Green Band Trailer

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 delve into the duplicity of a man who helped shape Donald Trump, see how where you live can influence if you survive a natural disaster, get animated, go deep into the jungle, and see what Paul Scheer is up to.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

Director Judith Helfand may not be shedding light on the idea that class matters in all facets of life, but the idea that an address can determine whether you make it through a heatwave should give you pause.

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand’s searing investigation into the politics of “disaster” – by way of the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave, in which 739 residents perished (mostly Black and living in the city’s poorest neighborhoods).

Asking open-ended questions that push people to deeply consider what it might mean to redefine the term “disaster” and reframe the concept of “resilience,” Helfand forges inextricable connections between the cataclysmic natural disasters we’re willing to see and prepare for and the slow-motion disasters we’re not – that is until an extreme weather event hits and they are made exponentially more deadly and visible. Using a combination of chutzpah, humor and candor, Helfand delves deep into one of our nation’s biggest growth industries: disaster preparedness.

The trailer makes this math pretty easy to follow and the post-mortem, literally, that is done to examine one such disaster in Chicago’s recent past only reinforces the documentary’s importance. Yes, we already know people of certain class and stature and income get different treatment. But seeing and hearing it again in documentary form doesn’t make the point less impactful.

Monos

This trailer for the latest movie from Alejandro Landes is so very haunting. Here’s the synopsis:

MONOS, Alejandro Landes’ awe-inspiring third feature, is a breathtaking survivalist saga set on a remote mountain in Latin America. The film tracks a young group of soldiers and rebels — bearing names like Rambo, Smurf, Bigfoot, Wolf and Boom-Boom — who keep watch over an American hostage, Doctora (Julianne Nicholson).

With a rapturous score by Mica Levi (only her third, after UNDER THE SKIN and JACKIE), director Alejandro Landes examines the chaos and absurdity of war from the unique perspective of adolescence, recalling LORD OF THE FLIES and BEAU TRAVAIL in a way that feels wholly original. Landes brings together a diverse young cast of both seasoned professionals (including Hannah Montana’s Moisés Arias) and untrained neophytes and thrusts them into an unforgiving, irrational and often surreal environment where anything can happen — even peace.

Whether it’s the absence of a basic narrative or the stark imagery of these kids going to battle, this new trailer brings the thunder. Visually, aurally, them’s fighting words in this bold new world.

Balloon

Director Jeremy Merrifield’s tackling some heady subject matter in a 16-minute short. Here’s what it’s about:

Exploring gender through the lens of the superhero myth, BALLOON questions how we raise boys when our concept of masculinity has become narrow.

For fourteen-year-old Sam, surviving junior high means staying below radar. But that becomes impossible after he becomes the target of the school’s next viral video. He’s pressured to “hit back,” but Sam isn’t so sure—even if he does have super powers.

This trailer is so focused on digging right in, pivoting to our protagonist, the antagonism that follows, and the ambiguity that coats it all. I love the power it exerts and the importance of the message it’s trying to convey. I equally like the ambition that drives a film like this.

Where’s My Roy Cohn? 

Director Matt Tyrnauer’s examination into one of our nation’s most deplorable humans is delicious watching.

Roy Cohn personified the dark arts of American politics, turning empty vessels into dangerous demagogues – from Joseph McCarthy to his final project, Donald J. Trump. This thriller-like exposé connects the dots, revealing how a deeply troubled master manipulator shaped our current American nightmare.

There is some hyperbole in there, but, man, does it feel accurate. By the time you’re done with this trailer, you can’t help but wonder what kind of nation allowed this much power to be generated. What does that say about those who allowed it?

Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond

Released back in 2007 and 2008, respectively, this compendium of animated shorts from over a decade ago looks amazing.

From groundbreaking animation outfit STUDIO 4°C, creators of MFKZ and the upcoming Children of the Sea, comes an extraordinary project with a simple vision: to take an all-star team of some of the best animators working in Japanese animation today, and give each free reign to tell a unique short story. The results are GENIUS PARTY and GENIUS PARTY BEYOND, two animated anthology films full of boundless imagination, fantastic worlds, and unique visual styles.

I’m such a rabid fan of the short story form that a double volume of this kind of animation. A collection like this ensures that not only are you going to be rocked by something but you will be able to quickly skip to the next should one not to be your liking.

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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