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Archive for October, 2018

A couple of days ago I read a tweet from a mainstream movie magazine promising a link to a synopsis/breakdown of the trailer for Avengers 4.  Said tweet information has been “leaked” and may or may not be true. I am sure many fans of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) will lap this up.  It could be a publicity stunt, or a genuine leak. Either way, I did not follow it and read the story.  I am a moderate fan of the MCU, having seen all of them, liked most, and loved a couple.  I will see Avengers 4, Infinity War 2, or whatever it will be called; if I am invested in a film series, or if a film is from a director, or within a genre I like, I will probably see it regardless of the trailer.  Equally, I am not the person who avoids trailers (I have a couple of friends who are, one of whom reads this blog ( you know who you are)), averting my gave and playing on my phone in the cinema.Avengers-4

So what is the state of trailers in modern cinema?  As the title alludes to I grew up in the era of “voiceover man”.  Trailers started with the words “In a world…..” proceeded by the description of the man’s quest (yes, in the 80’s more often than not the story centred around a white, North American or British, heterosexual male) of the movies protagonist.  More recently in the era of mega blockbuster, tent-pole comic book movies, trailers tend to follow a Bait and Switch narrative.  The Bait and Switch quite simply, like the twist in a movie itself sets up a scenario purely with the intention of misguiding, or wrong stepping the viewer.  An interesting example of this came in the trailer for Mission: Impossible Fallout  – WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD – In the trailer there is a brutal fight in a bathroom, the trailer is cut to look like the characters played by Tom Cruise, and Henry Cavill are fighting each other. In fact, there is a third person in the scene, Cruise and Cavill are in fact fighting together against this third man.  As it transpires Cavill is the villain, and Cruise does end up fighting him.  The trailer telegraphs the characters intentions and character making it easy for viewers to unpack the narrative and be ahead of the characters on screen (although to be honest, the film itself telegraphs this without the prior indoctrination). END OF SPOILERS

So back to the question, of what is the role of a trailer in modern cinema?  The is a trailer for Psycho containing little or no footage of the film, it simply has Alfred Hitchcock explaining that patrons who arrive late will not be admitted. Then you have movies like Layer Cake.  The main UK trailer features celebrity chef Marco Pierre White comparing the ingredients of the film to that of a cake. This is interspersed with random scenes from the film that are obfuscated by a lack of context.

Put simply A trailers sole job is to sell the film.  This can be done in many ways; titillating with gratuitous sex, violence, or violence. Intriguing with the promise of an enthralling plot.  Or parading the credentials of the talent on show.  The new Gerard Butler movie Hunter Killer is unlikely to trouble Oscar voters, but the trailer proudly tells us that co star Gary Oldman is an Oscar winner.  But this trailer commits a more fundamental sin; assuming there is not too much bait and switch, the trailer to has at least two major plot revelations, and final act shots. There is nothing worse than feeling that you have seen a movie before you have seen it.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to promote a film, I personally am just getting a little tired of a film getting three trailers proceeded by a teaser which in turn is proceeded by a teaser for the teaser. All of which starts the best part of a year before the film is released.  Please give me an original trailer, largely free from spoilers.

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Emily Nelson – A Simple FavorA Simple Favor

Reynolds Woodcock – Phantom ThreadPhantom Thread

Lou – Ocean’s EightOcean's Eight

Dominika Egorova – Red SparrowRed Sparrow

Anyone from Wakanda – Black PanthaBlack Panther

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In a recent article on the BBC website (quoting an interview in the Guardian) James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli stated her belief that James Bond will “probably” never be played by a woman. “Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.” She went on to say “And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women.” The same article went on to quote an article where Halle Berry also said that Bond should remain male, she however suggested a new Bond type female character could be created.  While it may not be a popular, or politically correct opinion at the moment, I agree that Bond only works as a man.  We are however, at a point in time where Bond casting can be colour-blind, while Bond needs to remain British (and male), we are a multicultural society, despite the views of a vocal minority, you don’t have to be white to be British.  This leaves the door open, not just for Idris Elba, but for any other British actor regardless of race, I believe Henry Golding has joined the debate!The Next James Bond_

To change the sex of Bond would impact on all his interactions with other characters to such an extent it would distract from the story.  Regardless of what I, or anyone else thinks, Broccoli is the person most directly responsible for casting the part, so will ultimately decide the direction it takes. This isn’t to say characters are locked into being one sex.  The BBC article I mention, refers to the new series of Doctor Who, starting tomorrow with the first ever female Doctor.  Ghostbusters (2016), wasn’t terrible because of the idea, or the casting of woman, the cast were good, the issue was with the terrible script. Barbara Broccoli

Back to Halle Berry and her idea: There has previously been a suggestion that her character Jinx Johnson, from Die Another Day (2002) would get her own spiff-off movie or TV show.  Fortunately, this did not happen, she was a terrible character from a terrible film.  The only positive thing I have ever heard about the character, is that she looks good!  Truely representing all that is bad about Bond!  There are far better characters in the Bondverse to get their own movie, characters with a little agency, would be: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) from Licence to Kill (1989), Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), or Camille (Olga Kurylenko) from Quantum of Solace (2008).  I’m not sure any Bond shared universe is a good idea, do we want a new Bond related film every year?  The current format of a film every few years, reboot every decade or so works. Female Bond Spin-offs

It would be better to start from a clean slate, developed a new completely different character in their own universe and having their own characteristics.  Fortunately, that is exactly what Barbara Broccoli is doing.  In a rare none Bond movie, EON Productions next movie will be The Rhythm Section adapted from the book of the same name by Mark Burnell.  The first of four books about the character Stephanie Patrick.  In the books Stephanie Patrick is a couple of turns short of rock bottom in a downward spiral following a traumatic event.  She is working as a prostitute to fund her drug problem until a revelation from a  journalist sends her life in a completely new direction.  The books are about identity and purpose, but work on a more surface level too, with great action.  There are four books in the series leaving at least three more stories to adapt, but with author Burnell onboard writing the script, there could be more than that.  Blake Lively is staring, and looks like a good choice.blake lively

And finally the elephant in the room, who will be the next Bond?  The name we can’t escape is Idris Elba, I think he would make a fantastic Bond, but fear his time may have passed.  At 46 he is about the right age now, he should be making his second film.  As it is, he would be 50/51 before he made his debut, giving him time to make three film before he is too old.  I am not going to list contendors or speculate on who will take the part, that’s for another day, but I am going to keep banding the drum for my Bond Movie idea, I know it will never happen but it doesn’t stop me modestly suggesting it’s a great idea: Bring Timothy Dalton back to play a long retired James Bond, forced back for one last mission (there are multiple story ideas to facilitate this).  As he gets older, the same idea could also work for Pierce Brosnan. Old Bond

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