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 find religion in a colander, catch up with one of the best characters in the business, wonder if Dan Aykroyd is going to talk about aliens while talking about ghosts, watch the weirdest magic show we’ve ever come across, and get to know one of rap’s best photographers.

I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story

Director Michael Arthur is breaking down religion with eggs, water, and flour.

With millions of believers worldwide, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the world’s fastest growing religion. I, Pastafari follows a few brave members of the church, the Pastafarians, as they fight for their religious freedom to access privileges and exceptions in law granted to other religions. Along the way, the Pastafarians force intolerant skeptics to answer the question, “what is a real religion anyway?”

Anytime you can have a discussion about religion that attempts to answer the question of “Who’s to say you’re right?” I am all ears. The Pastafarians are a select group of people who, however humorous it might be, genuinely want to take aim at institutions who believe in their own righteousness. Rightly or wrongly, I’m a fan of thumbing your nose at The Man and if it takes a colander on your head to do it, so be it.

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo

When last we talked about director Brett Harvey he was giving us the intense-looking Ice Guardians,a movie about hockey hitmen. This time, though, he’s focusing on just one tough SOB.

From a life of hard drugs and armed robberies to Hollywood red carpets and mentoring addicts, this is the telling of one of the most radical and uplifting transformation stories of human character ever put to film. Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Brett Harvey (Ice Guardians), Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is the shocking story of one man’s capacity to overcome his demons and discover redemption through the most unlikely of journeys.

I like stories like this if only because Trejo has proven himself to be more than the sum of his past. He’s built something more than just being in the background for movies like Heat, he’s become an agent for positive change in his community. It’s inspiring and compelling.

Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters

Directors Anthony and Claire Bueno want to revisit Ghostbusters.

Directed and produced by brother and sister team Anthony and Claire Bueno, Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters charts the making of the original 1984 Ghostbusters, featuring exclusive interviews with over 40 members of the cast and crew including director Ivan Reitman and lead cast Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. Over 10 years in the making, the documentary also chronicles the achievements made by the visual effects crew in creating the ghosts during the pre-digital age when special effects were still evolving.

Having a passion for ‘making-of’s’ and learning the craft of documentary filmmaking, director Anthony Bueno’s intention was to tell the definitive story on how the supernatural comedy film was created. “The Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters team and I are hugely excited to be premiering our beloved documentary on Crackle,” said Bueno. “We truly hope to enthrall and enlighten audiences, fans and filmmakers alike, as we reveal the wonderful personalities, incomparable talent and craftsmanship that went into making a film that captured the hearts of generations; Ghostbusters.”

Never mind that Netflix has a solid, if slight, documentary on the movie already. I could watch an endless amount of these retrospectives. This has been 10 years in the making, and even though we all know who’s noticeably absent, the trailer still gives hope that there is more reflective meat on this cinematic bone than your usual retrospective featurette. It looks perfectly harmless, you might learn a thing or two you didn’t otherwise know, and this appears to be a fun stroll down nostalgia lane.

Black Magic for White Boys

Director Onur Tukel gave us 2014’s Summer of Blood, one of the strangest vampire movies ever put to film, and now he’s back with something just as odd.

A struggling theatre owner turns to black magic in order to save his business, creating a web of trickery from others seeking to exploit his powers.

What has taken nearly three years since appearing at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 before popping up now? It’s certainly not the effects, and it’s positively not the acting; both seemed to have aged like a cucumber sitting in a brine. The acting is Lloyd Kaufman-esque, and the production looks decent. I’m not sure I know what’s afoot here, but it looks like if one was high enough it would make for a fun ride.

Ricky Powell: The Individualist

Praise director Josh Swade for telling this story.

Ricky Powell rose to unexpected fame as an unfiltered street photographer capturing the downtown New York scene of the 80s and 90s. Eventually befriending and becoming an honorary member of the Beastie Boys entourage and joining them on tour, Powell captured some of the wildest moments in New York fashion, music, and art with his gorgeous and gritty portraits. With gripping testimonies from those who have found themselves on the other side of Ricky’s lens—including Natasha Lyonne, Debi Mazar, Mike D, Laurence Fishburne, Chuck D, and LL Cool J—this is an unforgettable, quintessential New York story.

Before this trailer, I had no idea who Ricky Powell is but, after watching this trailer, I was in awe of his artistry. His work was prolific, but myself and many others never knew about Powell’s work. After this trailer stops, you can’t do anything other than want to know more about this guy and his work.

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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