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?

Daylight Savings Trailer

Dave Boyle is a consistently interesting filmmaker.

For his last couple films, Boyle has harnessed the power of black and white as well as harnessing the charisma of musician Noh Nakamura. From his first film Big Dreams Little Tokyo to his latest, the characters that inhabit his world pop through the trailers that are attached to them. This is no exception and it shows.

There isn’t a need to dress up things with complex cinematography or camera tricks that take you out of the narrative, the trailer here only tells you that this is going to be a love story, a sad and uplifting one, without ever selling something different. Noh has that loaf-ish lovable loser vibe about him while also seeming a little prickly around the edges. With the bevy of beauties he has milling about his stable you see how he’s living this life trapped between multiple worlds.

It’s stripped down, the audio is a little wonky in some patches, and you can almost roll your eyes at the number of ladies he has spinning on a plate, but the trailer communicates his sense of loneliness. I like films that don’t want to be more than they are and as he makes his way to Vegas simply to support a girl he likes as she performs for a handful of people there is that glimmer of hope that things will end OK for him. Even if doesn’t he exudes that ability to simply trudge forward and keep on keepin’ on.

Thale Trailer (NSFW)

Aleksander Nordaas, you silly man, this looks like nothing but wicked.

From the “WTF?” files comes this bizarrely set up movie about nothing that makes any kind of rational sense. I mean, it does make sense that we are introduced to these two guys who appear to be a crime scene cleanup crew who then stumble upon something truly heinous but, apart from that, not much more does.

We go through some rock solid buildup of being dipped into a land where these hapless dudes go to a place where genetic freaks come out of the woodwork, literally, and turn their worlds topsy-turvy. There is a tightly scripted bottleneck that we’re squeezed through in order for every viewer to get that we’re going to get the modern day Freaks treatment with the genetic abnormalities that start to make their presence known and that’s fine by me; it only adds to the overall mystique of what is going down here.

At times we’re not sure if these men’s lives are in danger or whether, as they’re admiring the bare woman’s bum at the end, they’re going to make it through unharmed but I do respect that it’s kept ambiguous. I’m not sure who’s a threat, who can be trusted, who needs to come out alive on the either side, and, most importantly, how things are going to shake out. It may not make a lot of linear sense, and it may be more style than substance, but that’s the mark of a great trailer at times anyway so I’m pretty damn interested to see if it’s worth the conceit.

Ultrasonic Trailer

Rohit Colin Rao, if someone is comparing your film to Pi it best deliver.

The opening sequence to this movie is so sparse yet it fills the screen with the kind of questioning that will keep someone thinking they need to stick around to find the answer. I may not know who this guy is but the sounds that he hears, that no one else can, either tells me he’s special or he’s going out of his mind. However it goes, winner winner chicken dinner.

The trailer continues, just like Thale did, to carry that question mark perfectly out of reach for anyone trying especially hard to see whether there’s something else afoot here. Again, it could go either way so what we have to depend on is focusing our collective attention on our protagonist who isn’t giving it up that easy. This doesn’t seem like a movie where it’s a slow devolution into madness or psychiatric craziness, and it may very well be the case that we go down that path, but this trailer is squarely in the camp of not choosing a side which is a bold move.

People need to rank the movie, classify it, put it in a quadrant, somehow, and it’s denying you that opportunity. We have to take him at his word that this is something that is really happening so, in that case, what to do when you think the world is pushing in on you a little bit? Look for help. However, as we see here, if that help doesn’t come does it mean he’s really off somewhere that breeds craziness? Shh, just listen and pay attention.

This is marketing done right.

Ill Manors Trailer.

I wouldn’t be able to differentiate Plan B (Ben Drew) from any other middling rap artist but he certainly has a distinctive style.

With a resume that boasts some comercial successes and releases that have included derivative samples from music’s biggest names it’s interesting that what we have here is an ode to the thug life but one that actually looks to be worth listening to. What really draws you in is the absence of backstory for every single person we meet.

We don’t know motives, we don’t know relationships, and we certainly don’t know who is the focal point of this yarn. It’s disparate pieces actually make for a cohesive whole. Besides the reflexive cheeseball interstitials about the basics of physics, and feels like machismo chest beating than it does with adding an interesting layer to what’s here, the cinematic styles that are employed to switch back and forth between storylines are more than enough to buoy this from bombastic outburst to bombastic outburst. It helps, as well, that Riz Ahmed of Four Lions keeps popping up here and there between face slaps, guns being pulled on young boys, girl fights, and ladies in their B&Ps, there is an electricity to this without it ever seeming tiresome.

Young men, prepare to rage.

Juko’s Time Machine Trailer

Such a novel idea that has been done so many times before but this go around feels a little more festive.

I can’t remember a time travel film that’s been done in recent years that hasn’t been all dower and serious. It’s nice to see that someone wants to literally play with the idea and I think that Kai Barry has hit it in just the right way in that he’s made something that doesn’t look like it cost a whole lot but whose success actually depends on the performances, not necessarily on the plausibility, of the players once they go back in time for another chance at love.

The trailer isn’t so much remarkable for its construction than it is for simply pushing a lot of information about the plot into its short run time. What’s nice about the development of the narrative here is that while we don’t get bogged down in the details of how they go back, it’s more interested in the why. It’s why they’re going back and the wackiness that’s to ensue when they realize their foolproof plan is full of opportunities for things to go south. That they have to wrestle, literally, of issues concerning multiples of their former selves causing all kinds of problems.

It sounds silly, and it is, while also looking like it’s not going to challenge anyone’s sensibilities like Timecrimes or Primer did. Barry wants to make a silly comedy and the editing, music, and acting communicate only seek to reinforce that with what’s here.

Gangs of Wassypur Trailer

I don’t know what’s going on here but I like it. Watch and be enthralled at the brilliance of Anurag Kashyap.

You’re welcome, by the way.

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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