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 head over to record the wildlife of China, break out the cardboard in Africa, be enamored by the lives of strangers who impersonate the right and famous, power through a midlife meltdown, and upend the rom-com paradigm for little bit.

Shake the Dust Trailer

There’s something epic about the indomitability of the human soul.

The quest to find meaning in life could take on various shapes, many of which taking the form of religion or spirituality, but breakdancing is definitely a new one. Director Adam Sjöberg starts this out in a way that positions this film as yet another documentary about the plight of those who have not had the same rudimentary resources as many of us enjoy. Yet, we don’t spend much time wallowing in this narrative as what this trailer does do is pivot away from the negative and into the positive. It’s just a solidly poised pitch that showcases the lives of our subjects while trying to communicate the value of what this lifestyle affords them from the inside out. The music is dope and it’s fabulously paced.

Born in China Trailer

Here’s the thing: I’ll defend Disney’s way of doing business.

What I see, though, in their marketing smacks of coasting. It’s that cheeseball voiceover, the bombastic and sweeping music in the background, and a liberal use of superlatives in the copy. Yes, this formula works with the right people and the right audience; parents, kids, those people who like their documentaries blander than a lightly toasted piece of Wonder Bread, it’s about as non-threatening or exciting as you get without putting an audience to sleep. That said, it works beautifully as a traditional trailer that’s looking to bring in its core. There’s no sense of foreboding, danger or riff-raffery. It perfectly emulates the Disney brand and how they go to market with their advertising. It would be a thing of wonder if it wasn’t so textbook.

Love at First Fight Trailer

Lots of award love.

Thomas Cailley’s unconventional love story looks to buck the conventional rom-com formula and it appears he’s been awarded handsomely for it. What’s so great about this trailer is how well we’re allowed to get our bearings in this world. We’re not hidden from the fact that people are speaking a different language and, in fact, they embrace it. Too often it’s obfuscated with clever voice overs or uses of action instead of words but we get to know these quirky kids. It uses just the right leverage here to showcase the accolades and the awards it has received and it places them towards the front, again, just doing the right things the right way. By the end, there is simply no way to not feel at least some kind of interest in taking one more lap around the rom-com track.

Just About Famous Trailer

Know thy audience (and market).

Light and airy like a freshly madeleine, directors Jason Kovacsev and Matt Mamula have made a documentary that is coming to outlets like iTunes where it seems perfectly positioned. Without having theatrical ambitions (not that you wouldn’t shy away from the opportunity) this trailer comfortably pitches its story in a way that showcases not only its strange class of characters who make a little scratch impersonating others but lives in the space that made Confessions of a Superhero and Strictly Background such great treats; you’re not breaking new ground, you’re not reporting on genocide in Darfur, but what you are doing is telling an interesting story about some ordinary people. I’m so in.

The Bad Mother Trailer

When last we talked about David-James Fernandes he was dazzling us with 2010’s short, Re-Wire.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have the latest from him and his co-director, Sarah Kapoor. What’s so delightful about this project is how much it focuses on the story than it does with slick production values. There are no crazy filters, lens flares, obtuse angles or anything that would say this is about more show than tell. No, what we get is a straight up story of this one family and this one woman who is wrestling with that transition from being on the back half of life’s journey. It feels genuine and coming from a place of pain and misery when you filter things through the brain and life experience of a parent. Sure, you have your up moments but what about those times when life’s meniscus is telling you all about what you once were and will never be again? This seems to be tapping into that pain and using it positively. Their campaign to get this film finished is going on now right here if you’re so inclined.

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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