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: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we remember the lowly cassette tape, get funky with an old school space station, delve into short story, try and make an effort with the family, and look at western music through the eyes of Japan.

The Nostalgist Trailer

At the very least perhaps this will get people to check out The Silence.

I’m a fan of the work.

Director Giacomo Cimini caught my eye over three years ago when he sent me a trailer for his short, City In The Sky. He’s back with something that’s just as ambitious and visually appealing and is also going to be playing at Fantastic Fest this year. As well, this is an excuse to talk about Lambert Wilson, probably one of the best things to come out of the Matrix sequels. What’s so remarkable about this trailer/teaser is how well it blends its visuals with its narrative. With regard to the former, there’s a lot happening under a minute. With regard to the latter, there’s a lot being said but not a lot making sense, which, is a good thing.

To wit, here’s the description of the story:

With EyesTM and EarsTM, everything can look and sound just fine, just like it used to be; it’s a shock when they break down, though.

How are you able to squeeze all that into a teaser? Easy. You don’t. Hit the nerve in our minds that controls curiosity and you’re off to someplace otherworldly. By keeping us in a tight funnel that does not allow for any exposition or context all we’re left to do is marvel at what’s before us and that is more than enough to make us wonder just what is connection between two worlds where Wilson seems to exist. If there is a prize to be won, Giacomo has earned it; it’s all in how we’re left at the end and that’s easily summed up by saying that we should be yearning for more.

Force Majeure Trailer

As a father, I can relate.

We talked about this film about four months ago. Since then, it’s gained critical steam and for good reason: After winning the Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Festival it’s finally making landfall here in the states. Director Ruben Östlund’s story of a man who seems at a crossroads of where he is in life. To be sure, we’ve been here before but never before has it seemed so visceral or the metaphor (avalanche, anyone?) so precise in its capturing what might be afoot in this guy’s mind. It’s easy to say why this trailer excels: it embraces the fact that it’s a foreign language feature, the music selected keeps you tense throughout the entire running time, the pull-quotes compliment the action on the screen wonderfully, and the emotional moments we’re privy to, however brief, instantly communicate something about this man and his wife that many trailers fail to accomplish. Something very strange, very bizarre, but something very human, is afoot here and this ride is a fantastic one. With no idea where we’ll end up we are left wondering what becomes of this family and of this vacation that seems to have gone quite wrong.

Space Station 76 Trailer

High concept with a sharp point to make.

You may know Jack Plotnick from his twisted turn in Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong. His directorial debut seems to be about capturing the majesty and absurdity of the 1970’s lifestyle but in the space age. High concept, interesting execution. He’s managed to stack the deck by getting Patrick Wilson involved as well as looking to be as authentically cheesy as one person can get about this era of how space would have looked like if everything occurred all those decades ago. Some of the elements are pretty quirky but if it’s going whole hog into the vast abyss of 70’s culture this is the right way to go about it.

Far Western Trailer

You don’t get much closer than that.

Director James Payne launched this Kickstarter in order to finance a movie about Japan and western culture. Real western culture. He was looking for $35,000 and ended up with $35,153. And he deserved to make it too based on this trailer. What’s smart about he starts the pitch is juxtaposing modern Japan with the music that would feel more at home on an Arizona cattle drive. There is such a disconnect between what we’re seeing and what we’re used to seeing that it’s hilariously jarring. That said, it’s compelling. To see how this movement of people have embraced the culture of country/western music and its ethos it makes complete sense when you consider how many things, as Americans, we co-opt. It follows that there are going to be some things other cultures adopt of ours and this is just one of those niches that truly looks like a niche that looks fascinating as all get out. Just let it all wash over you and be thankful it raised the money it needed because this one documentary that deserves to be seen.

Cassette Trailer

It’s honestly one of those words, if you say it enough in your head, it begins to lose all meaning.

Director Zack Taylor is onto something by showcasing the one technology that hasn’t really been given its due. I think many of us older types remember making mix tapes as youths, breaking out our super skills when we needed to make one for our significant others as we danced the dance of courtship. This trailer gets right to that. It gets to the heart about why this medium meant so much to many of us who saw it as a way to express our creativity with music. To think of a time when you could have different songs pieced together and have it play back in a way that didn’t require changing mediums seems patently absurd but to dolts like myself it was a fantastic time. This gets into the nuances of the life and death and rebirth of the lowly cassette, a relic among relics, while being incredibly insightful and poignant. It’s documentaries like this that make you feel warm knowing there are people out there looking to preserve a piece of our past without pointing a finger and laughing at it. It’s a genuine appreciation for the magnetic tape and I, for one, cannot wait and stew in the juice of my own halcyon mix tape days.

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 or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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