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?

Eye Of The Storm Trailer

I like this kind of story, I do.

It’s familiar territory, to be sure, but if there’s someone who I know has the capability of getting to the core of a story like this it’s Geoffrey Rush. There’s just something about his presence and the way he acquits himself through some of the roles he’s in and this looks like a performance worthy enough of some interest simply based on this trailer.

While director Fred Schepisi is probably best known in popular circles for 1987′s Roxanne many would recognize his work on films such as Six Degrees of Separation and A Cry in the Dark (“A dingo ate my baby!” would be a popular refrain for many years following this release) but what’s odd and comforting is that his style doesn’t seem to have changed much over the decades. That’s not an issue, though, for a movie that introduces us to Rush and Judy Davis‘ roles as estranged siblings with a kook of a mother. It’s got a jaunty tone as we meet these weirdos and the cast couldn’t have better been cobbled together when it comes to thespians who understand the latitude you can take with dysfunction.

The trailer takes us over ground we all know as it seems to be a tale of some kids who are looking to see that they’re included in the will and just before you think you know where the silliness is going, the movie takes a hard left and that’s why it’s here. The tone shifts from one of frivolity to one of anguish and sadness, doing it with the kind of smoothness you don’t see much nowadays (usually we see these things sticking with one angle and seeing it to the end) and I was completely amazed by my level of engagement with the material as I’m usually cynical when it comes to manipulative things like this.

It’s elegant and slightly moving but, most importantly, it obfuscates where things are really going or where it will end while promising a family drama that has some true talent at its core.

The Hedgehog Trailer

I would hope by including this trailer the vocal majority of you who say I don’t have a heart will be silenced like a crying child that is snuffed out with a thick pillow wrapped tightly around their face.

Honestly, I like trailers like this at times. It’s like a wave that has to be caught at just the right moment and I guess I was in the mood for something maple syrup sweet. Based on a rather popular novel by French novelist Muriel Barbery, and filmed by first time feature director Mona Achache this trailer has the fuzzy effervescence of a fresh Shasta. It tickles the nose, it’s not asking you to do anything but enjoy it, and it certainly looks appealing enough on its own.

It has the kind of appeal that Amelie did when it first drew me in to see it based on the trailers. There is something to be said for the easy sell and this trailer does it without being too glib or softball-ish about it.

While we do have the tale we all are familiar with, the crotchety old person who finally comes out of their shell and the young kid who manages to do it, there is a certain amount of delight to be had in watching as this is more than just a movie about a woman who finds how to get her swerve on, there’s a dramatic tale about a family that seems to have real trouble at its core.

I’m not sure how the mysterious stranger factors into the blossoming of everyone’s soul but I like that we’re not told much about that or any part of the narrative which would spoil an otherwise enjoyably light tale of youthful ignorance and elder sadness. The little girl here looks cute and impish and while, again, echoing the sentiments of the above trailer, I would be rather loathsome of the overall treacly nature of the content the trailer does well to showcase the performances, not the narrative, as a hook to get you interested. It certainly worked here.

Among Us Trailer

I am haunted by this trailer.

Mix in what seems like a little Heavenly Creatures and then add a dash of Little Children creepiness and you’ve got what feels like is present here.

I’ll assist a little from the IMDB page of the movie:

Polish Ewa works as an Au-pair in a small town in Holland. A sensitive girl, she finds it difficult to live up to her host-parents’ clichéd expectations. When a rape takes place in town, Ewa believes to know the rapist. Having no one to share this knowledge with, it furthers her alienation from the people around her, resulting in her being send [sic] back home.

Now, based on that, watch this trailer and tell me you don’t think something bad is going to happen to that baby. Regardless of my speculation, Dutch filmmaker Marco van Geffen looks to have made a movie that at both times entices you with a story about a lonely girl and the secret that is being held back from not only us but to those surrounding the character as she develops in this trailer. One of the maddening things about Martha Marcy Mae Marlene is that you want this girl to shout out everything that has been done to her but it’s the the performance that keeps that bit held back so extraordinary.

Here we have a trailer that doesn’t want to give up its secrets and it’s much better off because of it. As, what we have here, is something that’s prickly enough where you don’t know exactly what’s transpiring but because the musical cues are so pronounced you just know it’s not going to end well.

We get to know Ewa, the au pair, through small moments and things that hardly constitute proper character development. It goes from hopeful to pitiful in all of thirty seconds but the real treat, if there is such a thing within a movie that is dealing with sexual assault, is how fast we transition from wide-eyed and eager to dark and brooding. Something obviously happens to this girl but the extent of which that we’re finding out useful clues might as well be nonexistent.

