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?



The Strange Case Of Angelica (O Estranho Caso de Angélica) Trailer

There’s really nothing bad you could say about the opening of this trailer. It does everything it ought to do in order to establish its critical pedigree, its sensibility, and its story. In my mind it’s flawless, actually.

The lilting music that plays in the background as we’re introduced to this vibrant world, the DP deserving a lot of the credit for making this world feel clean, sharp in a modern way yet is quite cozy,  where a photographer is called to take a picture of a dead girl. Splayed out on a chaise lounge, the dead girl smiles at the guy as he looks though his viewfinder. It’s creepy but it works, I get it and I feel like there’s a connection that’s made immediately.

It just gets metaphysical from there as the picture he took comes alive, literally, and the guy starts becoming obsessed about this lady. Somehow, some way, the fact that everyone is speaking a different language is not relevant to what we’re seeing. It’s a visual delight to see what looks like sets straight out of a vintage film made on a back lot somewhere, coupled with a sequence where our protagonist is flying with the dead girl one minute, hilariously passed out on a hill the next as a bunch of schoolchildren look at this heap of a man who’s obviously afflicted. It’s a lot of weirdness but the trailer moves through it effortlessly. The piano then takes over and it bathes these moments in a classy gloss.

The sequences we’re shown are, for some reason, really a delight. There is a spareness to the moments we’re given, as if every physical object within the camera’s lens was carefully chosen for its heft, but there is also something tender that’s communicated through a guy who cannot stop thinking about life with this dead girl. His ranting and yelling feel more old Hollywood, in a good way, than they do the bombast of a contemporary filmmaker who might be compelled to find a comedic angle and exploit that.

This trailer is reassuring that it’s showing you exactly what you’re going to get with this film. Filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira has a handle on things here, and he should, as at 102 years old the man looks like he’s made a film that might gingerly tell us something about the nature of desire we young pups haven’t caught onto yet.

The Day Trailer

If I said that this was movie was coming to you from the man who directed Highlander: Endgame would you keep reading? You ought to because this looks like Douglas Aarniokoski takes a decent enough step upward.

Curiously presented against a single track off of Explosions in the Sky’s “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone” it’s actually pretty spot on once you see that dramatic head-on view of the players in this film all walking through what looks like the apocalypse. You’ve got that one guy from that band Drive Shaft who dies under the sea looking all sorts of pimp as this band of ruffians storm a house with their Mad Max looking togs all mismatched, guns drawn. Oddly, it’s not adrenaline inducing. It’s serene, peaceful, as these marauders are going in hot, looking through an abandoned home.

We don’t know what they’re looking for or what they want but the music is wonderful. It allows for the quiet contemplation of these people without it ever feeling cheesy or ham-fisted, but that’s exactly when things do a hip fake and run in the other direction.

The guitars start crunching, guns are fired, chaos is all around. We don’t know who is doing what but that’s fine. It’s a good kind of disorientation as some people are listlessly wandering in an open field as some are heaving weapons and exchanging small arms fire.

By the end I don’t know which way is up but this is one fantastic teaser trailer. I found myself wondering what else I could deduce by the end and I was delighted that I couldn’t. Not knowing the particulars is sometimes the curse in that my mind has constructed a narrative on its own and what if that’s more exciting than what ultimately ends up on the screen? It’s no matter as this, as a teaser trailer, has done what it needed to do all by itself without ever uttering a word of using an interstitial that says, “In a world…” [Twitch]

Living For 32 Trailer

Director Kevin Breslin has something here.

What appears to be a pretty straight forward documentary actually feels a little more meatier, a little more heavy, than your usual Frontline-eque profile of a moment in history.

The trailer just cuts through the usual superfluousness we see in so many affected, holier than thou, docs that want to feel more dramatic than they really are. The opening here, though, is quite serene. There isn’t anything shocking or wild about what we’re being presented with, just a voiceover from George W. Bush who narrates footage of students leisurely walking to class at Virginia Tech.

Gently we’re introduced to Colin Goddard our subject and who, poignantly, opens with, “I was in the right place at the right time.” Shots ring out and we see images of the Virginia Tech shooter that killed 32 students on that campus so many years ago.

