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 go unda da sea, get manly with a Hollywood heavyweight, grow a beard and fight some zombies, wonder what more can be said about Roman Polanski’s “indiscretion”, and have a peek at Satan’s wang.

Milius Trailer

John Milius seems like the kind of guy who you would have over for a BBQ dinner and ask that all his meat be served raw. And you’d do it because he’s just that kind of dude and would probably beat you up just for the fun of it. And you wouldn’t mind, because he’s just that kind of dude.

This trailer oozes machismo and Sam Elliott lays it all out at about the thirty second mark, “He doesn’t write for pussies and he doesn’t write for women.”

Well, OK then.

Filmmakers Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, best known for their work with Kevin Smith, have constructed quite the list of celebrities to talk about this powerhouse of a writer. The reflections of the actors and directors who have worked with the man vary by intensity but all are in agreement about his influence. It’s a quick moving trailer, even though the use of Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” is not only heavy handed it’s borderline annoying, and hits all the right notes as it pertains to establishing why he’s important and what he’s contributed to cinema. We never stay too long with any one talking head and just get the glimpse of this bearded guru of manliness which is perfectly balanced with interesting insights, not just droll talking points.

Post Tenebras Lux Trailer

Carlos Reygadas keeps me wondering.

The latest from this avant-garde filmmaker, I have no idea what in the hell is going on here but, to be honest, I’m fine with not knowing. Too often the lines between commerce and artistic endeavors are blurred to the point where the marriage doesn’t work well. This is show business but there is no denying that there isn’t anything remotely commercial about this trailer. No pull quotes, no actors promoted, nothing. I’m happy with just letting the narrative wash over me because it’s such a strange collection of images.

Kids frolicking on the beach, satan walking down a hallway with his schwantz dangling between his legs, a tree falls in a forest and makes the most wonderful crunching sound, some woman gets a hug, and it starts to thunderstorm. There isn’t any indication whatsoever if this is a romantic comedy or a horror movie that will dispatch every single human being on this earth. The ambiguity would certainly make anyone else turn their nose up and go elsewhere but I’m troubled by this mystery and want to know more.

The Battery Trailer

Whereas Post Tenebras Lux succeeds by not including pull quotes, this one excels by depending heavily on them.

Director Jeremy Gardner has assembled a small cast of dudes that looks to really bring things down a notch with this zombie spectacle. You watch this trailer and you get the following takeaways: beards, booze, bats, headphones, cigarettes, chubbiness and guns. It’s a bit troubling to get through only from the standpoint that there’s a lot of agression coming out of the screen and not much context with regard to why we’re here. Certainly the zombie story isn’t one that needs a lot of context but trying to figure out what has brought these guys together and why it seems that they’re all in need of some sleep and a shave is maddening.

Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out Trailer

Child rapist. In case you need reminding: Roman Polanski raped a child.

Do all the math you want, write it out on an Etch-A-Sketch, trot out all the awards and accolades you like, but this doesn’t change the material facts of what happened so many decades ago and the evasions that have resulted in us, as a community, to bring it up and have the same discussion over and over again. There are those who would love nothing more than to put the almost octogenarian behind bars with the likes of some people like Jerry Sandusky and there are some who are committed to drizzle praise on the film director as if nothing could tarnish the man’s reputation. What’s so riveting about Marina Zenovich’s follow up to her first film on Polanski is that it wants to continue the conversation about what this case means.

Sure, talk about plea agreements and broken promises but this is still a fascinating story that bends and twists with compelling drama. The trailer hits the right notes about where the previous film left off and where this one is going. The content is certainly there and it appears to have no shortage of new individuals who don’t mind giving their two cents on the subject.

Pioneer Trailer

When last I caught up with Aksel Hennie he was fighting for his life in last year’s Headhunters. In contrast, the last time I saw one of director Erik Skjoldbjærg’s films, even though the name doesn’t immediately roll off the tongue, it was 1997′s Insomnia.

A powerhouse of Norwegian talent, this trailer is infused with the kind of creepiness that is truly visceral. It’s claustrophobic and sweaty but it tightly revolves around just a few players. It’s interesting that we aren’t given much to go off on with regard to the narrative but it’s the visuals that are so lush. The cinematography and the threat of violence around every turn is what really helps make this one pop; the two work hand in hand to get you away from being concerned that no one is talking while also doing a very good job in selling you on the idea that this needs to be one you need to see.

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

Nota bene duo: Kickstarter has been much talked about as of late in relation to the millions raised for a little TV show. Good friend of the site, and author extraordinaire Chuck Palahniuk, filmmaker Dennis Widmyer is out to bring his own vision to the screen with co-director and co-writer Kevin Kölsch. Head over to their Kickstarter page to get more info. They’re close to that goal so consider helping out this little horror movie that could. It’s not a beloved franchise starring a pert blonde but this looks so much more visceral. Joy.

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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