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?

Babycall Trailer

For those diehards who have been waiting for the latest from Pål Sletaune you can stop yer bitchin’ and start your grinnin’.

Honestly, I don’t know who Sletaune is but I do know that Noomi Rapace is in what looks like a taut thriller that could really entertain. The way this trailer sets itself apart from others like it is the way it sets up the premise without giving you much.

We have someone who has intercepted a distressing conversation via baby monitor, and it’s usually here where we get more of the offending incident and that, again, usually carries us through the rest of the preview. What’s unique is that we’re not given anything. We know something bad has happened, and we know it’s happening to someone living in the building with Rapace, but how she’s caught herself up in the hysteria that follows is vague.

We’re not let in on who it is that we’re supposed to focus on as the antagonist and I somehow like that. It’s mysterious but it elevates the panic we feel for Rapace as the cat and mouse game she finds herself wrapped in becomes an exercise in paranoia. It’s not easy to communicate the kind of disorientation this character feels as things start to unravel but it’s so much more satisfying that this trailer keep things close to the chest and create excitement than it is to have the whole thing spoiled just for the sake of a few thrills.

How to Grow a Band Trailer

Opening for Wilco is a pretty admirable accomplishment for a band of relatively recent inception.

The Punch Brothers weren’t really on my radar until I saw this trailer, the latest from documentary filmmaker Mark Meatto, in which Meatto charts the ascension and dynamic of a band of misfit toys. There doesn’t seem to be much to say about a trailer that shows us the kind of thing that, and this the 13 year-old boy in me, really peaked with Madonna’s Truth or Dare but there have been really good entries into this genre that take a more subdued storytelling approach. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, last year’s Talihina Sky are two great entries and this one looks to try and create that same vibe.

While it’s a little more Sky than it is Heart, with the amount of joviality going on, there is nonetheless a story that it looks to fashion based on how it presents its humble beginnings. Literally.

By seeing the quick quote from T Bone Burnett and the Village Voice, right out of the gate, it moves this from casual story of local band done good to a tale of how true creativity can be shaped and formed with the right people. The trailer comes in and out of performance and gives us a real flavor for how you become something so electric while peering into what it does to a person, a group. It goes beyond just people giving us their superficial insights on their music and, instead, opts to detail the dynamics of how you make beautiful music together.

Lovely Molly Trailer

Maybe it’s hope. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

Eduardo Sánchez gave us The Blair Witch Project and even though most of you see this as a movie that has become a punchline in your cinematic oeuvre there is no denying the lightning in a bottle he was able to craft with that movie. The sequel, an genuine abomination if there ever was one, obviously did little to help the legacy of a movie that was made creatively, thoughtfully, and captured the hearts and minds of many who saw it, many of whom believed it was indeed real.

If the found footage genre can be traced back to Blair, certainly the rise of movies like [Rec] are helping it stay fresh. That’s why this trailer just gives me the hope that Sanchez can do something new with the video camera genre that has popped up in the last few years.

It’s certainly the first thing you see right out of the gate as we have our happy couple getting the home of their dreams. Played out as that is and dumb as it is to have the same couple detailing their joy with a camcorder at the ready, if you can get beyond that, you are given the hints of what’s to come.

I like that what we’re given aren’t special effects but an insight into the low-to-the-ground nature of the project. Torture porn is out, being creative with thrilling audiences with lighting and subtle spookiness, that’s where this movie is going to win if it’s any good. The trailer reinforces the story that envelops it and it has enough restraint to not give us any money shots to indulge in. The buildup of whether this woman is nuts or if there is something that is really trying to bump her in the night is a good approach to take and the mix of night vision, camcorder, and professionally shot footage is nicely mixed here.

I’m hopeful, I am.

Happily Never After Trailer

Jamie Heinrich is able to convey creepiness real well.

What I liked about this trailer is that you don’t feel comfortable with our protagonist. He feels like a perv and we’re not exactly dispelled of that notion throughout the opening sequence. It turns from uncomfortable to downright disgust as you see this guy move from prey to prey. It’s effective in executing on a storytelling level of how do you tell an audience everything they need to know without having to spell it out for them? This is how you do it.

By reducing this movie to is essence, honestly there isn’t a wasted word in here, you have a trailer that sets into motion that what you have is a guy who is a borderline sexual predator connecting with a son he never knew he had, who has a girlfriend that the dad ultimately takes an interest in.

The music that sweeps in to carry us from moment to moment, the trailer cutting off any more dialogue, is some of the most effective use of letting the power of images and the notes that carry them all away that I have seen this year. The shift in tempo and style, the cinematography coming in to define moments of ecstasy and humiliation, is brilliantly executed here as it meshes so well. I may not know what ultimately is happening here but it absolutely is like seeing a crime happening before your eyes in that it’s horrific and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

How it ends just puts a bow on this entire trailer in a way that just communicates just how depraved this guy is and I am positive that even though there isn’t any resolution that we’re let in on, the movie is going to live or die based on how this father is dispatched after he’s found out for what he is.

Street Dance 2: 3D Trailer

I’ll see your Step Up Revolution trailer, Russ, and raise you this visual wankfest of people doing the exact same thing, ‘cept these kids are poppin’ and lockin’ across the pond.

Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini, two luminaries of cinematic wonderment, are back again for the chance to move your hips and turn your brains into the consistency of a cherry Slurpee. Not that’s a bad thing, mind you, if you happen to keep a safe enough distance from it like you would your microwave but there’s an easy sell here: young people, modern music that speaks to that demo, and just enough of a story that it’s elevated just beyond a long form music video.

It would be a simple thing, tearing this thing down just to make fun of it and point a finger or two, but since this industry isn’t based on charity the marketing materials here know exactly who needs to see this movie and the messaging is appropriately enough targeted.

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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