Trailers of the Week: Upstream Color, Sound City, Star Trek Into Darkness, and More

Sound City (TBD)

Silver: OK, so you’re making your first film. It’s about a legendary recording studio that’s hosted such acts as Nirvana, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and Tom Petty, and which has since fallen into neglect due to the digital age. How in the world do you book interviews and get rights to all the music? Well, it helps if you’re former Nirvana drummer, current Foo Fighters front man, and go-to Satan for Tenacious D Dave Grohl. Because booking Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Lars Ulrich, and Dave Grohl (wow … how’d he land that one?) is probably easier that way. But the question of the film’s quality still remains; will Grohl be just another renowned musician stepping behind the camera in hopes of earning their renaissance man/raconteur merit badge? I honestly doubt it. He’s hired some key folks from The Cove, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, and Dogtown and Z-Boys to help him through his rookie effort. So in the end, I’m guessing Sound City is going to be my 2013 Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.

Browne: Music docs are arguably my favorite film genre, so I’m obviously excited about this. And, as previously noted, it helps that a big name in music is directing it, aiding in the “who’s who”–ness of interview subjects. Quite excited about this.


Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

Browne: I feel like I’ve seen this trailer before. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it reminds me of every “they’re COMING” film ever made. Silver, give me 300 words on what I just saw, right this second.

Silver: I’m completely baffled by Paramount’s rollout of this film. Instead of geeking out over what will clearly be one of the summer’s most anticipated (and probably best) popcorn flicks, I’m sitting here wondering why both the film’s poster and this trailer feel so familiar. If the Star Trek zeitgeist didn’t have such a storied and loyal fan base, and if 2009’s “reboot” of the franchise was not such a critical, public, and box office hit, or if this film’s pedigree weren’t literally made up of Hollywood’s creative elite, I might agree with the studio’s decision to position Star Trek Into Darkness exactly as if it were a Chris Nolan film. 2009’s not that long ago, and I don’t think there are going to be many casual fans who are going to need convincing to go see this film. So why cut a trailer that almost beat-for-beat feels like Nolan’s Inception trailer, and why create a poster whose iconography has become a Nolan identifier (see the posters for Inception, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises). But the good news here is that if you strip away the Nolanisms from the trailer, it’s still clear that Star Trek Into Darkness has so much going for it, from J.J. Abrams’s ever-maturing visual style to the larger-than-life baddie with a chip on his shoulder played by uber-thespian Benedict Cumberbatch. His anarchistic VO in the trailer elicited memories of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Oh … right. Hmmm.

(Side Note: Keep in mind this is not a “trailer.” It’s an “Official Announcement Video.” And when studios start labeling all their teasers, pre-teasers, or first trailers as “Official Announcement Videos,” it’ll be just another reminder of the influence J.J. Abrams’s sneaky marketing genius has over the Hollywood cultural landscape.)


A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlie Swan III (February 8 )

Silver: It’s no surprise that A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charlie Swan III feels like an amalgamation of Wes Anderson, Spike Jones, and Charlie Kaufman’s work since its director, Roman (son of Francis Ford) Copolla, has either been directly involved (writer, producer, second unit director) or casually involved (Special Thanks) in many of their films. But it’s the first glimpse of Charlie Sheen’s performance that gets me excited about this film. While it’s hard to set the last few years of #Winning, hotel room romps, and vaudeville attempts aside, of the former “movie stars” from the ’80s and early ’90s, the ones I miss the most are Kevin Costner and Charlie Sheen. When I watch The Untouchables, JFK, Platoon, or even Hot Shots! now, I can’t help but question why these two guys didn’t have the same kind of steadily working careers of some of the other actors from their generation. Sure, project discrimination, ability, and mental health played into some of this (for one more than the other), But we never saw Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell, or Dennis Quaid (Uggg, Vegas) resort to spending eight years on a TV sitcom (albeit one of the most popular and lucrative sitcoms of the last decade). Charlie Sheen was in Wall Street for frak sake. Go back and watch that film and try to question Sheen’s on-screen charisma and likeability. You can’t. And when I watch Sheen here, he looks like he’s playing to his strengths and throwing Ricky Vaughn-type fastballs.

And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the kid who shows up at 1:19 is Roman’s son. Just another cameo in a long tradition of Coppolas popping up in their parents’ work. Maybe he’ll grow up and make Lost in Translation 2: What Bill Murray Whispered.

Browne: This looks wacky, and I mean that in the best way possible. It benefits from a bunch of quick shots of odd behavior that don’t make any sense without context, and then extended shots of Charlie Sheen being himself/the character that he plays in the film. This most certainly won’t be for everyone, but I think it’s right up my imbalanced alley. Also, the last scene when Murray pulls the arrow out and everyone starts screaming: golden.


Upstream Color (March 2013)

Silver: It’s nearly impossible for me not to be intrigued by a film whose trailer’s only line of dialogue is, “I have to apologize. I was born with a disfigurement where my head is made of the same material as the sun.” And has a log line that reads, “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.”

Browne: I’m not intrigued. You can’t just go around saying stuff like, “I hope this isn’t weird, but every time I flap my arms like a bird, I turn into a bald eagle and fly straight to Washington, D.C.” and expect my interest to be suddenly piqued. I want nothing to do with this film. Unless, you know, his head is a giant ball of gas that shines light on an entire solar system, in which case I’m just very confused.


The ABCs of Death (January 31 – VOD / March 8 – Theatrical)

Silver: I have zero, literally zero, interest in seeing this movie. It’s included in this week’s post for two simple reasons:

1. Because I fiendishly enjoy reading my buddy Rembert’s reactions to these horror trailers. I know how much they disturb him, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear his thoughts on the sequence I like to call “The High Frame Rate, Man Punches Dog, Dog Bites Man, Rippling Skin, Dancing Fight Club Baby, Sadistic Wile E. Coyote Magnum Opus” (0:36 – 0:53).

And with that section in mind …

2. Because I also know he’ll likely pull some memorable screen grabs. Or maybe, if we’re lucky, some GIFs.

Browne: It’s like Celebrity Deathmatch meets a System of a Down video. Both of those things I enjoy independently, but when put together in one work, it makes for a horrible end product. Also, what:

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 11.17.20 AM


No. Just no. Not even close.

Filed Under: Charlie Sheen, Dave Grohl, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Trailers of the Week, Upstream Color

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert