Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we try not to fall off a mountain, try not to get killed on our way out of town, revisit a public access classic, get haunted over a decade by a child’s murder, and get weird when an object falls from the sky. 

20 Years of Madness Trailer

What makes someone pour themselves into moments that matter to an indeterminate number of people?

Something clicked quick when I watched director Jeremy Royce’s ode to a moment long since passed. I didn’t know who these people were or what they were about but, as we learn more about this group of jackasses and what this public access show has brought us all together today, is that life moves forward. Being a pack of rubes, hamming it up in front of a shoulder-mounted VHS camera, does not guarantee a life of such mirth and merriment for however long you want it to go on. I found it deeply personal, and resonant, as we see what happens when life happens. People grow up, they move on, they form habits you would ascribe only to “other” people, sinister things occur and you have to accept it. This trailer is more than just a reunion of some dudes who were the equivalent of monkeys flinging poo for a rapturous audience, it’s a realization not all of us fulfilled our destiny. Not all of us could end our personal hero’s journey with a chapter describing the spoils of war. Sometimes it was just spoiled. Spoiled dreams, spoiled opportunities, and never quite getting to the zenith everyone was hoping to get to. We are given moments that show what happens when you do try and get the band back together, when old tempers and behaviors slip back into what it was so many years ago. Maybe then can we see these moments for what they are and, finally, move past what’s been holding us back all this time.

Catch Me Daddy Trailer

Ain’t gonna lie: I had a great time re-watching Patrick Dempsey’s Run a couple months ago.

What director Daniel Wolfe is trying to do here genuinely resonates with me. From an opening that keeps you off balance as we get introduced to our characters, a veritable rag-tag pair if there ever was one, and a middle that changes everything completely, it’s an intense ride. I am genuinely, deeply appreciative of how the slow burn at the beginning gives us enough time to look around, peruse the wares on display, figure out whether this is going to be yet another movie about the power of family before things start turning sinister. The throbbing pulse of a score that feels more like a mix between a high-tension thriller and a human heartbeat but then gets replaced with a ditty by Jackson C. Frank is entirely satisfying. Things get some heat when we recognize that everything is about to fall apart and it’s going to become about a woman who is on the run with nothing more to gain than by staying alive. Without question, one of the more tightly edited and engaging trailers this year. The use of pull-quotes, praise worthy reviews, it does everything it can to herald this as a movie worthy of your investment; it certainly has mine, with, or without, Patrick Dempsey.

Chorus Trailer

There’s something psychologically exquisite about the ways in which we try and depict abject sadness, despondency.

Yes, the kind of movie that’s being advertised here is one that is probably not going to warrant having a permanent place on your shelf next to your steelbook of Guardians of the Galaxy but there’s something that’s undeniable in how we enter this movie’s orbit. In a landscape littered with obfuscation and misdirection, this trailer gives you enough to stick in your maw and chew on. Director François Delisle’s movie is about loss, the dissolution of a relationship and what happens when that dissolution gets picked open again like a scar that’s all but healed. There is nothing in this trailer but misery and sadness. On an index, this would be at the spectrum just above committing seppuku. Which is to say, this one knows what it is and just lets us soak in its ability to connect with us as human beings about the frailties of  human emotion and what a tragic moment can do to people. It, no question, has a tough road ahead of it as it tries to sell us on the notion of why you would want to pay money to be completely bummed out and spiritually devastated but there’s something about wanting to understand these people, this moment, to actually feel the power of a person’s ability to act and embody these things in a way that feels real. It’s that realness that comes across so well and it’s the reason why I can’t wait to be thoroughly depressed after watching it.

H. Trailer

In this case, your guess is as good as mine.

And, that’s not such a bad thing. Directors Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia have really put me in a bind in trying to decipher what in the hell is happening here. To be honest, I don’t have a clue but that’s kind of the point, I think. To try and deconstruct the moments in this thing would be almost as useless as trying to form a cogent stance on what the movie is even about. It’s like you’re sleepwalking through a dream that doesn’t make sense and the harder you try and ascribe meaning to it the more it crumbles between your fingers. No matter, though, as the ride is worth it all on its own as we drift in and out of moments that are a little nutty, wonderfully shot, and tries as hard as it can to fully smack you in the face with its sensibility.

Meru Trailer

The views alone tell you what you’re stepping into.

Yes, directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi should be well-versed in the landscape littered with the kinds of films that this emulates. From Touching the Void, K2, and others in its class, there is no shortage of documentaries that want to try and communicate what it’s like to get up and down a mountain. What makes this so interesting is how it positions its story. There’s a nice combination of small moments and talking head interviews without either ever being too overbearing. It doesn’t try and make things blown out or gin up the treacherousness of what it means to take on this particular piece of rock but it goes right toward the reasons why listening to this yarn would be an engaging use of your time. Again, it’s not wildly sexy but when you have people who mount expeditions like this and take on mother nature in all her randomness there’s an element of danger and that’s enough to get a 1st class wuss like me to sign on.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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