Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trailer Round-Up: Dream House, Drive, Main Street

Never mind "Captain America," "Contagion," and "The Dark Knight Rises," here's three newly-released trailers which promise vastly different things.

Dream House

I'm not entirely sure where to begin with "Dream House" as it does look at least well made. Still, Jim Sheridan is absolutely the LAST director I would have guessed would take on a script of this kind. Maybe "Brothers" was so miserable he had to cheer himself up with some thrills and spills? I'm less worried for Sheridan than I am for the actors. Why are talent like Naomi Watts, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz consigned to roles in supernatural horror films? In the case of Watts especially, it reads as a little desperate that she's reverting back to the genre that made her a big deal. She hasn't really had a hit since "King Kong" in 2005.

The worst thing about this trailer is that it gives away an awful lot. Was it really necessarily to divulge key plot shifts like Daniel Craig's identity crisis and his "Are my family dead or aren't they?" dilemma. It's one of the biggest adverts I've seen for the notion of limiting trailers to one minute or less. The best ones are those short, creepy teasers anyway; anyone remember that swing creaking in the trailer for "The Omen" remake?


By contrast, I'm less bothered about spending two minutes looking at Ryan Gosling, and together with co-star Carey Mulligan it's an altogether more successful example of actors picking interesting projects. The trailer for "Drive" is so exhilarating that it flies by, and the buzz from Cannes for this was immense, culminating in a Best Director win for Nicolas Winding Refn. The only film I've seen about stuntmen is the excellent 1980 comedy "The Stunt Man," which netted Peter O'Toole an Oscar nomination. While that film was more about the movies themselves, "Drive" seems to be crafting a segway for Gosling as an action hero compelled to deal with Carey Mulligan's shady husband. This is a film more likely geared towards box office than awards, but it'll surely help Gosling's bid for a nomination in "The Ides of March," which has already been announced as the opener of this year's Venice Film Festival.

I wouldn't call myself a fan of director Refn; "Bronson" is very incoherent and off-puttingly effusive in its techniques. He does, however, seem to have a unique style of filmmaking, and his projects so far are varied and filled with passion. It might be that he has found the polish to add to the shine -- those final 30 seconds of the trailer really work with the contrapuntal music and systematic editing.

 Main Street

Before I suggest that "Main Street," a film about a waste-disposal tycoon trying to rejuvenate an ailing town, doesn't exactly stoke my embers, let us consider the hilarity of Colin Firth's accent in this trailer. Give Firth props for branching out from that charming, bumbling Englishman persona, but asking him to impersonate a Texan is surely a step too far. Adding the potency of acting legends Ellen Burstyn and Patricia Clarkson is shrewd indeed, and the former at least looks like a fair contender at a nostalgia-driven Supporting Actress nomination come awards season -- if the film happens to get noticed at all.

But doesn't that seem awfully unlikely from this trailer? If "Dream House" gave away a ton of plot information "Main Street" just circles around people giving pained expressions and vague assertions about life and home and belonging and....   Are you still awake? Good, because "Main Street" wants to sell you a film by prefacing each person with "Academy Award Winner" or similar, and doesn't seem concerned with sharing something about the story or the characters. Either that, or it's relying on the return of the long-lost Orlando Bloom to whet our appetite - which is a foolish move either way.

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