Fewer 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 throw ourselves out of a perfectly fine plane, remember wandering the aisles at the local Blockbuster Video, go space and leave our kid behind, and get a lesson in media literacy from one of the best in the game.

Anne at 13,000 ft

I don’t know what to make of director Kazik Radwanski’s latest, but this trailer has me white-knuckling it.

With her best friend Sarah (musician Dorothea Paas), 27-year-old Anne works at a Toronto daycare, where she needlessly bickers with colleagues and is often more interested in fantasizing with the children than in supervising them. For Sarah’s bachelorette party, they go skydiving, and Anne seems completely in her element, floating above it all, a true departure from her strained, awkward professional and social interactions (such as the one with new boyfriend Matt, played by filmmaker Matt Johnson). Radwanski’s signature hand-held style matches the way Anne fumbles through life. Tight close-ups offer further evidence of Campbell’s remarkable, spiky performance, with her character’s tremulous shifts in mood and sentiment efficiently portrayed by subtle swings in tone and body language.

This is tight, tense, and there’s a perfectly captured sense of unease that coats everything here. It effortlessly has us weave in and out of a life that seems filled with equal parts tumult and exhilaration. I’m not sure where we’re going but all I know is I want on this plane, wherever it’s headed.

The Last Blockbuster

For those of you who have yet to see director Taylor Morden‘s Pick It Up! – Ska in the ’90s, first, rectify that immediately to see how well he puts together a narrative. Then watch the above trailer for his latest.

The Last Blockbuster is a fun, nostalgic look back at the era of video rentals and the story of how one small town video store managed to outlast a corporate giant. The film follows the manager of the world’s last remaining Blockbuster video (located in Bend, OR), Sandi Harding, as she navigates the difficult task of keeping a video rental store open in the era of Netflix.

I am, flat out, a fan of Taylor’s creative, straight-forward approach. The trailer for his latest is, like his last, wildly interesting. You, ostensibly, could make a documentary about Blockbuster that is heavy on the specifics but, here’s the thing, you lose that little essence of what Blockbuster meant for anyone who wandered through its aisles. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and appears to tell a story that you would want to hear. This medium doesn’t have to be reinvented and, sometimes, like this trailer shows, letting the story tell itself is a good way to have it be heard.

Proxima

Alice Winocour’s latest feels like a perfect companion piece to Interstellar.

Eva Green gives a career best performance in this epic and emotionally charged new drama from acclaimed director Alice Winocour. Green plays Sarah, a French astronaut training at the European Space Agency in Cologne. The only woman in the arduous programme she has been chosen to be part of the crew of a year-long space mission called ‘Proxima’. Putting enormous strain on her relationship with her daughter (played by outstanding newcomer Zélie Boulant-Lemesle), the training begins to take its toll on both as Sarah’s training progresses and the launch looms ever closer. Featuring stunning performances from the entire cast which includes Matt Dillon, Lars Eidinger and Sandra Hüller, Winocour’s new film is an unmissable cinematic experience which will take audiences on a gripping, emotional and life-affirming journey.

This trailer hits hard on so many levels. However, because this movie looks at not so much those exploring new territories but, rather, its effects on those left behind it operates as both a story of motherhood and one of ambition. Wonderfully, this trailer navigates well the minefield of how you portray a woman who is both focused on realizing her dream to be an astronaut and, at the same time, being a stable, nurturing influence to her daughter. It’s frigging gorgeous to look at and, even if you turned the sound off, it wouldn’t blunt the emotional punches to your eyes. I pray this is as good as the trailer makes it out to be.

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News

I don’t revisit documentaries a lot, but director Andrew Rossi‘s Page One: Inside the New York Times is an exception. Now he’s looking at the impact of fake news.

After Truth examines “fake news,” its victims, its perpetrators, and its consequences

The synopsis is about all you need to know about a documentary that appears to be about education. Education of a different kind, where we are to understand how media is consumed and weaponized. It’s eerily prescient in a time when, as recent as this week, outlets of varying degrees of reliability are reporting on the coronavirus. Media studies at its best.

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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