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?

También la lluvia (Even The Rain) Trailer

Director, and native Spaniard, Icíar Bollaín certainly has picked someone unique to talk about the Bolivian Cochabamba water crisis: an white Irish/Scottish mix of a man who was born in India and has traveled the world having adventures that you and I believe are only for those who have programs on the Travel Channel. He’s also a Fullbright Award winner and could probably beat your ass in Trivial Pursuit and Parcheesi.

The mix here, though, between these two is pure octane.

What I adore about this trailer is it tweaks your expectations about what kind of movie this is throughout the presentation of its narrative. Besides shoving every laudatory recognition it has into one brief slide, and kudos for them for doing that, what with the Oscar submission declaration and the statements of entry into the various high profile film festivals it has played at, this trailer just gets after it.

Gael García Bernal comes across as an inwardly thinking and emotive director who seems to be pulled into the brouhaha of the native people looking to assert their rights over water. It doesn’t seem like it’s much of an ordeal but the intersection between cinematic construction and realized reality is what’s really piques my interest in this trailer. There’s a duality between those making the movie and the people who are starring in it that comes across really well in a very short time span. Whereas this could have been a very dry exploration of native people there is some friction here.

On one side of the spectrum you have a movie like State and Main that showed a ridiculous side of filmmaking for all of its lunacy and inanity and then you have this trailer, as a comparative tool, which shows the flip side to that for all it can bring with it. It’s a more defined compare/contrast story than anything else. The anger, the visceral reactions, the wonderful cinematography, it’s all so wonderfully represented here that you easily forget that this is in a foreign language. Great movies can melt those linguistic barriers and this trailer does that with ease.

Funkytown Trailer

Are you kidding me? This has to be the slap happiest trailer I’ve seen all year, fully realizing and conceding the great Steve Dahl’s assertion that disco did indeed suck.

I can’t control the things that my primordial brain responds to but it did when the beat started and the sleaze of 70’s era cinema started to ooze out of the players in this thing, think Showgirls meets Studio 54, I was toe-tapping my way through this. Another reason this trailer made the grade is Justin Chatwin. The guy has a presence, he most definitely has something, and I think it was stomped on like a flaming bag of dog turds on a front porch when Dragonball unleashed its unholiness unto the world. This looks like a film that is his to win as he tries to regain some of that mojo back. It’s also a movie, I realize, that is only slated to be released in Quebec and that it can only do so much but this is a lively trailer that promises a movie much bigger than a film destined for a single market in Canada.

But that’s some of the appeal for me. It’s a film directed by Daniel Roby, a guy who has been both directing and being a cinematographer for over a decade now. His resume isn’t explosive or noteworthy but here’s a movie that seems like it’s a very concentrated look at a moment in time, in a specific place. It’s obvious by the gold bath everything is saturated in that Roby’s strengths as a cinematographer are being employed as the trailer hums with activity.

From the use of coke, the obligatory girl in a shiny bikini shot, people getting into fisticuffs, there is a swagger about this little movie that could and I love it. There’s almost a feeling that wanting to see a movie like this ought to make you feel guilty but there’s a playfulness in the things that are happening on the screen while everyone involved looks like they’re enjoying the cheese factor and relishing these moments.

In an age where we define success by whether someone is pushing boundaries like Christopher Nolan did with Inception or someone has a fresh take on an old film like the Cohens did with True Grit a film like this just has to tell a good story and there looks like there is one in here between all the glitz and gold lamé. It doesn’t have to change the paradigm of what film can be but it has to take us somewhere fresh and I know I’ve never been to Montreal during disco. Let me get my bell bottoms. [Twitch]

Cold Weather Trailer

Director/co-writer Aaron Katz has his feet securely planted in the space in which his characters live.

