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 fall in love while our life spins out of control, get wrapped up in some dirty dealings, work through some things from our past, get convicted by a jury of our peers via the boob tube, and our work-life gets a little more intense.

Babyteeth

If you’re going to make your first feature about coming-of-age, you better come correct, and Shannon Murphy does.

When seriously ill teenager Milla (Eliza Scanlen) falls madly in love with small-time drug dealer Moses (Toby Wallace), it’s her parents’ (Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn) worst nightmare. But as Milla’s first brush with love brings her a renewed lust for life, traditional morals go out the window, leaving her parents wanting to hold tighter to their little girl. Milla soon teaches everyone in her orbit – her parents, Moses, a sensitive music teacher, a budding child violinist, and a disarmingly honest, pregnant neighbor – how to live like you have nothing to lose. What might have been a disaster for the Finlay family instead leads to letting go and finding grace in the glorious chaos of life. BABYTEETH joyously explores how good it is to be alive and how far we will go for love.

This trailer has been out there for a while, but the movie is finally getting a domestic release here in the states. It’s nice to stumble on gems like this. You’ve got a compelling story, interesting dramatic swings, and, best of all, Ben Mendelsohn. Between movies like Booksmart, Eighth Grade, and others like it, this subgenre of great movies with young people having moments of pivotal growth is wonderful. I’m hoping this trend continues as this one looks like it won’t disappoint.

A Good Woman is Hard to Find

Strap in as director Abner Pastoll is going to take us for a ride.

Set in the underbelly of Northern Ireland, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND follows Sarah (Sarah Bolger, “Mayans M.C.,” The Spiderwick Chronicles, Emelie), struggling as a single mother, desperate to discover who brutally murdered her husband in front of her young son, Ben (Rudy Doherty), rendering him mute. Dismissing the crime as thugs killing each other, the police haven’t done a thing to help, and Sarah’s very much on edge. One day, after being coerced into helping a low-life drug dealer (Andrew Simpson, Notes on a Scandal) stash narcotics stolen from the neighborhood kingpin (Edward Hogg, White Lightnin), she’s forced into taking drastic action to protect her children, evolving from downtrodden submissive to take-charge vigilante.

There’s always room for a taut thriller like this. The premise is absurdly simple, but it’s the execution that’s so electric. Mix in a mom, throw in some danger that might befall her child, toss in a dash of revenge, and you’ve got my approval. Very rough around its cinematic edges, but these are the kinds of movies that just don’t get made much anymore; I’m excited to see that they still are if you look hard enough.

12 Hour Shift

Director Brea Grant is getting down and dirty.

It’s 1998 and over the course of one 12 Hour Shift at an Arkansas Hospital, A Junkie Nurse (Angela Bettis), Her Scheming Cousin (Chloe Farnworth) and a group of black market Organ-Trading criminals (Mick Foley, David Arquette, Dusty Warren) start a heist that could lead to all of their demise.

I’m just a fan of how enticing this looks and feels. It’s a movie that you would watch late at night for fun with your crew or when you want something that movies are supposed to do: entertain. There’s no high-brow pretension, just fun. Sometimes that’s all you need. And, if it weren’t for Tribeca picking this one, I’m not sure I’d endorse it, but they saw something that hopefully makes this one deliver.

Trial by Media

Don’t trust everything you see on TV.

From Executive Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, six televised cases defined by headlines reaching across different areas of the law including the unforgettable Jenny Jones made-for-Court TV murder trials, the sensational story of Rod Blagojevich’s political fall, and the case of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was shot 41 times by police in New York City.

This is the kind of true-crime programming that speaks to me. It’s not necessarily about what happened in these cases, although that’s vitally important, but, it’s about how popular culture and media influence can sway a populace when lives and livelihoods are at stake.

The Wolf House

Creators Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León want to tell you a story you will not forget anytime soon.

Evoking Colonia Dignidad, an infamous torture colony operating during the Pinochet regime, The Wolf House is an animated film unlike any other, an exquisitely handcrafted surrealist docu-horror-fairy tale about one of Chile’s darkest periods. It begins with Mary, a young girl who hides in a mysterious house in southern Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. Using stop-motion techniques and combining elements of various fables, photography, drawing, sculpture, and stage performance, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León have created a nightmarish shapeshifter of a film.

The creativity, the use of light and dark, the way they have melded the fantastical and the hyperreal and reality, it’s all on display here. For anyone bemoaning the lack of originality at the cinema, I’d say watch this. I’ve got nothing but love to shower on a vision so focused and honest. One of the best trailers I’ve seen in weeks.

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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