This Week In Trailers: American Jesus, No Lullaby, You Won't Regret That Tattoo, I Am Big Bird, The Writer With No Hands

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: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we find our own Personal Jesus, trigger warning: we power through sexual abuse, talk about our sweet tattoos, get touched by Big Bird and dig deep into a real-life conspiracy.You Won't Regret That Tattoo Trailer

For those keeping score at home and are really curious, I have no tattoos. I have no piercings, I have nothing that denotes any tribal affiliation or cultural hallmarks. What I do have, though, is an appreciation for those who have put ink to skin to make something fascinating, facile, or just unbelievable. Like the time I was at Comic-Con and I stood behind a rather big, bald guy who had a woman's name on the back of his neck in beautiful, swooping black calligraphy with a harsh red rubber stamp, literally looked like something straight out of Staples, with the word VOID across it. I'm not sure which circles this guy runs in but I don't think he's playing bocce ball with the golden oldies at the old folks home down the street.

Director Angie Bird instantly hooked me with the tempo, cinematography, and manner in which she presents her tattooed subjects. They aren't particularly extraordinary and the tattoos themselves don't seem like anything that would warrant a documentary on its own, but there's something else afoot here. The trailer smartly just introduces us to these people, these individuals, and their skin art. It's the stories, I would hope, that becomes the backbone of why we're gathered around to listen to the tales of the people who wanted to remember something, feel something, make it permanent.

American Jesus Trailer

A searing look at the papacy, and the less than holy figures that have been at the center of many controversies in the past few decades, Secrets of the Vatican revealed many ugly truths about what should be the bastion of love, forgiveness and helping all of mankind.

What I see in director Larry Fessenden's expose on the nature of religion is something that many have yearned for after Bill Maher's limp attempt at it with his film, Religulous. This is a trailer that just puts all sorts of things on the table without it feeling snarky or like anyone's being belittled. There's something fundamental about pondering why it is that some embrace religion, why it is fodder for those who would put it down, and what the meaning of spirituality is in a modern age such as ours. The elements presented are so disparate and splintered it's hard to nail down what the real narrative thrust is going to be but it's kind of like faith to see what's being presented and decide whether you will go any further with this one.

No Lullaby Trailer

No question, we've seen this kind of story before.

Long before it got a slot to play at this year's Hot Docs director Helen Simon was coming up with a way to tell the story of three generations in a family who have a shared secret. Whether that's sexual in nature, physical in nature, or chemically to blame, there is a fundamental need to hear powerful stories. While some will overlap no one would begrudge someone who has something important to say. It's hard in our language, it hurts in any language, to be so removed from the situation at the beginning of the trailer only to be pulled quickly towards its center. We don't know why it is we're here or what it means that we're listening to this woman speak about whatever horror has befallen her but it's magnetic. It's hard to turn away from the mystery of what has torn asunder, in her eyes, so many people around her.

I Am Big Bird Trailer

There's a word used by some Redditors across the country that makes we wonder about maturity of their emotional development: feels. THE FEELS. Oh, right in the feels! Is there something inherently wrong with admitting something struck some part of yourself that made you feel an emotion or provoked you in some way that language alone can't describe? To that end, this trailer hits somewhere very personal and the reaction I had is much more nuanced than "the feels."

When you grow up on a steady diet of Sesame Street there's only so much room for heroes when you're not yet old enough for pre-school. Big Bird ranks high on that list of iconic characters that never fades from memory. What directors Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker do so well here is to play this just as well as the promos for Being Elmo. It gets to the root of what it means for this performer to embody this thing and how they incorporated it into their very being. It's not just a role, it's a way of life dedicated to bringing the inanimate into something very much alive. It's such a sweet and tender portrait of a man who saw this as a calling and there's not much more to do than to admire it and let the emotions wash over you.

The Writer With No Hands Trailer

Is it possible there's actually a cabal of individuals capable of snuffing out the lives of people who may or may not have information that could be troublesome to an organization?

We've all grown up on a steady diet of espionage where people are killed without so much as an afterthought but how prevalent is this kind of thing in real life, I wonder. Director William Westaway seems to embrace that thought as well when he delved into a mystery surrounding a man who died under mysterious circumstances. The narrative is rich and rife with all the possibilites of how one guy could have been a target for someone else's murderous rage. Just when you think this could be the ramblings of someone who obviously has an axe to grind or is delusional about what they think may or may not have happened you start to see a picture emerge. Yes, it's still all up in the air by the time the trailer is finished but it's strength here is that it plants the thought that they could be right. Someone could correctly be asserting that this guy died at the hands of someone else and not his own.

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 or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

  • Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies Trailer - I'm impressed by how completely stupid and horrible this looks.
  • The Maze Runner Trailer - More fodder for the YA crowd.
  • Peanuts Trailer – Really liked the teaser.
  • Godzilla International Trailer - Strikes the right balance of doom and excitement.
  • Nymphomaniac Trailer - There's just something so delicious about the shifting tones and frenetic presentation that is so appealing.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer - OK, I didn't enjoy the first film but I'm actually sold on this installment based on what's here.
  • The Giver Trailer – Nope.
  • Earth to Echo Trailer - If you're going to make it look like some kids with a handicam did it, make it look like kids with a handicam did it.
  • The Signal Trailer - I'm interested.
  • Step Up All In Trailer – This was like chewing on the end of a pen cap: devoid of any sustistence or nutrition but an inexorably a hard habit to break.
  • Brick Mansions Trailer - Not a fitting tribute.