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 revisit a directorial master of the 70’s, go back to school with Donnie Yen, wonder how Nazis suddenly have been given a voice, hit up a friend to help make a baby, and sit on the edge of our seat as we watch a victim confront a murderer.

Big Brother

I wish I could tell you exactly why seeing Donnie Yen being all kinds of awesome in a premise completely removed from reality works for me, but it does. Director Kam Ka Wai has a fantastic eye for how best use Yen’s talents, and I am here for all of it. The opening is nuts, and it doesn’t ever relent. Without so much as a reason why you have this guy, coming in all Dangerous Minds/The Substitute-like, tearing everything up, beating people up, we’re just supposed to go along for the ride. And I do. It’s glorious. You’ve got the Great Wall of China in there, Yen go-karting in the streets for seemingly no reason, Yen being all Mr. Shoop to his class, it’s just chaos. I’m not sure why I’m here or how I got here, but put this on your calendar.

Cardinals

I can’t speak for the finished film, but if we’re giving points for how well a trailer evokes something, the debut of the directing team of Aidan Shipley and Grayson Moore is something to behold. It’s tough to get someone’s attention, but the opening seconds of this just crackle with electricity. No context, wonderfully framed, just a moment that is going to sit there. In 60 seconds we’ll get as much as we’re going to get. Everything that comes in between the opening and closing leads to more questions. I’m a mark for these kinds of set-ups, and in a land where everything is given up, and nothing is held back, we’re given only the bare minimum to satiate our wanting to know what has brought us all together. One of the very best trailers I’ve seen all month.

Hal

Just take your pick. Shampoo, Being There, Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby ushered in New Hollywood. Director Amy Scott has assembled something that looks like a fantastic exploration of the films that Ashby directed while reflecting on the impact they had. While New Hollywood was about movies that were sensibility budgeted, and where the director held more sway than they had before, this trailer is wonderful in establishing who Hal really was. I’m not so hot on using props that heavy-handedly contextualizes what people are saying as it borders on distracting, but it doesn’t take away too much with the importance of what’s actually being said. For sure, the man mightily influenced the 70s, and this seems like a proper tribute.

Anchor and Hope

Director Carlos Marques-Marcet wants to tell a different kind of story. You have a lesbian couple wanting to get pregnant and have appeared to enlist the services of a mutual friend. While the premise seems outlandish, I’m won over by its earnestness and for its steady visual flow from beginning to end. It keeps you engaged with the material, makes some good jokes, but then injects a sense of reality at just the right moment. I’m relatively confident this is one movie that is small in scope, small in impact, but it’s because of that scope that makes it come off so earnest.

Alt-Right: Age of Rage

Director Adam Bhala Lough has hit upon something that is the zeitgeist equivalent of going into the eye of a hurricane. Watching this trailer and thinking about the thousands of men and women who died to defeat fascism and Nazism in World War II, I fail to grok about why being anti-fascist is somehow a pejorative. Perhaps I’m not thinking about this issue critically enough, but after watching this trailer, it shouldn’t be hard to understand how vile these morally reprehensible people truly are to society. The material here gets to the heart of the issues that are plaguing our discourse. I don’t think this documentary will serve much more beyond as a document to understand why this ideology has flourished. Hopefully, it recommends what can be done in order to blunt its advancement. Idealistic, sure, but every story helps.

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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