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: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

7 Cajas Trailer

These are the moments I live for.

Getting tipped that a movie like this exists is one of those happy perks of being in this line of work. Coming from director Juan Carlos Maneglia, this film feels like one of those tightly packed yarns that will start and end within a very short time. It’s that compression that sometimes can make for the most thrilling stories if done right and I think this trailer shows that it has.

And there really isn’t anything explosive or electrifying about what we see go down but there is an appreciation for what the trailer ought to do and that is to show, not tell, and to only give as much narrative as is absolutely necessary. There’s a kid, he has to deliver something, the delivery is highly desirable by many individuals, and then chaos ensues.

That’s it, cut and dry. So simplistic and, yet, the moments it shares, the bursts of emotion we get, the city where this all goes down, it’s electric. I have no other choice to wonder what the hell is in the box, how the cops are involved and what will happen to everyone. It’s just a small film but the punch it packs because this thing is so slim and tightly edited is just incredible.

Escape Fire Trailer

You show me one person who enjoys the process of  ”Open Enrollment” every year at their workplace in America and I’ll show you a liar.

This is just one of those things where people ought to be incensed, a fire in their belly should be stoked by what they see here, it should be so logical that you shouldn’t have to go into debt in order to get the treatment you need in order to stay a part of this society. The trailer makes no bones about where it falls on this issue and I realize that many will have their own opinions about the veracity of the claims it makes.

One of the things about the trailer is how slick it is. The quick cuts, the obnoxious insertion of a crashing airplane, the animated infographics, Susan Frömke and Matthew Heineman have directed something that is designed to awe and then shock. The thing about a good piece of propaganda is that it ought to be a little more subtle about how it persuades you.

There is nothing subtle about this.

That said, there is still the argument that needs to be heard in here. Healthcare costs for all of us here in the 52 states we all live in are spiraling out of sensible levels (How much are your premiums, your co-pays, your deductible, etc…) and this seems to have some sensible things to say, even if it’s trying to be a little dramatic between the pull quotes it pastes up for us to notice.

Tai Chi O Trailer

Stephen Fung.

I’m not familiar with the man who brought us House of Fury in 2005 and, after watching its trailer, I’m not sure what made someone think he would be perfect for a movie like this but, thankfully, I’m not in charge of these sorts of things because I couldn’t be more giddy.

Knowing it is coming from the gents who made Detective Dee and Shaolin Soccer is just one piece of great marketing that, oddly and disappointingly, is put at the very end of this trailer. The music sets the perfect tone, well until the tortured vocals kick in and it’s honestly a warbled mess anyway, but it’s the visuals that is the big sell here.

I have not one iota or clue what is going on with the story and who the hell cares. It’s the fighting extravaganza that is going to bring all the boys to the yard and it doesn’t disappoint.

Only the Young Trailer

At first, I thought that Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims’ debut feature was a fictional story only to figure out quickly that no way would anyone allow the amount of mumbling to happen in a scripted film as what’s on display here, at times, requires an interpreter.

What is refreshing about a documentary that charts out the lives of skateboarding teens living in Southern California is that it honestly feels more cinematic than it does a rigid sit down type of doc where only the talking heads dominate the action. It’s as if we’re seeing these teens in their element, their natural element, like a National Geographic special, as they roll through their lives of quiet joys and sad lows.

The pull-quotes help buoy this trailer and reinforces that what we’re seeing is something more than some navel gazing adolescents just futzing about town with each other. The mood is constant, doesn’t waver, and the soundtrack is expertly matched with the flow of it all. It’s genteel and carries us through the wicked number of zigs and zags this story takes. It’s obvious that there will be a lot of flux involved with telling the stories of these kids and I’m excited to see who ends up evolving as a result of it all.

The Dinosaur Project Trailer

Sid Bennett, this needs to play on Syfy on a Saturday night. By charging to see this movie it’s just prolonging the inevitable which will be that this flick will die a wilting death because you’re expecting people to give you money to see something so outrageously schlocky.

The effects, the story, it all feels like something derivative that was the result of Jurassic Park’s success and everyone who came after it who wanted to capitalize on its premise of reanimating dead lizards.

The trailer isn’t even funny in a goofy way as it honestly tries to play up the drama which only falls flat when you see it cobbled together with CGI’d pterodactyls and other long since extinct animals that only a computer can render. It’s trying to create drama and tension where there is absolutely none. Even at the low low cost of free on a basic cable channel I would say this advertisement is enough for me to schedule my life around never coming anywhere near this production.

Sushi: The Global Catch Trailer

Mark Hall has touched upon something rather salient.

Hall, the director of this documentary, has made a trailer that does better than most when it comes to alarmist propaganda trailer making. I know that sounds like a slight, and it’s not meant to be, but there’s obviously a position he’s taken about the endangerment of bluefin tuna as it relates to the global consumption of it. People are devouring it more and more, the costs show no sign of decreasing, and the market for it is just increasing every year.

That said, this is a very persuasive trailer. It’s put together quite nicely in the way it presents the facts of how these fish make it to your favorite all-you-can-eat sushi buffet down the street while telling us the true cost of what farming the ocean is costing people in terms of sustainability. It’s not a flashy trailer by any means but watching the scenes from fish markets and how these things are true commodities that sell for tens of thousands of dollars (a good bluefin will go for over $100,000) is in direct opposition for the few bucks you and I are used to paying for a few spicy tuna rolls. It’s context that helps make this piece of promotional material worth watching and internalizing.

This year had the undeniably good  Jiro Dreams of Sushi and this looks like a wonderful companion piece to it.

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

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

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