This Week in 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 get stood up at the altar, get apocalyptic, accept our weirdness, and follow a trans woman on her path of transitioning.

The Planters

Directors Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder are giving the world a little something unique.

Awkward telemarketer Martha Plant lives a lonely existence burying treasure and eating split pea soup. When she takes in a vagrant with multiple personalities, she discovers having three friends in one may be more than she can handle.

I’m a fan of quirky and even more supportive of under-the-radar productions that have a different type of narrative. While things here have a little Napoleon Dynamite sheen all over them, I’m still enamored by its charm here. The trailer is fairly straightforward in showing us its creative heart while also injecting its witticisms disguised as normal verbal behavior and throwing in some animation starring Jesus. It’s all over the map, but in a good way, and it looks like a flat-out pleasant movie.

Eternal Beauty

Director Craig Roberts is just as adept behind the camera as he is in front of it.

When Jane (Sally Hawkins) is dumped at the altar she has a breakdown and spirals into a chaotic world, where love (both real and imagined) and family relationships collide with both touching and humorous consequences.

What looks, feels, and almost acts like Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, if Lucky were to somehow descend into a deep, dark, and thorough depression, is a delight. It’s not quirky for the sake of being quirky. This trailer reveals an equally tender side to a woman dealing with something while also being amusing. It’s very subtle, but it’s that subtlety that elevates the narrative. There’s an uncommon love story, which no doubt will collide into what brought Hawkins here in the first place, but it’s one that I’m excited to see play itself out.

The Garden Left Behind

Director Flavio Alves explores a multitude of issues here.

THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND traces the relationship between Tina (Carlie Guevara), a young Mexican trans woman, and Eliana (Miriam Cruz), her grandmother, as they navigate Tina’s transition and struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City. As Tina begins the process of transitioning, Eliana struggles to understand Tina and fears that their life together in America is no longer what they bargained for. Tina finds camaraderie in a small but mighty transgender advocate group, but soon, Tina ends up having to fight for the life that she’s meant to live – facing violent threats, seemingly insurmountable medical costs, questions about her legal immigration status, and increasing skepticism from the man she loves. She begins to lose all hope, but has unknowingly become the only hope for a shy young man who has been watching her closely from afar.

From immigration, transitioning as a trans woman, medical debt, unrequited love, there is no shortage of challenges being surmounted. It looks beautifully shot, making great use of the backdrop of New York City. No doubt complex in all the issues this movie wants to tackle, it’s the pull-quotes that help shore up any doubts that this is anything short of powerful.

Undergods

Director Chino Moya’s first film looks like a barnburner.

Chino Moya’s debut feature UNDERGODS places viewers in a foreign futuristic world, though sadly one that feels more familiar every day. The film’s narrators maneuver through a deserted, crumbling, grayish-blue city, gathering bodies as they go and sharing nightmarish stories of a long-ago abandoned past. What follows is a series of narratives, overlapping and weaving through time and space with remarkable grace and ease. The threads come together elegantly as stories layer upon each other and crescendo towards a powerful, satisfying conclusion.

I’ll be honest in saying that I do not know what’s going on, but I don’t think the filmmaker wants to tell us. There’s no rhyme or reason or order that any of these clips are put in but they beautifully paint a landscape that, while dystopian, feels achingly soothing. The music, the editing, the way things pick up visual steam by the end? Wonderful.

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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