God damn, I love this trailer. Naturally, like all Fincher films, the editing is immaculate and is the key to the hook here. Edited by one half of the duo behind The Social Network and Girl With Dragon Tattoo (which earned back to back edit Oscars), Kirk Baxter keeps the pace typically brisk, almost overwhelming. (Note: I don’t know if Baxter cut this or Dragon’s trailer, I am just assuming) Typical for Fincher’s too-perfect aesthetic which harkons back to Girl With Dragon Tattoo’s first montage style trailer. Shots are deliberately placed and layered to create a sense of continuity and develop a strong intuition in the viewer that they have a sense of the mystery, its components, and the players without actually giving anything away. In some ways, Fincher’s reluctance to step outside the thriller genre as of late makes Gone Girl’s trailer a bit of a retread, but it’s so well executed, it’s tough to be bothered.

Considering how so many trailers spoil pivotal plot details or moments, it’s refreshing to see a trailer so complex that it is able to show a significant amount of footage without giving us enough context to draw conclusions. I’ve been drawn back to this trailer dozens of times and hypnotically watch the sequence of images and overlapping dialogue tracks play out like a sheet of music, but I still haven’t felt like I’ve grasped the film or any spoilery detail any further. That is a marvel of trailer editing. Many trailers I revisit cause me to draw connections between shots after I see them enough times to log them in the ol’ memory bank, making me curse my obsessiveness. This skill in withholding visual information is interesting because it’s an incredibly tough skill to master, but it’s also the opposite skill you’d typically want to edit an actual film itself. In the film, you’d want the merging of images and sounds to make mental connections in the audience’s mind so you don’t have to spell anything out. The trailer does the same thing, but like some sort of garden path sentence, the trailer’s images lead us down one road before contradicting itself and making us lose our bearings.

This includes the perceived spoilery images of Rosamund Pike sinking into a body of water. A damning image in most cases, but its frank and explicit placement late into the trailer (including a close up for god sake!) suggest that is surely is a red herring of sorts, and compounded with the accompanied voice-over (“Actually, I’ve never found that to be true.”) the seeds of doubt are sufficiently planted in our minds that what we are seeing is not what we think it is. Whether it actually is, or isn’t, becomes irrelevant. As the trailer builds, more disconnected moments pile together and more and more voices and unknown faces bark questions and demands in such rapid succession it’s nearly impossible to keep up with who is asking what to whom, when, and why. Repeat viewings don’t clarify this because so much of the mystery is not shown. This allows the audience to anticipate a complex mystery thriller, which is hella exciting, as well as building the sense of anxiety and suspense that the movie is selling. That is pivotal: the movie is selling its tone rather than its plot; despite everything we see in the trailer, what do we really know about the plot by the end? That Affleck has a wife who feared him, has gone missing, and he is the prime suspect. Exactly as much as we knew in the first twenty seconds of the trailer, delivered via expository dialogue. The trailer exclusively sells the tone for the next two minutes.

Of course, this is all propelled by yet another ambient and bleak Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score which hums and drops in perfect harmony with the visuals. The music feels like it floats beneath the images and awesome sound mixing, and Rosamund Pike’s dreamy voice-over poetically sells a sense of haunting longing, tension, and outright fear.

The only problem I have is how anticlimactically the title drifts on screen at the end. But we can’t win em all.

"I feel like something to be jettisoned if necessary. I feel like I could disappear." 

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows ‘twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Alan Seeger

Trailer Talk #1 - The Fountain (2006)

Mixing adolescence with ambitious, sci-fi sentimentality can a dangerous concoction. It was for me anyway, when I saw the trailer Darren Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN while working at a movie theatre, I wasn’t just in awe, the trailer seared itself into my memory. A good trailer pitches a film that you might like, a great trailer can have a more significant impact than the movie itself, which ironically, can make it a terrible trailer.

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Best of 2012

Pulling out my old lists from previous years to archive them. This is 2012. Original post as follows:

This was a year of high expectations and polarizing results. Every big movie that people drooled over there seemed to be an equal amount of resentment for each. I, unfortunately, seemed to be on the negative side of most cases. I found this to be a massively disappointing year where many of the biggest blockbusters felt overstuffed and retreads of previous hits, and even the arthouse scene let me down after the mediocre offerings of TIFF this year, the rest of the big thought-pieces felt empty.

Not to say the year was a complete write-off, the following ten movies are great and I feel many of them massively underrated. Though half of these are still weaker works in strong careers and wouldn’t have made my top 10 in many previous years.

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Best of 2013

Movies live! 2012 was a letdown year for me, luckily a lot of great films were saved for 2013. This year was packed with awesome blockbusters, cool indies, and a variety of envelope-pushers. The following are a loose list of what really made an impression on me, generated some great discussion, and were altogether memorable, satisfying films from 2013. Half of my TIFF films this year are releasing in 2014 and already make up half of my Top 10 list for that year—things are looking good.


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