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 I look to you, our esteemed readers, to say whether a movie starring Tattoo from Fantasy Island and scored by Danny Elfman is worth the effort, we then head down-undah to visit some special kids, stand in awe of a housing project that spawned Candyman and other societal ills, and try not to get shot while standing on the streets of Chicago.

Beyond the Horizon Trailer

I’m looking to you, any of you, to explain this movie to me or let me know if it’s worth my time to see Hervé Villechaize in a twisted fever dream or some rando in blackface.

To wit, director Richard Elfman’s recommendation on this opus of total bizarre:
“Forbidden Zone, the Ultimate Edition is coming shortly to DVD and Blu-ray from my good friends at MVD Entertainment. For the first time ever we include both the original black & white plus the new color version–all in sterling hi-def and state-of-the-art sound mix. There’s a terrific booklet and loads of bonus features (including an utterly insane introduction by some idiot who looks a lot like me). I’m very proud of this best ever Forbidden Zone release! Officially Elfo-recommended!”

Aside from the portion of this that sounds like the kind of gross praise that follows a Ron Popeil-like reveal about how low of a price we can expect to pay for all this entertainment, the brother of the maestro behind Oingo Boingo does have a point. This trailer is lovingly pieced together in a manner that makes this seem like a pastiche of pulp that no self-respecting film enthusiast should go without seeing. I don’t know if I’ll ever see my way to watching this but the trailer is exquisitely trashy and tickles the right kind of receptors on my eyes.

Gayby Baby Trailer

The other side of the issue.

Documentarian Maya Newell is taking an interesting angle on the idea of gay parenting and the debate that swirls around it. Somewhere lost in the conversations about whether members of the GLTBQ can legally raise kids on their own are the narratives of the children who are being raised in socially progressive times. No matter that we’re talking to kids who live in OZ, this trailer simply shows the commonalities that any kid would have to endure when they’re trying to define who they are under the guidance of parents of the same sex. It absolutely introduces interesting situational moments that these boys and girls have to navigate but it’s sweet, and it’s endearing, and this trailer superbly treats those we’re introduced to with a level of curiosity and respect that makes this so impactful.

Takin’ Place Trailer

1:40.

A minute and forty seconds into this trailer and you acutely understand how violence works on the street. We’re detached from the sanitized news reports about how inner city youths are turning the streets of our cities into war zones but when a narrative can wrap around those reports they become stories. Personal ones. And this feels like a portrait not of violence but what it’s like to be on the streets of Chicago in this one place, at this one time, and this trailer simply blew me away.

Director Cyrus Dowlatshahi takes a rather unconventional approach to filming, and it feels different than most documentaries, but it’s that ingenuity that makes this such a compelling case as to why this deserves your attention. It demands it because of how effortlessly it moves through moments without musical cues or interstitials that fill in the gaps or telling you what you should be feeling. Very real, very in-the-moment, it feels like we’re peering into people’s lives and it comes off as very personal, and frightening.

70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green Trailer

Boy, do I remember these.

Growing up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, the mere mention of Cabrini Green connoted images of gangbangers, violence, drugs, poverty, anger and any number of inner-city “boogymen” that your ill-informed worldview would ascribe to it. Director Ronit Bezalel’s look at this downtown housing project and what it means for some to be from the projects and how they see race, class, and what happens when it is torn down in the name of progress. The trailer is rather stark, spartan, but its impact is in its message and it’s not diluted. Anyone with even a passing interest in how government programs can affect society ought to find something worthy, or even resonant, that might help inform their own conceptions of how people react when affordable housing finds its way into your own neighborhood. We all have idealized notions of how we would react but this is fascinating, finding out what happens when that reality comes close to home.

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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