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?

Sleep Tight (Mientras Duermes) Trailer

Luis Tosar.

The name may not mean much around here but those who have seen 2010′s excellent Even The Rain will agree that the man is an actor capable of more than just inhabiting a part. The fact that you not only have Tosar playing the part of a maniacal sociopath but that you have co-screenwriter/co-director of the [REC] films, Jaume Balaguero, helming the directing duties is a one-two combo that thrills me even before the trailer gets going.

As it stands, though, the trailer is thrilling.

It starts out one way only to veer in a completely different direction. Tosar seems to appear, initially, as the goofy, chipper concierge but the tone changes to something really dark. Now, where we would usually get an explanation of why this guy would be targeting someone, none is forthcoming. What’s he pumping into her shampoo, why the hell is he putting a bruised apple in the fridge, and, more importantly, why does a little girl seem to know what is going on?

Tosar seems to have a rather communicative relationship with this kid, again for unexplained reasons, but then just as soon as you try and wonder why the hell this potential snitch is still standing on her two feet, the action ratchets up. He’s in fisticuffs with some guy, he’s chasing Miss Clara around like a wild jackal, he’s doing things at night and during the day, and all the while we’re not given any information whatsoever about why any of this is happening.

I’m unsure how things will end and that is, perhaps, the most completely refreshing part of the story we’re being presented. For this genre, a trailer showing restraint is a rare gem indeed.

Getting Up: The TEMPT ONE Story Trailer

After Exit Through The Gift Shop redefined what street art can be, people are warm to the idea of an artist who redefines the spaces in-between museums and galleries, who uses the streets as their canvas, this is a movie that seems to have less to do with the mystery behind the art than it is with the humanity behind it.

First-time feature documentary filmmaker Caskey Ebeling comes out of the gate with this trailer that redefines the feel-good story.

There is much love for this artist, Tempt, in what he brought to the craft of graffiti as we see the guy’s work and how well respected he was. Where I thought the trailer was going to zig, it decided to zag and we find ourselves looking at this once vibrant man felled by ALS, one of the more heinous afflictions to ever happen to any human being. Again, where I thought was going was not meant to be.

Instead of seeing how this man ends life, we see someone coming in to try and help him break through what is a prison sentence inside one’s own body, torture without pain or expressiveness, and this trailer kicks it up a few notches. Where there is sadness there is rage to reach out and try something new. There are flashes of hope, flourishes of something beautiful happening but it all ends too fast to really see whether this artist will be able to make a connection where once there was nothing. It’s of no matter, however, as what’s presented here is quick, gets right to the point, strikes at the heart, and doesn’t relent. Sadness can be a powerful thing if harnessed right and I think that’s done well in this trailer.

Terra Blight Trailer

One story I was fascinated with a couple of years ago was learning how some in Ghana make a living by squeezing anything of value out of mounds of computers that are dumped in West Africa from Germany, U.K, and the U.S..

Socially conscious documentarian Isaac Brown is bringing this portrait of the computer recycling issue a little closer to home by starting out here in the States. Whether people realize it or not, as the trailer kicks off, there are mounds and mounds of useless PCs that need people to strip them out and get rid of them. It’s interesting to see how we’re taken from the very crude counting devices to showing the corpses of computers that are long since useless. The music, the content, it’s all very morose.

The trailer only gets more interesting as we go along, learning about the services some companies provide in actually using every last morsel of a computer’s body, while we see the dump in Ghana where people swarm the pile looking for anything worth extracting. The moral question that is asked about what it is that we’re doing as a country, dropping a pile of e-waste on someone else’s doorstep is a valid one. The way it leaves you standing on the point that this is our problem and we’re making it global puts a nice punctuation mark on a trailer that evokes as much as it informs.

Maurizio Cattelan: All App Trailer

This one is going out to anyone in the NYC.

I may sound like a geezer by admitting that after a Saturday night has come and gone, I like to watch CBS Sunday Morning as I read the paper but I’m prepared to take a stand on this. I appreciate the tempo at which this program runs when I’m trying ease into my sabbath but mostly I like it when I’m introduced to things you necessarily may not have heard of, Maurizio being that person this week.

Maurizio Cattelan is an artist who currently has a show at the Guggenheim that runs through January 22nd and to see this man talk about his work is to appreciate someone who has a firm grasp on reality and wants to shred it. To that end, then, after looking for more information about the man there is an app that is being sold as a companion piece to the installation. For philistines like myself who live much too far away this trailer for the app makes one compelling case.

I appreciate that instead of wryly explaining what it is the trailer here has John Waters, of all people, make the pitch for what is a multimedia rich app that can be enjoyed as a standalone product. At sixteen seconds we see a visual representation of everything we get by purchasing the app. It’s not hidden away or obfuscated or talked around, we see an accurate accounting of precisely all that the app comes loaded with. There’s something delicious in having outside individuals talk about the works this man has created, giving each piece a depth they wouldn’t have had if technology wasn’t so conveniently able to lend some usefulness in understanding on an even deeper level what it is you’re seeing.

While this doesn’t seem like much to some, the very nature of this app’s existence is life affirming. For those out there who would like a multimedia tour like no other with their analog walking tour of the exhibit itself these kinds of apps whisper the promise of becoming closer with art than ever thought possible. I bought the damn thing just out of principal alone.

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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