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?

American Mary Trailer

There’s this part in Vegas Vacation, yeah, just roll with it for a second, where Clark tells Eddie exactly how much he’s lost in Vegas. The subsequent chortles, shock, laughter, you name it, is how I left watching Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska’s latest creation. Not to be outdone by the gonzo that was Dead Hooker in a Trunk, this one looks to put an even finer polish on a genre pic that better deliver based on the promises it’s making with its trailer.

It’s, honestly, nothing but fun and I think some of that is to due to the fact that it knows exactly what it is and embraces it.

It’s a little rough around its edges, it has a real indie spirit that exudes a pluckiness that you just don’t get to see much nowadays, and the presentation pitches a movie that is part splatter fest, part fetishistic fantasy, and a little bit of that certain something that makes your skin ripple a little bit.

There isn’t much in the way of explanation for why everything is going down the way it does or what we’re supposed to make of our victim who is strapped down to a table with interesting hardware radiating from his face but I do know that it’s just that kind of straight silliness that made Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 such a fun time for me as a kid; you had this twisted dark humor married to a story that was just all sorts of freaky deaky. It’s unsettling but somehow funny and blood go together just as nicely as peanut butter and chocolate. I’m thrilled at the prospect that this could be something you could pop in on a Friday night and have a fun time watching.

Jackpot Trailer

Tangent, sorta: This is the frustrating part of how global distribution’s promise of wider connectivity with makers of films only results in the sounds of crickets as people wait to see what others are enjoying. The director, Magnus Martens, himself talked about how this film was looking for distribution in America, even after it’s made its theatrical debut in Norway before Christmas of last year, and even as the UK and Australia get to check it out next month at their multiplex. I get it, it’s business, but when the film comes available to purchase long before the deal is signed with the ol’ US of A that seems like an imperfect system. That all said, this looks like yet another wickedly sharp entry from Jo Nesbø’s world of crime fiction.

Jo’s last cinematic installment of Headhunters lived up to the hype and this one appears to be on point if the trailer’s any indication of its visceral punch.

What is so thrilling about a movie like this is its promise to be just as enthralling as Headhunters was when it came to figuring out who was going to end up dead by the end. The fact that this trailer put it right out there that the robbery we see committed was all based on a bet is the best way to push things into the open. Without giving up anything we just see how this whole moment is created.

We don’t dwell on the outcome as much as we do on those who inhabit this world. It takes the pressure off to disclose much about the story and puts the focus on the characters who we will all come to know by way of their dastardly deeds. It’s wonderfully composed based on the short snippets of story we’re presented along with the pull quotes which are quite kind and full of praise for a movie that looks like it could get back to the task at hand which is telling a good crime story, a fun one, just like the Coens made.

The thing that really sets this trailer apart is that even though I am willing to bet that the amount of action isn’t anywhere near as representative as what we see here there is still the sense that there is electricity running through the story at every moment. That’s the kind of thing, that’s the kind of hope, I want to have.

Starbuck Trailer

“You have fathered 533 children, 142 of whom wish to know your identity”

It’s movies like this that make me feel good. It’s comfort food for the mind.

I’m not asking to disengage with anything but, like a good Frank Capra joint, it has its heart in the right place and the trailer here positions it as a movie about a schlub trying to make things right in his world while coming to terms with his own maturity after he decides to become a guardian angel of sorts to the various kids he’s sired at a sperm bank. Yeah, it’s silly but director Ken Scott looks to have made something about as preposterous as The Kids Are All Right and we all know how that ended up.

There’s nothing particularly special about the execution of this trailer other than it cuts right to the quick. It’s putting its frenchiness right out in the open, however, we won’t hold that against it, but it’s also getting to the point really fast. The guy dropped a lot of seed, has some kids he’s unaware of, and has a significant other who he’s probably gotten pregnant and is having to deal with that. Aside from that, it appears to be that he’s a bit of a louse who can’t help himself much anyone else.

However, he has a life affirming moment, more on that later on I guess, and starts to act like a silent guardian to many of his offspring. This is the cheeseball part, I get it. Him going out and helping his children without them being much aware is a simple contrivance but it also could be sweet and tender if executed the right way. There’s potential in there, I feel it, and seeing how it’s not going to change anyone’s life or reaffirm some mystical truth about the cosmos I understand the need to not be so effusive here. I still want this to be good, though.

Mental Trailer

P.J. Hogan has made a couple of really good films. Ok, one good film unless you fancy yourself a sadist and think that My Best Friend’s Wedding or Confessions of a Shopaholic are perennial classics that ought to be celebrated in every film lover’s collection
That said, this trailer looks better than Confessions or Best Friend’s and I’m a little thrilled to see Anthony LaPaglia in the saddle front and center alongside Toni Collette, who, I’m not terribly mistaken, represents the first reteaming of Hogan and Collette since Hogan’s true date night classic, 1994′s Muriel’s Wedding. I mean, seriously, even if you didn’t like So I Married an Axe Murderer you have to give it up to LaPaglia and Alan Arkin for making the side story just as humorous as the primary one.
Here, though, the accent is ditched in favor of an Australian one and even though I don’t understand really what the hell is happening with the story at the beginning, if that’s the nanny who goes nuts, or if it’s this Brady Bunch of girls’ mom who goes all nutter, but I get it once Collette on the scene. She’s a bit of an older version of Ms. Doubtfire, teaching life lessons through military style drills, and is almost all attitude. Liev Schreiber pops  up to provide even more comedic relief but I understand this is broad, family sized helpings of mediocrity. As a family man myself I get that it’s important to have these kinds of films out there, and this could genuinely be a wonderfully realized independent vision, but it does have a little blandness going for it.
There are many more like it so the fact remains whether it rises above its designation of family friendly comedy. Not that I would know the answer to the question “Will it be playing in the US at the same time” but it’s more than likely a fact that this movie will be staying down undah’ and getting nowhere near our well polluted shores.

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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