Here's a bit of what I do when I'm not writing speeches for work or writing meandering stuff of my own. In a startling departure, I write for others! Here's soemthing I wrote for prairie dog magazine recently. The shtick? Review trailers for upcoming summer blockbusters.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (TRAILER 1)
In a move sure to thrill no fans, the first 40 seconds of the two-minute online trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shows us old clips from the first three Jones movies. That’s one-third recycled content. By that measure my mattress is a superior product, if the 100% New Material tag is to be believed.
The shots from the first three films establish pedigree — there ain’t no franchise like a Lucas/Spielberg franchise, and we all know it. What boggles the mind is the transition shot from old and new: a billowing Stars and Stripes that signals the ascendance of Indiana Jones from handsome rogue into grizzled American warrior. This time around he's fighting the Soviets (as represented by a blue-eyed Cate Blanchett in sternest black pageboy) in a race to possess — well, you don’t find out from the trailer. But my money’s on some kind of crystal skull. Bonus insult to fans: the degradation of the Warehouse of Secrets in the first film, from a truly iconic moment into mere set piece for a whiz-bang action sequence.
SEX AND THE CITY
Carrie’s getting married! Charlotte’s pregnant! Miranda’s in crisis! Samantha’s doing something or other, and it’s probably sexy! These are the emotional arcs bursting like fireworks over the night sky of the new Sex And The City movie. Big things are happening to the sisterhood of Manolo Blahnik and when the film’s over, nothing, it is implied, will ever be the same. The opening moments even drop Mr. Big’s full name as a morsel to long-time fans.
Watching a trailer of a movie of a television series feels a bit like chewing on a bouillon cube. Or in this case, chugging back sugar syrup. The chief pleasure of Sex and The City — the thing that made it so innovative and entertaining — lay in the breezy, almost carefree attitude that Carrie and friends displayed as they strolled from relationship to relationship. They made the life of a single woman look fun. Now their fortunes are turning on the spit of middle age and the storylines are disappointingly, if inevitably, heavier. Once the series felt as light and enjoyable as a blueberry soda. But now, with menopausal certainty, the fun is over. Here’s hoping that the trailer is fibbing.
The most disappointing parts of an M. Night Shyamalan movie come when something happens. Shyamalan doesn’t just excel at atmosphere and suspense; at their best, his films crawl towards a complete stillness and silence, as if he had mastered the art of stretching out a painting and somehow finding separate moments inside the image. This is what people mean when they say painterly.
So much for images. After Shyamalan’s run of increasingly silly films, it’s starting to look as if he's emptied his head of decent ideas. Does The Happening, a tale of plague, or maybe an attack, or maybe a festival of spontaneous and lethal performance art, reverse this trend? If this is a movie about Mark Wahlberg looking increasingly confused and scared, then it’s mission accomplished. As far as I can tell, there's something that’s causing people to look constipated and fall over, which makes Wahlberg’s face scrinch up a lot.
After I watched the trailer, I caved in to curiosity and went on the Internet to find out the big twist. Argh. Mark Wahlberg isn’t dead, but now I wish I was.