That’s not an idle boast: I have supporting documentation from the film festivals I’ve covered, the reviews I’ve written and other sources to confirm at least that number. On the AFI’s list of the 100 Greatest (American) Films (2007 Edition), I’ve seen 73 of them. I would guess that there are a handful of movies I’ve seen more than 50 times, dozens I’ve seen more than 20 times, and hundreds I’ve watched more than once
In short, I am a serious movie geek. And yet after all these years, and all those films, someone like me can still get excited and “hyped up” over a forthcoming movie.
Of course, I’m a trickier customer to please than your average schmoe who actually goes out to the cinema maybe six-to-eight times a year. I know these plotlines. I recognise storytelling techniques. I notice shortcuts, edit points, lighting, cinematography, the whole mix. And I can tell when a trailer is giving me a distorted view of what the film’s really about, or when it’s trying to salvage a turkey, or just trying to get by on quick cuts, explosions and a touch of T-n-A.
But certain trailers still get me excited, usually if they have a very distinct look to them, or communicate clearly that this is the sort of film that will only really work well if you watch it in a cinema, or make it obvious that everyone involved is very proud of how it turned out. A good example of these sorts of trailers would be the ones for Amalie, City of Lost Children, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and Pan’s Labyrinth.
This trick doesn’t always work: the trailers for the recent remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Speed Racer and Star Trek actually served to lessen, not raise, my interest in these films. It takes more than just fantastic visuals to get me worked up, there has to be a promise of a story, of the creative vision and imagination necessary to really take me somewhere.
As I sat in the cinema recently for the most recent Harry Potter movie, I noted with some alarm that out of six trailers for upcoming films, five of them were based on TV shows, comic books or toys of the 70s and 80s. Only one was for an original story. How depressing.
Happily, I just stumbled across an HD version of the one trailer I’ve seen in the last year that has me chomping at the bit to see it: the one for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
I’ve been a fan of Terry Gilliam since about 1971 or so, when I got my first glimpse of him in “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” and have since discovered and enjoyed nearly everything he’s ever done before or since that point. He’s definitely one of my favourite directors, despite his ability to sometimes miss the mark. He’s had a dud or two, and indeed the last one starred Heath Ledger, as does Imaginarium.
I hope audiences will have long forgotten the similarly-named but pretty-bad Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and that it being Heath Ledger’s final film will push mainstream filmgoers to give this a chance, even though the trailer just screams “This is weird! It will disturb you! It will challenge your comfortable notions!!” I would so love this to be widely seen, and having almost every popular male screen idol in the thing (Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell stepped in to finish the film in Ledger’s stead after his accidental death) might ironically not only salvage the film but make it a mainstream hit.
Have a look and see for yourself. I personally can’t wait.