Summer Films: Trailer Trashing 2
There is one trailer we will never be seeing. Charlie Kaufman’s project Frank or Francis, which had been in development for years, officially died today when its star Elizabeth Banks told The Vulture that the film “was ready to go and, as many movies do, it fell apart.”
Margaret Lyons, who broke the news, responded in her short article “Nooooooo! Why can’t we have nice things? Is it because they are impossible to finance on account of their whimsical yet ultimately rewarding and engaging strangeness?” That would be a resounding yes, Ms. Lyons.
The only person who is rewarded is you, one of a few thousand people who would have watched Frank despite the fact it also starred Steve Carell, Kevin Kline, Jack Black, Kate Winslet, and Catherine Keener. The people who were going to put up enough money to build a medium-sized boutique hotel in Beverly Hills—okay, Beverly Hills adjacent—were not going to be rewarded, they were going to lose their shirts.
Why would the financiers have gone bust on Frank despite Kaufman’s earlier films having been reasonable successes (but not his directorial-debut mindfuck Synedoche, NY, which nobody saw outside the festival circuit)? You can read a quick list of five things you should know about the film HERE. The first four are what you would expect from the writer of such quirky, original fare as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but the fifth is a deal-breaker: it was a fakakta musical.
There are a few other big financial gambles coming up, far bigger than Kaufman’s film, none of whom are going to rely on my ticket money to recoup. So let me be completely unprofessional and review them solely based on their trailers:
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN — Might See…
… only because I like both Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. I am utterly indifferent to Tobey McGuire, the star of the earlier films, although I like Claire Danes—sorry, I mean Kirsten Dunst. I will never get the two unconfused, although Eric Baker has told me time and again that the main difference is the size of their respective racks.
If you had asked me if I would be putting down money for a ticket when the trailer first came out for Spider-Man, I would have given it a definite pass because it was riddled with awful temp VFX, which drives me crazy. I think it’s a far better idea to wait until they’ve polished all of those details to release teasers and trailers, but this is one of the many reasons I’m not in marketing.
Spider-Man seems to be tracking quite well, with an eight out of ten on IMDb so far, which is very healthy, but again I’m not in marketing so I have no clue how things are really tracking until I read Nikki Finke’s leering summations of the box office that start on Friday afternoon in Deadline.com.
My main concern is grammar: I wonder how much longer they are going to cling to that ridiculous hyphen in between “spider” and “man.” Come on, guys, get a little modern with it—they don’t even use one between “i” and “phone.”
The production budget is $215 million, which will buy you the Beverly Hilton and leave some change jangling in your pocket.
SAVAGES—Probably will see…
… if only because there will be precious else left to review and we need to get cracking here at PFC with the video content. Or even just written reviews; they are some of our more popular pieces.
I like machismo, the cult of masculinity—I find it erotic if done well—but I find Oliver Stone’s brand tiresome for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. He’s like Denis Leary, who costars in Spider-Man: I watched Rescue Me for the entire first season and a bit of the next, but when he killed off his own kid—Leary was the creator of the show—and was utterly stone faced about it, I switched off. There is something dark about both men that borders on sinister. I doubt I would like either Leary or Stone in real life, so there is no reason I should like their work, either.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES—Definitely will see…
… because Christopher Nolan is like David Fincher (except better): even his lesser films are well crafted and worth watching. I’ll still see this despite feeling that it isn’t going to live up to the expectations set by The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger’s fan-gobulous performance, and those delicious layers of the script. Nolan is a man after my own heart that way: he likes a good mille-feuilles subtextual layering in his stories sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, and he gets away with it at the studios, which is nothing short of Herculean.
This second trailer is more satisfying than the ultra-minimalist first version, which had this annnoying Erik Satie-like score. It also plays much better in the theater than online, which leads me to believe the Marketing Gheys should really consider cutting two versions, one for the small screen, one for the big:
FAREWELL, MY QUEEN—Probably will see…
… on the next non-stop Emirates flight between L.A. and Dubai. It’s not because it’s about lesbians, which isn’t even particularly interesting to lesbians themselves, it’s that French costume dramas seldom live up to expectations… although after writing those words a flood of titles like Ridicule and The Horseman on the Roof came to mind, so scratch that. Changed my mind. It’s just that the British do it so much better. Oh, shut up, James.
The film is about the tragic Marie Antoinette and her penchant for muff diving, in a court where the sovereign’s every move from waking till bedtime was observed. The relentlessly elegant Diane Kruger plays the queen, and from the trailer she appears to speak French flawlessly despite being German. The ability to be pitch-perfectly fluent in a completely different language with a whole other set of consonant groupings is, for me, the hallmark of a great actor.
I think the reason I probably won’t see it in the theater—even though My Queen is one of those films I might go to on the spur of a bored moment—is because it’s Marie Antoinette herself who interests me not one jot. She’s such a chick thing. Like all those Episcopal Church ladies on Pintrest putting up pictures of bucolic gardens and sun-splashed country kitchens festooned with cornucopias of homemade jams and dried bouquets on top of shabby-chic, chipped kitchen tables, oh, and did you have to paint the wainscoting white or did your life need that much more cheery diffused bounce of light in it?
… because I am one of the few fans of the original who thinks this looks like a worthy reboot, despite the flagrantly hackneyed dialogue, which could have benefitted from a Christopher Nolan polish. I also love Colin Farrell for many reasons, not the least of which is he’s this super-rich, posh Irish guy who has managed to scrub it all off. And, yes, he’s genuinely, profoundly sexy—I would do massive amount of drugs and dive into an orgy with him in a heartbeat.
See, going back to my earlier point, Farrell is what I mean by appealing straight machismo versus the creepy kind embodied by Oliver Stone and Denis Leary. Am I making sense? Leary and Stone think that all women find them irresistible, whereas Farrell knows it and is not only deeply appreciative of the honor, but will do his best to please every woman he can, and woo her like she’s the only one alive. I think it also has to do with differing concepts of manhood in Europe and the US; being an Ameropean, I find the former more appealing.