Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Fall Season, The Master, and The Trailer as A Work of Art

It isn't the next Bond film, or Spielberg's examination of Abraham Lincoln.  Leo DiCaprio isn't in it.  But it is the Fall film on my radar, head and shoulders above the rest.  Now that I have had time to digest The Dark Knight Rises for a few days (before I get back into it later this week), my eyes move forward past the rest of the summer season and into the Fall, where a different type of film event begins.  These are the smaller films with the heavier themes, the "important" pictures with actors delivering their finest work.  "Awards" pictures (a gag-worthy nickname) are as entrenched in the Autumn months as robots and franchise settle into the summer heat.  This Fall looks to be a significant improvement from this summer, where very few films have met their potential. 

There is the bombastic celebratory Baz Luhrmann adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leo DiCaprio as another reclusive millionaire, and on the flip side of the cinema, releasing on the same day (Christmas), DiCaprio stars in Quentin Tarantino's intriguing Western ride, Django Unchained.  This must be elite company for Leo, having two films open on Christmas Day.  Of the two, I cannot say I'm sold on either one from this distance, but I'm certain both will have their merits.  Luhrmann will bring a fresh eye to the celebrated novel, and Tarantino should just, well, be himself.  Before the Leo double feature, however, we have some heavy hitters behind and in front of the camera working their magic. 

Steven Spielberg will attempt to wipe the Vampire Hunter taste out of our mouths with an historical and epic look at the sixteenth President.  Lincoln is a film which has been in the works for some time, first having Liam Neeson in the title role.  It would have been perfect, but when he passed it was a few months before Daniel Day-Lewis jumped on board.  And I am certain DDL can manage the character.  Also in November is a crucial entry into the James Bond franchise.  Crucial because of the previous Daniel Craig entry, Quantum of Solace, which was nothing short of a disaster.  Especially when following the superior Casino Royale.  Now it is Skyfall, Craig's third shot at the character, and Sam Mendes' first attempt at an action film.  The pendulum could swing in favor of Bond for future films, but it could also fall apart if Skyfall is as incongruent, uneven, and dull as Marc Forster's Quantum.
There are any number of Fall films, both big and small, including Peter Jackson's first part of The Hobbit and the latest adaptation of Les Miserables starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Russel Crowe.  There are mid-level films which nevertheless look and sound exciting, like Rian Johnson's sci-fi mind bender Looper.  But then there is The Master.  Everything else, in my opinion, will take a back seat.

I make no qualms about my blind praise of Paul Thomas Anderson, arguably the smartest, most thoughtful filmmaker in the business.  Not only has Anderson yet to make a poor film, I often struggle to find a flaw in his work.  Again, this is my opinion.  His ability to put so much emotion, so much importance behind any and every shot and make it all look effortless and breezy is a testament to his endless talent.  From the announcement of The Master, his sideways take on Scientology, I was ready for the film's release.  Now, after months and years of development The Master has a release date (October 12), a brilliant cast, and a new full trailer that argues in favor of the trailer as a work of art. 

The trailer can function in artistic ways, not simply to put forth information but ideas.  Feelings.  Emotional attachments to the film in question.  This is what the better trailers manage to do while still managing not to spoil the larger elements of the picture.  The trailer for The Master is a work of art, and only enhances my anticipation for the film.  There are the big Fall releases, Awards contenders, and there is The Master: