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 meditate on the notion of what it means to have an open Internet, get kinky, play some football, befriend some bees, and then faint after seeing our tuition bill for next semester.

The Internet’s Own Boy Trailer

“Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither” – Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know what it will take, to be honest. With those who cried foul over NSA snooping, there still seems to be a faction of the population that essentially shrugs in collective apathy, seeing nothing wrong with this as long as they themselves know they’re not up to no good. Aaron Swartz was a mouthpiece for a generation of those who were raised on the promise of what the Internet could be and saw the dangers of an encroaching government who wanted to exert its control over it. Director Brian Knappenberger, fresh off his last film, We Are Legion, roots around some of the same territory as Legion but this looks far more engaging if only from the standpoint that Swartz was a very visible face who was decrying the muscle that Washington was looking to flex in order to create policies in its favor. The trailer succinctly captures who Aaron was and what was at stake for those who would be affected by the legislation that Aaron saw as a threat to those on the Internet. The details of his suicide obviously point to something more dark and personal but it’s the public work that he championed, not his private struggles, that takes center stage and helps make this a very powerful preview into the life of someone who was gone too soon.

Ivory Tower Trailer

Anyone out there graduating from college in the next few weeks? How much debt has that diploma cost you?

For me, I’m still paying on my college debt and I graduated in 1999. One of the things I know is that no one forced me to go to college. I knew how much I was paying, I knew how much I was borrowing but there is a narrative about the rising cost of education that demands some investigating. Forbes, just last year, had a story that leads off saying that the cost of a college education has outpaced inflation for the last 30 years. For all the money that is being used to create football stadiums, to keep college presidents paid handsomely, to build state of the art and architecturally grandiose structures, how has that translated to an education that has rivaled anything being taught in the rest of the world? The facts don’t quite match up and this trailer does an excellent job of defining what it is that we’re talking about here and why we should all take a harder look at the bottom line of our tuition bills to see where that money is going. Director Andrew Rossi smartly goes from the parents, to examining the institutions themselves, to focusing on the students, and the students who are fed up with the status quo. It follows a very subtle path that bridges all touch points for those who would be most sensitive to what it happening in our educational system.

Burt’s Buzz Trailer

I just felt calm watching this.

Director Jody Shapiro looks to have made a documentary that seems completely fascinating and utterly infused with a sense of good vibes. There is a sense of melancholy about Burt, a sadness almost, but the trailer feels like an old school, peppy VW bug that is being passed by far more modern pieces of automotive machinery. And they could care less. This guy Burt seems just tickled with where he is in life, even though he seems to display only one emotion, and the kind of fawning people make over his presence makes him the epitome of an unlikely celebrity. I’ve never used any of his products but I absolutely know that face and that beard. Why this looks like one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve seen this month baffles me but I do that this trailer is so evenly paced, scored and edited there isn’t any other answer to its request for your time other than to say yes, yes indeed.

We Could Be King Trailer

I *love* these kinds of movies.

Get me in front of a documentary like Medora or Undefeated and you will see someone who is just engaged with the narrative. There is something about the power of kids who are on the cusp of reaching that weird transition from adolescence to young adulthood where you know there are moments that are becoming lifelong memories. In movies like this, you can sense the realness. Director Judd Ehrlich has made me feel that while watching this trailer. You can sense the tension, anger and aggression of the players for this football team who have to come together with their rivals in order to exist. There is enough background given about who these people are but we’re never hit in the face with the sob stories of those who are at the center of the discussion. It’s about pain and perseverance and you can just feel those memories being created with a coach you can hear that cares deeply about these young men. It’s inspiring and I haven’t even seen a single frame.

Love Hotel Trailer

I am utterly fascinated.

Directors Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda decided to look at a very interesting segment of the Japanese culture by focusing on a hotel that caters to the intimate lives of Japanese men and women looking to indulge their erotic, sometimes very tame, needs. I still couldn’t tell you what exactly I should expect from a movie that seems to vacillate between gimps, slaves, bondage, gay love, elder love, and role play. I’m sure there are places in North America that cater to people with varied love interests but as a sheltered midwestern kid, after seeing this trailer, I absolutely need to know more. Even though this almost runs three minutes you would never know it by how well it is all paced and edited. As you try and make out what in the heck is happening it becomes clear that this hotel is doomed for closure. Part voyeuristic fantasy ride and part nostalgic walk down a road that has been well worn, according to the trailer, for centuries there is something unique here that deserves your attention.

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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