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?

Café de Flore Trailer

Jean-Marc Vallée won an Oscar for The Young Victoria and now he’s back with a movie I can only surmise is a complex depiction of a louse who appears to be in love with the idea of love without any of the responsibility.

What’s so complex about this story is that it seems to be about a man who is living a double life. Myself, I’m not capable of such a thing as it appears that this requires a lot of time and good amount of deceit, none of which I possess, but it’s an interesting topic for discussion here because it doesn’t look like either world is providing much solace for our protagonist.

In fact, I’m not sure of anything with our protagonist as the trailer doesn’t let us in much to his thoughts or emotions. What we are given, though, is the emotional damage he leaves in his wake. It doesn’t look like a particularly delightful or celebratory film that will champion the power of love in a way that Huey Lewis intended, but’s that fine with me. Every now and then there is a need to see the rough underbelly of life and this just seems like a sad foray into the lives of a guy who can’t get it together and is managing to mess the lives up of everyone around him.

No, it’s not a movie that immediately shouts “Watch me now!” in the way that a good summer trailer can evoke but what it does do extraordinarily well, though, is pick your heartstrings ever so gently as we see who is affected by dad’s behavior. I’m not sure if he’s to blame for everything but schadenfreude is at its zenith here and there is no way that I will let this movie go by without me seeing it. Sad, depressing, uplifting, I need a good emotional roller coaster.

Note: And, like a junkie who is coming clean after a roaring weekend just burning half the city down, I have to admit this trailer isn’t fresh. The film is finally cracking the theatrical window but the trailer has been sitting out there waiting to be seen and it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it and this is the first time audiences are really going to be able to see it. So deal. 

Piggy Trailer

Revenge never gets old.

Although we all know what happens in cinematic affairs that work within the parameters of unbridled revenge director Kieron Hawkes looks like he’s taking another stab at a perennial well that so many have gone to before. What’s different, though, here is that the vehicle for that revenge isn’t the bother of a guy who is senselessly murdered by a pack of hooligans, it’s a mildly interested 3rd party.

For reasons we obviously aren’t let in on, it’s like a Twilight Zone episode mashed up with an issue of 100 Bullets and The Crow as this harbinger of destruction takes this emotionally stunned boy and introduces him to a whole new world of payback. Sure, it has all the depth of a kiddie wading pool and it doesn’t look like it has anything to offer beyond a few quality kills and scenes of human annihilation but whoever said these things had to be redeeming?

Whether or not this person exists a la Tyler Durden is one question and, two, more importantly, what will happen when you no longer want to keep going down this road and the other person won’t let you stop? It’s that uncertainty of whether he’ll see things turn on himself that garner the most interest from me but, save that, the movie looks about as filling as a cream puff and I’ve been jonesing for a little sugar for some time.

Kumare Trailer

I’ve absolutely got to see this.

Director Vikram Gandhi looks to have tapped into the zeitgeist of thousands of village idiots who are willingly to blindly grasp on to someone who purports themselves to be in possession of something celestial and I love the idea.

It seems so easy that you could pass yourself off as someone with glorious powers and insight into a spirituality that only you can tap into but this documentary is a commentary on American society and how we’ve latched onto anything promising the key to divinity.

The opening sequence to this trailer is rock solid in the way the premise is set up and how it’s going to execute on that idea. It seems so easy of a plan: impersonate a guru and see what happens to the rubes who believe him. And, of course, the back and forth that begins to happen just fulfills that notion that what we’re going to see is just one person after another making an ass of themselves, believing in the power he purports to possess. However, and this is where the trailer sinks its anchor most effectively in the hearts and minds of anyone who sees it, things turn serious.

In a way, the joke becomes no longer about fooling these individuals but figuring out that these people now think you’re giving them hope and love and things that they’ve long sought after so how to continue the ruse? Merely putting it out there that this is a quandary that will need resolution and that it, perhaps, might topple someone’s emotional well-being, is a gripping left turn you don’t see coming.

To be or not to be, that is a question that will most certainly come with repercussions here and it’s a brilliant way to end things.

Peddlers Trailer

Vasan Bala doesn’t want to be very clear about what his movie is about.

