This Week In Trailers: The Ardennes, This Was The XFL, The Family, Thank You Del: The Story of the Del Close Marathon, State Of Play
Posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2016 by Christopher Stipp
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 join a cult, marvel at the spectacle that was the XFL, consume Belgium’s gritty waffle of an Oscar contender, get excited by the OTHER Peter Berg project, and get inspired by the lord of the Upright Citizens Brigade and many comedians across this land.
The Ardennes Trailer
Just four months ago I was ogling this movie as a change of pace. Director Robin Pront made something worthy enough to have this be Belgium’s Academy Award’s official submission and you can see why it looks like a charmer. It’s a little nuts, pretty filthy looking, and it’s dark. Somehow this transcends the usual crime/pulp fare by being slightly mysterious and keeping things moving. The trailer doesn’t want to give up its dead so fast and that’s for the best because if you want to get an audience clamoring you’ve got to mete out the violence in short, quick bursts.
This Was The XFL Trailer
Son of Dick.
One of the things that made this unholy alliance of a sports meritocracy and a business built on burning and churning human beings who didn’t mind being used as fictitious storylines so damn compelling was that it was doomed from the beginning. Director Charlie Ebersol is making his directorial feature debut with a thunderous expose on what was white hot for the briefest of moments in our pop culture history. The trailer leans heavily on footage from that time and spends exactly zero seconds getting anyone who could talk reflectively on the subject. I have no doubt the actual film will dissect what went wrong and when but, for right now, this is all about getting butts in seats and it works.
The Family Trailer
There are some stories that intrigue and pique my curiosity and there isn’t a genre quite like this that get me going from jump. Director Rosie Jones has an uphill walk with her narrative as we’re talking about this very small cult from Australia. Right there it ought to be difficult to get anyone outside of those who were aware of this to be engaged but the trailer immediately establishes some broad narrative strokes to prime the curiosity pump. What follows after that is the establishment of its festival pedigree and very compelling story that not just focuses on the cult but those who were caught in its insanity wake.
State Of Play Trailer
I’m passing on Patriot’s Day.
Look, it may be a genuinely great movie but beyond the “ripped from the headlines” look and feel, the effort isn’t resonating with me. What is catching some heat with me, though, is director Peter Berg’s return to HBO as executive producer to look at sports. The amazingly gripping first installment of State Of Play looked at kids, sports, and their parents. The narrative was a familiar one in this culture of reality TV where boorish, ginned up parents are everywhere you turn but the stories here had weight because it wasn’t interested in parents behaving badly, it was interested in showing parents who were really into their kids’ interests as athletes. The series here looks to continue to take a look at sports as a cultural institution and how that’s filtered through the people who inhabit that society. It appears he’s going international and there’s no other language that seems to be understood more than the lingua franca of sport.
Thank You Del: The Story of the Del Close Marathon Trailer
To that end, director Todd G. Bieber has amassed an impressive collection of interview and reflections on a man who is credited by many for ushering in modern improvisational theater. The trailer is notable not only for its ample use of famous talking heads who extol the virtuousness of the now deceased paragon of comedic professorship. It’s hard to explain a joke or explain why some things are funny but this trailer is good in trying to say how this one man helped shape the very humans, institutions that used his teachings to give us some of the best names in comedy today.
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:
- Blade Runner 2049 Trailer – Awesome, lots of Ryan Gosling walking in a coat.
- Patriots Day Trailer – Sorry, all I see is a good documentary wrapped in a movie that seems full of bombast and melodrama.
- Rock Dog Trailer – Belongs in a kids cut-out bin next to the register at the local Dollar Tree.
- A Cure for Wellness Trailer – Whaaa?
- War on Everyone Trailer – Would love it if this is actually was as nuts as it looks.
- Riverdale Trailer – 16 year-old girls, rejoice! We just found your new jam.
- Travelers Trailer – I’m sorry, what’s this about?
- The Lost City of Z Trailer – Hmmm…No thanks.