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 down and dirty with a fling, find out why student athletes don’t get a paycheck, feel sorry for a forked tongued brat, get all sci-fi down under and celebrate facial hair.     

Men With Beards Trailer

This is why documentaries were invented.

I don’t know why this seems so fascinating, and weird, and odd, and disturbing, and fun, but it does a solid job in establishing why it needs to be seen. The subject is as old as human beings but the trailer is a fever dream of sight and slo-mo, the likes of which will either put those with facial hair fetishes into a stupor or some other gratified state, while really examining the nature behind why some choose to let their faces be a safe harbor for whiskers. There’s not much more to this than that but when the subject matter is so visual, and there’s a cheekiness to the presentation, there’s no other option left than to enjoy the beauty of cuts we see on parade. For some, this might be downright disgusting when you consider how these guys eat or drink, to say nothing of how funky those tufts of hair get after a long day of living, but this just tickles some kind of receptor in the brain that’s reserved for non-confrontational subject matter that just seeks to entertain and have fun.

Kelly+Victor Trailer

Sensual.

Director Kieran Evans may not have much in the way of name recognition but this is something that feels sexually visceral about the meeting of two people who seem to come together without much in the way of a history or a past or any hang-ups. The trailer blasts us into the meeting of these two people who appear to be more compatible in the bedroom more than anything else. It’s perfect fodder for a trailer to focus on, if only to get the prepubescent vote, and the single pull-quote might have been better utilized in the beginning if only to ballast the rest of what we see. It’s curious that we just get these kids colliding into one another, whether through bodily force or forlorn stares, and we’re not let in on the who, what, when, where, why, and how often. It’s hot and it’s ambiguous.

Schooled: The Price of College Sports Trailer

I don’t know how many people are allowed on the basketball court at any one time. When a football team gets a penalty for having too many people on the field I don’t know what that number is.

There is a deep chasm of basic sports knowledge I know nothing about but I am OK with that. I do realize, though, that the business of college sports is one that is fraught with doublespeak and where student athletes are the ones being used like modern day slaves whose output benefits the colleges and pockets of those who are the highest paid public employees in most every college across this nation: Coaches. This is the kind of documentary that hopefully will drill down into exactly what kind of business this is and, if the trailer is any indication, it will be. Narrated by Sam Rockwell, and directed by Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin, and Jonathan Paley, the trailer, strangely, doesn’t tease Rockwell’s involvement. We get handfuls of interviews from people who lay out the fact that the college sports system has grown more tentacles than an octopus and is a machine that needs to be fed. It eats by consuming sponsorships, scholarships, and funneling every last nickle away from student athletes. Bob Costas, knowledgeable blowhard, is smooth and silky as he matter-of-factly sums up everything needed to know about this issue. It may not be a trailer filled with artistry but sometimes it’s about the facts and letting them speak for themselves.

The Selfish Giant Trailer

This is just heartbreaking.

It’s a story about a lonely kid who only knows how to lash out in order to express himself. Yes, he seems like a right twit who deserves nothing but militaristic discipline and who doesn’t deserve a good friend even though that other kid has all the wherewithal of a dimwitted Lennie brought to life. It’s amazing, though, how we slide into this world filled with anguish and sadness. Our protagonist may be a jerk and that his attempts to make money by stealing copper wire only make him an even bigger weasel but there is a deep sadness here. Is he to blame? Is he to be pitied? Yes, to both. That’s how the trailer is able to balance two scales so well. The way we cut away, the level of foreboding that’s infused into these moments, the shouts of anger, it’s a cacophony of rage. It’s director Clio Barnard’s follow up from the sensational 2011 movie, The Arbor, and this has that same kind of vibe, that sense of place, of realism.

Pale Blue Dot Trailer

Director Aaron Schuppan has skills.

I may not know what in the hell is happening here but this is a great trailer that keeps you at arm’s length for the entire run time. However, you don’t care because a) it’s so beautiful to look at and b) you’re hoping to get some kind of puzzle piece that will explain why this astronaut is where she is, when she is. It’s so mysterious but it’s not ostentatious about not giving you what you want. It strives to establish a mood, a feeling, a sense of place and THAT’S where it excels. Letting us fill in the mental gaps of what could be happening, or why it’s happening, is acceptable here if only because the subject matter is probably going to go down a route that’s not entirely linear. It’s easier to sell an idea, to try and sell people on a world, than it is to get your 30 second elevator pitch out before the trailer finishes. Aaron gets that and accentuates everything else. And it works. Awesomely.

Now I want to see what in the world is going on.

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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