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 Corridor Trailer

One of the things about first time feature directors is that some of them are so eager to have their voice heard, they get creative. Director Evan Kelly does not disappoint in this regard because what happens in this trailer is a slow breakdown of sanity and reality.

The opening sequence begins like many of these yarns are spun when it concerns dudes getting together to bond for a weekend in the woods. In all cases, either they’re going to end up killing someone and trying to figure out how to get away with it or they’re all gonna get raped. There is no middle ground in this genre. Luckily for us, this movie wants to bend things a little bit. We aren’t let in on what exactly is happening but once the weirdness begins it does not relent and it does not do you any favors in trying to decipher the events as they transpire.

Watching one of the guys stare into the sky as a plane streaks across the sky, feeling like it’s somewhere between a dream and the quiet rush of someone who realizes they can hear everything, the world disintegrates into real madness. I myself can’t make out whether we’re seeing something that is really happening with this guys or whether it’s the brown acid that’s making everyone go batty but the devolution of this group into something that turns wildly violent and supernatural is wild.

It couldn’t have been easy to sell someone on the idea of making a trailer that almost leaves you no closer to understanding the plot at the end than it does at the beginning but just seeing how far things are going to go before there is any resolution to any of this shows some real bravery on the part of the marketing team. I don’t know whether to feel surprised that they withhold so much about what is really afoot here or be impressed that I am properly teased by a trailer that wants to tell me so much but is only going to give me a little.


Penumbra Trailer

Would it kill distributors to make a trailer that has subtitles in it with less than a month to go before it hits theaters? Seriously, this should serve as a call for any distributor planning on putting out a foreign language film in this country: For $20 and a box of Boca burgers I will put subtitles on these things. It’s just frustrating to have to wait for someone to get it together and make it happen when you could easily have some plebe take care of this. /End Rant

As it stands, I had to find out what this movie was about because the trailer is just divine once you get hip to what they’re selling:

 Marga is a highly motivated, arrogant and successful businesswoman from Spain on a business assignment in Buenos Aires — a city she hates and whose people she loathes. While in the Argentina capital on a day the whole population is waiting to view a rare solar eclipse she must also find a new tenant for her family’s decrepit apartment. Rapidly losing her patience waiting for one applicant she runs into the mysterious Jorge lurking outside the front door of the place who informs her that he has a client willing to pay four times what she is asking in rent. There’s one catch — the paperwork must be signed immediately. As greedy Marga waits to complete the transaction several of Jorge’s associates suspiciously appear at the apartment ready to strip the wallpaper. And what’s behind the décor signals a startling fate worse than death – or should that be life!

Easy there with the exclamation mark, killer.

Filmmakers Adrián García Bogliano and Ramiro García Bogliano are taking high concept and bringing it down to a level that is completely digestible. While the absence of subtitles hinders things a little bit there is nonetheless a nice atmosphere created around the coming eclipse and the sort of telenovela drama that seems to be coming through the relationship that this well heeled woman and the people around her.

When everything starts to go south in this trailer it really is a mishmash of oddities: a woman gets a syringe injected into her jugular, our protagonist is blindfolded and has oil or water massaged into her neck, there are some weird graphics hiding behind some old wallpaper, and the number of strange people that pop up into the production just multiply by the end.

While it doesn’t look like a movie that will rock a lot of worlds and change the face of horror there are still some worthy elements that deserve a deeper look and it does feel like a fun time is to be had within the run time of this movie.

We Run Sh*t Trailer

I can’t say what it is about concert films as of late but there has been a rash of documentaries looking to capture that behind-the-scenes feel.

What differentiates this movie from something like Shut Up and Play the Hits and Don’t Think is that this documentary is a little more raw, a little less polished. The rough around the edges feeling that filmmakers Michael Creighton Rogers and Scott Storm are able to create within the first few seconds is a delight.

We explode with the freestyle beatboxing with a trio that includes Matisyahu and it perfectly captures the vibe and sultriness of what looks like one of the more wicked get togethers to ever be put together. While the fact may be a lot less tame the fiction it’s putting out there it nonetheless is selling the illicitness of drugs, the scandalousness of sex in a way that absolutely works for me. The actual plot of the movie is left fairly vague, we’re only given what looks like a vague outline of what we’re going to see, but it gives you just enough visual candy to get drunk on, a good enough ear worm that gets embedded in your psyche as you piece together what you see appearing on the screen.

While this is all over and done with before you know it, the moment gets in and gets out before you’re aware of what its selling, the tantalizing bits of why you would want to see this movie all in front of you, as it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Tight and concise.

Hit So Hard Trailer

I was Nancy Reagan’s wet dream.

I’m not particularly proud of admitting that I really was scared straight by D.A.R.E’s anti-drug message all throughout my youth, through my high school years, and well into my college career. Being someone who took a pass on grass is not something I would do all over again if given the chance, the element of experimentation having passed me completely by, but it’s seeing stories like Patty Schemel’s that make you realize that maybe there could be a happy medium somewhere in there.

Watching this trailer it’s easy to grasp what it must have been like to be caught in the jet wash of the 1990’s music scene when you find yourself part of one of the largest bands at the time and are coping with being a drug and alcohol addict. What I especially applaud this trailer for doing is keeping Schemel’s story a little opaque. And by that I mean the trailer doesn’t have the usual arc of successful musician turning to drugs, successful musician falling from grace, and then having that successful musician rise from the ashes in order to conquer rock n’ roll once again. All we’re given is just that descent into madness, into someplace dark.

I like it.

We know we’ll eventually get through to the other side as we get her speaking on camera but to focus on just what was happening at that most crucial of times with Hole and seeing what Patty was going through while success was bursting all around her is pretty bold. Double kudos for weaving in the press blurbs so seamlessly, never once taking away from the drama that was not only the fanfare that surrounded Hole’s rise but what it must have been like to be part of Courtney Love’s world at the time. Lord knows even I would’ve turned to some illicit substances in order to exist in that orbit.

Besides all that, and I don’t know if it’s just empathy speaking, but to see her smiling and looking like she’s solidly on her feet takes the sting out of knowing that the end will hopefully show her better for the dark depths into which we’ll plunge.

The Purity Myth Trailer

Jessica Valenti has excellent timing.

One of the political messages you’ll eke out of me is that this year we’ve seen more than one GOP hopeful take aim between women’s thighs. I don’t know what the obsession has been with women’s reproductive rights, not that one of the presidential hopefuls themselves is a woman or understands what it’s like to actually be a woman, but it must be an odd thing to constantly have dudes talking about you as if you weren’t in the room. As the father of three women I can say that it’s a little creepy for them to assume they know what’s best for the other sex.

That said, filmmaker Valenti’s trailer is timely not so much because of the recent brouhahas with politicians and their politicking but because of what it means in the greater overall strategy for many of these individuals who want to chime in about what it means to be abstinent. The argument about abstinence then makes a leap about the dangers of feminism in a way that takes grandiose leaps in what it assumes to be true if you are someone who believes in the right for a woman to assert herself how she sees fit. It’s a bit ignorant and, if you’re one to buy into the film’s main thesis, it’s men gone wild as they appear wildly misinformed, completely misogynist in every way, and makes them out to be anachronistic cavemen who ought to have stuck with hunting and gathering before coming into the public arena.

Yes, this seems more like a documentary suited for PBS than it does something you would pay money to see in the theater but, that said, this trailer does answer a question about why there is such a focus on women’s sexuality, and the purity of it, in the political sphere and what it is that men gain by using it as currency within their campaigns. Fascinating and worth listening to if you have an open mind about what the implications are for women within this debate.

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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