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’re stopping in Ireland to find out what Richard done did, what Denny Gordon from Blind Date and Brian Cox have in common, contemplating death in the Grand Canyon, and one reason why dumb Americans keep our streak of idiocy alive and well. 

The Revisionaries Trailer

Are we that spineless and stupid as a collective that we’ll allow this kind of idiocy in our country?

Director Scott Thurman has made a trailer that has jolted me like spurs dug into the backside of a horse. It should remind any college age student who had the grievous misfortune to attend a college in a state where, if you took a biology class, they were required to bring up intelligent design. Snickering aside as the professor spent all of ten seconds on it, this trailer ought to evoke something in you to remind everyone why they even had to spend ten seconds on it in the first place.

The way we enter this subject is so simplistic that it ought to be an example by which others should follow. It’s like beats that are spaced just enough between each other: textbook racket, Texas, sway, oversight, editing, insertion, Don McLeroy. McLeroy is allowed to be the gem of this thing by just talking about his views on dinosaurs, the ark, and general education of children. I realize that depending on the stage you’re at in life will determine how you react to the content but if you’re a fan of teachers and the role they play in the lives of, well, everyone then this should stoke a little bit of outrage.

This gets to the heart of what it is to be a young student in this country, as other first world countries do doughnuts around our educational systems, and that’s what makes this such an easy sell.

What Richard Did Trailer

I have no idea what Dick did.

What director Lenny Abrahamson’s film seems to entice you with is a mysterious setup that doesn’t ever reveal itself about what this kid actually did, although it seems to ultimately deal with the untimely death of someone close to him and circle of friends. Beyond that, nothing. Not a clue. However, it works in this trailer’s favor because it doesn’t ever give up the ghost, as it were.

It slowly and dramatically pulls you into the world of this young kid who is like any other horned-up teen who is ready to throw down with any alpha who comes his way. Thing is, though, there isn’t a really clear nexus point where a situation goes south. Sure, we have hints of a night of drunken revelry and there’s a smattering of conflict between some of the players but there isn’t one defining moment this trailer points to as the real reason we go from hopeful to hopeless.

People are crying, someone’s dead, no one “remembers” anything, the yelling kicks in, accusations are made, press quotes herald this as the second coming, and it deliciously puts us all at arm’s length. There’s something about these kinds of trailers that have the ability to stonewall and feel like they can entice you with the mystery. It’s a lost art to keep information at a minimum and still dazzle you with the story crumbs it wants to toss you. What makes this so unique is that, yes, we do want to know what Richard did.

Blumenthal Trailer

Look, I’ll get to Brian Cox. In a minute. However, this movie has THE Denny Gordon in it. The limo guy? The guy who shaped everything about what corporate America was all about for an impressionable young kid of 12? Well, you might not get a kick out of seeing Denny back in the swing of things, NOR seeing the visage of Neal Page’s wife so close to Thanksgiving, but there’s some real talent here.

It’s an interesting tale about coming to terms with life but it’s told with intersecting narratives that appear to crisscross one another. Apart from this being a Kickstarter campaign that actually PRODUCED something (I’m still waiting for my Pebble watch) there is no denying the indie spirit here. It doesn’t seem commercial enough to warrant thinking that this could be the next Bridesmaids but that’s OK, there’s a place for mass market comedy and there’s a place for films that want to delve into the minutiae of people getting into old age. To explore the nooks and crannies of the recriminations of your life, that’s just not done a lot anymore on screen, so this trailer is great in how it ties the trials and tribulations of a young man with the despair some of the older folk are dealing with as they push though their own issues.

It’s looking to give you a lot of information though a tiny window but Brian Cox is given such a long intro that it’s almost boggling to try and tie everything that comes after to it. But, it does. The stories of everyone we meet zig and zag but it all works and is cohesive. You get where people are coming from and it simply tells its story by letting the characters do it for you. It’s refreshing when interstitials are put aside to allow a more natural approach and this one got it right.

Last of the Great Unknown Trailer

“There was a chute, a steep slope of loose rock that acted as a funnel into the abyss.”

As I read about an accomplished hiker finding herself slipping down what basically amounted to a dirt funnel, and to her death, into the Grand Canyon I was reminded about my own exploits down into the belly of this deep hole. The Grand Canyon really is the ultimate playground for anyone who wants to enjoy nature’s handiwork, and this trailer embodies something special that you don’t see or hear a lot of about as it concerns this deep gash into the earth.

Director Dan Ransom looks to have made a narrative that takes a layperson’s view of the canyon as it concerns being inquisitive about what this canyon hides beyond flat, colored stratas of rock. The fact that, and living in this state for 16+ years you would have thought I would know this, there are fissures where thin waterfalls exist, pools that are deep enough for wading and spirally cut rock that looks like it was crafted by an artisan is pretty gobsmacking. Hitting the 1:15 mark, the hiker who’s questioning whether their footing is stable at all time is eerily spot-on, remembering the hiker whose last moments were filled with crumbling rock and the inability to stop being consumed by this magnificent landmark; the answer to the guy’s rhetorical question is quietly answered with the life the canyon probably took.

Just following these chums as they navigate the canyon’s canyons gives a new perspective on what we think of when we think of what the Grand Canyon is: not just a landmark, but a jungle gym for the adventurous soul. The pounding sun, the desert-like conditions, I’m not sure if this place for the lovers of the outdoors or those who want to push their bodies to the limits. Regardless, this just looks fascinating.

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

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

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