Neighboring Sounds

Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Central Question: Can a film’s trailer convey something not present in the film?
Number of years director lived in England: six, during the Thatcher era; Films director has cited as inspirations: The Trial (1962), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Halloween (1978), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006), Two Lovers (2008); Currently incarcerated person whose voice is heard in Neighboring Sounds: Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, imprisoned in 2010 for attempting to make a documentary about the unrest in the aftermath of Ahmadinejad’s reelection; Last sounds heard in Neighboring Sounds: gunshots and/or fireworks

There are trailers that tower so monumentally over their thin host films that they become exercises in bad faith: Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, for instance, or Panos Cosmatos’s Beyond the Black Rainbow. 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.

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—Nicholas Rombes

Nicholas Rombes is the author of the novel The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing, forthcoming from Two Dollar Radio, and the 33 ⅓ book Ramones. He is a professor of English in Detroit.

March/April 2014
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