The XX Factor

Why Buy the Film, When You Can Get the Trailer for Free?

More and more frequently, movie trailers are better than the movies they’re promoting. As they’ve become increasingly adept at short-handing a feature-length plot, and increasingly unconcerned about revealing all the elements of said plot, they play like accelerated shorts, complete with a story arc and emotional climax, ruining plot twists and funny-the-first-time-you hear-them jokes. They’re trailers for people who hate surprises.

David Edelstein, in his New York review of the new Terminator film (aka, the film where Christian Bale lost his shit ), demurs from revealing a mysterious fact about one of the protagonists. (“I won’t deprive you of the pleasure of figuring out his secret for yourself, about an hour and a half before the Big Reveal,” he writes). The trailer is not nearly as circumspect, having revealed months ago that the protagonist in question is, in fact, a hunk of metal .

Another trailer that outdoes its source is the glorious promo for Glee , Fox’s new show about a high school glee club, premiering tomorrow night. The show itself is, apparently, ” sweaty and desperate to impress ,” but the trailer…Wow. The trailer is the Platonic ideal of trailers for anyone who enjoys fictions involving high school, angst, music, geeks, jocks, teachers, highly choreographed dance routines, and “Don’t Stop Believing.” (How long before the cultural capital accrued from its appearance in the final minutes of The Sopranos starts to dissipate? Years?) It’s a larger population that you might imagine.

One new trailer that doesn’t ruin everything is the sneak of Nine , a musical inspired by Federico Fellini’s 8 ? co-starring Daniel Day Lewis, Judy Dench, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, and, confoundingly, Kate Hudson and Fergie. The trailer, like the film, is overly ambitious, stuffed with dance routines, period costumes, black-and-white footage, baby blue convertibles and a charmingly brusque Judy Dench. It’s a treat. After watching it, I had no clue if the final product will be hugely inspired or a huge mess, and that uncertainty was a nice surprise.