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 see something truly awful, relieve a tragedy, man up and raise our kids, go to college and marvel at the wonderful world of movie making.

Seduced and Abandoned Trailer

When I first came upon director James Toback’s work I was a young pup all of 12 and saw the trailer for The Pick-Up Artist starring a gap-toothed darling, Robert Downey, back when he was rolling solo without the Jr., as he said to a fogged mirror “Did anyone ever tell you that you have the face of a Botticelli and the body of a Degas?” I will admit I was smitten. (BT Dubs, the trailer makes use of The Crystals’ “And Then He Kissed Me” in a way that makes me rethink my thesis about whether Adventures In Babysitting did it better)

In and out Toback has been out of my cinematic life but this looks really meaty and just the right kind of inside baseball. In fact, we come out of the gate with Ryan Gosling setting things up in, perhaps, the easiest way possible by simply stating this is a movie about how movies get funded. Or how they try to get funded. For many in the filmmaking community, this might be something you know already but, for those of us on the fringes, this is interesting. The trailer whisks us from meeting to meeting and gets right to the quick about what money men are interested in and the soft shoe that goes into trying to separate the checkbook from the doubt someone has about a potential partnership. It’s the compromise of vision, it’s how much are you willing to bend your vision, is your vision any good to begin with, but it all comes back to who is wiling to give you what you need in order to make it happen.

At Berkeley Trailer

When we last caught up with filmmaker Frederick Wiseman a couple of years ago we were chatting about his then fascination with a legendary and world renowned strip club. His newest project couldn’t be more different. That said, this is the kind of movie that strays from the usual subject matter we’re used to when it comes to documentaries as of late. It’s not focused on an impending social ill that needs rectifying or explanation, it’s about a state college. A public, state college. It shouldn’t be as interesting as it looks but the trailer is wicked sharp in culling those moments which show you that if you’re in the right place, at the right time, getting out your subject’s way, you can make drama out of anything. And we get that here as we’re given glimpses of a school besieged, as many state colleges are when they’re not focused on the wholesale rape and pillage of student athletes and their athletic departments, and the things that come out of an institution focused on quality education in a climate of dwindling resources. Again, another work from Wiseman that makes you want to soak in this one place at this one time in history.

Hope Trailer

Director Zachary Roberts should get the chance to make this film. One of yet dozens of potential movies that are looking to be crowdfunded on Indiegogo, his reasoning is pretty compelling:

On October 2nd, 2006, my oldest brother Charles Carl Roberts IV, walked into a one-room Amish school house in Nickel Mines, PA, close to where he lived. There he shot and killed five young Amish girls and injured five more. Moments later he took his own life. The question of why will forever be unanswered. 

There is no way that we will drive all instances of senseless acts of madness down to zero but these are the kinds of projects that, hopefully, will get people to understand what might have been amiss, what could have driven someone to do this. Simple case of ill mental health? The trailer itself is a delicate pitch to help fund the remaining portion of the project but there is no denying the visual weight of what we see before us. The sense of place, of people, of this story, of those surrounding the immediate events, it all builds to the context surrounding the request that they’ve earned the right to pitch at us. It’s moving but not maudlin and reaffirms that the documentary, as a medium, may not answer every question but can at least tell a compelling story.

Daddy Don’t Go Trailer

I paid some of my fatherly dues, if not all, last week. I took two of my girls to see Selena Gomez in concert. I’ll give her Spring Breakers but, as a musical performer, she was wretched. It tested all of my parental patience but they had fun and that’s what mattered most. Right?

To that end, directors Emily Abt and Andrew Nam Chul Osborne have documented the lives of four fathers just trying to do the right thing. The trailer wastes no time in establishing why this is a current and present threat to our society. As a cultural touch point we use the notion of the single mother as the paragon of hard working, just-trying-to-make-a-living standard that sometimes forgets that it can be single dads that have to make a go of things too. We see that here in all its frustrating glory. It’s hard to witness that the people most hurt by the irresponsibility of a parent’s actions is the progeny and we glimpse into all of these men’s lives who are now dealing with the blow-back. What we have here is so tender and precious as guys try and create love where there is most certainly chaos. It’s powerfully effective in making its case as to why these four stories deserve your undivided attention. A little over $50,000 has already been raised on its way to 80k and it should cross that mark easily when more people see what’s contained in this trailer.

Gone Dark Trailer

Saw this and just had to share. Who makes films like this and who are they aimed at?

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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