The Unfettered Critic – October 2015

Why is a trailer like a t-shirt?

Showbiz, baby!

Every film marketer knows something about t-shirts that bear movie logos: they’re only in demand before the movie is released. Fans of Quentin Tarantino want to be “first on their block” to promote his upcoming film, so they’ll definitely wear that t-shirt with pride. But once the film opens, most shirts are as popular as yesterday’s newspapers. Use them to wash your car.

The same goes for movie trailers. We’ll happily watch a new Judi Dench trailer—but once we’ve seen the film, that trailer is toast.

Every year we eagerly search out new trailers, and think about the films to come.

Sometimes they accurately predict the quality of the final product. Other times…not so much.

As we write this, the studios are revealing their Fall releases at film festivals in Venice and Telluride. The trailers, of course, preceded them. Your intrepid columnists didn’t fly to the festivals, but we’ve picked five trailers that appeal to us.

The Martian (Opens October 2): Think “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” (but NOT the 1964 sci-fi flick with that title). Stranded following a mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) doesn’t have supplies to sustain him until a rescue ship can be launched from Earth. The trailer telegraphs a tale of pluck, ingenuity, and incredible visual effects. It’s true we said much the same about the disappointing Gravity a few years ago, but we suspect that director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) will send us on a more satisfying ride.

Steve Jobs (Opens October 9): By all accounts, Apple cofounder Jobs was a power-hungry s.o.b. However, if you own a Mac computer, an iPhone or an i-anything, his ideas were the Mecca at which you aimed your wallet. Even if you don’t, you’ll grudgingly admit his impact on today’s technology. Why see a movie about him? Two reasons: Aaron Sorkin, the best screenwriter in Hollywood (The West Wing, The News Room, The Social Network), and award-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). Add actor Michael Fassbender as Jobs and this promises an electrifying two hours.

Trumbo (Opens November 6): This is one of those movies that Hollywood loves to make because it’s all about people who make movies! Acclaimed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (played by Emmy Award-winner Bryan Cranston) was the best-known member of the Hollywood Ten—the writers blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Accused of being a communist, Trumbo’s career (Spartacus, Exodus) nearly ended in the subsequent battle over words and freedom.

Spotlight (Opens November 6): Fans of tightly-written, tautly-directed films about investigative journalism (think 1976’s All the President’s Men), this is your lucky year. Spotlight offers a close-up view of the investigative team at the Boston Globe, who broke the story of years of sexual abuse to minors by priests in the Boston archdiocese. Not a pleasant subject to be sure, but one that everyone should be glad is no longer secret. The film, starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton, is directed and co-written by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent).

The Danish Girl (Opens November 27): From director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), this true-life story recalls a husband whose artist wife asked him to pose as a female in 1920’s Copenhagan. After her paintings became popular, he chose to become a female full-time, taking the name Lili, and undergoing the world’s first gender reassignment surgery. Eddie Redmayne, winner of last year’s Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, may need to make room on his mantle for another.

T-shirts, anyone?

Paula and Terry each have long impressive-sounding resumes implying that they are battle-scarred veterans of life within the Hollywood studios. They’re now happily relaxed into Jacksonville.