encounters with an unseen spirit. The muted colour palette as featured in the trailer, along with the jarring unsettling music, hint at a film that will seek to unsettle and create unease rather than rely on cheap shocks.

The Affair Season two – trailer review

I adored season one of The Affair. Richly acted, wonderfully nuanced combined with a welcome intelligent approach to the concept of subjectivity and narrative, for me, The Affair, was and is, one of the best TV series of recent years. Some felt that the ending of season one became slightly unwieldy, with a lazy approach to the ending in order to set up the narrative for a second season. Whilst the ending of season one certainly became more melodramatic than the taut underlying nervousness running through the first few episodes, this more dramatic approach was, for me, entirely in keeping with the changing lives of the characters. Similarly, some have criticised the two-pronged narrative approach (with us witnessing both Noah’s and Alison’s perspectives on various events) noting that it would be beneficial to witness one true objective version of events. Those that have commented as such are entirely missing the point: there is no one objective version, there can’t be.

Thus the ending of season one, which saw two entirely different version of events are not only entirely believable given the circumstances (studies have shown that witnesses to events will retell entirely different versions and details to others, so is the unreliability of memory) but crucial in revealing the manner in which the characters view themselves – after all it’s no coincidence that Noah always manage to cast himself as the hero in the narrative to subvert the impotent man that his father-in-law views him as.

Season two looks set to continue to deal with the fallout of Alison’s and Noah’s decision to remain together, casting their former partners aside. It is not apparent from the trailer whether the subjective narrative aspect will continue, but I truly hope that it does.