This Week in Trailers

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 catch up with a master of the mundane, start a movement for meaningful change, determine if you can tarnish a legacy with a bad movie, understand what it’s like to know your time is short on this earth, and then make sexy time with Sebastian Stan.

About Endlessness

Director Roy Andersson is one of the best working today.

ABOUT ENDLESSNESS is a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendor and banality. We wander, dreamlike, gently guided by our Scheherazade-esque narrator. Inconsequential moments take on the same significance as historical events: a couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp. Simultaneously an ode and a lament, ABOUT ENDLESSNESS presents a kaleidoscope of all that is eternally human, an infinite story of the vulnerability of existence.

Andersson’s work is deeply enjoyable. As I’ve mentioned before when looking at his work, his filmography plays out more like living tableau’s to the banality of life than anything else. This is no different. The trailer takes its time. Under any other circumstances, it would be tedious, but this opening is arresting. Like a portrait, there is a lot to take in with nothing to guide us on what to feel, what to think. The rest of the trailer plays out similarly, moments that feel tinged with malaise and hopelessness, but also what it means to be human.

A Space In Time

Directors Riccardo Servini and Nick Taussig explore what it means to live and die.

SPACE IN TIME is a candid, lyrical, intimate portrait of one family’s struggle to transcend a fatal muscle wasting disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which in turn becomes an unlikely celebration of the disabled life, the life cut short by rare disease.

The film carries us through an up-close, poetic and frank portrait of the family surviving and thriving through the ups and downs of the disease, as we see Theo and Oskar’s gradual transition from walking to greater wheelchair dependency, both through their eyes and the eyes of their parents, director Nick Taussig and artist Klara Taussig, and how the latter learn to cope with the inevitable reality of losing their sons to an illness that currently has no cure.

A SPACE IN TIME is the story of a family seeking to transcend disability, with the two young boys at the heart of the film, and their parents, ultimately left to wonder whether their rare disease and disability – their difference from the rest of us – is not a weakness but instead a superpower, something extraordinary.

It’s not enough to just explore what it means to be defined by a medical diagnosis, but this trailer celebrates life even in spite of witnessing a gradual physical decline of a child. Parents are tasked, socially, as being the protectors of their children but what if you can’t do anything but be at the mercy of nature itself? It’s certainly a difficult trailer to digest. It’s simultaneously joyful and heartbreaking. Still, it’s the resiliency that the kids and their parents have that makes this more a documentary about what genuine love looks like than a debilitating disease.

Us Kids

Director Kim A. Snyder is doing what she can to help make the world, or at least the U.S., better.

Us Kids is an insightful, rousing coming-of-age story of youth leaders determined to fight for justice at a critical time in U.S. history. Sparked by the plague of gun violence ravaging their schools, Us Kids chronicles the March For Our Lives movement over several years. The documentary follows Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Samantha Fuentes, gun violence survivors, and teenage activists as they pull together the largest youth protest in American history. Their movement went global with rallies on six continents and in over 700 cities in every state across the nation, expanding to address racial injustice, a growing public health crisis, and shocking a political system into change. The March For Our Lives movement was instrumental in the record youth voter turnout in 2018 and 2020.

Whether it’s Snyder or Errol Morris or Alex Gibney there are those who leverage their abilities to elevate their art for something meaningful. In this movie, there is a generation of youths who will not buy into the world as it is. They reject gun violence as the cost of doing business in America, that health care shouldn’t be a right or a privilege to those who can afford it, and I was moved by it. While they show up in solid numbers for protests and rallies, it’s tough to get youths to the ballot box. Still, that doesn’t alter the genuine struggle to make change in a country that would rather ignore the next generation when everyone should be listening.

Monday

Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos is giving me life.

Mickey (Sebastian Stan) and Chloe (Denise Gough), two Americans in their mid-thirties living in Athens, meet in the heat of summer one whirlwind weekend. The chemistry between them is undeniable. When Chloe’s time in Greece is drawing to a close, she decides to give up her high-flying job back home and explore whether one weekend’s passion can blossom into something more. Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ follow up of the festival sensation Suntan is a fun, sensuous romance about how love gets in the way of life, and life gets in the way of love.

I miss these kinds of movies. They’re not demanding too much, they remind the fortunate among us what it is like to fall in love, and all they ask in return is to just go along for the ride. How can you deny the sheer magnetism of a Sebastian Stan smile in the back of a police car? It’s cute, effervescent, and pops with joy. It might get dark, it might get sad, but that’s love in a nutshell. Either way, count me in.

Vanquish

Director George Gallo has the talent, to be sure.

From the director of Double Take, Middle Men, and The Poison Rose comes this stylish, glossy action-thriller starring Morgan Freeman (Se7en) and Ruby Rose (“Orange Is the New Black”) that shows what desperation can drive a person to do. A mother, Victoria (Rose), is trying to put her dark past as a Russian drug courier behind her, but retired cop Damon (Freeman) forces Victoria to do his bidding by holding her daughter hostage. Now, Victoria must use guns, guts, and a motorcycle to take out a series of violent gangsters — or she may never see her child again.

Because Gallo wrote Midnight Run and Bad Boys, I almost feel a filial obligation to give the devil his due. He certainly deserves it for the work he’s done with his pen. That being said, even with the talents of Freeman and Rose has me wondering whether this is just beneath what he’s capable of doing. The plot feels more than contrived, the colors and lighting make this feel like something out of an 80’s neon fever dream, and the performances here are about on par with your average free movie on Pluto TV.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers for possible inclusion 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 or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

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

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