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 decide to pick up a drug habit, stuff a dead pet, and try to understand the coronavirus without resorting to injecting ourselves with Lysol.

Castle In The Ground

Director Joey Klein is not here making a movie to make you feel better about life.

Henry (Alex Wolff) is a devout caretaker of his chronically ill single mother (Neve Campbell). His girlfriend, and lone support system, is about to leave for college. His relatives and their obligatory condolences frustrate more than comfort. His only focus in life is to nurse his mother back to health; it is his only point of meaning; his obsession. So when his mother suddenly dies, and with him feeling largely complicit, he is left not only grief-stricken but irrevocably without purpose. Overcome now with new grief and guilt, he falls into a world of addiction, abusing his mother’s leftover stash of Oxycontin 80s…The only person in his life that isn’t placating to his loss is his subversive new neighbor ANA (Imogen Poots), who’s across the hall and trying to kick her own habit just as Henry is developing his. As they form an unlikely friendship based in equal parts on drug dependency and commiseration, they become ensnared in a deadly situation involving a missing bag of drugs.

I’ll be honest when I say I’m here for Neve and Alex. While I get that Neve won’t be long for this world within this movie, I’m still impressed by how well this looks. Sure, we’ve seen stories about addiction told time and time again, and perhaps his won’t move the needle when compared to the best ones. However, in this age of people feeling isolated and alone, while literally being isolated and being alone, somehow the message really resonates.

Big Fur

When it comes to interesting topics to explore, director Dan Wayne has found a good one.

Ken Walker is a World Champion taxidermist. Ken specializes in re-creating extinct and endangered species out of other animal’s hides, like his famous saber-toothed tiger and giant panda. Wild animals are not the only way Ken can make a lifelike impression — he used to be a professional Roy Orbison impersonator. But these days, his Pretty Woman is eight feet tall and covered in fur — his re-creation of ‘Patty’, the female Bigfoot seen in that shaky 1967 movie.

BIG FUR is a wry portrait of an eccentric artist-hero, with an unshakable belief that eventually he’ll find true love. Or the hairy, 800-pound validation of his life’s quest.

This is a documentary in the vein of Trekkies or even American Movie. It’s not so much about the goal of this taxidermist to create his opus but rather this guy’s existence and how his uniqueness is something that can be applied to all of us. Such a fan of these under-the-radar, low-stakes kinds of movies.

Coronavirus, Explained

In 2020, the world changed. This topical series examines the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to combat it and ways to manage its mental health toll.

I think the title says it all. In case anyone needs to hear it, there is a lot of misinformation out there right now. Many leaders, including the current president, have woefully and abjectly failed in their duties to help those they purport to serve. You would be better following sources who aren’t turning this into the media click-bait sweepstakes, and trailers like this at least provide mild comfort that some people are looking to help more than they are trying to gin up fear.

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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