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: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

Trigger Trailer

This trailer feels like a cozy coat of nostalgia.

It’s hard to not bring your mental Samsonite luggage with you when you see trailers. We all try in some way to connect with those we see in the fleeting moments of these things in order to judge whether the investment of time is worth it and it certainly happened here. Opening with actress Tracy Wright, looking slightly worn and a little chilly, I was reminded not of her turn in Me and You and Everyone We Know but it’s comedy nerds who ought to recognize her from The Kids in the Hall sketch entitled simply as “The Affair” as it showed her to be capable of ribald humor and was a memorable moment in that show’s history.

It was so many years ago but it all came rushing back as the music takes the place of any formal narrative structure. There aren’t any title cards, any sentences on the screen to help shape a story, it’s all done with quick visuals and a soundtrack that gets your toes a’ tappin’ and I am into it.

In this montage we not only see Don McKellar but are also introduced to a spunky Molly Parker who starred with Don in the incredible Twitch City that ought to be required viewing for anyone starting on a road of what good comedic television can be like. The action moves too fast to make any decisions on whether this thing is stuffed like a cheesy jalapeño popper with bad acting but I am one to err on the side of history when it comes to talents like director Bruce McDonald, someone has been making solidly enjoyable films in the last few years, to say nothing of the wickedness of Pontypool.

The story at the very least feels fresh as we infer that both Molly and Tracy had a history of making music together, the relationship disintegrating along the way. I am sure that’s where we’re going to get most of the dramatic thrust of what we see happening on the screen but, at the very least, it looks like it will sound good if you’re in to music that feels like it was plucked circa mid-90’s. Think Lush and/or 4AD. There are the tropes of friends who have lost touch, of history that is still there between them, all things we’ve seen before but, again, it makes a great marketing pitch.

I’m more than giddy at the prospect to see how this film plays out and it is my hope that there is something there, the trailer certainly promising that there is.

Idiots and Angels Trailer

I first came upon Nicole Renaud during one of my times at a Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation tour stops. It was for animator Bill Plympton’s Eat which came out in 2001.

Blending the surreal and the mind-numbingly normal has always been a trait that has made Bill one of those special artists who simply knows his craft and is brilliant at it. Renaud, for her part, is an operatic caliber vocalist who manages to wrap Bill’s nine minute short in a delicate beauty even as the world that Plympton creates comes hilariously crashing down upon everyone. She’s back again as she opens Plympton’s newest creation, a feature length film, and it appears she’s providing the same function for the first half of this trailer.

As she performs her delicate solo, leading us into this hyper normal life of a schlub who seems no different than you or I, we see that the normal doesn’t last long as the narrative shows us how this normal guy’s life is blended with the Kafka-esque growth of wings on our everyman. Again, it’s the meshing of the bizarre with the muted color palette which is indicative of Plympton’s style that makes this a must-see.

There are no style points, you understand, with a man like him. Pixar can have all the realistic vibrancy it wants but that doesn’t interest Plympton here as it’s more about the story than it is about faithfulness to nature. And without saying a word, I feel the emotion coming through the trailer. There is some sadness, loss, loneliness, and before you want to take a straight razor and cut your jugular the tone shifts.

Our wing man starts to enjoy the gift of flight as he takes to the skies to moon passengers on a commercial flight, dive-bombs little old ladies to snatch their purses, gets shot, and tries everything he can to remove his wings in a fashion far more interesting than how it all went down for Angel in X3.

The trailer absolutely has a light and a dark but that’s one of the things that make it such an interesting proposition as a viewer. You have the ability to be pulled emotionally to one side and to the other in a manner not normally found in contemporary animation. This trailer promises that it will do that and I am one to believe it.

Picture Me Trailer

This doesn’t happen too often.

Usually with a trailer that’s a documentary I am being led into a world I didn’t know existed seconds before watching it and, for the most part, I’m at least better informed with regard to the idea being presented. I think in this case, however, I get indignant.

I found myself growing increasingly annoyed at our subject Sara Ziff, a supermodel who gallivants and cavorts all over the world, co-directing this film alongside the movie’s other co-director, Ole Schell. The case it is trying to make for itself, fundamentally, is that this woman’s life is a hurried maelstrom of international travel, jam packed schedules, partying, obstinate photographers, and big money. At one point we see the girl show the camera a check for $80,473.15. Now, I don’t know if this is her annual salary (I think not) or if this is for some kind of shoot she was on (most likely) but I find my sympathy waning when she starts bawling about how hard this life is on her. She makes it real difficult for me to even care one iota, actually.

