Trailer Hitch for August 20, 2003

By Zach Kolkin


10. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

After the tepid (to put it nicely) audience reaction to the film last winter, Miramax is now trying to guilt trip moviegoers into seeing George Clooney’s directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, by re-releasing it in theaters. This new trailer, in addition to spouting off on how “every once in a while audiences overlook even the best of movies," puts quite a different spin on the film’s theme than last year’s ads. Instead of a quirky comedy with a touch of action, the movie is now being portrayed as a crime thriller. The fact that it is a based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris is not even mentioned, whereas his connection was previously a major selling point. Whether or not this new approach will work is questionable; while people might be attracted to the movie now that it has been cast in a different light, I certainly don’t think they will appreciate being told that they essentially don’t have very good taste in movies.

9. Home Room

Ever since her great performance in Traffic, I’ve been waiting for Erika Christensen to get some more good roles, and unlike Swimfan, this film looks like it has the potential to give her one. The movie deals with the always controversial and powerful theme of school violence, specifically a high school shooting that brings together two teenage girls into an improbable friendship. Due to its subject matter, the movie obviously has the potential to be extremely powerful; however, there is also the unfortunate possibility that it could turn into a cheesy after-school special. From the trailer, though, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that the film will stay out of those dangerously overdramatic waters.

8. Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

This documentary profiles the trials and tribulations of skateboarding star Mark Rogowski, who was once one of the sport’s biggest names but is now serving time in prison. Obviously, there is quite a tale to tell here, and the trailer does a good job of setting up that story. The promo gives a quick synopsis through a number of different sources, including home videos, footage from actual skateboarding competitions, and interviews with many famous skaters. The story is certainly compelling, and it's definitely possible that even those not that interested in skateboarding would be interested in seeing the documentary, particularly given this brief but effective trailer.

7. Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself

A romantic comedy about suicide…now there’s a pitch you don’t hear every day. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what this film is, centering on a pair of brothers, one of whom is suicidal, and their relationship with a woman who ends up falling in love with the other brother. The trailer manages to have a good deal of levity considering the subject matter; it looks to have a charm to it often seen in romantic foreign films. However, with such a, shall we say, unique title and subject matter, I would imagine that it’s going to be difficult for the film to gain too much popularity here. Nevertheless, it certainly has the potential to be quite appealing.

6. Nola

Nola is the story of a teenage girl trying to make it in New York City after she runs away from home in an effort to find her long lost father. While not all that original, the film does appear to provide a far more mature take on the subject than, say, What a Girl Wants. Little-known Emmy Rossum stars in the title role, and she looks to deliver a very good performance, despite her lack of experience. It is rather refreshing to see a movie of this type dealing with something other than shopping, and hopefully the film will live up to its potential as an alternative telling of a tried and true tale.

5. Beyond Borders

Angelina Jolie goes for a role slightly meatier than Lara Croft in this romantic drama set in the dangerous world of international relief workers. The film will remind many of Jolie’s real-life work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, a fact which can only help give the picture more exposure. Though I wasn’t expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by the preview. Jolie and her costar, Clive Owen, seem to have a good chemistry, and Jolie’s role in particular seems very well suited to her. The third-world country setting is a timely one, and it seems to be depicted here in a fairly realistic fashion. Though Jolie’s recent films have been somewhat sub-par, this picture certainly has the potential to provide her with far better material.

4. Highwaymen

Highway accidents seem to be the new fad for horror films, appearing in everything from Final Destination 2 to Joyride to this new film about a psychopath who kills his victims in grisly fashion with his 1972 Cadillac. Jim Caviezel stars as a widower who comes to the aid of a young woman who appears to the killer’s next victim. The trailer starts off with an extremely intense scene depicting an attack by the villain, which effectively sets the mood before the preview moves into an introduction of the storyline. I thought this method actually worked quite well, as it gives the audience a good idea of exactly what to expect. Whereas scenes are often edited together into such quick and short cuts in the trailer that they hardly seem to come from the film, this one long scene is much easier to follow. It is a practice that isn’t often used in trailers, but works especially well here in this thriller’s trailer.

3. The Matrix Revolutions

We’ve all been waiting several months now for a full trailer for this final chapter in the Matrix trilogy, and finally it has arrived. While not nearly as jaw-dropping as that spectacular promo for The Matrix Reloaded, this one still has a lot to get excited about. There isn’t really any new information divulged here; anyone who saw the previous film knows which characters will be around for this next installment and what the basic premise is. Not surprisingly, we don’t get any clues about the plot, but I think most Matrix fans would agree that this is for the best. I think the biggest question on everyone’s mind is whether Revolutions will be as intellectually obtuse as Reloaded, or more of a mind-blowingly fun time at the theater, like the original. Then again, does it really matter? We all know we’ll be lining up on opening weekend either way.

2. The Alamo

The Alamo, slated to be one of the bigger films this holiday season, gets its first preview here, and so far everything is looking extremely good. I was certainly expecting a sentimental and emotional trailer, and while that was the case, the promo managed to do it without straying into cheesiness. Obviously, it’s hard to release a film like this without it seeming slightly xenophobic, but it at least seemed like there was some effort made to keep the film from appearing insensitive. While the battle scenes look spectacular, there really wasn’t too much of the acting performances included, particularly those of Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Quaid. As good as the film’s visuals may be, the movie will surely not be received well if those performances are lacking. While this trailer should do a great job of sparking interest in the picture, I would imagine later ads would put a greater emphasis on the actors, in addition to the massive depictions of war.

1. The Station Agent

The Station Agent was the surprise hit of Sundance, and after seeing the film’s trailer, it comes as no surprise. Although the movie sounds more than a bit odd on paper, the preview is absolutely delightful. The film tells the story of a dwarf who moves to an abandoned New Jersey train station and the friendships he develops with the other colorful characters he meets. Although I was a little skeptical of this film after reading about it, given its bizarre premise and cast of characters, this promo has completely changed my mind on it. It is now certainly one of my most anticipated films of the fall.



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