I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

On Friday, Alan did a fascinating post on the Shirelles song “Boys” that was later covered by this small indie band, The Beatles – and how having Ringo Starr sing a song about “boys, now (yeah, yeah, boys)” made the lyrics take on a very different meaning. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find trailers that directly relate to songs… but since another hit by The Shirelles was “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, YouTube revealed that there’s a 2013 Taiwanese rom-com of the same title, so that will serve as the first trailer for this week’s post.

The week continued with another trip down Criterion Lane, with Matt writing about Lars von Trier’s Europa – a film that, through the triple lenses of German expressionism, film noir and the stories of Franz Kafka, strangely enough feels like an estranged sibling of the likes of Godard’s Alphaville and Gilliam’s Brazil. And: there’s an honest-to-god trailer to go with it!

And on that note, let’s continue with some trailers by our intrepid baristas!

Sam: I’m still puzzled by Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, having already written about the teaser trailer back in spring: how is he going to add the Spielberg touch? How will it measure up to an almost perfect original that has aged extremely well and continues to excite even young audiences? And what can you add to that from a present-day perspective? The new trailer gives a few answers if not all: Some scenes and sets look as if cut out directly from the 1960 version, others as if the original had been restored to even greater glory. There is freshness in the agile camerawork and the choice of colours is bedazzling. The new faces are pretty (and there is even a glimpse of Rita Moreno in her very different role in this version), but judging from the trailer no real standout singers or dancers. What shines is what has shone before: the Jerome Robbins choreography, the Bernstein music and the tension between Jets and Sharks threatening the impossible love between Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler). Does that merit the remake by this master director? I’m still not quite convinced but certainly intrigued to find out soon!

“Is he man or is he beast?” One could just as well ask of Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley teaser: “Is it great or utterly great?” Everything seems to be in place for an ultimate movie from the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water: a magical half-world of mysterious characters on the verge of losing control, with mind-boggling visuals to pull them and us into a whirlpool of enthrallment and intrigue, a sense of danger and poetry. The cast list is amazing (Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Rooney Mara, David Strathairn) and the glimpses into plot and characters highly promising. With a release set for December, I could imagine a truly grand pre-Christmas cinematic experience is in store!

Matt: I have to admit that although I loved Benedict Cumberbatch in those first two seasons of Sherlock (before it all went down the Reichenbach Falls and should’ve stayed dead, if you ask some of us here at A Damn Fine Cup of Culture), I’ve been rather lukewarm on him in most of what I’ve seen since. He’s not bad as such, but I’ve rarely felt swept up in any of his performances. It always felt very much like Benedict Cumberbatch doing imitations of characters. The festival buzz for The Power of the Dog is amazing, though – and the film was directed by Jane Campion, whose The Piano is still one of my favourite films. Add to that a cast that apart from Cumberbatch includes the likes of Jesse Plemons, Frances Conroy and Thomasin McKenzie, and I very much hope that this is one of the Netflix-distributed films that will make it to actual cinemas before it releases on the streaming service on 1 December.

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