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 catch up with the other Neistat brother, get Hasidic and cheat on our husband, get homeschooled, wonder out loud just who or what in the hell Rooster Teeth is, and spend some time with the cinematic arm of the Nazi Party.

A Space Program Trailer

Look, I don’t ask a lot of you people but if there is a God, or a kind human soul with the smarts to match, will one of you will reach out and send me all the episodes for one of the best shows HBO ever created: 2010’s The Neistat Brothers? 

The Neistat Brothers introduced me to the sensibilities of two incredible filmmakers, Van and Casey Neistat. For reasons I am either too dumb, lazy, ill-informed or otherwise am ignorant about, these brothers don’t combine forces anymore. I am deeply enamored with Casey’s frequent posts on YouTube as he shows himself one of the masters of understanding what makes something compelling and synthesizing his unique perspective into tight packages suitable for embedding. Van, on the other hand, I haven’t a clue whether his storytelling game is still on point but, if this trailer is any indication, he is definitely vying to have one of the most visually interesting entries at this year’s SXSW. The beauty of this really is that you don’t know why things are structured they way they are. NASA being housed in a Winnebago? Why are we on a stage? What in the hell is happening here? This confusion only heightens my interest in this movie as I’m ravenously itching to explore and ponder the cinematic choices made for a film based on an art project. Not only that but the process to internalize and shape some kind of visual narrative over what artist Tom Sachs did with his SPACE PROGRAM: MARS exhibition is going to prove to be a delightful descent into how to make art literally come alive in a way that’s cohesive for a viewing audience but retains the kind of wonderment that his project engendered.

Félix and Meira Trailer

Simply gorgeous.

It’s not often when a trailer can play like a slow, light footed dance but that’s what we have here. Director Maxime Giroux entrenches himself in a Hassidic environment where religion and passion cross in a way that not only feels honest but treats the subject matter as a document of religiosity and infidelity. It’s not completely clear what everyone’s story is but this trailer’s strength is its straightforward narrative. Nothing is intentionally obfuscated or left for us to decide on our own as we get right down to this mother finding some kind of spiritual comfort in a man who is not her husband. The pull-quotes only serve to shore up what is already a sturdily designed piece of marketing that not just promises a story of one woman’s journey to find something she obviously feels is lacking from her life but looks to be a movie that appears to be gorgeously shot and raises serious questions about at what price love? For me, it looks like a wonderful examination of that very thought.

Approaching the Elephant Trailer

This is fascinating.

What director Amanda Wilder has managed to capture in this documentary is something, at its essence, emblematic of what is currently happening in our primary school system. Now, I’m not saying there’s a rash of schools where there essentially are no rules and are being run like Thunderdome but what is happening in a school climate of public school versus private versus charter schools is a mass quantity of people who believe in every fiber of their being that they have the answer of how best to educate the young people of this country. Some believe that public instruction is the way to go while others think that you need to run schools like a corporate entity. Whether one is better able to produce the next luminary of science, or visionary business person, than the other is still up for debate. What this trailer does do, though, is postulate what exactly is happening right now with some people’s attitudes towards educating young children.

Lazer Team Trailer

Who are these people?

I’m seriously not bagging on director Matt Hullum’s film that was developed by folks who appear to be very popular on the Intertubes but I’m seriously, and honestly, asking the question about what is happening here. The narrative seems to be based on gaming to some degree, with a dose of Broken Lizard-like humor, but I genuinely feel like old man Clint Eastwood when I say that I just don’t get the appeal. I usually take the time to point out the critical acclaim a move has received or even how many awards it’s won but, damn, this trailer has over a million views since it debuted less than a week ago and with a joke that’s already stale thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy already doing the heavy lifting on the crotch adjustment gag I’m at a loss to see what’s so alluring to the people of the world who have embraced this.  Look, go forward and prosper, my sci-fi loving peeps, but count me as someone who just doesn’t get it.

Forbidden Films Trailer

There’s something very haunting and soul stirring if you were ever to watch an ISIS propaganda film.

This one happened to be of the one where a human being, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, was set on fire. No matter the context before it, the message it sent was one that crystallized the movement and forever cemented the notion of exactly who these animals are to their core. Documentary filmmaker Felix Moeller, to a lesser degree, is ruminating about the multimedia propaganda of a different set of animals, although they do share a common thirst that cannot be quenched with anything less than the wholesale destruction of a people who do not share their ideologies, which are the Nazis. What struck me about this trailer is how we still have issues regarding whether these productions, look to today’s headlines to see just how little we’ve come, are in any way valid to providing context to a larger discussion about the groups these people affiliate with. It goes beyond artistic merit, surely some slick video of burning a man alive has about zero merit to any rational individual, but it’s a glimpse into the savage thought processes that some individuals were/are compelled to make something tangible with. The arguments on both sides of this debate about whether they do have a place in a decent society that just wants to push forward is a healthy one and the trailer captures that with great authority.

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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