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 get the UK version of Inside Llewyn Davis, literally raise the roof, get weird with Lana Del Rey, catch something worse than the herps with a one night fling, and be entranced by a blacksmith…blacksmithing.

Tropico Trailer

Depending on where you sit on this issue, it was either good news this week to hear about J.D. Salinger’s three recently unpublished stories making their way out from reading rooms or an incredible invasion of the quiet author’s privacy to have these works remain tucked away from view. There is no quibble, though: Salinger’s short game was on point.

Which brings us to this trailer for a short film by director Anthony Mandler and starring Lana Del Rey. The interesting thing about short films or music videos is that the people who make them know how to work in the medium. They are able to create an interesting arc and take the narrative to interesting places. That’s what makes this so interesting. Del Rey’s comments that the short is an amalgam of “Elvis and Jesus and Marilyn and extraterrestrials all in one” elevates this half-hour short film above the fray of your usual Paula Abdul/Keanu Reeves “Rush Rush” videos. While I’ve never, knowingly anyway, heard of Del Rey’s music, with a mix of weird imagery, vague explanation of what’s happening here, and oddball moments, I’m certainly inclined to want to know more than I’m given.

If You Build It Trailer

Geez, I love these kinds of stories.

To focus on the lives of youths, and the people trying to make a positive difference in their lives, you already have the makings for something interesting. Yes, we were all young and awkward and weird at one point in our collective existence but what’s special here is how you can see something genuine. Frustration, aggravation, the sparks of taking kids who wouldn’t otherwise care about this kind of thing finding an interest in it, it’s all here. What’s more, director Patrick Creadon, who brought us the fantastic Wordplay in 2006 about the New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, gives us nothing but meat here. There isn’t one ounce of wasted material and we get exactly why we’re all gathered here. No hyperbole, no fantastic claims about how this will change your life, no obnoxious pull-quotes from Pete Hammond telling us this is the best movie “EVAR” of the year,  just the work that went into conceiving a project and creating the project.

It’s hard to feel uplifted in some way by seeing that things will work out in some regard in the end but it’s even better to know that one of the kids’ lives may have been changed for the better and are on a positive trajectory that otherwise may not have happened if this didn’t come calling.

Cousin Jules Trailer

Dominique Benicheti was one and done.

To hear the story about how documentary filmmaker Dominique Benicheti made his one and only film in 1968 that, in five years time, would be called a masterpiece only to have it never be shown again is amazing. The trailer is an exercise in slow, measured beats that depict what it was like to be a blacksmith in the French countryside. By all accounts this should make you want to shove icepicks under your nails but I’m amazed by this trailer in how well it moves us through these moments of profundity. The pull-quotes are delicately peppered throughout in a way that’s both tasteful and elevates what we’re watching here but it also bolsters the case as to why this aged film deserves at least a couple minutes of your time. I can’t tell you why, exactly, a couple of old people working a farm is so fascinating but, here, it is a thing of beauty.

Contracted Trailer

The hell?

Director Eric England has a nice career in horror ahead of him if his latest is any indication of what he’s capable of. Now, while this trailer doesn’t break any new ground as it pertains to how we get to the idea at hand, that a girl had a one-night-stand with a dude who appears to have infected her with something truly sinister, but it’s how things spiral out of control which will determine how well it resonates with an audience for this kind of material. For me, it’s like The Fly all over again with how this woman’s body starts to betray her as we see more and more of her devolution into something ungodly.

And I love it.

What a savage movie like this needs to do when you want to make a trailer for it is not hide the payoffs. This is Kafka-esque in how this woman breaks down into some other creature and, along with the great pull-quotes, it measuredly gives us the goods while keeping other things out of view. Scratch that itch where we want to see the gross bits, the gore, and the screaming. Leave out the narrative until we see the film, we want our blood.

Inside Llewyn Davis UK Trailer

There might not be a lot of new material in this trailer, and no one needs me to add to the noise about how great this is, but there’s enough to make the case as to why everyone should be shoving people out of the way to see the latest from the Coen brothers.

Personal side note: I’ve literally bought a handful of physical CDs this year and this was one I had to own the moment it was available.

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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