This Week In Trailers: The Alchemist Cookbook, In The Shadow Of The Hill, Cameraperson, Silicon Cowboys, Dancer

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 go find ourselves in the woods, go toe to toe with Rio's police, use a camera to document a life, go hardcore nerd, and dance like everyone's watching.The Alchemist Cookbook Trailer

It's OK to be unnerved.

Director Joel Potrykus first leaped and smothered his body on top of my cinematic radar when he released 2014's Buzzard into the world. A mix of the unconventional and the odd, Buzzard was/is about as fascinating as anything I had watched that year. True, I don't revisit it but sometimes you need a movie like that just to squeegee that third eye a little bit from time to time just to make sure your calibration is in working order. This trailer plays just like Buzzard in that it just doesn't care about giving you any kind of narrative help up to understand what it's putting out there. It's going to be its own entity and you can either embrace it and trust the pull-quotes it provides or you can shuffle right along, thank you very much. I'm completely dialed in to what it's selling and the trailer is delightfully edited in that it keeps you entertained while ignoring everything else it should be doing. Points for style and flat out weirdness.

In the Shadow of the Hill Trailer

I get it.

When you have movies like Fast Five that treats the favelas of Rio like a borderline cool hiding spot as Dwayne Johnson's arm butter shines brightly against any available light source or the recent Olympics coverage that didn't dwell on the more egregious social problems facing Rio you have an opportunity to tell us something real. Director Dan Jackson seems to have done that here without getting bogged down with history or trying to make sense of something that can't be understood in two and a half minutes. The trailer here just gets right to a specific moment in Rio's history and it's wildly gripping. I get it, it's tough material but as a story that is going to be told it's straight up as in-your-face as it can be. I'm kind of impressed by how quick you get sucked in to the story and it's for all the right reasons. It's a living document to injustice and the quest to get answers.

Silicon Cowboys Trailer

There's got to be more than one of you who bought a Compaq Presario in the mid 1990's.

Director Jason Cohen, who was nominated for his documentary short, Facing Fear, in 2013, is taking a look at Compaq and while it has all the hallmarks of something that might not appeal to dweebs with the amount of Dockers and broom pushing mustaches in the file footage but these are the stories that I enjoy consuming when done right. The trailer simply establishes who Compaq was as it started out, what market forces were against it, what internal forces were against it, but it seems wildly entertaining. Searching for Sugar Man this isn't but as someone who remembers getting their first 486DX the time before this was even a possibility is still something of a curiosity.

Dancer Trailer


Director Steven Cantor dials into the emotion and keeps his foot steady on the gas. One of the things about this trailer is how it makes the world of ballet seem electric to laypeople, bumpkins really, to dolts like me. As soon as we realize this movie is about a ballet dancer the trailer just gets right into how this man spun himself out before taking a moment to step back and explain what brought us here. Without marring us with details it just delves right into the emotional triggers that make this dancer's story compelling versus just a story about a ballet dancer who just didn't want to dance anymore. It's thrilling, exciting, sad, and has a perfectly edited quick clip ending that encapsulates why this deserves your consideration.

Cameraperson Trailer


Considering that this documentary is, ostensibly, director Kirsten Johnson's visual diary spanning decades it's almost like Samsara but with just one person's culture, one person's navigation through this thing we call life. While there is absolutely no conventional narrative cohesion it still packs an emotional punch as you realize that you're witnessing this person's life through their lens. Again, intimate. It's about her, not about her, but seems completely representative of her as a photojournalist. While it's slightly jarring as we move from moment to moment with nothing to carry us through these moments, it's understandable that life it like that and you simply have to let the moments wash over you.

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:

  • Goliath Trailer – Comes off as weak and melodramatic.
  • Divorce Trailer - I do.
  • Fifty Shades Darker Trailer - Blech.
  • The Promise Trailer - Important story, limp delivery.
  • Miss Sloane Trailer – Enough with the hysterics, all o' youse.
  • Nocturnal Animals Trailer – Just feels hollow and listless.
  • Trolls Trailer – Hoping my kids completely forget this is even coming out.
  • Moana Trailer – So far, the best trailer we've seen for this.
  • The Free World Trailer - Strange
  • Easy Trailer – Totally down.
  • Annabelle 2 Teaser Trailer – Ehh, OK?
  • Christine Trailer - Y-E-S
  • Rats Trailer – Gave me the willies.