Trailer Talk #2

Image: GEM Entertainment

It is difficult to imagine how a trailer could accurately advertise 1917. Sam Mendes’ new First World War thriller takes a technically daring approach, giving us the entire film in just one shot. A 2-minute trailer, therefore, can scarcely manage to convey the sustained onslaught of tension Mendes seems to be aiming for. Nevertheless, this is an enticing teaser, outlining the film’s ticking-clock premise: soldiers George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman must deliver a message calling off an allied attack, otherwise 1600 soldiers, including the latter’s brother, will perish. The ambitious technique is not completely unheard of, with Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria coming to mind, yet the sheer urgency and scale that the trailer promises suggest that Mendes’ film could be something quite extraordinary. 

1917 is among the host of films being released in this upcoming awards season, which we can hope to see many a trailer for over the coming weeks. Chief among them is Greta Gerwig’s prestige adaptation of Little Women. With Gerwig coming off the back of the superb Lady Bird and collaborating again with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, let alone Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep and Emma Watson, and critically-acclaimed filmmaker Sarah Polley working with Gerwig on the script, Little Women could scarcely be more exciting for the film world. Whilst it does not necessarily increase the already sky-high expectations, this trailer does nothing to suggest that Gerwig’s film will be a disappointment. It suggests that Ronan is the film’s nominal lead, even with such a strong supporting cast, fighting for her independence and power to create as a woman in the years following the American Civil War.

A similarly star-studded cast is on display in the short teaser for Bombshell, directed by Jay Roach. Giving very little away as to the film’s content, it is a tense minute-long shot of Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron nervously ascending in a lift, as if heading into battle. The film is based on the sexual harassment scandal that toppled Fox News head Roger Ailes in 2016, with Kidman and Theron playing real-life news anchors Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly respectively. Dealing with a sensitive and important topic, let’s hope Bombshell builds on this promising trailer and does its subjects justice.

For something seemingly less serious and highbrow, we need look no further than Last Christmas. Yes, for better or worse, the festive film trailers have begun. Written by Emma Thompson and with the irresistible romantic pairing of Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, this trailer hits all the expected beats: single Clarke is a mess; Golding comes along in several chance encounters; love and redemption blossom. Yet in what is a rather long preview, there seems to be something involving Clarke’s past illness and Golding disappearing a lot, giving rise to various internet theories involving angels and heart transplants which could of course be nonsense. Either way Last Christmas appears to be a fun-filled, George Michael-soundtracked Christmas treat – something that would be most welcome indeed.

Disney, meanwhile, have released a trailer for their straight-to-streaming Disney+ version of Lady and the Tramp. True to their recent form of remaking every popular animated film possible, but more real-looking, this trailer shows a mixture of live-action dogs and CGI. The dogs are cute and the story and voice cast appealing of course, but it is hard not to be overwhelmed with cynicism as the world’s biggest studio continue to re-do all their existing classics rather than investing in more original films.

Whether we are cynical or not, there is no getting away from the industry-shifting power of the new Disney+ streaming service. However, on the strength of recent trailers Netflix and Amazon are doing their best to keep up the challenge with fresh and exciting filmmaking. A Prime Original coming our way soon is Scott Z. Burns’ righteous drama The Report. With a stirring, tense trailer and a clever title reveal at the end, this depiction of the investigation into the US’s post-9/11 torture will hopefully live up to its potential and deliver hard-hitting, gripping drama. We can be especially hopeful with the ever-excellent Adam Driver in the lead.

Netflix, for their part, have the return of Eddie Murphy in Craig Brewer’s Dolemite Is My Name. Known for his comic energy (and homophobia, of course), Murphy brings plenty of verve to an enjoyable trailer. The film tells the story of Rudy Ray Moore and his creation of the popular Blaxploitation character Dolemite. A fast, light trailer with enough seriousness to promise some depth, the film is an intriguing prospect. 

We also have Noah Baumbach’s latest, and second film in a row to be released on Netflix. Marriage Story stars the aforementioned Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a married couple who’s relationship falls apart. Over two trailers, we hear what Charlie loves about Nicole, and what Nicole loves about Charlie, soundtracked by different versions of the Otis Redding classic ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)’. If these trailers are anything to go by, expect your heart to be broken this Autumn when Marriage Story comes out.

Andrew Young