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 get out jail but are on the fast track to recidivism, travel to New Zealand for something other than Hobbits, learn about some influential college radio DJs, have a really bad one night stand, and find some peace and joy in a week littered with misery and despair.

Dixieland Trailer

No baggage.

What I just love about director Hank Bedford’s quaint, first feature here is how there is nothing to bring into it and no mystery to solve by trying to figure out which actor is most recognizable so we know who to pay attention to the most. Like Shotgun Stories, there’s a simple narrative to understand but that’s where the real intensity begins. It’s a drama that seems more rooted in a real existence of people who have lived through moments and are defined by the things that have come before while trying to forge a new future. I couldn’t tell you why I was so taken with the content in this trailer but the more you stick through and consume the meat that are these people’s stories you can’t help but feel an eerie sense of dread that by the end of all of this we’re not going to end up in a happy place. Sometimes, that’s just the way life is and we’re all better off because of it. Profound.

Mahana Trailer

Dramz.

Before you go on to something else, here are two real good reasons to stick through this one:

1. Director Lee Tamahori long ago directed The Edge, a screenplay helped along by David Mamet. Yes, he went on to do the turrible Next and the even turribler xXx: State of the Union but we forgive and forget.

2. Screenplay is by John Collee, who did solid work on Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

While what we get is more of a family drama and could end up fizzling like Australia I think there’s something genuine here is a sweet, sweeping drama about a family that is both poignant and wildly understandable even though it’s light on the details. It’s worth keeping track of, if nothing else.

Boy and the World Trailer

Man, I just needed this.

After figuring out that Rome isn’t burning, America is, and pondering whether having some kind of hope about what the future might hold for us could rest with focusing on positive markers in the slow decline of western civilization, I stumbled upon this. Director Alê Abreu seems to have created something that’s both dazzling in its presentation and heartbreaking in its context. A family torn apart, a war, strife, anger, but, somewhere among it all, a reason to celebrate life with nary a word spoken. It may facetious to say it’s unrealistically positive but there’s positive energy radiating from this trailer; and, if you’re open to it, it can help warm the soul if for a little bit.

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives Trailer

Couldn’t tell you who is who in this.

While I have zero clue what director Bobbito Garcia is going for here I can tell you that’s the mark for any great documentary. I shouldn’t have to come in already knowing all the players in the game and while I know the bigger names, this trailer is dope enough that it holds my attention, fiercely, as it shows me why I need to care at all about what he’s exploring. I’m intrigued yet informed by his narrative and what he chooses to accentuate. While leaning on his more famously known subjects to get a little visual recognition there is still a very strong storytelling element here that helps contextualize why all of this matters. This music matters, these artists matter, and by being elegantly smooth with getting in and getting out of all these moments it’s an incredible trailer that takes you from near zero to working understanding by the time it’s done. Major accomplishment.

Night Owls Trailer

Here’s the problem: there’s a lot of great material being put out into the entertainment ecosystem.

There’s way too many great programming choices for people to make when it comes to binging on the latest hot property being pumped out by Amazon, Netflix, Fox, NBC, whatever. Somewhere, though, I feel small films are getting the shaft as people prioritize their consumption habits. They could internalize and say to themselves “Well, hell, if I need to watch all 10 episodes of Fargo, season 2, I’m going to need 10 hours of time” but somehow we need people to make room for the bottle rocket productions like director Charles Hood has done here with something that seems light, airy and completely worth an hour and a half of your time. What makes this trailer so endearing isn’t its hackneyed classical music that helps us along with the narrative but that, instead of being an eye-roller, it completely enhances the high concept to absurdest levels.  So much so that as things start falling apart like water on toilet paper the nuttiness increases and we’re left to wonder exactly how this will end. Which, +2 to the editors of this one for the treadmill gag at the very last moment. Very physical, violent, and hilarious.

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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