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?

Nitro Circus The Movie 3D Trailer

I honestly don’t care that I’ve seen dumb stunts like this before. I’m vibrating from the anticipation to take it all in.

Directed by Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle this just looks like a movie that is going to speak to that one part of my brain that is still ruled by a reptilian instinct to see things a’ll to’re up and possibly injured for doing some of the dumb things that I find infinitely funny. Nitro Circus is a show I’ll still watch for giggles and tickles, as who wouldn’t want to watch grown men throwing their bare bodies down a rickety slip n’ slide that’s covered in Astroglide and careening down a dangerously dense forest beset by large trees and obstacles surely risking bodily injury for cheap laughs, and but finding out that this film existed launched the film into one of my Must Sees of 2012.

Never minding the stunt at the beginning of the trailer which looks like pure fun on an inner tube sling shot, it’s the free fall off the side of the building that really hooks me. The silence as we see a guy plummet downward, realizing that the Jackass boys would never come close to doing a stunt like this, and seeing him gliding towards terminal velocity is insane. The tell-tale banjo intro that brings it all full circle is a nice touch as is some guy is doing a backward flip on a bike between what I think is two freestanding buildings. It’s this kind of stuff that blows away Knoxville to some degree. While what they do is juvenile and sophomoric, and I love them to death for it, seeing buses get obnoxiously airborne as high and the level of physical danger these guys are in just make not only for great spectating but they sure as hell make for a great lure for anyone like me.

Re:Generation Trailer

I’ve lost touch with what’s considered cool in music.

I admit that I’m not as in touch as I once was with music, my top album of 2011 was Wild Flag’s self titled release, followed by the new Wilco album, peppered by a few solid remixes by Party Ben, but it wasn’t until September or so of this year until I heard about this little man named Skrillex. And after getting schooled on the guy from someone a decade younger than myself, and just like anything you just learn for the first time, you start to hear and see it everywhere. I happened to see that guy’s mug most everywhere I looked and I became incidentally aware of what dubstep encompasses, how it differs form traditional interpretations of your average disc jockey.

Fast forward to this week and I discover the latest from Amir Bar-Lev. For those keeping score at home, Bar-Lev directed the superb documentary The Tillman Story and the delightful My Kid Could Paint That and, curiously, has turned his attention to DJs but I’m pretty thrilled at the prospect of what I see. I don’t know what it is but this trailer just hums with activity. It feels alive with the capturing of a creative art that many don’t understand completely or fully, myself included, but with the musicians involved it looks like it’s taking on the shape of behind-the-scenes peeks into what it takes for an artist to work with other artists. It seems so simplistic and reductionist but the trailer bottles that pop of creativity that only happens when people are focused in on what they’re looking to do.

The music that pounds in the background feels more like fuel as we pound through the many individuals who we’re going to be shadowing but, no matter, because each one looks like an EPK of how to create something. I’m always bothered by musicians who want to lead interviews about their new albums by saying “No joke, this is the best album we’ve ever done” because nine out of ten times, it isn’t, it’s horrible. No one is making any claims of how original their product is, only that they’re out there making it. I respect people far more for taking the risk and letting me decide on my own but it’s downright welcoming to feel like we’re going to see the tools of these Svengalis laid bare before us as the process is what’s captured.

The Wicker Tree Trailer

Robin Hardy has one interesting filmography.

After 1973′s The Wicker Man, he went on to direct only three movies: one thirteen years later in 1986, another one three years after that in 1989 and, now, this movie, 22 years later. He’s the Axl Rose of moviemaking but I’m pretty sure he has an excellent shot to make that time away be worthwhile if this trailer is any indication.

What’s amazing about this preview is that there isn’t a whole lot of plot. There isn’t any plot, to be honest. You have Christopher Lee pontificating in the only way he knows how and then we get a men’s choir singing over what seems to be discordant images of a young couple who are caught up in crazy town and the population just increased by two. The vague way in which we get to how these bumpkins get involved in this situation. There is no mention that these kids are Protestant missionaries, an interesting angle that could have been used here considering the times we’re in, but instead of going that route we’re left to just take in the townies. It’s obviously an odd lot, these people of Tressock, but the trailer has an eerie vibe that does nothing to inform the narrative. While I’m able to piece together that these kids don’t have a chance it’s kind of nice to just let the opposition have the run time here.

It’s interesting that the trailer is built this way as it doesn’t have a lot of star wattage to keep it going, Lee is the only real draw if you’re thinking about credits, but it still manages to be thrilling with the way it intersperses its kudos in between moments that border on the bizarre. However, that’s a good thing as it keeps people on their toes trying to figure out what it is that they’re seeing.

The Theater Bizarre Trailer (NSFW)

The thing about short stories, their inherent attraction, is if you don’t like what’s on the page you only have a few pages between something new. I grew up as a fan of filmmakers like Robert Altman because of the varied storylines and movies like Creepshow and the Twilight Zone: Movie for the very same reason. I’m always willing to give projects like this a spin just because the odds are in your favor of finding something worth settling into. Seeing a trailer like this, though, you may get more than a couple gems worth following.

While I’m only sure of the plot through reading the movie’s IMDB page, and even then I’m still not altogether sure I really understand what’s going on, the visuals are more than an aural delight on their own. It’s blood, it’s gore, it’s viscera, it’s nudity, all sorts of depraved moments that make no sense on their own but, taken together, what you have is a mishmash of a horror story that has some genuine shock value.

The other thing of note that is done quite well is the highlighting of the kudos the flick has received from Variety, Fangoria (gotta shore up that base), and the highlighting of festivals it has played at. Many times, this kind of horn blowing isn’t executed well but here it’s done seamlessly and unobtrusively. It’s the kind of movie that will appeal to a certain segment of the movie going public and it focuses the marketing towards that segment in a way that respects them and entices them. It’s a little punk in the way it presents itself and surely there’s a dash of attitude but it works and it struts its wares like this is the only film you need to see in theaters at the end of January. It’s not playing anywhere near me but God bless those it does play for that weekend.

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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