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?

I’m interrupting this normally scheduled column so I can talk ever so briefly about a project I’m not only excited about but only discovered earlier this week. .

What you see above is the pitch by filmmaker Emma Coats. Emma currently works as a story artist at Pixar, along with her co-director and writer Shion Takeuchi who also works at Pixar as a story artist, before that working on the blisteringly funny Regular Show, and the two of them need your support. Support, in this case, meaning your wallet. Their Kickstarter page is stacked with the kind of talent that any number of individuals in the know would be jealous of but it’s the pitch that got me.

Kickstarter trailers have been featured here a few times before but this one called for a little extra wattage with the Klieg light. It perfectly crystallizes that intersection between hopeful fantasy, storyboards, hat in hand humbleness, and the sincerity of someone who made me plunk ten dollars down to help get them to the finish line of full funding. I figure that they’re the ones running the race and I’m just the guy holding out a cup of Gatorade with plastic gloves, getting them to someone else who can hopefully get them to the end. I’m happy with that. I’m stuck in a suburb of Phoenix YET I am able to proactively help a film that needs average people with average pockets to help. Plus, there are goodies to be had for those who kick in and you’re darn tootin’ that I am looking forward to my digital download when/if this gets made.

I don’t normally get thoroughly jazzed about wanting some strangers to succeed but when you love movies and the director is making their best plea about why this one is special to them (my eight year-old deserves more protagonists like this, so that got me too) it’s the easiest thing in the world to help pass it forward. I realize it might not be your particular cup of Sanka but knowing how little I was able to fiscally contribute I figured this would be the next best thing in the hopes someone else might want to take that next hydration station.

It’s inspiring to see filmmaking when it’s at its most raw and fragile state so here’s to hoping this is a movie you can be proud of donating to and cheers to a system that is bringing people closer to the creative process. Regardless of its goodness, badness, or anything in between there is enough moaning from audiences about the kinds of films out there today and this is just one I figured I thought could help change the tempo a little bit.

Littlerock Trailer

It’s always nice to see films like this nestled among the trailers for movies that cost 200x more.

Director Mike Ott has shaped something here that reminds me of Willy Wonka. Right before Gene Wilder launches into “Pure Imagination” he says to hold your breath, count to three. That’s what’s happening here. The trailer wants you to let the moment just…be.

It’s not false in its presentation of a story that’s going to build up to something that it’s not, it really is going to be as it begins. And that’s something worth talking about as a movie that wants to suppose of what it would be like for Japanese tourists, most likely urban dwellers themselves, to be plopped smack down in a rural dystopia would look exactly like this.

The land would look alien, odd, and would put them in a kind of state of anomie that we see here. It’s a travelogue that has no real delight in taking in the strange sounds and sights of the U.S. of A but, rather, it’s a thing to look at askew.

While there are a few moments of odd fumbling between our lead protagonist woman and the American boy who is enamored with a lady who doesn’t speak the language (but she does speak the international language of love, am I right fellas? Right?) the trailer, overall, has a delightful pace that is brisk but calm. It’s soothing almost to hear how these two from another country just feel adrift in this expansive land of ours. Thinking about this trailer all week bumped its placement down on the list all the way to lead-off because I kept coming back to this trailer for the sole reason that its honesty permeates the run time. Being lost in a country like ours is quite a real possibility when you consider the effects of fantasy colliding with reality.

Can’t wait to see if the movie can deliver on what’s here.


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A Lonely Place To Die Trailer

Julian Gilbey knows something.

Whether Gilbey knows I have a penchant for Cliffhanger or Behind Enemy Lines whenever those dreadful films are on basic cable and I’m drawn in like a moth to a bug zapper or it’s the strange transition for a couple of people who ricochet down the face of a mountain only to have one of them taunt the other one, not taking into account even for a second that these fictional people could have been killed, he knows I’m into cheese like this.

Honestly, the film plays out pretty close to the Stallone and Wilson classics. Just replace big bag of money with a small child and then ethic stereotyped sniper with a welsh looking sniper who is just taking everything out from five hundred yards (mountain climbers, cops, coffee cups, you name it), and you have my undivided attention. The only real big name here is, well, no one but what it lacks in star power you get back in foot races as these bumbling kids are running around a forest trying to escape with a kidnapped kid, ostensibly up a very high mountain hence the film’s title. Clever.

