Green Band Trailer

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 pay attention to Elon Musk, are reminded we’re still fighting a war, see what cinematic messages the German population was fed during World War II, try to stay on the straight and narrow after being in trouble with Johnny Law, and die with dignity.

Do You Trust This Computer?

Strap on your tinfoil hats.

Such an effective trailer. Director Chris Paine, who directed the fantastic 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, deserves attention for his work here, but I’m giddier knowing Mark Monroe wrote this. Monroe was the writer behind Icarus, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, The Cove, and oodles of other flat-out great documentaries. While I, too, am concerned about the level of information that is known about me by nameless organizations and the implications for artificial intelligence, I think this trailer starts to veer into conspiracy territory by the end. That said, though, I’m interested enough to give this a chance. 

End Game

Two time Academy Award-winning filmmaker Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman co-direct 40 minutes of what looks like essential viewing. Rob won an Academy Award in 1985 for his documentary The Times of Harvey Milk and then again won it in 1990 for his documentary, that he co-directed with Friedman, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. The themes of death and what it means to lose someone plays heavily in their work, and this appears to be no different. The message is heavy but necessary as countries like America still grapple with talking openly about death and dying.

Hitler’s Hollywood

“Religion is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx

If Marx saw religion as a way to keep a people sedated, then propagandists in Nazi Germany saw cinema as a way to do the same. What director Rüdiger Suchsland is fascinatingly doing with this film is looking at German subtext through its movies during World War II. The chief strategist for this effort, Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, no doubt has his official stamp of approval on everything you see here. It’s frightening to see how connected the themes were of German superiority, of there being honor in dying for the fatherland, in living color as you see here. This one is for anyone interested in film history or even history itself.

The Shadow of ISIS

These are five individual films tied to a common theme: ISIS. The trailer fantastically weaves together five disparate narratives into a cohesive whole. From a story about refugees, to an examination of an all-female fighting unit that is hunting ISIS militants, and even how ISIS has learned how to create slick propaganda to further their message, this trailer is gripping. While the subject matter is not light viewing, this is reporting the world needs.

Sollers Point

First, give it up to the trailer makers for guiding us gently into this narrative. Director Matthew Porterfield is telling a story that is small in scope, but that doesn’t lessen its impact. You have a guy who is done with home detention and needs to find a way to get back to being an upstanding citizen. He appears to have a contentious relationship with Zazie Beetz while also trying to understand his place in his community.  No joke, the final third of this trailer has the best editing I’ve seen or heard this year; everything works in glorious harmony.

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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