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 try and make sense of war, do a little shopping, visit a nudie bar, get kidnapped and left for dead, and then mummify our dead kitty.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s Trailer

Only in Las Vegas do I love walking through the excessively expensive boutique stores found in The Cosmopolitan or The Venetian. I loathe mall shopping but when you’re traipsing through a store like Tom Ford and realize that you can’t even afford a money clip for cash you don’t possess. Director Matthew Miele seems to have captured that feeling with this trailer that both titillates and makes you realize many will never pass through its gilded doors.

It would be so easy to dismiss this as yet another example of the excesses afforded to the elite but, damn, this is a nicely crafted trailer that feels as clean as the bannisters in this store. The narcissism that plagues the fashion industry and makes it a delight to mock with our collective derision is ON DISPLAY in this thing but it does not matter because this is where it belongs. It’s a world unto itself and what we’re given here is a glimpse into one such satellite. By the end of this, even I’m jealous of those who can afford the opulence and personal attention such people get from an exquisite shopping experience. We go from interview snippet to lovely product shot to window treatment to expressions of ecstasy in such a fluid way that you would have thought we were sliding around on silk. It’s just well put together.

With The Great Gatsby around the corner this is one documentary that shows that the high life is still being lived. It’s just not our lives, it’s someone else’s.

The Manor Trailer

I am completely on board with this.

From documentaries like The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia and The Queen of Versailles, there is a lot of mileage to get out of the unique lives of everyday people who are, themselves, extraordinary. Director Shawney Cohen has made a name for himself in digital effects arena so this is a completely unique vision. What is most enjoyable, though, is that this story is coming from Cohen’s examination into his own family. A family that just happens to own a strip joint.

The trailer sucks you into its tractor beam of curiosity from the way it positions the baseline, which is to say that here’s a close knit family who seem rather devout in their religious beliefs but, oh yeah, they run the local nudie bar.

You think it’s going to zig but it really zags when you see that this isn’t just about the business of topless women shaking their breasts, it’s about a family who seems at odds with their lot in life. Doubt, pain, misery, anorexia, hospitalization, the makings of a sad and introspective film are all here.

The Kill Team Trailer 

Just devastating.

There might have been frivolity in the other trailers this week but there is no denying that this is something that seems vital, necessary viewing. A classic example of how you make someone care about something within 30 seconds flat, this trailer doesn’t mess around with title cards or narration or anything else to hurry the story along. It opens with a powerful shot, a man in handcuffs, and the conversation begins from there. Abstractly, and without any context, we get tidbits, puzzle pieces of what’s happening. At around 29 seconds we get this thumping beat and file footage that starts to pull things into focus a little faster.

This is about when it all starts come pouring out. The raw emotion, the Rashomon-like explanation of what it was like out in the theater of war, the things that happened which no one can really explain fully. It works because there’s a truth in what’s being said. Because there’s real people at the center of this strange confluence of events it’s like there’s a mystery that needs solving right before your eyes. It’s a heartbreaking mystery but it’s enough of a reason why you would want to see this film.

In Fear Trailer 

I’m always up for someone getting abducted.

I’m fascinated by director Jeremy Lovering’s manner in which we’re presented with his story. There’s an uncertainty about whether the people we’re following have anything in common other than everything’s about to hit the fan, but it’s exciting. Who is hunting whom, I haven’t an idea, but it’s a bold move to keep things so opaque and not give a lot of narration.

I’m unsure if I’m seeing a killer behind the wheel or there’s something else afoot but, kudos, in keeping all of us at bay with asking more questions than I have answers. I get that there’s a need to keep the details under wraps but this trailer does strike a healthy balance between the known and unknown. Instead, and when that vocal track kicks in, and the music that starts to play, it’s just haunting.

Who will live, who will die, there’s just excitement surrounding the possible demise of both these people. Obviously, the girl is most likely going to be the one left with a heartbeat but this is just as good.

Furever Trailer

Well, alright then.

Director Amy Finkel ought to have turned a camera on the cat obsessed contributors of Reddit. They would have been perfect to talk about how much they love their animals. That said, though, this is good alternative.

It’s endearing and sweet to hear how these pet owners regard their furry friends. There’s some genuine grief on display when we discuss the loss of a pet but then it gets a little weird. From mummification to taxidermy you can see how far pet owners will go to preserve, literally, their memory of a pet. We get the confession from many that this is more about the ones who loved their pet as it is about the animal itself.

We’re not going to change the world upon viewing this documentary but where the trailer excels is in establishing a connection between them and us. They’re not crazy (OK, maybe a couple of them) but they loved something that they can’t let go. Literally. Love will drive you to madness and nowhere does it seem to be true than it does right here. I feel sorry for some of them but they seem to realize that there is something askew with how far they are going to go to preserve the memory of their dead friend. Powerful.

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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