Three Trailers

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpi3Qi0EjS0])

There are trailers that tower so monumentally over their host films that make you wish you’d never seen the movies they promoted. The trailer for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, for instance, the one featuring New Order’s “Age of Consent.” There is a heart-racing beauty and dying star sadness to this and a feeling at certain moments—such as the running-down-the-steps sequence beginning at around :22—that the trailer has captured a feeling of exhuberance that you forgot, in the cynicism of this world, was possible. Or an early trailer for Panos Cosmatos’s Beyond the Black Rainbow, so trippy and otherwordly that you knew from the first moments that the film itself would not compare, and that in its strange folds and depths, the trailer offered a truer version of the film than the film itself.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKdWj9-VMzs]

But there is also a rarer sort of trailer, one that hints at the secret interiors of the film, as if the film had withheld a part of itself for the trailer only. Movies, excepting single-take, no-edit films like Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark, already hopscotch through time and space, bending and shaping both in the service of narrative. Trailers do this one level deeper, taking a story that is already by its nature out of time and further wrecking its relationship to linear chronology. Presented out of order, the images in a good trailer suggest a weirdly tyrannical, yet false, coherence.

The carefully orchestrated turbulence of the trailer for the Brazilian film Neighboring Sounds, which lasts just over two minutes, is achieved not through what is depicted in any given shot but rather from the juxtaposition of the shots themselves. There are forty-nine total, all of them from the film, structured roughly like this:

Part 1: Three shots of a character keying an expensive white car.

Part 2: A twenty-two-second clip, comprising six shots, that reveals in one sentence—albeit obliquely—the film’s central plot point.

Part 3: Forty shots, set to music by DJ Dolores, each lasting between half a second and two seconds. 

The ghostly assembly of shots, in the third part in particular, conveys a danger that is felt but invisible, not communicated by characters except perhaps through code. This feeling represents the cumulative, boiled-down danger of the film itself — yet it adds a sense of violence and disorientation to what is found therein.

Two shot sequences stand out. Shots ten and eleven both involve forward movement but of radically different sorts: shot ten is a slow, gliding-forward tracking shot that pushes through a sunny soccer court filled with kids, while shot eleven cuts to a fast zoom-in revealing a security man on an empty street. The unexpected cut between languorous forward movement and whiplash zoom momentum shocks, even hurts. Some seconds later, shots sixteen and seventeen, edited together as they are, also have an unsettling effect: sixteen pans quickly to the left, seventeen to the right. The closest name for the feeling is urgency, an urgency borne out of fear. But fear of what?

//player.vimeo.com/video/42286779

Neighboring Sounds (Trailer) from Cinema Guild on Vimeo.

Nicholas Rombes’s full review of the trailer for Neighboring Soundappears in this month’s film issue.