Wondrous Beginnings: Oz: The Great and Powerful
When one thinks back to memories of Oz, images are conjured of ruby slippers, a blue pinstriped dress and brown pigtails. The tales of Oz have always meticulously surrounded themselves with the trials of a certain little girl and her dog, flown to a faraway land via her uprooted house. Dorothy is however nowhere to be seen in Sam Raimi’s attempts at a latest revisit to the magical kingdom. Oz: The Great and Powerful travels back to the beginning, a documentation of how the wizard initially came to inhabit the land. A prequel to The Wizard of Oz, if you will. For the Evil Dead and Spider-Man director, the film marks his first directed feature in four years.
The debut teaser trailer for the film sets a scene from which a narrative of spectacle can develop. Monochrome marks the city of Kansas, where the journey begins. A montage of scenes, interestingly restricted to half the screens occupancy, document the young wizard's (James Franco) life as a street magician. From quite literally dull and suffocating Kansas, the wizard is swept away in his hot air balloon during a tornado, landing somehow on the magical land. If the storm reference wasn’t enough, the transference from Black and White to Technicolor as the Land of Oz slips in view is somewhat ostentatiously reminiscent of the 1939 classic.
Franco asks ‘Am I dreaming?’ Indeed the Land of Oz is revealed as something worthy of a dream. The breathtaking beauty and colour, all edited in sweeping shots and glances to fly the audience emphatically through the trailer. Narrative gives way to spectacle as a choired soundtrack builds with the visual to emphasise just how great and powerful a film can be. Fleeting shots hint at a star-studded cast enveloped within the creative masterpiece, and Raimi would appear to offer the potential here for something wonderful. Though slightly reliant on its predecessors, there is an element of originality offering a fresh vision of Oz.
Oz: the Great and Powerful remains in post production and will be released in the UK on 8th March 2013
One Plot or Ten: Goats
Christopher Neil has dipped his toe in a few major film productions over the years. As a rehearsal coach and acting advisor, Neil’s credits span from The Virgin Suicides right through to Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. As a director, however, his ventures prove a little scarce. The imminent release of Goats marks Neil’s debut directed feature. With a budget of only $3,000,000 (small change compared to the likes of The Dark Knight Rises, tipping the scales at $250,000,000), and resigned to a limited US release, the feature exudes the ‘Indie Film’ typicality.
The theatrical trailer for Goats begins with a punch. Quite literally, new schoolboy Ellis (Graham Phillips) is hit square in the nose as he is bullied for his bike. A classic tale of the new kid at school, then? Not quite. ‘Goatman’ (David Duchovny) quickly enters the scene and is introduced as Ellis’s acting father. A classic tale of the trials of a father-son relationship, then? Again, not quite. The problems here surround the fact that the trailer for Goats also doesn’t quite seem to know exactly in what direction the film is to head. Heavily reliant on narrative as a means for progression, an entire saga is seemingly probed at within the brief two minute duration. Is this a mother-son story? An exploration of a biological father’s reunion with his son? A mother’s struggle with her son’s father’s new wife? Or is it just a film about a man and his goats? There are quite simply too many relationships to follow, and with that too many potential narratives to consider, none of which are effectively developed.
Admittedly generic in its approach, the trailer fails to do justice to a feature that harbours significant potential. And there is certainly potential here. With a promising cast and a plot that tiptoes on the side of unique, this may be one to surprise.
Goats is currently scheduled only for a limited US release on 20th August 2012.
Illicit Acquaintances: Hello I Must Be Going
As narratives go, there wouldn't appear to be anything too untoward in Todd Louiso’s latest attempt at directing. In fact, the trailer for Hello I Must Be Going presents a narrative of rather simplistic standings. Recent divorcee Amy (Melanie Lynskey) finds herself moving back in with her parents as she attempts to come to terms with her new found independence. Rediscovering the single world, Amy is soon acquainted with the young, handsome figure of Jeremy (Christopher Abbott). The son of a family friend, Jeremey has 'inappropriate' written over every inch of his skin. Naturally a secret relationship begins.
The straight forward narrative itself is well established throughout the trailer. Edited with a steady forward progression, there is a definite intention here for clarity of plot and characterisation. An underlying sense of comedy runs throughout, as humorous shots and scenes combine to offer a light hearted approach to the narrative. Though rather basic in structure, there is heart to be found within its core. Lynskey shines in her two minutes of fame, and one will be intrigued to discover how she handles such an emotive role.
A classic case of ‘want without reason or justification’, the ‘illicit romance’ is indeed a theme revisited frequently within cinema, and for want of a better word, ‘predictability’ does seem to act in association. It remains to be told whether Lynskey, along with her supporting cast, can quash pre conception, and prove instead to be something unique in its own right.
Hello I Must Be Going is currently marketed for a limited US release on 7th September 2012.