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’re dealing with white supremacy, things from space crashing into the earth, a legendary documentarian debuts his latest, look at the life of an American president, and carve out a little family time.

Fireball

Director Werner Herzog is looking up at the sky with his latest.

Fireball explores the fascinating, entangled nature and culture of meteorites, shooting stars, deep impacts and craters. Meteorites are the oldest relics we have ever touched and, along with the fireballs that propelled them to our planet, they have sparked human imagination and awe throughout history and prehistory. Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer take us on an extraordinary journey across the continents to discover the meaning of these messages from the stars. We follow Herzog and Oppenheimer as they travel the world and meditate on heaven and the heavens, life’s origins and evolution, and our destiny.

This is not going to be on the scale of Grizzly Man, but honestly, this looks like a simple, fun, distraction. I wouldn’t expect Herzog to break down all of the mystery and history of meteors, but that’s kind of the point. Going to exotic locations all across the world where this space debris has pounded earth, all narrated by Werner as he rambles on and on about the importance of it all, sounds like one of the best ways to spend an evening at home.

White Noise

Director Daniel Lombroso is not down with white power.

“White Noise” is the definitive inside story of the alt-right, following Richard Spencer, Lauren Southern, and Mike Cernovich as they ride a wave of racist ideas to viral fame. Even as the movement breaks into the mainstream, it fractures, leaving its leaders to grapple with backlash, infighting, and self-doubt.

One benefit of seeing how alt-right jagoffs have felt emboldened and empowered to come out of the shadows is that we can see who they are. Racism, white nationalism, the things people should have been shamed out of society for actively fomenting, is on display here. The trailer should make you angry, it should drive you to action, and, it effortlessly this by just letting the racists keep talking. If you want something to fire you up to go to the polls, this is going to be it.

City Hall

Director Frederick Wiseman is a national treasure.

A look at Boston’s city government, covering racial justice, housing, climate action, and more.

With a runtime of over four and a half hours, this could be on my shortlist of most anticipated docs to watch in 2020. The government is designed to operate slower than the society over which it rules. Somehow, Wiseman makes all these unhurried wheels of the city seem electric and exciting. With clips of people who believe in the institutions that keep the lights on and progress going forward as each little wheel helps make the bigger one move, there just isn’t a more enticing documentary this fall.

The Reagans

Director Matt Tyrnauer, who directed the fantastic Where’s My Roy Cohn?, is here to talk about the Reagans.

A four-part documentary series that explores the many surprisingly unexamined aspects of the Reagan White House, and how Nancy Reagan’s paper-doll image was at odds with the power she ultimately wielded throughout her husband’s presidency.

This is probably for the political nerds in the room who love deconstructions of public figures. As long as we see just how ruinous of a human being Ronald Reagan was for how he actively, and gravely, mismanaged the AIDS crisis, I’m down. The trailer looks and feels even-handed in how it’s stating its thesis. Again, I don’t think there’s going to be anything in here you couldn’t read in a book, but for those of us who are looking for a one-stop-shop in trying to understand this president, this looks solid.

Farewell Amor

Director Ekwa Msangi has stolen my heart.

After 17 years in exile, Walter finally reunites with his family after being forced to leave Angola for New York City. We meet the family as Walter is picking up his wife, Esther, and daughter, Sylvia, from the airport to bring them home to his one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. They quickly discover how the years of separation have turned them into absolute strangers. As they attempt to overcome the personal and political hurdles amongst them, they rely on the muscle memory of dance to find their way back “home.” FAREWELL AMOR is an immigrant story that has come to define the American landscape since its inception.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen anything this touching in a while, but I left this trailer wanting to see the movie right then and there. There is so much love and beauty radiating from every second we’re given. The immigrant experience is different for every single person who comes looking for something in America. By listening to these stories, and seeing how moments affect people differently, the hope is that your empathy bucket gets a little deeper. Fiction or not, this is moving stuff.

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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