I could take umbrage with a little bit of the sensationalistic image of a gun popping off or the words scrawled on the chalkboard in a manner, weirdly and ironically reminiscent of the “Jeremy” video from Pearl Jam, but I get it. It’s not too obnoxious and it at least propels us forward in the narrative.

What I will praise this trailer further for is its minimal use of melodrama. We could have lingered on the aftereffects of what Colin mentally went through that day but, instead, we leap right into the crux of what’s at the center of this film and it seems to be Colin’s focus on handgun regulation. What’s more is that Colin, a true victim if there ever was one, isn’t preaching that we should abolish weaponry altogether. He may very well believe that but, in this trailer, we see him going to gun shows where he could purchase any number of truly heinous pieces of hate that are protected by the Second Amendment. It’s an interesting starting point.

He believes that this is his life’s path for at least the time being, pushing for reform of some kind but I can’t tell for sure, and that’s what really makes this a fascinating trailer. We could focus on his personal struggle to overcome this ordeal, and we probably do in the course of this film, but this preview is lean and wisely sticks to the main message.


Deadheads Trailer

Is there an end to what you can do in this genre?

There seems to be no natural bottom with regard to the number of projects that a filmmaker is capable of when you start with one question: What else can be done with zombies?

I think for all intents and purposes the only thing left to do with walking dead people is crafting a family sitcom where everyone in the cast is part of the undead while their chipper neighbors are none the wiser. It could be smarmy, a little risqué, but done in a way that hearkens back to The Munsters. This movie looks like it’s also going for a bit of the laughs and I’m fine with it. In fact, I like that we’re going the comedic route which has been done before but the main difference is that the lead in Shaun Of The Dead wasn’t a zombie.

The trailer is really well done in that the set up is done expeditiously and done without drawing it out needlessly. It’s a clever idea that someone wakes up after three years of being dead only to roam the earth with a purpose. The guy’s buddy share two sides of the same coin as the protagonist is unbelievably disturbed that he’s part of this tribe while his dumb pal is simply going with the flow.

There’s a mix of humor and real solid zombie kills so there’s that dichotomy at work, there also being an underpinning of purpose. These aren’t just two jamokes looking to feed while contemplate their reason for being, rather the trailer obfuscates what is really going to drive the plot beyond the clever concept.

There is the hint that the movie will deal with unrequited love but the trailer focuses on a third wheel, another zombie only capable of grunting and eating thus giving us the full spectrum of possible characters like Lenny from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Co-directors and co-writers Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce have something unique here, I would assert, as I’m up to laugh a little at this genre. [Dread Central via Twitch]

Otto’s Eleven Trailer

I’m speechless, really.

First of all, what in the hell is this? I mean, I get that it’s a comedy of sorts. Director Sven Unterwaldt Jr. , the man and myth behind the chestnuts 7 Zwerge – Der Wald ist nicht genug and Die ProSieben Märchenstunde, looks like he’s the German doppelganger of every other pedestrian  jobber working in Hollywood comedy today but I don’t think I get what’s going on with the plot. I’m debating whether this even has one or if this is some demented Pink Panther ripoff but I’m not quite sure.

I know, idiomatic expressions of humor don’t translate well for the most part so I can see how this works in a reverse engineering universe if someone from Finland were to stumble upon the stillborn comedy stylings of Fred Figglehorn (née Lucas Cruikshank)  in Fred: The Movie. The results, I think, would be the exact same thing but I think I’m more disturbed by this than I am of some warped man/girl amalgam with a Justin Bieber blow cut.

If someone from Germany could help translate what could make a straight laced man working in Berlin think this is something he needs to put on his entertainment calendar I would appreciate it. Or, just like how low-brow comedies seem to appeal more to people in rural America, is this thing aimed at the cow farmer in the city of Fürstenfeldbruck?

I saw this trailer last week and have come back to it like an astronomer fascinated with quasars, unsure of what made it or why it exists but fascinating nonetheless. Any information on what God created this, and whether he rested on that day after having doing so, would be appreciated.

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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