There was a time when movies were preceded only by trailers -- the
previews of coming attractions. Nobody seems to mind them, and I
suspect most people enjoy them, because they are almost always
entertaining. They have to be. Their sole purpose is to convince us
that the movie they are promoting is the greatest piece of art or
entertainment to light up the silver screen since “Citizen Kane.”
Times have changed. Trailers are being crowded for space on the
screen by advertisements, and at least one of them has been
criticized because of its content.
On a recent visit to one of our local theaters, I timed the
presentations that preceded the feature: 10 minutes of advertisements
followed by 10 minutes of trailers. While people were finding their
seats or running back to the lobby for a tub of popcorn, those who
sat in the dark got a face full of big-screen commercials touting
Coca Cola, something called “Fandango,” TV programs, the Los Angeles
Times and the U.S. military.
You read that right. The Defense Department paid $1.2 million to
produce a four-minute 48-second film tilted “Enduring Freedom,” which
it distributed to theaters in digital format via a satellite
download. Regal Cinemas ran the film for more than a month.
Regal received complaints that “Enduring Freedom” was militaristic
propaganda and inappropriate for viewing by children, according to
The Times. It recently stopped showing the short film, but denied
that the decision had anything to do with the complaints.
Regal Cinemas said that it downloaded and screened “Enduring
Freedom” to test its new equipment for distributing digital films
directly to its theaters and projecting them. Regal said specifically
that it wanted to use the technology to distribute trailers and
advertisements. Its motive was to develop a new way of adding a buck
to the bottom line.
I have seen “Enduring Freedom” at least three times. It is, as I
recall, about planes, ships, armored vehicles and people in uniform.
Beyond that, its content is pitifully unmemorable. If it is a
propaganda piece, as some critics have said, it is a pathetic
failure. It has less propaganda value than those Army recruiting
commercials that told us to “Be all that you can be in the Army.”
Those recruiting commercials at least gave us a catchy tune that
stuck in our heads.
I do not fear, as some do, an onslaught of military propaganda
promoting a war in Iraq -- although the possibility of a war troubles
me. Americans tend to gag when propaganda is shoved down their
I am annoyed, though, that a flood of obnoxious TV-style
commercials is rising in our theaters. They occupy my time and senses
when I have no “mute” or “fast forward” buttons, and they threaten to
erode the time theaters spend showing the trailers I love.
* DENNIS PISZKIEWICZ is a Laguna Beach resident.
‘The Ring’ falls flat
Nothing in “The Ring” was more harrowing than the teaser trailers.
As for the rest of the movie, it was a consummate failure.
“The Ring” phlegmatically plodded through, making suspense and
fear appear to be afterthoughts, as boredom and tedium championed
this travesty of a film.
“The Ring,” prudently named because of its lack of any direct or
discernible plot from beginning to end, invites the patron into an
infinite maze of convoluted, inexplicable and unnecessary twists that
all lead back to one uneventful conclusion. The cast bails enough
water to keep this ship from capsizing completely, but the average
person will be left displeased at best. At worst they will be
requesting a refund and a sincere apology.
Purporting commensurate thrills and chills to better horror films,
this film dooms itself to audience dissatisfaction and comparisons at
every turn. Does this film live up to the legacy of and standard set
by “The Exorcist”? The answer is a resounding no! For those of you
who abhor a cheap imitation, avoid this film like the plague. If your
friends, or curiosity, coax you into watching this abomination of a
film, then be comforted that you can wait for the video for a
fraction of the cost.
* EVAN MARMOL is a Laguna Beach resident. He graduated from UC
Irvine with a degree in psychology and social behavior.