Friday, February 02, 2007

trailer trashing

Last night, when I went to see the enormously excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, I had the fun of sitting through some of the lamest trailers I’ve ever seen in my young life. Trailers are a constant source of irritation for me, but I get so excited when I see a decent preview for a worthwhile-looking movie that I forgive all the boring trailers, the ones that go for the same tired tricks, the ones that give the whole movie away, the ones that cull the best jokes, such that the movie itself turns out to be even less than the sum of its parts. These trailers tested my devotion. First the Diane Keaton bonfire o’ snores Because I Said So, which can’t hide how crappy the movie actually is; then Adam Sandler’s attempt at Dramatic Actorhood in Reign Over Me, and lastly the exquisite agony of Joel Schumacher directing Jim Carrey in the freaky numerological what-reality-are-we-in-now horror film, The Number 23.

The trailer for 23 starts off relatively coherently and then dissolves into frenetic but swampy overediting, which I’m guessing mirrors the film’s structure. Carrey’s character discovers a typeset red-bound book called “The Number 23” in a bookstore and starts finding the number woven throughout his life in increasingly unsettling ways. The paranoia mounts and then explodes into gibbering insanity. As far as I could tell from the trailer, he may be living two lives, or he may be crazy, or who knows. And who cares. My favourite part comes when Danny Huston, in one of those Well-Dressed Expositor roles, says, “… and 2 divided by 3 is 0.666, the number of the beast”.

Actually, I think that’s the number of Talking Out Your Ass. Two over three isn’t 0.666, and anyway, the number of the beast is actually 666, which beats outs 0.666 by 665.334. To be fair to Schumacher & Friends, I can see how that would lack dramatic punch: “Bad news, sucker – two over three is oh point bar six, the world’s most evil repeating decimal!”. Maybe 2/3 is the fraction of the beast, and the root of negative 666 is the imaginary number of the beast. I’m glad I paid attention to my high school math lessons. It’s given me the power to mock a Joel Schumacher film.

My other favourite bit features shots with Carrey in black jeans and dyed black hair, topless and greasy-gaunt, a Goth of Great Depravity. Just as 8mm made up a ridiculous world of underground porn connoisseurs – a kind of pornographic fantasy of porn – 23 seems to be prey to the usual misunderstandings about Hard-Boiled people. I don’t if Carrey’s alter ego is supposed to be evil or just bad-ass, but pretending to be an East Village hustler circa 1970 doesn’t convince me. Sat-e-llite of Looove!

7 comments:

Sue said...

I am glad to hear Pan's Labyrinth is enormously excellent. It has been a long time--probably since the last Harry Potter movie--that I have been tempted to leave the kid in care of the hubs and see a movie on the big screen all by myself. If I am going to do that, the movie must be enormously excellent. I do trust your review above many.

(Before there was a child we used to go to double features. Now that kind of date requires a budget and a travel agent.)

Trailers give me anxiety. By the time I am done with them I am, like why bother to pay for the movie? You already gave away the twists! My only hope with the ones that appeal to me is that my sieve of a brain will dump the data before the movie gets to town. The only problem with the data purge is that I also lose the name of the movie.

But they have been doing something right with the advertising of Pan's Labyrinth because it had me intrigued without knowing a whole lot about it. That is Trailer Art.

ozma said...

The decimal thing is just hairsplitting when it comes to 666. Three sixes in a row ARE ALWAYS EVIL. Everyone knows that.

I wonder what a mathematician would make of the movie. I suspect it is possible to get to the number 23 by virtually any route. Which makes me realize that math itself is really creepy. The whole world can be described in mathematical terms. Natural numbers--what the hell ARE they anyway? Where did they come from? C'mon! That's some supernatural scary shit.

But I love trailers so what do I know.

reddirtroad said...

Now, why don't you tell us how you really feel about it?

Can't wait to get your review when you see the movie. ;)

palinode said...

Sue - I'm curious about the advertising for Pan's Labyrinth, because I haven't seen any of it. But trust me, it is a beautiful film - grotesque, sensual, violent and heartbreaking. Plus I've learned to do an imitation of the faun, which I'll happily do if we ever meet up in real life.

Deron said...

I hope that offer's not just limited to Sue, because I plan on going to see it tonight!

By the way, when I was younger I knew a girl named Dawn who I nicknamed Dawn the Fawn. No relation.

Anonymous said...

I can't resist doing this...
sue's comment happened at 6:17, 6+17 is 23. Palinode responded to sue at 2:03...23. There were five comments before mine, 2+3=5...23. Mine is the sixth comment, 2x3=6...23.
I wish I could dissuade myself from the effects of this number in my life but I cannot. I trust to have eyebrows raised at my comment but oh well...
Anyone interested in reading more about the number 23 should seek out Robert Anton Wilson's book, I believe it is called "Cosmic Trigger I: The final secret of the illuminati". Wilson is probably most famous for Schrodinger's cat trilogy.
Yes...I know Palinode, I belong in your blog about astronauts and schizophrenics. But you invented the drunken lime and ordered it from the near invisible waitress...

palinode said...

Yeah, my birthday falls on a 23rd day. According to Robert Anton Wilson in the Illuminati books, it's the day of the Egyptian New Year.

Don't order drunken limes unless you're prepared for some pretty nasty beverages.