Even at the outset I’m a little suspicious at the “award” it touts in the opening sequence. It was touting its “Best Fashion Film” kudos. Huh? What was it up against, those Michael Jordan Hanes commercials where he’s rocking that Hitler mustache? Never minding that, though, we begin to know Sara though her narration. She addresses the camera to talk about her latest billboard campaign, to show us how scintillating she looks in print ads, how glorious she looks on magazine covers, and it’s all behind an awful soundtrack that exists somewhere between pop punk and experimental eurotrash.

Cue Sarah beaming over the 80k check she receives as she flashes it to the camera. Pop in dad to talk about how awesome it is that his baby girl is bringing home thousands upon thousands of dollars for the shoots she goes on. Get more shots in of Sarah dancing, getting her picture taken, strutting down a runway looking all “meh” with her pouty supermodel allure, and that’s about when I lose it.

Sarah starts talking about her tortured life, how the big paychecks are “carrots” that are dangled in front of her, and whether what she does is any different than stripping? I’m incensed that this woman would try and make her 1st world problem something worth listening to when people are slugging it out trying to make half of what she makes in one week their entire year. Further, the fact that she’s a MODEL, and is unable to pick up a Webster’s and look up the definition of one, somehow is lost on a woman who says people just see her as this figure, a thing to be put into different positions.

I’m sure she made more money in the two minutes I lost watching this than I made all last month.

Night Of The Demons Trailer

Popcorn horror like this makes the best pitch for your cash when it just drops the pretense and makes a shameless grab for your wallet.

There is something about the economics of movie-going. I would assert that a film that wants you to spend upwards of $15-$20 a pop to see its 3-D greatness has to be a lot more savvy with the way it presents itself than would a film that’s going straight to DVD. This is a film that’s been knocking around film festivals for a little while now but here’s the proper trailer that’s asking you to consider whether this would be a good investment of your time but, more importantly, at the very least, your rental money. It’s a low bar but judging from what is here, it absolutely is. The trailer is about as schlocky as an 80’s era horror film but it’s edited in such a way that there’s no denying this is going to be pure entertainment.

That said, however, whoever was in charge of editing the music in this needs to be hogtied and dragged behind a Vespa for a half block. Bad notes aside, I was attracted to this trailer’s insistence to just get right down to it. You get a whiff of some underage promiscuity, some lesbian action, you know, for the kids, and it’s hitting all the right notes. Edward Furlong’s voice still sounds like he’s in a perpetual state of prepubescence and his look here is unflattering as it shows him to be a doughy sidekick who cracks wise but doesn’t do much else. What I like, though, is this movie’s actual monsters. The effects look practical and fairly thrilling as the direction of this movie looks like it was done circa 1986. I like it.

Also, you’ve got to respect the pervy sensibilities of the people who cobbled this trailer together. With enough bare boobage to persuade any young man with a pulse to immediately add this to their Netflix queue and enough bad language to snag any other dude who appreciates that sort of thing, this is perhaps the best pitch for a niche film I’ve seen all week.

I, for one, am more than happy to slide this movie into my viewing rotation if only to see how far off the actual film is to a trailer that makes it look like the horror event of the fall.

Bloodrape Trailer

Every so often I get sent a trailer that needs to be seen to be believed.

First of all, do me a small favor and forget dismissing this film out of hand. Believe me, I felt the knee-jerk impulse to savagely deride this thing as garbage but there is a beauty in this thing that I think elevates it to a true artistic endeavor.

I will admit that I have no idea what’s going on, I have even less of a handle on what the narrative is supposed to be but I do know, without question, that the filmmakers are truly possessed. Directors Tucker Bennett and Zach Shipko absolutely have a vision that has been fully realized if this trailer is to be believed and if  the person who sent me this trailer is accurate in saying that that the movie “follows an all-girl, thrash band of vampires and the mayhem that occurs on their tour” then I think there’s some fun to be had in just letting this trailer wash over you.

And you know what? The trailer certainly captures a unique aesthetic in a blisteringly in-your-face fashion that I found myself engaged for the entire forty-nine second run time of this thing.

With images of the occult, questionable production values, drugs, licentiousness, deviancy, depravity, and the just plain weird I can not only guarantee this is the cinematic equivalent of a punk rock show. It certainly will cause people to have a visceral reaction one way or another. With discordant images that have no tether to anything logical I can categorically state this one just reached inside of my self, my being, and rattled my insides like an orangutan hopped up on Pixy Stix.

What would happen if Black Flag and GG Allin made a movie? Bloodrape would be their spawn.

Note 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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