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 Trailer

It really isn’t about the guys behind the lens.

Sure, Gregg Godfrey, Jeremy Rawle may have directed it but it’s the stunts that really thrust this from being an average MTV production and into the strata of loud, dumb, and full of fun.

The marketing strategy here isn’t to sell any other movie than the one that made Jackass famous. And that’s the smartest thing anyone could have went with as the elements on display show nothing but stunts and the threat of bodily harm. Take away some of the closeups and what you have is a more physically acrobatic movie where people are risking life and limb just for a few giggles. But I tell you what, just get to the minute twenty mark and see why this could possibly be seen as the next evolution of dumbassery. There have been countless videos of extreme athletes and their exploits (just look up squirrel suit on YouTube and kill a good hour soaking that in) but this adds a humorous element that works.

The voiceover is a bit stilted and the graphics are a bit too slick for a movie about guys tossing themselves into harm’s way but, overall, this is a great trailer selling a film that knows precisely what it is.

Sister Trailer

While Ursula Meier isn’t a director that immediately comes top-of-mind for anything she’s done there is a story here that looks fresh as she tackles sibling rivalries.

While Gillian Anderson is probably the only actor many would recognize it’s really the boy here that’s a standout. The way the trailer weaves his story in and out of various situations where we feel for his loneliness, are reviled by his lack of morality as he steals and fences, wonder at how he and his sister make it in this world all alone, it’s frankly fantastic.

We’re not spoiled on anything having to do with what might be the result of this kid’s thievery, and we certainly don’t know if his sister is going to be sticking around by the end, so it’s refreshing to get all the way up to the line of knowing too much and avoid the impulse to hold too much back. This is a story that seems fraught with misery and not much happiness. While it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a juggernaut at the multiplex there is nonetheless, and hopefully, the possibility of seeing something positive about the relationships that sisters and brothers share.

Walk Away Renee Trailer

Jonathan Caouette certainly polarized viewers with his 2003 release, Tarnation.

I found the documentary something deeply personal, the depths of which it almost felt like you were peering into a room you had no business peeking into, and this feels like an extension of that. Not so much a sequel as it does a continuation of the jagged storyline that made Tarnation such a heartbreaking work of triumph.

The trailer, though, does springboard on the 2003 release, as if to act like a reminder to everyone who might have forgotten or needs to get up to speed but it helps to push the narrative forward as we understand why we’re here right now. The way it’s edited this is no common documentary on the present situation between a mother and son, a son who just figured out that mom’s lost her meds.

There is an effervescence as we see this portrait of a woman ravaged by mental illness, clips showing moments that are truly benchmarks for Caouette, isn’t one of depressing sadness. In fact, the second song that carries us through to the end sounds like a Cocteau Twins ditty and it’s uplifting. There’s hope there where we initially think this is going to be a deep dive into the machinations of what real psychological pain can be like. Somehow I feel excited to see where we come out on the other end of this story and, I think, it was a bold move to couch the marketing push that way.

Reportero Trailer

“It makes you think about this job and the level of commitment”

Bernardo Ruiz is a brave man.

After listening to an NPR piece about the struggles that face the media within Mexico I am convinced that it’s just not easy to ply the journalist trade within Mexico’s borders. The gold or the lead. What a choice.

The trailer here is a sharp, effective, frightening commentary on not just the current situation for those whose callings are informed by getting the facts out there, the truth out there but what the consequences are for those who dare talk about it publicly. What’s more, the production value for something like this helps the overall push in making this a movie that is not just a maybe-see but a must-see simply because the events that are unfolding are mere miles away from our own borders.

There really hasn’t been a visual story that could tell the tale of what some are going through south of the border but as this trailer winds its way through the tales of those who have been face to face about whether to report on the narco cartels or pay with their lives it puts things into a fresh perspective.

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty Trailer

Terence Nance’s film looks like a mixed media art project.

There’s something about the way love makes you feel for about the first six months of being together. That youthful sense of elation, like you’re mainlining ecstasy day in and day out, eventually has to be replaced with something akin to a normal human to human relationship. What’s difficult, though, is how do you capture that initial attraction, that starting phase of courtship, as your synapses shoot and fire in every which direction? I think Nance comes close to showing what it’s like to swim in that water of affection.

Spiritually, there is something brewing beneath the surface of what we see, which is a man falling through various stages of love, of anger, making a connection with a woman. While we don’t know exactly what is going on, it is the visual elements of the movie that appear through sequences that shake up what we normally expect out of our traditional romantic interludes between two people. There is a deep emotional trench being dug with various tools. How it moves from one end of the spectrum of love to pain is still unsure but that’s the beauty, I think, in establishing those roots with a member of the opposite, or same, sex. Without question, this is one of the more thoughtful trailers I’ve seen in some time. It has a raw energy that you can see with your eyes.

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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