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?


The Pirates! Band Of Misfits Trailer

Any animated film that wants to incorporate nudists and leprosy in its promotional materials has my backing.

Director Peter Lord, last seen helming Chicken Run twelve years ago, hasn’t done much in the way of actually directing but he has been producing the hell out of animated programming in that time. I don’t know if a dozen years has sharpened the Lord’s sensibilities but what I like about this trailer is that it bridges that crucial gap for me between kiddie fare and adult innuendo.

The whole tempo of the thing is one that just sets up things within a few seconds and then rolls right into the nonsense that is a ditty that drops nudists, grog, leaping dolphins, and accidental impalings. It’s such a short trailer, and the song that carries us throughout the trailer is a jaunty one, but what we see is filled with great comedic beats and fantastical looks at what ought to be just a fun movie that you could most likely take the kids to while enjoying some of the more ribald moments that are intended for the a-dults. Whether that’s true or not, and it ends up being more Wallace & Gromit than it’s selling itself as, I’m perfectly fine based on what’s here.

While the film looks fun, and that’s enough reason for my ankle biters to drag dad in to see it, it appears that there is a little more catering to my older sensibilities this go around than there was in Flushed Away, a film that still stands as a movie that was good but not great. This movie, by comparison, looks like it bridges the gap between catering to two kinds of audiences: kids who want to see pirates and the parents hoping to see something that won’t be 90 minutes of excruciating misery.

Glitch In The Grid Trailer

It’s experimental, original.

Director Eric Leiser’s background, if you take IMDB’s word for it, is that he’s a graduate of CalArt’s Experimental Animation program. His past work, if you dig a little further, reflects an understanding and appreciation of how to push the boundaries of normative storytelling. In fact, by the time you’re done with this trailer, I dare you to tell me what this movie is about.

The answer to that question of the movie’s contents, though, wouldn’t be as interesting as watching everything unfold. Its musical score is something that is simple, delightful, but complimentary to what we see going on in the frame. It does not follow any conventions of establishing who this person is that’s talking or why we should care in the first place. However, the artistry of showing the many different ways this film is being animated is the real treat.

From action figures come to life, to tricks of stop-motion photography, there is a spirit in here that you cannot deny. It’s at the same time strange and indecipherable but it’s beautiful to look at and be in awe of as it pertains to the technical skill of a filmmaker that wants to tell a story in a manner not seen much nowadays. The trailer displays a technical talent which I hope, at the very least, can make up for the obfuscating story details.

I’ll stay for the art but the film will only resonate beyond its running time if there’s some humanity behind all the stop motion.


Munger Road Trailer

I’m chasing the dragon, I realize this.

Ever since Scream came into my life I’ve always been on the lookout for a movie that could be just as entertaining with the way it presented horror. The thing about Scream was that it was highly polished but had a keen sense of how to bring the death blows. The further it went on, and as sequels gave way to ludicrous set ups, the less exciting it became. I could never find something that came close to capturing that vibe but this, for some reason, got my attention.

For all the wrong reasons, with how basic the film looks, how common the plot is, this trailer works for me.

First and foremost, I’m giving this movie a couple of handicap strokes for simply being an independent film. There are some things that you just have to let slide and I’m more than amiable to allowing the video camera-style “footage” to be used in order to set things up as it pushes everything else into motion. As a first time director, Nicholas Smith gets a stroke or two as I’m liking its vibe.

Bruce Davison, who is a solid go-to guy when it comes to character acting, breathes a little bit of life into the questioning, pensive cop whp wants to get down to this mystery in town. Somehow his delivery in this trailer doesn’t feel hackneyed as it does genuine. As well, the use of a single evening to compress everything and the absence of a tightly wound woman screaming out her lungs was very much appreciated.

What else I enjoyed was the trailer’s dependance of real tension of the hunting and seeking out of this madman and not overly dependent on gore and gristle. The moments chosen here really do add to the sense this might actually be more than just your usual slasher film. From not going to the jump cut blitzkrieg of flashing dozens of scenes within seconds as a violin crescendos to silence route to just laying out the basic plot and leaving it at that I’m impressed by the restraint shown here. Plus, with it being fall, there’s just something that’s aesthetically right about a horror film that embraces this time of the season by setting it in this time of the year.

The Vinyl Frontier Trailer

The adulation of Olly Moss is something I completely get.

I feel bad that Moss’ amazing poster designs will not ever adorn my walls but I share everyone’s enthusiasm when it comes to collecting these things, these works of vibrant art.

Daniel Zana, the director of this project, looks like he has a handle on the subject, instead of looking at it from the perspective of an outsider looking at a subculture he appears to be steeped and informed of the scene that surrounds the fervor over these items.

The opening sequence succinctly shows you what this film is going to be about by essentially blowing through dozens of these figurines. While there isn’t a single word spoken, you get it. It’s understood.

There isn’t a grand production budget as evidenced by the lo-fi quality of the interviews of those at the vanguard of this movement to create art that is both eye-popping, subversive, and wholly accessible. While people like myself have only been around this world tangentially, only being vaguely aware that these things exist, the trailer really puts an effort in establishing why this is important, why you should care about it, how passionate people get over these things, and why it would be worth to sit a while and take in its presentation.

It’s artistry for the people and it’s projects like this that get me excited when you consider how this represents the breakdown of barriers between artists and the people who want to consume their ideas, their creations.

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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