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?

Tatsumi Trailer

Yoshihiro Tatsumi is a mangaka known for his gekiga style of alternate Japanese manga.” Wish I knew what that meant. Director Eric Khoo hopefully will bridge that knowledge gap like two planks put down across a creek bed because this trailer has some complex ideas to translate and it does it well.

Even though I’m not familiar with Tatsumi’s work as an artist that appears to mean very little as the Cannes sanctioned film is using this trailer to do the heavy lifting of the storytelling. The sweeping piano suite, the images that burst with vim and are completely understandable regardless of what language you speak, it all creates a warm pocket of marketing bliss. There’s something about what’s here that transcends language even though we’re getting some subtitles to help move us along. It’s about the presentation of a story that’s rooted in art and how that can mean more than what’s literally before us. It’s figurative, literal, and all shades in between.

By the time the trailer ends, after it has put forth handfuls of different narratives that encompass something different with each one, there isn’t an aficionado of film who can say that this doesn’t at least look like it’s worth some investigation. I’m salivating at the prospect of watching what it is this movie has in store.

Doppelgänger Paul Trailer

This film is being brought to you by The Whatever Institute.

This creatively named directorial body bringing this deliciously odd trailer into your lives are actually Kris Elgstrand and Dylan Akio Smith. These two individuals, while not named in the trailer, made a film that, “is a self-reflexive buddy comedy about how much we hate ourselves, a Hope/Crosby road movie re-imagined by self-loathing manic-depressives.” What these wordsmiths probably already know this is exactly the kind of synopsis that gets asses in seat but, morose sales pitch aside, these two-pack titans of filmmaking have slapped together a preview that is weirdly beautiful and strange.

That old argument chestnut about movies made for blatant commercial gain versus ones that are produced because they mean something on an artistic level, and whether there is a happy medium, really plays itself out before us here. I would assert that this looks like an indie effort born of a pure idea but that there is a commercial charm in trying to tease out a narrative that can be properly swallowed by the masses. I like that this trailer sways between philosophical musings and the silliness of its premise but everything looks so crisp, so sharp, that I can’t help but appreciate the haziness of what the movie really is about. The music is somewhat monotonous but it only adds to the numbness of the narrator who seems like someone living on the fringes of his own sanity.

Everyone needs a little weirdness in their cinematic diet and this trailer seems like it’ll fit the bill quite nice.

Windfall Trailer

Every so often we’re reminded why thinking globally and acting locally can have a few unintended side effects.Director Laura Israel, who I’m sure many may know from her seminal editing work on 1997′s Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume III, specifically the video documentary charting the wondrous development of the video for “I Go To Extremes”, charts the plight of residents of one town who sign up to have wind turbines in their town. As with any good documentary, the deal had some unintended effects.

What’s nice about the trailer is that it sets the tone immediately and doesn’t set up any idyllic environmental message. It throws out its festival credentials and begins with the harsh realities of what these townsfolk are going through. No sugarcoating, and it’s dramatic. To see the strobing effect of the wind turbines as it casts its shadow on a suburban street is striking and drives the point home of the interviewee who is talking about the negative effects of bringing these things into their lives. Moving from her, we pick up with another person who talks about the sound of turbines as they lay in bed. It’s water torture and the trailer perfectly captures what’s at issue without having to delve into how this all came to pass.

On the down slope of this trailer you see where the brouhaha is coming from and how they got into this collective mess. What’s really nice is that it shows this town as the ones who hoisted themselves on their own petard and did it to themselves, greed taking a foothold in this town. Now this is what makes the story all that more interesting. Instead of this being a movie about big business muscling into a quiet hamlet this appears to be a story where the populace caused this drama. I like this preview even more as you see the townsfolk get all uppity with one another as the debate about who was right and wrong rages, the images of foxes battling one another in a cage fitting in, symbolically, just fine.

The Viral Factor Trailer

Slo-mo bullet time has yet to get old for me.

I know the very best part of The Green Hornet was Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse was one of the things that helped make Time and Tide so enjoyable for me. So while director Dante Lam hasn’t made anything I’ve ever seen this is probably going to be the first introduction into this man’s oeuvre. It’s slick and brightly filmed with enough car chases and gun battles and people running very fast in one direction that it made me reflect on the fact that we don’t get many movies like this anymore.

The trailer, while not really original at all in its presentation, hearkens back to a better time when movies were just obnoxiously loud and filled with guys just trying to look breathless as they slide gracefully on pavement, emptying their banana clip into some nameless baddie. Ironically, that’s what I think make this a stand out. It’s just fun. It’s hard to follow any semblance of plot because I don’t think there is one but that’s not a bad thing. It knows how to package a loud, dumb action movie that you’ll forget once it’s done. The way we move from action beat to action beat is so visually exciting that it’s only when this trailer is done do you ask yourself what this movie was about. The answer, for anyone who sits down with this, is unclear but you’ll forgive them for keeping it vague as words would just get in the way for what looks like twenty pounds of dumb that you would be happy to watch.

DeafBlind Trailer

Director Ewan Bailey has something.

Let me rephrase that: he’s on to something. While it remains to be seen whether Sean can sustain the same level of intensity with the short film as he does for the running time of this trailer but what’s here is something worth putting on your radar as Slamdance approaches.

The story comes right out of the box swinging hard. The sight of a woman with a noose around her neck, her head crooked upward, a lit candle under her palm, her toes curled around the lip of a step stool. This is pure win. I have no idea what’s happening but this has my attention. The silence that we endure, the silence of the communication that comes in the form of sign language in the deaf/blind woman’s speech is creative, satisfying.  The talk she has with this priest only enhances what we see happen when an interloper is frequenting this woman’s life unknowingly.

The smoothness with which we hear this woman talk, coupled with the tears that she sheds and the very disturbing thought that some guy is watching her without her knowing would be good enough to make a full length feature. As it stands, the short is only 16 minutes and I can’t think of any trailer that is as good as this for a story so rife with possibilities of where it’s going to go.

El Sicario: Room 164

This is a trailer that spooks me a bit. In fact, let me categorically state that I am not on any side as it pertains to any drug cartel.

I was Nancy Regan’s wet dream when it came to the business of drugs. I actually listened to that woman when she said Just Say No. I said No and spent the rest of my life wandering a life absent of any illegal narcotic. Thanks, Ms. Regan, for the social pariah status. As it stands, though, the current skirmish between the Mexican cartels and anyone who gets in their way be it cop, law enforcement, or even a blogger or two, is vicious. That’s why this trailer, even though there isn’t a lot going on, is so thrilling. The flourish of the guitar as we begin, the beautiful vistas of the scenery, the stark look of a motel door, it all stops being cute once our subject starts talking.

That guy scares the holy hell out of me for reasons I’m not to sure of. I think it’s the calmness with which he talks. Documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi knows what he’s doing as he just lets this guy talk and it’s like glue for your eyeballs. You can’t see the guy’s face but he’s such a presence without it. The way he talks with his hands, the way they move, his tales of vice are made that much more vivid by his description of events. Based on the writing of Charles Bowden, his poignant and sharp Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez was one of the best books I opened last year, this documentary appears to be everything that his writing is: honest, real, and filled with the kind of detail that you can only get by just letting a subject talk at length. Looks like that’s what we’re gonna get and I really would like to see the rest.

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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