The montage of people catching lead, climbers falling off the face of a steep edifice, the slo-mo brooding of the killers looking all steely and cool, it all adds up to one movie I can’t wait to saddle up to once it hits the video market as there is no possible way this could be misconstrued as a viable commercial enticement to buy a ticket to see it. Free, on television? That’s what this is worth, maybe it might be solid enough to play alongside Gene Hackman and that guy from Cool Runnings who plays a really good badass. (HeyUGuys)

Albatross Trailer

Director Niall MacCormick looks like he could be making a film that is so much better than Tamara Drewe was. While these two movies appear to share some of the same cheekiness of a girl who is progressively independent and in control of her own sexuality, just wait until about the twenty second mark to get an indication of that, this one feels a little more heavy in a way that is more genuine and less silly.

Heavy not so much in the form of depressing and suicidal but in the realm of teenage angst films there have been some rote ways to sell that to the general public: show images of brooding individuals, show them in hoodies that are pulled over their head, and make sure you show them to be social pariahs. Well, what about an angst ridden teen who also happens to have a little bit of smarts? What’s unique here is that our protagonist has some issues to work out while also getting her learn on.

What I also like about the presentation of this trailer is that it sets things up in a way that defines our female protagonist in terms of her relationship with others rather than being told, through interstitials, what’s afoot here. She’s shown to have attitude, a little bit of rebelliousness.

As well, seeing Sebastian Koch is a delight as the older father of the girl who finds the dark, brooding attitude of our main focus a  a reason to go to the mall to make a spray painted BFFs-4-Life sweatshirts mere seconds after meeting her. But, as is the case for many of these films where there is a shaky home life, ol’ dad is shown getting ready to mount some of that and you can pretty much guess the rest.

While I don’t know why I feel there is something different about what this movie is going to explore there is certainly something to getting adults involved in a story where it really is about the slow death of innocent adolescence. The trailer mixes these themes well and creates a pastiche of multiple storylines with no real discernible resolution.

Que Pena tu boda (F*ck My Wedding) Trailer

Last year, I showcased the trailer for Nicolás López’ feature, F*ck My Life. The movie would go on to become Chile’s highest grossing film last year and Nicolás decided to have another go with the characters he created before he shoots the Eli Roth produced feature, Aftershock, a drama set in the aftermath of Chile’s 2010 earthquake. Not too shabby of a year for the man and here we see exactly why he’s becoming known in circles outside of his country.

The trailer here is just a continuation of the absurdity that was contained in the previous film but I like this so much more if only because things get more complicated. It’s not a prerequisite that you have to obfuscate what you’re ultimately trying to do but our protagonist is going to be someone who we may not want to root for as he’s a bit of an idiot and he’s a little insensitive. I like that in a character at times because he’s going to need to work twice as hard for him to come back if this movie plans on being any good. And we do see this kid giving things a real go but, as is usually the case, our hero is clueless.

The trailer zigs and zags back and forth as we go from one dalliance to another, all the while he’s trying to figure out what in the hell it means when we see a fast food crew performing a synchronized dance routine in the middle of the restaurant where they work and it’s just so strange out of context that it works on some level. It makes no sense whatsoever but I’m all for this kind of weirdness. Comedies have all but become things that employ foul language and absurdest situations that it’s downright exciting to have a story that wants to try and be funny without gross-out humor. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of adolescent behavior on screen but this trailer is more concerned with situational comedy than it is the physicality of some obnoxious stunt involving defecation or fluid exchange of any kind.

Nuclear Family Trailer

This looks like a film that could play quite well on the Syfy channel.

Director Kyle Rankin, who many would know from Project Greenlight, has made a film that is part nuclear holocaust, part serial television drama. What stands out most when you watch the trailer is that everyone has a part to play. You have Ray Wise being his devil in a blue suit bad self, borderline crazy, Corin Nemic (who knows a thing or two about Syfy programming thanks to his part in Mansquito) playing the part of dramatic family man who has to turn inward to find the strength to surge forward in the face of instability, and everyone else who is on the periphery just chewing up scenery left and right.

From the bombastic line delivery to the yelling and screaming and people getting popped in the head with the butts of weapons there is a lot to try and digest here.There is no question, though, that this is something that can find a home on a channel that would look at material like this, what I am assuming to be a story about some people who survive a massive blast for reasons unknown, and know exactly who would best eat it up.

It’s over the top madness and you can count me as someone who adores the chaos, the silliness, and the fact that Wise’s pearly teeth have fully survived an atomic holocaust. There is just no other way to leave the experience of watching this trailer other than being fully on board or completely turned off by its content. Count me as the former as sometimes you can’t have the matte finish of a multimillion dollar production and this is the next best thing.

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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