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 stop in Greece for a spell to get in touch with a dead dad, watch Dorff on Golf Middle East relations, peek at a swarthy man get back in touch with his inner Fred Astaire, and then try to make sense of a senseless tragedy with a man who will defend himself against charges of mass murder.  

Dead Europe Trailer

For those of you who know the work of director Tony Krawitz this will be an anticipated release. For those who need a little more enticement, or may not know who Krawitz is, the producers of Animal Kingdom and Shame have their fingers in this and so that’s a plus.

The film looks like a complex fever dream. There’s just no way to coherently explain what is going on here other than saying our protagonist seems to be dealing with some very heady personal issues that revolve around his father and, by extension, his family. It’s sticky, trying to unravel what is in play here with regard to this son trying to shake his past in order to understand his present but the dramatic elements presented are really exciting.

Zaytoun Trailer

It’s interesting that director Eran Riklis’ next feature after his moving drama, Lemon Tree, would be a Stephen Dorff vehicle.

It’s not that the content is extraordinary but it’s that Dorff seems to be in a legitimately honest performance for once and not some direct-to-VOD throwaway fluff. The trailer surprises in that the pedigree is quite remarkable. The festivals that it champions, the fact it’s coming from the producer of The King’s Speech, the story of a boy in Beirut who’s just making a few ducats selling some sticks of Wrigley’s, and then we meet Dorff. I don’t want to say it’s jolting but…it’s kind of surprising to see the vampire prince pop into a movie like this.

I’m kind of used to seeing Dorff in his natural habitat of middling fare but this trailer is effective at establishing him as a good lead in a movie that seems thin on actual substance, heavy on the sentimentality and hey-can’t-we-all-get-along, but it’s at least ernest with how it wants to win your heart and mind.

I give them credit for making me want to see a movie that has these elements in them and for at least creating the sense this is a story that has some meaning without being superficial.

Ballroom Dancer Trailer

Hardcore.

Anyone who has spent any time with a ballroom dancer who’s worth the time of day know how excruciatingly serious they take things. With reason, it seems, the people who dedicate their life to this only know the pain and ecstasy of physically working hard and then channeling that into something fluid, poetic.

Directors Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed aren’t doing anything especially mind-blowing but following our tortured protagonist down this “one last time” path which is most likely going to end up badly. Maybe it’s the cynic in me or at the protracted view we get of this guy who seems to be quite emotionally attached to this activity and it comes off, a little bit, as crazy intensity. And not in a good way. Maybe I don’t even want this guy to succeed. I believe the trailer doesn’t make me think he’s a humble cog in the big wheel of life but that it’s quite the opposite.

I’m unconvinced that what we have is an underdog. This is a dog, if I can extend the metaphor, who knows how to hunt and just wants one more kill. I don’t fault him for it and, in fact, am pretty anxious to see if he can regain what was once his.

The Long Island Railroad Massacre: 20 Years Later Trailer

A lot like my reading tastes as of late, I’m just more interested in non-fiction at the moment.

I don’t know what it is about documentaries in my life but if you’re making one it’s a pretty good bet I’ll kick around at least the trailer to see if I can learn something new about something I didn’t know before. This trailer is a winner because not only is it good, the details are what get you.

I almost feel like a bad citizen that I don’t remember much about this. Twenty years ago I was graduating high school (feel free to feel older or younger based on that) and might have been consumed with, well, myself but as the trailer lays it out straight from the beginning. It’s so simplistic but, coupled with the sound effect in the background, the first ten seconds of thing are ominous. Gripping.

The facts of what happened are laid out really well, interweaving file footage with old/new interview footage, and the bizarre twists of what happened after the gunshots stopped just get me more interested. Director Charlie Minn has a good handle on the subject and making this one of those true crime documentaries that will hopefully add some meaningful context to a senseless tragedy. A tragedy that many of us have forgotten about.

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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