Watching the trailers for Katz’ previous efforts, Dance Party, USA and Quiet City, you can see the beginnings of an astute filmmaker who genuinely feels the need to capture the environment around his stories. I could be way off base but the trajectory of all three of these trailers seems to embrace the normalcy of what life genuinely feels like as we all trudge through it. Being introduced to our protagonist,  the flashy official SXSW designation very pronounced but brief, this trailer doesn’t pop with false narrative explosion. It’s muted and, to anyone else just passing by this window display, it’s boring.

However, I would assert, that’s its charm. You have a guy who fancies himself a dime store detective, you have his newly made friend hitting him up to use those skills, however imaginary they are, to help him track down his girlfriend. It all sounds rather banal and simple but things in this trailer pop on their own when it all starts to get heavy.

Besides the quotes from those who are saying this movie is bending all the rules, possibly breaking a few like an out of control cop who won’t listen to the chief, there’s an earnestness and an excitement in the intimate way this film is shot. While you have wide vistas of waterfalls and sweeping views of this small town in which everything takes place there is an excitement as this little gumshoe who could is breaking into rooms, is hitting up the library, is running around town. I’m at a loss to try and place this kind of film into a category of some kind but it defies my expectations for what I think it should be.

With the very conscious decision to make the physical environment of the film damp, gray, dreary, and wet there is a certain sensibility that informs the rest of the story and this trailer is selling a movie that feels like it wants to completely ensconce you in its pacific northwest moistness. I’m ready and willing.

Griff The Invisible Trailer

I just don’t get it.

I’m mentioning this trailer because I’m stuck in trying to see the forest for the trees, I guess. About thirty seconds in we’re shown that this movie was an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival. One may have been a fluke but two means something, to me anyway, but I just don’t see the appeal. As a debut feature from writer/director Leon Ford I guess it’s passable but doesn’t a film need to be a little more than just average to get into Berlin, Toronto?

Ryan Kwanten’s role here seems to be that of a delusional guy who supposes himself to be a superhero. Besides not really addressing the underlying mental instability that itself presents, see Michael Rapaport’s performance in Special to get a real idea of what that’s like, there is a twist of narrative that I just don’t believe.

The mentally unhinged man gets a smoking hot girlfriend who appears to encourage this behavior.

I can only go by what I see and what I see is Kwanten’s closest friends tell him he’s nutty, tell him it’s not a good idea, that he’s obviously delusional, but yet he presses forth because this lady he hooks up keeps pushing him forward. I don’t know if this is some ploy that will eventually reveal itself to be that this love interest is really his worst enemy and that he’ll end up knocking her around when he discovers her heinous plans but this trailer is ungodly. It’s a mess of a story if all it examines is how one guy really wants to change things and this is how he expresses himself.

First, if this reality, he’ll end up getting his head knocked in, a la Kick Ass, second, if this isn’t reality, then that would obviously explain why a really nice looking girl would find all of this normal and see no reason why he shouldn’t be on medication, be committed, or a complete figment of his imagination. No, what I get by the end is her pushing him to go back into the street to hopefully, maybe, possibly getting shot and ending this insane premise of a movie that has been done so many times over in so many better ways. It’s a joke and not even does it once come close to being a movie that they’re trying to sell: a romantic super hero movie of a guy who isn’t one. Please. Move on or tell me exactly why this was picked to play such prestigious film festivals because I don’t see it here. [Twitch]

The Underdog Knight 2 Trailer

Who doesn’t want to see some guys getting their faces smacked?

Look, sometimes you just want to see people twisting and turning in the air, slo-mo punching and kicking, and have it all neatly dressed in a movie that would be perfect to rent and relax with on a lazy evening.  If every diet requires you at least eat a few carbs consider this your cinematic baked potato.

I would love to try and explain why I have these urges to consume movies like this in the same breath trying to defend why a movie like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite films of all time but it’s just the quirky nature of being a fan of the art form. Director Sheng Ding looks like he’s made a movie that looks flat out fun and easily digestible. I’ve watched this trailer at least eight times this week and I’m planning on watching it some more. [Twitch]

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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