This trailer keeps everything  moving and you guessing throughout it but, again, you could try and guess what this all means but it’s so much more interesting to try and figure out who’s the victim here and what will come of it. I do know I want to find out.

Carré Blanc Trailer

Consider this my Kanye West moment wherin I’m snatching away your mic in order to interject something. This logline will help you enjoy the content of the trailer so much more: In the future, society’s weak are killed and used for meat.

So, there’s that.

What director/writer Jean-Baptiste Léonetti seems to have created looks like the kind of dystopian fantasy where corporate life is literally regimented and savage. The satire portion of this trailer is actually the most understandable portion of this trailer as we get the clue early on this is some place that is not like anything that resembles our definition of normal, and why should it when you have people being beaten in Hefty bags with a nightstick, but that’s not what confounds me.

The real mind scrambler is the way in which completely discordant images are stitched together in way that not only makes me want to know more but it just triggers the kind of curiosity I reserve for films that I do want to put on my list of Must Sees. I don’t know what is happening and I certainly can’t explain it here.

This is the kind of trailer you just have to watch and then project your own hopes and desires of what this could possibly be before just giving into what’s before you. Just let it be.

Headhunters Trailer (NSFW)

Bless the Norwegains and their crime stories.

Some are known for their fantastic foodstuffs, others are heralded for their industrial acumen, the Norwegians, as of late, are being known for their ability to write great crime stories. I could care less about this genre, not to say it isn’t a valid and enjoyable one for those who indulge in this kind of storytelling, but this trailer makes me want to pick up novelist Jo Nesbø’s original source material to enjoy the oddity that is a businessman who robs

Director Morten Tyldum and writer Lars Gudmestad, who penned the uber strange 2008′s Fatso, have constructed a movie that’s one of those “It’s not what you think it is” tales that you certainly think it will be when we meet our protagonist. Not knowing anything about the movie, I figured as we opened up on the life and times of this yuppie it was going the way of American Psycho but it doesn’t appear to be too far off. I like that we blast fairly quick into the fact that this guy is an art thief. Wasting no time in establishing this sociopath’s thievery made me stick around for a few beats longer than I usually would and then we see things take a more violent turn.

Honestly, the last minute of this trailer is pure action. Not only did I take a mental step back and rethink my own embargo against the crime novels washing ashore here in record numbers but as you get some people making sexy time, a woman in nothing but her B&P loading a handgun, and a semi ramming into a little Yugo where our protagonist is cuffed and ready to be hauled off to jail, there’s no way you’re not going to end of this trailer.  It’s about here I should also warn you there is man schlong on parade in this trailer. The man attached to this appendage is firing a gun so you’re now on notice that this exists so don’t blame me as you think of what on earth compelled someone to just slip this in as an added bonus.

I can’t tell you why our man Friday is shaving his bloodied head or who in the hell is chasing whom by the end of this but I can say that after giving into its sensibility I am glad I don’t know what’s happening. It makes the end that’s inevitably coming that much more exciting.

Dark Girls Trailer

It’s trailers like this that make you take a moment to just sit on your hands and keep quiet.

Directors D. Channsin Berry and actor Bill Duke appear to have made something interesting dealing with race. It’s not so much the usual, but necessary, vignettes about white versus black political claptrap that has a valid place within art but it’s script here is a bit different. We’re not talking about white versus black, it’s black versus light skinned black.

I’m including this trailer this week because I never had an idea this was an issue within the black community. I’ll cop to being pretty blind when it comes to a lot of things but this is something that I didn’t know existed in an already fractured community where talk of integration is fresh in many people’s mind. We’re talking here of vitamin levels and skin pigmentation and the way that it has marginalized some people even more than they already were.  The first 30 seconds of this trailer are just heartbreaking, smacking you in the face with an issue that many ought to concede that they had no idea existed prior to watching this.

I will say that the slo-mo fade to black trick gets a little repetitive after a few of these stories but it’s the content of these stories that just get to the heart of why we’re here paying attention to this trailer. It tugs at you in that way that makes you feel sad and like any good art ought to do, it just makes you feel something.

You get a little bit of high level information as it pertains to how the issue of light versus dark skinned black people pervades a race like this within our borders and then here comes a guy, a guy who wants to talk about one of the best selling products in the 3rd world: skin lightening cream. It blows my mind that such a product exists and, again, like not knowing that an entire social strata exists out there, this is the kind of thing that gets me going. I’m crazed with wondering at least a dozen question regarding this issue as the trailer faithfully does it job.

I’m scribbling on a notepad with all my nutty questions that this trailer raises and I now need to see the whole thing to understand this corner of the room that’s always existed but never acknowledged until now.

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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