This trailer seems to be composed of telling the stories of a few people who are all living their lives independent of anyone else but, as the movies would have it, are on a collision course with one another. That said, I don’t know what in the hell is going on here. Sure, I read a synopsis but that was about as clear as a backwoods pond during an algae outbreak in the middle of the summer. To wit:

“Bala’s Peddlers has been made using the crowd-sourcing funding technique and has over seven producers and three associate producers. It revolves around a woman on a mission, a man and a drifter. The film follows these three very guarded and scarred people and talks about how childhood experiences shape them into the complex individuals that they are today.”

Ok, I guess that’s fairly straightforward, but what really is appealing about what’s contained in here is the sense that they are separated by a distance. They will have a chance to develop independently of one another until such time they’re all brought together and this is a delight when you consider how many films in that Altman vein are out there and how many we haven’t had as of late. Maybe I’m projecting, and hoping this is one of those kinds of films where we vacillate between people, but since most ambiguous trailers are, in effect, Rorschach tests of their own I’m just hoping this delivers what I’m thinking it’s promising.

Miss Lovely Trailer

Director Ashim Ahluwalia’s film hopefully will make waves when it hits Cannes. Simply based on the trailer, it looks head and shoulders better than some of the fare that’s floating around.

Making a movie about the softcore porno/z-grade horror industry (what a combo) in Mumbai in 1986 doesn’t seem like a winner but this trailer won me over with its raw charm. There is a certain dangerousness that comes across between these two brothers who share a background in making movies but who appear diametrically different on issues concerning decency and modesty.

Using the idea that one brother is hellbent on nastiness while the other has less nefarious ambitions, the action on the screen is a little easier to piece together as we drift in and out of a story that is thick with sibling rivalry, sex, seediness, and the hints that at least one of these brothers might do the right thing in the end.

What that will mean or what that will look like when you have these filmmakers who are singularly focused on making horror porn I haven’t an idea, but the trailer whisks you from one moment to another with just enough information to keep you hungry for more.

It may run longer than your usual fare but with a story that appears to be as engrossing as it is I’m fine with settling in and trying to figure out that when two men enter, which man leave.

Fight Church Trailer

If you do nothing else, go over to director Bryan Storkel’s Kickstarter page and support this independent film. I was a fan of his previous work, Holy Rollers, and this simply looks just as engaging in scope and vision.

The director of this feature Daniel Junge, who won an Academy Award for his short Saving Face, is going about things the right way if the trailer is any indication. It is setting up a juxtaposition that I find irresistible: men of faith who are willing to pummel you in order to spread the word of the Lord. Of course, that’s a reductionist view of the film but when you only have a couple of minutes you have to accentuate what you’ve got and this has got a lot of charisma.

There is an interesting argument that is made here that, wonderfully, isn’t answered for us: Can you be a Christian and still participate in something that on the surface seems like it’s a contradiction of scripture? That question is pushed back and forth throughout the run time of this thing and it’s interesting to see how some would choose to see the world of MMA through the rose colored glasses of the Christian doctrine. It’s a quandary, to be sure, but the trailer is peppy enough that we don’t get mired down in thought exercises; we get little kids and grown men getting their heads kicked in instead.

It’s a fast-paced preview that not only gives you the bread and circuses you are looking for in a movie about men of faith trading their bibles in for a pair of shiny trunks and gloves but it’s also trying to pull in the spiritual side of why they’re going into battle in the first place. While not too complex it’s nonetheless a fascinating looking documentary into the lives of people you wouldn’t ever expect to be entering the ring.

Madea’s Witness Protection

There is something inherently awful about seeing something like this.

It ought to serve not only as a beacon, a roadside sign, warning you that you’re about to enter a world of hackery and poor writing and embarrassing performances (I know, Sir Michael Caine had a nice retort about his work on Jaws: Revenge and the house it helped build) but it’s also a miserable trailer. It’s construction seems that of a work meant to appeal to the broadest audience with the lowest capacity to understand. I get that whole different strokes different folks argument but it breaks my heart to know that this will actually get someone excited. The plot is pretty much given up, the reason why you would want to see more of the film has been completely negated by unleashing a torrent of horrible slapstick, and any hint of a tease as to why you would want to continue this journey further has been snatched away by bad comedy bits.

Yes, it’s called shooting fish in a barrel for a reason.

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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