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 deal with the effects of war, get happy with Mike Birbiglia, work through the expectations of young adulthood, let dance set us free, and understand bipolar disorder through cinema.

Beanpole

Director Kantemir Balagov, who tore through Cannes with two awards and four total nominations for this movie, has a devastating tale to tell.

In post-WWII Leningrad, two women, Iya and Masha (astonishing newcomers Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina), intensely bonded after fighting side by side as anti-aircraft gunners, attempt to readjust to a haunted world. As the film begins, Iya, long and slender and towering over everyone—hence the film’s title—works as a nurse in a shell-shocked hospital, presiding over traumatized soldiers. A shocking accident brings them closer and also seals their fates.

I wish I could tell you that this trailer makes sense, but it does not, and that’s okay. It’s impressive to see how they are showing the narrative, explaining nothing. The first 45 seconds are borderline unnerving. You think it will cut away, and it does not. The camera just lingers. The rest is a visual pastiche of disconnected moments. I’m enamored with the effort here.

Mike Birbiglia: The New One

Director Seth Barrish is back yet again to bring us the latest from Mike Birbiglia.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia hits Broadway with a hilarious yet profound one-man show that recounts his emotional and physical journey to parenthood.

Wish I could say that this trailer gets me wanting more of Mike’s insights on life’s idiosyncrasies but, alas, that was not meant to be. The material doesn’t feel very novel in his insights and the comedic elements around parenthood feel stuck somewhere in the late-night set of a comedian from the 80s. Perhaps if they took a different moment to sell this special, it would change the vibe, but if this is as good as it gets, I’m even less inclined to give this a look.

Most Likely to Succeed

As a fan of documentaries that follow young adults as they transition from teens to productive members of society, Pamela Littky has me on the hook.

In 2007, four teenagers from disparate backgrounds are voted “Most Likely To Succeed” during their senior year of high school. Filmed over a ten-year period and directed by award-winning photographer Pamela Littky, we watch as they each chart their own version of success and navigate the unpredictability of American life in the 21st Century.

The story is as basic as just growing up, which may seem unremarkable for a documentary. However, like fingerprints, everyone comes out on the other side of adulthood different compared to where they began. These are the stories I will never tire of, and the trailer makes a convincing case why should celebrate these narratives. Heartwarming, while showing the adversity they have to face, it’s just inspiring viewing.

Goldie

Rough around the edges, director Sam de Jong’s debut feature hits all the right notes.

Goldie, a precocious teenager in a family shelter, wages war against the system to keep her sisters together while she pursues her dreams of being a dancer. This is a story about displaced youth, ambition, and maintaining your spirit in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

This trailer doesn’t hide what the movie is about, and it doesn’t shy away from its themes. It fully embraces its focus on our protagonist, Goldie, and her ambitions. It’s always inspiring to see first efforts take big swings like this, and the trailer promises some true heart and soul behind what’s happening on the surface.

Inside the Rain

Director Aaron Fisher is baring it all in his latest.

Facing expulsion from college over a misunderstanding, a bipolar student indulges his misery at a strip club where he befriends a gorgeous, intelligent, outrageous woman and they hatch a madcap scheme to prove his innocence.

It’s one thing to explain your own experience with a mental condition, but it’s another thing entirely to put yourself front and center of it. Fisher is both source material and protagonist and the results are positive. The subject matter is gnarly, but the trailer treats bipolar disorder not as an affliction but as something that just is. I’m inspired by the effort and level of skill needed to get this low-budget indie to look as good as it does.

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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