By Zach Kolkin
July 25, 2005
Welcome to Trailer Hitch, your weekly look at the latest movie trailers to hit the internet. We've got a fantastic selection of fall and winter releases this week, including the Wachowski Brothers' latest, V For Vendetta. One side note: Apple recently released a Preview Version of its new Quicktime 7 software for Windows. This new version allows PC users to watch the movie previews formatted in high definition that Apple has recently been adding to their Trailer page. The quality of these HD trailers is pretty impressive, so this new version of Quicktime is definitely recommended.
Can you ever just be, like, whelmed?
Hey, it's Barbershop meets Saturday Night Fever...but on roller skates! To be honest, the only thing saving this trailer from the trash heap is its superb selection of music. Other than that, there's a movie premise about a bunch of roller skaters who, when their home rink closes, have to head uptown (gasp!) to get in on the skating action. There's apparently some kind of competition (I can't help but be reminded of Zoolander's walk-off), and some girls to impress, yada yada yada. There's no one in this cast that seems particularly marketable or charismatic – Nick Cannon, who I recently praised in the Underclassman trailer, appears only briefly here, and seemingly only has a bit part in the film itself. Ultimately, this preview leaves me wholly uninspired, and for an ostensible feel-good flick, that's not a good thing at all.
OK, I'm intrigued
There's something intriguing about this trailer that I can't quite put my finger on. It certainly is not the film's premise, which, unfortunately, is barely touched upon here. Nor is it the acting, which, though perfectly acceptable, doesn't really stand out in the clips included. Instead, the clip exudes a mood which is best exemplified by the beautiful scenery which steals the show in this short ad. Oyster Farmer was shot in Australia (the story is set there as well), but this is unlike any part of Australia I've ever seen before. Rather than the intimidating Outback or the sumptuous Gold Coast, the locale here reminded me of the Pacific Northwest. Simply put, it's absolutely gorgeous, and perhaps a little bit mysterious as well. The film itself to share that sense of mystery – or at least the trailer does – and while this might make for a piqued curiosity, it does not necessarily make for a particularly well-sold movie. Intrigued though I am, I'd like to know a great deal more about the story of Oyster Farmer before I'm entirely sold on this picture.
An Unfinished Life
Is it a new rule that Morgan Freeman can only appear in films in which he plays an older, wiser, and mildly disabled character who gives grizzled old white guys sage advice? First Million Dollar Baby, and now this film, in which Freeman costars with Robert Redford (the aforementioned grizzled old white guy) as a couple of farmhands whose lives are turned upside down when Redford's daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez...no, seriously) shows up with the granddaughter Redford never knew he had. Obviously, the entire gang must learn to coexist (cue contemplative human drama and appropriately emotive orchestral score). If you sense some cynicism on my part, you're not wrong; it would be hard not to take this trailer as the first salvo in the film's For Your Consideration campaign for an Oscar nod. Nonetheless, I must admit that the movie does appear to have a great deal of potential, at the very least on account of its impressive cast and director (Lasse Hallstrom). This is certainly a notable trailer for what should turn out to be a highly notable film.
Emma Thompson takes on a markedly different type of literary adaptation in Nanny McPhee, her second feature-length screenplay (her first was 1995's Sense and Sensibility). This film is based on a series of children's stories about a witch (masquerading as a nanny) who is called upon by a widower (played by Colin Firth) to corral his seven unruly children. There's something about British films, particularly when they are seen from an American perspective, that makes them all seem delightfully whimsical. This movie is no exception; the cast in particular seems highly suited to the task of creating a children's film that is also highly entertaining to adults. In addition to Firth and Thompson (who has the title role), Angela Lansbury makes her first appearance in a live-action film in over twenty years. Though Nanny McPhee is not as immediately marketable a book franchise as Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket, the trailer is cute enough that it should attract a good number of kids. The cast will be a crucial draw for parents, and luckily, they are all showcased brilliantly here. This definitely looks like an excellent family film for the fall.
The Memory of a Killer
This is actually a Flemish film from several years ago, and it originally had what in my mind is a far superior title: The Alzheimer Case. In any event, the picture is a crime thriller, dealing with a hitman who is suffering from Alzheimer's, and the political crossfire in which he becomes entrapped. The fact that this is a foreign film is well disguised by the trailer; there is no spoken dialogue throughout the clip, and the only other clue to its European origin would perhaps be the fact that none of the cast is at all recognizable to an American audience. Still, the story sounds pretty intriguing; some of the best movies in this particular genre are those that do not rely on egregious explosions and car crashes, and this picture certainly does not appear to do that. Indeed, this is the type of trailer that subtly, but effectively, piques one's interest.
I'm already counting down the days
V For Vendetta
The Wachowski Brothers' latest film is previewed here, and the results are quite entertaining. V For Vendetta is, believe it or not, essentially a comic book movie: it is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore, and tells a dystopian story of a no longer democratic Britain. What has unfortunately earned the film the largest amount of buzz in recent weeks are the similarities between several events in the film (bombs detonated by the mysterious vigilante "V" at London landmarks) and the terrorist attacks that have struck the UK capital. Although I have no idea whether these scenes were originally intended to be seen in the preview or not, the producers have wisely chosen to leave them out for the time being, instead focusing on the relationship between V and a young woman (played by Natalie Portman) whose life he saves. Although the film is fantastically striking in its visuals, the masked appearance of V, while faithful to the original graphic novel, comes off as rather cartoonish, and takes away from the somber mood of the trailer as a whole. There's really not much anyone can do to change this, however, and I suppose moviegoers are just going to have to get past the protagonist's rather goofy look. Regardless, the film does look extremely intriguing, and any movie that deals with such topical issues in what appears to be a wholly candid fashion immediately gains my attention.
Walk the Line
Do you think the people involved with this film are tired of hearing "Oh, so it's like this year's Ray?" yet? If not, they certainly will be soon. For better or worse, this biopic about the late great Johnny Cash, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, will undoubtedly invite heaps of comparisons with last year's feature on Ray Charles. Unfortunately for Phoenix, expectations have to be pretty high after Jamie Foxx managed to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Charles. Regardless of whether or not Walk the Line ends up being an Academy Award contender, this trailer is certainly quite enjoyable. Phoenix and Witherspoon look quite impressive together as Johnny and June Cash, and although I wasn't the biggest fan of Ray – the story seemed to drag at times – this film appears at first glance to have an engaging plotline. Obviously, though, it's impossible to tell for sure simply from a short preview, but hopefully this trailer is a sign of good things to come.
2 For the Money (Trailer of the Week)
Wow. Talk about a bunch of actors perfectly cast. First, there's Matthew McConaughey as the slightly smarmy young hotshot bookie. Next, there's Al Pacino as the more-than-slightly crazed boss of a big-time gambling operation. Throw Rene Russo (where has she been since Thomas Crown Affair, anyway?) and Jeremy Piven into the mix as supporting actors, and you have one heck of a cast. The premise is fantastic too, and its sold brilliantly here: McConaughey plays an unbelievably talented (or is it unbelievably lucky?) predictor of football scores, which lands him in the lap of Pacino's character. When his luck turns bad, however, it turns out that McConaughey is in way over his head. Over the past ten or fifteen years, of course, Pacino has been at his best when he's at his craziest, and he certainly appears to be in full crazy mode here. With America's obsession with gambling growing by the day, 2 For the Money seems to be appearing just in time to capture the attention of a lot of moviegoers. This excellent trailer is unquestionably the first step in that direction.